Rod-Stroked Survival, With a Deadly Hammer

Rebecca fantasized that life was a lottery ticket or a pull of a lever,
that one of the bunch in her pocket was a winner or the slots were a redeemer;
but life itself was not real that was strictly for the mentally insane at the Elgin
Mental Institution.
She gambled her savings away on a riverboat
stuck in mud on a riverbank, the Grand Victoria, in Elgin, Illinois.
Her bare feet were always propped up on wooden chair;
a cigarette drooped from her lips like morning fog.
She always dreamed of traveling, not nightmares.
But she couldn't overcome, overcome,
the terrorist ordeal of the German siege of Leningrad.
She was a foreigner now; she is a foreigner for good.
Her first husband died after spending a lifetime in prison
with stinging nettles in his toes and feet; the second
husband died of hunger when there were no more rats
to feed on, after many fights in prison for the last remains.
What does a poet know of suffering?
Rebecca has rod stroked survival with a deadly mallet.
She gambles nickels, dimes, quarters, tokens tossed away,
living a penniless life for grandchildren who hardly know her name.
Rebecca fantasized that life was a lottery ticket or the pull of a lever.

Michael Lee Johnson is a poet and freelance writer from Itasca, Illinois. He is heavy influenced by:  Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Irving Layton, Leonard Cohen, and Allen Ginsberg.  His new poetry chapbook with pictures, titled From Which Place the Morning Rises, and his new photo version of The Lost American: from Exile to Freedom are available here.

He also has 2 previous chapbooks available at Lulu.

Michael has been published in over 23 countries. He is also editor/publisher of four poetry sites, all open for submission, which can be found at his Web site.
The Silence of You

sometimes i wish
i could suck the silence
from the air
then wrap it around you
and hope that you
invite me in

"The Silence of You" was previously published on vox poetica.

Bobbie Troy is a freelance technical editor/writer, but her real passion is writing flash fiction, poetry, and original fairy tales with a 21st century twist. Her poetry appears in print and online: Concise Delight Magazine of Short Poetry, Issue 1; Vox Poetica, poetryblog, prompts pages, and contributors series; SPARK, an art and writing project; Haiku Ramblings, Winter 2009-2010 and Summer 2010; Leaf Garden Press, Issue #9; and Inspirations: Images and Words, Collection 1. She has work forthcoming in the Journal of Liberal Arts and Education and Vox Poetica. Her fairy-tale play, Sasha and the Tree of Sorrows, will be produced by a local theater group. Her poem, Dear Diane, was nominated for the 2010 Pushcart Prize and is archived in the Library of Congress and the Poets House, New York. To hear Bobbie read Dear Diane, visit here. To hear an interview with Bobbie, go to the April 29, 2010 poetry show episode on
I Love Ballerinas

I love how they can imitate
A water lily
I love the word tutu
Especially when they are purple

And look like lilac blossoms 

I love their Chinese shoes
Even when they walk on air
To imitate a pear tree
In blossom 

I love how the music that coaxes them
Is just another excuse for silence
As they flutter toward
A wheat field free from pain & gravity
In the shape of a rose  

Griselda from Russia was my favorite
Her black fingernail polish
Smelling like ripe bananas
She painted the glass cover
Of her fake birthday present Rolex   Gold

Whispering   “I have always want to escape from time”

John McKernan is now a retired comma herder  He lives – mostly – in West Virginia where he edits ABZ Press. His most recent book is a selected poems Resurrection of the Dust
A Few Hours

Buy me shrimp
on a clear day when
I can see the blue of
the ocean replicated in
the clean white plate
the waiter brings
as he stumbles to our table.
And let there be wine.
Oh, not an obnoxious
cork-sniffing vintage, only
something soft and cool
that soothingly sits politely
within its twinkling glass.
Please have a simple
violinist silhouetted against
that sea, playing, a bit
of bright Vivaldi.
All these things,
will you do for me?

Let me sit pertly in
a darkened, classy club --- maybe
the Carlyle, maybe the Vanguard ---
listening to sophisticated stylings
with those who drink too much,
neither to forget nor to remember,
but only because it is there.
My little black dress will
be sexy, yet not tart,
and I will indulge in Campari
while someone else pays the bill.
I will be witty.  I will be gay.
I will sparkle.

I yearn to be with people who are glib.
I crave cleverness.
Give me a quip, a pun ---
quick-witted banter.
Show me the mettle of your
gray matter.
Surround me with a neverending
round of crystal martinis
of the mind.
Loosen my tongue with champagne.
Bathe me in kindly
diamond-reflected winks.
Keep the music smoky to match
the innuendo of the other little black dresses
surrounding me with embracing cattiness.
Oh, take me back to that place
where all is parties or nothing at all.
Let me glitter, let me astonish, let me flirt,
until the time comes when I must
go home alone, for tomorrow
I must be whatever passes for me.  
The Reaper Of Cowardly Deeds

Constantinople has fallen again
like a rank towel beaded with imitations of algae
in the worst winter of 1678
Constantinople had revealed a ghastly shadow
until the Danes in Northeastern Europe
where the waltz of the corroding winds
hummed up and down the ridges of the great verdant mountains
but now I have traveled into the astounding waste of 1912
bondsmen carry me from African precious stones
within their indestructible nuclei
awaiting my disgruntled cry
for a replenished sitting
while Constantinople reaches for precious Eastern balms
for the extant anguish in furrowed brows
of molested plankton
in all of the human seas of arrogant
and sadly winning is not an option
for walking dead men
with grand ideas
irking inertia
with no time to spare
here nor there

Ernest Williamson III has published poetry and visual art in over 240 online and print journals. He is a self-taught pianist and painter. His poetry has been nominated three times for the Best of the Net Anthology. He holds the B.A. and the M.A. in English/Creative Writing/Literature from the University of Memphis. Ernest is an English Professor at Essex County College. Professor Williamson is also a Ph.D. Candidate at Seton Hall University in the field of Higher Education Leadership.

Cat through the Cupboard

A snatch of fur
peeling through
the crack
like hot tar
from fresh paved
highway; the tail flicks
in one wicked slur
like Mark Antony as he laid
on Cleopatra’s soft cheek a dry kiss
and passed on out the door
hesitating upon the cold clay
to twirl, to twirl, and fold down, a solid block.

Paul Piatkowski lives in Winston Salem, North Carolina with his beautiful wife and precocious corgi. His writing has appeared in journals like U.S.1 Worksheets, A Hudson View, 2River View, River Poets Journal and Tonopah Review.