Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Issue 18

James Garry

Christopher Barnes

Jennifer Thompson

Tom Savage

Sam Vaknin

Dave Ruslander

S. Simpkins

Maggie Zhou

Maria Claudia Faverio

James Garry

Sometimes You Belong

You've been laid up in hospital wards
sickening for the wage-prompted smiles
or genuine care of nurses, Nigerian
or Filipino, you belong here sometimes.
Sometimes you belong
and the strip-lighting no longer reminds you
of the naked skies, the sun.
Sometimes you burn your skin
knowing only barricades,
no less a borderline between
the space without,
the space within.
Sometimes the footsteps and the callings
are monastic echoes, sometimes an aerial
in a lightning storm might be liberating.
Sometimes from the font of a bucket
detergent is swept cursive on the floors;
you can will its smell to lavender
and the colour of the walls doesn't matter anymore
for in the end everything
is either white or invisible.

Roadrunner & Coyote

Then the day comes it no longer makes us sad
looking back, remarking upon the covered ground,
that we just ran, called ourselves cosmopolites
ignorant of the terror of our tourisms
the protean fantasy
Alice and the Red Queen, perhaps,
or Roadrunner and Coyote.

History in the Phosphors

You always wore black, I observed,
four years of passing you in corridors
on checkered floors,
sometimes I'd want to say
but I never knew you.
You'd always fade.

Then I came to be with you

shivering by the Thames
wanting bodies
at room temperature
listening to waves,
calm echoes of the embryo,
or sharing ice creams
of cookie-dough and cinnamon -
the obsidian beyond your innocence
the horizontal cries for help
faded now
                 along your wrist.

Why are you scared?
What do you fear?
Why and from whom do you run in your dreams
into the safety of the otaku world?

You couldn't answer. You spoke
as a neonatal lamb would walk
and not really needing to speak at all

for your dark clothes were language,
whispers chosen from a wardrobe.

And by black light you radiated

                         in the phosphors.

The Story So Far…

I've heard Spanish mumbles between motel walls,
I've heard drains pretend to be Koi ponds,
I've read the time from a Seiko diamond watch,
and had a pony bite my hand.
I've had the pleonasm of an A4 page
and shrunk my feelings into SMS,
I've felt lonely and I've felt fulfilled,
felt naked and camouflaged.
I've had the headache of halcyon streets,
swam fully clothed in Kentish lakes,
worshipped at the Other Temple, have witnessed
my hairline recede like a religious faith,
I have lived beyond my means,
longed for meaning beyond this life,
I've flashbacks to a strobelight flickering
in binary of blue and black
had the comedown of two a.m. ambient tunes
feeling loved-up, befriended, and somehow lost.
I've felt fear before a long haul flight;
I've known what it's like to want to hold
that person who will never requite.
I've missed opportunities, kicked myself.
I've tasted chicken Malaya,
talked football, laughed,
promised "we must do this again".

And never did.

James Garry: My name is James Garry, 25, from London. I am a psychology graduate and I currently work in a library. I especially admire the poetry of Derek Walcott and Hugo Williams.

James Garry Christopher Barnes Jennifer Thompson Tom Savage Sam Vaknin Dave Ruslander S. Simpkins Maggie Zhou Maria Claudia Faverio

Christopher Barnes

Wish Fulfilment
or Lament For The Rut In Male Fashion

In clock-back stardust
                         they pant.
A lion's share of peacocks?

Windscheffel And Stride's Day Out

Tender-conscienced ones
from Graybine Hospital's storms
bounce into Summerly's Snax.

There's rifts today.
You have untingled the world through lithium,
wished for filtered tea.

A moderato's timbrelling (or a pomegranate
wriggling at the ear). Ah sound!

Windows In The Chelsea

a darker sun sets in the heart
than any that lit
The Chelsea Hotel

I'm crying for Mama
I'm crying for Adonis

tears, alphabets of tears
heavier than overdosing
on kosmic H-bomb blues

where cheap blades hide
under velvet undergrounds
and sleep sharpens
killer TVs slickered
like electric Barbara Cartlands
uncrownable Gorgons of the uncounted hour

someone cries for Mama
someone cries for Adonis

drugstreams in blood dance
bluesing through veins

islands of death, de-tox and shells
corroding rocks, fragmenting lies
and the S & M libido monkey
out of its tree
a brain with instincts
juices and smells
vomited out
riding a shaking-bellied Horse
smelling of southern race riots

no-one's idea of comfort
cowering beneath the naked bulb


before he was her
his wife was whale-buttocked
like a great Lynda-burger
between settee and plasti-grass

mayonnaised in all the domesticity
of a flannelette dressing-gown
they used to even talk

over zoology and the diets of bats
a cherry-menthol roll-up smouldered
in between gulps of comfort
and an off-white frown

sometimes she stood up
zipped his sexuality up to the eye
and hooked together their stays

When Something Is Wrong With My Baby

The evening has a thousand pieces
and we and the songs on the radio
are just some of them.
I unbutton his indulgent shirt, submit
a hand, fasten on the left nipple.
Hum the familiar refrain. We twist
with the lingering purr of music.

An hour is a number of heartbeats,
full motion from the car's heater, a number
of glances. Being gay, he is tremulous
to prove his devotion openly,
the clatter of jackboots
always expected…above the guitar.

Christopher Barnes: in 1998 I won a Northern Arts writers award. In July 200 I read at Waterstones bookshop to promote the anthology 'Titles Are Bitches'. Christmas 2001 I debuted at Newcastle's famous Morden Tower doing a reading of my poems. Each year I read for Proudwords lesbian and gay writing festival and I partake in workshops. 2005 saw the publication of my collection LOVEBITES published by Chanticleer Press, 6/1 Jamaica Mews, Edinburgh.

I have also got a BBC webpage http://www.bbc.co.uk/tyne/gay/2004/section28.shtml

James Garry Christopher Barnes Jennifer Thompson Tom Savage Sam Vaknin Dave Ruslander S. Simpkins Maggie Zhou Maria Claudia Faverio

Jennifer Thompson

Lead a Normal Life
after Peter Gabriel

You rest
above the Pacific's obeisance,
green and white, frigid,
slavering over the rocks
at the tower's foot.
You can see whales from here,
says another patient.
Your mother denounces this lie.
You lie still in your cot,
bag of books and clothes untouched,
head and jaw aching
from the twenty-fourth current
to stream through your blackened brain.

Deaths and flawed resurrections
mark off the days.
Some darkness bars your way back,
blotting out the memory of the night sky
and the cold, salt-laden air.
Your soul lingers in restraints.
Trays pass; you choke over them.
You trace patterns on the yellowed wall,
cringe from the spitting scream
of your inner Stalin.

You want to lead a normal life.
People say, with a certain facile philosophy,
"Well, what is normal, really?"
Not this ache, these walls,
the ocean with its harvested whales
seen through shatterproof glass.
You want to slip between
flesh-and-bone bars.
You want to hold a knife
without longing to cut your throat;
You want hunger, desire,
to want at all.

The Meteorologist

Her mood swelters, oppresses
but does not break.
Hours ago she slung the worn bedclothes
to the floor.
His face is flushed. Sweat trickles
between his shoulder blades
gathers at the small of his back
his briefs are unpleasantly damp there.
The waistband strangles his bowels which
clench a warning.
She drifts from the bedroom
but then just crouches
actually crouches
by the window
not at all like a bird
like a mad naked scrawny woman
hair knotted with curses
gaze fixed on the closed blinds.
She rests her chin on her knees.
He feels her hating the blinds.
The walls themselves glow with rage
As the sun sets
he watches thin bands of light
slide across her cheek.

Three West:
A Psalm

You forced the bud. Yellow stamen-dust
gilds your fingers. I, decked in purple
long to fall.

Your gifts and thefts alike are arbitrary.
You have gathered to yourself all that is good
fruit-heavy and sun-warm
and I -

Steal my spirit, thief. My tears are warm
on my warm cheeks as I pray to be taken
here as I lie.

Jennifer Thompson: I received my Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of California, Irvine, and am currently an assistant professor of humanities at Embry-Riddle University, where I teach creative writing, Holocaust studies, and world literature. I was diagnosed manic-depressive in 1997, and the attached poems represent some of my attempts to come to grips with the disease.

James Garry Christopher Barnes Jennifer Thompson Tom Savage Sam Vaknin Dave Ruslander S. Simpkins Maggie Zhou Maria Claudia Faverio

Tom Savage

The Thief of the Heart

The sands of Mecca shape a rose.
The horny unicorn climbs a tree.
They drowned her and carried her away.
But he clasped the rose tree in his right hand.
The Caliph awaits his suitors.
There is no such rank or title.
The moon tips the cypress of proposal our way.
Who calls himself a prince has hunted down
The violinated commandments of the rose.
Seek him our with scimitar-shaped thorns.
A pearl to every guard who fishes on the air.
Through a tigers' tunnel there's a key to seventh heaven.
The rose persists. Turned lilly-white or carnation-red.
Build me an army inside your walls by casting your clothes aside.
At the Cavern of Enchanted Trees
The Valley of Fire sends out smoke signals
On the flying carpet of your tongue
An old man of midnight sees.
At the Abode of the Winged Horse
You can dry off from your fight with that undersea dragon.
If you feed a magic apple to a fisherman, he'll sprout roses.
At the Citadel of the Moon,
We all have but one moment to live.
Out of the clouds comes the courier of the dawn.

-Written while watching The Thief of Bagdad, 1924. Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

Woman Without Camelias Breathes

If your life is a circus
When is the elephant ballet?

Don't write this line again.
It's already in front of your eyes.

Stars eat their lights out
For the night.

This poem doesn't end here
Whether you like it or not.

The line endings are on strike.
You'll have to invent your own
Enjambments before arrival.

The poem is a young, male lover,
Neither your mistress nor your wife.

This poem is obsessed.
It's author has taken a vacation.

The poem wants you
To make up it's mind.

This poem's double
Refuses to be reborn.

The content insists on
A divorce from its form.
Can you oblige, quickly?

The ink and paper are here.
Just sign them, please.

Tom Savage: I've had eight books published and appeared in many magazines. Ten years ago, while recovering from brain surgery, I committed myself briefly to a mental ward while suffering from involuntary hallucinations partly under the influence of a medication called serzone and partly due to the surgery aftereffects. My poetry has appeared in the New York Times, Hanging Loose, TheWorld, and many other places.

James Garry Christopher Barnes Jennifer Thompson Tom Savage Sam Vaknin Dave Ruslander S. Simpkins Maggie Zhou Maria Claudia Faverio

Sam Vaknin


At times, I dream myself besieged.
I rebel with the cunning of the weak.
I walk the shortcuts.
Tormentors clad
in blood-soaked black,
salute as I manipulate them
into realizing their abyss.
Some weep their sockets hollow,
or waive their thorns.
Much pain negotiated.
A trading of the wounds.
My chains carve metal
and I am branded.

The Miracle of the Kisses

That night, the cock denied him thrice.
His mother and the whore downloaded him,
nails etched into his palms,
his thorny forehead glistening,
his body speared.
He wanted to revive unto their moisture.
But the nauseating scents of vinegar
and Roman legionnaires,
the dampness of the cave,
and then that final stone...
His brain wide open,
supper digested
that was to have been his last.
He missed so his disciples,
the miracle of their kisses.
He was determined not to decompose.

Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, and eBookWeb , a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory Bellaonline, and Suite101.

Until recently, he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government of Macedonia.

Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com

James Garry Christopher Barnes Jennifer Thompson Tom Savage Sam Vaknin Dave Ruslander S. Simpkins Maggie Zhou Maria Claudia Faverio

Dave Ruslander

Still Winter

Ignoring the calendar,
spring floats into Virginia.
Tiny fingers of chlorophyll
tickle prehensile lips.

Dandelions wink back at the rising sun,
and the first wisps of pollen float atop the pond
before dithered shadows creep over the fields,
and the first thunderclap of spring
sets the horses loping across their field.

The tarnished sky begins to hammer,
the raised seam roof of my barn.
and the chartreuse branches
of a weeping willow sway.

Swamp Song

Pachelbel's Canon: the spirant sound
of a return to Chickahominy.

Blasts from winter's fowling pieces
still echo in my mind
as March flies in on the
backs of Great Blue herons.
They scrutinize potential
nesting spots.

On an unseen cue, they settle
above the gargling streams
where a whistle pig stands
on a gnarled cypress knee
blowing his frustration
at an impenetrable 20-gauge field fence.

Dave Ruslander lives in rural Virginia where true to the quasi-accurate-sweeping-generalization that southerners are slow, he didn't get around to writing until he was fifty. Since then he's learned to mangle language through poetry, short stories, and one novel. His work has been published in: Poetry SZ, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Green Tricycle, Cenotaph Pocket Edition, Retrozine, Womensbeat, MiPo, Melic Review, and many other fine print and digital publications.

James Garry Christopher Barnes Jennifer Thompson Tom Savage Sam Vaknin Dave Ruslander S. Simpkins Maggie Zhou Maria Claudia Faverio

S. Simpkins

Chewed Or Cut

nothing but teeth
wolverine hunger
everything sharp edges
everything nails
                                 broken glass
spikesrazor cutsneedles
knifes & daggersforks
jagged rocks
everybody gets
                                 chewed or cut

S. Simpkins: I'm a 56 year old recovered drunk who writes poetry. I grew up in L.A. then lived (and sobered up) in Hollywood. I also suffer from depression for which I take Zoloft. While the Zoloft has helped, I still wind up visiting those bleak barren landscapes that constitute depression. My major influences have been Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Allen Ginsberg and Charles Bukowski.

James Garry Christopher Barnes Jennifer Thompson Tom Savage Sam Vaknin Dave Ruslander S. Simpkins Maggie Zhou Maria Claudia Faverio

Maggie Zhou

i am

i am, she says
largely composed
of dirty dreams
stained, shaking and dismembered

i am, she believes
the mirror girl
built wide, too wide
to be anything else

and the vivisection
she inspects
to be flawed
futile, she sighs

i am nothing more

Maggie Zhou: I am an eighteen year old girl trying to make sense of myself.

James Garry Christopher Barnes Jennifer Thompson Tom Savage Sam Vaknin Dave Ruslander S. Simpkins Maggie Zhou Maria Claudia Faverio

Maria Claudia Faverio

Night Musings

Sitting here
at 4 o'clock in the morning
under a mangrove tree hung with stars
and insomniac birds,
I surrender to light
in spite of the early hour,
bargained into shape again.

You are not here,
you unnameable one,
but it is not a loss -
barbed-wire passions have never
excited me too much.

But the pitted moon -
what a beauty!
I could fall in love with it
like Li Po,
hug it,

then feel the compelling
kiss of the earth
and discover the working of things,
their dour splendour.

I could make earth my womb
and untie poems
like birthday presents.

You are not here.
It's not a loss.

Maria Claudia Faverio: I am an Australian poet who lives 80 km south of Sydney. I have just published my second poetry book. I also publish in the journals of the societies I am a member of. Poetry for me is a means of_expression, it helps me to express what I feel inside. I also write fairy tales and puzzles, I paint, play and compose music.

James Garry Christopher Barnes Jennifer Thompson Tom Savage Sam Vaknin Dave Ruslander S. Simpkins Maggie Zhou Maria Claudia Faverio