Saturday, November 01, 2008

Issue 27

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Image (Copyright © 2008 Michael Lee Johnson)

Megan Burns

Jefferson Hansen

Lois Marie Harrod

Michael Lee Johnson

Christopher Barnes

Linda Graham

Laurie Cook

Megan Burns

from Anatomy of Depression

the world as ordered                      if you depend

on your mind for translation

sit down

if you recognize these thoughts as other

                                            or if you deny easily that

                                            which could be defined as disturbing


                                                        a romantic indisposition

I believed I had a right to my wrong thinking on some level.

                             it was mine and to be defended

imagine:             healthy

                              as a species of flower

                                                             as a turn in the weather

                               as a geographical pinpoint

                                                             as a location found by vertical and horizontal planes intersecting

it’s one thing to speak of what is misfiring
and another to locate

here in the deep, deep recesses of porous organ
           half able to function coherently
                                                                       what half is left and is this accurate

what percentage and on what days and on what dosage

                                                   Are you beginning to divide
                                                                       the notion of trust?

animate object: as other that lives in me
inanimate object: as quieted by this medicine and
put to sleep, a wild animal stuffed and mounted
glassy-eyed wonder
of how it arrived


                               as a gift from those before me

a realm of suffering

to greater clarity

here is the diseased mind realm

                                         am I making too much of it?

I’d hate to draw attention to it, the gaze then lends it value
but to ignore—does “not seeing” mean… what am I afraid of is that
the reader will think it is simply the vehicle for my desire, for my
identity but I am the vehicle, I’m certain, that it has gotten in
beside me

                                                               where are we going?

a small insect blows onto the open pages of Brenda’s book

lands on “Rare held over world”

from here on Folsom Street

I can see Jack Collom bringing in his dirty laundry

                              define the hidden: as dirty laundry
                              skeletons in the closet
                                                                          dirty skeletons

bone left
                                         (dirty organ)

skeletal: tactile, able to walk out on its own

laundry: tactile, able to be cleansed

                                                   this is a map of hope in revelation

mind as imaginary, as illusory, as porous

the examiner knows that when you open the skull
the brain can crumble within seconds
upon losing its container
upon touch

fragment                                fragile                                fingered mush

must be poisoned further to provide the perfect specimen

formaldehyde, spun in a web of fluid and glass
           suspended and sliced to millimeter
  slid onto thin sections of plastic and caught under the magnifying glass

                               this sheer exposition

                                                             what went wrong?

even then how to connect dead tissue to the imagination
to the cellular experience
to see how the drugs changed the identity

                                                       my place in the world

the amount of space I took up

                               the gap left that haunted me

where the I     I was not fell behind
                                         but followed me

I can see her out of the corner of my eye.

                               who said this?

                                         Am I too gone to be

Being healed is a misnomer.

Health in that sense is not
something attainable.

Remove heal from thy language.

Insert “contained”
Insert “changed”
Insert __________

Megan Burns is the author of Memorial + Sight Lines (Lavender Ink 2008). She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry and has been published in Exquisite Corpse, Contance Magazine, YAWP and Callaloo. She lives in New Orleans and runs the 17 Poets! Reading Series with poet Dave Brinks.

Megan Burns Jefferson Hansen Lois Marie Harrod Michael Lee Johnson Christopher Barnes Linda Graham Laurie Cook

Jefferson Hansen


where we depend but don't know
a shiver comes
at the intensity of
burst glass

a trickster's
attempt at lost heavens
short and shorter
stout like brick
and thick like
wall gone paranoid
rolling dark clouds
stretch and leap
nerve to wind

and the historical autopsy
'hidden geography of body'
what liver
in coil of what kidney
what place the aorta
of the nerve
in the pinkie
the past returning in furls
of flesh where is the edge
of seeing the beginning

Megan Burns Jefferson Hansen Lois Marie Harrod Michael Lee Johnson Christopher Barnes Linda Graham Laurie Cook

Lois Marie Harrod

At the County Fair Lugubrious

The peaches stood
in dark rows like mourners
at a funeral, the zinnias
bowed their heads

as if they knew they had worn
the wrong riot of color.
Some said it was not the rain,
some said it had rained

nine days, enough to carry
the chest of doves
from Mississippi to Spain.
We curled in our coffin

like those lovers
in Plato’s cave, the ones
he forgot to mention,
this time sure that when

he opened the lid
there would be more
light than shadow.
But no, more rain,

and everyone looking
down on us like saints
with gray umbrellas,
even the rabbits

in their rows of wire cages.
Too much sanctity
for so little salt, I said,
thinking of an old theologian

who seemed to be missing
in the damp crowd. I was thirsty
but no one gave me drink.
There’ll be a heaven to pay.

Of course, I knew
I was sick again, weeping
as if the sky were falling,
which it was, in big, fat drops.

Lois Marie Harrod’s ninth book Furniture has just been published by Grayson Press where it was awarded the Grayson Poetry Prize. She is a 3-time recipient of poetry fellowships from the NJ Council on the Arts.

Megan Burns Jefferson Hansen Lois Marie Harrod Michael Lee Johnson Christopher Barnes Linda Graham Laurie Cook

Michael Lee Johnson

Willow Tree Night and Snowy Visitors

Winter is tapping
on the hollow willow tree's trunk--
a four month visitor is about to move in
and unload his messy clothing
and be windy about it--
bark is grayish white as coming night with snow
fragments the seasons.
The chill of frost lies a deceitful blanket
over the courtyard greens and coats a
ghostly white mist over yellowed willow
leave's widely spaced teeth-
you can hear them clicking
like false teeth
or chattering like chipmunks
threatened in a distant burrow.
The willow tree knows the old man
approaching has showed up again,
in early November with
ice packed cheeks and brutal
puffy wind whistling with a sting.

Michael Lee Johnson is a poet and freelance writer from Itasca, Illinois. He is the author of The Lost American: from Exile to Freedom. He has also published two chapbooks of poetry and is presently looking for a publisher for two more. He has been published in USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, Turkey, Fuji, Nigeria, Algeria, Africa, India, United Kingdom, Republic of Sierra Leone, Nepal, Thailand, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Finland, and Poland internet radio. Michael Lee Johnson has been published in more than 240 different publications worldwide. Audio MP3 of poems are available on request.

He is also publisher and editor of four poetry flash fiction sites--all presently open for submission:

Author website:

Megan Burns Jefferson Hansen Lois Marie Harrod Michael Lee Johnson Christopher Barnes Linda Graham Laurie Cook

Christopher Barnes

Sterile Surfaces

Away from the lab-bench’s proving ground
The naked eye’s lame.
The moon’s heart
In an impulse swirls.
Triple-check – it’s far off,
Wide of the mark
Of swabbed feelings.

If the love-gene’s spliced
There’ll be a syringe
In the throat,
A hitch to swallow
Like fish-scaled GM apples
Or the troublesome underbreath
Of Dolly, the sheep.

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.

On Saturday 16th Aughst 2003 I read at theEdinburgh Festival as a Per Verse poet at LGBT Centre, Broughton St.

I also have a BBC webpage and (if first site does not work click on SECTION 28 on second site.

Christmas 2001 The Northern Cultural Skills Partnership sponsored me to be mentored by Andy Croft in conjunction with New Writing North. I made a radio programme for Web FM community radio about my writing group. October-November 2005, I entered a poem/visual image into the art exhibition The Art Cafe Project, his piece Post-Mark was shown in Betty's Newcastle. This event was sponsored by Pride On The Tyne. I made a digital film with artists Kate Sweeney and Julie Ballands at a film making workshop called Out Of The Picture which was shown at the festival party for Proudwords, it contains my poem The Old Heave-Ho. I worked on a collaborative art and literature project called How Gay Are Your Genes, facilitated by Lisa Mathews (poet) which exhibited at The Hatton Gallery, Newcastle University funded by The Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Institute, Bioscience Centre at Newcastle's Centre for Life. I was involved in the Five Arts Cities poetry postcard event which exhibited at The Seven Stories children's literature building. In May I had 2006 a solo art/poetry exhibition at The People's Theatre why not take a look at their website

The South Bank Centre in London recorded my poem "The Holiday I Never Had", I can be heard reading it on

REVIEWS: I have written poetry reviews for Poetry Scotland and Jacket Magazine and in August 2007 I made a film called 'A Blank Screen, 60 seconds, 1 shot' for Queerbeats Festival at The Star & Shadow Cinema Newcastle, reviewing a poem...see

Megan Burns Jefferson Hansen Lois Marie Harrod Michael Lee Johnson Christopher Barnes Linda Graham Laurie Cook

Linda Graham

burn my heart[1]
       for george wallace

yesterday, i was reading K-PAX[2]
and i noticed Prot or should i say prot
doesn’t use capitals for names
and neither do you
your poetry and you are both lower case
and you say
that’s ok sugar
in that rich full bodied aromatic
coffee sounding new york tone
that reminds me
of tennessee williams plays
and hot nights in the deep south
(because i’m english and have no sense
for american accents)
and i read in your introduction
how you write from dreams
and i wonder how you write
so vividly from dreams and i say
you must have marvellous dreams,
more vivid than everyone else

and you reply no different
from anyone else

so i think about my dreams
but all i see when i sleep
is blood and shit and black
everything black
and every night i’m running
in worlds i recognise and don’t
in streets i recognise and don’t
with ghosts i recognise and don’t
trying to dodge the bullets they spit at me
trying to stop my knife blades slicing skin
trying to stop the devil striking me down
trying to stop my lover saying he doesn’t no he doesn’t
his spent cock in his hand and behind him she’s smiling
and every night I moan in my sleep
moan over and over in my sleep
wake me up wake me up
please someone wake me up


[1] George Wallace, Burn My Heart in Wet Sand, (Troubadour, Leicester, 2004)
[2] Gene Brewer, K-PAX The Trilogy, (Bloomsbury, London, 2004)

Born in 1971 in the seaside town of Cleethorpes, England, Linda Graham organises arts festivals and programmes spoken word and literature events in the beautiful Lake District. Her poems have appeared in magazines and newspapers in the UK and US as well as online, and her first collection will be published by Bluechrome Press later next year.

Megan Burns Jefferson Hansen Lois Marie Harrod Michael Lee Johnson Christopher Barnes Linda Graham Laurie Cook

Laurie Cook


part of me
part of you
anyone can be
will shine
will be

Megan Burns Jefferson Hansen Lois Marie Harrod Michael Lee Johnson Christopher Barnes Linda Graham Laurie Cook