At Glenstone

A poem by Fred Pollack


Can a palace be modern?
Palace frou-frou, modern machine.
In any case, the palace
can be seen from many points,
and sees more,
as from the hypothetical upper pool
above its fourth floor.
I keep forgetting how they made their money,

which doesn’t matter: art
is the whole; what buys it,
what motivates the purchase, part.
Cheers from Basquiat.
Rothko questioning the usual suspect.
The peace of Yves Klein.
He who believes he stands in front
is off to one side of the shrine.

Intermittent rain
on the paths, the new trees, the built hills
whose looming topiary hobbyhorse
and vast squat lattice
are worthy goals.
I saw my dearest at the end
of a hundred-foot-long granite naturally-
lit hallway as art.

When the trees grow up, the collectors
will see the pilgrims vanish, reappear.


Fred Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure (Story Line Press, 1986) and Happiness (Story Line Press, 1998), and two collections, A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015) and Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, 2018). In print, Pollack’s work has appeared in Hudson Review, Southern Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Manhattan Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Main Street Rag, Miramar, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Poetry Quarterly Review, Magma (UK), Neon (UK), Orbis (UK), and elsewhere. Online, his poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Diagram, BlazeVox, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, Big Pond Rumours (Canada), The Drunken Llama (2017), Misfit, and elsewhere.

Not a True Believer

A poem by David Lohrey


America is the only country in the world that doesn’t
maintain public toilets. Enclosed spaces invite indecency.
Even the homeless get horny. They defecate in the open
like monkeys in Delhi. The streets reek. Men and women strut
around like pigeons. Their depravity has gone viral.

Nobody objects to the Bushes (and their billions);
it is Nancy and her lust for fine China that draws rebuke.
We fear hunger. We can smell fear. Most would prefer
war to lust. Charles Manson was more highly regarded
than Timothy Leary.

You can’t blame a man like Obama who wants to be rich. What’s
50 million dollars between friends? After eight years in the White
House he is bidding for his own basketball team. Greed is not
unseemly. But we don’t like that man in the White House
who eats McDonald’s.

Whitman called for a poetry of exaltation. Brecht: a poetry of thought.
We got a poetry of despair, written by alcoholics and the lonely.
We’ve embraced the William Gaddis school of gigantism, like
Soviet architecture and aerial photographs of four-leaf clover
interchanges. Like elephant turds, they are impressive.

Construction has been funded, but nothing’s been set aside. 3000 public
schools were built in the 1930s, but there’s no money for upkeep.
Students tear pages from school books to wipe their asses. The pipes
on the 3 rd floor are plugged with Dante. The girls’ bathroom is
flooding. The Principal’s answer is to tell the students to stop reading.

Kirwood McMann head custodian at PS109 preaches every Sunday morning
at the Magnolia Street Church of Christ. He recites the oracles of woe as he
unloads 43 rolls of toilet paper from the trunk of his 7-year-old Cadillac Sedan
de Ville. When I complained to him about my filthy classroom, he looked
up and said, “Why you gotta say “filthy” when “dirty” will do?”

Rev. McMann tries many times to explain to me the ways of the world. “The
people,” he preaches, “have forgotten how to do right. This country is filled
with wealth taken by theft and violence. Sundays are too long. People can’t wait
to get back to cheating the helpless. And you say your floor is filthy. It is you,
you sir, who is filthy!”


David Lohrey’s plays have been produced in Switzerland, Croatia, and Lithuania. His poetry can be found in Otoliths (AUS), The Drunken Llama (US), Tuck Magazine (UK), Expanded Field Journal (Netherlands), and Dodging the Rain (Ireland). His fiction can be read online at Terror House, Storgy Magazine, and Literally Stories. David’s collection of poetry, MACHIAVELLI’S BACKYARD, was published by Sudden Denouement Publishers (Houston, 2017). He lives in Tokyo.

Twanging Voices

A poem by Fred Pollack


That little bald bisexual with an earring –
you know the one –
whose work will always be better than yours
until the destruction of the sun –

For him the theatrical metaphor
was useful, i.e., valid,
even liberating. Not for me.
If the play’s the thing, what’s the theme?
Does it have legs? Who are its backers?
If we took it on tour, would it pay?
Worrying thus, I perform for ghosts,
or like a ghost for a thin and musty
audience of reals.
Early and late I muff my lines.
Have little dramatic sense.
Enjoy a more primitive, declamatory form, and
yearn for solutions:

Hamlet rejects hallucinations.
Juliet says it won’t work.
Lear takes Cordelia’s point (or else
she bullshits him like her sisters).
Caesar gets word who the conspirators are;
his troops invade the Senate and arrest them.


Fred Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure (Story Line Press, 1986) and Happiness (Story Line Press, 1998), and two collections, A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015) and Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, 2018). In print, Pollack’s work has appeared in Hudson Review, Southern Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Manhattan Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Main Street Rag, Miramar, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Poetry Quarterly Review, Magma (UK), Neon (UK), Orbis (UK), and elsewhere. Online, his poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Diagram, BlazeVox, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, Big Pond Rumours (Canada), The Drunken Llama (2017), Misfit, and elsewhere.

Grievances for Descamisados

A poem by David Lohrey


I, too, am a passéiste. a passéiste am I, a believer in a Golden time.
There’s been no birth but I am suffering from post-partum depression.
Something’s been taken away. I do not have my eye on the next best thing.

I’m proud but not of myself. I’m not even proud to be an American.
So much has been done, although, nothing by me.
We’ll abolish all private property except our house.

I am a sampler of the exquisite, a witness, perhaps some would say an intruder.
I remain grateful. The tea is fine. I don’t care for much of the company.
My fantasy is to live in a Faulkner novel.

I have found a nice quiet table here at the club. If I am left alone, I will thrive.
I want to get me an emotional support peacock and move into Flannery
O’Connor’s old house. One does still hear dreadful stories.

Perhaps it can be said, I regret everything, but that doesn’t keep me from feeling nostalgic.
Yes, it was all a mistake. Every humiliation and those very few triumphs. The greatest
birthday present I ever got was a potted tomato plant. It cost $.79.

I treasure every smile; there have been few. Look where we are. We’ve become brawlers,
like skinny guys at ball games, those nasty, boney thugs with tattoos, the kind who
like to start fights. Who takes advice from a poet?

This is finally who we are, in steel-tipped boots, drunks with shriveled dicks. People who save
up to go to Rome and end up in the local jail for pissing on the statues. I saw my first film
by Truffaut in the Mission; got my first piece of ass on Craig’s list.

We have become a disgrace. The story begins with our lovely heroes waving and passing out
Hershey bars to children. Next thing you know, we are urinating on corpses.
This is why we can’t have nice things. Who’s afraid of red, white, and blue?

We’ve become boxers who bite our opponents. We’ve become women who want to be raped.
We’ve become men who piss themselves. Heavens to Murgatroyd, that’s about it. This
is our common tale of woe. Some thrive in the present, others not.

We’ve become the kind of people children aren’t allowed to play with. We’re degenerates. Yes,
I know a good thing when I see it. I live in the past. I do not look ahead.
Tomorrow might prove an improvement, sure, why not? It’s today I can’t stand.


David Lohrey’s plays have been produced in Switzerland, Croatia, and Lithuania. His poetry can be found in Otoliths (AUS), The Drunken Llama (US), Tuck Magazine (UK), Expanded Field Journal (Netherlands), and Dodging the Rain (Ireland). His fiction can be read online at Terror House, Storgy Magazine, and Literally Stories. David’s collection of poetry, MACHIAVELLI’S BACKYARD, was published by Sudden Denouement Publishers (Houston, 2017). He lives in Tokyo.

A Ghost Bids Farewell to His Last Lodging

A poem by Fred Pollack


Kubin has me cradling my head
(with a gnarled European grin)
in my arms. It must be heavy:
the torso, in prison togs, looks off-center.
Had I met a Wilhelmine headsman, tailed and tophatted?
Or that efficient chute they favored later?
I must say he captures the expression,
but my clothes are the comfy beige of aged
Americans, and my head where it belongs.
The room is already bare, not yet rented;
what used to be there suffices for goodbyes.
Towards the end, on what has since become
the Other Side, some idiot
said I had a “God-shaped hole”
in my life and offered cheaply to fill it
with his hole-shaped God.

Around that time there were other noises:
shrieks, sobs, a rhythmic thwacking
fleshier than sex. If you imagine next-life audio
as a Seventies-style “Wall of Sound,” you’ll
be disappointed: cries as sparse
as sirens in a rich white neighborhood,
though carefully selected
according to an aesthetic
about which I can’t even speculate.

Now I’m off. I might enjoy Kubin’s Munich,
towns bombed or not yet bombed, even
my own several slums. Except
it isn’t the job of the deceased
to enjoy anything; only to resemble
in random streets someone who can’t be there,
causing a little thrill of pain.
To haunt is to pass through, not to remain.


Fred Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure (Story Line Press, 1986) and Happiness (Story Line Press, 1998), and two collections, A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015) and Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, 2018). In print, Pollack’s work has appeared in Hudson Review, Southern Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Manhattan Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Main Street Rag, Miramar, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Poetry Quarterly Review, Magma (UK), Neon (UK), Orbis (UK), and elsewhere. Online, his poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Diagram, BlazeVox, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, Big Pond Rumours (Canada), The Drunken Llama (2017), Misfit, and elsewhere.

The Poet’s Hand, the Fool’s Tongue

A poem by Geoffrey Heptonstall


Say what you have seen with words
that we may understand
what moves the world in harmony
with the laws of transformation.
Say what you have seen
of those who are passing by the door
that is open, like a mouth
that sings of many heavens.

*

The wolves patrol the midnight streets,
keeping silence like a secret
that is the way to survive
the indifference of nature.
There may be a purpose found
when all that can be happens.
Until then there is the forest
where stealth is the watchword.

They see an old man’s madness
that summons the spirit of night
as the wolves reach the city limit.
The king and his daughters,
two of whom are treacherous,
are told in many tales
The fool is he who tells it well.

*

Snow falling in spring stills the world
that was listening for birdsong.
Flowers, bewildered, fail so see
the life they were promised underground.
For the poor the answer is written
in the tracks of barefoot children
returning home from a day’s labor.

The poet’s hand warms at the candle
as the light of his art fades.
If you seek his memorial
then read the life in words.
They were spoken in the fields of youth
before he found taverns to his taste.
Words have no season but always.

The Dog That Howled All Night

A poem by Geoffrey Heptonstall


“What does not change is the will to change.”

– Charles Olson


Of a possible election:
then in the sight of darkness
a lantern light
moving to close of day
above all the armadillos
from the vantage tower
in celestial time chiming…

Of the harvest angel
scattering our marvels
at the sight of disaster
naming where the stones
keep silence on vacant ground
when fate may seem indifferent
though this life is familiar…

Of a lyrical persuasion:
invisible in the ruins
too late to save the spirit
that blessed the city opening
to the world’s worst
and in there hearing
the dog that howled all night…

Woodland Pond

A poem by Richard King Perkins II


Through the stray ebb of night,
swirls of black water form her

in a meager grove
of orange-leafed trees.

She studies the bracken and reeds,
looks past the embankment

to figures standing in the distance;
the man in the straw hat

leaning on a grey fence
talking to his daughter.

In a few desperate sentences
he speaks of things to deny or embrace

the endless sky
the empty earth

ghosts of the north country
conspiring with fire.

The girl listens momentarily,
begins to drift away

floating through leaves
and tresses of moss

alighting on a small shoreline—
folding in, turning back.


Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, Illinois with his wife, Vickie, and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.

An Astounding Perimeter

A poem by Richard King Perkins II


It’s not a dream
but a slightly bygone world
covered in frozen mist.

Sparrows alight on the small shoreline
of an astounding perimeter—
a sanctum whispering in white.

I study the icebound bracken and reeds,
gazing past the embankment
to this vacancy of snow where your car once slept.

In the old meeting place, I still look for you—
where our conversations spilled upon gentle light;
simple confessions of twigs and soul.

But we’re left with only a few desperate sentences;
having spoken of things to deny or embrace,
the evergreen ghosts of our endless north country.

Now you’re stranded on a bridge in St. Louis
with no money and no credit cards
and your passenger side window broken out.

I’m in the bristling pines laced ivory
where someone once wrote a song about you;
how your eyes extinguished sensibility,
how your eyes painted light into every corner of darkness.

Can you recall how desperately we believed
that the return of robins and sharp shadows
could change everything;
that crocuses would ignite life in themselves?


Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, Illinois with his wife, Vickie, and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.

Nurserymen and Psychedelia

A poem by Jake Sheff


Encyclopedic hands reach
to reassess squat and woody
cycads. Branchless plants

embrace fingers in recesses
questing for meaning and
other pests. Struck by ugly

pleasure’s naked structure,
collectors pay high prices
for loves like leaves sprouting

from no trees. (Cycads generate
heat for male cones to repel
insects toward a more temperate,

fervent sex. Harvest trickles
relative to nature’s truckloads
of relaxed approaches.) New

York City nurses doctors
stalking neurotoxic and self-
similar geometries at home;

garment-shredding spikes are
brushed like hair, loosening
deep time’s translucent hour.


Jake Sheff is a major and pediatrician in the U.S. Air Force. He is married and has a daughter and three pets. His current home is the Mojave Desert. Jake’s poems have been published in Marathon Literary Review, Jet Fuel Review, The Cossack Review, and elsewhere. He has published a chapbook: Looting Versailles, available from Alabaster Leaves Publishing. He considers life an impossible sit-up, but plausible.