Saturday, November 26, 2016

Loud as Dragonfire

One feature common among the winged creatures of mythology
is their overall readiness to curse. The Middle Ages were covered
in dark brown gravy thickened with flour and seasoned with salt.

I would have made an excellent rack of ribs. Hope never draws
sharks or flies; it draws things that go from gray to blue to gray again
and, on late afternoons, beach up on stars. Worry, however, likes

to get drunk, stupid, and stumble to bed. Fear loves posting selfies
of its frowns and lap-dances for a better set of brushes or another
shot of turpentine. I discovered that recently while writing love notes

to half-drunk karaoke blondes on the far side of the bar who sounded
just like monks moaning chants after drinking seasonal ale and turning
loud as dragonfire.

First appeared in The Homestead Review - Fall 2016

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Poems I Admire #25

Ruby (1954)
Roy Beckemeyer

You always wear men’s pants, un-tucked
work shirt. I once asked my dad why. He
just grinned, said “More comfortable, I guess.”

A Camel hangs from the corner of your mouth.
You chalk your cue, tell old man Solis again
what a lousy eight-ball player he is, smirk, hunker
over; line up your shot, grind your cigarette
into the floor; stretch over the table.

Your hair falls in your eyes, a comb-over,
barber shop style, same sandy-brown color
as your scuffed men’s shoes. You tilt onto your
toes, the shirt falls away and I see a hint
of slender waist. My illusion of you as shapeless
falters a bit, but then you straighten up, spit
reality into your empty beer bottle, shift
the chaw around in your cheek.

How can you be real here, in this no-stoplight
small town? In the tavernous darkness you are
pigs-feet-in-the-brine-on-the-bar real,
swaggering, boisterous, cussing real,
never-leaving-until-the-bar-closes real.

But you walk home alone every night,
down cindered alleys to the barks of dogs
who should know you by now, under stars
lost in sultry air; barely glancing at all those
windows open to the breeze, where curtains
flutter like white moths and wives in sleek slips
toss and turn and stir in their sleep.

First published in Chiron Review

Roy Beckemeyer was born in Illinois in 1941, earned a BS in engineering in 1962 and served in the United States Air Force. He moved to Wichita, Kansas, in 1966 and has made the state his home ever since.  He received an MS from Wichita State University and a Ph.D. from The University of Kansas, both in engineering.  He worked almost 30 years for Boeing, retiring in 1997.

He has written poetry most of his life, but began a period of sustained and consistent writing in 2009. His work has appeared in a variety of mostly regional literary journals, including Gazebo, Beecher's Magazine, Kansas City Voices, The Midwest Quarterly, Straylight, The North Dakota Quarterly, Nebo, Mikrokosmos, Coal City Review, and The Bluest Aye, as well as in the anthologies Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems (Woodley Memorial Press, 2011), and To the Stars through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga (Mammoth Press,2012). He was the Kansas Authors Club poet of the year for 2013, and won first place in Beecher's 2014 Poetry Contest. His first book of poetry was published by Coal City Review and Press in 2014.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Brand New Color

Grayspace is the color of a god
who no longer trusts seascape grit.

He purses plump and rose-red lips
while fingering wooden beads
both fat and wet, edible as homesickness.

He cares about his Jesus, snow white doves,
and whatever came before the wailing

of something as much a plea as a cry
behind bars. The septic stream that tastes
like any heaven anywhere is just one block south

of the high-rise selling confections to hungry
workers like a badger on a snake. “Don’t think

you know what I know about hot meals
and warmth,” he says, then grabs a spatula,
turns red in the face, flips another pie.

“Remember childhood?” he asks, knowing
that we do. “Remember childhood.”

From my chapbook "The Allness of Everything" (Maverick Duck Press)

(To learn more about "The Allness of Everything," click here.)

Signum Crucis

She slams the Father-shot
in one experienced gulp,
head thrown all the way back,
and rattles to the burning soothe.

She lingers in her exhale,
reaches for the Son, swallows
him hard and hurries
to complete her holy trinity.

Turning the spent Holy Ghost upside down
on the sticky wet bar, she closes her eyes,
lets her head dangle, swirls it around,
and enjoys being half way to abandon.

She wiggles to the dance floor,
twirls with Bobby before moving on
to a couple of unknowns
and getting to know them.

When her glow gets runny
she returns for second service.
First, the Ex and his bluish-purple rage;
she keeps her eyes closed and lets herself believe

it wasn’t all locked-up tight
and letting the neighbors know.
Bobby hears another of her moans
over the glorious thump of the bass.

Next, the Girls, a twenty-something
triumvirate of crossed arms and pursed lips
over the day-in-and-day-out blur
of her jaded green eyes.

She sips the last shot slowly,
selects a Soon-to-Know-Well,
gestures across her chest
and slurs Amen.

First appeared in The Homestead Review - Fall 2016

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Poems I Admire #24

I do not pander, I do not preen. My mother always said my taste for solitude would starve me. Parch me too. I have my Schubert and I have my Liszt and centuries of others, Chopin for joy running down the keys like water, Beethoven for rage. But music is not the laying-on of hands. I bought a massage once just for that; oiled and stroked, finger fluttered, palmed, I could feel the what is it, cortisol? frolic in my brain. Not cortisol, adrenalin, what is it, what? A compound that comes to the surface where you’re touched. Days without talking no wonder I put my plimsoll on. No, that’s not right. My riot. No. What am I trying to say. Floaters block the words. when I dream I do it big: Who would I want to ride me? Holy cannoli, the bakery man. George Clooney with those raccoony eyes and I’ll bet some hands. My mother always said Go mingle, get your blood up. Well. How do they do it, the lovers in the woods, on their bed of leaves, how do they ever decide on who. The boat went out, years ago this was, and I wasn’t on it. Is there someone to forgive?

First appeared in Fifth Wednesday Journal

Rosellen Brown has published widely in magazines and her stories have appeared frequently in O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories and Pushcart Prizes. One is included in the best-sellerBest Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike.

She has been the recipient of an award in literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Bunting Institute, the Howard Foundation, and twice from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was selected one of Ms. Magazine’s 12 “Women of the Year” in 1984. Some Deaths in the Delta was a National Council on the Arts prize selection and Civil Wars won the Janet Kafka Prize for the best novel by an American woman in 1984.