descent (a versified haibun)

pickled light flickers on the doormat
my grandmother soured in dust

no one comes to see her leg
lost to infomercials

a web of blue roots animates
her hand with figures she draws in waves

the window opens to barking far off
are you there? she asks

her voice a rigor of words filling her eyes
the dog leaps off a hollow log

my womb, careful she giggles as I flip her like a pillow
the treacle dusk liquefies on the saucer a dying shore

I dip my finger in the sugar wand wafting in and out
here taste spit from the bottomed-out sea

she puckers her lips then gulps
the hiss of foam drowning

a briny whisper stuck in my ear
rising and sliding on bone tremors
grandmother’s cumbered universe now mine

Alegria Imperial

descent (a versified haibun)

OKTOBERFEST

An accordion player with a pumpkin belly
sings songs of beer. With songs of beer
and lederhosen shorts, he shakes like jelly,
the accordion player and his belly.
Festivity fashioned by a Machiavelli—
The sizzling bratwursts prompt many cheers
while the accordion player with the belly
sing songs of beer, songs of beer . . .

day after
riddled with hangover
the town mortician

Anna Cates

OKTOBERFEST

THE SKUNK APE

Hidden eyes discern
Nostrils better interpret
Human decay

Beyond the quarry’s boulders,
Heavy as any burden,
Trees weed upward, all gnarled,
Hollow knot holes filled with darkness,
Open mouths forever silently screaming,
Shadows harboring sentient eyes,
Glowing gold . . .

Ghosts float past an autumn-tainted moon.
Distant Mack Trucks faintly growl.
A tired skeleton, growing old,
Stirs through the mist—stops
For some odd reason at the dead-end road,
Beside the smashed pumpkins—
Toothless and broken maws,
And scans a freshly crushed possum.

Rusted machinery—
Some say poverty is a black hole—
That bottomless pit can never be filled—
Others simply offer too many, too many
Mouths to feed . . .
People missing pieces,
Pussies, or things with “legs up to their necks”
That make a skunk ape shriek—
Children, empty mouths,
Game for the next shovel-full . . .

Blood moon—
A hairy arm parts
The bramble

Anna Cates

THE SKUNK APE

This is America God damn it

It is likely the Bronx. Battered housing projects. Stretched shadows in groups. They’re the frame. A spontaneous memorial sprung up of mourning candles sputtering. Most have pictures of Mary or Jesus painted on their glass. Some withered roses hanging on there.

The police have cordoned off the crime scene. Mothers are weeping. Neighbors have come out in their robes. Whispering. It seems it was a child caught in the crossfire.

A gang banger with tattoos drawn like a religious text scrawled up to his chin says to no one in particular,

Bang. Bang.
it’s America
you’re dead

Jack Galmitz

This is America God damn it