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

Silence

Today I want to see how many cars go by.  It’s cold outside and there’s not a soul around.

Neither a passer-by, nor a cyclist.

[…]

Nobody.

This is the rush hour.

A car arrives.  It moves slowly.  I think it’s someone who lives nearby and comes home after work.

Others should follow.

[…]

Nothing…

from one lockdown
to another
winter fog

Andrea Cecon

Silence

Unnamed Counts

Dinner flip-flop-flips on the hooks. They climb the bank to their fire drum. Salted, sizzling skins are popped in mouths that grin warm-belly bliss. A mutual moment of plenty before tomorrow’s rumblings. Reading lines by flashlight from second-hand journals is their nightly home entertainment. Laughter stumbles over spoken word, interrupting their recitations with impersonations of celebrities.

Cold fingers share communion in this private camp. Praying over one another’s skin, their joined bodies sing hymnals. Two voices rise and call and hush into exhaustion. Sleeping under rainfall, they do not dream.

A cough and another. Their days tighten into wheezes and fevers. Wrapped up holding each other, they sleep in fits and starts. Sipping pine needle tea and breathing in its steam, their comfort word offerings weaken. They are together alone and scared.

a hike find
ruined artifacts
deserted tent

E. L. Blizzard

Unnamed Counts