VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Marc Olmsted

VACCINE

Inoculate hunger
Inject education
Unplug Virus X tweeting!
Mask socialism calling it
“free health care”
Drain oil abscess
from gasoline planet’s arm
Social distance the cops
clubs & guns sheathed
in weeping empathy –
Police dog’s head of anger
now stretched out
on massive paws big sigh asleep

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Tiberius Galloway

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Duane Vorhees

THE POSTMORTEM

Your doom and your disappearance
are but two of death’s deceptions.

You won’t ride with the Valkyries

or be served by any houris.

Don’t expect balance and feather,

an accounting in a ledger,

an inquisition by angels,

the companionship of sages.

You’ll have no Hell/karma/Heaven —
judgment’s privileged to the living.

Your remains are genes and atoms,
and memories are your statues.

O MOON  

Shakespeare was too polite calling you inconstant.  

You’ll flash your waxed silver clit for anyone.  

Your fabled vagina spawns the stars and poems  

But when I most need you to arouse

you hide, as though demure.  

LIMOS

With her hardball knees

and basketball abdomen–

Hunger never plays

The Greeks knew Hunger well,

daughter of Discord, sister of Ruin.

An amalgamation of bloat and emaciation,

she once inhabited Aethon’s innards

to make him devour himself whole from within.

But the Greeks knew Prometheus too.

He gave men writing, math, and agriculture.

He gave them fire, and he even restored

the hope his sister had withheld.

All to keep insatiable Hunger at bay.

Hunger’s bony snowshoe feet

bear her shambling ramshackle corpse,

spindly jolly roger crucifix protruding.

Her empty burlap tits hang from pegs,

her skin a crisp parchment

lettered by visible veins,

tightly bound to volumes of bones.

Her cracked and crusted lips

mouth equations of halitosis and dust.

Her cheeks sprawl like abandoned adzes,

her nose like a rusted plow.

The ashes of apathy show from mineshaft eyes

after an unremembered fire.

The Greeks knew, of course,

that Prometheus would be

punished for his impertinence,

fettered on Hunger’s barren Caucasian mountain,

Aethon dining on his liver. 

PASSIO

I knew from my earliest youth

my destiny as a martyr

so I majored in high abuse

and I practiced my stigmata.

Via Dolorosa to crucifixion

became much harder.

When my ambition came unloosed

I lost my consuming ardor

for fire, for stone, for ax, for noose.

I instead became a writer

to put my schooling to good use.

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Kushal Poddar

Goodbye, Dream

 Near and far from the incarcerator,

and near and far from our brother

good memories ambush the rotten ones.

What are you burning to forget?

Everything between the zilches. 

Now the one is gone.

The code of the remembrance-

zero, zero and zero.

Did we remove all the metals from

his heart? Late evening crows scratch

the sky – that poorly polished firmament.

Atrophied

 My brother’s grief follows him

to his daybreak toilet

and to our kitchen filled with

claustrophobic aroma of coffee and bread.

                    Atrophied, I know him,

he grasps for anything that may

haul him by his senses, anything

like those scents, benevolent wrinkles

in the dark cliffs of pain.

The tune our mother has left free

in this household roams shedding

its tickling notes everywhere.

We sneeze a song. I put words

on the tune quite different

from those of my brother’s.

Bad Neighborhood

 From the penumbral cave

of one halted building

a bunch of eyes stare at me

still huffing and puffing

from a close encounter with rain.

I disappoint them – neither

a man with money nor

a dealer with crystals.

I have heard people take home

a pocketful of eyes and free

them in a glass cage with cookie crumbs

pollinated walls, and on the powerless

nights watch them light up

blinking good stories from a bad neighborhood.

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Michael Lee Johnson

The Redemption 

My eyes green

are 2 glass windows

into the past.

I keep the blinds

pulled down tight.

Carnal knowledge

is a Biblical definition of sin.

I live in darkness,

the shame of those early years.

I pull myself out

redemption in old age,

a savior,

before the grave,

I flatter myself

in a mirror, no reflection.

Alberta Bound (V4)

I own a gate to this prairie

that ends facing the Rocky Mountains.

They call it Alberta-

trails of endless blue sky

asylum of endless winters,

the hermitage of indolent retracted sun.

Deep freeze drips haphazardly into spring.

Drumheller, dinosaur badlands, dried bones,

ancient hoodoos sculpt high, prairie toadstools.

Alberta highway 2 opens the gateway of endless miles.

Travel weary, I stop by roadsides, ears open to whispering pines.

In harmony North to South

Gordon Lightfoot pitches out a tune-

“Alberta Bound.”

With independence in my veins,

I am a long way from my home.

Tiny Sparrow Feet (V2)

It’s calm.

Cheeky, unexpected.

Too quiet.

My clear plastic bowls

serves as my bird feeder.

I don’t hear the distant

scratching, shuffling

of tiny sparrow feet,

the wing dances, fluttering, of a hungry

morning’s lack of big band sounds.

I walk tentatively to my patio window,

spy the balcony with my detective’s eyes.

I witness three newly hatched

toddler sparrows, curved nails, mounted

deep, in their mother’s dead, decaying back.

Their childish beaks bent over elongated,

delicately, into golden chips, and dusted yellow corn.

Beach Boys, Dance

They dance and drum to their songs.

Boogaloo Boys, Beach Boys, still band members die.

Revolts and rebellion always end in peace, left for the living.

Even the smoking voice of Carl Wilson dies

with a canary inside his cancerous throat called “Darlin.”

Dennis Wilson, hitchhiking, panhandling with the devil Charles Manson,

toying with heroin, he’s just too much trouble to live.

Check their history of the living and the dead; 

you will find them there, minor parts and pieces

musical notes stuck in stone wall cracks,

imbibe alcohol, cocaine.

Name’s fade, urns toss to sea

dump all lives brief memories,

bingo, no jackpot.

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Danny D. Ford

Balancing Act

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Dan Holt

Mini Bike

You had this

mini bike

with an engine

the size

of a lawnmower

It sounded

like a chain saw

buzzing

up and down

the street

The one time

I rode it

the fucking thing

shot out

from under me

when I hit the

accelerator

and smashed

into a tree

Your dad

drained all

the oil

and gasoline

and stashed

it in the rafters

of your garage

He said

it was

too damn

dangerous

That wasn’t

the last time

I ruined

the fun

Bestseller

Sitting on

an old couch

at the end

of someone’s

driveway

in the middle

of the night

Completely

out of our heads

on acid

Laughing in

that insane way

only acid heads

understand

The kind

that makes

your face hurt

the next day

Bouncing lines

off each other

Plotting out

a novel

Something

about vampires

and cemeteries

This is gonna 

be a

bestseller

Dig These Blues

(for Mark Borczon)

What is there

to say

about the blues

It lives

in a place

all it’s own

Sing the praises

of the bad news

Celebrate

your troubles

and get lost

in the glory

of twelve

lonely bars

The first

the fourth

and the

beautiful fifth

The relative major

tells the story

and the walk down

brings it home

Nothing Was Said

I had this

blinding headache

and everything 

she said

just made it worse

It was like she was

shouting

not in my ears

right

inside

my head

I grabbed her

by the shoulders

and shook her

Stop

screaming

Just

be

quiet

Then I saw

the look of raw

fear

in her eyes

and I realized

she hadn’t been

speaking

at

all

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: George Schaefer

WHEN THE WRONG GIRL GETS PISSED OFF BY A POEM

I was talking

to this young lady I know

and she was really pissed off

about a poem I wrote

about getting laid

in the back seat

of an old ’73 Buick LeSabre

I didn’t see why this one poem

in particular

was so upsetting to her

and then it dawned on me.

I was thinking, “Oh yeah,

now I remember that night. “

Now either I was really drunk

or her performance

just wasn’t up to par

It’s hard to write a poem

about something that

you don’t even remember

Unfortunately,

like all too many women (and men)

she doesn’t realize

that what’s up here (mind)

and in here (heart)

is worth infinitely more

than what’s down here (crotch)

ANARCHY IN QUEBEC

They were protesting and parading around Rue St. Denis and Rue St Catherine.  They were 

beating on drums and chanting their anarchist slogans.  The signs they wielded proclaimed the 

horrors of our society.  This was Anarchy French Canadian style on their afternoon march.  The 

local businesses seemed a bit dismayed although a few waitresses and bartenders commiserated 

with the cause.  I was just sitting there finishing my beer knowing that I needed to get through 

the crowd to move on to my next destination.  I figured I would just treat the anarchist parade 

like a conga line and get off when I got closer to my destination.  I figured if the gendarmes 

stopped me I would plead ignorance.  Désolé.  Je suis un Américain muet.  It seemed like a good plan.

marching with a cause 

or even without said cause

they raise a ruckus

ASSHOLES AND BITCHES NEED NOT APPLY

As I waltz through my life

whiling away hours, weeks,

years & even decades

I never found a shortage

of certain undesirable sorts.

There seems to be 

an asshole lurking

under every rock

& a bitch to be found

around any old corner.

The cretins aren’t coming.

They’re already here

They appear out of the mist

when you least expect them

always willing to lend a hurting hand.

There’s no longer any surprise

in finding someone new

only to learn they are not dependable.

You’re only an afterthought

they never truly care for.

As I get older

I find I have fewer friends

and more casual acquaintances

and that’s very much by design

as I try to keep my life real.

I’d rather be surrounded

by those relatively special few

that I know I can count on

than have thousands of false friends

valued at a dime a dozen.

BAD DREAMS

the blanket covers me

              in winter sweat

the dream turns sinister

a lesbian and a Republican

are talking to me

and trying to seduce me

into a plot 

to capture Tibet

and get head from

Buddhist monks

I run through the house

out to the backyard

being chased by

Andre the Giant and Grace Jones

My foot gets stuck

in an anthill

and the evil henchmen

take me captive;

some mornings

I’m really glad to wake up

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: J.C. Hawkes

R E D   C U R T A I N

I have replaced my face 

with a red curtain 

because,

I am hooked in 

and willingly I disappear 

into arms of 

cockroaches, 

a stockpile of dream 

and manifest of circulation. 

I found you 

at the closing of market street 

and we saw each other 

once estranged 

by emotion 

now reunited 

by several scenes 

describing our 

insatiable 

appetite 

for deliverance. 

Image

THAT IS NOT ALL THERE IS. 

Away from the noise 

and with 

– if any, 

neighbors 

who are 

other 

than 

the norm. 

one mysterious figure 

– scattered 

and an ordered mess 

made of black and green hues, 

He was suddenly offering 

me a house 

at any 

cost 

– an immediate transaction – 

available to relocate instantly. 

like clapping to turn the lights on

or a voice command 

to change 

the song. 

The things that creep 

into the brain –

This biological space, 

the magician 

forgotten 

and the neural network 

displays distinct potential 

but the wires are explosive 

and there is no one trained 

to fuse the energy created 

by its blast. 

That is not all there is – 

and even those beings 

who describe it well, 

one might 

consider to 

get a fact check 

or vote in the wrong presidency. 

Obsessive governmental orders 

by decree 

– sent to your depletion 

of conscious aware 

the imagination is 

murdered. 

That is not all there is!

THE REPUBLIC OF ROME. 

Of the light streaming inside 

the momentum of a 

falling petal into 

my lap

She, is a very distant creature 

who has enlivened  

while beating the river 

and the sun out of 

my rusted heart 

falling no longer 

to the expanding 

levels of a conscious 

activity across 

worlds within 

while the rain 

is falling

I see clearly 

more 

precarious 

elements 

of inactivity

and the 

promising 

downfalls. 

The psyche

an encroaching organism 

and my head is beating 

like the vibratory light 

dripping from the ceiling 

with the alluring fragrance 

of, I don’t give a flying fuck 

in hell anymore

I am quite okay with 

the fall of a civilization 

such as this version 

transpired and inspired 

by The Republic of Rome.