Poetry Unplugged

Abandoned Still

The still,

There still,

Sublime-

ly still.

 

From cur-

tain slits

Above

The sill,

 

A glint

Of tilt

In mount-

ing silt.

 

It once distilled

Illicit swill.

Without we wilted,

Stiff and stilted.

 

With sip and tipple, soon we felt it,

Inhibitions eased and melted.

We staggered to a blotto stand and

Bachannaled with mad abandon.

 

Fledgling cads and hedonists

Joined forces with the gluttonists,

And all caroused and rebel-roused

To choruses of shrieks and howls.

 

With revelry came lechery

And doubled-over retchery,

Where every little coy flirtation

Gave way to joyful fornication.

 

For reasons not so well-defined,

That joie de vivre was left behind.

The image lingers,

Photo-still yet

Fading to a

Meager nil.

 

Now dry

And still,

It sits

There still,

 

With rust-

y film,

That dust-

y still.

Steven E. Clayman is professor of sociology at UCLA. He studies language use in everyday life, and also writes poetry which has appeared in Lighten Up Online, Light, Asses of Parnassus, and Philosophy Now. His website is https://clayman.scholar.ss.ucla.edu.

Stage Door Serenade

“Create a past that belongs to your character. I don’t want you

to be stuck with your own life. It’s too little.” —Stella Adler

 

I’m my best self in someone else’s.

Zipped into dresses cherished by women

I’ll never know. Sweat and perfume linger in their silk,

remnants of lovers and ghosts.

 

Moving across wooden boards, light trailing,

laughing, kissing, begging, grieving, singing.

Unbutton my chest, call up sorcery, morph

into someone who resembles us all.

 

The unripe character softens with her audience,

transcends word to flesh.

I loan her my voice, face, body. She can

have them. She finds miracles behind curtains.

 

Soon my head turns at her name.

I disappear for a time, return

clutching silken threads. Followspots click

from balconies. I drink their heat.

Dana Kinsey is an actor and teacher published in Writers Resist, Drunk Monkeys, On the Seawall, Sledgehammer Lit, West Trestle Review, Ariel Chart, and more. Her chapbook, Mixtape Venus, is published by I. Giraffe Press. Visit her website at wordsbyDK.com.

The Laughing God Doesn’t Know What to Tell You

no one asks for world peace.

the man ends up with a twelve-inch pianist.

joke as repetition: funny-sad,

not funny-ha-ha. like news of war,

news of no news on the front that looms

like a cratered Xanadu. we have this genie,

see, & each time we let it out: chaos.

we’re reliable beasts with bombs on our backs.

afraid? the laughing god doesn’t know what to tell you.

comedy & tragedy both require one

imprudent human gaff to turn the plot.

Ace Boggess is author of six books of poetry, including Escape Envy (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2021), and The Prisoners. His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, and other journals. An ex-con, he lives in Charleston, West Virginia.

Clean Linens

I’ve tried Tide, All, and Arm & Hammer

But nothing’s been washing out these

Leaving me blues

 

The sheets are 800 thread count

Solid Egyptian cotton

But the fiber’s gone to pieces

Of memories

Rinsed free of your touch

 

Mama always said you gottta change sheets regular

Wash ’em good and long in hot water

On account of those skin eating things

 

But now all I got is this tumbling death song

Spinning circles around

My fresh dried eyes

 

     “What? No, Ma. He’s working late!”

   So late the clock’s long broke . . .

Ma’s losing memories

And the pup’s peed on the rug

 

I got nothing, but reminiscing

And my feet in your oversized house shoes

 

But I’mma hang on to these first sheets we sullied

Though they’re ruined now

With the smell of lavender

Monique S. Simón writes poems to quiet the voices that disturb her sleep with their stories. She is cultivating a formal garden to offer them a retreat.

Final Request

Hell’s sakes what am I to do with you?

Married fifty odd years and you still can’t hear me properly.

I done told you fifty times! When it comes time for me to

meet my maker . . .

I don’t want no damn preacher man, no muddling drugs,

and no suffering crying women near my bed. Please.

Just play me tapes with funny jokes.

That’s all I ask.

I want to die laughing.

For the last time.

Paul Kindlon has published 50 literary works including one-act plays, aphorisms, fiction, and poetry.  After having graduated with a PhD in Russian literature and Philosophy, he taught Humanities for 23 years in Moscow, Russia. He now resides in Buffalo, New York.

Gibberish

From her knees, she fits her turning

body in the recess — three feet high,

two feet deep and wide — in the brick wall

of her parents’ basement.

 

Folding her legs, she becomes invisible,

not that she wasn’t already.

The vault affords her a vantage

from which to decipher.

 

A block of wood lies on the coffee table, five letters

carved into the block, all caps, the word

exclamatory and imperative: J E S U S

doesn’t speak to her.

 

Her parents don’t realize this because they never asked

and she learned to survive among the unseen and the unheard,

hiding her voice, as well as her body,

in the alcove of the wall.

 

The raised surfaces of the plaque —

the spaces before and after the letters — contain

a secret message, though,

as easy to miss as a girl seated in a cave.

 

Seven letters, all lowercase, save for the I’s,

whisper another name for god: r I b n I b n

speaks to her of the sanctity of the uncounted,

the sovereignty of the self.

 

Crawling out of the cavern, she pictures herself rushing upstairs,

eyes wild, wielding the plaque like a sword,

proclaiming the good news. She might just do it, too,

if she thought anyone would notice.

Bob Kirkley serves as a high school English teacher in the Florida Keys. He has published fiction in Adelaide Literary Magazine and poetry in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Eunoia Review, and Anti-Heroin Chic. He can be reached at https://www.facebook.com/bob.kirkley.7/.

david-clode-candles-unsplash.jpg

David Clode on unsplash

Archive of Poetry Unplugged by issue:

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