Shallow End of Erie

Shallow End of Erie
-for Philip Levine

When I come to this city
perched like a taloned fisher above Erie’s shallow end,
I come to do my work and learn my lessons.
It bobs like a bobber for I am a jobber waiting on my catch
doing what Philip Levine called “shifting from one foot to another.”
The very fulcrum of the story is a failure to afford the LED
display planners and marketers and branders say
we all must string along our personal avenues of decay.
They tell us to gloss the dull dross and let dark corners grow darker,
become lost. But those can’t be beside the dust of our presumed derelict
complexes, I don’t think; those fell-in apartments of our wishes and dreams
that we approach hesitantly. They sit alongside the Madonna
of self-renewal: malevolent Harpy, Siren,
a sensual pyramid scheme sought and sold along with cheap furnishings.
Secret rendezvouses with gigolos dangling toys of self-reinvention,
promising gripping ecstatic Nirvanas of enlightened intervention.
These must be handled carefully.
When I come to this city seeking pictures
of fallen labor organizers in faded Fonds,
their smiles of generous personal emancipation big dreams beside
a Black Lake; workers to be freed at last from drudgery
only to die, just as pushers and addicts do;
dead-on the dream but right-on correct,
feeling the breezes blow through silk Ts of Woo-woo or Cocopuffs;
drinking clear draughts of bubbling bliss
cruising analgesic shallows so aquamarine they make shoreline
smoke stacks seem like friends who burn as they do,
in full bellow of pleasure and hope: the straight dope.
But no, I don’t come seeking that.
The straits, however narrow, seem too beautiful to be deadly.
They promise a big bounteous bowl of gentle release,
far too shallow to harbor monsters of the deep.
I’ve been told how their beauty is false -that the lake is dead;
I suppose it will depend on what season you climb aboard.
Perhaps the waters will just simply give way before the pointed bow
of our mission. Crafted like an arrow, ever in search of mas,
it leaves the shallows barely running afoul of presentiments,
those knowing portents life always present in undertow:
that the gossamer water will rise like dread and count its dead.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

Between Beginnings -John Panian

Between beginnings

This very moment, as you take in a breath
to speak the next line or just to whisper it
or just to sigh a little, a girl is letting out all
of the breath in her lungs for the very last
time as the building around her collapses.

A man who is really just a boy is
holding his breath without realizing it
because he cannot grasp the fear that
he feels as he starts to pull the trigger.

He has no words for what he feels
and she has no time to make words.

And me? I am still
breathing in.

John Panian

John Panian writes poems, makes images and pays the bills by working with food in Saint Louis, Missouri, where he lives with his wife and daughter. You can follow him here: https://aprayerlikegravity.wordpress.com

Rise -Susie Sweetland Garay

Rise

I look out the window of an old brick building
and the sky is full of helicopters.

There is a gust of wind
and suddenly they all rise
at once.

So much can change
when you ask the right
questions.

So I return to what I know,
to my reasons,
which can be so hard to hold on to,

but I find them,
and then I
dig in
and
hold tight.

The most beautiful mystery
is in how creation occurs
how elements combine
inside us
to make something
separate
and new.
Lately I find bits of poems everywhere
on the backs of a grocery list
or typed as a note on my phone,
who knows when I wrote them
or what that moment looked like.

We act clumsily
but it is so much better
then to not act at all.

Susie Sweetland Garay

Born and raised in Portland Oregon, Susan Sweetland Garay currently lives in McMinnville Oregon with her husband and daughter where she works in the vineyard industry. She has had poetry and photography published in a variety of journals, on line and in print. Her first full length poetry collection, Approximate Tuesday, was published in 2013 and she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2014. Her second collection, Strange Beauty from Aldrich Press, was published in 2015. More of her work can be found at susansweetlandgaray.wordpress.com.

A beautiful boat -John Panian

A beautiful boat

That’s what we had. Maybe.
One day before our faces.
Now, this is where we are.
Trying on well-fitting boots.

We bought them. The book.
The line. The sinking thoughts.
Them too, we bought. “Fuck the
farm, we bought the boat!”

The oars and the ocean too.
And then we threw them all
in. Chopped the little ones
for our chum and threw them

in over the side. I can see them
now, the pieces, moving up
from the dark like bright fish.
Our beautiful boat is eating us.

John Panian (St. Louis, MO)

John Panian writes poems, makes images and pays the bills by working with food in Saint Louis, Missouri, where he lives with his wife and daughter. You can follow him here: https://aprayerlikegravity.wordpress.com

Fordism

Fordism

Turns out it never was so revolutionary
to believe that eight lane boulevards
and the death of street cars
were worthy guests at the birth of the modern

A farm boy from Michigan
wanted to reinvent More’s vision

Since I suppose you only can shovel
so much manure
dip your hands in one too many chassis
before learning either to love
or scorn
the Earth its soiling work

Ford
Lenin
Reuther
-even G. Mennen
a prophet’s work is insurrection

But who would have guessed
that the great migration
would turn on a Model A or T
and not a burning tree

That would not burn.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

This poem appeared in Muddy River Review in Spring 2017. You can find it here: http://www.muddyriverpoetryreview.com/Jeremy%20Nathan%20Marks-2.pdf

That’s a (w)rap

That’s a (w)rap

‘Overstand the Mecca in command
Part of the plan is the man who built the land he began’

-Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth

‘You tell me lies that should be obvious to me’ -Marvin Gaye

I

Frogmen!
proof of the truth
of the word from the text
that subdued those rude
tendencies of the deity
a great fire burned
taking books that mistook
the true way for untruth
until nothing but molten
ash was left, its fuel become
trash

They braised the land
until it flaked
paddies, penny plots
morphed into scales
suited to scouring
clouds of coloured gas
swirled about the walking
fish which came first
copter or submarine
airborne or marine?

Seas swelled with ammonia
smell and sulphur while on a
a vista perched above the lava
surge a life emerged
a seeing eye, efficient gill
basking in its privilege
waiting for the law to seek early
signs of a common mind, a thought
suited to the new purpose with the old
pedigree; left over from the first
godly revolutionary.

II

Buxom!
The milk bilked from the cattle
in the meadow has made
dairy maids wholesome as blades
of blue grass transplants from the
mothership where the original
design was primed and put to order
by divine dictate of the holy tribune
in whose mouth the original design
was primed in saliva put to moulder

In the ‘new lands’ of terra incognita
savages never knew what hit ‘em:
horses prolific as fleas; sparrows copious
as grains; edible weeds like thistles
mustards, clover and heifer feed
Sipapu beside sugar cultivation
El Dorado, a buffalo nation
rubber plantation, crop rotation
tobacco cultivation, no more vines
climbing shared shoots no potlatch,
a denial of roots, scientific policing,
phrenological reasoning, Byzantine systems
of stratification sketched off of parental copulation

The moths in the Midlands turned
their wings grey in search of prey
clung like a barnacle to the trident
of the 3 Gs; hitchhiked, a bilge rodent
fattened by passage even though
they rode in steerage.

III

Entrepreneurs!
Come for disaster
stay for after dinner infotainment
where the girl paying her way
through pre-med makes gravy
saying Cowboy. Mister. Talks to G.I.
Johnny about his semester
in the perfumed city
feigns interest in his promise
to help pay for the great one day
while carrying in his suit
Pyle’s policy underwritten by
an assurance company
based on Wall Street or Pennsylvania
down the block from the IMF

G.I. Jane need’t explain how she can
play her drum like a horn with trumpet
lines capable of more than taps; a wonder
at craps she fends the brothers off when they
take officer privilege like they do over brunch
gathering the family and summon for service
colonials whose lives are better because there is
butter come with the guns and grits as a side order
for true grit and t-bone Jones the drill sergeant who
drinks at the non-com bar where the girls have scars
of bullet holes in their torsos that’s the real war, the
frontier, helluva place to buy a drink where the Ivy
League boys in pinstripes soft-as-shite ain’t gonna go
cause they can’t comp connections with the sons of
subalterns, coal miners, pipe fitters, the orphans of
share croppers rather they’re looking for a direct line
to the Kremlin to restore a sense of danger they never
knew, Trust Fund sons of Béké from the windwards
they fancy mollusk innards though they made sure
to feed their house negroes collards

Nothing’s gonna change so long as money that
name the tune call the dance; did you see the report
from finance? It went to a PAC which is another way
of saying that’s a rap on the holding company mercantile
energy, never met a preferential arrangement or cause for
deferment of cost it didn’t like; the Kike’s the lawyer who
practically plays the tune calls the piper into his near inner
sanctum -they say Rothschild, but it’s really Rothstein-
who said the man with his hat in the ring isn’t the man, it’s
owning the game and that’s not the same thing.

IV

Porte-parole!
Say it plain; speak white; say it loud: liberez-nous des liberaux
quite sure I’ve heard them all. Tell me though, how are you going
to grow if you can’t look the camera in the eye, hold a town hall
or even take a trip to the far side where you know what you eat
even if you’re not sure what’s entirely in the food; that’s the good
word and you’ve been heard on the outro like a decimal at the festival
but don’t believe we’re as divided as we seem though some slug others
for hoarding the cream speaking the truth or better yet asking to see if you
got the news about some report accounting for the things you say is gonna save
liberty or whatever ideal you was espousing while the checks rolled into your purse. I saw a hearse pull up in front of the marble top building while the beating of the drum steady as a pulse caused the sage grouse to jump into the fire and emerge not just Phoenix- like but resembling a coyote. Truth is that we don’t value the desperado the way the films would have us believe; the man who played the green beret didn’t actually make his way overseas when his country came calling but he was quick to say who followed the proper way and trigger fast to smell any whiff of less-than-a-hundred-percent commitment to flag and the great father even though he couldn’t say the last time he showed up in church and recognized a passage by rote or tapped his foot to a chant that wasn’t inchoate like his sense of the great creed, but was the very pulse of his blood

They say it in blocs and docks: money is speech! There’s no such thing as overreach I promise you this: the investments you made will pay just as soon
as Mars is in eclipse on a gigolo’s lips it is Venus on the phone for five dollars the first, one fifty every minute thereafter pretty soon the need
for love will be an abstraction like a breast the fills a bottle with
lactation; it’s not an udder merely a nipple that can be synthetic, prophylactic, latex maw and mechanism threat of breakdown -never have to solve another problem again just download the solution.

How far the cameras go? Act like you know. They gonna make their way into the room with the little metallic stalls? You know the one where the senator of holy background was found foot fondling the loafer of another politico on his way home to a second family, third wife overall; it’s been caught on film but I promise you this, some things remain beyond reason’s release: flatulence, capitalism, a map seemingly only to point up, mercator projection, middle age erection where white islands are far larger than the black. We’re all in the red? They said better off dead; ain’t racism a topographical science, snowflake arrangement, conscience derangement surely it ain’t otherwise how they explain why the whitest among us rose to coin of the realm, masters of their own house and dueñas too just how far does this thinking reach, probably down deep enough to touch fingertips to feces; rectum a place of thought generation, Kundalini, spiritual education; never underestimate the puissance and persistence of crap.

That’s a (w)rap.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

All voices welcome

I am looking to bridge barriers and bring about conversations between people who think they sit on opposite sides of the social, political, regional, ethnic, religious and gender barriers. I am looking for voices from rural, small town, conurban and urban spaces. I am looking for voices from the world over.

I am quite serious when I say that all voices are welcome provided they do not engage in hate or defamation.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

487 Charlotte

487 Charlotte

‘I am not writing this letter expecting to receive a reply.’ -W.M.F. to Mayor Cavanagh (8/15/67)

Fast forward fifty, Mr. Mayor
and the building next to mine
487 Charlotte
is boarded up and you’re dead
but I’m still here
not in the same place
but somehow around.

I can walk
and there’s a casino up the block
(you remember when they didn’t even
allow lottos in most states?).
Well, when factories stop hiring,
Mr. Mayor
people go and gamble for their pensions.

Just days after the uprising
a gang of blacks accosted my friend
-I still call them ‘black’ since it took me so long
to get out of the habit of saying
‘Negro’

One raised his arms and screamed in her face
-reminded me of a ref at a Lions game-
he got his from seeing her panic
a white face gone red as any Indian
while they just watched
knife-less
flashing perfect teeth
like piano keys on a Steinway.

Mr. Mayor,
I feel the need to write you
because I voted for you (twice)
and like you I once felt such sympathy
for the Negro
(there, I’ve done it again)
but now I just don’t know.

Last week my girlfriend was coming out of Saks
when this older man
-old enough to know better
walked up to her demanding a date
she said she was married but he just kept at it

She’s a prim woman
so you can imagine how she felt.

I have another friend, Mr. Mayor
who took a recent trip to some Caribbean island
and the hate they showed her,
she said it ran ever deeper than anything
she felt along Cass after Mayor Young got in.

They hate anything white
it’s so much worse when they see you
she says
paying for things
the money one more proof
they can’t make a country out of it.

It’s a wonder those islands
don’t just fall back into European laps
but then I hear Europe doesn’t want them
much like what’s said about us city folk
out in Royal Oak.

On public tv just days after you declared
the hostilities over
one intellectual type said
what with all this anger and misery
with ‘the legacy’
islands of black lack much of a chance

If that’s the case
it’s a wonder our city is still here, isn’t it?
That our country hasn’t thrown us back, too
like some algae smudged perch from Erie
soaked in mercury.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

Note: 487 Charlotte is a real Detroit address. And the mayor here is Mayor Jerome P. Cavanagh, who was in charge of the city from 1962-1970.

Dialogue

‘For no man is without strength for expression, and our turning towards him brings about a reply, however imperceptible, however quickly smothered, in a looking and sounding forth of the soul that are perhaps dissipating in mere inwardness and yet do exist.’ -Martin Buber (Dialogue)

The new thing -by Susan Daniels

The new thing

The new thing’s not cloth so beautiful
only the 1% can see its shimmer
and its not cake sweet in one slice
while the rest is cardboard construct
its everything

not in absolute but swing.
We have different sets of fact
instead of simple opinion
like plain plates for family suppers
and Royal Daulton for company
but all the edges are gilt
skimmed over relativity,
our flexibility bending jointlessly
and against anatomy

The emperor
simply faked a set of clothes.
we’re doing so much more than that.
Pulling prosperity from air,
renaming success from bankruptcy
and we’re doing it with ideas
too large for our small heads.

If we speak it, it is so.
If we stay silent, it never was.

Susan Daniels

Susan Daniels is a poet, activist and mother to cats and children who lives in Western New York. Follow Susan here: https://susandanielspoetry.com