Lummox Journal

Poetry Corner

old maid

When you came

through the window,

folding back wings

that whisper secrets

to no one,

I stared at myself

in the mirror,

pretending it was

a wishing well,

wishing alabaster skin

wasn't acquiring the patina

of weathered marble

left in the rain,

that tears weren't

so caustic where

sorrow deepens the line

that runs from the edge

of my eye

into the curve

of my cheek,

no longer plump

with youthful impropriety

or pouty from

lusty, uncivilized assignations.

I take heart

as your hand

claims ownership of

a ripening breast

that welcomes the

weight of feathery kisses

you bestow on

its warmth, while

the other hand

encompasses the fullness

Time placed on my hips

and in the center

of my womb.

Are you nothing

but a dream?  I'm afraid

to awaken alone,

my aging self

refracted in ripples of

a wishing well

that mocks my desire

and spreads me to the

edge of loneliness.

My mouth breathes

the inevitable question,

Why do fairies drown

themselves in merlot

Your wings fold back,

whispering secrets

to no one.

m. lecrivain

copyright 2004/2007


Two by Pris Campbell

 Discarded Climaxes

                         for my first husband

 I come from a long line of lapsed dancers.
Imprisoned by cricked backs, blown knees,
erratic hearts and wasting-away illnesses,
we sit, tapping our toes.
Jukeboxes longing to be plugged in.

 Men used to watch when I danced,
eyes measuring my breasts, placing bets
along the metronome of my hips
that they would be the one to bed me.

 I spread my legs only for you, my dear,
a bear who stepped on my feet, pushed
when he should've pulled, was always
a half-beat off, who wandered away to a corner
to talk law when my fervor ran highest.

 Once you liked the heat of my body
dancing you to your own climax later,
but our dance wound down from the Stones
to Lombardo as your attention floundered,
leaving me prey to wolves who gladly
feasted on the meal you bypassed so easily.

 I sometimes still think of you, ticking off
those fine points of law, your fingertips
waltzing away vows as lasting as dreams
I once read in braille from the hopeful air.

Will The Last Living Saint Please Stand Up

 It was only after my brother-in-law's visit,
two years past his time in that slaughterhouse
we called Vietnam, that I saw how the war
had affected my first husband,
safely riding out his own two year bloodbath
in a supply ship off the corpse
free green waters of this once beautiful,
but troubled, land we were sent to burn, tame,
napalm and slaughter.

 God Bless America, land of the free!
Teach the young our enemies are subhuman
then send them frolicking on their way.

 My brother-in-law spoke of sheared-off ears
strung on belts,
Cong flung like basketballs or mortars
from our copters,
the rapes,
the heads on posts,
the torture.

 Oh dear God, I had to leave the room.

 From the kitchen, I heard them both laugh
at one gook who begged for his life,
his screams, those of a dying hyena.

 Civilian or Cong? If dead, he was Cong.
That was the rule.
Women clutching their babies, stabbed
raped, and shot counted as ten, no make it a hundred...
ten counts for each of the ten men who raped her.
These counts, 'proof' of our
successes in taming these noble savages.

Count 'em.
Count 'em double.
Count 'em triple.
That was the unofficial official word given these teens,
some still not needing a shave every day,
some with their mother's mailed cookies still
stowed in their rucksack.

 My husband's spirit had fled along with his brother's.
This explained his long silences, the indifference
that had crept like a dark shadow over
our young marriage.

 This was the war we were to learn from.
the war more men died by their own hand
from, than were killed by the Cong in those
searing, orange-coated, gateways to hell.

 The bones of the dead rise in my dreams,
dress in their cast away coats of skin.
They are us, they say, and we, them.
They pull on their faces and it's my face I see.

 May those without sin cast the first stone,
they chant.

 Glass houses weren't safe havens, anyway.
No more than battlefields, home fronts,
or shivering behind the backs of wannabe
saints claiming they would've never done the same thing.

 I'm still waiting for the real saints to rise up.

 Turn on the house lights.
Toss away the crosses.
Sing hymns of praise.
Feather the ground with rose petals.

 Perhaps glass houses will yet
be habitable again in our lifetime
and condoms, not war,
the preferred way to manage
our burgeoning population overload.

Pris Campbell

The key

Henry Miller would serve
tea in his bathroom
his life was like wallpaper, pictures
hung in there for everyone to see.
let your imagination run wild,
don't be afraid to follow your dreams
life is interpretation,
there is no lock and key,
no one person in this god damned world
can tell you what to believe, what to write,
what to fear.
open your soul and it will sing
like blue birds on a wire.

Darryl Salach 


We are drug addicts we are dreamers
we fold paper roses on the porch
before the first bony arm of morning
uproots our dreams.
We pull petals as superstition
she loves me she loves me
Let's line our dreams of yellow-tongued daisies
against an old graffitied wall in a Greyhound bus station bathroom
let's line them up with cigarettes and blindfolds and cock 
high powered rifles in their direction. 
Let us now shoot 
down our dreams of insecurity baby
shoot em' down from the hip
with silver bullets that shatter bone into fragments
down down with fiery stars and madhouse etiquette.
Let's throw our pocket sized fists into fun house mirrors
before they show us how other people see us.
Let's do it just enough to save face. 

Jason "Juice" Hardung


 you cursed me
and told me when I die
no one will  ever
remember I existed  

this  cut like a jagged knife
right through my soul 
you told me how throngs
of people came
to your father's funeral
and the adoration you both had

 I accepted the fact
that I would die alone
it is not so bad really
when you think about it
probably I won't know

but it was you that died first
only family came and the ones
you did not like -  that amused me
as they feigned sorrow
I was the only one
that bore you true sorrow
in spite of everything
I loved you 

shortly after that  I was notified
by the funeral director
there was some mix/up

that you had no headstone 

I was to go and pick one out
I still have not done this yet
somehow I find solace in the fact
that even a passer/by
cannot even read your name
and I the only one
who re/sounds in my thoughts,
in the horrors of my dreams,
your memory -  realized
through my voice you speak 

is that not "poetic justice?" 

Karina Klesko

The end of the aisle

Many hours I've swam in this ocean of books
through all versions of weather
small children have turned into adults
with children of their own
there is more than something in that
i was 31 when Dutton's rode in
now i'm 55 and still growing
Richard Pearce brought Cormac Mccarthy in one day
all of it was process
and heart
as customers truly wanted to know what
i liked and why
now the door is shutting down
and the ongoing dance is ending
nothing will replace being surrounded by books
back in the seventies i never knew i would fall
into bookselling
thankfully i parked my carcass
in an independent store
where the flame of knowing was encouraged to burn
retail at times can be murder
but for the most part the music played here
was resonant and ear pleasing.
and the best times were those moments when
turning someone on to an author you cared for.
goodbye stone floor of the west room
my feet have autobiographies written in standing on
goodbye coming in hours before nine o'clock opening
to straighten and shift the paperback fiction section.
in this technical twilight of downloading material
i still passionately advocate the physical feel of a
cover and material within
as you participate in today's soiree
continue to appreciate and support the printed word
in all its color and breadth.
23 years of my ongoing process thrived here.
the planet fumbles forward.
the dance continues.

scott wannberg
(Written on the occasion of the closing of Dutton's Bookstore, a long standing member of the independent book sellers of America)

Saturday Morning

He spotted me
getting out of the car
at the post office
and ran across the parking lot

could I spare a dollar
for a phone call home
Baltimore Maryland, he said

I gave him 3 dollars
he thanked me, his
eyes on the bills

he'd been through town a year ago
I'd given him a dollar then
for the same phone call

I gave it to him because
I'd been on the road
hungry and friendless
dirty for want of a shower
sore from sleeping on the ground
people looking the other way
the horizon close and bleak

I wanted to tell him it would get better
because it got better for me
but I didn't.

It doesn't always
work that way.

It was his business and
I'd been getting mail lately.

Ray Freed


She’s dead then?

You say.

Cross questions?

A spectre lucid in flight
Somnambulant across stone
Unconscious little eddies
Screaming Blue Murder!

The kind of self-immolation we expect?

In a play.

And in her fall?

There is light
Dawn appears
Imperceptible movement
A hesitating mote without connection.

Dressed in scarlet, black pearls?

Thin at the waist,
Classic curve.

Is there guilt?

In her shadowy eyes
An inner sanctum cracked
Dilated, peerless.

A quick exit?

Brevity at swooning-point.
No sequel.

And the response?

Macbeth! Macbeth!

Christopher Barnes

Two by Lyn Lifshin


Really, think of it, with
the sense that all is starting
over, is abut to be new again?
How could it ever be April?
No, its the fall by far that
stings, the lush days are over,
done. The wind strips leaves
that softened light, naked
while the summer beauties
are camouflaging their own
nakedness. Lithe limbs are
covered over like a rose bush
that can’t keep blooming.
Walking down Connecticut
all flesh has gone away, as
it will, the way of all flesh.
As it was in the 50’s, flesh
under rubber girdles, belly
buttons hidden under waist
cinchers and shirt waist
dresses, maybe a bare arm
or leg, impersonal as in a
Sears Roebucks catalogue.
No belly buttons, no deep
v of breasts for eyes to dive
in. Well, you know what the
panty girdle hid. I heard
someone say it was to deny
flesh fleshiness, no bounce
for the ounce but I think
it was a guard against
fraternity boys’ fingers and
tongues, let alone something
bigger and of course not
letting them see what of
course they lusted for wildly,
something they’d wait for
we were told, if they cared


It seemed unreal
as the small news
article: the Palestinian
parents who donated
their dead child’s
heart and kidneys
and lungs to the
Israeli hospital
after the gun with
fake bullets did him
in. I wanted the
news in print, your
name. Survivors.
I wanted to know if
there was a wife,
the exact cause.
What poems were
lying on the floor near
your chair, those
lines, the tail of a
comet. I want a
freeze frame as the
pen dropped like
pebbles on a grave
before a body is
shredded, rose
leaves for attar

Lyn Lifshin

Poem for Jack Micheline

He was the high note of a wailing saxophone
The spark that ignites a fire
He was a shot of tequila
A glass of imported beer
A shaman
A vagabond poet shuffling words
Like a river-boat gambler

Ravished by illness
Ravished by time
He painted his visions on canvass
In parks in bars and coffee houses
His poems singing out across the
Streets of America
Pure innocence pure genius
Spinning words that hung in the air
Like a hummingbird drunk on the
Pollen of life

A.D. Winans
Recipient of the Beat Museum (SF) Poet of the Month Award