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Sunday, 20 April 2014

Carol Shillibeer

sleeping with Odysseus under the wild blackberries

Even though it's true that garbage peeks out
_ziplock, for example, its lips
a pink and blue pucker under the white
bell of a morning glory_
some days the only solution to the haunting
_childhood pain and
shame pale and hissing_

is to hide out in the margins,
and in the wasted ground find
kinship with the blackberry thorns
and the strangling vines.

Childhood ghosts visit as clenched hands,
long scratches puckering blood
like red kisses between curved islands of dirt;
her ghost calls from the long shadow
between Scylla and Charybdis
and takes the form of dead leaves
woven amongst my braid_

In the Achilles-grey of the forlorn mind,
when only the body's blood will do,
offered to the warrior's shade
(a thimble toward an unquenchable thirst)
against this, the green leaf's vertical triumph,
mounding over piles_broken brick, bent rebar
detritus of the still-breathing_
this veridian lunge for the bright
pulls tight against the throat

and the ziplock, mouth gaping
in the unmoving air at despair's doorway_
we down in dirt's levelling_
_we are all silent and waiting.

carrion flowers

These are no flowers for a grave yard.                           
     Blue petals exuberant and tenacious,
     no thinned skin of life, sucking roots,
     taking home as they do, what remains of fauna's
     humming molecular. In what passes
     for floral veins, the whole earth is undone,
flower's penduncle engorged,

the sky a puked eruption of over-fed stamen and pistil,
     that floral singularity of universal production;
     today it's as if this small blue-petaled stigmatic lip
     has dribbled out the entire rocky shore of this
     tectonic plate; as if blown through
     the deep-bottomed style, the embyro sac
projecting out the hanging blue of sea and sky;

as if our world fell, the last drops disgorged
     from that small flowered ovum,
     the earth, and the material universe,
     Dickinson's twisted grace. Of course its all
     quite ridiculous. Such a fancy to be birthed
     by flowers, when really your small pile of ashes
blown amongst their roots means that you will be eaten;

your remaining mineral count fitted into hungry mouths
     tonguing the world, this shared home,
     with the standard blind longing. That's the thing:
     your uncle crying something about the eye of god,
     I'm not sure if he means you, who will be eaten
     by the blue, or some longing for justice
     in a world where such narratives are the ephemera
of so few, that like numbers

many are irreal, and so, most of us never
     encounter them; and yet such notions of god,
     of justice and conceptual eternities have their uses.
     In fluid dynamics, for example, the running
     of oxytocin's hope, of making it past this damn pain.
     It is a thin kind of solace that your nitrites
     will someday eat another small child;
even meaner perhaps that what was your body

must have been the remains of the long dead,
     a tumble of flora and fauna, the flown eyelash
     of a man died here 2000 years ago, the dissolved
     claw of a species of corvid no longer, and of course
     the thin blossomed tongue of a magnolia tree
     that lived here so long ago that it ate
     of worn down mountains,
already in the process of being reborn.

What tears there are for you, your sister pulling
     the blue petals one by one from their solar berth,
     mixing them with your ashes
     like some chemical wedding of earth and sky,
     will do no harm, and no good,
     but for the metaphor, our projected survival
     of your loss. For now, we are just this:
no flowers, instead, chemistry ravenous for home.


Over graves no longer marked,
the track curls up hill back
toward the house. At the turn,
the remaining pieces of Red-dog
lay, curled round by dented snow.

His lower jaw, still there.
An articulated neck. A few ribs.

The long bones of his legs,
gone, the hips finally taken,
maybe by some other dog,
a coyote, a badger.

I stopped,
my feet in their usual place
either side of his ragged white teeth.

When the last bone was left,
I would pick it up, take it home
to my kitchen, grind it,
and feed it to the man
who shot him and left him for dead.

Bio: A poet (and now a writer of flash fiction), Carol Shillibeer is trying to learn how to think in narrative (which is why flash fiction). When not struggling with being out of her experimental depths, she thinks about what it must be like to be a human being living without language; she reads Isaac Newton and tries valiantly to understand what he had to say; she solicitously seeks silence.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Michael S. Begnal

from A Colony of Ticks
Crows in proximity
to town,
black-strung wire phones
their sort of squawks—
ain’t caws and
if you free a crow from distress
s/he will acknowledge
having peered
into your eye
back into forests
as if a dream,
the tribe’s community’s
peninsular complex
rising into the air
above the bay
(like I have been / in
a tribe
in the forest)
compose in the dark
lying on your back
in what is seen
as a cell,
in one of them,
a physical place,
i n
h e r e
     and along
the composing halls,
dark tunnels
by poets
on the beds that line the walls
having taken
bites of the brown loaf
     of leaves
[outside] on the
shut-up white windows,
soft light on the soft screen
shades reflect the light
and later red shines on
what appears
as a cabin in the woods
the body ’comes numb,
pomes of flying
cross the hills
and mountains
light on the branches below
short poem
jewels of thought
ink paw prints
in space


Michael S. Begnal has published the collections Future Blues (Salmon Poetry, 2012), Ancestor Worship (Salmon Poetry, 2007), and Mercury, the Dime (Six Gallery Press, 2005). His blog site is located at

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Gillian Prew

from "The Black Stanzas"
(i) a yoke of blood/my iris-eye
Too narrow and grief/stressed by what the toil has tied me to/
a yoke of blood and the weeping flies. All-droop
the black leaking/the drip of wet dust being born. Sun,
the magic sleeper roofed-out and black. Black again
men’s hearts/winter hearts/bags of breathless black.
First spring snowdrop from my iris-eye blooming here
on the concrete/its white-scented sisters a wood away.
(ii) a road of blood/a dome of cold
Like snow on the moon the cold tucked-in all glass
and weeping winter motes/a road of blood/ of red-
pepper tones tucked-up in a dome of cold. Blue,
the silent summer throats hooked and stuck. Hauled/
black salts/the wounds of weak indifference gold.
(iii) the crush of life/the food I am
A scrape/a stun/a sticking knife. The crush of life/
the food I am.  Up-bent and ruined red. Red into
the sticking black. Shut-down and meat/no epitaph.
(iv) a black hole/a blue planet
Is to slow darken/is to stagger,           spin.
Myself nothing/a truckload of me nothing/
a black hole of us fading. A pinhole of sky
a blue planet/an eye.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Origin of Manias--Craig Podmore--Reviewed by David McLean

Craig Podmore
The Origin of Manias
Oneiros Books 2013 162 pp
novel review by David McLean

This book by Craig Podmore is a novel that charts the career in perversion of a man called Anton. As in the novella that preceded it called The Symmetries of Pain, life here is a sort of sexual cannibalism and the book acquires its effect and natural tone where it lists the epitomes of human depravity. Eating, fucking, torturing, raping and killing are all basically the same thing, the same function, the expression of the self.

Anton is brought up as an orphan in a religious environment which he naturally rejects and he instead embraces what he perceives as the opposite of the religious, sadomasochism and “evil”, the latter being seen as something very generalized. Of course, if evil is very general and widespread it stops being meaningful to categorize it as evil.

As with the novella, which is the conclusion here, the cruelty of Anton is “resolved” by standard romantic love. However, love in the Sartrean analysis is just as much as the sadistic solution a victim of the inevitable dialectic of the relationship with the other. But love is just to want to be loved, to want to be loved is to have them want you to love them, ad nauseam. The only love that Sartre seems to agree to was love as an enterprise, part of a concrete project towards my own ends, not involved completely in loving the other. That gets to be basically like Anton’s project, but without so much fun. As the victim of torture winds up as just meat, looking at you, so the lover is just another body there to challenge your place as master of your world. There is nothing to save you and make you whole in any of it.

Maybe the solution is no more than the primitive Hobbesian contract: “Kill all these victims and the state will probably come, sooner or later, and fuck you up”. Or the solution may be desire as multiplicity, not desire as courtly love, even though in courtly love one may only have been, as Deleuze and Guattari suggest, playing Taoism and masochism and scampering after the BwO. (Though they explicitly state that the equation of courtly love with those things is meaningless). If there is desire everywhere, not power, then getting the desiring machines working right is (part of) the answer.

As said, the text here is at its best when it is engaged in grossing the reader out, challenging his/her boring conventions and moral debility:

Some are eaten, some are fucked, an intestine nailed into a wall,

“Sieg Heil for vagina”, a madman protests, the crucifix now severed into parts, the feel of violence is tactile, it’s beginning to exist as a, “something”, a being, it’s growing like a living organism, it’s there, I see it, I feel it, inside the vulvas, inside the mouths, inside my own genitalia!

I can strongly recommend you read this, whether or not you think love is the answer, that there is an answer, that an answer is even needed. Get it here:


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

James Decay


I’ve always
viewed death
As the great
Sitting at a table
Across from you
As you squirm
In your seat
For something to say
To break the awkward silence
Hanging in the air
As death just sits there
With that strong but silent
Hard as fuckin nails
Steve McQueen stare
Knowing it doesn’t
Have to say shit
To you
Anyone else


Hearts beat hollow
In ribbed cages
Lined on dull grey tiers
Where men
Chew on razor wire bridles
Holding back
The urge to cry
When lights go out
And silence weighs heavy
On furrowed brows
Moist from rubbing sighs
Over time stricken faces
Long forgotten
By the outside world

There is no hope here
No songs of redemption
To be sung
Only eyes
Peering from the darkness
Laughing in fear
As the echoing footstep
Of eternity approaches……


I remember the smell
Of sulphur and burnt hair
The way your  body was slumped
Slightly to the left
Your slack head rested
On the bicep
Of your outstretched arm
Palm up with a pen
Between your middle and index finger
Ink still drying
On the face
Of a suicide letter

I remember the way
The blinds
Made ribbons
Of the sun
And danced warm
Across the back of my hand
As I lifted
The snub nose 38
From your lap
Pressed the barrel
Hard to your head
And held back
The urge to shoot you again
For leaving us there
To fill in the blanks


That dances
On a bone white stage
Inside my skull

She’s stronger
Than the others

Likes to stand
On the muddy banks
Of my veins
And laugh
At my attempts
To drown her
With wave
Upon wave
Of alcohol
And heroin
My bloodstream

And at night
When I’m curled
In a cold corridor
Of sleep
For a pleasant memory
To open its door and
Invite me in
Where it’s warm

She’ll begin
Splicing &
My spine
With three strands
Of misery

Painful screams
To rattle my uvula
Like a fire alarm
My childhood dreams
To flee and scatter
Into the night

As she grinds
Her teeth
And whispers
In my ear

Why didn’t you
Keep your promise
And watch over me?

James Decay lives in Spokane Wa.