I Woke Up Stained

I woke up stained.

I don’t know when it happened

Maybe it was the recent news

Maybe the cold callous city streets

Maybe the steel structure that divides us

Like that steel I am tarnished

My shine is gone unpolished

 

I woke up tarnished.

I had a silver shine faded away

Maybe my heart glimmers with dreams of renewal

Maybe there is golden age of true justice and sacred peace

Maybe people are starting to change

Like those people I have changed

My heart is gone stained

I Woke Up Stained

Homage to the Spanish Armada

By Steve Brooks

homage-to-the-spanish-armada-224x300

On this daylight evening
let’s build something truly absurd
a plank of fog
a mast of peg leg
and skull cannonball
the feeble Galleon sinking
we’ll shoot it past the moon to shine darkly
through the past darkly
Oh morning star of ineptness
orbiting a vagrant path
with a ship of fools
on the day of the dead rising
The one trick pony with fallen rider
leads the procession stumblebum
Put on your mask
your gesture of stupidity
with a drunken fleet of barflies
the army of boozehounds howling
defeated by nature and circumstance
and sixteen eccentric toreadors
prancing on a dead man’s chest
A fiesta with lethal injection
with its silver armor smashed by rocks and wind
the sirens sweetly sing:
Oh Titanic,
Oh XX Valdez,
Oh Challenger, etc., etc.,
Vanity Oh Vanity
how the mighty have fallen
see how they run amok.

Homage to the Spanish Armada

Boreas

By Devin Hamilton

The infiltrating cold begs my silence

It means to steal my pink flesh

Display my skeleton

Like the naked branches

Collecting icicles

Abolishing comfort

In favor of survival

Now I ride the pendulum

Between ceremonious snowfalls

Silently layering atop the earth

And enraged blizzards

Slapping my cheeks red

Winter’s voice

An indomitable wind,

howls through the shutters

of the house

‘My love is a lesson,’

She screams

‘But you treat it as an attack.’

 

Boreas

Manzanita Park

By Clare Flanagan

 

How did I arrive here

from where I came —

the tree limbs, the cold lodestone rock

that pulled me as a child, called to ascend

til the branches bent? I named

every hoof-beaten path

in the backyard woods, stalking birds

& berries through the dusk hours, grown voices tearing

through the box-elders, calling out

to me. I labeled maps

in thin script, hidden still

in a Midwestern basement, slipped

between half-

finished canvases and pipes

exposed. My blood ran

with the knowledge

that I would become someone. So how

did those winding trail-lines

take me here, where I feel

I have forgotten all intention? It’s a nice patch

of grass, sun-saturated. They ringed it

with buildings, named it

for the small apple trees, drought-

stunted, frozen somehow

in girlhood. In their thin shade

I read the same sentences

over and again. I am learning

how memories are encoded – traces, sketched

in neural pencil, brain-buried,

smudged bolder when  they’re called

to the surface. Or perhaps

they leave the hippocampal bowels, float finchlike

to the cortical branches, sing clear

and independent of time. I think of this

as I gaze through the twig-fissures

at the California sky, sift

through decade-old networks –

buckthorn-woven, strung

with cattails, near-embalmed dreams

of being President, or

a vigilante queen. These days

I want less for myself. Before I leave here, before

I read the chapter on forgetting,

I think I’ll become Ophelia –

sink small under the lush square

of manicured grass, the green pool

deflecting voices that say

come back. Flesh

falling away like a wet dress, bone exposed

as the stark backyard granite, the boulder

ringed with tiger-lilies. How I

would strive, thin-armed, to pull my weight

to the rock’s crown, slip

down. How

I would try again.

 

Manzanita Park

Accidentals

By Clare Flanagan

 

From age twelve & onward I was warned

about them – notelong departures

from the prevailing key, hanging stealthy

between staff lines, barely heralded

by some arcane mark. Accidentals

stretched my knuckles to gristle

over stiff-sprung valves, derailed

whole melodies, hammered breath from me

til the true sound came into being. It’s been years

since I last read music, but today

on the commuter trail behind the Knollwood

Super Target with its wayward shopping carts

like loose cattle & empty apartments

metastasizing by the highway, those were the kind

of notes tearing through me –

teasing unready fingers

on the left handbrake, a rough reflex

half a beat behind. I’d seen the car

too late, but I was wheeling, coming in

sun-blind and hot, and in a single slow moment

I spiraled forward, a body-nautilus, back wheel rising

over wordless mouth. Curled before the hatchback

that stopped feet short of me, too-long shoelaces tangled

in the stilled pedals, I saw open skin hash-marking

my elbows and knees, road-carved sharps

across a measure of skin –

bloody blue-notes like the ones

I used to pencil in, meaning

don’t make that same mistake

you keep making. Even as I took

the hand of a stranger, who helped lift me back

to the world, the only word I could say

was sorry. But now, my legs being

less pavement-shaken, I want to examine

these bruises, let water sting the gravel

from the wounds. I want an ablution, a blessing

for white knuckles grasping

the wrong brake. I want to hear

the wrong note in the right place, a divine slip

from the key of speed, my still face feet

from the short-stopped vehicle, the voiceless

two-ton warning that all this momentum

is temporary. What I want most now

is to learn the best and most difficult song —

the chord that sets the wheels spinning again,

rate regardless, the one sung in gratitude

for being given one more mile

to fly forward, another day

to fall.

Accidentals