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Forward

by Frederick Pollack

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The border of the soccer field
has been refurbished. Foam
at chest height bounces teammates back
unhurt to the cheers of moms.
His own expression is sedate,
though his effort is, of course,
a hundred percent. And will be
at choir practice, karate,
chess, whatever fun
is required. Later
he rests at screens whose violence,
however Mom regrets it, also
teaches worthy lessons.

Everything can vanish:
she, friends, SUV,
father, all the electronics.
It’s how things are; to be
takes so much power,
is subject to blackouts, bills, fights, a lawyer …
There is a bomb in things.
Depressed therefore but not
forlorn, he has discovered,
like his mother, optimism of the will,
which Antonio Gramsci
thought the Revolution
would require, not the bourgeoisie.

*

Frederick Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS, both published by Story Line Press. Has appeared in Hudson Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Die Gazette (Munich), The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Representations, Magma (UK), Bateau, Chiron Review, etc. Online, poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Hamilton Stone Review, Diagram, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire Review, Mudlark, etc. Recent Web publications in Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Camel Saloon, Kalkion, Gap Toothed Madness. He is adjunct professor creative writing George Washington University.

photo by bethcoll

Murio’s Trophy Room

by William Taylor Jr.

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It wasn’t so long ago
that this Haight Street bar
was a dark and rundown
punk rock dive
beautiful in its way
with a jukebox as good as
any in town
a perfect haven

from the San Francisco afternoon
from the mean-faced runaways
and sad-eyed addicts
dealing and begging on
the crowded lonely sidewalks

but at some point I guess
they raised the rent
or the owner lost the lease
and for months the place
was all boarded up
like a ramshackle tomb

I went by last week
and it was open again
transformed into a generic, brightly lit
hotspot for tourists
big ugly windows
letting in the all the terrible
light of the day

all the old magic stripped away
not even the old juke was spared

sweetheart
we live in a world
without mercy, conscience
or style

it tears down our love
and kicks our hearts
out into these awful streets

dismantles our lives
like shut down buildings
replacing every beautiful thing
with a sadness
too deep and wide
to cross.

*

William Taylor Jr lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. His poems and stories have been widely published in the independent press in publications including Poesy, The Chiron Review and The New York Quarterly. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

photo by brian hillegas

Judy ’77

by Nate Waggoner

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Judy,
Be careful of all those boys
Down South.
I’m sure I’ll see you during summer and following
Years. Probably down
At Jessup’s. Have a great time. Love,
Christine.

Judy—
I didn’t see much of you
This year, but we did
Have some good times
In P.E. last year. I’m not very
Good at writing
In these things
—Carol

Judy P.
I think that you will always make
An impression on me
Because you seem so nice and easy
And because you seem so innocent
In French,
But I know you aren’t.
Anyway, have a good year at CalPoly
Doing all that crazy stuff
They do there.
—Peter K.

Judy,
Seeing you as little as I did
Reminded me how much fun you are.
God, I could just kill myself
For not going out
And spending more time
With good minded people,
Now it’s too late.
Well, have fun out there;
Keep your head straight
(I know it is now)
If you are around,
Remember I probably am too
And that giving one step would be all it needs
And we’d know each other a lot.
Much love,
Lynn

Judy you are almost
As crazy as I am.
I hope that’s a complament.
Anyways take care of yourself
Because I would like to see you sometime.
If you like champagne
Come to the park at 9 a.m.
Before practice.
Love, Megan.

*

Nate Waggoner is a contributor to KQED Pop and the author of a comic book called “A Lifetime of Free Haircuts.” His writing has appeared in SF Weekly, Sparkle & Blink, thefanzine.com, and MilkMade. He has read at KQED’s New Kids on the Block Litcrawl event, Quiet Lightning, Bang Out, 851, Under the Influence, and Write Club SF. He and his ex-girlfriend host a romance advice podcast called “Invitation to Love,” which is available on iTunes. He is an MFA candidate in Fiction at San Francisco State University. The contents of this poem are taken from a 1977 yearbook he found in Fruitvale.

 photo by milesgehm

Lord of Abandoned Cars

by Séamas Carraher

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Lord of abandoned cars
that burn like tigers
brightly
waking the night with “shoutin’
and roarin’”
as if freedom was rolling
vicious drunk down the avenue.
Lord of this low wage job that
once-it’s-gone-how-will-the-rent
-be-paid-?
Lord of all the marvellous machinery
that flew the TV to Mars
but they can’t make an instrument
to hear the cries at night
of the women and children being beaten,
can’t loosen the knots that’s
strangling us all
can’t fix the breaking bones
or cure this sad man’s sorrow,
can’t calm the anxious faces.
Lord of the shiny suits
they fly into this warzone
stuff them with shopwindowdummies
while every day “you eat shite”.
Lord of peace process and government
and tribunal,
Lord of court and justice,
Lord of architect and engineer,
Lord of words and paper,
it’s snowin’ on everyone’s dreams,
we’re drownin’ in bullshit.

Lord of the tongue i once had
torn from my mouth
in case i say something simple
and it all collapses on my head.

“…Lord of the prescription drug
I borrowed the money to pay for
that wakes the dawn with normality
and keeps the traffic flowin’
keeps me from screamin’…”

Lord now of Ballyogan, and Baghdad
and Port au Prince.

This truth like a map nailed to your face
this ugly truth
that tears everything in two

it’s too late for peacekeepers
its too late to keep the lid on the pot
we’re stewin’ inside
and its never goin’ to get better.

Lord of the footstep,
one foot after the other
in all this place
as if a prayer could escape in time
so someone could send
the seventh cavalry
“…over the hill, Tonto,
to reskya ya…”

*

Séamas Carraher was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1956. He lives on the Ballyogan estate, in south County Dublin, at present. Recent publications include poems in The Camel Saloon, The Blue Hour, Full of Crow, BOYSLUT, Rusty Truck, THE SHOp, (Ireland), the Rusty Nail, Dead Beats, Red River Review, Word Riot, The Junk Lot Review, Dead Flowers, Pyrokinection, Dead Snakes, Carcinogenic Poetry, Napalm & Novacain, ditch, Bone Orchard Poetry, Istanbul Literary Review and Pemmican. Previously his work has been published in Left Curve (No. 13, 14 & 20), Compages, Poetry Ireland Review, the Anthology of Irish Poetry and the Irish Socialist (newspaper).

photo by Kevin Dooley


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