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Other notable work by B.Z. NIDITCH.

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John Grey-

SHANNON

In darkness, heart pumping, just enough blood manufactured
to make a difference to my dozing body.
Laughter rises up out of the lawn. I’m on my bicycle
steering it in ever greater circles. Shannon is
tossing baseballs like the girl she is. One lobs near my head.
Almost topples me from the saddle. The day is
composed of its elements: oxygen, nitrogen and Shannon.

Even before I sleep, dreams are restless to get to me.
My head is clean white canvas. Summer-scapes are all the rage.
Back comes the trembling moment right before the sigh.
Stream gurgles. Eyes pop. Grass smells like another species,
soft, scented, fortunate in its spreading ease.
Shannon takes my pale white hand. Shannon…
no lovelier bearer of that name.

All night long, recollections tip-toe around an ancient August sun
Blood thinks it has the night off but no, it must feed my brain,
wash away the leftovers.
Feet dangle from bank. Some swimming is accomplished.
Boy, girl, emerge dripping from the water.
They kiss. Girl says his name softly. Boy can only whisper “Shannon.”
This never happens when I am wide awake.
But the unconscious mind has more of me to go on.

_______________

RUTH

You have thought about it interminably,
in grubby kitchens, on trash-littered tenement steps,
how you never asked to live
and yet here you are,
how Bobby never wanted to die,
so why isn’t he dawdling home now,
across the park, by the basketball court.

The lids of your eyes dig into your cheeks like knives.
How do the murderers, the thieves, the liars,
ever get what’s coming to them, you wonder.
Your brain feels like an overweight backpack.
Nothing more will fit and yet more has to fit.

And here comes the mailman
no postcards, just bills.
No one says, wish you were here.
Just stay where you are and pay for it.

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TWO BUMS

What can I say? It’s an alley-way.
It’s a rough part of town.
There’s an old man sprawled
with his back against
the crumbling brick wall
of an abandoned shoe factory.
The best warning he can give
is the sight of himself
He grips a bottle like it’s his Bible.
It saves him from everything
but his thirst.
What can he know if me?
Has he ever read “The Great Gatsby,”
listened to Erik Satie,
indulged his European forebears
on the Grand Canal in Venice.
Maybe he was a fighter.
Maybe he drove a truck.
He can’t be me.
Bet he has no scrawled record
of every busted love affair,
each family slight.
Can he open a book of
himself at twenty, at thirty, at forty?
The only drunken poet I know
is Dylan Thomas
and this sure isn’t him.
Probably the past is so drunk out of him
that only today happens.
“Spare change?” he grunts.
What can I do?
I need my changes for my work.

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WHAT HASN’T HE CHEATED ON

He cheated on the car as well,
the lease in both their names.
And that couch has been cuckolded
in the extreme, likewise the television
where the deceit on-screen is merely play-acting.
In fact, the entire room where they
sit together is such a victim of duplicity
its paper starts to peel, once bright green
turns sickly yellow.
What doesn’t feel something even if it
doesn’t know the woman’s name?
The bed? No way three fit
but does the one now lying in it
know she isn’t even there?
And what about this kitchen?
Wasn’t the way to a man’s heart
through his stomach?
She feeds you him but that
dumb stomach has no way these days
of passing on the romantic information.
Pots and pans, relentlessly cheated on..
Knives and forks… if they only knew
they’d jab the life out of the traitor.
He turns on a tap to wash his bands.
Dirt gurgles down the drain.
So that’s what water is… collusion.

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COFFIN SHIP

The rickety ship rattles as much
as it tosses.
The grizzled man beside me
is glad just to be sea-sick.
His cousin died of cholera yesterday.
His baby caine down with typhus this morning.
His wife curls up in a corner and sobs.
There’s as much blight on us here
as rotted any a potato crop.
We huddle down in our field
of rats and sickness
to putrefy, to fester,
while we whisper of our days in Ireland
like we’re talking of the dead.

The ship lurches, the sails
slap into a wild frenzy,
the cables whip across the decks,
lash the squealing masts.
Will we ever reach America, I wonder.
I fall asleep a little.
A dream of Kerry hills.
is quickly dragged into
the swell of nightmares.
My head floods with the heaps of corpses,
too poor to be buried,
and the faces of the landlords,
grim and hard as unfertile, rocky soil.
And there’s the crowds of the nameless,
down at the gray and foul-smelling docks?
shunted into such a coffin ship as this,
and the eyes turning around,
staring back at that
green, despairing land
with the last of their bitter love.

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John Grey is an Australian born poet, works as financial systems analyst. Recently published in Poem, Caveat Lector, Prism International and the horror anthology, “What Fear Becomes” with work upcoming in Big Muddy, Prism International and Writer’s Journal.

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B.Z. NIDITCH-

NEVER SLEEPING CITY

That nervous blind
conundrum
of the blues
here at midnight
drawn
in packed clubs
living in the torque
and tongues of Bird
a stranger sweeps
by open doors
with a fugitive face
ashen with pale
runaway snow kisses
in spare arms
of chaos
asking to dance
“the pocket”
she made up her own
downtrodden steps
in unfamiliar corners
blushing
on the clay floor
in unfamiliar corners
absorbed by whispers
in vigilante beats
against a graffiti wall
of a lost sax
taken up by flashlight
of mercenary love.

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WHITE MOUNTAINS

Very seriously
the first of winter
is here
emerging flakes
beside us
as blind snow
kisses chestnut trees
your eyes open
as volcanoes
on cold mountain air.

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B.Z. NIDITCH is a poet, playwright, fiction writer and teacher. His work is widely published in journals and magazines throughout the world, including: Columbia: A Magazine of Poetry and Art, The Literary Review, Denver Quarterly, Hawaii Review, Le Guepard (France), Kadmos (France), Prism International, Jejune (Czech Republic), Leopold Bloom (Budapest), Antioch Review, and Prairie Schooner, among others. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

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John Grey-

OUR GENERATIONS

Someone digs up a bone
and I guarantee it’s not the guy or gal
who lost it.
A farmer usually, plowing a field,
but he hands it off to the cops
who determine it’s nine hundred years old,
a time beyond their jurisdiction.
So the bone ends up with the scientist
who is never more excited
than when he can grasp bygone days
so close, so revealing.
Beats poring through books any day.

That’s typical of the past.
it passes through many hands.
Stranger takes a picture of a great-grandmother,
second cousin POPS it in an album,
aunt scribbles something on the back of it,
I hold it thinking, wow,
she’s got my sister’s eyes.
All that time ago, home at last.

The bone won’t die.
Anthropologist figures it
for an Algonquin girl,
maybe twelve, thirteen years old,
violent death too,
judging by the scrapings.
I reckon great-grandmother
for a pleasant type, slightly flirtatious,
no interest in arts or sports
but with a certain flair for ballroom dancing.
I piece together even when it’s not my job.
It’s the half-smile on a fading sepia print.
It’s the bone in me.

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THE RAY EFFECT

There must be car wounds up there
by the truckload, he said

and who’d have thought that every time
you spray your armpit
it’s like whacking the upper atmosphere
with a machete

and sure I cut down a tree,
I leveled some brush,
shaved a lawn or two,
made the world prime
for that invasion of the greenhouse gases

I even burned dead leaves in my back yard
and scarred the face of God

he remembers from his youth
how calloused hands masturbating
killed at least a zillion unborn babes

and unwashed bathroom hands
spread typhoid through the land

he figured that the older he got
the less he could move one person
but the more he had unwitting effect on many

isn’t there something I can do
that harms only me,
he asked me once

it never occurred to him
that he could somehow
help a situation

even to consider that,
he’d have to light a cigarette

breathe a little easier
but show up later
raw and blackened in a stranger’s lungs

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DEATH CELL

So this is what a death cell must be like,
cramped and unbearably familiar.
It’s the same dimensions
as you imagine your brain to be,
just enough space to stumble around in
and cluttered to the rafters, with memories
like dead things sloppily nailed to walls.
There should be labor-saving devices now broken,
some clothes, books, yellowing like leaves,
a rotary phone, note-pad beside it
and a pen that barely writes,
and all the stuff that people gave you,
as chipped, as cracked, as worthless as the giving.
If they sentenced you to death row,
it would work exactly like this:
you sorting through the shoes, the Christmas
decorations, the photographs with
their threatening old faces,
forgotten fashions hanging clear of one another
in the closet for fear of contagion.
It would be a death cell devoid of last meals,
of last rites, of executions,
a death cell where living is what kills you.

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John Grey is an Australian born poet, US resident since late seventies. Works as financial systems analyst. Recently published in Slant, Briar Cliff Review and Albatross with work upcoming in Poetry East, Cape Rock and REAL.

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Masthead

Editor, Lisa Zaran

ISSN: 1095-732x

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2007

January - Roger Humes
February - Jimmy Santiago Baca
March - Graham Burchell
April - Ruth Daigon
May - Anne Fraser
June - Corey Mesler
July - Scott Malby
August - James Keane
September - Maurice Oliver
October - Robert Pinsky
November - Louis Daniel Brodsky
December - Bill Duvall

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2008

January - Kelley White
February - L. Ward Abel
March - Maura Stanton
April - Dr. Charles Frederickson
May - Peter Magliocco
June - Penny Harter
July - Gary Beck
August - Jéanpaul Ferro
September - Fish and Shushan
October - Kenneth Gurney
November - John Gallaher
December - Carmen Alexandra

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2009

January - Karen Rigby
February - A.D. Winans
March - Donald Illich
April - Stephen Ferreira
May - Tracee Coleman
June - Ernest Williamson
July - Sally Van Doren
August - Nanette Rayman Rivera
September - Gianina Opris
October - Judson Mitcham
November - Joel Solonche
December - Peycho Kanev

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2010

January - Louis Gallo
February - Buxton Wells
March - Labi Siffre
April - Regina Green
May - Howard Good
June - Carol Lynn Grellas
July - William Doreski
August - Sari Krosinsky
September - Ben Nardolilli
October - James Piatt
November - Robert Lietz
December - John Grey

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2011

January - Robert Philbin
February - iolanda scripca
March - Tad Richards
April - Katie Kopin
May - Jacob Newberry
June - George Moore
July - Rae Spencer
August - Jim Richards
September - Antonia Clark
October - Tannen Dell
November - Christina Matthews
December - Charles Clifford Brooks III

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2012

January - Anniversary Issue
February - Jim Davis
March - Ivy Page
April - Maurice Oliver
May - Lori Desrosiers
June - Ray Sharp
July - Nathan Prince
August - Robert Klein Engler
September - Jenn Monroe
October - John Grey
November - Andrea Potos
December - Christina M. Rau

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2013

January - Maria Luisa Arroyo
February - Journal on haitus

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2014

April - Rebirth
May - Timothy Walsh
June - Brian Fanelli
July - Carol Smallwood
August - Elizabeth P. Glixman
September - Sally Van Doren
October - Sherry O'Keefe
November - Robert McDonald
December - Gerry McFarland

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2015

January - James Keane
February - Liza Hyatt
March - Joseph Reich
April - Charles Thielman
May - Norbert Krapf
June - Lynne Knight
July - Sarah Brown Weitzman
August - Tom Montag
September - Susan Palmer
October - Holly Day
November - A.J. Huffman
December - Tom Pescatore

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2016

January - Richard Perin
February - Linne Ebbrecht
March - Sheri Vandermolen
April - Molly Cappiello
May - Caleb Coy
June - Paul Lubenkov
July - Domenic Scopa
August - Adam Phillips
September - Timothy Gager
October - Bruce Lader
November - Holly Day
December - Al Rocheleau

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2017

January - Robert Lietz
February - Jocelyn Heaney
March - David Brinkman
April - Lana Bella
May - Kaitlyn O'Malley
June - Ruth Kessler
July - Chanel Brenner
August - Darren Demaree
September - George Moore
October - Joshua Medsker
November - Ralph Monday
December - Howie Good

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2018

January – Simon Perchik
February – Julia Travers
March-June – Journal on hiatus
July – Simon Perchik
August – Hiram Larew
September – Kevin Casey
October – Ditta Baron Hoeber
November – EG Ted Davis

Artwork

Image of bird by contemporary artist, Courtney Smith
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