Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.— Shakespeare

A rabbit’s body: broken.
I re-hear its squeal, like a soldier’s cry,
as I dig its grave.

Stupid rabbit
sitting in lilies and palms
thinking it’s safe.

German shepherd
for the rabbit--

neighbor lady
No, Snowball! No!--

grabs it
by the neck,
shakes it,

the body
on the grass by our feet.

wrong place, wrong time.
Like my buddy in Kobul.

search, no
warning, kaboom!

In my bad dream,
animal soldiers lie
on their sides

crying for their mothers.

~Eileen Murphy~  




Mother’s Little Helper

The four boys got exciting toys.
Their messes were soldiers
or parts of a train set.

I got Barbie dolls
a book
new clothes
or new Barbie clothes.
I didn’t make a mess.
Au contraire, I had to clean up
the boys’ mess, Mama said.
I said, No.

As he swung his belt,
Dad got red in the face—
Obey your mother!
The belt with its snake head buckle
snapped as it bit my shoulders.

Dad went wild,
smacking me on the arms, head, neck.
I howled.
Raised welts.
He wasn’t going to stop till he half killed me.

He began to flail at me.
Daddy, no! Daddy, stop!
The shoulder of my pajama top had slipped down,
my pre-adolescent upper chest.
He barked, Shut up!
and flung down the belt.
Not making eye contact,
he pointed towards the door.
Go help your mother.

I cleaned my brothers’ mess.
Model airplanes. Careful!

~Eileen Murphy~




Game Face

I was lizarding on a lounge chair
by our backyard pool trying to tan
while three of my younger brothers
did cannonballs.
Mother was teaching my baby brother to swim;
Dad, doing crosswords,
refused to order my brothers not to splash me—
wouldn’t want to quash their boyish high spirits

when my second brother dove into the shallow end—
a belly flop—
and thwap! and thud!
He climbed out of the pool wearing a game face,
his narrow eleven-year-old chest heaving,
rested on a lawn chair for a while,
ghosted into the house

where my mother found him later
in bed, of all places.
At the ER, they told my mother he’d broken
vertebrae in his neck,
could have died.

Can an accident change a person?
I always thought
my second brother
turned mean
due to swimming pool trauma,
added to times he fell out of his top bunk bed.
My father’s beatings had nothing to do with it.

~Eileen Murphy~




The Atticbedroom in My Girlfriend’s House
after Ferlinghetti

I smoked my first joint with my girlfriend
in the atticbedroom she shared with her older sister
who was in college and sang in a band.
I wanted long strawberry blond hair
like my girlfriend’s,
lovebeads, incense, kamasutra.
We opened the half-moon window and could see for miles,
row upon row of uniform suburban roofs:
Surely, we thought, we are free souls.
Conformity touches us not.
While her mother chopped
carrots for our dinner in the kitchen below,
smoke tickled
the rafters, and the Indian print bedspreads laughed.

~Eileen Murphy~





            It was noon and 110 degrees
in the muggy Florida sun
when he picked me up
near scrub oak-filled fields sloping
down to Lake Parker’s swamps,

            Nicolas, the Italian kid
at our high school who played guitar in a band,
whom I’d spoken to three times,

            and who had gripped me last night
during a slow dance at a porch party
his breath intimate with my sweaty back,
his smell olives and musk.

            He’d borrowed his uncle's jeep.
Weeds snapped under the wheels
as we rolled off-road
into an empty amber-colored field

            where he took my hand,
pulling me onto the ground,
kissing me as I stiffened
in delicious terror.

~Eileen Murphy~





I miss the time when I loved you so much
When you were the only cause of my waking up
No matter whether I was near or far from the sea
No infinity could fill me
As much as my love for you

I miss remembering what love was like
What its form and its content were like
What eyes it wore at evenings and in mornings
Which of its leaves whispered with breath
I miss loving like I did once
I miss loving like I loved you
With a song I had woven into tens of refrains
Watching you distanced, migrated from your own self
Colder than all winter winds
I miss loving you
I miss love, too…

translated from Albanian by Ukë Zenel Buçpapaj  and included in the poetry book “A Gospel of Light”

~Alisa Velaj~




Something Mechanical

They want what they want
and it's always the same.
You can look, but don't touch,

she tells them. Distance is
her best refuge, the thin
line between their darkness

and the edge of her light.
She dances, and something
mechanical hums and works.

She works. She earns her tips
and watches them watching her.
Then it's closing. And then

it's morning, another day,
and it's always the same.
They want what they want.

~Tom Montag~




Some Want It

Some want it the tenderest of ways.
She knows which they are and dances close
to them. Some are snorting the devil's
line and she looks away, dancing the
naked air between. Some come to push
up into her with their eyes. That's where
she makes the money. That's why she's here.

~Tom Montag~




Her Sadness

If you like them high
and tight and firm, she's
your girl, a fellow
says. And so she is.

She's angular in
all the right places.
She hears them talking
and she keeps dancing.

She doesn't know what
she's doing but she
still dances, making
it up as she goes.

This is not what she
wanted, high and tight
and firm, this is not
what she wanted at all.

~Tom Montag~




The Marlboro Man, a cliché on a cliché horse, rides through the canyon. The gun is real, the bullet real, his depression real.
Several generations ago, I came to Wyoming to kill myself. Well before I was born, I was destined to die by my own hand. I leave a custom guitar, built by my brother, bloody rosewood shaped in his shop.

Cottonwoods quarrel on the banks of the river. Humans quarrel on downtown streets, in bars, in bedrooms. I leave a quarrelsome species.

I rearrange my motley collection of guitar picks on top of my dresser, as if they were arrowheads found in a field. My death was a glint in my great-grandfather’s eye.

My great-grandmother made a quilt to keep her bones warm. She was always cold, a cold woman, said my grandpa, who had her for a mother.

Frida Kahlo’s death was a glint in the eye of the conductor of a trolly car. The wreckage damaged her in so many ways. A piece of steel pierced her vagina.

There were no telephones in Pompei. Everyone died. All the tax files were burned by glowing lava. All the whore tickets burned. They beat the elephant so hard it screamed, but it couldn’t go any more.
I lie awake imagining Frida Kahlo’s tits, and wonder who she’s going to shoot with her bejeweled .44.

~Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois~ 



Edwina the Morose Clown

Deciding to dub one of the
clown convention participants
the absolute scariest of them all
a blood-soaked young lady
fresh from a haunted house gig
claimed the title quickly so
fresh to death with burnt orange
and silver make-up outlining
a skull on her face plus wearing
steampunk aviator goggles
black with red lenses and a
black and white checkered scarf
what made it ever so terrifying
was the sniper-like vision
that she possessed rather easily
at a suitably chaste distance
and whenever the clock were to
strike midnight and the moon
was in full force shining light on
wild owls circling thirty feet up
fog rising from the swamp
the carnage supposedly an act
yet the stench of death too real
and the cries in the night so loud
that no one could tell for sure
just what the dogs were howling at
~Lorraine Cipriano~




Condensed home truths, chewed over their core.
This failed to mollify me. Unfairness is the costume
models splash at shows. Cosmetic changes can be
attained. Don’t expect me to applaud such failings.
Griffonage from uncertain sources confirmed
perch in this play. Who am I to inveigh against it?
Inquiries should circumference my bearings.




Aging memorabilia makes me aware of the gap.
Roads were run-down but one heaved on. Mark
of gauging farness is by guesstimating emotionality.
Your cachet is incised on every inch of my being.
Your ploy of erasing this in parts will not prevail.
Loving you is my load. You need not ferry its dead
weight. Stop feeding me with your fund of phrases
in the hope I will follow trajectories firmed by you.
This covert blackjack won’t do. I choose to bleed,
keep the gauze of glibness with yourself.

~Sanjeev Sethi~