Daily Archives: March 15, 2010


“First Song” by Vladimir Swirynsky

At night the desert is an unknown room.
A stone moves, then another by
unseen hands leaving
small trails that dart toward
Old Indian burial grounds.

In the distance
drum, drum, drum...
the blast furnace of thunder.
My lover asleep at the wheel somewhere
between Flagstaff and Phoenix.
The last time we were together she got drunk
then stepped out of the car to flash her
breasts, a pre-packaged cure
for the modern malaise.

These days it's a school boy crush with me,
this trespassing on government property.
I stand accused, begging for an assassin's bullet,
looking into the charcoal eyes of the sun for
a promised fragment of hope.
The lure of sanity no better no worse
than the poetry in Ploughshares.

Later in the day, dust devils will
dance like lost souls from
the stolen breath of my flute.

For days I've camped by a circle of stones,
Texas Hold'em and twist off bottle caps
the only things making life bearable.
Close by parts of a wagon wheel
like history half-buried.
A buffalo nickel in my shoe to
remind me of the slaughter.
Something keeps calling out my name.
Drum, drum, drum.

Ghosts play touch football,
Somewhere else a professor echoes his belief;
     The first song was the Oklahoma bombing.
Half-buried nose-first off Interstate 40 are
"junker" Cadillacs hand-sprayed with
graffiti, memories of Waco just lost luggage now.
I am willing to divulge that my best friend who
believed in honor left a copy of his resignation
to the CIA on the front seat of a '54 DeVille.

Scattered showers, electric wires
like pushy hucksters wield no mercy.
Drum, drum drum---

Holding a wind blown shingle,
the two of us are a long way from home.
What's missing is my walking stick, a pancake
breakfast, a two dollar winning lottery ticket.

“What I Suspect is True” by Vladimir Swirynsky

Red, white, of evening wine I know
very little or why short skirts stop
traffic and entice diplomatic stares.
I ask, of what use is polite applause
when some poets deserve the
offending evil eye and silence.
Somewhere in this vast universe
poetry is outlawed along
with coffee shops, obviously
a more advanced civilization.
No doubt a cashless society that
regards life as a good teacher.
To relieve the boredom teenagers
steal the family saucer and leave
behind those clever crop circles.
Maybe they think this is paradise,
they come for the beer, the crazy love,
but mostly to steal the shirts
and blue jeans hanging
out on the clothes line.

“House Not Bought” by Vladimir Swirynsky

The job lost,
meager lump sum offered,
taken,
two story wooden frame
with fireplace looked at.
My father says, too much work,
needs new furnace, too much
money out of your pocket.
I stood outside looking
at this huge thing,
the possibility of renting out,
working on it myself.
The wife liked it,
the thought of spending money,
new furniture.
Sometimes the planets
and stars disappear,
you fall out of the bed,
none of her clothes around,
the sound of a neighbor cutting
his grass then the noise stops.
Is this how men die?

“Love (for Christine A. Taylor)” by Vladimir Swirynsky

We enter life sensing a world of disbelief.
You... so adorable, curious eyes singing,
hardly anything to barter with
clutching a copy of Modern Bride.
Somehow I managed without crying
to slip a poem into your heart.

A baby cries about and at anything,
of touch so little they know.

This first hour, your first summer night
(following rigid protocol) I whispered
"don't be afraid of the unknown,"
pointed to the shiny stars.

Barely six pounds, the center of attention
you wondered what the fuss was about.
Was your smile a tease or a reward?
Anyways we shouted out with great joy
only to startle you.

We cry to be held
       to be fed
       to be loved

But mostly you cried to tell us you've
figured out the world already,
that you don't like to be kissed,
and I need to shave.

“Growing Old in a World That Wants You to Believe You’re Already Dead” by Vladimir Swirynsky

I am playing cards, the free lunch swallowed
in small clumps like an Emily Dickinson poem.
We welcome senior discounts and what we
wear is what we wear. Once a week we climb
into mini buses to gather provisions and
search the shelves in vain for a better life.

We are not afraid of our faces stepping out
into the world like a blue vase, the bones the
luggage of scars shown off like spring
flowers. We know the uncertain future
belongs to the young, those with ambition.

It's supernatural but our common sense has
saved us many times and we always check off the
box marked other. We think of beauty as in
kindness, the frail hands shuffling the cards,
that smile from a woman who could of listened
to dad and got married, but instead
graced the Broadway theaters.

We have our bottles of pills, the dark spots that
consume the flesh. We stay out of the rain, carry on
love affairs because we know the footpath well. We
don't open the door for the revenue boys, don't
believe anyone who says, "We just want to help."

“Earthly Ghosts” by Vladimir Swirynsky

Some people believe in ghosts,
will live in a house to confront
the departed souls that
are stuck in limbo.
I've driven to the outskirts
of town, parked on the
railroad tracks and
turned the engine off.
The moon not wanting
to be part of the story
nowhere around.
You wanted to know
if the stories were true,
the young couple killed
by a train ten minutes
before midnight.
You wanted the unknown
to show you a hold card,
like in the final seconds
that lovers are embraced
believing in forever.
You wanted to know
if the heart had a purpose.

“If There Was a Poem” by Vladimir Swirynsky

as good as the soup this morning,
as brazen as the drunk critic,
as mysterious as dark matter,
as organized as an empty purse,
as red as an orange,
as shocking as when the hero is killed
thirty-seven seconds into the movie
and we don't even know his name,
the actress shouting, who's gonna
pay the mortgage now?


If there was a poem with a split
personality disorder, cursed with the face
of Lyndon Johnson singing Pretty Woman
in a crowded elevator headed
for the penthouse would it matter
if Julia Roberts had hairy legs?

If there was a poem, a love potion
that worked, who would we read it to?
As we step up to the microphone searching
our pockets for god knows what, the
audience is already parked on some remote
hillside. Why stick around, let's become
madmen hailing taxis, let the meter run
and tell the cabie, take the shortcut
through Central Park for the unknown.

If only there was such a poem.

“Vietnam – A Night of Drinking” by Vladimir Swirynsky

They were so cool, an inch
of mud harden on the boots,
a knife like a wild plum, three
sevens on a haywire slot machine
about to make some noise.
Their facial scars soaked up
our fears, they respected
nothing, could out drink
a dozen college freshmen.
We did nothing to provoke
them, didn't speak or turn
our heads to look at them.
I was stupid enough to
call one of them an asshole,
a hundred and thirty-two pounds
of amazing grace
ready to run outside
and prove to the world
how easy it is
to dodge a bullet.

“Daydreaming” by Mac McGovern

Daydreaming sets us free,
free to do anything,
be anything within the
realm of imagination.

A release from reality,
a world in which there is
complete control.

Where decisions are never wrong,
a place without violence, where
contentment massages the soul.

A world through which frustration
and anger are expelled causing a release,
a calming effect, maybe a new beginning.

Daydreaming sets us free to
return to reality.

“When History Cries” by Mac McGovern

Men come forth
Black clouds hover, answer the call
When history cries

Upon the field, once green
Flowing red, wars bitter friend
Men come forth

Sweethearts love lost forever
Patriotism wounded, refuses to die
When history cries

Who knows the heart of warriors
Uniforms identify living and dead, ranks define
Men come forth

When next the call to arms
Forget not valor upon whose fields heroes are born
Men come forth
When history cries

“When the Sea is Angry” by Mac McGovern

When the sea is angry
Waves, like knives, penetrate deeply
Secrets are revealed

Stingrays uncovered, at risk
Burrow deep
When the sea is angry

Shells buried for time unknown
Surface in brilliant majesty
Secrets are revealed

The coral braces, mortality guaranteed
Death and destruction inevitable
When the sea is angry

Sand scattered, settles again
History buried, rears its head
Secrets are revealed

What is exposed, covered again
Nothing left for man
When the sea is angry

An explosion born of fury
Brings forth, then takes away again
When the sea is angry
Secrets are revealed

“Lengthening” by Libby Marshall

Growing up
My claws out
Wisdom in
the way to live
all logic and no
nonsense being
human I'm not at risk

Nails get long
and people too
Growing ever
Closer merging
Into one and
Then another
Converging
Toward that point
Toward that end
Result

Forward
Ever restless
Yes alive
And loneliness
Is our human
Condition
While my claws
Grip jean clad
Legs and naked
Arms
I'm bigger now
And strong

“Southern Accents” by Jessica Barber

Amidst the long vowels of
               Southern folk's talk
          there lies Southern accents
                    waiting,
                    secretly.
               In the easy walking pace
of an aged woman's speech
               any Southerner feels
     endless barefoot days
          over grass,
               cool grass,
                    long grass.
          finally, after the sun
               dives
               into
               the
               lake
          she headed home, mosquitoes
buzzing, itching around her bare legs.
     The repetition of "e" in
               sweet tea, with it hanging
          in the
               air,
                    reveals a pitcher
               and tumblers and sundresses
                    on a dock.
Ah, the simple.
     Ah, the fish waiting to
be caught on a line.
     Any line from anywhere.
     The POP and SIZZLE
of excitement dances
     from the fry-pan
that is in our children.
               What have
          They cooked up today?
     The drip,
          drip,
               drip,
                    of the warm rain
can be heard     
          in the pouring
          of syllables-
     the baby's first. and the momma coos.
In my accent what
          do     you     find?
     In my excited screams
     Do you see that
          tire swing?
     do you see
          that campfire?
      do you see
          that South?
     Do you hear that
               hometown?     
     Do you see me taking
               my first steps away from it?
     Will you see its
               accent and hear its sights?
     The richness of our
          voices
     comes from a simple source:
               the richness of our lives.
     We live our lives down
                    here as do the
honey bees- we bring
          back everything we can
     find. We carry it with us.
          It covers us.
               It becomes us.
     I am a walking
               football game on a
                    Friday night
               ride with the windows
                    rolled down
               baseball cap with
                    the cut-offs on.
          To know my voice is
               to know the
          joy of the rarest snow,
               to know of its
                    fleetingness.
          our accents
     are what we've known.

Can you see my accent,
          can you hear its South?

“A Lifetime” by Jessica Barber

How is it that we've come so far,
From the monkey bars and tire swings
          To saying goodbye?
               It doesn't seem so long ago
     That we first met; the memories
Are aging as old photographs,
          Taken in black and white,
     And yellowing with the smell of a lifetime.

This is what I've always known-
     A good school,
     A good home.
          Now I am leaving it and so are you.
      What are we to do now?
Who do we look to now?
          The answer is that we must look
     To what we carry with us.

     We carry the cool summer nights,
The bonfires, the laughs, the warmth.
          We carry rainy winter days
Filled with nothing to do but
          Complaining about having nothing to do.
     We carry what it means
To have grown up here.
We carry ourselves.

          I would trade nothing for the time
     Spent even with those of you I do not know.
For I know that in some way even you have shaped me,
     Shaped this place that I will miss, shaped this
Time that I will miss, and shaped this spirit that we all will miss.
          This poem can in no accurate way
     Tell that story but it can capture that spirit.
          It would take a lifetime to tell that story.

It would take a lifetime.

“A Death Fanatic” by V.T.R. Vittal

Below the dark skies
In the unforgiving twilight winter
Outside the house that sighs
The moonlight feebly showed a mentor

He was a death mentor
Who believed it was the last thrill
And he was a woe lender
Who demanded nothing to his will

He sat at the cliff's edge
Enjoying the river below
Waiting for the fall of bridge
For a leap it was too low

Smiling to himself, he was proud
He knew the ways of life
"What fools these fellows sound
who live in scrimmage and strife"

Said the death fanatic to the night
As if to hear the heavens laugh in unison
he felt he knew the might and sight of right
Blind to everything preoccupied by the vision

He looked around his woebegone world
For the last time dearly
the pine trees waved sadly to behold
That person white and pearly

How could he leave
But there is truth to perceive
What of the benevolent nature
He would miss it in the future

"But I've seen my pointless world
There is not another meaning left to find
Anyway my soul was sold
I have but woe to bind"

And saying so he jumped,
To the welcoming arms of death
Smiling his last grin of bliss
Luckily without an undone wish

“Truth” by Tina Culp Barton

sometimes
i'd just like
to rip
tear
my words apart
til
they're raw
bloodied
mangled letter
by
screaming letter
in pieces unrecognizable,
to render
their pain
useless...
my pain
useless.
yet
they heal
thrive
drag
their beaten bodies
into my spirit
for
they have souls
of truth
that can't be slain...

“Identity Theft” by Tina Culp Barton

my soul has been hacked
by a man who has the skill
to decipher the secret password to my heart
carefully manipulating
all my data
revealing all my favorite places,
sites of my attentive desire.
discovering my pin numbers
the codes that open my passion,
he’s granted eternal withdrawal.
demolishing my security center
breaking through the firewalls,
he accesses the credit card numbers
with which i charge my life.

perhaps i should invest
in anti-hacking software
a sort of love insurance
insurance that will replace
my heart upon theft
just in case my heart is stolen.
or maybe
i'll just take my chances...

“Ticket Booth” by Tina Culp Barton

waiting for the ticket booth to open
(desires spoken)
desperate to be the first in line.
there's only one way to get on the ride
(decide!)
only one way to make ecstasy mine.

take the money i toil to make
(awake!)
life's blood i give to earn.
to buy me the ticket to have a chance
(dance!)
i'm begging for joy, i deserve my turn.

give me a one way ticket
(embrace it)
i feel no need for passage to return.
two way tickets are an easy way out
(no doubts)
complete elation is my only concern.

don't want a ticket for the merry-go-round
(tied and bound)
reliving the circle someone drew for you.
want to ride the speeding roller coaster
(nothing's sure)
that takes me to heaven or hell with you.

let's get in line to buy tickets
(go for it!)
leave no room for remorse or regret.
jump on the ride that sets you free
(with me)
you get what you take and you take what you get...