Daily Archives: February 5, 2016


“Remembering Ali” by Frank De Canio

I’m standing in line. Boxing’s ringmaster
is about to autograph copies of
his book. In his prime, no one was faster
with either dancing feet or jabbing glove
than this gentle man who now emerges,
tied to apron strings of celebrity.
Drones of “oohs” and “aahs,“ as the crowd surges.
Invocations begin: “Ali! Ali!”
as if to exorcise demonic time
and resurrect together with the chant,
the lightning fists and tantalizing rhyme.
They chuckle at his jibes like sycophants
at the court of a king. “You blocks! You stones!
You worse than senseless things,” a cashier groans,

 

echoing Shakespeare. And I start to think.
Isn’t this the Caesar of the 60’s
Olympics? The Pax Romana who’d link
legions of imperial victories
to the farthest reaches of the world, while
civilizing the pugilistic mind
with grace and humor? He coaxes a smile
from a black woman who’s standing behind
a row of books. She exults: “You’re the champ,
Ali! You’re the champ!” Ali sets the bait.
“I’m a tramp?” he mugs. “You called me a tramp!”
“No, I didn’t!” she cries, less to placate
his mimic rage, than to admonish him,
who served the disenfranchised from a gym,

 

like some pastoral priest ministering
to his congregation. But Ali was
no paschal lamb sacrificed to the ring.
His two-handed offering gloved the cause
of underdogs. Knightly deeds looked easy.
Twin-fisted monsters dispatched with aplomb
made guardians of the grail feel queasy.
Their forked dragon was just another bum
who preyed on fear left over from youthful
nightmares. With gaping mouth and mocking frown,
he’d comb its lair with regulation tooth
and nail, then cut the puffed-up monster down.
In storybook style, he battled and won;
forging greatness in a spirit of fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frank De Canio was born in New Jersey and works in New York. He loves music of all kinds, from Bach to Dory Previn, from Amy Beach to Amy Winehouse, and the poetry of Dylan Thomas. He also attends a Café Philo in New York City.


“If There Had Been Rain” by Lana Bella

It was a windy day in the city with
little clouds and tossing leaves. If
there had been rain, it would have
snuck through the colorless sky,
spilled of droplets white, and blended
in my hot cup of spearmint tea, cooling it.
If there had been rain, I would have
seen the reedy clump caught where
the water churned low, gasping. If
there had been rain, those marigold
seeds just freshly sewn inside my
flowerbed would have hollowed out,
bare-skinned. If there had been rain, the
earlier impressions left by my son’s
bicycle track would have washed
along with the shadowed bones,
emptying out to sewer. If there had
been rain, a small girl edging near
the levee deep would have leaned
back where the ground grew muddy
and slick, darkening her yellow dress.
If there had been rain, the deafening
chaos of the outside would have
dissolved into fly speck, seeking refuge
in a heavy dew. As such, all things bend,
curve, fade, or turn in the rain: light, dark,
laughter, tears, grass, stardust, flesh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lana Bella has a diverse work of poetry and flash fiction published and forthcoming with Anak Sastra, Atlas Poetica, Bareback Magazine, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination, Buck-Off Magazine, Calliope Magazine, Cecile’s Writers’ Magazine, Dead Snakes Poetry, Deltona Howl, Earl of Plaid Lit, Eunoia Review, Eye On Life Magazine, Family Travel Haiku, First Literary Review-East, Five Willows Literary Review, Foliate Oak Literary, Garbanzo Literary Journal, Global Poetry, Ken*Again, Kind of a Hurricane Press, Marco Polo Arts Literary, Mothers Always Write, Nature Writing, New Plains Review, Poetry Pacific, Spank The Carp, The Camel Saloon, The Commonline Journal, The Higgs Weldon, The Voices Project, Thought Notebook, Undertow Tanka Review, Wordpool Press, Beyond The Sea Anthology, War Anthology: We Go On, Wilderness House Literary Review, and has been a featured artist with Quail Bell Magazine. She resides on some distant isle with her novelist husband and two frolicsome imps.  facebook.com/niaallanpoe


“Big Mama” by Sharon Smith

Each step closer
I could hear
Choo-Choo…Choo-Choo
Big Mama said, “Let’s hurry”
A brisk walk or a scurry
I cannot really remember
But the blasted inferno
In front of my eyes
Belched steam or so I thought
I had only seen trains on TV
The power of force
Built up inch by inch
In the great belching machine
It began to move forward
By leaps and bounds
We sat on the train
Big Mama, me, and Brother Ronald
Brother Ronald did not say much
But he did smile for a while
Big Mama shook her finger
Telling us to be on your best behavior
Cause you are the only two
Black children on this train
So I guess Brother Ronald understood
The virtues of solitude then
We traveled forever it seemed
Three days until we reached Kalamazoo
All the while big Mama smiled
Uttering the same comforting words
“We will be there in a short while
Just lean on me little children
A short while to go”
I can remember calling
“Big Mama, Big Mama
Is this real, what I see
Out of the window
Cows and horses just like on TV?”
The train kept moving on the tracks
I fell asleep in my Big Mama’s arms
When I awoke, we had arrived
Big Mama said, “Come on children
Let us go enjoy a while, let us go enjoy”
Big Mama slowly walked, leaning
Side to side carrying heavy bags
Pulling her east to west
Like a bobbin in the wind
Her swollen ankles peeked
Out of each of her shoes
The felt hat she wore
Pulled over her left ear
With a long curved feather
Caressed by the north wind
Big Mama’s long black hair
Dangled at her shoulders
Big Mama said, “Hurry Ronald
Before the rain comes
We will be at Katy’s farm
Before the morn’s dawn”
Big Mama’s step quickened
You could hear the rustle of her
Garments in her hastened
Movement carrying the load
And calling me and Brother Ronald
“Come on little children
Let us go enjoy awhile”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharon Smith is a graduate of Metropolitan Vocational and Career College in Long Beach, California.