Category Archives: Poetry

April 10, 2017

Forgotten

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Nina Charap

I hollowed out my skull and let you swim about
Let you piss and laugh and dance
Let you fill me up with every disgusting thing inside you
Inside me
Inside you
To think that I loved and loved and loved you
I cradled my skull in my hands
Hunched over it like a mother
Humming lullabies
To the cracked and worn remains
Pieced back together
The finished vessel
Unfit to be filled
Like swiss cheese
Like the syphilitic skeletons you took me to
You held my hand and you said look
Look what that disease can do
Better you had said look
Someday the wind will whistle through you
A cacophony of you after me
You would have been right
But take me outside now
And the sun shines through
You ate away the parts I didn’t need
And now I’m filled with light

Nina Charap is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. This is her first publication.
April 10, 2017

The American Ruse

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Gerry LaFemina

My first guitar was a Japanese Les Paul wannabe
with a warped neck I’m certain was manufactured
in Staten Island, in Paul Majewski’s basement,

circa 1982. We knew the best ones were built in the States,
Gibsons & Fenders we couldn’t afford.
The best amps were British Hiwatts or Marshalls,

hand wired, tubes glowing like party lights, those parties
we never attended. We were poor children of poor parents.
Our heroes made do, made music from distortion—

Wayne Kramer, James Williamson, Ron Asheton,
names so ordinary they might have been written
under a class photograph. In school the sisters

assured us we could do anything, just not rock n roll
or art; not anything sexy, anything glamorous or fun.
What we were ravenous for we never received:

that guitar refused to stay in tune & turned
my left hand into a claw. Don’t ask
what happened to Majewski—maybe jail,

a jealous husband. More likely he just drove off
into an adulthood of average jobs,
an above average mortgage: that slow drizzle that never

becomes a full blown torrent. He lived with his mother, &
we’d escape, nights, into punk dives or else
into cassette tapes delivered by boombox, the first song

always the same, Robin Tyner insisting
we kick out the jams, motherfuckers. We wanted
to kick out the doors & windows, too. Kick out the night.

There was that small brick ranch in Royal Oak
with its flower gardens & sadnesses
of in-laws with their secret hurts. My wife & I

would visit on summer holidays until the barbecue grill
became just another smoldering. So many hot coals
in the suburbs, in that marriage, in the country,

and so I’d just take off some afternoons,
stop at the stores on Woodward Avenue where out-of-luck
axe-men pawned old Gibsons & Vox amps, where

I could play for a while, first a Mosrite
followed by a Rik then a Gretsch or whatever else
hung on the walls. Nickel strings digging again

into my fingertips. I moved from shop to shop:
Music Castle, Motor City Instrument Exchange,
Woodward Guitars, take a pick from a glass jar,

plug in. I wanted what the guitars had to say,
the inflection of sustain & overdrive, a feedback
barrage Fred Smith & Wayne Kramer understood,

a revolution in fuzz tones. It was the third of July.
Already those streets of pastoral names reeked
of sulfur & lilac, maybe a lead lick of honeysuckle.

We could be anything, we once believed, but even
then, all I recognized were the frowns of my wife,
the gospel of bills & bank statements to which we tithed,

so I knew I couldn’t afford that American Flag
Fender Coronet with the single humbucker
just like Kramer used to play

on Back in the USA (it could have been his, he was
made in Detroit, after all). From the tuning pegs,
the price tag dangled like a dog tag. I knew

in a way I hadn’t known I’d been taught, I was
finally getting hip to the American Ruse.
I couldn’t afford the revolution. But still, it came.

Gerry LaFemina is the author of numerous books of poetry including, most recently, Little Heretic. He is an Associate Professor at Frostburg State University and serves as a Poetry Mentor in the Carlow University MFA program.
April 10, 2017

Ask Me About Love

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Ojo Taiye

i look into your eyes each morning
and find

me—sifting

through all the syllables
of love

brimming with words i can say

and cannot spell

half-illiterate in my mother

tongue                  half-silent
in         my         purchased         f———luency

at the age of five
i watched my mother fold her breath

into birds         until they found

home

in a stranger’s
arms

and yes

what of all the green blessings

in my mouth—the shadows

that keep me company

when my lover’s face is a city
drowning in epitaphs

i open myself to a new kind of love—
a beautiful prison where no one is running
where no one is burning where no one is hiding

Ojo Taiye is a young Nigerian who uses poetry as a handy tool to hide his frustration with society.