October 12, 2020 | Curated by Maureen McDole
Wayne S. Williams
. . .
His eyes open again,
as they have with every imperfection of the road,
over and over,
while the bus engine drones in falling piano chords.
Across the aisle, somnolent faces
wear the slow crawl of the evening sun, of mauve shadows.
In the air, like a dusty path
hangs a sweat-bouquet of the humble.
And behind him is the murmur of dull conversation,
where some speak of outbound journeys,
toward the eager embrace
of their legacy.
While others, fulfilled, bemoan the daily order,
an early alarm,
a dry philodendron.
He turns in the confines of his blue sleep-tilted seat
and peers at the window beside him.
It’s awash in gold, filled with reflection.
And through its glare,
birds perched in a sonata score,
soar away like an opening zipper.
Life passes in a rhythmic tick,
a streaking incidental counter
of poles and wires,
in seconds, minutes,
years, as he heads back,
to find himself,
to begin again,
in his scenic time-machine.
– – –
Ibex Amid the Jackals
Jungle eyes glow, beneath halogen moons
where he walks, head down.
An anonymous witness,
into his tired milieu, a tribe of tainted muses.
It’s dark between these brick wall chasms,
savage with the sound, of graffiti drums.
Here, rats dine on kittens.
and the nearest thing to tactile content
is a rag which reads “Texas girl has Martian baby,”
words clutched like sheets by cold cardboard bones.
Just once, he wishes, the headline would say,
“Martian girl has Texas baby, photographs, page three.”
Soon, he pushes through an alley door,
where those inside float against the pain,
a sea of lethal bubbles.
And he walks amongst them carefully, willfully,
stares through their filmy raven sheen.
Sees the predator inside,
the human poison variance,
socio – religio – politico – ego – infinito.
They are caught by fortune’s breath,
beasts. who wait to scar the careless.
– POP –
And he watches those,
who wander beneath that ruptured mist
the eager and the innocent,
as they grow dim, don the guise of prey,
as they spin to face the closing steps,
spin before the snarl of incisors,
spin like an ibex amid the jackals.
– – –
From the Front
Today, I am less,
changed, like a letter
left in the torrents of April,
part of a new brotherhood,
of circled eyes
and terse lips.
The good in me shivers in the heat,
curls like trauma in the maw
of a midnight cave.
This cloudless day began as one of horror
filled with shrieks and thunder,
brought visions I had never known.
And now, as the hours are done,
the sounds have become moans and pleas
the scent of fury is the smell of decay.
Yes, evolution itself has fallen,
like pressed cotton into muddy rags,
like courage into stillness.
For today is the first time,
dear Claire, my swan,
I have killed.
And as the crows return, circle overhead,
I am compelled to crawl to the river
on my hands and knees
and drink from its tainted flow, like a dog.
I love you.
– – –
In 2006 Wayne S. Williams founded the Poets Live! program at the Largo Public Library, which continues to meet on the second Monday of each month. In 2017, he was honored to be named as the first Poet Laureate of Largo. Sign up for the monthly Poets Live! bulletin at email@example.com.
A Kiss with Teeth
by Nadia Lee Owens
. . .
“Pull down your pants.”
I shift from one foot to the other.
My mom smacks the belt to the armchair. “I said pull down your pants, or I’ll add five more licks.”
My lips start to tremble, and tears are blurring my eyesight. But I refuse to let them fall and show them weakness.
I reach down to the buttons and zipper of my pants and slowly undo them. The zip of the zipper is the only sound in the living room. I pull down my pants to my ankles, so I’m standing in only my school shirt and pink, cotton underwear.
“Your panties, too,” my mom says.
“No,” I want to say. “Not with him watching.” My stepdad is always watching. Standing on the other side of the living room, watching and sipping from a beer bottle. I feel his eyes slither down the curve of my ass.
But I don’t say anything, because I knew that’ll earn me extra licks. So I pull down my underwear to reveal the coarse blackness of my newly grown pubic hair. The wind from the stuttering AC blows through the soft hairs of my legs.
I stiffly bend over the armrest of the chair. I hear my mom adjust her hold on the belt. It’s her favorite belt, thick and made with real leather. The belt is so old and worn-out you’d think it is as soft as a kiss, but this belt likes to use teeth.
“Fifteen licks,” she says.
I nod, like I agree with her decision. That’s the trick – you have to be as docile as possible and maybe they’ll go easy on you.
One. Two. Three.
The first three are always the hardest, because of how the sting surprises me. I bite the bottom of my lip to hold back my cries.
Four. Five. Six.
By the fourth lick, I know red marks are swelling. When it’s over I could probably play tic-tac-toe on my ass.
Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten.
It hurts so much. I want to cry to my mom to stop. That I’m sorry for whatever I did, but she’ll only hit harder. And he’ll like it.
Eleven. Twelve. Thirteen. Fourteen.
By the last few licks, everything starts to numb. At least, I pretend it does. I try to block out the pain by thinking of anything else. Soon, Andrew will be transferring to a different middle school. Maybe I should get him a goodbye present.
It’s over. I scramble to pull up my underwear and pants, but I don’t leave until my mom tells me to go to bed.
Once in the safety of my dark room, I release my tears. I hiccup through my sobs so violently my chest aches. Snot runs down my nose and into my mouth and I can taste its saltiness. Eventually, I quiet down and clean my face with my shirt. I hear a knock at my door.
– – –
Nadia Lee Owens is an emerging writer and a University of South Florida alumni. She currently lives in the Tampa Bay area where she work as a software tester. When Nadia is not writing, she is reading or playing video games.
On Twitter @nleeowens
On Instagram @nleeowens
. . .
Getting uncomfortable in my words.
So, you can feel comfort to speak yours.
I need to be honest.
So, you can relate.
I will show you my wounds.
So, you can begin to love yours.
I am not a militant man, but my internal wars feel like tours.
My reason for being, the reason I exist.
I think it is to share my pain.
So, you can put yours to rest.
– – –
Guns don’t kill people.
People kill people.
Yet, they teach us our words can be lethal.
Meanwhile, guns making men into gods
in charge of death like an equal.
If words can hurt for years.
Small pinch of a hypodermic need
small dosage turns lethal.
We should curb our speech.
Yet, guns out of reach.
So, we must teach that the lead comes after words.
Giving us the diesel, ammunition for the evil.
To making killing legal.
– – –
If I Am Going To Believe
I must believe
that for every loud
done in the light.
There will be an
done in silence & in the dark.
– – –
As a child I saw pain, distrust, and insecurity.
As an adult I was thrusted upon a world.
Told to trust the system that so easily turned love into a commodity.
So, it beguiles me how you can’t understand.
Why I find the best parts of life in the painful parts of living.
– – –
Hate Is Taught
Drop a thousand stones in placid waters a thousand miles away.
At some point their ripples will meet.
Drop hate into a thousand childrens placid waters.
At some point that energy will manifest.
Careful of the stones you throw.
You will never know its ripple effect.
– – –
My name is Giovanni Cerro. I am Saint Petersburg Street Poet. I have been writing poetry since I was 9 years old when I wrote my first poem for my Grandfather.
I am incurably optimistic and love nothing more than enjoying each person I meet on the street or at events.
I moved away for a year to Blue Ridge GA. It was a great experience, but the most important thing I found out was that I am way more of a beach bum than a farm hand.
Happy to be back in town, I can’t wait to see all of the city’s faces.
On Instagram @gios_typos