Thursday, February 20, 2020

day ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED and TWENTY EIGHT

These are dismal times.
Every morning when we wake
it's still Trump o'clock.

--Cheryl Caesar

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

day ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED and TWENTY SEVEN


On Reading Tomas Tranströmer in an Election Year

At first it's only my eyes I feel
dripping down the lines and pooling
somewhere west of Stockholm, a blaze
of traffic over my shoulder and still
this glassy puddle underfoot, the blades
and engines writhing again at the river
and my pen, too now angry in the dense
rending noise. The chimneys stark
and blowing hate into the February sky
like a sheet draped across a still face.
The music I hear full of nothing. Lines
of it blown on the air clear as gas, no less
than a signature of sighs. Try to make sense
of it. These words suddenly a creeping
thing. They wait in the woods for more
like you. Their faces burnt in shame, flush
cheeks daubed in the only world we knew.

- Kristofer Collins

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

day ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED and TWENTY SIX


Last Glance

I watch the decay
of the promised land,
frail institutions
no longer protecting the people,
as the few consume
as if there’s no tomorrow,
hastening a poor tomorrow,
and I can only wonder
if someone watched
in ancient Rome
as the barbarian tide
engulfed the empire.

--Gary Beck

Monday, February 17, 2020

day ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED and TWENTY FIVE


Lower the Lifeboats

Write down who you are.
That was what we were told to do
so that in the future we would remember.
Write down what you value
your hopes for your children
Write a list of things you would never do
Because it’s possible in this new
bleak
landscape
that you will do them.

Know who you are. Know what you believe.
know how you fight and how you run.
And now, four years later,
aging and anxious
I pace the floorboards of my small apartment
picking up memories,
holding them like moths in my cupped hands
asking them if they are okay

Are we okay? Are we still okay?
I text people that I love just to tell them I love them
over and over again
as if that will make some difference
as if the flood waters outside
brackish and black
have not been rising for years now
as if they are not lapping against the walls
as if my hands alone could hold back the waves
or stop the bleeding
that pumps with each heartbeat

as if they could save even one precious life
as if we could ferry ourselves out of this darkness
find new land
lower the lifeboats
and sail away


--Ally Malinenko

Sunday, February 16, 2020

day ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED and TWENTY FOUR


Johnstown Sleeps
Johnstown sleeps
under the giant beautiful ruins
of the machines of my Grandfather’s generation.

And on day they buried my Great Aunt Elanor
they tore my Grandfather’s favorite bar down
because Johnstown sleeps
under the weight of bad trade deals
and the even worse idea
the future belongs to coal.

Johnstown sleeps
under the haze of uncritical nostalgia
and evangelical theologies
preaching personal satisfaction
isn’t the nihilism of the soul,
because god’s chosen people
always live in the country.

And for every racist comment
on every race-baiting story
on WJAC’s Facebook page,
the guy who drives around
on MLK Day, with a noose
and a tribute to James Earl Ray
in the back of his pickup
enjoys a sense of belonging denied
to every young person with an idea,
whose daily lesson is they’ve got to get out.

Johnstown sleeps
in the memories of
my two-week summer vacations
at Grandma’s house,
since burned down by an arsonist,
and the greatness of all
this town’s lost humane architecture.

Because Johnstown sleeps.

Johnstown sleeps,
and it won’t wake up
because of every grandstanding politician
with an easy answer as to how to find the real problem
in Philadelphia, in Washington DC, at the border
and the primal need to be better than somebody, anybody.

Because when Johnstown sleeps
dreaming only of the fantasy of a perfect past
never of a pragmatic future,
Johnstown lies
forever in the restless sleep
of its pastoral nightmare.
                                                                 
  —Matthew Ussia

Saturday, February 15, 2020

day ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED and TWENTY THREE

[got sugar in our veins or a dagger in our hearts]


and you will be lied to by those who
claim power as their birthright,
and by those who are elected

they will not let you choose in what manner
your blood is spilled
unless you choose suicide,
and so why live in silence in this nation of one-way streets?

why bow down to
false kings or their whores?

all castles will burn in the end

--John Sweet

Friday, February 14, 2020

day ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED and TWENTY TWO


We Meet Briefly, If At All

They are digging a new grave in the cemetery
as I round the corner on my walk, the machines clank and clatter
like ghosts shaking out their bones

It is a good reminder, I think
about where it all ends
in the end
and what we can do between now
and then.

The ghosts whisper from the edges,
peeking between gravestones
daring me to look back
but I am too superstitious
and I know that if I do
and if I am seen by their empty eyes
I cannot be unseen.

The sidewalk is empty
except for one thin girl
leaning against the light post waiting on the bus

and another man coming towards us.
He is ambling, headphones in his ears, seemingly calm.

The three of us are like meteors traveling through the night sky.
The only living things in New York about to come together 
and then depart for good
and I think it works that way.

We meet briefly, if at all.

But he stops near a discarded television set instead.
He considers it for a moment before with a scream,
he kicks it.
Hard.
Harder.
Again and again, the plastic exploding under his foot
is not enough and now he picks up the stand and lifts it over his head
slamming it again and again into the screen
which bends and breaks under the assault.

I freeze
press myself against the wrought iron bars of the cemetery
and beg the ghosts to take me with them,
take me down,
take me into the sky
take me anywhere but here

Take me away from this rage.

--Ally Malinenko