June Issue- Week 4

June 24, 2013

Dromey - Drawing 3 (5-31-12)by John H. Dromey

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A Poet-of-Place Observes Early Signs of Spring During a Night of Drinking

by Ray Sharp

1. Standing far below the stars with a south breeze on his face, he feels his sap rising and his ear lobes swelling.

2. Behind the din of the neighbor’s sled dogs yapping, he thinks he hears coyote pups barking. Their mother calls them back into the den, where they pull at her chapped teats.

3. When he makes a piss hole of melted snow on the driveway snow mat, he can almost see down to gravel.

4. The snow is soft enough that it doesn’t hurt at all when he falls.

 

Under an August Moon

by Ray Sharp

Coyote, wise old trickster
shuffling across the road
under an August moon,
you look a little shaggy,
a little grayer,
but you and I know
the best blueberry patches,
the way across the swale,
how to step light
over a thin crust of wind-packed snow,

when to chase
and when to lay in wait.
The moon casts
reflected sunlight
on the old familiar trails,
as the summer night
gathers memories
of distant, bygone loves,
and traces a crooked path
upon my dark betrodden heart.

 Previously published in vox poetica, September 1st, 2009

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Old Dog

by Laura Jean Schneider

 

“Got ’n old dog needs shot,” the man says, shuffling in from the cold. The porch door slams shut behind him.  He trails the father and son into the kitchen where the cook stove casts a dry heat, the chipped enameled kettle on the stove top diffusing clouds of murky water. “Sit,” says the father. The man sits, his bony frame disappearing in his loose trousers.

“I won’t shoot no dog for you,” says the father.

The son glances down at the filthy linoleum.

 “Don’t have to, I kin do it.” The man bobs his lopsided head earnestly, ears bright red from the bitter winter wind, ancient skin flushed.

“He needs a gun, Da,” says the son, looking at his father.

“I need a gun,” says the man. “He’s right. I hate to do it, but he ain’t gonna make it through to Christmas.”

Tomorrow, thinks the son.

“Well’s long as I ain’t doing the shooting, I s’pose you can use this,” the father says as he slides a .22 revolver out from behind the toaster oven. He pops open the cylinder, slips six cartridges inside, hands it to his neighbor.

The old man traps tears behind his watery blue eyes, rough lips wobbling. “Thanks,” he says. “It’s fer the best.” He raises a gnarled hand, steps carefully down the icy steps, walks toward his pickup. Then he stops; turns. “Merry Christmas,” he hollers.

“Same t’ you,” the father calls back.  He walks into the kitchen, to his son and the wood fire and the game of crazy eight’s, the news droning on the three-channel television set, and the smell of elk roast rising from the oven.

Uncle stops by on New Year’s.  He sips whiskey on the rocks with his brother, asks if he’d heard about old Smith.

“Nope,” the father says.

“Old Smith, he done offed hisself.” 

The father looks over at his son. The son stares back, silent.

“Yep, over’d the community center.” The uncle mashes an ice cube between his teeth. “Christmas Eve.” 

“That’s ’mpossible,” says the father.

“He was over here,” says the son.

 “When?” the uncle asks.

“‘ ’Bout four. Four, huh?”  

The father stares at his son.

“Sure, four,” the son nodded.

“Well, this was ‘bout seven, sheriff said.”

The uncle reaches for the bottle, unscrews the cap, and adds three fingers to his water-spotted glass.

“Done shot hisself in the head with a .22 pistol.”

The father and son say “an old dog” at the same moment.

 

June Issue- Week 3

June 18, 2013

SockIt-1

by Laura Jean Schneider

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at the campfire’s edge
where light falls into silence    
we cherish our dark
that gives life to your secret
and leaves mine forever dead

Tyson West is a is a traditional western poet whose aesthetic continually shape shifts. He watches the Northwest with veiled and hooded lynx eyes, broods among the conifers and quarrels with Coyote. He has a degree in history, but writes a variety of poetry styles, and has written a series of poems around Spokane Garry who is our local magical Indian. One of Tyson’s Western poems was published in Spoke Magazine called “Floorshow”, which is based on a picture of a 1922 floorshow in the Davenport Hotel which photo you can find on line. He lives in the middle of Eastern Washington, which is definitely cowboy country. There are two Washingtons, Eastern and Western, and they are as different as a Mocah Mint Latte with organic goats milk and black boiled coffee at a chuck wagon fire.

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Who We Are

1.
We are the Wampum Belt-
Open at both Ends –
Still
Weaving Our Story.

We are the Sacred Drum.
That- Resilient Beat-
Pulsating
Within Mother Earth.

We are the 7th Fire-
Ignited by our past -Carrying the
Light
For our Future.

We are the Cedar Basket,
Sewn from the Roots of the Universe-
Forever
Expanding Our Spirit.

2.
We are the Survivors
& Revivers.

The Relations of the Forest-
& Educated by the Sun.

We Rise- like the sturdy Green Cornfields –
That Kiss the Cranberry Dawn.

We are the Deep Red Ocean-
Flowing within the Arteries –
Of Turtle Island.

3.
And-Yes.

We Swam through the Blood Soaked Tears-
Traversed the Wave over 500 Years.

The Unmarked Graves have Scarred our Dreams-
Long Walks & Trails- across the Icy Streams.

Those Boarding Schools and Reservations-
Malefic Schemes to encourage Limitations.

Mountains of Pain Shielded by a Smile-
Sometimes Surviving – means living in Denial.

Lethal Storms- Rain down like Shattered Glass,
Broken like Treaties – Amnesia of the Past.

Hair & Language- detached by foreign Hands-
But they both Return –as should Usurped Lands .

Our History & Journey- Carved from a Shell-
They do Not spill Oil-only Mark our Life’s Trail.

The tribe of Human Beings -is Who we Are-
Because All of Us- Revolve around the Same Star.

A Ceremony of Condolence –Is how We All Must Begin-
This is life’s Round Dance – a Circle with no End.

Larry Spotted Crow Mann
is a writer, performer, Nipmuck cultural educator and citizen of the Nipmuck tribe of Massachusetts. He serves as the Drum Keeper of the Tribe which is a sacred trust. Their group is known as the Quabbin Lake Singers. He travels throughout the United States and Canada to schools, colleges, pow wows and other organizations sharing the music, culture and history of Nipmuck people. He has also given lectures at universities throughout New England on issues ranging from Native American Sovereignty to Identity.

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Cowgirls Factory Blues

Rising before the electric rooster crows,
Before the sun hugs the earth,
Ella slides out of bed
With an aching hip
Giving old Whiskey Breath a nudge
As he grunts and swears
In the same ritual every morning
For the past forty years as
She sets the chipped porcelain kettle
On the flame
To brew a morning cup
Sweetly reminding Larry
To fetch his own damn vittles, dear,
Feeding her leftover biscuits and bland gravy
To the little doggies
Before riding away in a dusty Mustang
To that brick and steel hold
Where she lassos washers and bolts
Head counting and time keeping
To the beat of her own twang
Until the workers in the factory embrace
Mosey out of the gate, single file,
Roaming free through the night,
While Ella stretches and cracks and creaks,
Thankful for her short journey home
After a wearisome day
On the urban range
That trounces too many spirits
Before the final ride off into the sunset

Denise Janikowski-Krewal is a Midwestern poet and writer of short fiction. She currently lives in the Milwaukee, WI area, and can be found at “the lost beat”where she collaborates with her cousin and fiction writer Tom Janikowski.

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Retreat From The Willamette

by Rodney Nelson

a family I knew began to go apart

when mother and daughter moved to Cascadia

                     dark little mountain hamlet

                     of woe in the rain oh woe

 

father and son remained at what was left of home

and in the bowling alley no one had to talk

and the river was up and had to get higher

but what did it have to do with the family

who reunited every weekend in a

                     dark little mountain hamlet

                     of woe in the rain oh woe

 

a Mormon-redneck town or just redneck-Mormon

of work and no chatter where the pine trees were high

and still growing on yew-ess twenty all the way

and the family had nothing to add either

as they waited out the fall of Sunday in that

                     dark little mountain hamlet

                     of woe in the rain oh woe

 

 

June Issue- Week 2

June 10, 2013

Drinking With the Angels

I don’t claim to be an angel

But I know

I’ll be drinking with the angels when I go

Now, I’m not claiming to be free of sin, nor pure

But there’s one thing that I know for certain sure,

When my time is up here’s what I plan to do:

Before I go I’m gonna have a drink or two

I’ll have a short one for the road, then one for you

I’ll have a chaser for my friends

And maybe while

My elbow bends

I’ll raise a toast to Mom and one to dear old Dad

And when that’s gone I’ll maybe pour me just a tad

To toast the gone, forgotten times

Then, as the midnight hour chimes

I’ll stand the house a round or three to say goodbye

Before I head out to that Big Bar in the Sky

Now, where I’m going, well there ain’t no closing time

And all the spirits in those bottles are sublime

And every hour is happy hour

The angels toast each meteor shower

And the tab you’re running’s stamped Eternity

So pardon me

If I don’t claim to be an angel

But I know

I’ll sure be drinkin’ with the angels

I’ll be drinkin with the angels when I go

Judith Mesch reads like a fish drinks, total immersion, that is, from an early age through a late and lingering adolescence, and wrote feverishly through my teens. Then I stopped writing, stopped reading very much, too, for decades until a few years ago when I started writing bits and pieces, then some light verse, a couple of short stories a little flash fiction.  I have two children’s stories epublished on Amazon for Kindle and on Smashwords by Twenty or Less Press.  They are actually kind of country, “The Strange and Wonderful Cornfield” and A Circle of Frogs”.  I had a few pieces published in ezines and a children’s poem in Off The Coast Journal.

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Scars

by Dawn Schout

The rough

spot on my knee

from when I fell off

my first pony

onto gravel after taking

a corner too fast.

A thin, pale line

above my elbow

where my horse kicked me

on my bare skin.

A darkened line on the edge

of my cuticle

where Destiny stepped

on my toe before he died,

the pain remaining

after he’s gone.


Furrowed Sky

by Dawn Schout

Long rows of clouds look ready for planting.

If plowed by constant gusts

of wind, stars will start to push through.

************

Prospectin’
You slimy ol’ scoundrel!
Keep comin’ after me
I dare ya! I double dare ya!
You sleazy ol’ geezer
Tryin’ to rope and outwit me
And my buddies
You got a few of ‘em and
I’m still mad as hell
There ain’t no forgivin’
I’m gonna kick your teeth in
And give your arse some scars
You relentless sucker!
I hate your pigeon liver guts
And yer billy goat tenacity
(Learned me that word
From a preacher in a camp once)
Keep comin’ after me
Like them spikes in a gear
Back to back pot shots
Missed again! Ha!
You squirrely varmint
Y’ almost got me this time!
I reckon you’ll catch up with me
One day
Until then, piss on you…Death!

 Denise Janikowski-Krewal was born on the south-side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and raised with a blue-collar upbringing. Her varied work background includes years of writing technical correspondence. She is passionate about storytelling and researching genealogy. Please check out her official website at: The Lost Beat http://denisejanikowskikrewal.webs.com/More of her poetry is available on the lost beat blog

June Issue- Week 1

June 2, 2013

Steerhead-2

by  Laura Jean Schneider

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SHAWNEE TRAIL

Come all you young cowboys so young and so hale

And I’ll tell you what happened on the old Shawnee Trail.

Come listen beside me and I’ll tell you the tale.

I got me a job for pretty good pay

Bein’ a wrangler for a rancher, the name of Bob Gray.

Taking ponies to Sedalia for a dollar a day.

 

We rode out one morning, the cowboys and me

Captain Gray lead us all, on his mare named Marie

My pal rode a paint, the one named Pawnee.

That horse was a killer, but we didn’t know then

How that paint had hurt more than a dozen good men

He would throw a good rider, time and again.

 

When that rider was down, God it was sad

That horse would go crazy, plum ravin’ mad

He’d stomp on the rider, and kick him real bad

Til the rider was dead and mashed in the ground

That horse wouldn’t stop but just whirl all around

And stomp the poor cowboy, that was there lying down.

 

That horse was smart; he would wait for his time

He’d be fine for a while and then turn on a dime

He’d spin like a top when commitin’ his crime

And then he’d start bucking, my God what a sight

He’d heave off the ground, goin’ high as a kite

No cowboy could ride him, you couldn’t set tight.

 

Captain Grey told my pal, “Don’t ride him you see

Just leave that damn paint horse to someone like me.

‘cause I’m gonna shoot him, I damn guarantee.”

Maybe my pal was too foolish and bold

He just didn’t believe in what he’d been told.

He said,” That horse is fine, he jist needs controlled

 

I am really your man, I aint terror struck

I’ll soon see if this outlaw can buck

If he tries to throw me, he’ll be down on his luck”

And he saddled the paint and with the ponies we rode

My pal seemed to have him, he didn’t explode

He seemed to be calm, like in a church mode.

 

Well we herded those ponies like they had wings

Until we got south of the town Baxter Springs

Now I seen some sights and some terrible things

But nothing prepared me for the sight I would see

When that damn paint horse started his spree

He spun and jumped higher then a goddamn dog flea

 

He was bucking and screaming like a mad grizzly bear

That was roused from his sleep and come from his lair

My Pal couldn’t stay on him, he hadn’t a prayer.

He reached for his night latch, to help himself stay

Screwed In the saddle, this wern’t child’s play

That paint was on his hind feet, when the saddle broke ‘way

 

The latigo busted and my pal hit the ground

And that paint was on him in one single bound

A kicking’ and stompin’ my pal who was downed

There was blood on the saddle and blood on the ground

My pal was a yellin’, a terrible sound

But that damn horse was still on him, he wasn’t unwound

 

 Bob Grey rode up yelling, “get out of the way

Cause this is that  Devils Goddamn last day”

He pulled out his pistol, a Colt forty four

And 6 shots went off with a hell of a roar.

That Paint went down, all covered with gore

He won’t kill no riders, not anymore.

 

But my pal lay dead there right next to that horse

Their blood run together as a matter of course

All in a pool as if from the same source.

In all my life, I seen nothin’ worse.

All we could do was stand there and curse

Our hearts was sad and filled with remorse.

 

We buried my pal right there on the trail

Wrapped in a blanket, his face was so pale

And over his grave the coyotes would wail

The bones of the Paint still mark the spot

So when you ride by, your horse at a trot

Jist give my pal more than a thought

 

Some horses are killers, that’s all I can say

And if you find one you best stay away

You may try to ride him but it’ll be your last day

On the trail near that pile of rottin’  horse bone

Listen to the south wind with its sad moan

And think of my pal, lying there all alone.

Merle Grabhorn is a rancher living in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Yes, he does own and ride a horse, and yes, he drives a pickup truck down dusty dirt roads. And like all ranchers, he diversifies, growing wheat, soybeans, and milo, along with the hay that the cattle need in the winter. 

His family came west by covered wagon in the 1850s and homesteaded.  Some of his family drove horses and cattle along the Shawnee Trail.   This trail is the South West’s eastern-most, earliest south-north trail.  Before the railroads crossed the Mississippi River, Texas cattle were driven east to New Orleans. When the Pacific Railroad terminated in Sedalia, Missouri, cattlemen found it easier to take their cattle north. Using the rails, cattle could then be shipped to slaughter houses in St. Louis and Chicago much quicker than when traveling by ship from New Orleans.  Horses could be driven north on the trail and sold to the Army in Sedalia.

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First Choral Sonnet

 

Now penetrators concentrated stones

Of silver pierce in shafts with sharpened picks,

Mining her guts, as mother Tellus groans,

In rival disembowelment to affix

Themselves. These delvers, axing depths, intent

On access to the earthen entera

Of ore, all rupturing her fundament

In rock, would argentine phenomena

Confirm. In Gaian innards grubbing, down

Toward the inmost domain of bowels they dig.

They’d shiver fundatorial earth, her brown

Intestines breaching where the find is big.

The pithiest sinuosity, fulfilled

With argent marrow, must be mined and milled.

Second Choral Sonnet

Nevadan cavers excavational

Evisceration speed in Davidson,

Where fissured strata, fused with mineral

Profundities, afforded by the ton,

Are struck. As burrowed indentations spread

In deeper ores of pitted danger, so

Interior horrors must be hazarded,

For ground spates shoot into the mines below

Five hundred feet with permeat magnitude

In steam. Thus noxious burrows, nether bound,

With vapid calefaction are imbued,

Where delves are veins with fervid trouble found.

Indented Davidson is disemboweled,

Down where her hollowed viscera unfold.

F. L. Light has written many sonnets and this piece is from his drama Bonanza Mammon Booms, a drama of the Comstock Lode, which is set in Virginia City, Nevada. The protagonist is William Sharon, principal of the Bank of California branch in Virginia City. The Lode was about two thirds silver and one third gold. Virginia City is now a tourist site. Alex Hyde-White, a well-known actor, is producing Mr. Light’s translation of *Oedipus the King* for Audible.com. *Antigone* and *Women of Trachis*, performed by other actors, are now listed there.

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