—Richard Hansen, Sacramento
Johnny and Coco
had a long-distance
failing to contain each other
Johnny lived in Houston
and had an addiction
Coco was in LA
Her heart soaring
above the population
Coco really loved
work her body
jumping higher with pirouettes
the dance troupe
Johnny loved darkened lights
tall buildings on either side
could flow down
flights of stairs at night
a certain friend
waiting for him
—Pijush Kanti Deb, Lumding, Nogaon, Assam, India
In the eve of the birth of his first child
a God-fearing man changes
his spectacle into goggles and skin into bark
to enter the Hell of abundance for his child,
his expansion into a father
contracts him into a sinner,
as he now defines himself,
for bringing an innocent life about
to suffer and die
and compelling him to pray
to the God to forgive him
and swears for something new to start
both in the name of the God and the Devil,
to purchase a new diary
immersing the old one
into the depth of the sensitive channel
he used to swim across
before mingling himself
in the vastness of a stoic ocean,
and manipulates the race competition
being held in his heart
between his vice and virtue,
as no other alternative is found,
for obtaining a surplus balance of payment
before the child starts
regretting and crying for his unwanted birth
in this world
where "Hooray" is always defeated by "Alas".
THE BEST SINGER
—Pijush Kanti Deb
my father was soft in tuning my song
in a moderate scale to sing well
my fate was generous
in blooming an appreciation
as the best son of my father.
my master was hard in dignifying my song
in a high scale to practice,
my perseverance was inviting the recognition
as the best disciple of my master.
a song needs a best son to sing
a best disciple gets
all appreciation and recognition
rather my singing as per my own scale
must win the title of “the best singer”.
THE KINGDOM AND ITS DREAMS
—Pijush Kanti Deb
The kingdom deserves a dream
to become the first choice of its people
and the dream may not be so illusive
or impossible to be fulfilled
yet it is found standing last
in the waiting list
making the dream
captive in its own closed eyes,
and follow the proceedings of some special-
colossal figure with long arms
just touching even the nerves of the king
to bewitch him
when he distributes
his kindness and benevolence
for bringing the sweating kingdom
beneath the shadow of a white pigeon.
—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA
On the long steep upgrade
a moving shadow. In stringer-shade of oak
across hot pavement
wild honkers, jaywalking east to west. I braked.
The truck behind me stopped
in time. A car coming fast at us downhill
didn’t see the birds, kept going, barely missing
bird-strike. First goose in line paused,
resumed its slow journey. I counted 21 geese
in stately procession. Is there
a Guinness record for Canadian Geese
crossing a two-lane?
We waited, cars headed down the grade
and a lengthening line of vehicles
behind me. No one honked.
What possessed these geese to travel on foot
when they might be flying? It seemed
an emigration of the dispossessed
by drought. Had they used their last strength
to reach a rancher’s pond and found it
dry? A playing-field that once was irrigated
grass, no longer green?
At last, bringing up the rear, three fuzzy
goslings achieved the far shoulder.
We humans safely wrapped in steel
resumed our journey.
CENTER OF THE DREAM
A speckled stone, sweet red slab of incense
cedar; yellow blossom that he sniffed for news;
black and white barred feather, hawk or owl;
scrimshaw of his teeth on bone. Color
and texture, scent and sound, what he thought,
far beyond your knowing. Separate this out,
pull it to the center, the fire, till everything
churns and melds and is consumed. Turn him
into smoke and memory rising above
lamentation. The wind sweeps him away,
disperses him airborne; dresses him in cloud
impermanent and endless.
Whatever stays unburned at the edges,
untransformed, release it, let it return to life.
The angels, you said, carry jet planes
through clouds, or let them fall. Pure energy,
lightning gathered to flip the switch,
incandescent on or off.
Mystery of how the heart works.
—Loch Henson, Diamond Springs, CA
Atop the sweet confection of a
birthday cake, there perches
a waxy reminder of the passing
Narrow tapers or incessant sparklers,
sculpted numerals or just a solitary
little soldier with his hat aflame,
the element of fire is at play.
Inhale as deep as you need (some
years are more challenging than others)
and blow them out for luck.
Mid-year you may still recollect
the flavor of buttercream frosting
mingling with wax.
—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA
On how I look
At it, I’m
Either a defunct
Highway, or two-
Thirds of the way
To being The Beast.
—Medusa, thanking today's contributors, including Pijush Kanti Deb from clear across the sea!