Doug Mathewson is publisher of Blink Ink.
Twenty One Guns
That Army bus was a small one, just enough room for
the eight of us and our gear.
It was hotter than the Devil’s own oven in
the summer, freezing in the winter, and leaked both spring and fall. I lived
inside that olive drab shell for better than two full years with the rest of the
Honor Guard as we bumped and wound over and back the Appalachians through West
Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee. War was what keep us busy those years ’67,
’68, and part of ’69. We took turns driving, those of us who knew how, but when
we got to our stop it was always Larry who played Taps and presented the flag to
the family. The rest of us stood at attention, after we each fired three times.
Then Larry, horn under his arm, would salute and give who-ever the folded flag.
Then we’d drive to the next one. Little towns mostly, some places not even towns
When they sent us out from base that first time, That ole
“Just because you boys ain’t too sharp don’t mean
you can’t serve your country.
You’re doin’ your duty at home is all,
shootin’ off blanks in honor of the dead.”
We honored the dead
alright, if there was enough left of ‘em to send back home. Soldiers families
tried real hard to be strong and proud for their boy, for their country.
was the brothers and sisters, high school friends. Them all being just kids like
us, crying maybe or everything held all tight inside. Wives and sweat-hearts
were the worse. Seeing them just tore me up. Tore me up bad every time. Bothered
us all one way or another. Some guys drank enough or drugged enough not to feel
it, or maybe
just not feel it as bad.
I turned eighteen on
that bus, nineteen too, and we gave out must have been better
thousand flags. Didn’t keep one. Didn’t keep anything really, just my boots
(them being the only shoes I had). Other guys on the bus, them GI’s, came and
went, and I left in my time too. What stayed with me was the families, keeping
themselves together when they were in such pain because they didn’t know what
else to do. Young girls in tears, or worse real quiet. I’ll never forget them.
Went back my old job, or near enough. Still workin’ Dairy Queen. Just mostly on
the grille now, only mop-up weekday nights’. I see kids come in, no older than
we was. Always hungry after the game or a school play. I think; well maybe where
I was those Vietnam years was like a school play. I wished so hard the dead boys
would come in from the wings, pushin’ each other and taking their bows. The
broken hearted girls smiling now, holding roses their proud daddy’s brung ‘em.
But the dead boys were still dead, and the sad girls was left to heal them
selves all up and down them back roads.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Sreemanti Sengupta is an anxious poet, a self published author, a despairing copywriter and a dangerous Bipolar. She peaks on narcissism and has recently decided she cant do without eloquent abuses. Her brain's GPRS is konked and she can land up anywhere in Kolkata, India when poetry is chasing her. Alarmingly, she has been published in some print anthologies and web journals. When nobody was interested in her, she partnered with a beautiful Brazilian artist and wrote a crazy book. Buy it, will ya? http://www.amazon.com/First-Person-Sreemanti-Sengupta/dp/1497324084/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399985940
reach her at: email@example.com
when a trapeze
man with a
is flying to meet
a ballerina with
The show was a hit. Woody seemed more animated than usual. His jaws moved like a dream. He talked of slavery and bonded labour and world peace. Everybody thought it was cute.
strike a match and come closer and devour my kisses into christmas trees with angels sitting pretty on frosted windows with naked pinup girls staring on with kohl ridden eyes of far flung arab refugees hiding in camps and pirouetting in green caviar sauces their canines printed red with wine and avocados the strawberry juices flowing down to the breasts like huge heaving sand dunes shifting places like rita on the day in school when she started menstruating out of the blue she stepped inside the cellar where the vampires were feeding on dead presidents sucking out their brains to decode what they had to do with the nature of darkness that scares little billy every night on the hard steel bed only before he cocks his ears and hears himself masturbating in lavish dreams of a field of poppies snoring against the trade winds and daffodils dancing against the cheek of an ugly princess whom frogs refuse to to kiss a book of scandals its pages flying off in bits and pieces a beggar catches them from a window ajar where wafts of Beethoven fly into the ears of witches spinning around slowly on a spell to kill the earthworms that grow under the feet everyday you wake up and find that the tub is filled with a mermaid all desiring your body and when you offer them your soul they try to become humans who will rule the moon where leaps have been taken a long time ago and signs of primitive lovers who crouched on each other and mated like dogs in broad daylight under a canopy of dense green trees where light glimmers through into a shackle where the pygmies are crouched over the woman in labour her cries pierce through the park and frighten the trained mongrels who ruffle and woof and the ladies kiss you on the mouth avoiding the ruptured lips and nose for bad breath of a prisoner who has weird foot orgasms for ten years when he looks for freedom for the boy from school when puberty has hit him hard and fast and he ran and ran to a wishing well and fairies rose and rose up to the sky and spread out their broken wands only to bid goodbye to magic
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri. Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, he has had poetry and fiction published in various publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his earliest work can be found at http://booksonblog12.blogspot.com/
Romance in the Modern Age
Spread 'Em for Anyone Edna
had always had trouble with men.
It started in high school when Edna,
big for her age, hosted the soccer team,
one by one, provided they won.
Edna had strong school spirit
but the players were not sportsmanlike,
telling classmates Edna was a bad goalie.
She had let everyone in.
Edna's largesse continued in college
with lanky lads on the tennis team.
Tennis players had more couth, she said,
and they certainly knew how to serve.
They would take Edna to dinner and a movie
and she would send them home smiling,
victorious, three sets to none.
Then one Sunday morning
while home on vacation,
Edna took Grandma to church,
a place Edna had never been.
She found the preacher attractive.
He stared at Edna throughout
his fist-pounding sermon,
fire raging, brimstone crackling.
That Sunday, Spread 'Em for Anyone Edna
answered the altar call and was born again.
After seven abortions Edna decided
to limit her kindness to one man,
a dentist named Dr. Throckmorton,
a renowned specialist in root canals,
a wealthy man she would eventually marry.
She admired his technique with a drill.
Sunday, August 10, 2014
My name is Joe Quinn and I am a 34 year old American Poet. I have been published 60+ times in over 30 publications in the world. My poetry collections are available to purchase for $10 at lulu.com/spotlight/welcomehomeironlung and I can be followed at @joequinnpoetry on twitter or at facebook.com/joequinnpoetry
the camera cuts
to a close up
of her cunt
it's on the tip
of his tongue
(but he can't say what
call her honey all abuzz
shades of coral
and new bruise)
cause that's not the love
they sell so well
manufactured in the sweatshops
of young bodies
(and if all you've got is youth
I hope you die young
in the arms of an accomplice)
"the party crash"
we were whores before
what we were selling
they had their
money out like american guns
maybe it's an image
a watermark of mascara
running as your eyes
down the alley ways
of dollar signs
so dream on
don't get up
(to no good)
rose petal areola
on a snow white
cigarette legs crushed out
on the ashtray carpet
she's a phoenix
no one believes in
they just sneak in the morse code
of burns on the old blanket
(they pay compliments
like old coins out of circulation
child's eye stars)
so dream on
don't get up
(to know good)
shirley you know
we are not constant
shirley you know
that all light fades
shirley was just a ragdoll
I had when I was a little pink
to speak the thoughts
I could hardly think
(she tasted the skin rubbed
by baby teeth)
"I was turned
when I was thirteen
of the night"
shirley you know
that pain is not constant
(surely you know
that all light fades)
Friday, August 8, 2014
Name: Donal Mahoney
The name "Donal," with its long "o," is Gaelic for Daniel, a name given to me by my Irish immigrant parents and a name everyone thinks I've misspelled all my life.
I live in St. Louis, Missouri, although I was born, reared, educated and worked most of my life in Chicago, a city I still miss even though I will probably live longer in St. Louis despite my fondness for such local delicacies as biscuits and gravy.
How long have you been writing:
I had my first poem published in 1961 with 100 or more poems subsequently published in print literary magazines during the next 11 years. I quit writing in 1972 and did not start again until 2008. I took that hiatus because of increasingly demanding editorial jobs. I got paid to edit publications and with five children that was important.
After I retired, my wife bought me a Macintosh computer and showed me the cardboard boxes in the basement that held my rough drafts from decades earlier. I've been writing ever since 2008 and have appeared largely in web publications although sometimes I have poems and stories appear in print as well.
Do you have a specific writing style:
If I have a specific writing style I don’t know what it is. I write what I “hear” if that makes any sense.
I have a couple of degrees in English with no courses in literature after the Victorian period. I never took a writing course or participated in a workshop. For better or worse, I’m not attracted to either.
When I was very young I liked the still-alive-then Gregory Corso. Later I appeared in some Irish print publications and read poems by the then-unknown Seamus Heaney, eventual winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, who recently died. The first time I read his work I knew there was Heaney and the rest of us even if many of the "rest of us" may have resented his brilliance. I don't think he influenced me directly but indirectly perhaps so since we were both reared in households where the Irish brogue was the dialect of the day and night. The rhythm of reels, jigs and hornpipes grace Heaney’s sentences and sometimes perhaps a few of mine.
Do you write as a career?
I have never considered my writing a career. I got paid to be an editor and although I did some writing in that capacity, I considered it to be journalism or something that passed for journalism.
Writing my own stuff is something I do because I like it. Some might say I do it because it is a safe outlet for an obsessive-compulsive personality whose other possible avenues might be harmful in one way or another.
Do you write full-time?
I probably write--and largely rewrite--between six and nine hours a day in three different shifts. Usually seven days a week unless some appointment makes that impossible.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a writer?
I can't think of any accomplishment that I think of as "great." I'm just thankful now to have the time to write as much as I want.
What is your ultimate goal as a writer?
I suppose like many writers I'd like to produce a book but the aggravation of picking poems and, worse, finding a publisher makes that effort seem not to be worth it in terms of the time I would have to devote to it.
If I were younger I’d sort the 500 or so poems into chapbooks with common themes and try to get them published and later on try for one big book. But that’s a pipe dream at the moment. It would mean putting on the editor’s hat again and putting away my quill.
What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
I have have been near-sighted since third grade and have developed dry macular degeneration in the early stages so spotting typos now is a problem. I solve this by writing in bold, probably to the distress of editors who read my work.
What projects of yours have been recently published?
Since returning to writing I have had work published at many sites in the U.S. and abroad with most of the work appearing at two sites: Eye on Life Magazine, where the poetry editor is Tom Rubenoff, and The Camel Saloon, where the editor is Russell Streur. They are two very different men in their tastes and that suits my split writing personality perfectly. I owe both of them a great deal.
I have to thank Russell for telling me long ago that a poem I had sent him might work better as fiction. I had never tried fiction but did so with his encouragement. Since then maybe 40 pieces of flash fiction or fiction have been published.
I have to thank Tom Rubenoff for his insight into poetry even if the style and the subject matter is far afield from what he might deal with in his own work. He would make a good ambassador to Ireland in rambunctious times. Patience he has out the wazoo.
Both of these Streur and Rubenoff have one thing in common as editors: You don't have to wait very long to get a yes or no. They answer promptly either way and I appreciate that. There are other sites that take weeks if not months to get back to a writer. The editor of this site is also very quick to respond and I think any writer appreciates that.
What are you currently working on and what inspired this work?
I continue to work on poems and fiction. Usually a line, as opposed to an idea, comes into my mind and it's the start of poem that I follow until I have a first draft that I can revise till it no longer sickens me.
I seldom if ever know where a poem will take me. Sometimes the poem doesn't work out and I remember Russell Streur's advice to see if it will work as fiction. Sometimes it does.
Where can we find your work?
Probably the best way is to Google my name with quotes around it--"Donal Mahoney"--or to look at one of these sites:
How do you react to rejections?
Rejections don't bother me as much as they did when I was young and impressionable because I have discovered that what one editor may not want another editor will. I don't think I have ever "finished" something that did not get published somewhere.
How do you react when one of your submissions is accepted for publication?
I'm happy, of course. to have a piece accepted any time but that leads to what I call "bookkeeping"--namely, recording the publication date, place, etc., and that takes time away from writing and rewriting.
Rewriting, as many writers often say, is what's important. I might do 30 drafts of a poem or story before gasping and saying I can do no more and then send it out. And then revise it again if it gets bounced.
What is your best piece of advice on how to stay sane as a writer?
If I were sane, I would have gone to law school as my father wanted me to do rather than graduate school in English. But I loved words and ran into a Benedictine monk who threw words around his classroom with accurate abandon and I fell in love with words even more.
The only reason I majored in English is because it was the only subject I was good at. I went to college to play basketball and to stay out of the armed services. They were drafting people then. I was not a pacifist but I did not like the idea of boot camp.
In grammar and high school I got by in math and science but had no gift for either. But I could always spell and the nuns gave me a pass, I suspect, on some disciplinary matters because I was one of the few boys who did well in spelling bees.
I was not a nerd in that I loved all sports and was fairly good in a couple of them. But if I saw a word I usually remembered how it was spelled despite not having a photographic memory. I saved a job once at a Chicago newspaper by spelling ukulele correctly.
What is your favorite book?
Sadly, the book that changed my life was J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye." Any thought I had of going to law school or into business was decimated by that book as well as by his collections of short stories.
I was disturbed to read recently than many fans of "The Catcher" have committed suicide for some reason I can't fathom. I have never thought of killing myself although I may have sometimes wished someone else would go to heaven as soon as possible.
I liked Salinger because of his hatred for “phoniness” which is what made it difficult for me to earn my living in a suit and tie all those years even though I had white collar skills and only one blue collar skill. I think I can still operate a hammer.
Phoniness is rampant in offices and I came from a blue collar background where people were not perfect but they were direct.
Who is your favorite author?
If you could have dinner with one fictional character, who would it be and why?
I suppose I would have to say Holden Caulfield from “The Catcher” if he brought Salinger with him.
What is the greatest occupational hazard for a writer?
I can't answer that from personal experience. I have never run dry yet. But then I don't try to think about what to write. Odd lines come to me while brushing my teeth and I follow those lines till I get a first draft of a poem or story and then I rewrite forever or until I can't stand to read it again.
I think it helps to be competitive. By that I mean one has to compete with oneself, not with others. You have to fight human nature to get things done. You have to care about what you do and never be satisfied with the result even if you at the moment cannot make the piece any better. Some great poet once said a poem is never finished, "simply abandoned." I agree completely.
What is your favorite word?
Probably ukulele since being able to spell it helped me keep a job when I needed that job.
What makes you laugh?
The juxtaposition of the ordinary and the extraordinary. I also enjoy reading the reasons some folks don't believe in God. I wish Christopher Hitchens could come back and tell us Who he met immediately on the other side.
What makes you cry?
I don't think I cried at all till I was quite old and then for some reason memories, good and bad, sometimes trigger tears. The death of someone also moves me now. A dentist I hardly knew except professionally dropped dead despite getting a lot of exercise. I hated to hear that he died but I used that as an example once again for my wife as to why I believe in Recliner Therapy. Wiggle one's toes at least thrice a day.
What is your preferred drink while you write?
Water. Sometimes I think I should never have quit drinking many decades ago but I am bad enough to be around when I’m sober which is all the time now. Drugs were not part of the scene when I was young. Quarts of beer after a basketball game and vodka and Squirt on weekends were my problem.
Beach or Mountains?
Neither, sadly. If it weren't for the drive-by shootings pandemic in big cities today, I'd prefer a walk down a deserted business street with neon glowing at midnight and a dog crossing the street with a sideways canter.
Cats or Dogs?
Cats, i suppose, since I've been feeding ferals every morning for years without one meow of thanks. They like my wife and let me feed them.
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
Neither, but I would take the Stones over the Beatles because the latter would have gotten thumped in the Chicago neighborhood of my youth. I think the Stones might have gotten out alive.
Jimi Hendrix or Frank Sinatra?
Sinatra, without question. Just as Astaire over Gene Kelly.
Shakespeare or Bukowski?
I'd have to say Shakespeare because a little of Bukowski was enough for me and I had to take a course in Shakespeare. I have always wondered if Bukowski rewrote anything or sent out first drafts. I know that may make me sound pompous but that’s how I feel when I read him. I could see the genius in Shakespeare even if in my youth he bored me due to my own ignorance. I wasn’t ready for Shakespeare and I may be totally wrong about Bukowski who looked like I might have looked if I had not quit drinking.
Please provide as much or as little of the following information as you’d like.
Some of my poetry and fiction can be found on these websites and blogs:
Anything you’d like to share about your country, its people, or native animals?
Although I am Irish in ancestry, mood and temperament, I have to be deeply thankful to America for giving by immigrant father an opportunity to become an electrician after he emigrated here as a gravedigger and boxer.
America still has terrible problems but I don't think other nations have thousands of children from other countries trying to sneak across its borders.
In addition to being good to my father, America has been very good to me. I have a great deal to be thankful for and much of it is do to the opportunities I found in America for someone whose one skill was being able to spell and who knew the difference between a semi-colon and a colon. If most journalists knew that before computers came in, I might have had a tough time finding work as an editor.
Thanks for the opportunity of talking for so long and making me think about what it is I think at this stage of my life.
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, Donal Mahoney has had work published in the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his earliest work can be found at http://booksonblog12.blogspot.com/.
Oaf with Saturday Night Fever
The urgency of warthogs
wandering in the brush
grunting for ripe acorns
sounds like aging hunters
prowling in a singles bar
late on a Saturday night
half an hour from closing
no beauty queen in sight
till one of them decides
to meet Miss Prim and Proper
who suddenly looks lovely.
But she rejects the come-on
Big Man saved from high school:
"Honey, I have the hot dog
and you have the bun. Let's
get together and have some fun."
The Chastity Belt
Henry's been married 50 years
without a sorry day,
his wife Opal reminds him
every week, and Henry
always says the days
are great but the nights
are something else.
Tonight should be a dandy
as he lies in bed
adrift in shaving lotion
knowing that his perfumed wife
will join him once she wins
the battle of the bulge.
Opal says it's a bigger battle
every day to get her girdle off.
Henry calls it her chastity belt.
Smiling Opal never disagrees.
Sunday, August 3, 2014
Holly Day was born in Hereford, Texas, “The Town Without a Toothache.” She and her family currently live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she teaches writing classes at the Loft Literary Center. Her published books include the nonfiction books Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, and Guitar All-in-One for Dummies, and the poetry books “Late-Night Reading for Hardworking Construction Men” (The Moon Publishing) and “The Smell of Snow” (ELJ Publications), while her needlepoints and beadwork have recently appeared on the covers of The Grey Sparrow Journal and QWERTY Magazine.
Just Past the Light
The old man’s name
is painted all over the side the bright red truck
and the girls in back of the truck are shouting that name
their faith shattered by the sight of the corpse in the road.
A policeman comes over and asks them questions
about the man, who he is, where he lives,
asks why they’re all in the back of his truck
they look fourteen fifteen sixteen years old
they just look impatient.
I lean back and watch the perceived evil unfold
as rumors fly through the watching crowd,
that dirty old man who deserved to die
some poetic justice that he had the girls with him when it happened
that he had pulled into the gas station before the incident
and hadn’t been hurdling down the road with those poor girls in the back
when it happened. One of the girls is crying
I pretend it’s in relief.
In the Margins
You defy me
in pages half-crumbled to dust
in the footsteps of prophets
in the paths laid out by unattainable men. I am standing
in the outskirts of your memory by now, bloated by conquests
better forgotten. I say you
are the one who’s not real, not me.
Dead eyes follow me
from the hollows of statues, mimicking feral carnivores
growling in my wake. The tiny carnivore inside me
fights for breath in its own aquifer, reminds me
that not all memories can be forgotten, only
forgiven and moved to the past.
My tongue reeks of cracked pots, conceptual pieces
as I preach of gift-wrapped bluebirds
promise black waves of crows.
You are duct-taped unrecognizable
full of sirens and flashing lights, faithless,
impatient. Subway cars rattle past
bearing the names of unrecognized saints
scrawled in aerosol paint along their sides
carrying the Holy Spirit somewhere else, away
from the cold of my own tiny, dark church.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Howie Good's latest book of poetry is The Complete Absence of Twilight (2014) from MadHat Press. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely, who does most of the real work.
Char & Ash
The history that began
with a signed urinal
with rain disasters in India.
Somewhere I still have
a picture postcard
from the gift shop
at Kafka’s birthplace.
Nostalgia just isn’t
what it used to be.
Panics keep happening,
by lewd gestures.
There was a time
when the pullout couch
at your parents’
would have served
as enough of a haven,
even with you & me
& everyone else
crying, Squish over!
It never happens, tomorrow never happens, the London gangster says, more to himself than to his double-crossing partner, who isn’t listening anyway and wouldn’t understand the concept of built-in obsolescence even if he were. In the news clip Ukrainians – or are they Iranians? – shake automatic weapons over their heads. The contestant on another channel is struggling to remember the name of the fourth Beatle. At least he knows you must state the answer as a question, which only proves, I guess, that the heart was and still is A) a highway B) a jailhouse or C) an empty bed.