| || |
Gray Brian Thomas is a 3-time member of the Salt City Slam team (reaching semi-finals stage twice with this team), and current member of the Wasatch Wordsmiths. He has been published by Tired Hearts Press, Unshod Quills, and enormous rooms.
Gray tries to be a nice guy most of the time, but most people think he comes off as a tad exasperated. Until recently, he had a large moustache which he had to set free to obtain employment. He has very little skills other than reading as well as folding and refolding small pieces of paper. His heart and eyes are keen and his words and phrasing are precise, he is a Salt Lake City poet.
You use ‘&’
instead of ‘and.’
I thought you were trying
to be ornate or cummingsesque.
Now I believe
it’s because ‘and’
is too similar to ‘end’
& I know how
you hate goodbyes.
‘&’ serves as
joining two words
that belong together.
Peas & carrots.
Bite & burn.
War & peace.
Even if they’re opposites,
‘&’ interconnects them,
as though ‘&’
the way limbs intertwine
after a couple of drinks,
piles of cigarette ashes,
limbs become ‘&.’
There’s a ‘however’
in this explanation, some where.
Nomatter how ‘&’ these words get,
they forever remain separate, remote.
Neither can figure out why
despite longnights of
Peas wonders why carrots
keeps edging away.
Bite wonders why burn
won’t kiss her.
War wonders why Peace
won’t stay the night.
Per haps be cause
these words will never be ‘nevertheless’
will neverbe ‘sunset.’
Their know ledge
of temp oral, flee ting
pass ions leave them
dis con sol ate.
Nomatterhow awe struck
and impasse ioned
they be come witheachother
theyknow brow beaten,
theyknow heart break,
theyknow after shocks,
& they under stand thechanceof
another fare well,
an other solong,
I have been trying
to unbend all of my question marks
so they will look like exclamation points,
and thus there will be no more uncertainty,
My palms have become blistered,
my finger tips callused
from my attempts
to place the paper fibers
into a more satisfying alignment.
All of my questions
have now become awkward exclamations,
“Who do you think you are!”
“What is the meaning of life!”
there’s no longer a need
Since I have started
unbending all of my exclamations points,
I’ve been wondering how I can unbend
other curves in my life.
If I could straighten out
my last lover’s hips which
resemble the curves of the question mark,
I could actually become excited
about the act
of making love
rather than feeling alone
with the thoughts of
that this is quite possibly the last.
Or, I could straighten out
my 82-year-old grandmother’s back
so that she could live
the remainder of her life
in comfort and jubilance
rather than taking small,
through her living room
forced to gaze at the floor
as though looking for
the tiny fragments of her life
that slowly broke off and disappeared
into the worn fibers
of the carpet.
Finally, if I could straighten out
all the curves in my life,
I could straighten out
that drunken 80 mph bend
in the road
coming down the canyon,
and you would be here
with me tonight
and we could still go
across the room
instead I am sitting here, alone, drinking by myself, staring at the wall, pushing paper fibers into alignment, and asking your ghost “What the hell were you thinking?”
| || |
Adam Love is an emerging writer from Salt Lake City. His work has appeared or is upcoming in Numero Cinq, The Main Street Rag, Sugar House Review, Conte, MiPoesias, and others. He’s the author of Another Small Fire, a chapbook of poetry. He was nominated for a 2013 Pushcart Prize. He holds and MFA from Vermont College.
Below is the poem "Play Crack the Sky" as well as his reading at City Art.
Enjoy and stay ugly!
| || |
Play Crack the Sky
A cosmonaut once told me
that every exploding star has a name
it never knew. It labels itself
and speaks no language, or maybe
it speaks many languages that nothing
but it, the star, can understand.
Until there is an instance in both space
and time, when the star decides to explode
into day, cool indefinitely into night.
When he told me this, I was puzzled
and asked “How can that be?”
He chuckled and said, “Once I went
to a black hole, crossed the never-returning
boundary into my own nothingness—forever leaping
into that cosmic bay, my existence stretching
through each layer of the universe’s
sunken mountains. But now I am here,
and you should know that I am both here
and not here. That I both returned and never left.”
Suddenly, I’m five again, climbing my honey tree,
chewing Starbursts, reaching for the distant gold
hands of maple leaves, searching the ground
for signs of my father, staring back up
at the wild blue, late evening empire.
Allowing clouds to unlock the cornerstone
of my eye.
If I could find the cosmonaut,
I’d tell him that I am the one
who haunts his dreams of mountains
sunk below the sea. That every star
I become will explode, collect
in my bloodstream, and flood my bones
like potholes after rain has play-cracked
Christopher Arigo received his MFA in Poetry from Colorado State University (2000) and his PhD in English from University of Nevada, Las Vegas (2008). He taught at Roland Hall Saint Mark's for years. He was a creative consultant for Cabaret Voltage a Spoken Word and Music show that ran in Salt Lake City off and on from 2003 to 2012.
The following is titled "Four father parables, or the Father trails a nozzle & hose forgotten during a hasty refuel, or the Father’s holding tank in dire need of fresh water, or the Father vibrates at the speed of light, or the father burrows through strata & igneous layers".
| || |
the Father ambulates out of reach in 4-wheel drive / with each horn wail / with each muffler curse spewed / He shifts from over-drive / beyond-the-clutch to pater-speed / His sons keep their voices down / heads down / crash helmets cinched tight & goggles in place / His sophic epigrams / 8 cylinders piston & purr / downshifted for hills / the sons smell burning oil & brakes / steel radials fray / the Father holds steady with his hydraulic neck / their sonship to the moon & back / hoping the chassis holds / His exhaustion apparent in blown gaskets / tucked under His arms / they soar 4-doored above grid-locked traffic / the Father grins from the grill / sunlight glints from chrome below / clutch engaged for the final push against the upper atmosphere & vapor lock
the Father retires to a sea-side aquarium / mouth-miming conversations around His snorkel’s crook / plate-glass murky with His refusal to speak anymore / He’s tired & water-logged / wears an algae beard / His sons / young enough to laugh & old enough to feel pity / hide fishing tackle from visitors / bubbles rise from the Father’s mouth / the sons watch for sign or sound / knowing they could never live like this / once He was pelagic / caroused in kelp beds & coral reefs / successfully dodged nets & lures / an ocean fraught with peril / His war stories untold now / He never wonders what happened as He reads a sodden newspaper / butts His head without restlessness / His skin slowly greens / His sons call him Merman / & in moments of levity Gill / He finds none of it funny / in fact He finds it nothing at all
the Father becomes a phone line / His soul fiber-optic / eyes lit like a super-conductor / which is good / He’d never had a soul before / neither did His kids / now His arms open 3-thousand miles to make room for all 3 sons / actors in a live-feed virtual sitcom / He speaks to them in pulses / 3-billion amps/day / knows of the birth & death of stars / never forgets their birthdays / patches into satellite feeds linked to supercomputers / Über-Pater / King of 3 Million Watts / His fiefdom hums with transformers & cruciform supports / at light speed His mouth arrives faster than His words / at light speed 1 Father suffices / His arms already stretch so far they thin to nothing
farther & farther he retreats into the abandoned mine called home / a canary for companionship / light flickering from his helmet / his complexion pales / his sons shout / answered by wet echoes / occasional muffled dynamite blasts / he thinks he hears voices inquiring about his candle supply / dismisses them as tricks / trickles from the ceiling / coal fires blacken his body / a cut-out of darkness / to him every sky is the night sky / all news is the nightly news / the TV’s picture resolved into one monotonous shade / to pass time he feeds his bats etiolated crickets / legs still twitching / & of course he digs / pick-axe worn into a hammer / headlamp dimming / at this rate he’ll soon burn up in the earth’s core / already salt crusts his brow / his sons long ago retreated to their well-lit homes / when he reaches bottom / he’ll charter a boat / but is concerned about the one-way ticket / that he needs some one to place coins over his eyes
This is the Hotel Cavalier with its orange
neon sign sending Morse code
to the Malnourished, those hungering
for even the imitation of love.
This is the Hotel Cavalier with its gray
rooms and Soviet light schemes, hiding
spies, whores and lovers equally.
Here is my room grey then orange
Pulsing, Throbbing, Contracting, Expanding
like a heart turned to stomach
I sit on the toilet counting the blue and white tiles
at the base of the sink. She walks past me and I catch
A glimpse of hip flesh and leg.--
Someone is desperately fucking In the room
next door, like the banging from a coffin
before its put into the ground.
She stands in the kitchenette pouring
a glass of wine from a box. She walks past
me brushes my cheek with a prosthetic hook.
Love is more or less abstract.
I sit on the chair next to the window
count the rungs on the fire escape. look
back into the dark room— The inhale
of her cigarette smoke makes her face
glow monstrously. I find myself tethered
to the orange-gray smoke of her exhale.
We lay in each others arms troubled
by the far off sounds of Butchers –
Previously Published in The Delinquent (United Kingdom)