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Poem by Helen Burke – Stopping at Mrs. Cooper’s House June 23, 2018

Posted by vscorpiozine in Helen Burke, poems, poetry, UK poets, Veteran Poets.
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Was on my way home.
Mrs. Cooper read books, had a dog
Called Darwin. She was not the norm.
Wore pretty skirts and spoke well.
Not many people spoke to her
Though, and she was a protestant
To boot, whatever that means.
We would speak of nothing in particular
But it meant more than the words.
Behind me was the beck where the
Hard kids gathered, their laughter
Like as if released from a dungeon.
I looked forward to Mrs Cooper’s house.
It had a softness, no edges… once she
Gave me a peach from her tree.
I ate it there and then.
Desperate for
Fruit, for the sweet taste of it
In my life.
They hated that I stood there, brazen,
Speaking with the enemy.
Picking up the fist sized rocks, aiming
Them just right, once I walked on alone.
Hatred is a lone creature and still
It mystifies me.
Once, only once, she hugged me.
Apropos of nothing.
No words came to us, standing there.
But we both knew what the hug was for.
And how long it would have to last me.


Poem – Single Room Occupancy on 86th Street (1992) by Jade Blackmore May 28, 2018

Posted by vscorpiozine in 1990s, city poems, Jade Blackmore, New York, Veteran Poets.
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The exclusive address would make people jealous
If they saw it on an envelope
And never actually visited me.
I could walk to Central Park or the Metropolitan Museum
But three people could barely fit in my room.

Every week, I went downstairs to Beethoven Pianos on the first floor and paid the store manager my rent in cash.
Another tenant, a cute blonde boy with a limp
Always hung out in the showroom.
We’d get Pepsi together from the soda machine
And dawdle by the pianos till a customer walked in.

The Grande Dame of the SRO, an artist who lived in the room next-door to me, always wore pastel maxi-dresses and walked around the hall followed by her cat.
She’d been there six years.
She was between apartments waiting for an inheritance, she said.

I’d eat fishcakes and spaghetti on Friday
At the diner next door, and
Listen to the tubby telemarketing pros
Discuss their prospects

Tourists from Germany,
Students on summer internships,
and party kids
Slammed doors
And padded in and out of the shared bathrooms
In slippers or rubber sandals,
Faces blurred,
Suitcases bumping down stairs
Every month or two.

I walked down Lexington with a Black and white TV in a box
Hailed a cab in the rain,
And reconfigured the TV in a bigger box,
With clothes stuffed in a dresser and in the drawers under a twin bed,
Half the floor crowded with a computer, printer and answering machine.

I’d wash my hair in the sink in the morning.
The window open to the courtyard,
birds chirping, cabs honking, children playing,
Then scurry downstairs
and buy a bagel and coffee from a cart on the street.
I’d start breakfast on the subway to midtown
and finish it at my desk.

Fell asleep with the Boombox turned low
after exploring Manhattan after dark
With friends.
Woke up and did it over again.

No snotty roommates,
Or screwed-up boyfriends.
No upstairs neighbors throwing used kitty litter out the window.
Sometimes freedom is better than space.









Poem by John Grey – Scarred Face in a Mirror May 19, 2018

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Ugly zigzag lines
slide down the glass like mercury,
a recurring wave
that stumbles the sound of confidence.

Flares fly off wherever skin is visible,
May as well point out horror with a cue stick.
And the mirror being cruelly convex,
a face bulges toward its source.

Promised some grafting,
you’re restless as the raindrops on the pane,
longing to be have it done
no matter the cost, the consequence.

Without new cheeks, new chin, new brow,|
there is no tenderness, no amusement, just regret.
A mirror cannot keep a secret.
This is the face that belies description.

It looks much better in dreams.
This view, even in the waning light,
can’t protect you going forward.|
It is a life with visible scars.

It has no dimension other than
what someone did to you
or what you did to yourself.
There is no honor
in any attempt to conceal it.

And indifference is a lie.
You are scarred for life.
You are scarred for living.

BIO: John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Evening Street Review and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

Poem by Jade Blackmore – The Hospital Roommate March 4, 2018

Posted by vscorpiozine in 1970s, baby boomers, Jade Blackmore, Veteran Poets.
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I was 15 when my appendix was removed,
the old-fashioned way, with a scalpel and incision.
As they wheeled me back from surgery.
The pediatric hospital ward overflowed
And they wheeled patients two or three to a room
The little boy holding a red balloon,
The blonde girl with a bandaged forehead,
The freckled star quarterback on crutches.

Easter baskets lined the reception desk
In a failed attempt to make the kids
Forget where they were.
The fluorescent lights flickered on and off
Above slippery white linoleum.

Two nurses accompanied me to my room.
One nurse checked my blood pressure.
“You know, you’ll never be able to wear a bikini again,”
“No, no, they put the scar lower now”, the nurse rearranging the other side of the room corrected.
“That’s a relief,” I said, and my nurse chuckled.

An orderly wheeled in a strange-looking machine that looked like a small iron lung.
While the other nurse and a second orderly moved a bed to the other side of the room.“You have a new roommate.” The nurses said, and everyone left the room.

“Hi My names Claire,” A disembodied head with a pixie cut of sandy blonde hair and a pretty face emerged from the front end of the cylindrical machine. Her voice was outgoing, almost brash. We talked for awhile about the nurses, the bad food, David Bowie’s new album and neighborhoods how much we liked pizza. Her mother came in with a bottle of Coke with a straw in it, and Claire sipped some of the drink.

“Why are you here?” Claire asked me.
“Had my appendix out. And you?”
“She has some problems with her spine,” her mother said,
The rapid fire timbre of her voice
rendering further interrogation moot.
“Mom, it’s okay,”
“Shush. It’s getting late.”
A nurse came in and shut off the lights.

I drifted off to sleep and heard the girl weeping, “I don’t want to go through this again. Not another operation!”

Years later, I temped at a health agency for dialysis patients
And they sent me an errand to a nearby hospital.
I walked into a gymnasium-sized room
And made my way a circular desk in
The middle of a hundred cots
With bodies covered by sheets,
Some faces barely alive, some
Worse than any horror movie
The blinking of digital screens,
Complemented by cold plastic and knobs
Assaulted the sterile walls.
I stepped up to the desk.
The nurse looked up from her copy of People and I gave her a bubble-padded envelope filled with vials of blood

And as I left the room
I thought of the girl in the machine
In the hospital room all those years ago.
I hope she is taking her kids
To the supermarket or
Sitting in the audience of a Broadway play
or enjoying the ocean breeze at the beach,
free and whole.

Poem by Jade Blackmore – The Past, Five Times Removed February 21, 2018

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She wanted to visit her grandmother’s old house
But the cherry tree by the bedroom window
Was replaced by pale brown dirt and
Subway wrappers,
The front door was boarded up,
The lattice railing where she climbed with her brothers
Long gone.

There was a robbery in the cell phone store
Where the video place used to be.
Parolees in fencing masks
Shot the teenager behind the counter.
There was a beheading behind the church
Where she had her first communion.
The body buried in the backyard
Where the lady who made Barbie doll clothes lived
Until she moved to Arizona.

The library where she once checked out opera records and Beatles albums
Once bustling with schoolchildren sneaking in candy bars,
Now smells of stale cigarettes and urine
As homeless men sleep in chairs scratched with gang graffiti.

The factories turned into lofts,
The Gothic stone
The greasy spoons
Are gone.
Long, leisurely
Post-drunk nights
In another century.

The dark, cloistered building
That housed her first job
Out of high school is
Now bright and airy
And filled
With floor to ceiling
And offices
Without old ladies
Or the clacking of typewriters,
Only the morphing sparseness of the present.

Times will change
The world will bend to the whims of
Rich criminals and poor thugs.
Everyone in between doesn’t matter much.
The world doesn’t care about her memories
So she keeps them close
It is all she has.



Poem – The Couple by John Grey February 6, 2018

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Pony-tailed, bearded,
tattoos riding both arms,
his vision of driving big rigs
from coast to coast
has mutated into the reality
of pushing a lawn-mower
through someone else’s weeds.

 Straight out of high school,
bright red hair
too tight to be braided,
both cheeks freckled
and lips cherry-red,
her fantasy was to be a movie star,
but she married the big lug
and now has three kids
to prove it.

They live in a trailer
and barely get by.
They never almost had it made.
They didn’t once feel it
fumbling from their grasp.
The closest they came
was a ride in his uncle’s
ramshackle Chevy
and her drunken night
at a karaoke bar.

Big rig, singing star –
with those two?
Dreams know better.

BIO: John Grey is an Australian poet and US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review, with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.


Poetry Breaks – Galway Kinnell Reads “Daybreak” February 4, 2018

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Poem by Cattail Jester- Bone Weary February 2, 2018

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Bone Weary

I’ve got
the old shake
rattle of some
dusty ages
in these old
sleeves I call arms
I’ve got the
grime of a thousand
year time rolled up
in the bucket
of my jeans
Don’t shake me
too hard or the world
gets its allergies
full blast on.

 BIO – Cattail Jester is a bayou-living, sun-loving, grizzled old occasional poet.  He has a day job, which is far from glamorous.

Poem by Jade Blackmore – What Happened in Hollywood in the 1990s January 28, 2018

Posted by vscorpiozine in 1990s, poems, poetry.
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What Happened in Hollywood in the 1990s

She was an artist from Silverlake
When I had pizza with her at the Rainbow.
A slight, unassuming girl,
With black hair and bangs.
She gave me her business card.
And talked about how hard it was
To be a single Mom in LA.

Maybe, I said, it would be easier for her
If she moved somewhere cheaper, less
Inhabited by drugs and weirdos.
She cut dinner short because it was almost time
For the babysitter to leave.
We hugged and I promised her I’d stop by
And buy a painting someday,
But I never did.

Five years later, a street tough
Female, and poised to brawl,
Flaunts tattooed arms in a jeans vest.
She hangs out with a terminally insane rich girl,
Trying out
Pills, booze and
Pretend Sapphic sex
For the benefit of some alternative icon
Who barely noticed their existence.

When they found the woman
In bed
There was no note,
Just the presumption of an accident.
The name of the young Mom, now gone, was printed in the paper.
It looked familiar
So I grabbed the business card the girl
At the Rainbow had given me.
The name matched, but everything else had changed.

Poem by Jade Blackmore – The Morning After Dream January 21, 2018

Posted by vscorpiozine in Jade Blackmore, poems, poetry, Veteran Poets.
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The Morning After Dream

I had a dream where I was an assistant to
An ethereal, tortured soul
And I could not keep up with him.
He ran off in the middle of the street
And sat in the back seat of his dealer’s car
Smoking a joint.
I tried to get him to leave
But he reeled me in.
For a minute I was right there with him,
Cocooned into his world
How could any other dream
Be as enticing
Correct, or comfortable?

When the smoke cleared, he was gone,
And I returned to an apartment with brick and lumber bookcases,
Cats and quirky roommates.
Brooklyn before and after L.A.

Just another cliche,
A generation collapsed
Under the weight of its arrogant joie de vivre.

Now the sky is colorless
Because it is better,
They tell us now,
To be safe and erudite.
And the clothes are thin and disposable,
So are the people,
The fame.
The truth
is a malleable concept,
You create it from scratch,
You make it into
Your own image.

A phone buzzed as the dream
The text read,
“Will you come backstage and see him?
He likes you
And wants you to stay,
to work.”

But when I got there,
The theater was an empty shell,
Stripped of ceremony,
Smokeless and silent.
The world had moved on.