As my father sits smoking his pipe-
I watch the tendrils curl upward.
I smell the rich tobacco
That reminds me of North Carolina-
Momma’s home state.
He stares into space-
And takes a long draw-
A question mark-
Floats in my direction
Like an apparition.
What will we do now-
Who will take care of us-
Now that Momma is gone?
Who is this man-
That I call Daddy?
The vapor dissipates-
I stare into space, too-
I envision a foggy future-
While he remembers-
A luminous past.
We both have lost something-
But will we find each other?
Another question mark-
Goes up in smoke.
by Beatrice M. Hogg
Beatrice M. Hogg grew up in western Pennsylvania. Her illiterate coal miner father would have considered her MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles to be a major waste of time and money.
Poetry (any form or style) and Micro or Flash Fictions wanted for an anthology on SMOKE. Not just the black clouds rising from the five-alarm fire next door, or the billowing plumes of smoke warning us of a forest fire, or the emissions from factory smoke stacks, apartment house incinerators, and crematoriums, smoke rings rise from cigarettes, smoke pours out of headshops, pipe shops & cigar stores--see that purple haze rising over the fields of poppies and marijuana we just planted--we've used it to communicate via smoke signals and skywriting, to cover our tracks and disappear with and without mirrors, combat the enemy on and off the battlefield, kill bugs, flavor food, cure illness, declare peace treaties, and fragrance our homes. Got the idea? Release it onto the page.
Guidelines: Submit up to three poems/micro fictions or two flash fictions at a time with a fascinating bio of 35 words or less, not just limited to publication credits, copy/pasted in the body of an e-mail (no attachments, please) to roxy533 at yahoo dot com & violetwrites at nyc dot rr dot com. We will also entertain up to six one-liners or 2 short stand up routines at time. Previously published work is OK as long as authors have retained the copyright, which will be returned to them after publication. Simultaneous submissions are encouraged. If your work is accepted elsewhere, and you still have obtained rights to republish, just let us know where and we'll be happy to acknowledge the other publication.
If you do not receive a response from us within a month of your submission considered it rejected and feel free to submit again. Due to the volume of submissions we cannot respond to each and every individual submission. Selection for the on-line edition are made on a ongoing basis as we receive your submissions. However, final selections for the print edition will made after the October 31st deadline. (In otherwords not everything that made the cut for the online edition will appear in print.) Please do not query. When in doubt, send the submission to roxy533 at yahoo dot com & violetwrites at nyc dot rr dot com.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Water bong, they called it.
Under my breath, I practiced
saying bong bong bong
until it sounded natural.
Mike was too busy getting high
to notice that Frankenstein
would have felt more at home
in Jackie’s basement. Her Mom
worked nights. No one would hear us.
No matter. I was fitting in.
So what if I didn’t know
what was in there. Jackie laughed.
Not easy when you’re holding
your breath. She handed me the slender
gurgling goose and I clutched its throat,
inhaling the chimney stink, remembering
to close my eyes just like she did,
sucked yellow air and felt myself
slipping under a tidal wave.
Buckled by the undertow,
seaweed tangling my hair, I made
a wish. I wanted to lift my head
and find myself in another
rumpus room complete with cake,
a song and candles.
Instead, I held my breath harder,
sure this meant lung cancer later
if I lived through this night. When my
bronchial tubes started crackling,
I blew out a smoke signal, opened
my eyes. And there was Mike,
a volunteer fireman, his mouth
covering mine, fingers bugling my back,
Jimmy whooping, Jackie eyes wide.
I don’t think they knew I could be like that.
by Helen Cho
Helen Cho's poems have been published in Field, Spoon River, Indiana Review, River Styx, ACM, and Southeast Review among others. This poem was originally published in Crab Orchard Review. Helen is a full-time Mom of twin girls, serves on the board of the Feminist Majority and the Advisory Board of Ms. Magazine and occasionally writes tv commercials for progressive nonprofit orgs.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Struggling against the smoke of myself
Suddenly a late afternoon, a spring day
I mystically become my other self,
Or perhaps dialectically my alter ego
Lining my soul and lungs with rebellious smoke,
My stomach lined with the smoke of radical soot
The history of a love hate dynamic
Each time from another illusion of naiveté
But reality is a “public toilet” of subliminal games
I am skeptical that no one knows the true meaning of life
Between the expert compilations and plagiarists
Flanked by the misery of faux-academia and molecular art
Among the merchants of speculative thought
Surrounded by jesters and clowns of popular culture
Between organic life and chemical misery
Amid forgetful atavism and temporary amnesia
Doomed to self-promotion as a style of life
Restlessness of a soul in chains and handcuffs
Take it from this poet in Absurdistan, New York,
Who wants to exchange a poem for a vagina
As if there were some kind of logic to it
In our decorticated world of possessions
I will write my last poem against myself
To bring doubt and skeptical cynicism….
Living in a post-consumerist culture,
Post-dada, post-evolution, Post-everything!
It appears that “everything” does not make too much sense
by Valery Oisteanu
Valery Oisteanu is a poet-artist based in New York, for the past 37 years. He is the author of 10 books of poetry and a book of short fiction. As a performer his style is known as "Jazzoetry."
Visit Oisteanu's website
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Dark plumes of smoke spiral upward on the freeway ahead. The smoke sucks in the light as it fans out, and grows larger with each gasp of my breath. It reminds me of a forest mushroom, dark, dank and foul. And yet, its ascent feels majestic for its so obscures the sky, making the blue it once held seem more like a dream.
Mistaken beauty does that, it pulls you in where you’re not supposed to be like a wizard, a magician, so bewitching, it knows all the tricks. I can’t stop watching the black columns of smoke in my sky. I feel possessive like a jealous lover turned voyeur. But I’m coughing and that drags me momentarily out of my trance. With wheezing breath I call Cal Trans and Highway Patrol using my cell phone and they give me specifications how if it’s an emergency to dial 911 yada, yada or otherwise dial such and such number as the smoke gets thicker and the traffic slows down to a near parking lot and fire engines blare past me. I gulp and press a finger on the number nine and hesitate over the ones, daring, not daring, but daring to finally press down as more fire trucks pass me and the smoke begins to turn from black to white as the traffic crawls ahead and I see a car on fire, which the firemen are hosing down just two blocks from the nuclear power plant. I breathe; I breathe, I’m alive and wait for my heart to slow its beat down. Like a mirage I imagine its red petals’ unfolding in a soft bow as the turn signal in my car clicks, not left, nor right but to heaven for in the now whitish looking smoke I see a door opening up in the sky.
Surely, I’ve died. Maybe the power plant did explode and I only dreamed upon passing to my very own death that the firemen stopped an impending disaster. A reality mistaken…surely it’s possible. But why is the signal in my car still snapping to attention? And what is that floating on heaven’s doors? Angels? No.
Marshmallows as big as clouds and I taste them in my mouth and know I’m in trouble as a voice coming from my cell phone says in newscaster smugness, “The smoke is not from a car fire, but is a mask for nuclear gas as the terrorist intended.”
I gulp and my throat tightens with a sickening taste of acidic sugar. I pry my esophagus open with the toothbrush I’ve always kept in the car and marvel as it melts in my fingers as the dashboard curls in on itself enveloping the steering wheel. The air bag billows forth and adheres to my arms; burning the hairs and smelling like roasted
marshmallows’ on a campfire and suffocating me with its sweetness.
by Julie Ann Shapiro
Julie Ann Shapiro is a freelance writer, a prolific short story author with more than seventy stories published and author of the novel, Jen-Zen and the One Shoe Diaries (Synergebooks.com).
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
After walking dejected across town on such a damp, chilly night, longing for some small pleasure, a smoke seemed in order. As luck would have it, the recessed door beside a darkened storefront appeared just up the street. Ducking into the entryway, Charlie Buc leaned against the door, out of the drizzling rain, to light up.
The door immediately swung open revealing only shadows at first, and then as Charlie’s vision adjusted, a woman of large but attractive proportion emerged from the gloom. She approached him, smiling, and as she drew close he noticed her gown was of alligator hide, tanned to a visible softness, and she wore a feathered headdress. Instead of lighting the J, Charlie dropped it into his shirt pocket. “Good evening, Ma’m. I didn’t mean to….”
“You’re late,” she murmured, and took his hand, leading him inside. He followed like wavelets following a swan, without volition. The sound of a sitar wafted softly around them. She led him through a hallway so smoky he had to catch his breath, and then through a curtained doorway and up a narrow flight of stairs. At the top of the stairway she paused and made a motion with her hands, as though to gather the smoke-filled air around Charlie, and then opened a door to an alleyway, outside.
Without understanding why, Charlie bade her good evening and stepped out smiling, one story higher.
by Thomas Hubbard
Because long ago she helped to show him a way out of Midwest factories and into his own life as a teller of stories, Thomas Hubbard began work on a book entitled "Twenty Years With Proud Mary." The work is still in progress, but the current working title is "Fifty two years with Proud Mary." Meanwhile he has gone ahead writing, telling and living his stories.
Thomas Hubbard's website