Saturday, June 29, 2013

Joseph Robert


A fetus perceives hot, warm dark.
A child perceives reality,
under the glare of a congenital optimism.
An adolescent perceives what should be.
A young adult perceives what could be.
A mature person perceives reality,
under the shadow of a congenital pessimism.
A robust elder perceives what should have been,
and what will likely be again.
A fading elder perceives what was, intercut with reality.
A dying mind perceives warm, darkening past.
A corpse is The Dead, is one yet are none,
and perceive nothing or everything,
Which of these?
Don’t hurry the day, friend, for we’ll both know soon.


For the swirl of my senses
Gels the simulacrums of my mind
Into a serving, that at present,
Makes me seek not endless sleep
Even though, I was . . .
Bought on supermarket clearance, half-price reduction
I’ve surpassed my Use By Expiry Danger of Death Date
With the refrigeration of philosophy
And the nitrates of romantic love
I’m happy
Because I’m not part of the next generation
Of botulism infection vectors


The Good is no gilded treasure best hoarded away
The Good is a gentle spark dependent on sheltering hands
And the sequential stewardship of those who search
But do not root in mud while planning on wallowing in slops

Giddy about charging seminar fees up the wazooo?
Back to the trough!
Pigs that gobble every snout-scented truffle
Are fit for bacon and tombstones of gelatinous goo.

Eager to share understanding?
Good on you.
But clean up that whole (fire = truffles??) noise;
It doesn’t pay to manufacture sense freelance on spec.


You cannot own the wind
But you can sell it
If your politico cronies
Give you a slice of tasty monopoly
And delegate the hiring of a sub-contracting consultant
To secure the day-to-day management of your own subsided
Wind Farm


Nervous Anxiety:
That Scab Of Years-In-The-Healing Fear
Squirts My Higher Brains Across The Toilet Bowl
Wipe Away and Flush It Round And Round, Never Down
So Hard To Move On When Hate Nests In The Breast Of Id
Wide-Awake, Weary, Wobbling and Weak
Out of spite, Convincing None I’m Out Of Their Sights
With Teeth Gritted, I Shamble To And fro,
Then Plunge Forward
Blood Up And Bent On Having A Really Nice Day
(Rx: Placate With Placebos, Dosing Sugar Pills And Smiles,
We’ll Write This Off As A Case Of A Qualified Cure, Dispensed.
When Life Gives You Bitter Oranges, Concentrate.)


They built a brick altar in the midst of the rows
Bringing the polyunsaturated fat of the mind
To the polyunsaturated fat of the land
Kernels of wisdom or silage wastage?
Cook it for ethanol, drink it, pop it, burn it or pour it
And that’s what they do, make-believing it’s not corny,
They present the place as the laboratory of a workshop,
But it’s The Church of The Proud Selves Declaiming (Reformed),
And so they monk on, and nun on, and on and on,
Skimming specialist puff pieces,
For their cloister’s cohorts’ bylines, meanwhile
Scattering about the altar their own-sanctified writings:
Humanist orisons after rules-gelded diaries,
Altered to taste.

These scrips are so rarely read for their own merits,
But so often written about,
In Curriculum Vitae
Feel free to knock it,
It’s a career.

© Joseph Robert 2013

Joseph Robert was born and raised in the Midwest. However, he has always been partial to Hawaiian beaches. Nevertheless: Go Badgers! After living and working for several years in rural Japan, he now resides in London with his wife, writer and poet Leilanie Stewart. In his spare time, you can find him at the British Museum trying to teach himself how to read cuneiform. Don’t worry, yes, he has seen Evil Dead, so doesn’t read any of it out loud.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Leilanie Stewart


I do not wish to be
yet another rivet
painted into the cast iron girders
sealed for eternity
in a rusty, decrepit
railway fence

The train goes nowhere
but it is better to be on it
than a sleeper under it,
than a fence beside it

Look out the windows
along the way
The journey
is all that matters


Scoot over
for the corrugated iron roof
will ultimately fall

See those pigeons?
eating their fill-
it will not crash onto them
they will eat, oblivious

Nobody is immune
this is a disaster
that is imminent,
a concrete tsunami
that we may or may not
be able to surf

Prepare yourself
for when the tide turns
people will scatter,
flee in all directions
and what will you do?

Stand and stare?
Self preservation
is of utmost importance


The schoolboys
don’t stink of alcohol
they are not the ones
to be feared
they are decoys
from the bum
on the street
who staggers
and stinks
of carly specials

This is not
the kind of place
where you’d want
to fall, knowing
that passersby
would pass you by

You are alone
in a scary world,
little child,
so keep your wits


And now
I have a dead left leg
and my belly hurts
and my eyes sting
at the sight
of the see-through knickers
on the line

they’re made of net,
what a catch!

Isn’t this prison existence wonderful?


grey matter
this ball
of squishy,
saturated fat
is oversaturated
with puss and shit

holds so much
squishy, squashy
but the masses
wouldn’t comprehend

it ain’t
for if there weren’t sheep
the beauty of the shepherd
and the devilry of the wolves
couldn’t be appreciated

There hangs
the golden sheep
taunting us so readily
but they are unequipped
with a long enough rod
to reach it

Wield your shepherd’s staff!
All you abysmal sheep.
Reach the damn fleece
that you can’t see hanging
before your eyes
because of all the glinting gold

What you didn’t know
is that the fleece already fell,
cloaking your head
with a suffocating blanket

The blanket
ain’t made of wool-
it’s polyester,
ha ha!

I warned you
it was filled with puss and shit,
let me remind you-
the grey matter

The grey matter
has been skull-fucked
into a thousand fragments
of anterior cortex,
right hemisphere,
left hemisphere,
leaving only the reptilian brain

A reptilian brain
ain’t no good
in the skull of a ram
oozing rotting flesh


Will I ever grow up?
The vine says no
Which vine?
Not the grape vine-
the vine with spreading lianas
the vine delving into
the depths of a slumbering

Why bother growing up?
When the acrid clouds are waiting…

It is better to stay
young and unplucked
free of herbicide,
free of pesticide,

hanging on the vine.

© Leilanie Stewart 2013

Leilanie Stewart is one half of a writing couple - the other half is Joseph Robert. By day she runs a creative writing workshop for teenagers and by night she publishes her writing in print and online magazines in the US and UK, as well as reading her work at spoken word events. Her writing blog is at

Friday, June 21, 2013

Steve Klepetar


I keep it in a box under my bed,
the other face, scarred and broken

along cheekbones and nose, as if
a hundred bee stings worried the skin

or thorns tore at exposed flesh.
The one I wear, the mirror tells me,

smiles, and sometimes speaks too softly
to be heard. In photographs it almost

disappears behind a graying beard
and brown eyes revealing nothing:

no emptiness or cliffs or jagged edges
where crows might have pecked or cats

scratched or winter wind chaffed
the forehead raw. It’s an elastic face,

made for wondering or listening
to the droning drumbeat of another voice.

The other face will not keep still.
Awake it scuffles and rolls and bumps,

squeezing semi-human sounds through
lips and teeth and tongue, a little hurricane

of need beyond control – nest of hair,
puffy eyes, web of veins – wrestling

to break free, claim at last its lost body,
howling red syllables to the terrifying moon.


When windows melt and all light
becomes trapped and darkness
oozes, thick syrup on evening’s
rosebud lips. Then you might
wonder where solid walls have
gone, or stone floor and comforting
roof. Your eyes may tell you one
thing, a kind of cunning tale,
but skin will open to a bruised
and wilder truth
formed from scratches your fingers
can almost taste, musical notes
flaming into sound, new instruments
weaving a universe bound by strange
gravity, singing songs frozen in a different key.


The last cowboy waits by the side of the road.
He waits for dust storms and elk.
He waits in the heat for smoke and dead clichés.
Sometimes he carries an armful of leaves, sometimes
his lips seem to curl, and then the moment passes.
He has sold his guns to a museum
that would rather have had his bowed legs
and hatchet chin.
His horse is a system of clean, white bones.
He can whistle like a lark or cry out in the language
of prairie hens. He has watched his angry friends
melt into hemlock and ash.
He has swung through the doors of the last saloon.
He is ready to swim to shore, to feast on salmon,
like some old bear deserting his winter cave.
His boots are nearly whitened by dust,
his pearl button shirt ridiculous and out of style.
His face, if you can call it that, is blurry with sweat.
He has no eyes. His nose has been burnt off
in the flame of the sun, his mouth, that organ
of broken teeth and lies, has passed into memory,
forgetful of whiskey and the delicate art of being cruel.

© Steve Klepetar 2013

Steve Klepetar's work has appeared widely and has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. His book, Speaking to the Field Mice, was recently published by Sweatshoppe Publications.

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