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SPOTLIGHT: I Have Touched The US Ideology by Qi Lian Shan & Xi Nan

Passing by Qilian Mountains
That Day (1)
Steep mountain roads
The mountains top was more than 3000 meters high
We stayed here for a while
Tibetan men and women
Were shouting and selling stuff
Further up, on the top of the mountains
White clouds were drifting by
A Tibetan man was
Singing aloud on the prairie
In wetlands
An eagle hovered in the air
Monks were chatting
In an unknown temple
A car
Parked by the highway
Yaks leisurely stood
The blue sky was reflected in
The white saline lake
(1). Qilian Mountains (祁连山脉), form the border between Qinghai and the Gansu provinces of northern China.

I Saw the Morning in Xilamuren Grassland
Old Zhang and me came to
The mountain top
This was the August of the Mongolian Plateau
There were many piles of stones (敖包)
People came one after another
In the mist in the morning light
There was a dry river
In the front
The grassland was still quiet
We were looking
Waiting
A little dot of red glow appeared
Rose slowly
The sun rose up
Red like fire
Running in the air were
The sound of horse hooves
Therefore
This morning was

Sakura Fallen in 2020
2020
The cherry blossoms in Wuhan (武汉)
Fell after a heavy
Rain, certainly
Every year they
Fall, actually
The cherry blossoms here
Were originally brought by
The Japanese from Japan
In 1939
Planted on Luojia Mountain (珞珈山)
Passers-by
Often hear
Sakura’s emotions
Touching their own heart
However, no one pays attention to
The cherry blossoms this year
They blossomed alone
And fell
On the Wuhan land

Spring of Italy
Italy
Staff of funeral homes said that many people died every day
They were not just a number
They were one and another vivid lives, but friends relatives parents sisters and brothers
Couldn’t meet them for the last time couldn’t
Give them a farewell
Every day the streets were empty only lines of cars driving through the city hauling corpses on them
Rivers are flowing
Butterflies are flying among flowers and grass
Pigeons are wandering
On the square
Some are winging in the sky

Medical Staff in Spain
April 28th, 2020
When announcing the names of
The deceased medical staff
Due to coronavirus pandemic
The Spanish Health Officer Verónica Casado was
Emotionally out of control for a few times
Tears choked her words
She was also a doctor
Said that she was still here
Because of the particular care from God
Spain was the country
With the most diagnoses
Of medical staff
Accounting for 20% of the total confirmed sick
At this moment
The sun and the moon
Were shining on
Danube River
And
Colorado River

SPOTLIGHT: The Road to Perdition by Alan Catlan

Blood of the Poet

She fancied herself as a model
for timeless works of Art by masters
such as Reubens and Renoir but,
in real life, was someone you might
find in a painting by Francis Bacon,
Lucian Freud, or Egon Schiele.
Chain smoked some hard to find,
off-brand, sub-continent cigarette
that permanently stained her fingers
and lips, smokes that tasted like what
was left in an ashtray the night after
the day before, everything spilled or
totally spoiled. Collected men the way
social strivers or con men bought
other people’s diplomas, trophies,
awards and claimed they were their own.
Owed more money than a rich uncle,
had there been one, could ever have
left behind: despite having nothing,
she always expected the best. Saw
the future as lush and limitless as if she
where viewing the world from a balcony
overlooking a forest instead from where
she was actually at: in some uptown
ghetto, in a flophouse, where even the
fire escapes led nowhere. Smelled roses
when other people detected leaking gas.

Heart Like a Wheel

Maybe she was in-
training for a new kind
of power lifting event:
hoisting cold ones one-
handed and slugging them
down, half the contents
of a glass two quart pitcher
at a go. Only pausing to
belch and to wipe foam
from her lips with a ragged
sleeve from her flannel shirt
that had previously been
used as a drop cloth for lube
jobs by semi-professionals
or maybe she’d honed her
skills at a chop shop, holding
rear ends of cars up on her
own saying, “Lift? I don’t
need no stinkin’ lift, I’ve got
all the lift I need right here
on this broad’s shoulders.”
Maybe that was where she’d
gotten the bucks for her one-
of-a-kind world’s in collision
tattoos that rose from beneath
her customized low cut t-shirt,
unfettered tits like the hubs of
Mag wheels ‘built for speed
and for distance’. Maybe no one
would ever forget how she
polished off the second half of
her pitcher, slammed it down on
the bar so hard it split clean in
two right along the seam waking
the bar drunk from his perpetual
coma long enough to witness her
saying, “Next pitcher’s on the house!”
And it wasn’t a question.

All the King’s Men

Burning cross wisdom, firelight
readings from newly appointed
holy book of the Kloran: Klaxons
and Kleagles, bad spellers bereft
of reason, illumination provided
by hate speaking, self-anointed,
bigots, blood rituals instead of
baptisms, drinking by the defiled
river waters where a children’s choir
of unchanged voices sings the devil’s
songs at midnight: “Redrum Redrum…..”
Black magic and moonshine, white
lightning warriors, personal space
invaders, forked tongues and
carbines, “Don’t Tread on Me”
flags and tattoos, serpent spit
and viper bite, weapons for piss
Christ rednecks. Look into your
conscience preachers proclamations;
after the mob rule violence, those
who have seen inside themselves
have never been so alone.

Cape Fear

Asleep, off course, in riptide night,
on Carolina coastal waters and nightmare
alleyways of storm downed trees and
displaced dwellings. Desperation Blues on
the wireless, smashed crockery and in-shards-
glassware scattered about inboard cabin.
Adrift on the Sweet Sioux rechristened
Mary Celeste, a mosaic of forensics
smeared by wind and rain, warning buoys
white capped waved sideways in gale force
storm. Drowned paperback copy of Henry
Miller’s Sexus, fright wigs and torn rubber
face masks, life squeezed out of red-for-effect
false noses, partials missing from artificial teeth
all suggesting the party’s so over now.
Staved in lifeboat and deflated raft hung
from starboard of the listing boat like skinned
animals, skeletal remains.
Mae West water vests bayonet practice shredded,
distress flags oil soaked rags for smearing
in-board windows, even the gunnels leaking.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

They called themselves: Virgin Spring,
and they were the best band a crypto-
currency could buy: four road warriors,
part steampunk cowboys, part post-
industrial nightmares in skin tight,
imitation leather, lithe bodies streaked
with war paint and jailhouse tattoos,
speed balling three electric guitars
and a set of drums, a pair of drumsticks
and g string away from total meltdown.
Special mind bending effects provided by
difference engines: steam boilers belching
colored smoke and pyrotechnical crap
in otherwise totally completely dark, smoke
clogged night. All the gear mounted on
metal pipe stage in retrofitted factory space
stripped to bare concrete with enough
lights applied to emulate a supernova sun,
to highlight an electro-shocked blonde,
clutcher of microphones and stands like
the sex of a lover, her voice roller balling
through death metal tested speakers proving
once and for all: true wailing is not dead,
that even spawn of Bergman film extras, left
on barren beaches, among stones and storm
sea backwash, can out last winter light dead.
Can out last the afterlife spirits clinging to
the bodies of their still conscious others whose
final thoughts were going to be: even funerals
have sound tracks.

Ari Whipple is ABP’s Featured Artist for March 2021

ABP– Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions Ari. I want to start by talking about “Full of Now”, your poetry collection which came out at the very end of 2020. What can you tell us about the collection? What was the writing process like?

AW- Well, I spent the better part of two years writing it (from October 2018 to December 2020). I have a habit of writing about six poems a day, almost every day, but there were stints where I took breaks for mental health reasons. But, that’s what you see laid out in my collection: every joy and sorrow. Every painting break, every argument, every beautiful sunset. All laid out in print. It’s not always easy reading, but it’s worth it when you get to the end, like a life well lived.

ABP- Can you share one of the poems with us here?

AW- Memories

The memories

can’t hurt you now

but they

can keep you up

at night

They can steal the

words right out of your

mouth

They can make your life

a miserable daily montage

that plays over and over

until you

can’t take it anymore

They can’t hurt, but

they can certainly haunt

ABP- What is the art/lit scene like in Muskegon MI?

AW- I used to be more attached to the literary scene when I went to community college here in Muskegon and work on the literary magazine River Voices back in 2005 or so. I had some poetry go into that back in the day. The local community doesn’t do too much in as far as poetry, and it’s a shame. I want there to be more, but maybe it’s just my place to start a community of writers.

ABP- You have a youtube channel where you promote and read you work. How long have you been doing this? Do you like to make other types of YT vlogs? What is the link to the channel?

AW- I do, in fact, read poetry and do vlog updates on my youtube channel. It’s @strangenothings The channel has been going since 2009 as a vlog channel, and I’ve done things creatively with it since then. But, I’ve been heavy on the poetry for the last two years since I got back into writing again.

ABP- Who is your favorite writer? What is your favorite book?

AW- I think my favorite writer would be Charlotte Bronte, and my favorite book in recent memory is George Washington Black.


ABP- What do you have planned creatively for the rest of 2021?

AW- Well, I’m still chugging away, trying to write six poems a day, so my hope is that eventually it’ll turn into another chap book. Then, I want to take photos and make a coffee table book. I have a few ideas of what I’d like to do for that.

I plan on buying a film camera and trying to make a short picture this year, if I can get everything together. It’s about a short story I wrote a year ago called “The Abyss” about a woman who is stuck in her apartment and there may or may not be someone else there and the fear of not being believed as a woman by authorities.

Something needs to be done with my paintings, because I keep making them, and they keep piling up. Do I sell them, do I photograph them, do I put them on display? I don’t know, but I need to figure that out soon.

Also, finally, keep making YouTube videos. I’m hoping expand my creative talents, but we’ll see.

ABP- Thanks again for taking the time to be a part of this interview, Ari. If there is anything else that you would like to announce, promote, or share with our wordpress audience, please do

AW- I did a reading with Fletch Collect Virtual Open Mic Night. They’re on Facebook, look them up. They’re a pretty welcoming group.

I have a podcast with Donny Winter, my dear and good friend, on YouTube, called Restitching the Tapestry. We talk every Friday night at 8:30 pm about a new topic. We’re passing our 30th episode just recently.

I write for the LGBTQ+ blog, The Gay Agenda, I’m writing for under the World News desk. Check them out at Thegaygenda.com.


SPOTLIGHT: These Plastic Boats Are Melting by Christopher Donaho

Distractions

I’m beginning
to see it
all for what
it is.

Distractions.

“The TV tells
us what
to think.

Why else
would they
call it
programming?”

The game.
The cars.
The books.
The catchy
jingles.
The religions
of the
day.

Shiny trinkets
and baubles
on weighted
souls.

I turn my
face
inward
to sweet
salvation.

There is
no death
in me.

No commercials
telling me
I need
something
and to break
my back
to get it.

My lineage
was
burdened…
such heavy
burdens
of self-
delusion
and self-
sabotage.

Why sit
with demigods
that pervert
true nature?

There’s room
at eternity’s
table.

I go on
and on
and on.

I am forever.

And I am
no longer
distracted.

Shadowboxing

I don’t want to grow
old and
bitter.
That’s a hell within
myself without
a key.
And I don’t want to
whimper in
my arms,
that’s a fetish
for the broken
and weary.

But the landslides
in my mind can
take me down.
The undertows are
daunting.

I turn my head
to suffer
another blow.
These knuckles
are battered and
bleeding and
so fucking
done with
me.

I fight within me
on nights like
this one…
they’re peppered
amongst my days.

I blame the moon.
I blame the tides.
But it’s me who
suffers me.

My cracks are
stuffed with hope
and faith and
wax from
dying wicks.

Give me a god
or give me self,
let me dance
again
within these walls.

May my windows
blink snapshots
of a world I
can conceive.

My confusion
is a pet without
form, whose eyes
never leave me.

I fed him once…
a thousand times.

My path has always
been crooked, winding
its way through
doubts and despairs.

My soul
yearns.
But my flesh
has gotten too
good at giving
up.

Everything Points to Her

All of these roads intertwined.
I became confused and lost.

But I found her, that
Golden Teacher.

She’s opened her gown
and shown herself.

And I blush at
her beauty.

All of her gardens.
All of her mysteries.

The hidden is not quite so
hidden.

Life is a distraction from
her radiance.

Our embers burn low
with want. An ancient
hunger in these modern
bellies.

Everything points to her.

Everything.

Ouroboros

My father was a sparrow.
A broken man, just like you.

He cooed and cawed
and cackled.

He died from cancer,
they said. But I
could see that he
was just tired
and
wanted to go
home.
Death is just a little
door we step through
when it’s time.

We spend our lives
peeking through
the windows.

I had gotten sober
a few years earlier,
so he got that version
of me.

He never got to meet
my daughter in flesh
but I know he’s
here right now. He’s
everywhere.

He dove back into
Everything.

A grateful heart will
never really
perish.

He died with string
in his beak. He
was building
tomorrows.
And I suppose we all
are. We’re all
broken builders.
Broken fingers.
Broken memory.

The melding
between
this and that, the smeared
lines… that’s where we
interlock. It’s when
we step back in
masks of ego
we lose sight of
the
truth.

That we are one.

We feed to be fed.

You can be the smiling servant
or you can be
the downtrodden
slave or you
can be an empty vessel
without want.
Either way, we are not our
own.

I want to brim
and bubble over.

But we are all subjected to
this servitude… that’s the price we pay
for living this tiny
moment.

I’m Wiley to Your Haunts

I know where you hide,
what mask you put on-
it’s of stone and autumn.

Peeking out from
miles of flesh.

Show me your gaze full
of sunsets,
those lazy afternoons
where
lovers
lay
exhausted.

Come shake your shadows with
me, sister- in gardens of
wilting remains.

Time is a thief… a wicked,
terrible thief.

It’ll rob you.
It’ll rape you.
And it will watch us all
die these horrible
deaths, one at a time…
or en masse.

Time.

SPOTLIGHT: Love Poems For Bad People by Robert J.W.

The Comedy Of Wounds

I watch as
you snap my
limbs, one
by one.
I’m not
powerless to
stop you.
I just
don’t want to.
I’m laughing in
a field of
gray goo, counting
the cracks in
existence as you
massage the
wounds you inflicted.
I’ve never
felt more secure.



Playing The Villains

We played the
villains in our
stories, tying
ourselves to the
train tracks.
We made sure the
other was
watching as we
twirled our
fingers in
our hair.
Sympathy was always
vomited from between
grinding teeth.
Nothing could
stop the inevitable.
Our guts have
been strewn across
the countryside.
You can comb
through them in
an attempt at
finding a
sliver of conscience.
You’ll never
find it.

Blaming The Serpent

If I would
stop crying, maybe
you could
hear yourself
walking away and
if you would
only speak, maybe
the wells inside
me would dry.
A snake tied
itself to
our necks and
bites the
crescent moon.
We turn every
color but
warmth, blaming
the serpent for our
stagnancy as
the mirror laughs.



Clarity In The Eclipse

We gazed so
long at
the eclipse that
our eyesight returned.
We saw the
destruction we
wrought on
the world; oceans were
caked beneath
our fingernails and
our shirts were
stained with
the summits of mountains.
Our halos slid
around our necks.
The universe
pulled with
a smile.



Treasure Beneath Our Bones

There is no
treasure beneath
our bones.
Only an
abundance of
plastic can be
found there.
It clogs our
arteries with every
bad decision.
We stray further
from the
teachings of
guitars and
closer to the
speeches of politicians.
We burn
flags with the
ends of
cheap cigarettes.
We call
it salvation.

Robert J. W. is a poet and author from Morgantown, WV. He is the author of the poetry collections Houses I’ve Died In, Screamo Lullabies, Dusty Video Game Cartridges, Mania And Black Holes, and Dusty Video Game Discs. When not writing, he enjoys listening to music and playing video games.