Monday, April 27, 2015

Joe Barnes


The man in the next lane
gestures for me to pull over.
A broken brake-light?
A balding tire about to blow?

I obey and do the cursory
once-over of the helpless-with-cars.
Everything appears in order.

But there he is, on foot beside me,
pointing to a dent, acquired
God know when or how,
on my driver-side door.

He will repair it, he says.
For a fee, of course. I
wonder at the sheer nerve
of my wandering huckster
trawling marks from the city streets.

He has the patter of a salesman,
the hair of a preacher.
He is ten years younger than I:
not handsome perhaps,
but with a slim mechanic's build
and calculating, teal eyes.
His teeth are long. A small nick mars
his upper-left incisor.

I am middle-aged, middle-class,
a little effeminate as I fuss,
half-heartedly, at his affront.
I have somewhere to be, I lie.

He finds occasion to touch me
twice: once on my upper arm
and, then, when I don't recoil,
more firmly on my lower back.

I yield of course, just as he knew
I would, and un-peel a pair of twenties
to watch him smooth the dent flat
with a ball-peen hammer
and a smudged, faux-chamois cloth.

He drove away. I watched,
a fool and happier for it.
I never saw him again.

The dent lay hidden for a week,
then reemerged one morning,
like desire from flesh,
like regret from memory.
It's still there.

Joe reads "Con Man":

Joe confesses: "The incident in the poem happened ten years ago, precisely as I describe. From the beginning, I knew I was being conned. My con man knew I knew I was being conned. There was a sexy complicity to the whole proceedings. The dent? I still haven’t fixed it."

JOE BARNES's poetry has appeared in four anthologies – TimeSlice, The Weight of Addition, Improbable Worlds and The Lineup: Poems on Crime – and in journals such as Bat City Review, Measure, and Illya's Honey. Barnes is also a playwright. He lives in Houston, Texas.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A-Z Challenge: H

To maintain the flow of submissions year-round, each week I'll challenge you to write about crimes beginning with a particular letter of the alphabet. We'll cycle through the alphabet twice a year. Notice we will come back to A in the second week of September, The Five-Two's anniversary.

This week's letter is H. That can refer to hate, hubris, hustle, etc. The challenge is, of course, optional. The Five-Two is open to any interpretation of crime, poems about being wronged, anything that strikes you as "criminal".

Monday, April 20, 2015

Robert Cooperman


Facts are such painful, inconvenient things
when weighed against what we want to believe;
as if wishing were enough to give us wings

to deny science's theorizing,
when the Bible pronounces, "Adam and Eve."
Facts are such painful, inconvenient things.

Evolution trudges through Time's yawning,
dull compared to the Conjuror's crammed sleeve
of Six Magician Days, that gave us wings

to know the divine wand made everything:
or so creationists would smile and deceive.
Yes, facts are nasty, inconvenient things.

Take climate change, when folks are shivering
on the East Coast in a snowbound deep-freeze:
forget worldwide temperatures have taken wing.

All of science's laws arrive with strings;
it’s all shifting, revised hypotheses
to fit the evidence, not the phony thing
of forgetting the facts, for wishful wings.

Gerald So reads "Facts":

Cooperman confesses: 'Facts' was inspired by the utter stupidity of the Religious Wrong. Deranged Christians love to claim there's a war on Christmas. Poppycock! The real war is on science. For instance, to blithefully state there's still doubt global warming is happening, and fast, and if it is happening, it's questionable it's caused by us, the virus in the garden, otherwise known as homo sapiens, is plain dishonest, and heinous. Further, to claim that evolution didn't happen is both ridiculous, laughable, and directly affects our ability to compete on the world stage in the realm of science and technology. I could go on and on, but I'd end up with an apoplectic fit at the mountains of willful ignorance at work in our battered country. So I wrote "Facts" instead."

ROBERT COOPERMAN's fifteenth collection is Just Drive (Brick Road Poetry Press). His manuscript, Draft Board Blues, is seeking a home. Cooperman is a past winner of the Colorado Book Award for Poetry.