Monday, December 11, 2017

Carlton Johnson


"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."
—Albert Einstein


The ground broke before you
entered the stage and took the part.
Darker black the ground that night
chased through Kew Gardens.
A cold, whitening grey shadows
the truth. All those listened
with stone ears and curious
blind eyes. Cries found no soul
to wash away the bitter cobbles,
bedded into lung and gullet,
like a dove.


The blade, pain’s laugh
drawn by shake and shadow
till the glint finding her,
entered in,
a thief of life,
the screams that fell
to dozens of turned backs,
return to sleep
or pray, perhaps,
at 3:15am.


Her blood red Fiat parked
at the LIRR parking lot, is still.
Before her life left, he charged $49
for his pleasure. Her dignity lost again.
The marvel, a single soft dull light
sconces the floors. Illumines the
failing flames grasping for air,
for one more.


4:15 am breath left body last
in the arms of a single neighbor.
A dozen or so, upstanding
thought a lover's quarrel
only after when disaster
deals death held hands
with apathy.

The air rose like vagrant spirits
through flues and chimneys as dried eyes
cry wish, did wish, that they had done more.

Gerald So reads "Broken Sky":

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Carlton confesses: "My inspiration came from hearing about the tragic story of Kitty Genovese, who famously was murdered in Kew Gardens New York, and the story that followed her death—that 39 people heard her cries for help and did nothing. I was intrigued by the bystander phenomenon. Additionally, I recently saw the movie Witness (after my first draft of the poem), which covers her surviving brother's attempts at getting some resolution. Her death lead to the creation of the 911 system we use today. It is a sad story, which has echoes and reverberations today around abuse and mistreatment of women in our society."

CARLTON JOHNSON is an educator and a tutor of math and science and the owner of Carl's Tutoring. A Winter Park, Florida resident for the past eleven years, he is originally from Baltimore Maryland. He has been published in recent anthologies of the Florida State Poets Association as well as in Breakfast Poetry, Provo Canyon Review, and and most recently, Haikuniverse. One of his poems ("Tour of Flanders") was included in the 2014 K9 for Warriors Veterans’ Day Program. He is a member for the past several years of the Florida State Poets Association.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Robert Weibezahl


In a box of old photos
a woman I never knew
my grandmother claimed
by a husband who would marry his mistress
He is in the photo, too
and neither looks the part
lothario or jilted wife
in fading black and white
she, solid and stolid and dowdy of dress
he, white-haired, mustached

On the back of the photo
scrawled in Grandma's broad hand
the Pine Barrens, Grandma said
which sounded at once exotic and arid and green
Burned down the house with her inside
Was she already dead?
I failed to ask, and now will never know
every witness long gone
all from that time long dead
or past caring

Thus family history fades
as vulnerable as
neglected in an old shirt box
from some department store long gone, too
How was this woman, this shadow
related to us
or was it the man who shared our blood?
More consolation in being related to the victim
than her cold-blooded killer
but cold comfort all the same

Robert reads "Vineland":

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Robert confesses: "'Vineland' is one of a number of poems based on old family photographs that I wrote shortly after my father's death. The story, such as it is, of a distant relative who may have been murdered, is drawn from memory and hearsay, the facts, whatever they may have been, clouded or lost to time."

ROBERT WEIBEZAHL is a novelist, playwright, and poet. His poems have appeared in Tipton Poetry Journal, Long Island Quarterly, and The Caterpillar (Ireland). He is the author of two novels, The Wicked and The Dead and The Dead Don’t Forget, a play, And Lightning Struck: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Creation, as well as a number of short stories, and has been a finalist for the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s Derringer Award. He has been a book review columnist for BookPage for fifteen years.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Kieran Shea


At large, the killer dreams of black zeroes,
cold Coca-Cola, and dire wolves.

There was a time he was denied such visions, but
with three dead in two states dreams now present.

Walls of water, a skyscraper made of bone, a clock with
eyes always reading ten minutes till midnight.

In the morning the killer pays off his balance
and accepts a paper cup of old coffee.

Later heading east, a storm up from the Gulf is a veil
alive with light, a reminder of his ferocity and his madness.

Gerald So reads "At Large, the Killer Dreams":

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Kieran confesses: "Inspirations - Sng’oi people of Malaysia and how they believe dreams are real and life is an illusion...Charles Starkweather...tenuous road existence and the the delusional normalcy of modern sexual violence."

KIERAN SHEA is an author, gadfly, chef, and misfit. His latest novel, Off Rock, was released this past spring by Titan Books.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Charles Rammelkamp


"I'm not working on your poems,"
I told Carrie, out there
on the sidewalk in front of my house
with the two policemen,
my voice patient as a shrink's.

I hadn't wanted to call the cops,
but when she started banging on my door,
wouldn't go away when I told her to,
she’d finally crossed the boundary.
The months of voicemail messages,
the landline ringing off the hook all day—
annoying, but I’d learned to live with it.

"Please, Charles! I need you!
You have to help me!"

I rolled my eyes at the policemen,
shrugged my shoulders, helpless.
Obvious she just didn't listen.
Not her fault, but not my problem.

"I've been taking my meds," she pleaded,
as if asking to spare her life.
"Doctor Shiller's balanced the dosage!"

Born the day JFK was assassinated,
Carrie had been a student of mine
at the end of the twentieth century,
now back years later,
convinced I would edit her work.

Charles reads "Cruel Poetry":

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Charles confesses: "Back when I was an adjunct in the writing program at a community college, I would sometimes have students with serious psychological problems – one boy whose grandfather drowned his grandmother in the bathtub, a “mercy killing” since she had dementia. Others manifested in different ways, and years later."

CHARLES RAMMELKAMP is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore, where he lives. His most recent book is American Zeitgeist (Apprentice House). A chapbook, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts, is forthcoming from Main Street Rag Press. Another chapbook, Me and Sal Paradise, is also forthcoming from FutureCycle Press.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Gerard Sarnat


Me plus my penniless buddies went to
Bucharest for our bachelor party since
its cost of living's deep down in a toilet.
Shit occurred during the Eighties before
the Soviet Union Warsaw Pact blew up
and before that Romanian Ceaușescu clan
cult of personality couple was executed
on Târgoviște's public plaza for crimes
against humanity including starvation by
a three man firing squad from hundreds
of eager volunteers including some who
possessed flat heads because they weren't
turned, no less had their diapers changed,
as hapless newborns in state orphanages.

Gerry reads "Squares":

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Gerard confesses: ""Squares" was inspired by a sequence of stimuli. The opening riffs on a TV show, The Bureau, which portrayed Albania as a pass-through country for people trying to 'disappear.' The ending riffs on what a friend experienced adopting. Since the shape isn’t quite square, maybe the title should be 'Rectangles'! "

Recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize, GERARD SARNAT has authored four collections: Homeless Chronicles (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014) and Melting The Ice King (2016). He has worked in jails, built/staffed clinics for the marginalized, been a CEO of healthcare organizations and Stanford Medical School professor. Married since 1969, he has three children, four grandkids. Visit

Monday, November 6, 2017

Peter M. Gordon


I met Bill in a bar on the lower East Side.
He liked to drink and I liked to listen.
After one martini Bill shared his secret:

"Always tell the mark what he wants to hear."
Bill made good money on the grift, as he
liked to call it. Now in his sixties, hands

no longer steady enough to deal off the
bottom of the deck or switch two-dollar
bills with twenties, he reminisced about

how he roped marks like a rodeo champ.
Ponzi schemes, wire cons, badger games,
the Iraqi dinar, the Spanish Prisoner.

He played them all in his heyday. Lived
high. When drunk, Bill could still give a
cold reading to raise the hair on your

neck. I wondered why such an artist
sat on a stool night after night swapping
stories, caging free drinks. After I paid the

tab Bill snapped, "Give me a fin."
I passed him a fiver. "Come back
tomorrow," Bill said. "I’ll bilk you again."

Peter reads "Confidence Man":

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Peter confesses: "I met hustlers of all stripes growing up in New York City. I was reading about current cons in AARP and remembered how hustlers liked to brag about their scores. Bill is an amalgam of several guys I knew when Hell’s Kitchen was still a tough neighborhood."

PETER M. GORDON's poems have appeared in magazines, books and websites, including Slipstream, the Journal of Florida Literature, 34th Parallel, Cultural Weekly, and Sandhill Review. He's a past President of Orlando Area Poets, the largest chapter of the Florida State Poetry Association. He has two collections in print: Two Car Garage and Let's Play Two: Poems About Baseball. Peter teaches in Full Sail University's Film Production M.F.A. program.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

30 Days of The Five-Two (2018)

April is National Poetry Month, as "inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture."

The Five-Two joins the celebration with a month-long blog tour inviting you to post about poetry. If you don't have a blog, email me your entry and you'll be my guest here.

Your entry can be as creative as you like:

  • Interview Five-Two contributors
  • Write about a favorite poem from The Five-Two or elsewhere
  • Post your own poetry or fiction in response to a Five-Two poem
  • Contributors, discuss your Five-Two poems in greater detail.
  • Voices of The Five-Two, discuss the poems you've performed
  • Promote your own poetry books, sites, or products

I'm fine scheduling multiple tour stops on the same day or about the same poem. Everyone has a different perspective after all, and I'm glad to add entries even after April 1. To book a date, email me

The tour also links to poems to encourage you to join, many not from The Five-Two. Crime bleeds into more than you'd suspect.

Feel free to follow and add tweets about the tour with #30OfThe52.

Participants and promoters of the tour may download the badge image above and add it to their entries or follow these instructions to copy-and-paste the image HTML code.

All April revenue from Five-Two and Lineup books and merchandise is donated to the nonprofit Academy of American Poets, supporting poets at all stages of their careers and fostering the appreciation of contemporary poetry.

  • Sunday, April 1 -
  • Monday, April 2 - Poem of the Week
  • Tuesday, April 3 -
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  • Sunday, April 8 -
  • Monday, April 9 - Poem of the Week
  • Tuesday, April 10 -
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  • Friday, April 13 -
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  • Sunday, April 15 -
  • Monday, April 16 -Poem of the Week
  • Tuesday, April 17 -
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  • Monday, April 23 - Poem of the Week
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  • Monday, April 30 - Poem of the Week