Monday, June 1, 2020

Robert Cooperman


It’s going according to my fabulous plan
for re-election: New York collapsing,
all the libbos and minorities who hate my guts
for being richer than them, dying like litter runts,
so scratch their votes in November unless the cheating
Dems get their mail-in wish, which they won’t.

And all those Hispanics and blacks are dropping
in Miami and Tampa: two more Dem strongholds
that never gave me a fair break. And the lying
reporters dying off! I laugh whenever I hear
they’re gasping their last, their laptops silent forever.

And when I give my briefings, better than sinking
a sixty foot putt, to see those lying reporters’ numbers
thinned out to sitting at least six feet apart, though
it won’t do them any good; I’ve ordered my security
guys to smear their chairs with droplets: justice
for when they used to shout unfair questions,
and I shouted back they were hideous, to question Me!

If I can only get Fauci to drop dead! One less idiot
scientist to contradict me, when I say the economy
will be humming in a month, a miracle saving us!
You gotta believe, just like all the Evangelicals,
who love me for wanting to lock up abortionists.

Who knows better than me, skating every time
my enemies try to take me down with bogus claims
my true followers see right through. If my guys
are the only ones left alive to vote, a landslide
like no other, proof I’m the greatest president ever.

Gerald So reads "Trump and COVID-19":

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Bob confesses: "This poem was inspired by my rage against the lying rat bastard who has usurped the White House. Rather than write a rant, I thought it preferable to put words into his vile mouth that it wouldn't be a stretch for him to have actually said."

ROBERT COOPERMAN's two latest collections are riffs on The Odyssey: Lost on the Blood-Dark Sea (FutureCycle Press) and The Ghosts and Bones of Troy (Kelsay Books). Forthcoming from Finishing Line Press is All Our Fare-Thee-Wells, a love letter to the Grateful Dead.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Charles Rammelkamp


As the disease raced through his state
like a wildfire through dry brush,
a stream of gasoline whooshing up in flames,
the brave lieutenant governor of Texas,
a former owner of a failed
string of sports bars,
before he morphed into a conservative
radio talk show host
in the Rush Limbaugh style—
a guy who once painted himself blue
while wearing a big cowboy hat
to support the Houston Oilers—
before they moved to Nashville, became the Tennessee Titans—

(in other words, a real moral icon,
not a selfish privileged prick at all;
just the guy you want in charge
of life and death decisions)

he took a bold stand against sick people;
let the bleeding hearts care
about their shitty little lives.
Dan Patrick declared,
“There are some things more important than living.”

Charles reads "I Gave You Diamonds, You Gave Me Disease":

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Charles confesses: "The title of this poem is a line that appears on the album cover of The Rolling Stones’ 1972 album, Exile on Main Street, but is not actually a lyric in any of the songs. This is a metaphor for Lt. Governor Patrick’s empathy, which likewise doesn’t actually appear anywhere, though the disease is all too real."

CHARLES RAMMELKAMP is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. A chapbook of poems, Me and Sal Paradise, was published last year by FutureCycle Press. Two full-length collections are forthcoming in 2020, Catastroika, from Apprentice House, and Ugler Lee from Kelsay Books.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Ron Riekki


I stopped believing in Berkeley probably right after
I moved to Berkeley, a city that promises to hold onto
all these supposed ideals but then sings the rent out
of your guts until your chest caves in, so I went to
the park to shoot some hoops, the rim locked with
chains to discourage exercise, arriving to find cops there,
multiple. When the police arrive in Berkeley, they drive
up in droves—a sleuth of cops, a sloth of cops, a litter
of cops, a pack of cops, a cowardice of cops, a drift
of cops, a sounder of cops, a team of cops, a passel of cops,
a grist, a hive, a swarm, a nest, a lounge—I don’t know
how you want to call it. You decide. Based on your
feelings, your opinions, your oppressions, your troops
and scourges and waits. All I know is there was one perp,
one person, one perturbed perplexed personage with
peripeteia and petechiae aching and perched on a park bench,
one cop temp-checking the guy in cuffs, and so I shouted
to the cops to see if they needed an N95, because I was willing
to give them mine, and one cop pointed to the homemade mask
wrapped around his neck, as if his neck was where he breathed,
and I think that meant, “nah, we’re good” and another cop
came out of the woods nearby—this was down by the water,
which is where a helluva lot of crime happens in Berkeley
and Oakland and Albany and El Cerrito, as if H20 stands
for Homicide to Open container, as if water and manslaughter
go hand-in-hand like rhyming—and when I’d go down there
I’d see all the broken glass from all the smashed windshields
from all the smash-and-grabs, homeless desperate for change,
for quarters and nickels, pennies and lint—and I yelled to the cops
asking, “Can I play basketball?” because it was the pandemic
and all the rules change during a pandemic, where even
the basketball courts are locked and chained and imprisoned
and malnourished and PTSDed and there were helicopters over-
head, as if helicopters and pandemics go together like chocolate
and romance, and the cop yelled back, “I don’t know. Can you?”
And I think that meant yes, because I started shooting and the guy
was hauled off hog-tied or beagle-tied or bear-tired or whatever
the term is and then a homeless-y looking guy came out of the other
side of the woods, all clumsy, clumsy trees, clumsy guy, and he had
a ball in his hands, a basketball, and he walked straight at me,
until he was six inches away, not six feet away, doing his asocial
distancing, saying, “You’re done, my turn” and he turned to shoot
and I said I was almost done and he said, “You’re done now”
and he shot and I said gimme ten minutes to finish and he said,
“Get off the court or I’ll kill you” and I said, “What?” and he
said, “Shoot you,” and park guy with his yellow vest biked up
on his bike and I yelled, “This guy just threatened my life and
the park-vest-yellowy guy stopped and I repeated it and he said,
“Then leave,” and I said it’s against the law to threaten some-
one’s life, and the bike guy said, “Follow me,” so I followed
and he went down a path and I went down a path and he was
biking quickly, too fast, so that I started jogging and he stopped
and I said it’s against the law to threaten someone’s life and
the guy on the bike said I should leave and I wasn’t threatening
anyone’s life and then the park-vest guy biked away and I yelled,
asking if he could help me file a complaint against the guy
and the park-bike guy yelled back, “There are police everywhere.
Find some” and he was gone, down the path, on his bike, with his
vest, whistling, his whistling fading, his bike fading, the park
fading, and I walked towards my car in the parking lot, stepping
on glass like fire flickering from the sun, a hundred little bonfires.

Keith Snyder reads "CA":

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Ron confesses: "I've always been intrigued at how often I hear males threaten other males with death when just those threats alone are assault misdemeanors, so I wanted to write a poem on the topic; it's based on some actual events but with fictionalizing."

Image by Amelie Jumel
RON RIEKKI’s books include U.P. (Ghost Road Press), Posttraumatic (Hoot ‘n’ Waddle), and My Ancestors are Reindeer Herders and I Am Melting in Extinction (Loyola University Maryland’s Apprentice House Press).

Monday, May 11, 2020

William L. Domme


Each mistake is a catastrophe in the offing
Thoughtless and chaotic
Unlike a black hole
Because even those have rules
And their rules, like legalese, apply despite your ignorance.

As the dead were made to plead
So will the killer and his three accomplices
Accomplishing the finishing of their lives
Victims and convicted alike sentenced to die.

Fates sealed between the flop and fourth street
Evidence of a losing hand dumped at the river.

Might is right jacked up to eleven
On methamphetamine in a forge
Smelting prior trauma; yours, mine, and ours.
The conviction of killers that might is right.

Officers on the scene witness the obscene
The stiff stink of meth and death
Officers heading out after for a stiff drink.

Each mistake is a catastrophe in the offing
From the killing to the convicting
No one escapes unscathed. Lady Justice’s stiff upper lip
Witnesses the price every participant pays;
Cadavers, killers, judges, lawyers, and jurors.

William reads "Flawless Conviction":

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William confesses: "'Flawless Conviction' was inspired by a criminal case I read about in the local newspaper in Topeka, Kansas. It occurred to me that the ramifications of crime and punishment likely affect the people charged with carrying out the law in ways that are hard to imagine."

WILLIAM L. DOMME writes in Topeka, Kansas. He has published the western horror novel, The Confluence, and two short story collections. He is a contributor to seveneightfive magazine and works full-time as a scopist proofreading transcripts for court reporters. His work can be found at Twitter: @atypeofwriter

Monday, May 4, 2020

Gabriel Hart


When I met her in the street
It was horizontally
I swear I saw her spirit escaping her body
"No, get away," she said.
"Just let me sleep."
"Let's get you up,” I pled.
"Don't fall asleep,
Stay with me."

Her eyes floated up into her head like two balloons
I shook her
That she would feel better soon
But then she spilled her guts
She showed me all her cuts
Like ripping out a tooth
To find the truth

An ambulance
Was out of the question
The way her eyebrows raised
When I offered to call her parents
'Cause though she was a victim
They would say she had sinned
'Cause when you cross The Cross
You have crossed your kin

She finally told me her whole name
But she looked at me like it was a mistake
She couldn't recall their names
Just a white van
No windows
Unmarked plates

I carried her into our home
Keeping vigil
With a vigilante tone
Peering through blinds
For a sign
That justice might prevail

Four nameless medium-build males
God Almighty, you've failed

Gabriel reads "When I Met Her in the Street":

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Gabriel confesses: "The poem was inspired by a real encounter and attempt to help a wounded teenage girl. On top of the terror of what she endured, there was the unforeseen stalemate of us urging police involvement versus the consequences of her religious family finding out what happened."

Author-poet GABRIEL HART lives in Morongo Valley in California's High Desert. His debut twin novel Virgins In Reverse / The Intrusion (Traveling Shoes Press) was released January 2019, with a foreword by Avant-rockabilly provocateur Tav Falco. His chapbook Cinema of Life (2016) and novelette Nothing To See Here (2017) will be incorporated into his upcoming desert speculative fiction novel Lies of Heaven, to be released unabridged by Space Cowboy in 2020. His short-fiction and poetry has recently been published by Cholla Needles, Luna Arcana, Black Hare Press (Australia) and will be the noir-flash of the week in Shotgun Honey this coming June 2020. He is a regular contributor to Space Cowboy’s Simultaneous Times podcast, as well as L.A. Record, a Los Angeles underground music publication. Hart also taught the writing workshop for Mil-Tree, a non-profit reach out program for Vets and Active Duty Military to heal the wounds of war.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Peter M. Gordon


When the Universe closes one door
a window opens somewhere a thief
can enter. Since the coronavirus came

my home phone rings every hour
with offers from fund raisers to donate
to victims and veterans, extend car

warranty before it’s too late, and,
ominously, speak to an officer before
my social and bank accounts are shut.

Peddlers of miracle cures swarm,
touting benefits of medicine meant for other
diseases, or their drink of silver solution,

snake oil, pressed juice, vitamins, steroids.
Gun sales escalate—so many ripe targets
in rich homes and poor to defend, so many

police on the sick list. One thing's sure:
grifters, grafters, and thugs will find marks.
I suspect it’s always been that way.

Peter reads "You Can't Quarantine Crime":

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Peter confesses: "I'm working from home here in Florida and have had time to field all sorts of class from scammers and contemplate the perilous world we find ourselves in"

PETER M. GORDON won the 2019 Thomas Burnett Swann Poetry Prize. He's published several poems at The Five-Two, along with two collections: Two Car Garage and Let's Play Two: Poems About Baseball. He enjoys watching film noir.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Day 24: John Kaprielian

On Day 24 of 30 Days of the Five-Two, frequent contributor John Kaprielian marks Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day with a new poem. —Gerald So


Tears flow like a river
like the Euphrates coursing
through valleys strewn
with corpses of families
torn apart and torn apart
the wailing echoes fade
as bones bleach and
some lives continue
making themselves forget
the horrors that they wrought.

But we cannot forget
what our grandparents told us
the ones that survived
bore witness to
unforgivable atrocities.
The knives that missed
their hearts still
struck their very DNA;
sights too horrible to bear
tore apart the deepest fibers
of their bodies and
passed them to their children
and grandchildren

We bear the marks
of every massacre
deep in our psyches
even deeper in our cells.
Perhaps that is why
a hundred years later
we still survive
bloody, bitter, battered
but unbroken.

John reads "Euphrates of Tears":

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John confesses: "My grandparents survived the massacres of Armenians in Turkey. I did not know my grandfathers, but my maternal grandmother came from Musa Dagh, and my paternal grandmother grew up in a town along the Euphrates. Every year on April 24th I try to write a poem in honor of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, which surely fits anyone's definition of a poem on crime."

JOHN KAPRIELIAN has worked as a natural history photo editor for over three decades and has been writing poetry for over thirty-five years. In 2012 he challenged himself to write a poem a day for a year and in 2013 published the poems in a single volume, 366 Poems: My Year in Verse. He has had poems published on The Five-Two Poetry Blog, The New Verse News, The Blue Nib, The Blue Mountain Review, and Minute Magazine. His poetry ranges in subject matter from the natural world to current events and politics to introspective and philosophical themes. He lives in Putnam County, New York with his wife, son and assorted pets.