Monday, August 12, 2019

Etta Abrahams


He got what
He deserved you say,
An FBI rat who lived
16 years off mad money stashed
in Santa Monica condo walls.

Bulger kept his beard trimmed,
his mouth shut,
loved his curly black poodles.
His girlfriend was a dental tech.
His brother was President
of U Mass, for chrissake!

Prison guards now
unroll the U-Haul-rough wool
shroud that binds
his 89-year-old body,
crushed in his cage,
unrecognizable pulp, tongue torn
from his mouth.

But wait!

Maybe he fingered someone else
to take the pounding.
What you’d want if
you wanted to disappear

Jack the Ripper
DB Cooper
Jimmy Hoffa
and Whitey—
with some canned goods
and maybe a few
changes of underwear.

Etta reads "Whitey on the Lam":

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Etta confesses nothing.

This is ETTA ABRAHAMS's third published poem at The Five-Two. Professor Emerita at Michigan State University, she still can't identify the reason she's interested in crimes, criminals and writing about them, but she has tracked that interest in scholarly essays and fiction and more recently in poetry writing. When not reading or writing about those on the other side of the law, she enjoys the companionship of her life partner, Herb Greenberg, her children and their families and her two canine companions, Oliver and Little Dorrit. In addition to these pleasures, Etta and her colleague Jenifer Banks, have an editing business, 2 Write Better, LLC, and offer their services to scholars, students and would-be writers alike.

Monday, August 5, 2019

John Kaprielian


I remember that summer
when we were so careful
watching every car wondering
if it was him, waiting to
hear who the next victim
would be or what note he
might leave for the police.
It had gone on so long
since last fall and now it was
the heat of the July and
he was still out there.
Everyone was nervous
I was 13 and terrified
my cousins lived in Queens
and we were not far from the
city line so we didn't feel
safe either in that awful
sweltering summer of
murder arson and despair
when the City had turned to
shit and there was graffiti
everywhere and in the
middle of that

the lights went out
25 hours without power a
dirty hot sweaty night people
in the streets singing, helping,
looting, hooting, dancing
sharing, shouting

but come daybreak
the City hadn't burned down
and the Son of Sam didn't
kill anyone that night.
The power came back on
and we knew that if we could
live through that we could get
that bastard and in less than
a month he was behind bars
and everyone could relax again.

John reads "Summer of '77":

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John confesses: "I was inspired to write this poem by thinking about summer crimes. It brought me back to the summer of ''77 with the fear and the heat and the sensational Daily News and NY Post coverage that scared us all half out of our wits. And then in the middle of it, the blackout. It was just an awful summer punctuated by horrible, random shootings. Everyone was on edge until they found him."

A natural history photo editor by day, JOHN KAPRIELIAN has been writing poetry for over 35 years. In 2012 he challenged himself to write a poem a day for a year and self-published the poems in a book, 366 Poems: My Year in Verse, available on Amazon. His poems have been published in The Five-Two, Down in the Dirt Magazine, New Verse News,, The Blue Nib, and Minute Magazine. He lives in Putnam County, NY with his wife, teenage son, and assorted pets.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Clarinda Harriss


We all loved Jonathan, “Yonathan,”
The new night watchman.
Our rented casa had been built by a drummer
With the Grateful Dead,

And we were sure he too would have offered
Sopa de pescada on the patio.
Played something-- drum, cards, charades—
With a new friend as young

As my grandson, who shared with Jonathan
An interest in martial arts.
How strange, then, when my daughter spied
The sweet boy creeping along

The hall leading to our bedrooms, “buscando
Un intruso.” Quizàs, he said,
The one who’d nicked a hundred US dollars
From my grandson’s wallet

The day of the sopa de pescado? The rent agency
Said watchmen were nunca
Permitido to go inside las casas. My daughter
Showed us the loot

Jonathan had abandoned at a side door
in his hasty exit.
It still breaks our hearts to think of it:
A banana and a pear.

Clarinda reads "Intruders in Akumal":

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Clarinda confesses: "I had a profound sense that in many ways my family and I were intruders in that gorgeous place near Cancun where only narrow strips of land separate pristine bays and lagoons. We all ended up feeling terribly sorry for the young night watchman we thought we had befriended and who did, indeed, turn out to intrude and rob. (It later developed that in fact it was he who had stolen $100 from the wallet of his "new friend," my grandson. We still felt sorry for him.)"

CLARINDA HARRISS is a professor emerita of Towson University. She has overseen BrickHouse Books, Inc,, for almost 5 decades (going strong).

Monday, July 22, 2019

Jim George


The mellowdy he thort of
Was formiliar—he said, “Sort of.”
Though he mantanned the muse was with ‘im,
He was accursed of playgiarhythm.

A loresuit then was filed
‘Gainst the singsong he turnstyled
By the copyrightful orner,
Which made his moot forlorner.

His daze in quart arrivaled
When he was sworn and bibled.
The twoons were side-by-sided
While the oddversaries bided.

The deafendant’s testymoany
Was flamsy if not foeny:
“They’re similark, but to be fair,
“Mine’s in a mynah key there.”

“I dessert a piece of piecrust,”
The complaintiff said, “and I must
“Be awarted for the folly
“Of that cracker-stealing Polly.”

The eggspurts then conclueded
The toon o’er which was feuded
Was ribbed off by the sue-ee
Despite his clayme of phooey.

The mealody he lifted
That coursed them to be rifted
Was popularge all over
And kept him livering in clover.

So now he’d hab to share sum
Of the royaltease he urned from
His flaygrant playgiarhythm
And that fauxny muse once with ‘im.

Jim reads "Playgiarhythm":

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Jim confesses: "This was inspired by a drawing I did of a running masked thief who has a musical staff and notes trailing out of his pocket. In a kind of reversal, I wrote this poem to illustrate the artwork."

JIM GEORGE is a writer-artist-songwriter-musician from Reading, PA. His fiction, poems and artwork have appeared in The Sea Letter, The Ear, Fleas On the Dog, Praxis, ANON, The Disappointed Housewife, Hock Spit Slurp, Queen Mob's Tea House, and The Five-Two; his interviews have been published in Playboy, Cinema Retro and Best Classic Bands; and his songs have been used on network television shows and in film. Jim Shorts, his first book, is a humorous collection of wordplayful stories, poems and line drawings, available as a PDF from the author.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Ken Meisel

Arbus would later insist, the subject of the picture is always more important than the picture. –Geoff Dyer, The Ongoing Moment


What makes them give up, these half-dead
bums, all laying around like dirty turnips.

A 1958 Ford, morbid, Sun Gold and Raven Black.
Its deep grill, so obscene and premonitory

and open mouthed; those quad head lights–
and a scalloped rear end; and four oval taillights.

And, parked beside it, a two-door 1958 Olds 88,
Pearl Gray, its gaping mouth, mischievous, taunting,

and its namesake, lettered in metal right there
above the chrome grill. On the theater marquee:

The Seventh Seal, that film by Ingmar Bergman,
death wheelbarrowing itself here, to play chess.

Chess? Can you imagine it? Forms, created
as conventional shapes, these men, these cars,

and death, playing a game of chess? And then, later–
in 1969, Charley Manson, drilling down

on that loud Beatles song, Helter Skelter,
riffing it on his hack guitar as he schemed

a violent revolution against the blacks, the rich.
Intervals of naïveté and neglect, those girls

that killed for him. Mike Love, worried
he’d adopt Don't Worry Baby as a cruising

song as they barreled up into the hills–
to mark their murder victims. And then–

in 1995, O.J., in that white Ford Bronco.
America’s image of a chase, on four wheels.

What’s in the chase, hidden? It’s the familiar:
death, playing chess. More acute, for the camera.

Ken reads "Scenes from an Ongoing Moment":

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Ken confesses: "This poem juxtaposes cars, cinema and song with death as it plays chess with us. The poem aims to underscore the odd, arbitrary if tragic happenstance that can be so prevalent in the course of life. Further: it highlights cinema and social media as complicit in the longstanding and prevailing, vulgarized voyeur culture. The poem emphasizes that performance—in extremis for the camera—is now the standard fare in vogue."

KEN MEISEL has work in San Pedro River Review and Rattle. His most recent book is Mortal Lullabies (FutureCycle Press: 2018).

Monday, July 8, 2019

Charles Rammelkamp


More bemused than outraged
when fans of Michael Jackson took over
the 1862 monument to Orlando di Lasso,
the medieval Belgian composer,
on Munich’s Promenadeplatz –
in front of the Hotel Bayerischer Hof,
where “Jacko” used to stay –
as a memorial to the pop star
after his death ten years before,
Adele nevertheless lamented Orlando’s neglect.

But after the latest accusations of child abuse,
Michael’s music banned from European airwaves,
Adele was disturbed by the hatred she heard,
the sarcastic arguments back and forth.

"Let’s destroy the statues of Wagner –
the anti-Semite – too, and
Benjamin Britten and Oscar Wilde,
with tastes similar to Jackson’s,"
one man sneered.
“Even Beethoven, the misanthrope.
After all, art is only worthwhile
when the artist is a decent human being!”

“Michael Jackson, an artist?
He was merely an entertainer!”

"Art’s not supposed to be entertaining?"

Adelle shook her head.
She’d always admired Orlando di Lasso,
remembering now his Lagrime di San Pietro.
The tears of Saint Peter.

Charles reads "Denkmal":

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Charles confesses: "There are no statues of Adolf Hitler in Germany, of course, and the whole deal with Civil War monuments is an ongoing national trauma in the United States. The same is true in Spain regarding Franco. The weird thing about the Michael Jackson memorial is that the di Lasso statue was commandeered to set it up, but only because it stands outside the hotel where Jackson stayed when in Munich. Maybe his fans thought of it as a temporary memorial to their grief when they first put the photos up, but it’s been over a decade now. In light of recent allegations about the extent of Jackson’s pedophilia, has the time come to dismantle the impromptu memorial? This is above my pay grade."

CHARLES RAMMELKAMP is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. A chapbook of poems, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts, is available from Main Street Rag Publishing. Another poetry chapbook, Me and Sal Paradise, was recently published by FutureCycle Press. An e-chapbook has also recently been published online Time Is on My Side (yes it is).

Monday, July 1, 2019

Thom Young


america has sunshine
I never wanted
it has oceans
women that aren't on its mountains
it has television sets
of sad lives
and sometimes they're on repeat
and repeat all over again.
it has birds that don't sing
my song
and if you're lost
maybe you’ll find
me too.

Gerald So reads "America":

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Thom confesses: "I had this image of Mt. Rushmore and just ran with it."

THOM YOUNG is a writer from Texas. His work has been in PBS Newshour, the Wall Street Journal, the Oxford Review, and over a hundred literary journals. A 2008 Million Writers Award and 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee.