Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Two poems by Cameron Conaway

In Season



in a Starbucks 

in a supermarket

in a six-story mall 

in Bangkok



watching watchers



    a professional fruit basket maker 



labora balance 

mangosteen canopy 


      in bundled electricity      concentration



all red rind ball and yellowing ray

the sun’s son

a material day

fraying like we

flaming white heat in center sweet



    the woman 

in gator pumps 

    jostling with the man 

in silk suit

no pleasantries, no eye contact, a throwback dance 


    ages past that is still 

in the code


short steps and shoulder shrugs. She’s won.


A tall old foreigner looms behind them

crammed in a black shirt to flaunt

fat rolls for muscle

shakes his head in disgust 

lowers levels from his height

to the Thai wife a third his age

tells her he has and could get better for cheaper.



I was lucky to sink into a chair here.

All spaces are filled with rolls

of durian paste.


There, a man reads the Bangkok Post.


There, a waxy American apple.


There, four blonde kids with Thai nanny.


There, waxy Argentinian blueberries.


There three college co-eds in tight white tops

and short black skirts bat their eyes in

handheld mirrors, elbows on a tableful of textbooks.


There, waxy Peruvian plums.


There, a waxy woman, stitched, fresh



Wounded on lips and nose and in.


There, waxy South African grapes

top each basket, then plastic

covers the whole thing, then a hair dryer

melts the plastic to keep everything from

falling out and in its place.


None of us holding our

burnt Costa Rican coffee sees the from in

these impossible Burmese rattan baskets

or in each other. 


Here I’ve judged

in laptop from California with parts from

Taiwan and China 

those closest.

Complained of complainers even though

everything closed has a door outside—

the basket, the apple, us people.


Believe that. 

And outside our outsides a male magpie-robin

from Asia or Africa or other bird from anywhere dances

all the same.

Driven from something in 

them to puff their feathers, strut for mate, take 

a gecko then bathe in the rainwater collected on a tree’s leaves.

From there it watches watchers watching 

the clouds.


Migrant workers in

dried bamboo huts in

still postcard mountains in 

rainy season

know the fruits are best

to pick when the humid air hums with the ripe

husking of mosquito wings cutting sky,

know the rainy season is the sweetest season,

is malaria season, is when the fullest baskets

may weigh heavy with the cruelest emptiness.


It’s often this way.

The poor going to war for our 

sweet wants

masked as needs.

One storm stops job

to be done.

Two storm from store impatient

without forming story.


Three, let there not be.


We’re all staring 

at baskets and seeing nothing.



Density Slant


For Dhaka, Bangladesh



On these rusted roads

are so many people

there are no people,

only one watered wave

of rolling rickshaw

and feet b-boppin’

and rickshaw

and pulse beating birdwing

and colors, so many colors

dulled in the dust of the drum.



They find ways

to find no way

out, she says.


The rusted red rake

must dig

before it drags.


Easier to muscle a moment

than to move

or make memory.


The must dig

drags before

the rake rusts red.


Tough seeds more

or less bitter

than fear’s juice.


The before drags

the must rake

digs red rust.


Easier to ask

the fraud

to bless the crowned


crane, and, when arrow

is airborne,

beg forgiveness again.


The red drags

must dig the rake

before the rust.


A poet works

when looking out



So, tell me, how

many windows

are here? she says.


Four more gone. Thought:

Has death become an excuse

for celebration?


Infinite prophylaxis will

feed all

who swallow.


The dig before

the rake rusts

must drag red.


Easier to praise

haves who give

than plead needy.


Easier to burn sketches

of secretary birds,

pray it stomps the snake


that killed. Easier

to gift the gone

than give the living.


Five down. Thought:

Has death become an excuse

for art?


Before the red

the rust rake

must drag digs.


Six. Thought:

Has death become an excuse

for business?


Seven. Christ-o-mighty.

Death has become an excuse

for life.


Dense pulses all will

still. Culture can culture

when it’s killed.


Cameron Conaway is the 2014 Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Penn State Altoona. He is the author of Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet (Threed Press), Until You Make the Shore (Salmon Poetry), Bonemeal (Finishing Line Press) and Malaria, Poems(forthcoming from Michigan State University Press). His work has appeared in RattleJuxtapositionFictionWeek and Ottawa Arts Review.



Friday, August 15, 2014

Moonlit Angel by Jeff Ooi

Moonlit Angel

There she stood,
By the edge of her chilly world,
Confessing her last fantasy.
With bloodshot eyes,
She looked and she panned
But no star was in sight,
Only murkiness
Dimly lit
By an ecliptic crescent
Upon a sullen night.

She swore
She beheld the presence
Of Fallen Cherubs
Humming a requiem
In euphonic harmony,
As candles fade
And wind whispers
And ravens howl
Across a paling horizon,
As joy rebirths.


Jeff Ooi, 30, loves reading and has been writing poetry since age 17. He has just finished his Diploma in Mass Communication at INTI College Subang Jaya. He is currently doing freelance in writing and photography. He is passionate about films and likes acting and doing voice overs. 
This poem is a tribute to his late cousin sister who succumbed to breast cancer back in December 2011 at only 40.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014



Battlefields blooming in blood.
    The country now locked in irons
      of medieval terrors.
        Guzzling, burning- bright blue giant.
          Weapon dealer-
        selling tanks, bombs
      ammunition, used to threaten the masses.
    And douse the country with angry flames.
Is there another way to say this?

Who has done anything to save them?
   Who has heard their protests, their pains?
     their cries, the tears of our children?
    How many poems have we written?
What alarm bell haven't we wrung?

While Africa, UN, and SADC waits, watches
   USA, UK, on the sidelines, this side
      China, Russia and South Africa are
        on the other side.
        Now I realise they won't be no eyes
       no ears, no hands
    no art, no song, no story
no useless poem like this one.

That will bring the country
   of our dried tears.
     Or rein back love and laughter
   into our children's burning-
silent thirst.

One is a surprise.
Two is a surfeit of words.
Three is impossible to process.
But then, somehow- in their cluttered
Thousands--- they have disappeared.
Bruising our side walks, a thousand
cells. Where no battle has been.
Where no one sees. Blood
for water-blood fills the
ponds. Plunder in my
heart! Reading
these hiero-
have to
For calmer times.


        I have got to be there.
     I can’t stay away forever.
  I have got to see.
what became of my country.

       People once voted
     and I took an oath.
    Vouch to fight rigging of elections.
and processes there-of.

       The people travelled miles to compete
      in these elections.
    Hunger, anger, poverty, asides.
   Fellow citizens, all believing
 that late March's spirit will free them
to pay homage to this democracy.

       This word is alien!
      It is a shadow that impresses decisions.
     But has never been experienced.
   Always victims to greedy vampires
  my people have only smelled death
this is the democracy they know.

broken connections

She was a woman
A woman of actions
She lived on the front
Filling me with fantasies
Sensations I can’t contemplate
Without ecstasies

She was the reasons
She was the justifications
Of my being
Of all that I have ever done

But her laughter drives
Inwards of me
To teach me lessons
Of broken connections

The time ahead of them
Was of little choice

A thing passed from child
To child to child


Life...laughter and joy
  Are the only truths
    Trapped within words
    Love comes into our lives
  Like vagrant eddies
Colouring the winds
But its spirit dims
  Disappears, and is gone
    Have we time?
      They wanted to be with us
      Look, at the love
     Lying longingly untapped
   Love big as the sky, open
  Like a way of revenge
Held back as punishment
The price you will pay
  You will pay in full
    To dole it as a reward
      Like sunshine on trampled grass
      Someone is begging us
    To be there now
  To share and care
In each other’s arms
Do we perceive their voices?
  Deep within us
    Like first shelvings, of
      A narrow single of a beach
     And as we strive
   On our way beyond
All these ancient measures
True would be the happiness
  Of understanding each other
    No matter what content
      To me that’s what counts

TENDAI R MWANAKA:was nominated for the Pushcart twice, 2008, 2010, commended for the Dalro prize 2008, work has been translated into French and Spanish. I was nominated and attended The Caine African writing workshop, 2012. From January- April 2014, I was a Mentor for 3 budding writers in CACE Africa Writivism. Published over  250 pieces of short stories, essays, memoirs, poems and photographic/visual art in over 150 magazines, journals, and anthologies in the following countries,  the USA , UK , Canada , South Africa, Zimbabwe, India , Mexico, Kenya, Cameroon, Italy, Ghana, Uganda, France , Zambia, Nigeria, Spain , Romania, Cyprus, Australia and New Zealand. 

VOICES FROM EXILE, a collection of poetry onZimbabwe’s political situation and exile in South Africa was published by Lapwing publications, Northern Ireland in 2010. 

KEYS IN THE RIVER: Notes from a Modern Chimurenga, a novel of interlinked stories that deals with life in modern day Zimbabwe’s soul was published by Savant books and publications, USA 2012. 

A book of creative non-fiction pieces, ZIMBABWE: THE BLAME GAME, was published by Langaa RPCIG( Cameroon 2013)
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