Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Photographs by Vernon Daim

See the sprawling branches of a tree

bound by bloodties and surnames

on the wall. Frame by frame, 

be awed by milestones and anniversaries.

Look closely at the kindegarten shows, 

graduations, holidays abroad and weddings 

of relatives close and distant. Notice how 

at reunions and birthdays every one smiled 

their genuine best, their artificial best.

Can you, like Tolstoy, distinguish

the unhappiness of each unhappy family?

We were told, for the sake of posterity,

resentment and rivalry would look ugly

So we kept them veiled, masked and hidden.

We let the poison slowly, quietly fester

while frame by frame, the precious prints on the wall 

slowly, quietly discolour and fade. 




Vernon Daim was born in Taiping, grew up in Kuching and found himself in Edinburgh. His poems have appeared in online literary journals such as Anak SastraEastlit and Asiatic

Monday, October 10, 2016

Poems by Christopher Harold

The Swimmers' Guide to Drowning

Tongues sweat in humid fumes of sinful breath.
Saliva bathing rows of crooked teeth,
Gnawing on voices toned to charm the deaf,
Bait the shepherd's lore with terms of deceit.

One is selling cups of poison hemlock,
The other pours out shots of cyanide.
One raps on the door latched with a padlock,
The other has the key to get inside.

Residents drape themselves in sullied gowns.
Dirty waters leave stains on what they cleanse,
And the repair men construe faulty vows
In spite of what their adverts recommend.

Still gamblers succumb to their addiction,
And on every fourth November they play
Their hands against the odds of a system
Whose interests lie solely with whom can pay.

Descriptive nouns are slogans and banners:
Do not verbalize any predicates 
That might offend conventional grammar,
For the boards they scroll chalk them up to hate.

Arms are up to keeping them bearable
In the tolerant hands of the killers,
So the propaganda is sellable;
Spun out in themes of media thrillers. 

The sender is returned letters abroad.
Financing all business through mail orders.
The posted notes all parcel sums of fraud;
Usury stamps applied by the sorters.

Symposiums shelter absence mostly,
As the masses dwell in digital caves.
The academies are far too costly,
Teaching their pupils that they should behave.

Yellow smoke licks its tongue on window screens.
Arthritic hostages grip their toils.
The lives indebted to technology
Spend their gigs in claustrophobic coils.

The funded consensus praise the optive;
Enrich the climates with chemical trends.
The foul airs holding the fearful captive
Have been imparted by the prince's pen.

Stealthy missiles do not miss their targets:
You must accept what you should not believe.
The messages urge that one should forget
The serpent is selling evil to Eve.

Once the Romans cheered the hero, Nero,
Then made him choke on the blade he brandished.
Stalin the movie star played the hero,
As he stole all the grain from the famished.

And we look right at what we cannot see.
The wine is too fine in this age to wait.
It is never called what it seems to be
When minced to shreds by the knives that dictate.

The straying motion of gusty airs say
That the wind shall not today please the rind.
Brands become the only choices to weigh;
The circle is full of nothing to find.

Panic riots loom over mania
When a medicine cannot be prescribed,
And rescue seems most unlikely when the
Lifeguard is drowning in our diatribe.


Agent of the misfits feeds on black dew
The candle wax has settled new to form 
When pedals lick the mist of fallen sky,
The callow lack of shadows fail to warn.

No sustenance will quench this cryptic mood
Black dew sells empty promise in its broth
Elusive fragrance irks the vaguely sensed
Harken back the waken spirits aloft.

Enigmatic mission incoherent
The spaces fill with possibilities
Still pollen lacking nectar for the sting
No telling what it is supposed to be.

Rigid functions seem to feel its passing
Carafe is out of spells to charm the wits
Time has come to never mind this era;
A new phase has come round to erase it.

The Crossings

The feudal pope tends to
bless his excuses for
manipulating things.

Boiling under his 
collar, rashes blister
and itch translucent flesh.

Fitting in nowhere but
inside of the places
that silence barricades.

Indifferent to states 
of empty emotion;
caters only to moods.

Prone to anguish, he takes
the opportunities 
to disturb his content.

Not good with whomever,
estranged from the stranger,
no mix of tastes serve his.

Impassion endangers
the safety of others
with his coursing venom.

He looks just like Hamlet
when lamenting ghosts show
up in times he recalls.

None stay to matter;
he inhabits shelters
that have been forsaken.

The Casters

The alarmist bells will
Will wail, yell and implore
For the news they are paid
To shout and pout about.

No matter the channel
One may turn to escape,
The different path is
A section of the maze.

They will tell you only
What they are to tell you.
They will help you forget,
and show you what to feel.

They know what spells to weep,
And to make their phrases 
Vacant of any truth
And hollow of meaning.

They want you to oblige
Their words as though sacred
Vows credibly endowed,
Forcing morality.

You will vote for who they
Want to be elected.
You will learn to hate the
One they have rejected.

Riots, they will guide into
Happening, looting
They will encourage, and
You will blame each other.

They are the fine liars
Starting all the fires,
And cheering on the plagues
They want you to endorse.


Lost to the world, he walks it with his doubts,
Vacancy shone, though half the lights were out.

Alone in the room, tattered and empty, 
He hacked at the table with his card key.

It had been hours since he last replenished.
Now alert, his libido was famished.

She never showed for the favors she owed,
And thus refused to reap what she had sewed.

Ten cigarettes burned and his phone exploding,
He returned for another reloading.

Under the spell of the dust he reveled.
Desirous, he plotted with the devil.

Secretive rooms had revealed just enough
To his knowledge, teasing his state of lust.

He looked at the phone and thought he would call,
Reaching this point, he gave no fuck at all.

She answered and said, yes, she would wait,
But after John had vacated her gait.

He gazed out the window and wondered just how
Long before John would take his final bow.

Once his predecessor had walked away,
He gathered the stuff and headed her way.

He laid a rap upon her passage door,
But the silence made him rap that much more.

Livid, his senses filled with rage and hate.
It seemed, this night, he would not make a date. 

He returned and passed out on the table.
No lessons were urgent in this fable.

The next morning he was given a shock,
When pounding portrayed itself as a knock.

An officer said the girl was found dead,
But fate had saved him from making her bed.

Shadow Vermin

Bedbugs come out of the
Woodwork and scale the flesh
They are looking to drain,
Licking their blood-stained lips.

Purchase and stifle the
Advances designed by
Any competition
In their vicinity.

Within their boxes, they
Throw sand in the eyes of 
Those whom try to see what
It really is they are trying to build.

Behind ugly faces,
They create the cases,
And take solemn vows to
Enforce the obeying.

They know you will be 
Watching what they put in 
Front of you, and then coin
Invisible phases.

The grand ones that play the
Tunes for the crowds tickle
Fears by scoring key notes
On pages they printed.

They want you to see what
You cannot condone or
Believe is happening 
Before your liquid eyes.

The skies are streaked with whites
And clouded with yellows.
The morsels are soured
With cancerous spices.

Funds for the guns and the
Militant frauds poison
The infrastructure with
Economic fallout.


Christopher Harold is a poet, photographer and blogger. He lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Poems by Gregg Dotoli


dawn spawns smoky fog
brackish herring deep sense
tidal reverse beneath warm salt air

After Paris

flowers dim-dull boring
sun a simple light
songs slightly off 
denim faded smiles
lifeaim return
joyous spirit absent
lovesick sad moon
drips hope-rays
on upside down me
lifeaim return
scarce wind my companion
lovelorn homesick dream-ache
stone lonely without Paris
love you forever
lifeaim return
this above all

New York Spell

like that forgotten song
that's reheard , sweeter and richer sounding

when leaving NY, the spell goes too
as Manhattan patient and regal rests
like a lady-in-waiting
on return, the awe and freedom falls
on the spirit
the breezy island whispers stay
this is the only place to be
this is the only place to be
this is the only place to be

Gregg Dotoli studied English at Seton Hall University and Computer Programming at NYU. He is a White Hat Hacker and works to keep organizations safe. His first love is the Arts and he enjoys the rich culture of NYC. Gregg has been published in many international periodicals, zines and anthologies.

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