When Her Mascara Runs

by Bryce Martin

The sunset comes, the sickness has begun.
She's not the only one, a quest, a search that must be won.
The darkness she seeks, no matter how small
the tunnel or pathway seems dreary or bleak.
On she puts her blushes and shades,
with brushes she paints away her true face.
To hide the real emotions at which her expressions betray,
portray shame, sickness, and disgrace.
With a smile in hand and her heart on her sleeve,
she begins her search, mobbing these streets.
With nothing to offer a plank she must walk,
after her fall, she must step some more.

Finally in a spot she settles to earn her keep,
or is it to feed the beast?
She gives her music, tells her-story, and shares her soul,
all for which she has no control.
The beast, it abides with a hunger,
a need to be satisfied.
She takes what she's earned, clenched in her fist,
white knuckles cold and bare, from the frightening thought,
that what was so difficult to earn, can be easily lost.
With need in her eye, relief on her mind,
and pain all around, she holds her anguish at bay.
With a monster to feed, the hour is late,
she hopes, she prays,
she bargains with fate that the sickness will abate
long enough to find the dark,
the blackness on which it feeds,
and for which she bleeds.

How she waits, oh how she waits,
to tingle again, but only for a time.
Does it diminish the pain?
Only to start the search for her sunset again.
When her mascara runs, when her mascara runs,
with only tears and the easy in front,
she longs for the hard way.

Space to Be

by Jill Carstens

We were a brand new shiny family in 1968.
We made Denver our home and began to make some history.
I was 3 and a blank canvas, like the wide-open space presented before me, situated at the base of the Rocky Mountains. 
The town grew and I grew. It’s bruises and blemishes became mine. We survived.
Denver got a bit cooler and so did I. We weren’t fancy like New York City or San Francisco, but we were something. 
And the fact that not everyone lived here was ok with me. We still had space to be, room to grow. 
I had adopted Denver’s history and now we had history together. 
My identity is forever linked to the geography. 
The streets are parts of the map of my mind.
I felt like I knew every nook and cranny of my town. 
I could hold it in the palm of my hand.

Travelling the Santa Fe Trail

By George Koukeas

(painting that inspired the poem: “Pack Train on the Rio Grande, 1879”)

Along the dusty trail

with a mule train,

atop our horses,

riding by covered wagons.

How beautiful the deep, blue sky

with trees strongly green,

surrounding the Santa Fe we tread,

fighting hunger and thirst,

drought and famine

Yet, how beautiful if we can resourceful be.

Then murderous Kiowa attack non-combatants.

Yet, the vision moves us along

Onwards to trade,

Onwards to running my business--

all in New Mexico,

where profits help me live decently on a harsh frontier

Onwards! for a mecca of ideas, commerce and a way of life await us!

The freedom of the plains is the Liberty of the man,

we pioneers, so brave, strong and true

out here and there, where we merchants can control our own destiny:

Laissez-faire! Keep governments away from here—

for the freedom of the plains is the Liberty of the man,

we pioneers, so brave, strong and true.

Why I Stopped going to Rodeos

By Erin Trampler Bell

The dust makes me sneeze.
I am less comfortable in jeans than I used to be.
I’m embarrassed by my allergy to horses.
The concept of conquest unsettles me.
My silver is too shiny.
My bandanas are all fake.
I began to feel scared for the clowns.
Sometimes I feel I am a clown in my daily life and why would I want to relive that?
I empathize with animals too much and it hurts.
Once a wild cow chased my car through a secret canyon and I see the same eyes in the corral.
I am too closely bound to the fates of horses.
I want to revere the sources of sustenance.
When the rope tightens I can’t breathe.
Would you want someone to tie a rope there to make you kick?
The next step is bullfights and I’ve been broken by the picadors.
My silver isn’t shiny enough.
Greasing the pig isn’t fair.
I would rather go to a powwow.
Every horse is a unicorn I can’t touch anymore.
I am torn by the ruthlessness of tradition.

worlds apart

As the world spins time moves in a cycle
all its own
as if places and people don't have a purpose.
Yet, we search and seek to find the scene
most suited for us.

Engines

By Ruth Burnham

Dad loved engines. From the two-hundred-ton diesel locomotives that he fixed for a living to the fist-sized glow plugs that flew his model airplanes on rare days off, Dad loved building, fixing, fine-tuning, and, especially, driving anything that ran on fuel. Early in my parents’ marriage he had been an invincible stock car racer in our small Montana town, maintaining an unbeatable 1951 Plymouth by means of his mechanical talent, until a collision on the dirt track totaled said Plymouth. Dad emerged unscathed, but Mom’s hysterics were enough to make him give up racing. He kept his helmet, however, a large, unwieldy bowl that resembled a football helmet with a bill and floppy leather straps that covered the ears and fastened under the chin. This 10-pound head protector, with Dad’s number 57 emblazoned in black electrician’s tape, hung on a peg in the garage, a garage as lovingly curated as any museum.

Years later, I found myself back in Dad’s garage, this one next to the home where he and Mom retired after having moved several times, through several garages. Dad, too, had passed away. His final garage was as spotless, orderly, and museum-like as all the others.  And there, among the vast assortment of equipment and vehicles, enshrined on blocks and secured between two sawhorses, a cracked, faded helmet on its well-worn seat, stood Dad’s Honda 50, a tribute to youth, to age, and to the freedom inherent in both.

I Am A Hunter

By Devorah Uriel                                                      

I am always vigilant. When I sit down in a room I make sure I can see the door and if possible know of at least one other way to exit. I scan faces, read bodies. I have radar for anger, for need, for fear.

I am a child but no longer childish. I have no time for such things.

I am a hunter of invisible weapons. Weapons held on the insides of grown-ups where they cannot be easily seen. Held in their thoughts and desires and perversions. Yes—I know what a perversion is. Weapons hidden away in polite circles. I can see them, poking out of a breast pocket or a pocket book. Shiny and sharp and eager to cut.

I hunt these weapons not to steal them but to survive them. The world is a battlefield and the landmines are in people’s hearts.  Evil intentions lurk everywhere like eager snipers. I cannot hope to disarm them all. I am not strong enough to take captives. I must be alert, cunning but not obvious, charming, at ease—and child-like.

Home

By Darlina

I finally found a home

after two years being labeled “homeless,”

or, the “chronically homeless”

 

I wonder if I still am—

I guess I had fit the qualifications

they had written on the questionnaire

 

My experience of

poverty and violence

put me there

 

I love my new home

despite the labels

and the ongoing fear of

losing a home

again

 

I wonder if I belong anywhere,

even in my own home

 

I look out the window at the city below,

the wind chill factor way below—

my expectations way below

 

A man I had given a dollar to months before

brought a mattress to sleep behind the dumpster

right across from my window

 

I wish I could invite him into the building,

into the warmth

 

I never will

 

Every morning as I go to work

or somewhere

I see him

 

He looks at me

not perverted, not angry,

he looks at me with such sincerity,

with such loneliness

 

All I could do is look back at him,

into his eyes

and offer him a home,

of sorts

Hard Times R Now

By Peter Ferrara

The hardest time is mine, and mine alone, sleeping on concrete now, conveniently swapped from a Colorado prison bunk! Thank you Universe! Thank you Homer Simpson and family! Thank you President Obama! Thank you Harpers Magazine! Thank you elements hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, helium, and all others! Thank you Carl Sagan, Steven Hawking! Luke and Anikin Skywalker, Kaptain Kirk, Ferdinand Magellan.

Too tired to laugh, too scared to cry. Maybe tomorrow, thank you! Almighty Creator of all things, I am not the creator, I am part of the created. Periodic Table of Elements, you are part of manifested language of all creation! No innuendo, not in my backyard, not in my galaxy, maybe yours. Thank you Hollywood!

Breathe because we must; write because we can!

Addiction

By Heather Maes

Here I go again. I’m all by myself with the urge. I got to have it, like a person who needs water after being in the dry desert after a hike. That urge that takes away a clean soul. God, please help me as I cry out loud “this will be the last time!” As I make this my last broken promise. Take this habit away from me. The urge itself is a storm moving in with dark clouds, loud thunder, and strikes of lightning.  Do I really need this fix of uncontrollable drugs and alcohol?  This addiction might just take hold of a clean-hearted soul.  A huge monster the mind produced, a broken mirror to be looked at least a thousand times. A devil that has taken precious relationships that god gave me only for them to disintegrate into a witch’s brew and boiling water. Will I ever learn? How will I ever have a life?

Then, just as the storm goes away, a small bit of light appears. That’s my hope. What will I do with it?  Will classes, meetings, and the small spark of the will to go on keep me going?  I thank god that I have made one more start and the mirror now stands unbroken with a new soul instead of a coffin filled with dirt and rusty nails.

The Road to Compassion

By Michael Sindler

Before you can discover compassion, you must step away from comfort. You must drain the moat, lift the gates of the fort. You must sweep the path of branches and leaves to make it welcoming for the unforeseen sojourner. You must shed, snake-like, exposing self to get the feel of another skin. You must stand or dance drenched in rain barefoot on sharp stones to feel the pain you know to be the traveler’s burden.

You have to take the hurt in to release it with an anguished, silent screaming breath to know the sorrow of a stranger’s struggle or a loved one’s death, to not let a blanket, warm with your own heat, become little more than a shroud, a winding sheet under which you are but some kind of ghost unable to be a welcoming host to those lost and injured, blind, dumb, crippled, and needy souls that come onto your path and walk or crawl beside you and make you think that you deserve more than others sharing this path, this road, this planet we call Earth. Prepare that road.