All my friends died in the Eighties

Vol XXXIII, All my friends died in the Eighties


Suzanne Frischkorn listens closely

to every note of exile in guyville andwhen nothing moves but the clock
she reminds herself of broken windows and the half moon eyes
of her children

watching her every move. she waits to see the lesson in the way
an ash curves from an abandoned cigarette, reaches out to touch
his arm

feels the cold snap of truth. snatches of new york conversation
climb to the back of her memory and there’s the sound of a dime
dropping into an antique jukebox. 

the scratch as needle hits vinyl--a pop a click and everything starts
to sound like a divorce song. she falls slowly back into herself
and disappears without a trace




Michaela Gabriel is in love

with the wrong ideas--she forgets that pride means nothing, forgets
it is always easiest to think around someone else’s problem.

when everything fails count the number of times you’ve been drunk
at the movies, talked back to the screen and realized nothing makes sense

like loneliness. fill the day with glasses and straight edged plans,
white lines will take care of the hours and the minutes will leak seconds 

until there is nowhere left to turn but up. she’s mad about the wrong man,
the one that pictures himself in the back room watching her brush her hair,

each stroke a breath that interrupts the silence. in the end there is nothing left
but to drive headlong into forgiveness, the top down and radio blasting



Gary Blankenship dreams about the River Wang

how it can read his mind, take his thoughts
down stream. He imagines

there is more to learn from it’s rust colored banks
than in a lifetime locked

in glass, steel and smoke. It seems to have no end
no beginning and everything in between

drowns under the weight of the sun. All that’s left
to do is wake up, face the consequences

and pray when the money runs out
there will be one last chance to cross the river 



Julia Klatt-Singer doesn’t believe

in anything with strings attached. she knows god
speaks through paul westerberg and contemplates

her past while living her future.
she counts the saints she knows, wonders aloud

why stealing is a sin when she has fallen
in love before. ice melts down the pane

and as the last of the sun hides behind the earth
she tries to remember the last time she ran away

from the obvious. a little mascara, another cigarette
and she’s ready to believe again.



Michael Gause wants to drink

with henry baitaille, wants to be the last man
to hold truth in the palm of his hand.
he thinks about writing notes to strangers

telling them how one day the sun will melt and fall
slowly from the sky. there seems to be no end
to this american myth

its birth, life and death cut and paste into a fabric
to wrap up day to day minutia.
tomorrow morning will bring its rush

hour traffic, blank stares and the blurred
visionary will make up a prayer
small enough to fit in a shot glass



Teresa White plays piano for her daughter

who left home at fifteen. robins fly
back every year to make their nests
and the neighbors’ names have changed

more times than she can remember.
there’s no penalty in waiting for a savior
and no reward without sin

that’s the way of the world
as she was taught. all that remains
are the half-starts and false endings

she creates to pass the time
while her husband looks the other way,
reminds her of what she used to know. 



John Vick sees his own death

as anti-climatic, a cliché to be erased
from the page. once, he had a lover
who lived in a doll house

just another sidetracked 
romance with thin paper walls
and faded posters.

misspent words hollowed out
his best intentions but jim beam
fills the empty spaces

just fine, fuck you very much.
now that it’s too late to make up
for bent promises

he wonders about the meaning
of gravity--wishes that things left
unsaid didn’t really exist.


Britt Fleming considers tilting at one last windmill

he has dreams
of being bold
and unforgotten
does his best
to rewrite
the back pages
of his life
and even as the past
turns into a cloud
of dust
he remembers
ash blonde hair
a plaid catholic skirt
and clumsy attempts
to be heroic
yesterday she told him
how she likes t’s
and blues
and men
who can’t remember
her name
he says he knows
there is time to lose
and words to bury
but it’s not too late
to run away
and be together, unalone



Allen Itz tries to recreate his past

he takes today and tomorrow
and pulls apart the reinventions

then waters down the irreversible
with scotch and soda.

he remembers the swirl and stir
of her words and how they filled

the empty and shallow feeling
between breaths.

he tries to drown out the familiar
sound track and too late apologies

hoping to dull the sharp edges--
when she’s been forgotten

her voice meets him in the mirror
and won’t let him lie.




Laurie Byro remembers a lost lover

Sometimes she feels lost inside
herself, unable to tell the difference
between what’s right

and what’s been left behind.
There is something familiar
about emptiness

the way it floats unseen
like wisps of cigarette smoke
in the cold.

She whispers her favorite words
into the pure white sun, watches
them baptize and burn

then disappear into the space
where she finds herself
whole and reborn.


Self portrait at 33 1/3

She’s a nice girl. Not my type--
I like smooth shiny girls, hardboiled
and loaded with sin.
                     Raymond Chandler

The way she holds a gun reminds me
of a recurring dream —I’m waiting
for her to say anything and the rain burns 

up the shadows. I always wake
to a half empty bed and my penance
is hard to swallow and it hurts

like only L.A. can hurt—a woman
throws a kiss meant for you
but its caught by a stranger.

I’ll be alone and wonder about her
voice, how it can twist the past
until it becomes our future.

She wears a crucifix and believes
the moon can turn a yellow cloud
into an outline of a fist--

this city is full of the dead, the dying
and the bored. She tells me sunset
is the wrong side of the tracks--

I tell her I want to be baptized,
buried and forgotten by the end
of this lost weekend.



Arlene Ang starts the revolution

tell me the color of your ghosts
and let me taste the holiness

of your sins in order to be
forgiven. we can’t turn back

the clock so instead let’s borrow
redemption and bury ourselves

in unfamiliar whispers
i’ll be the condemned man

you can light my last cigarette
and we’ll bust out of here

drive as fast as we can to the end
of the story until there is no beginning

then we can pray that your dreams
of falling will keep you

from breaking apart and my last words
will be enough to resurrect the dead




Suzanne Frischkorn previously appeared in Cella’s Round Trip

Julia Klatt Singer previously appeared in if poetry journal

Teresa White previously appeared in tinfoil dresses

Self Portrait at 33 & 1/3 previously appeared in Eclectica

Arlene Ang previously appeared in Bent Pin Quarterly

Michaela Gabriel
John Vick
Laurie Byro              previously appeared in River Poet’s Journal  

Allen Itz Previously appeared in Pirene’s Fountain