Everything Red for the Queen by Michael Lee Johnson

Everything is red
in the kingdom of the queen.
Matador hat with barnacles,
witch white hair to the shoulders,
tickling the breast.
In her eyes are the blood shot
of many vampires;
in her heart the daggers
of many soldiers.
Five inky fingers
cross her throat
like an ill-fitted necklace.
Her dress is like heart charms,
scales of fish dripping
blood toward her toes.
Withy, twists around her throat.
Anglers of the court toss hooks
toward her cherry red lips,
capture the moment
of the haze of purple
surrounding her head.
Everything is red
in the kingdom of the queen.
Death changes colors from red to blue.



Dropping Another Kid by John Grey

All clowns are painted evil at the mouth,
lips red as the blood they dine on
that day of laughter’s cruel reckoning.
And she wonders why I’ve no wish
to be dragged closer to the creature
on the penny-farthing bicycle,
or his evil twin that chases the tiny black
and white dog around a sawdust ring.

Sure some kids are almost spewing out
their guts with raucous bellowing
but I’m clenched tight to her skirts,
hiding my plain white face
from the multicolored abominations
that leer into the crowd,
choosing victims at random
with bulging greased-up eyes.

And politicians are evil incarnate.
Famous names would just as soon
stab you in your bed as gift
you their books, their cures,
their place in your history.
The acrobats are flying through the air,
catching each other brilliantly.
But if I leaped up, they’d drop me.

It’s a sick kind of humor
when what’s funny is what terrifies a boy.
And no one’s trustworthy.
With their horrible hues, they
don’t even look the part.
Only my mother is not a clown,
a politician, or anyone famous.
But she did drop me once.


The Cross Maker by Peter Magliocco

I was one who held her flesh with palms
scaling the roses of Sunday
to mold each part of her

into a resurrected whole
of the first woman born again
to feel my life’s immersion

breathe into her neck’s pureness
the fabled image female flux impassioned
so I could see the mother I extolled there,

in seeping light from chiaroscuro beyond
all outstretched slavering need
pooled into the human vortex

before the first crusader came
to torture all cave dwellers
into loving a cross of bones