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It’s All One Thing #78: May Day: The Silent Generation


for Richard Higham and John Margret Powers

I think of you both as Boston waits for a jury to deliver a verdict in the Marathon bombing case sentencing phase.
Of course, I think of Sacco and Vanzetti as if we might have learned something since 1927 when they were executed
in the Charles Street jail right near where Jack, a vegetarian, was forced to work in Buzzy’s Roast Beef just around
the corner from the original Stone Soup in the still extant store front which is the last stand of the old West End.

Jack was proud of that and it was Jack’s quest to open new outposts on the frontier of poetry that brought us all
together down in what became the Combat Zone and then faded back into China Town as strip bars and porn shops
clustered there in a tight seed pod that eventually burst and drifted out to new nubile fields on the outer rim.

In 1927 they electrocuted Sacco and Vanzetti but right now reminds me more of the Scottsboro Boys as mug shots
of young black men alternate with replays of their fatal confrontations with multiple police officers across the land.
You grew up in the 1930’s that saw probably the lowest crime rates of any decade in U.S. history even as a rash
of bank robberies and shootouts with police by people with names like John Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty
Boy Floyd, and Ma Barker and her Boys became infamous all over America if not all over the world.

Decades later as I worked the shelters I would still meet old hobos occasionally who had been children then
who in their old age would remember how you could walk everywhere and be safe anywhere in those years.
Even in the late 1960’s when I hitch hiked around the North East I experienced the remnants of that mutual aide
ethos not yet cut to pieces by the fear that has grown and grown with the cult of individual privatization. Click.

But like Jack and Richard, I grew up in it, and we were all marinated by that splendid spirit of cooperation.
Orphaned and abandoned as they both really were they had only hope in something larger than personal failure.
They were survivors, of course, with the survivor’s grim guilt of everything that happens by inevitability.
People do what they do and then people make the best of it. Jack would always remember coming home to find
all his family’s things out on the street. Richard would end up working on a farm where the care of chickens would
become the great solace of his young life. They were both too young for the war, but just like me they were caught
by Vietnam, Richard overseas in Saigon, Jack at home in the resistance movement. And yet they remembered WWII
and the depression that spawned it. They were only babies then. Richard was born in the depths of the post 1929
economic collapse. Jack was born with the Spanish Civil War still ongoing. For both of them WWII would have
been the backdrop of their school years. Richard was starting first grade as Hitler invaded Poland. Jack was still
in middle school when the A-bombs went off in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My whole world was still vibrating from
events that formed their youth. And somehow our lives all crossed as Jack tried to plant a poetry seed in the former
Combat Zone at a restaurant attempting to front run a city development plan to re-invigorate the mid-town Theater
District that was left legless as it was side swiped by the Reagan-Bush recession of early 1991. Instead Jack
ended up doing a poetry workshop at St. Francis House day program just down the street from the Mason Bld.
I took over the workshop from Jack when I came up from Delaware after having gotten married there in 1989. I
became the poetry guy there and then at Pine Street where I worked. Every week I would see Jack at Stone Soup
at T.T. the Bears where I would usually be the closer. Every week I would meet Richard at the Thai restaurant
after facilitating the St. Francis House poetry group so we could relax and talk while I read his poems to make sure
I could get all the words and punctuation right when I typed them. I still have his handwritten versions and what
I typed back then sitting on my mother’s little coffee table some of Jack Powers poetry seeds still living now as if
Johnny Appleseed Stone Soup Jack had left them for me to re-member May Day. Richard’s May Day of flowering
red flags. And Jack’s May Day of Haymarket martyrs for the 40 hour week and overtime and the real Labor Day.
                                             And both May Days for the mother of months.


James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.


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Seven Times 43: Poet


It doesn’t matter how you arrived here
The journey was never as important as the designation

You can say that you were born into it
Blame it on genes
You can say that it was an accident
That before you knew how deep you were in, it was too late

The truth is that it was a choice
Like any other

You chose to stay on the right side of two yellow lines
Your fat tongue still in your mouth
Remembering flavors of a meal long ago
With sublime regret

You chose to blow north
You didn’t walk on the water
But instead you laid down on it, floating
With your naked body kissing the sky

You chose to desert your dessert in the desert
It was dry and left you with half a mind
The other half was left searching for a camel
In a humpless dump

You chose a little more light for each morning
To savor in the darkness
And to leave behind you
When you were gone


Andrew Borne is 2 Cups Poet 1 teaspoon Musician 1/4 teaspoon Salt 1/2 cup Absurdity 3/4 cup Chef 1 egg, beaten 2 1/3 cups Family Man. Mixed together and served raw. His column 7x appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.


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Poem by Patricia Carragon


Lost Weekend Via The Coney Island Bound D Train
for David Francis

Pre-Halloween track work—
The MTA’s “Lost Weekend” journey.
The D train to Coney Island,
an N train in drag.

A slo-mo freak show
behind smeared plexiglass.
Shanties moon the banks
of the puke-green creek.
In garbage dump forests,
trees of heaven
strip in sunlight.
Can-crushed cars
in assorted positions—
an orgy of Skittles’ color.
Grungy trash on crabgrass
does the “full monty.”
Nature falls in love
with graffiti sludge.

“Life is beautiful,”
a clichéd haiku meltdown—
           “enjoy the journey.”


Photography © Ira Joel Haber
Photography © Ira Joel Haber

Patricia Carragon loves cupcakes, chocolate, cats, haiku, and the borough of Brooklyn. Her publication credits include BigCityLit, CLWN WR, Clockwise Cat, Danse Macabre, Home Planet News, Inertia, Lips, Levure littéraire, The Long Island Quarterly, Mad Hatters’ Review, The Toronto Quarterly, and others. She is the author of Journey to the Center of My Mind (Rogue Scholars Press, 2005) and Urban Haiku and More (Fierce Grace Press, 2010). She hosts the Brooklyn-based Brownstone Poets and is the editor-in-chief of its annual anthology. Patricia is a member of Brevitas, a group fiercely dedicated to short poems.

Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn. He is a sculptor, painter, book dealer, photographer and teacher. His work has been seen in numerous group shows both in USA and Europe and he has had 9 one man shows including several retrospectives of his sculpture. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum and The Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Since 2007 His paintings, drawings, photographs and collages have been published in over 160 on line and print magazines. He has received three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, two Pollock-Krasner grants, the Adolph Gottlieb Foundation grant and, in 2010, he received a grant from Artists’ Fellowship Inc. He currently teaches art to retired public school teachers at The United Federation of Teachers program in Brooklyn.


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Poem by David Ratcliffe


Self Portrait

You see in my tired face
a vision of an old man
beaten by the time.

Nothing of youthful abandon
from days when control
could not contain my will.

Nothing of liquid thoughts
in clouds of smoke
leading to stocking tops

and jealous men.
The flounce and lace,
the lamplight ballet

Comfort sought at too
high a price; sweet folly
in rayon sucking on

my dignity, leaving scars
both evident and concealed.
Flavours and textures

forever captured in memories
you do not own. Feverish
wantonness and heartache

unimaginable, though
smugly you judge. My youth
removed by disdainful

ignorance; craggy image
scowling through gloom.
removed from the gallery,

The wayward lad remains
to those choosing to look
further than time has changed.

The once moist sheen cracked
and dry as dust settles
on my careless self-portrait.


“Self-Portrait” © TJ Edson


David Ratcliffe was born in the North of England, though living on the South Coast these days having settled there after spending 6 years in the Royal Navy. 
He writes poetry, short stories, song lyrics, and plays. Two of his songs have been recorded by Leeds Band Backyard Burners. David has two books that can be found on Lulu and  also at Poem Hunter, Sixteen Magazine, and TRR-Poetry. He also has a cool youtube video of his poem The Playground narrated by the poet himself.

TJ Edson is the Art Director of Oddball Magazine and a volunteer at the Out of The Blue Art Gallery. He has also had work appear recently in Terrarium.


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Jagged Thoughts #72: And it is the Heart


Yup oddball
Thinking out loud
My mind drops sound
Like a mouse drops string
And I’m in it and out of it and I’m around it and I’m above it
And I surround it
And it blankets me
I fly over it
Drop by
Say hello to it
It is wonderful
And it rains
And it shines
And it snows
And it’s the amoeba
And it’s the plains
And it’s the sink
And it’s the infinite
And it’s radical
And it’s supported
And it is local
And it is beneath
And it is medicine and
It is music
And it is a heart
And it is the words
It’s the isms
It’s the prisms
And it’s the prisons
And it’s the Pepsi
And it’s the fig
And it is the nothing
And it is the sandbox
And it is the flowers
And the cough drops
It is the beat box
And it’s the detox
It’s the settlement
And it’s the cannon
It is all and it is everything
And I hold it in my hand.


Jason Wright is the founder and Editor of Oddball Magazine. His column appears weekly.


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Poem by Scott Thomas Outlar


The Differences Between Us

I’m post apocalyptic
I’ve been to the abyss
survived the fall
and lived to tell

I’m mocha wine in paradise
I’m chocolate sweetheart velvet

You’re a crisis waiting confirmation
You’re a flavor that died on impact

I’m the breaker of the chaos fields
I’m the warrior that never rests

You’re a daydream without rudders
You’re a lost soul gone off the deep

I’m the detective that stakes out
the spot for perfect crimes
to catch that silent thief in the night
I’m the light that shines on lies


Artwork © Richard Montgomery
Artwork © Richard Montgomery


Scott Thomas Outlar survived both the fire and the flood. Now he dances with the waves of the Tao River, flowing and fluxing with the ever changing tide. His debut chapbook A Black Wave Cometh will be released in April through Dink Press.

Richard Montgomery: “My philosophical surrealistic drawings are known for their unique twist on life and our perspective of it. The “hidden in plain sight” details of my work are ruminants of the great masters like M.C. Escher and Salvador Dali. I have been drawing my entire life and have had no formal training other than just my own desire to create from the time I could hold a crayon or pencil. I enjoy many different types of art yet surrealism holds my passion the most.”