Saturday, February 28, 2015

Poetry by Joan McNerney and Flash Fiction by Will Mayo


Since I'm behind schedule, tonight I thought that I'd combine two of the upcoming entries.  The first is Joan McNerney's "Dream House."   Also, for those of us in the cold and snow, Monet's Water Lilies bring a welcome warmth.  Looking at his paintings, I don't even mind the bugs of summer!

Dream House

Once I passed lovely gardens
gliding over a small bridge.  Dancing
upon moving stones.  Large perfect
pebbles in cool water.

Feet floating with no effort. 
How wondrous to slip...slide...glide.
Coming to towers glowing
bright orange sand...sandstone castles

O how I miss the ocean!  So
exciting watching from far above
as ships enter port.  Am I flying
now to a destiny unknown?

Most times simply sleepwalking along
amazing hometown avenues, suddenly
full of exotic trees, sculptured stairways,
bridges, sparkling fountains.  Twice my
superb high-rise grew in dangerous areas.

There were lines of people waiting.
All standing in menacing rows before
limestone, brownstone, red brick buildings.
Suddenly scattering like angry pigeons.

A dazed ride took me on a long trip,
everything twisting and turning around
so many tunnels, highways, bridges.
Finally arriving at a condominium
full of brilliant flowers.

Yet always wanting to return to my
dream house, my sandstone castle.
Where has it gone? 

And now for Will Mayo's flash fiction....



Will Mayo

The room is built of concrete blocks, laid over with the gaudiest of tile.  Men and women dressed all in white, parade the corners, some with hypodermic needles and stethoscopes, others with strange-speaking tongues.

The bed itself is in the center of the room.  Laid over with white sheets stained with yellow and brown, the best that can be said of the man who lies there is that he stays still; he does not move in habitual dance like the others.

You would think it would take an effort to remain this still; so still that not even all the devils raising muster could bring him from his sleep.  But, rather, he lies there in seemingly the most tranquil of sleeps; his eyelids not even twitching as he lies there.  Yet only a fool would call this paradise.

Now and then, a nurse will come by, past the writhing dancers, and check all the tubes running throughout his body for minimal sustenance.  Either that or inject a needle into one of the bulging veins off his thin, frail arms, bolted down to the bed so that they don’t turn inwards.  She assumes nothing.

The doctors themselves no longer come by, having long since given up all semblance of hope.  “No counseling fit for the dead,” they say whenever the nurse asks them.  If only they knew.

He listens to their every speech, wishes to smile if the muscles will allow it.  Much in the manner of an old dog that has at last learned a new trick, he has fooled them all.  Or so he thinks.

Behind the thin veil of muscles that have gone to atrophy and breathing that has long since ceased to be noticeable, he dreams.  He is on a high plain, all green with wild grass and an occasional bush or tree, as the wind blows its fierce racket through the cloudy air.  There is a feeling of desolation here, one which only he could take pleasure in.

And he is alone, away from all the wild dancers and scowling doctors of the place he has grown to love and hate at much the same time.  It gives him a feeling of exhilaration to be so alone, and for him not to have to move to get to where he is.  “Like magic,” he says to himself, “this stuff of dreams.”

But just as he has muttered these words to himself, a figure appears out of the mists of the high plain.  Skeptical and bemused at having his aloneness invaded, he is still somewhat interested as he watches her appear.  A familiar sight, she is in a red cardigan sweater, old-style khaki pants, and an Eton jacket that does not hide her beauty.  Her hair is long and flows about her face to her shoulders in a Valentine shape.  As she speaks, he can still hear the feel of Old Boston come down to countenance itself in the South.

“I’m sorry, James,” she says, with a slight hurt look in both her face and voice.  “I never should have made fun of you.  It was the worse of times--for both of us.”  He listens to her carefully, can almost feel the old stones of Johns Hopkins beneath his feet, but, no, he must stay in this dream, no other.  A tear runs down his ragged cheek, if only in the winds of the plain, not the white-draped hospital room.

Her words -- Catherine’s words -- bring back memories of an intimate moment, best left to silence and reflection of the flesh; not laughter down the halls of the fraternity.

Finally, as if in some obscure rhythm, his arms herein cloaked in the old-school tweed as well as the mist, come up just as hers do.  He walks towards her just as she walks towards him.  There is a frantic tumbling in the wind, just to reach one another’s arms; the ultimate challenge to his aloneness, the dependence of self.

But it is, he realizes once more, just a dream.  The wind howls one last time, and he tries to ease out a scream, as he hears again, behind blinded eyes, the wild dancers of the room.  It comes out as breath just a bit more raspy, a breath that only the nurse can hear.  His skin, his bones, they do not move.

“I think he needs to be alone a while,” the nurse says, as she ushers the long bed away.  “This is getting to be too much attention for him.”  The doctor orders one more shot.

What Lurks In These Woods


Will Mayo

It happened one night in the summer of my seventh year that my father and I were headed home from the family farm when we spied a car ahead of ours blocking the little one lane road we were on. As there was no way around the car we walked forward to touch base with the driver. Out of the vehicle hopped a pimply teenager with a worried look on his face.

“You’ve got to see this yourselves to believe it,” he said.

We walked around the car and saw there in its path one of those monsters out of the Alabama woods, an enormous snake easily 12 feet long and as big around as a strong man’s thigh. Though it had clearly been run over it writhed back and forth on the pavement with a couple of dents in its side.

Not knowing what else to say, my father simply advised the teen to “Just run over it a couple more times, will you?”

The teenager took my Dad’s advice to heart and climbed back into his Chevy and ran over the rattler once, then twice, then stopped. He got out again and came back our way.

“I figure he’s met his end at last,” the boy said.

Sure enough, the rattlesnake was in his death throes. Back and forth it weaved on the country road coming ever nearer and nearer my little boy feet. Spellbound, I watched it as if hypnotized by the sight.

“Best not too close, son,” my father said to me with a hand on my shoulder. “He may be dying, but dying still he can bite.”

At last, the reptile ceased its writhing before us and came to a stop. We watched in silence as the boy easily manhandled the snake into his car and cranked up the engine.

“Tastes like chicken, I hear,” my Dad said to the teenager.

“Yep,” the boy replied.

Together, we saw him head off and then got back into our own car and headed out of those woods. The darkness swallowed us whole.



Will Mayo

It's been some forty years and more but still I can remember listening to the radio with the gadget pressed to my ear during a long ago Alabama thunderstorm as the midnight hour drew near. Crash! went the cymbals. And then I could hear that delightful melody of Ms. Lena Horne singing, "Stormy Weather... All I have is stormy weather...When everything I have is gone... Stormy weather..." Crash came the thunder and then too the midnighthour. I was a boy in love. And I've been smitten by the blues ever since...

I have to start our music with Lena Horne's "Stormy Weather":

Here is her "Someone to Watch Over Me":

To finish with, I want to include some music by Bud Powell since my husband and I went to a really wonderful tribute to him last night.

Here is his "Lullaby of Birdland":

I'll finish with his "Un Poco Loco":

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Montgomery College Students Review the Work of Tunisian Poet Ali Znaidi

Let's start with Bethany Causey's review of Taste of the Edge:

Ah, A Taste of the Edge, how we all aspire to have that little spark of life ignited in us. Ali Znaidi does an exceptional job of igniting that little spark, “a taste of the edge stays w/ you forever.” Reading his poetry is like caramelized sugar on top of your crème brulee. It’s sweet and glazed on top with much more thickness once you dig in. He has a way of opening up your mind to thinking new things and seeing the world in a different perspective, for example he writes “I took some drops of bleach & rinsed my T.V. screen, trying to erase all of the mass communication theories of politics, & the double-standard.” Now, when I watch the news I have this image forever stuck in my head.  I highly suggest reading this with an open mind and little to no distractions around you. His word choice is superb, but not easy to understand if you have a million other things going on around you. I can promise you that you will not find yourself bored reading Ali Znaidi’s Taste of the Edge. He has a way of creating similes that you never would have thought of such as “she also keeps reminding me that crying erupted like lava flows as the needle.” His poetry makes you want to curl up with a blanket, candle, and cup of tea while you read.

“Ali Znaidi, Taste of the Edge. Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2014. Pp.22. Free PDF. (Tags: Poetry chapbook collection, experimental voice)”.
This is the link where you can download the chapbook for free:

Lauren D'Aria reviews 'Bye Donna Summer, Ali's collection of haiku:

 Review of Ali Znaidi's Haiku "Bye, Donna Summer!"
By Lauren D'Aria
In Znaidi's haiku, "Bye, Donna Summer!", he gives a beautifully detailed description through the Tunisian summer and the transition into fall and winter. With the rain, wind, roses, fruits, lillies, sunlight, and heat of summer, to autumn scents, dark wintery nights, glacial frosty winds, and cruel coldness, Znaidi allows you to walk right into the beauty of the seasons. Stating "pebbles in the pond/ scarring the face of water/ a broken mirror" gives a playful hint, and "black clouds whimpering/ foul smell of pigs in the mud/ tear gas in the eyes" offers a blunt reality of the seasons.  While describing the transition from summer to winter, he references a few of Donna Summer's hit songs, such as mentioning the "'Last Dance' of spring rain", and "On a spring morning/ Dim the lights, 'Dim all The Lights'/ I’ll miss you Summer" .  This haiku creates a great story, taking you through the motions of the Tunisian seasons.
“Ali Znaidi, Bye, Donna Summer!. Fowlpox Press, 2014. Pp.50. ISBN978-1-927593-31-8. Free PDF. (Tags: Poetry chapbook collection, traditional haiku)”.
This is the link where you can download the chapbook for free:

I am hoping that we will have a review of Ali's Experimental Ruminations soon, too.

“Ali Znaidi, Experimental Ruminations. Fowlpox Press, 2012. Pp.23. ISBN 978-1-927593-00-4. Free PDF. (Tags: Poetry chapbook collection, experimental voice)”.
This is the link where you can download the chapbook for free:

In the meantime, here is Night in Tunisia:

This version is Dizzy Gillespie's.  There are many others, but I will stop here.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Local Prize...and now Callie's Prize

From Feb. 21 to March 7, you may vote for a poem by a local poet (DC area and/or Maryland).  The poems and poets below are eligible:

Ethan Goffman for "Song of My Selfie":

Jerry A. Scuderi for "Autumn Glow" OR "Treble Goddess":

OR "Emerald Ridge in Spring"  OR "Fertile Ridge in Summer" OR "Abandoned Ridge in Autumn" OR "Barren Ridge in Winter":

OR "A Christmas Sonnet" OR "Why Come for Me?" OR "Mama's Keys" OR "At 96th and 2nd" OR "Crystal Ladies" OR "Calendar Cowboy":

OR "Do You Recognize Him?" OR "Broken Then Crumbled" OR "Tiny Hands" OR "Love and Justice":

OR the poems at Mourning and a Sense of Martyrdom (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5):

Amber Smithers for "A Lullaby to My Son"

Will Mayo for "Haunted by the Night" OR "The Sounds of the Night" OR "Window Shopping" OR "Phantasmagoria"

This time around I have received so many wonderful visual entries that I am starting a new category: Callie's Prize for artwork.

The images below are eligible.

Regina A. Walker's photograph at

Joan Dobbie's word art picture poem at

Tamara Safford's art (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6) at

Avis D. Matthews' photographs "Selfie" and "Come Here" at

Ed Schelb's graphic poem "Bird Call Dance Hall" at

Juan F. Tituana's photographs of Old San Juan (1 through 10) at

OR his photographs from Puerto Rico (1 through 10) at

Enjoy -- and thank you for voting!

Vote for Monk! (and vote for Clark, too!)

Let's start with the works that are eligible for Monk's Prize.  Remember that you can vote by emailing me at  the name of the poem that you are voting for.

Felino A. Soriano for "Trio of incorporated interpretations": 

It's also time to vote for Clark's Prize as well.  The following poems are eligible:

Martin Willits, Jr. for "Now That You Are Gone..."

Allyson Lima for  "Turn":

Remember that you can vote from Feb. 21 to March 7 by sending me a PM on Facebook or emailing me at .

I realized that I posted this entry without music.  Lately I've been listening to my Dillard and Clark CD, so I'll post a link to a few songs from that album.

"No Longer a Sweetheart of Mine" is not by Gene Clark, but it has been going through my head these days, so let's begin with it:

I can't remember if I've posted "Kansas City Southern," which Clark wrote:

"Why Not Your Baby" is also by Clark, and it's the saddest song in the world:

Their cover of "Don't Let Me Down" has begun to grow on me:

I'll finish with one of Dillard and Clark's gospel numbers:

At for the fall contests!

Starting Feb. 21 and continuing to March 7, you will be able to vote for your favorite poem or flash fiction in one to four categories -- and your favorite visuals.  Each person may vote once in each category and in one method (email to thesongis at gmail dot com *or* Facebook).  Poets may vote, and they may promote their poems.  The same goes for writers of flash fiction.  Musicians may vote, too!  When you vote, though, be fair (and kind, if you comment).  Winners of the contest will be announced shortly after March 7.  And yes, there are prizes.

The categories are Thelma's Prize (all poems and flash fiction included as full text in the e-zine are eligible), Monk's Prize (poems in honor of Thelonious Monk , Clark's Prize (poems in honor of Gene Clark), and Poetry...Is Local (for poets within the DC metro or Maryland). Callie's Prize will be for artwork submitted to The Song Is...  (Note eligibility.)

Please vote for the poem, not the poet.  Many poets have several poems in the race.

Now, who shall win Thelma's Prize?

Felino A. Soriano for "Trio of incorporated interpretations": 

OR "Underneath" OR "Morning, this"

Martin Willits, Jr. for "The Elephant on the Keyboards":

OR"Ugly Beauty":

OR "Epistle on Healing":

Joan Dobbie for "Tripping with Ryan...":

Ethan Goffman for "Song of My Selfie":

Jerry A. Scuderi for "Autumn Glow" OR "Treble Goddess":

OR "Emerald Ridge in Spring"  OR "Fertile Ridge in Summer" OR "Abandoned Ridge in Autumn" OR "Barren Ridge in Winter":

OR "A Christmas Sonnet" OR "Why Come for Me?" OR "Mama's Keys" OR "At 96th and 2nd" OR "Crystal Ladies" OR "Calendar Cowboy":

OR "Do You Recognize Him?" OR "Broken Then Crumbled" OR "Tiny Hands" OR "Love and Justice":

OR the poems at Mourning and a Sense of Martyrdom (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5):

Allyson Lima for "After Mario Bencastro's Algo tiene el otoño":

Joan McNerney for"Monk" OR "Pablo Picasso Night Fishing at Antibes (1939)" OR "Vincent Van Gogh Starry Night (1889)" OR "On Viewing Buddha in the Museum":

A.J. Huffman for"Honey, You've Got to Slow Down" OR "Singing Without Words":

Pijush Kanti Deb for "A Devotee or a Beggar" OR "Your Cat and My Dog" OR "Two Languages" OR "A Poor Hand" OR "Though She Is My Best Friend"

OR "I Surrender to the Tradition" OR "To Read a Brand New Book" OR "The Rhino-Skin" OR "A Magnificent Painting" OR "Me and My Poorness" OR "A Scared Idea":

Adelaja Ridwan Olayiwola for "I Sing" OR "My Harmattan Song" OR "The Coin of Life"

Amber Smithers for "A Lullaby to My Son"

Prince Adewale Oreshade for "a bird in the sky for jennifer aduro" OR "olives and doves" (an acrostic for oliver onyibe" OR "send her to the north" (an acrostic for shade mary-ann olaoye):

Catfish McDaris for "Elephant Tusk Boogie" OR "Six Headed Dog":

Will Mayo for "Haunted by the Night" OR "The Sounds of the Night" OR "Window Shopping" OR "Phantasmagoria"

The other categories will follow but not on this entry.

However, here is some music for you.  Unfortunately, this won't be a greatest hits of the fall, but I want to find some new songs for you.

I don't think that I've played Monk's "Don't Blame Me" for you:

Here Monk is performing "Rhythm-a-ning" with Gerry Mulligan:

"Sweet and Lovely" is from the same collaboration:

I'll finish with a 1957 version of "Blue Monk" that he did with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers:

Did I ever post "In Walked Bud," one of Monk's famous pieces?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Review of Valeri Beers' ...details....

A Commentary on Life, as seen through the eyes of Valeri Beers
A Review by Alex Conrad

A cute little package arrived in the mail the other day including a book of poetry by Valeri Beers entitled “…details...” and at first glance I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.  As soon as I opened the pages of the book, I was blown away by how simply put everything was.  But through the simplicity of the poetry, the messages of the three “L”s (Love, Lust, and Loss) were made clear.  If I were to choose a favorite poem from this wonderful collection of poems, I would have to choose “Wondering Edge”, for I could sense the feeling that the speaker had at the moment they realized that their partner was gone for good.  Loss is one of those emotions that can cause writers to create beauty out of the darkness.  Out of darkness and despair shall come a beautiful thing!

Interview with Valeri Beers conducted by Alex Conrad
1.      Who or what inspired you to write poetry? 
 I was inspired to write poetry when I was in high school, I joined a creative writing class and was exposed to different styles of poetry. I wrote two poems and submitted them to the school literary magazine. Both were accepted and I have been writing ever since. Writing poems helps me to be able to remember things I see and  feel.   I am inspired to write when listening to music.  I am also inspired to write when I read poems and writing from others , wishing I had written that  ;)
2.      Do you have a favorite place to write? 
In my velour pajamas in bed sipping coffee :) That is a rarity, so I would have to say I don't have a  favorite place, I write when inspiration makes its demands (I keep a small notebook in my backpack  in case inspiration strikes while I'm out and about) I have written in my car while waiting for my girl to be dismissed from school, at a bar (that got STRANGE looks), on the back of paper placemats at restaurants.  I also write and compose poems in my head :)

3.      Who are your favorite poets, alive or deceased? And what are your favorite poems by these poets?
 I really like Erica Jong and Dorothy Parker. Neil Hilborn (from Button Poetry) and Amy Lowell. I like all poems from Erica Jong,  Dorothy Parker has wonderful, sarcastic flavored poems if you like those (some standouts are A Well Worn Story, Resume, News Flash and A Very Short Song) but they're ALL GOOD.  I like deceased poet Amy Lowell.  She seems to have short poems which I love and I have featured her poems on my own website:
            Neil Hilborn is a new  poet, who has some great poems, including   “Static Electricity”,                   “Clatter” and “The Mating Habits of the North American Hipster” He has a bunch of             his own poems on's the video for “Static Electricity”

4.      What five words best sum up your personality?
            Weird. Encouraging. Determined. Prolific. Helpful.
            5. Other than writing, what else do you love to do?
Read books, (fiction, non fiction, sci             fi, fantasy, poetry) listen to all kinds of music, read poetry online in blogs and journals,             look for interesting things to post on my site and on PoetryPasta, take pictures and      videos to help show what I am doing and encouraging other poets  (we need it, thin             skinned and scared bunch of writers we are ;)
6.      What is your favorite poem? Why? 
This is a hard question for me Alex :)  I read so many good poems every day. I subscribe to Poem A Day, I read the submissions for PoetryPasta, I read, read, read! :) I would have to say my favorite poem  is “Alcestis on the poetry circuit” by Erica Jong and have carried it in my pocket for Poem In Your Pocket Day.  I like it because of its truthfulness and how we are all our own worst enemies.
            Alcestis on the Poetry Circuit
(In Memoriam Marina Tsvetayeva, Anna Wickham, Sylvia Plath, Shakespeare¹s sister, etc., etc.)
The best slave
does not need to be beaten.
She beats herself.
Not with a leather whip,
or with stick or twigs,
not with a blackjack
or a billyclub,
but with the fine whip
of her own tongue
& the subtle beating
of her mind
against her mind.
For who can hate her half so well
as she hates herself?
& who can match the finesse
of her self-abuse?
Years of training
are required for this.
Twenty years
of subtle self-indulgence,
until the subject
thinks herself a queen
& yet a beggar --
both at the same time.
She must doubt herself
in everything but love.
She must choose passionately
& badly.
She must feel lost as a dog
without her master.
She must refer all moral questions
to her mirror.
She must fall in love with a cossack
or a poet.
She must never go out of the house
unless veiled in paint.
She must wear tight shoes
so she always remembers her bondage.
She must never forget
she is rooted in the ground.
Though she is quick to learn
& admittedly clever,
her natural doubt of herself
should make her so weak
that she dabbles brilliantly
in half a dozen talents
& thus embellishes
but does not change
our life.
If she's an artist
& comes close to genius,
the very fact of her gift
should cause her such pain
that she will take her own life
rather than best us.
& after she dies, we will cry
& make her a saint.
© Erica Mann Jong

7.      What are your current, and/or next projects?
            My current project is taking poetic care of my website and helping take care of             PoetryPasta. (  I am also the editor and submitter for the writer's group at my local library. My next project is hopefully another book, whether it's an anthology or just me, only my readers and publisher (Thomas Hill Publishing) knows :)

Alex Conrad is a student at Montgomery College, Rockville campus in Rockville, MD where he is studying General Studies to eventually pursue a degree in Psychology at a four-year institution.  He has been writing since grade school – whether it be poetry or short stories or the beginnings of a book.  He is currently taking an online Poetry class at the college, which is where he had the pleasure of interacting with Valeri Beers through his professor, Dr. Marianne Szlyk.

I also want to share some music from artists I've seen at the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival in Rockville, MD.

The first artist we saw was Vuyo Sotashe, a South African who performs songs in many languages including Xhosa and Bantu.

The first song "Nyoni Yezulu" is in Zulu:

Here he sings "Yise Wabant'a Bami" with Nicky Schrire:

We'll finish with a more traditional jazz song ("Magnus' Lullaby")

Someday there will be more YouTube videos of this singer!

Then we listened to the Rufus Reid Quartet.  In fact, here is a video of one of the songs he played.  This video, though, is from 2006 and features different personnel:

The group also played "Glory," a song inspired by Elizabeth Catlett's sculpture of the same name:

The personnel in the video appear to be the same we heard at the festival.

I am also including Reid's tribute to Hank Jones, "The Eloquent One":

I'll finish with an image of Elizabeth Catlett's work.  In fact, below is the side view of "Glory."