Sunday, November 26, 2017

From the current issue: Aubrey Barnes. "Black Like Me"

Let me tell you a fact about myself
That almost everyone I meet feels the need to remind me
I am black
I’m so black that I make Micheal Blackson not seem so
Black, son
I’m so black that in a game of laser tag
I should be permitted to keep my
Eyes open and and teeth showing
Otherwise i’d be cheating
I’m so black that you would swear that i’m a vampire
Because when i’m in photos with no flash
All you see floating clothes
I’m so black that when i’m out for a run
People look at me in jaw dropping awe
Speechless that I’m moving so fast
They mistaken me for the Flash
But, he’s a white superhero
So that’d never happen
Instead they look at me in grandiose curiosity
“Sir, are you from Africa?”
I’m so black that when I mention that I like to watch basketball
People roll their eyes
To a point that i’d swear their brain rolled right along with them
But when I go to games in cities such as Geneseo
You would swear that I walked into the Gymnasium in my underwear
The way people silently over stare
The odd black man at a basketball game
He must be here for a girl
Or to cause some trouble
Maybe we should make eye contact
When he doesn’t make eye contact
But if he makes eye contact
When we make eye contact
He’ll knock our eye contacts
Let’s just not make any contact
I am so black
That my teammate in college was stricken with fear at my appearance
But when he heard that my speech was “politically correct”
And my posture stood erect
He breathed out in great calm
Because it was evident that I was
So white that I make Carleton look like Tupac
So white that I mistaken Malcolm X’s name
For Malcolm the Tenth
I am so white that my all white friend, from an all white college
In an all white city told me
“You aren’t like the black people on TV”
When I go to the gym to play basketball
People run to me for a challenge
And leave victor
With an easy scored 21
To my hard toiled 16
Saying “you must not have inherited the genes”
But when it comes to these sixteens
I'm sweet like i'm sixteen
Addictive like nicotine
Spittin fire like kerosene
And you know what friends say to me?
“Oh my gosh, you actually are black!”
So I am black
But I am White
Or maybe people are just color blind
Shutter blinds closed to any sunny possibility of a no label society
Globular organs shrouded with stereotypical presumptions
Assumptions derived from contrived corruptions
Making these ideas of “acting black” and “acting white” alright
But it’s not alright if you’re white acting black
Or black acting white
Well it is okay
Just know we’re going to give you a hard time
When you forgot your belt at home\
And your pants a little
We’re going to say you’re dressing black
But when its around your waist and nicely fit
We’re going to then say you’re dressing ‘white’
Kind of like how Pharisees
Those religious leaders you hate
Judged good and evil by what they perceived with their eyes
Instead of looking into the heart that lies
When Eloheim said there is no Jew nor Gentile
Nor male or female
I believe if he stood in the midst of our color coded community
He would say there is no black nor white
I’m exactly what I was destined to be
An oddity and comedy
Laughable because giggling only makes sense of something that doesn’t make sense
A black acting white
A white acting black
An oxymoron prone to give minds
Prone to labels panic attacks
I mean when was the last time
You went to an ice cream parlor
Anticipating all flavors to be same?
That’d be lame
Just like a world full of agents
Trapped in a Matrix
The Neos bring change
Something out the norm
So i’ll forever say i’m
The paint splashes in a padded room
That can’t be cleaned by swiffer, rag or a broom
I am what I am because I Am said I am
So you see
It's not that I am whiter than you
Or you're blacker than me
But we're the same
Human beings bearing the same beautiful image
So in the end
I’m white like you
And you’re black like me

Watch Aubrey perform this poem.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Exquisite Corpses

I posted something a few days ago about why I am so attached to doing exquisite corpses. Please check that post out if you haven't already!

At Coin-Op open mic

I was frightened by the truth
As it hit me in the face
Like a mackerel fresh from the marketplace.
The detective knew the case would go bad soon.
Bad, bad. Like sour milk. Like milk gone solid.
Bad, bad. Like the night with no lights
that glimmer and sputter, no good to see,
because things are never as they seem.
They refract as in a mirror or a prism,
not wanting to see the shadows following each of us to the final light
and on that street was what we were looking for.

At theWine and Art event at the Figge Museum

In retrospect, at the museum
I found a purple fish in a glass.
It's a bass in that glass. A bass, bass, bass, bass.
Spring is here with flowers, bugs, and sunshine
with many raindrops to make the flowers grow.
The sunshine burst through the rain-drenched leaves,
casting a dappled pattern of shadow on the fresh-mowed grass,
She twirled defiantly
in her glitter high-heels.
She is unstoppable.
But then she stops.
She wonders why she has never thought to quit before.
A voice in her head made her drive on.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Exquisite corpses and the politics of Surrealism

Helena Lewis wrote an excellent book called Dada Turns Red: The Politics of Surrealism, in which she goes into a thorough analysis of the history of Surrealism's politics. Towards the end of the book, on page 173, she makes an excellent case for Surrealism, writing that:

"The Surrealists, in their collective and anonymous art forms, succeeded in creating an anti-elitist art that acquired a new social meaning. Their belief that talent is irrelevant and that everyone has creative potential in his [sic] unconscious, could be a perfect vehicle for a truly revolutionary art. That the official art of a Party dedicated to revolution should be merely an adaptation of a nineteenth century bourgeois aesthetic is an irony that has become increasingly apparent."

I love this quote an in fact, I am thinking of making it into postcards or t-shirts or something that I can give out at readings and at classes. This is the impetus behind the exquisite corpse, which is a group-created poem, and the reason that I use them so much whenever I can.

I am publishing some in Karawane and I am going to publish some on the blog as well, both that are in the journal and some that are not. This is one that is not, that we created on June 19th. Someone was reading poems by Gerard de Nerval, Baudelaire, Poe, etc., and so I included some words and lines in my part when it came my turn, just using parts of the line I was hearing at the time. (That is also Surrealist and avant-garde inspired!)

Escape west to find yourself
and young men to lose themselves
never to be forgotten always to be remembered
the cries of the children lost in the night.
O' sacred moonlight scatter not fearful of the noise
that arose out of the stars, monsters roaring on their hind legs
soaring above their hideous selves reaching eyes outward
reaching, touching the sun, burning his fingers
he nearly died from the heat
desperate salvation and horizon mirages.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

New Issue Cover, Featured Authors, and Samplers


We are finalizing ads for the magazine and sending out writer's contracts soon and will have a new issue out hopefully within a month. Featured in this issue will be poetry, fiction, and nonfiction/academic work by:

X. H. Collins
Cody Sanderson
Sal Marici
Aubrey Barnes
Melanie Hanson
Farah Marklevits
Margie Mejia Caraballo 
Thomas McKay
Laura Winton
Misty Urban
Kenneth Darland
Michael Thomas Kelly
Megan Lee

We will also feature photos from our participation in 100,000 Poets for Change from 2014 and 2016, from our Coin-Op semi-monthly open mic, and some Exquisite Corpses written around town.

We want to thank our advertisers so far, The Artery, Theo's Java Club, Spellbound, and the Midwest Writing Center for their contributions. We want to thank Quad City Arts for their ArtsDollars grant, Neighborhood Laundromat for letting us use their space for the Coin-Op Readings, and Western Illinois University for their participation in 100,000 Poets for Change as well as copying and posting our color flyers for Coin-Op.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Anti-Gravity by Danielle Billington

Anti Gravity

To live and be loved by shooting stars and by gravity.
Pleading, violent and full repressed, please, feel noctuary
manipulations, silvery wet wantings and dreamings, ambiguity.

Ideas, images of sound become your hush lullaby actuality.
Silent silvery white…such beautiful and temporary…
To live and be loved by shooting stars and by gravity.

Thrashing in the dark underneath covers, reaching for affinity
out and falling, reaching out and ending, binary
manipulations, silvery wet wantings and dreamings, ambiguity.

You are my dying dream falling and floating-anti gravity
the hundredth story, hitting the hard concrete of your leaving.
To live and be loved by shooting stars and by gravity.

Deep and abiding dying dream falling and floating-anti gravity.
Heart spiraling echoes decrease my hearts murmur,
to live and be loved by shooting stars and by gravity.

Growing thinner, tiny loops of repeating energy, atomicity
blowing words, hush …
To live and be loved by shooting stars and by gravity.
Manipulations, silvery wet wantings and dreamings, ambiguity.

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Want to be on the Karawane blog, and conseqently on our FB page too? Then you need to submit some work to us! Quad City Writers, the deadline is December 31st and we need to see some more work from you all! Send us the most experimental writing you have. The work itself needn't have been performed in pubic yet, just so long as you have stood up the mic and read somewhere (or everywhere) before. If you haven't -- it is supposed to be warm this weekend. Grab some relatives after holiday dinner and go out to the park and DECLAIM your poetry to the world!

Keep looking to the Facebook page as well. Karawane, Garage 3, the Figge Art Museum, and the Midwest Writing Center all will have more opportunities for you to read your work publicly! Contact Rozz Toxx or Theo's and set up a reading and then let us know. We will be there! With bells on to accompany you! =8-)

For those of you outside the Quad Cities, we will be accepting submissions soon as well from you!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Up, Down, Sideways, Across by Ann Chandler

This is a piece I particularly liked. We published it in a previous issue (#6 or #7?) Check out the back issues on the website at to see the whole piece.

Up, Down, Sideways, and Across

Ann Chandler, Wayne, NJ


Needless to say, I think we all need less to say, since mind takes over voice, takes over Length, that stretches and circles, what goes around comes around to the last sound set for beginning, for ending, into nothing, rushing in and out of mouth to lower regions, to lower meanings of self, of body, and I’m not listening to his philosophy, his curiosity on a meaningless subject merging into lessons and sayings, so I’m near the end, nearing water, bordering the edge to test my acts, so let me uncover my underneath, my underside, where we’ll all being kept here to die, but I’m alive, prime, so I’m going to stop repeating . . .

You know where to find me if you need me. Up close, close, personal, hiding behind the first line.

II. Breast

I could never brush up against the wind and transcend many things of the above and the beyond, and wave this magic wand to hope for the best, and pretend I never knew this mess, this breast that hangs over my shoulder, and some men call if my four leaf clover, the luck, the life it brings to this world, and feeds the soul in order to grow to full potential, a special body a human, not a zombie, that heart beats 190 times a minute and stop in a second and signal the gods to touch the stripping of something inside of me, when she said it’s probably something you ate, or faked, I don’t believe so. This bra holds them together to make them look better, but no one appreciates their true form, their scorn, the precious milk they deliver to the child, the lover, the pillar. The production of a machine that switched on and off when carrying a son or a daughter, how true, a miracle, although some may use it against her, a weakness, a taunt, but the breast never talks.


They e-mailed me and said my opinion wasn’t worth anything, and I should tone it down. So they kept me from getting inside the question. Where is my freedom? Where am I living so honestly conformed to their thinking, and I’m not beginning to settle my reasons for their happiness, their seriousness, and I’m weightless of all that is calm. Like mother earth, I don’t watch what I say so I’m put away, in the back of rooms. What makes us so important? The fact we mock our homeland, our home, the land we were born on, and I’m stepping outside the question, I’m stepping outside the question beside my thin short body that was once somebody, that was once one body and they tell me I should hide my mind . . .

They told me my opinion wasn’t worth anything, wasn’t worth any thing . . .

I am not a thing.

IV. The Night Before

Falling to the sound of a rhythm
Like a movement is a liquid
I am one two motions crumbling to the beat of a woman
To the drums pounding to the sound of a call
To a scream
The light a simple beam
Word, have you heard
The jokes, the smell of smoke
Treating my like a toy
The boy a symbol of survival
The woman a test to his ability to walk to talk
To wash out the connection to the belly of the dog who does tricks for his master
I am not his or his weapon to use against the outside world
Do I have a name?
People walking around me
My contractions closer and closer together
Can I hold his hand without people saying I am his?
Like my body was a thing
I am, she, real, trying to scream can he wonder why I love him?
Can he wonder where I’ve been the night before?


When there’s no source of knowledge or this garbage which I produce from top to bottom over emotion down into cellars where dwellers dwell, on things, stupid things, over some things that I can only hope to trace to embrace many of what stand and pick colors and perfect lovers that hold up to expectation, and we can reason like we can tell our favorite season, like spring, like winter, something colder, something better than sitting, than staying in a town where nobody loves you or those who cover your eyes from these bruises from these choices that have been made by ducks and geese, that kill and ask where is peace, and I ride and spray these sayings to the next working man where there is no lawyer to guide you through this unwanted land.


They wonder why we hate certain things when rings are forced onto fingers, where dinners serve to congratulate our ties, our lives together, joined by a letter which expresses our love and honor for one person, and we place them in white dresses and black tuxes over the alter, waiting, expecting them to say I do to the rest of their life just to fill a place in society where normal is viewed as the American Dream, and our mothers and fathers water color our fate with that one special mate, and then we fly out in spite of our wings . . .

They wonder why we hate certain things.