I Wonder about Virginia Woolf: A Broken Sonnet

by John Guzlowski

Once she said, “Writing is like sex.
First you do it for love,

then you do it for your friends,
and then you do it for money.”

So why did she walk into the water,
Had the writing stopped?

Was she dreaming less
at the desk in her room?

Did she realize she was only
writing for the money?

And the money was paper
no ink could change?

Probably not.

In My Dreams

by John Guzlowski

There are no people, just things
like cars and trees and sometimes
a highway but no people.

Not my wife Linda
or my daughter Lillian
or my grand-daughter Lulu,
not even my mother or father
or my sister who is still alive
and lives in Chicago.

Sometimes in my dreams
I’ll be walking on a city street,
probably Chicago where I grew up,
and there will be cars
driving past me slowly,
and I’ll try to see who’s driving
but I can never make it out.

Not that there are people in the car,
there aren’t even shadows.

The cars seem to be moving
on their own. Slowly.

I walk and see
gardens and flowers,
grass here and there,
more buildings, but no people.

Is this what hell will be like?

Maybe it’s heaven.

Jean Paul Sartre said hell
is other people. So this
may be heaven.

Empty streets.

A lonely place.

Selfish Poem

by John Guzlowski

Let me tell you something:
I rise early. Fall asleep fast.

As soon as my head
Hits the pillow, I’m gone.

I don’t dream often
But when I do
Either God is a major figure
Or there is sorrow and snow
In my dreams.

Once I rode my bike
Into four lanes
of Chicago traffic
By accident,
And my past and future
Were there before my eyes.

I could talk about that moment
For hours.

A Poem about Teeth and Death

by John Guzlowski

These teeth are sharp
Made of stone and wire

The first men used them
To kill the first women

Sorrow then descended
Like sundown
On the sweet world

Wisdom became

Humor became the lies
We tell our mothers

Killing made
The killing men lighter

Feathers in the hands
Of their friends

Killing made
The dying women heavier

A chain of words in the hands
Of their friends

This is what the words
Of the dying women said:

Tell them
We have met

On the plains
Of summer

And left there
What we loved best

The heavy spoons
The full wooden bowls

The aprons that kept
Blood from our throats.

Tell them
Dying is a virtue

A song without words
Hummed by

The first child
Of the first man

Who killed
The first woman

With his stone
And wired teeth.

(on the hx and deleterious effects of) Advertising

by Joseph D. Reich


they appear to glamorize
the flimsy and mediocre
in our tv commercials


they always look so alive, satisfied,
and contented over their smartphones


who was it phyllis diller the old brilliant neurotic comedienne
ironically said present-day television with its myriad of constant
flashing images (its flooding of sound bites and nonstop
distractions) actually makes her feel agitated and nervous


(sound effects and special effects in no way
shape or form special or effective, merely recycled
and formulaic, and diluting the overall baseline for
independent thinking, perception, and imagination


turning them all into idiots
keeping the zombies talking)


van gogh sliced off his ear
for all the right reasons


all the wrong people got famous


tesla found muttering to himself on the steps
of the ny public library the night they were giving
out awards to thomas edison and his old cronies


likewise the projected and perceived social and cultural baseline
(having been over-exposed, manipulated, and supersaturated)
has backfired due to the fact that everything is so objectified
no longer having the ability towards perceiving or analyzing


in the late-afternoon when we used to watch cartoons
now commercials of very earnest down-to-earth women
matter-of-factly explaining their issues during intercourse


whimsical caucasian middle-aged couples
and their sweeping scenarios acting all
romantic and liberated as they apparently
found a breakthrough to his erectile dysfunction


reality shows deliberately set up for physical
and emotional and histrionic confrontations
and showdowns with contrived shallow
reactions (which got its derivation
from the ghetto) to try and trigger a reaction
as they all have the exact same cookie
cutter gestures and body language


5 ways you can cry
(you can sigh
you can lie)

to manipulate the reality audience
so they might sensitively join in
in this life-changing transition
as well as force a catharsis
and boost television ratings


they say that clinically, instinctively,
you cannot remain angry for more
than 12 seconds. i beg to differ!


a matter of fact would like to perform a clinical study
to exhibit and prove how tv (no longer sure if the pre-quota
of affected and made-up computer-generated violence is for
a movie or video game and if that would even matter) can trigger
post-traumatic stress disorder and multiple forms of retraumatization


push ‘the citizen,’ ‘the common man’
over the edge, but they always
refuse to go to the hard data


as our great leaders
watch the same tragedies
repeat themselves over and over again


the self-fulfilling prophecies, self-deprivation,
self-mutilating, and self-destructive behaviors


(so you were in this calm state, feeling great,
trying to get things straight, and literally got
to mute it and turn the opposite direction
so as not to jump straight out your skin)


what happened to the ole time exhibitionist
in his trenchcoat (with his sudden and spontaneous
machinations) who tried to turn on a flock of women?


fdr used to stand up in front of the crowds
and tv cameras to give a good impression

Shot 43

by David L. Paxton

Grab and hold. Cicadas sing at your silver feet flat over cut grass and shuffled rock. There’s pride in those pores. Be perfectly sure when the ledgers are marked the proper pugilist is always announced, carrying night in the eyes, legitimizing certain travels. Fingers tire, but never refuse a task; they lift clothes from the floor, open doors, flip off a single Caucasian, place alcohol to the lips. In the forest of creative need, no knees bare scrapes, but the palms are beat to hell.

Shot 42

by David L. Paxton

Doors slide condensing light, water warbling from one grab-n-go display to the other, cut aku browning as day ages. Can purple aprons. Tuck yellow tags. Labels last only once, then spoilage sets in and everyone is sent home as the breakers short. Squat hours cock jaws open to close, scattering legs with feet attached at the knees. Good thing for security, blue shirts that never break the entrance. Too many claim guidance and there’s not enough hands in the biscuit tin.