Mark Tulin was born in Philadelphia and currently lives in Santa Barbara, California. He worked many years in the field of mental health gaining valuable insights that often play out in his poetry and short stories. His poetry is noted for finding richness in the lives of the neglected and downtrodden. He has published in Page & Spine, smokebox, Vita Brevis, The Drabble, Amethyst Review, Amaryllis Poetry, among others. His poetry chapbook, Magical Yogis, was published by Prolific Press in 2017. Links to his work can be found at www.crowonthewire.com. .
It’s a bright sunny day outside.
Inside her childhood memories are slipping away,
sinking deeper and deeper into electricity.
In this burning psychedelic daydream,
her cerebellum’s doing backflips and somersaults,
spinning rooms with fading hopes.
She sees the doctor’s dark eyes through the fog,
his hand twisting her fate with every turn,
her body convulses like a flapping salmon.
She bites down on the rubber mouthpiece,
her only anchor in this barbaric delight.
Smoke rings rising to the top,
brain cells flicker like a flashing traffic light,
high pitched voices of opera singers,
black swans floating on muddy rivers.
Her body smells of smouldering rubber.
Her soul tells her never to give up.
Hobby Horse Dreams
In my mind,
I’m still a little cowboy
sitting on a wooden
on my parents' shag
I could barely walk upright
and only knew a few words
like mommy, daddy and
ice-cream on good days.
I wore a ten-gallon hat,
slipped into a pair of Tony Lamas,
and pulled up my Wrangler jeans.
I rode the dusty canyon path
and played my guitar,
heated up weenies on an open
I rocked my wooden
under a Montana full moon,
down the dusty roads,
up the rocky inclines
chasing cattle rustlers
and men on
Most Wanted posters.
I could ride forever in my mind,
I could lasso up all the
calves and steers I could find.
I could capture all the bad guys,
put them behind bars
and still be ready for dinnertime.
Grandpa Drinking Tea
Grandpa puts a Lipton teabag in the cup
and drinks tea while looking out the window
in the house that he built.
He told me a story about how he endured the desert heat,
how he woke up early in the morning
and supervised a hundred men doing highway work.
Grandpa drinks tea while munching on a sugar cookie,
looks out the window at his big, yellow flowers
and daydreams about his long life in Spanish.
He told me about how the dam once broke,
how the water poured into the valley and flooded Santa Paula,
how he survived the flood that carried many of his friends away.
He told me about the Mexican woman he married in Arizona,
how they won all kinds of money at a Las Vegas casino,
how they drove back and forth in their Buick LeSabre.
The story about his life is simple but honest.
He woke before sunrise and did hard work,
his fingers are old and bony where there once was strength.
Grandpa takes the last sip of his tea from the cup,
closes his eyes
and daydreams about his long life in Spanish.
Dreams Like Vinaigrette
Every time I eat exotic food,
I get weird dreams.
It must be the person
who prepares the meal,
A short order cook, perhaps
with wide hands
and stubby fingers
or the sous chef
with a furrowed brow
and a ponytail.
The cook's life experiences:
fears, family circumstances,
relationships that have gone sour,
successes and failures,
crimes of narrow escape.
Or perhaps those hot love affairs
that have managed to enter my belly
in the form of Swedish meatballs
or a Chinese salad with a sweet vinaigrette.
The food seems to bare the essence
of the cook who prepares it,
as if the person’s blood were circulating
through the Bouillabaisse.
The meal is in my dreams
climbing up a steep wall,
accidentally stepping into
dark, forbidden halls.
As the cook stands over the stove
and tosses the vegetables into a wok,
I could hear his whole life sizzle
He struggles to catch up
with those who seem
to be further along,
skims the rim of a cereal bowl,
tiptoes across the yellow line.
Up all night,
awake like a blinking strobe light
He slides down a slippery pole
greased in his own body fat,
trying to figure out the world
through a plastic Sippy straw.
frazzled nerves and sizzled hair
the master of intellectual
the world’s foremost authority
comes up with the cure,
writes the best novel,
and has the answer to life’s
Cycling between good and evil,
he believes he’s a God,
a hero, a devil,
Conks out right on the red Target ball,
believes that jumping off a cliff
with paper wings and goggles
would be a credible solution,
retribution, salvation, absolution--
Even a colonic cleanse.
Marc Carver writes poetry and tries to be nice to people because he can do very little else.
SITTING ON THE DOCK OF THE BAY
I listened to Ottis on the radio
yelled out the song as people came past
must have thought I was some kind of lunatic
but I did not care
the way I have always not cared
even when I was at rock bottom
some people do not get up
but day after day
up I get like the man off the cross
nothing can stop me
I keep finding this poem on the floor
it tells of a different time
of a person sure he was different from everybody else
So sure he risked everything
I am not sure I am the same person on that page
but at least I still believe
The woman came up to me at the party
at which I did not have a ticket
She asked me who I was
asked if I was in insurance
no I could never do that I tell her
as I held her hand she said
you walk up and down here not talking to anybody
as if you were an angel.
And for a second I really thought it could be possible
she asked for her hand back shortly after that
then I started to dance and the night really took off
A BOAT AFLOAT
there she goes
the one with the big botty
around and around she goes
like nothing else or no one else.
I find that with all women
none are the same as another one
perhaps that is why I want them all
even at the same time would be good
we could live in a skyscraper
that touches the clouds but with all the doors and walls knocked out
like a giant car park
or a giant ark floating on the endless sea.
Just me and my girls and all that love to keep us afloat
I walked into the church a woman was playing the piano
I went over to her and told her that she played lovely
She told me it was Tchaikovsky and then she told me her wedding was tomorrow
and why didn't I come
I never went to her wedding but a few days later I went back to the church and thought about playing the piano not that I can play of course
when I went over to the piano there was no piano almost as if that magical moment had never happened