Carcinogenic Poetry Recap No. 3

Just Like Edgar Allen Poe’s Blues

I found my heart wandering
the streets of Baltimore,

raving unintelligibly,

dressed in someone else’s clothes.
It was coming from a funeral,

or going to one,
and when I failed to ask whose,

it was gone.

But, all these years later,
mere acquaintances

continue to receive letters
begging for $10 for the fare home.


All That Was Lost Is Returned

The TV was broken,
but my father kept turning the dial.

There was something he wanted
to watch that night.

At the kitchen table my mother
was drawing in her eyebrows.

Children I knew from school
lurched down the road

in the front of our house
with suitcases held together by rope.

It wasn’t dark, and then it was,
and the flames swayed

despite the lack of wind.
The poet gestured to me to follow him

over the high railing of the bridge.
I looked around for help.

A woman stood on the corner
with her hip thrust out.

Six years passed in a minute.
Such things are true if you believe them



Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of 11 previous poetry chapbooks, including Still Life with Firearms (2009, Right Hand Pointing), Visiting the Dead (2009, Flutter Press) and My Heart Draws a Rough Map (2009, The Blue Hour Press). He has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and four times for the Best of the Net anthology. His first full-length book of poetry, Lovesick, was released in 2009 by Press Americana.

Originally published in Carcinogenic Poetry on December 5, 2009. 

The VGP Flashback #2


The heart is an organ of fire.

Layers of defenses
peel away, rice
paper shredded
beneath heat metal hands,
lightening glass sparks.
You unearth the hollow beneath my heart,
once constricted.
Make it blossom full-petaled…
A flower fed on tears flames
to life, too intense for restraint.
The edge of your fingers
fillet my skin,
a subtle knife of sighs.
Confessions, revelations evoked
upon this stage, a cross,
the one of earth and matter,
as the alchemists speak.
Escaping earth-bound
rules, you form
of us a torch,
a sculpture
of conjoined flame that
enlightens the universe,
dares binary dying stars
to burn us alive.


“Vulnerable” was written by Gail Gray and originally published in her chapbook Storms at the Edge, released by Virgogray Press in 2010.


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Carcinogenic Poetry Recap No. 2


The first time I met David, he bit me.

I am standing outside the hospital, the old gates to the hospital, Victorian arches, that are lonely left, un-instituted, and substituted by modern housing, housing us, separately, Barrat-barracked solitude. David is with me, he stands near me, still nervous after twenty years away. Today is supposed to be a celebration. We’ve come to show him that Grove Park, that dark Victorian bedlam has gone. It is not a celebration. It is a dancing on graves, brave laughter of the survivors of the system, cistern pumped and thumped so many times it blunted, became blunt. We are blunt in our un-feeling, our, oh so revealing, blindness to what is right before our eyes, is wrong before our eyes.

The first time I met David, he bit me.

I am standing outside the hospital and I at least smile, my wry-dry-trying-to-be-empathetic-turning out pathetic smile. This is his pain not mine. I cannot borrow it to look good. I shouldn’t even try, but I do. Twenty five years of ward-ridden bored-written boredom are his to forgive. He does not. He remembers the beatings and the rapes, the hunger and the hurt, the lies to his parents, when they came, if they came. We all hid him, hid from him, like that aunt you never spoke of, choked on the Christmas cards your mother sent; poor recompense for the unvisited, the forgotten.

The first time I met David, he bit me and called me “nurse”. He had a fear of tall men with glasses. The care plan said…”Autism is his world, you are the uninvited guest. Learn to speak his language”. I have never read a better “Care Plan”.

I am standing outside the hospital, and David turns and takes my hand. He wants to leave, not touch me. I understand. We go. And that is the end of it. The taking of stock, the paying of debts for a social work system that never even knew. These are his pains, his wounds, and I am grateful they are his, to forgive, let go….or know forever.

The first time I met David, he bit me.

I can see why.

Si Philbrook lives in Brighton (UK) and is married with two kids. His day job is working with people with learning disabilities. As a poet he has been published online and in print in various journals and e-zines including: Poetry Monthly (UK), The Recusant, Eviscerator Heaven, Heroin Love Songs, The Copeland Love Poems Collection, LIT UP MAGAZINE, The Argus Newspaper, Cherry Picked Hands, The Plebian Rag, and others.

Originally published on December 3, 2009 at Carcinogenic Poetry.