~the magazine~

November 2008                                                                                                                                                                         issn 1488-0048

It's another month and that means another issue of abovegroundtesting.   I have to confess, the last month was a crazy one for me, if you read my blog, you can read of some of the issues I had to deal with. However, things are getting better and I have to confess, there is some great poetry with this issue.  It is always a pleasure to read the works of old friends and new friends.  

I received a number of compliments with the interview of Christopher Barnes, if you missed, look up issue 115.  He is truly a fascinating individual and it is my pleasure to include him in the past issues of the ezine.

I do have a special announcement, but more of that towards the end of the issue,  let's get reading some poetry:


The first poet is Debora Short.  You will notice I've included some photographs from her blog.  She has taken some amazing pictures of nature and I invite you to enjoy them and to go to her blog for more photographs.

Charleston Salt Flats
Periwinkle dusk cradled in meringue-d moon -
Beams with tinged sun-drops each echoing its own
Crooning –love for day’s sweet end, far-flung skinny oaks
And ocher-ed waves of spindly marshes dance in the
Salty drink, architectural perspectives paint
The gentleness of each sentry’s uniform
Tenderly embracing reflection-ed  wetness
Slowly emptying the tendril-ed  ribbon-ed
Salty streams outward into the great Atlantic
Wilds, divided sepias outline the punctuat-
Ing dance with kisses of our entwined enchantment
Charleston salt flats welcoming lovers hungry souls


Spinning Wind



Oh whom do you spin for spinning wind

In that pearl-ied-violet sky, do


You spin in candid play amusing

Those finely- drawn lemon- lime leaves?


A lovely compliment sketched

Subtle lines and colored inks


Hand and eye carefully re-

Constructing their dichotomous


Grace, do you spin soft humid streams

Honeysuckle-d charisma


To delight and inebriate

Those newly emerged white pea


Petals or do you seek to bounce

At knee newly fledged fauna


In the sycamore trees, Oh whom

Do you spin for spinning wind do


You simply tango in rhythm

With heady-scented wild rose, un-


Tamed sister soul, delicious

Filled blossoms waving with good cheers


Oh whom do you spin for spinning wind?



.A Precocious November-ed Grey Sky

Sky a precocious November-ed
Gray, laced with threads of cadet blue
Dark billowed clouds angled half below
Majesty’s now, golden English Mountain
The rest billowing into the grayed heavens
Sheared weak thermal stratifications
Yet, an extraordinary touchable
String to Trinity’s atmospheric heart
Chestnut’s Hills dressed warmly in fall hues
Adorn her feet in shades of gold and red
Cedars’ sweetly scented evergreen presence 
Connects head and heart to everlasting life
Delicate laced limbs reach high above
Revealing the occasional straggler
Now, a striking golden contrast against
A promised wintering grayed sky
Black walnut trees' citrus-y scented globes
Drop and hide amongst the scattered crackling leaves
Mr. Gambol’s crepe myrtles now neon-ed, brilliant
Orange like Love’s light - filled radiant face
Steep yellowed hills all so freshly cut
Earth’s bounty carefully squirreled away
Winters nourishment gathered with our
Most mortal hands while singing praise above


all photos reprinted with permission.

Debora Short

Debora Short has returned to school to become a doctor!  Send her an email to encourage her in this endeavour.  She also has a poetry anthology, " O What a Tangled Web", from PoetsofMars.

Philip Ellis is our next poet.   I thought, with the events of November 4th, the first poems gives us an idea of how far society has come.  

Popular Song at Dusk

In the United States, two of the most popular songs of the 1890s were called "Every Nation Waves a Flag Except the Coon" and "All These Coons Look Alike to Me."

The dusk is coming. Over
the dream of Providence, the
autumn eve is hovering.

The windows of the parlour
are wide open to weave in
the warm autumn breeze. Awake,

the curtains breathe like whiteness
against the dark inside. As
a passing black drives on by.

Drifting out, what sounds a fine
voice--the Lovecraft child's--sings "All
these Coons Look Alike to me."

And yet there is nobody,
at street, window, door, to see
the look upon the black's face,

still, as only can a pond
accustomed to being stricken
by many a fierce-thrown stone.


A Free Verse Villanelle

Ferns, tattooed green and cleanly
against the rhymes of summer inland
banks, sway in the breeze off the creeks.

There is something to be said
for the imprint, against eyes, of
ferns, tattooed green and cleanly

underneath the jarrah that,
over, in turn, snakes drinking along
banks, sway in the breeze off the creeks.

In certain isolated hill and valley townships,
the sparse buildings are
ferns, tattooed green and cleanly:

the people, in country pubs
and in country stores and country
banks, sway in the breeze off the creeks.

And I think them--people, caught in the bushlands of time,
buildings, enveloped by trees and greenery,
ferns, tattooed green and cleanly,
banks, that sway in the breeze off the creeks.


24 February 1989

Now that you are adult,
in the eyes of some,
the significance of the date
leached to air, what not?

This is, after all, an arbitrary number,
like eighteen or twenty-one
or forty-two, a marker
in the dog-eared diary
that is called life.

And you don't feel the change,
and you don't feel much more
than sixteen or eighteen,
after all.

And there is a part of you,
nine more years of this life
and you will be dead but adult.

Never dreaming that this is delusion,
you mark that fatal natal day,
that is lying in the future
like a promise you will keep repeatedly.

And never foreseeing the changes
and the opportunities to come,
the loss of friends
and the making of new ones.

Never foreseeing this:
that the certainties of this day
are hollow and air,
echoing yet resonant.



Time was, this was my summer world when my
summer world extended from sea to escarpment

under a cloudless sky, and this was
my other world when it was a town

that hung under winter fogs, and the
warmer hazes of fires in the tips

that burnt orange at night, smoke occluding
the sun, like the steam from a Yallourn

later no longer living, or
extant beyond a water-filled hole

in the ground, not unlike the vision or
dream my brother held of suburbia

as a desolate waste
and waste of space and time,

when there was the big smoke,
aka Melbourne, to attend to

with its inner-city life, even
if that life died and was fossilised

every Sunday, considering that
it was, then, still the mid-Seventies.


Nothing Less Important

Listening, in a sleepless night, to the turn of the Fountains
of Rome, waiting, patient, for daybreak, and the need to get up
out of a weary bed, she has come to a realisation
that she would not say in so many words, knowing speech falters.

At the end of her vigil, before stretching, before getting
up to essay a night-poem at the computer, she murmurs
a turn towards the clock, to gauge its ruby time that whispers
upon the edges of her thoughts. It is within the morning.

But the sun has not risen. She is yawning. No sleep enters
her veins, and the music is supplanted by applause crowning
the performance with laurels. Then the announcer speaks, breaking
her fast from voice with a warm softness. But she does not listen.

How often have you lain thus at night, listening, turning
in your sleeplessness-seasoned bed? Before you answer, with guess
of times and number, think on her lying, within her sleepless
bed. This is the way it is, sometimes, nothing less important.

Phillip A. Ellis is an external student studying English Honours at the University of New England. One collection of his poetry has been published by Gothic Press(http://www.gothicpress.com/), and another will be published by Hippocampus Press; his concordance to the poetry of Donald Wandrei has also been published by Hippocampus Press (http://www.hippocampuspress.com/other/collected-poetry-and-prose-poems-of-donald-wandrei.html).
He is the editor of AustralianReader.com(http://australianreader.com/index.php),and Similax (http://similax-poetry.blogspot.com/).
His webpage is at http://www.geocities.com/phillipellis01/

Felino Soriano brings us these works.  

Trumpet's Many Tongues # 5
—after Impressions – Roy Hargrove's Solo

Traced by bound to imitation,
the disregard for
nourishment toward the aspectual
self, the mirror's architect of image-
fastened posing, several
oscillating fingers regarded
for artistic merit, take by way
of neurotic underlining of outside
influence.  Many
paintings, the landscape variety
vary only slightly, for the horizon always
hugs the invisible line of mountain or
oceanic ambulation.  Self the musical
disposition, the variety of sounds by
bodily content: steps, stares, serenading
day's collective criticisms—
these paraphrased entities
enhance cooperative outlooks
toward unspoken diversions,
the exact pleasures shifting the mind
toward duplicated desires.

Trumpet's Many Tongues # 6
—after It Never Entered my Mind – Miles Davis

Voice concepts, the heard
and intertwining all that extends
into language, the severed
whose leaving of existence offers
fitting into ideal documentation.
Why the mind closes onto certain
selves, the dusting off of adherence
to newly fashioned ideals—
everything remains or lands where
notions arise in fathom.

Trumpet's Many Tongues # 13
—after I'll Remember April – Sean Jones

The alibi of being elsewhere,
hoping to reconcile
with copacetic moments, day's
promise of assumption-based
thought, where time disappears into
fabricated doors of the mind's many
uncovered rooms, —here hides
in tonal, total display of Spring's
many bathing opportunities, requesting
colors to rise into authoritative beings,
erasing the white of Winter's lush
yet monotonous languages.  The afterward
of April's aliveness
becomes the model shaper of intuition,
Spring's existence and the to come
cannot hide within the myriad tones of
escaping into Summer.

Trumpet's Many Tongues # 14
—after Here's that Rainy Day – Jon Faddis

Formulas spread into formational
renditions of gray cotton
sheets, hanging amid where
worshipers fix their gaze and
anonymous wants.  Slight
possession of damp dispositions,
the below becomes targets for
particular slanting of deluge, or soft
amorousness of sprinkle landing atop the
head's hairy fabric.  Wide is the
territory beneath the lowering
ceiling, sliding the imagination of sky
conversing with man, exchanging with
reclusive personas,
ways in which the two species
can avoid chitchat, topical compensation
for drought's unending breaths of overheated

Trumpet's Many Tongues # 22
—after Footsteps – Terence Blanchard

outside of previous understanding to
iridescent proximity, creatures crawl
the multi-walls of air's silent architecture,
within sculpture activities,
standing still only to invite
light to follow path making
Creatures in the making mode of
technical survival, the teeming form
asthmatic winds
among the erected symbols
of imaginative protocol.   
Everything which visits
in walking connotations, the alabaster
tone of air's skin
magnifies ability of
fashionable journeys,
appearing adjacent to
excepted newness,
the society of laughter
highlighted in chrome halos,
wandering where historical
steps conjure attraction to
reacting to beckon.

Biography Note:

Felino Soriano (California) is a philosophy student and case manager working with developmentally and physically disabled adults.  He is the author of a chapbook "Exhibits Require Understanding Open Eyes" (Trainwreck Press, 2008) and an E-book "Among the Interrogated" (BlazeVOX [books], 2008).  A chapbook is also forthcoming "Feeling Through Mirages (Shadow Archer Press). The juxtaposition of his philosophical studies with his love of classic and avant-garde jazz explains his poetic stimulation.  Website: www.felinosoriano.com

A new poet to this ezine, Constance Stadler.  Do read her biography as well as her poems.  She is part of an amazing ezine.  I will include the link.

World Geometry


Disembodied midnight

Obsolescence of obscenities

Happy Jesus eBay bargain

Another tango

            Of political remorse.


I believe in the sky

Elongated rectangles

In mottled, motley hues.

And trapezoids of geese

Protracting necks to

Cry their course

Of Pythagorean perfection.

The concrete rhombus

Offering rooms by the hour

Gives familiar compass

To inane vagaries.


"Us" is not a polygon

And therefore does not fit

In a universe

Of perfectly closed figures

So perfectly encased

In the singular


Of cyclic circular time.


The Toothache


Odours of cloves

   frescoes the corridors

           of my pained passage.

                     Like touch of Jesus

            a tongued impress

            on condemned incisor


            changes nothing.



Flecks of notions

speckle existentialist obscura


Textual glosses

of inspiration dwindle

into simulation

of a simulation.



Vicodin miasma

imbues vapours of bleached

                   cream of wheat


with metaphoric potency

        of enameled detrium.



the last arabian night


   Tall cedars

emanate earthen


                     where are you?

with musky incense,

cinnamon and mint.

                     my beloved


A solitary oud

   plucked by

                   still warm

ornamented fingers 

                   still warm

   sings a sad

   uncertain song    

to the scarlet dying sun.


Without warning

the calm opacity

  of old Lebanon

     burns red

      with fire

and new blood.


As dark eyes


behind silken veils.

                   Allah calls you    

The olive tree

 burns black.

                    wa alaikum




Biographical Note: Constance Stadler is the co-editor of the e-zine "Eviscerator Heaven". Her most recent work appears in Ditch, ken*again, Pen Himalaya, Clockwise Cat, Gloom Cupboard and other places. As a political anthropologist specializing in North Africa and a violinist, her influences are multiform. Work in formative years with the late poet Gwendolyn Brooks was seminal, but no less so than Sufi Dervish dancers, and the challenges of mastering Bruch's first concerto. Issue 4 can be found here.

Robert Demaree comes with these poems for us to read:



On the way to work

A sign in someone’s yard,

A slab of plywood

Painted in broad, unlettered strokes:

Free Kinlin.

Who is Kinlin, I wonder at a light,

What blue night-sticked authority

Has he faced down?

Did some Durham Five espouse a visionary cause,

Does a Committee to Free Kinlin

Twitch in nervous suits before the camera?

Alas, I am remembering a braver time.

The light changes.

A truck’s horn disturbs my reverie:

I may pick up some firewood

On the way home.





We bought our third clothes dryer this morning.

The first, long expired,

Had gently tumbled our girls’ diapers,

Its successor their school clothes

And just now their babies’ things.

The third, gleaming white box,

Will last, I fear,

The rest of our lives.





On the last day of middle age:

Our daughter’s turkey dressing,

Not to her mother’s recipe.

Walking her dog after dinner,

Joints scrape, metal against metal,

In the crystalline air,

Those sharp November days they have up there.

We drive back south in a gray rain,

Road getting harder to see.





Separate faucets,

Real tile bathtub, soiled grout:

’70s motel.


Robert Demaree is a retired educator with ties to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. His most recent collection of poems, Fathers and Teachers, was published April 2007 by Beech River Books and is available through Amazon.com.

Michael Lee Johnson has submitted these works:

Gingerbread Lady

By Michael Lee Johnson


Gingerbread lady,

no sugar or cinnamon spice,

years ago arthritis and senility took their toll.

Crippled mind movies in then out, like an old sexual adventure,

blurred in an imagination of finger tip thoughts−

who in hell remembers the characters?

There was George her lover near the bridge at the Chicago River

she missed his funeral, her friends were there.

She always made feather light of people dwelling on death.

But black and white she remembers well.

The past is the present; the present is forgotten,

who remembers?

Gingerbread lady.

Sometimes lazy time tea with a twist of lime.

Sometimes drunken time screwdriver twist with clarity.

She walks in scandals sometimes she walks in soft night shoes.

Her live-in maid smirks as Gingerbread lady gums her food,

false teeth forgotten in a custom imprinted cup

with water, vinegar, and ginger.

The maid died.  Gingerbread lady looks for a new maid.

Years ago arthritis and senility took their toll.

Yesterday, a new maid walked into the nursing home.

Ginger forgot to rise out of bed,

no sugar, or cinnamon toast.





Harvest Time

Michael Lee Johnson

(version 4 Final)


A Métis Indian lady, drunk,

hands blanketed over as in prayer,

over a large brown fruit basket

naked of fruit, no vine, no vineyard

inside¾approaches the Edmonton,

Alberta adoption agency.

There are only spirit gods

inside her empty purse.


Inside, an infant,

refrained from life,

with a fruity wine sap apple

wedged like a teaspoon

of autumn sun

inside its mouth.

A shallow pool of tears starts

to mount in native blue eyes.

Snuffling, the mother offers

a slim smile, turns away.

She slithers voyeuristically

through near slum streets,

and alleyways,

looking for drinking buddies

to share a hefty pint

of applejack wine.





Charley Plays a Tune

Michael Lee Johnson


Crippled with arthritis

and Alzheimer's,

in a dark rented room

Charley, plays

melancholic melodies

on  a dust filled

harmonica  he

found  abandoned

on a playground of sand

years ago by a handful of children

playing on monkey bars.

He now goes to the bathroom on occasion,

peeing takes forever; he feeds the cat when

he doesn't forget where the food is stashed at.

He hears bedlam when he buys fish at the local market

and the skeleton bones of the fish show through.

He lies on his back riddled with pain,

pine cones fill his pillows and mattress;

praying to Jesus and rubbing his rosary beads

Charley blows tunes out his

celestial instrument

notes float through the open window

touch the nose of summer clouds.

Charley overtakes himself with grief

and is ecstatically alone.

Charley plays a solo tune.





Cat Purrs

Michael Lee Johnson


Soft nursing

5 solid minutes

of purr

paw peddling

like a kayak competitor

against ripples of my

60 year old river rib cage--

I feel like a nursing mother

but I'm male and I have no nipples.

Sometimes I feel afloat.

Nikki is a little black skunk,

kitten, suckles me for milk,

or affection?

But she is 8 years old a cat.

I'm her substitute mother,

afloat in a flower bed of love,

and I give back affection

freely unlike a money exchange.

Done, I go to the kitchen, get out

Fancy Feast, gourmet salmon, shrimp,

a new work day begins.




Rod Stroked Survival with a Deadly Hammer

By Michael Lee Johnson


Rebecca fantasized that life was a lottery ticket or a pull of a lever,
that one of the bunch in her pocket was a winner or the slots were a redeemer;
but life itself was not real that was strictly for the mentally insane at the Elgin
Mental Institution.
She gambled her savings away on a riverboat
stuck in mud on a riverbank, the Grand Victoria, in Elgin, Illinois.
Her bare feet were always propped up on wooden chair;
a cigarette dropped from her lips like morning fog.
She always dreamed of traveling, not nightmares.
But she couldn't overcome, overcome,
the terrorist ordeal of the German siege of Leningrad.
She was a foreigner now; she is a foreigner for good.
Her first husband died after spending a lifetime in prison
with stinging nettles in his toes and feet; the second
husband died of hunger when there were no more rats
to feed on, after many fights in prison for the last remains.
What does a poet know of suffering?
Rebecca has rod stroked survival with a deadly mallet.
She gambles nickels, dimes, quarters, tokens tossed away,
living a penniless life for grandchildren who hardly know her name.
Rebecca fantasized that life was a lottery ticket or the pull of a lever.





Mother, Edith, at 98

(Version #3 Jan. 05th 2008)


In a nursing home
blinded with
macular degeneration.
I come to you,
blurred eyes, crystal mind,
countenance of grace,
as yesterday's winds
have consumed
and taken you away.
"Where did God disappear to?"
you murmur
over and over again
like running water
or low voices
in prayer:
"Oh, there He is,
angel of the coming."

Michael Lee Johnson is a poet and freelance writer from Itasca, Illinois.  He is the author of The Lost American:  from Exile to Freedom, http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?isbn=0-595-46091-7.   He has also published two chapbooks available at:  http://stores.lulu.com/poetryboy.  He is presently looking looking for a publisher for two more chapbooks.  He has been published in USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, Turkey, Fiji, Nigeria, Algeria, Africa, India, United Kingdom, Republic of Sierra Leone, Israel, Nepal, Thailand, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Finland, and Poland internet radio.  Michael Lee Johnson has been published in more than 280 different publications worldwide.  Audio MP3 of poems are available on request.


He is also publisher and editor of four poetry flash fiction sites--all presently open for submission:




Author website:  http://poetryman.mysite.com/


Special Note:  Michael Lee Johnson, United States, and Phillip Ellis, an Australian poet, are looking for a chapbook publisher for a joint venture merging free verse with more traditional verse.  Mr. Johnson has two chapbooks ready for publishing review.  Manuscripts are available on request.


Taylor Graham writes  of the lovely autumn weather.  Not quite warm enough for the fireplace.  Perhaps by now...


Afternoon, garden. Bees in a drowsy drone,
subtle opiate of a thousand blossoms.
What is the penniless niece doing? Looking
for the great god Pan asleep under azaleas,
his breath stirring the slightest rattle of a leaf.
Distant woodpecker tattoo, sails catching breeze
off the bay – as aunt and uncle sit dozing
at their reading, all that dull, ornate, romantic
rhyming, leaving the speechless niece lost
in landlubber dreams of distant oceans,
turquoise-cresting waves so far from these
shores of a secretary’s life, sailing the ship
of Family’s half-grudged gift – no, adrift on
the sweet borrowed scent of gardens.


he recalls that high-wire act, suspended
from a crane over pancaked concrete,
twisted rebar, searching for earth-
quake survivors.
And the night he spent tracking
a couple lost in the desert, far-off
highway lights like an oasis
they would never reach.
Adventures in an old man’s life
without exaggeration.

You take another sip and
pop a pistachio into your mouth.
All of that was years ago. Don’t
mention Wall Street jitters
or ask about his heart.
These days, can we be too cautious?


I’m listening to the Pastoral
, its interwoven
cuckoo’s song reminding me again
of college, those lonely walks
and lengthening reveries under
Saturn or a late September
sun; a coiled snake on the trail
from Cienega, the tang
of mountain blueberry; strolling
the Old Quarter, street musicians
on every corner and old men
ticking off the rhythm
with their canes. Is it genetic
marker or Proustian synapse
that ties these bits of life
together like first and
last notes of a symphony?

Taylor Graham

G David Schwartz  is the final poet for the issue.  Enjoy.

Sitting On A Wrinkled Fence


Sitting on a wrinkled fence

As I fall I make amends

Simply trying not to hit

Any young animal not a bit

Jumping fro a wrinkled fence

Falling on the ground

Which immediately starts to wrinkle

Without masking any sound


 I’m Gonna Have To Say I Love You


I’m gonna have to say I love you

From personality to the bone

You know that I love you

In the public as well as home

I just have to say I love you

From the morning into the night

I hope you know I love you

You make everything be right

 Yes I truly love you

From opera to the stadium

I just love just love just love you

And I never will be done

 For I love and respect you

As if you’re a gift

Yes I always will love you

From your neck to your wrist


In Honor To My Aunt Babe


I loved my great aunt Gertrude

Of that I am certain

She always got me to laugh

Whenever I was hurtin

So I studied philosophy

I went to get a PhD

And my great aunt Babe

That the name she was called

Asked me what disease it was

Of which I was a doctor.


Football Is My Favorite Sport


Football is my favorite sport

Yes I like to play it

I named me puppy football

And I did not spade it

 I have good times at the game

Watching the bump and grind

Standing up and shouting

At the tem that’s mine

Football is my favorite sport

On TV or in person

I am so sorry to say

I like it when they’re hurtin’

G. David Schwartz - the former president of Seedhouse, the online interfaith committee. Schwartz is the author of A Jewish Appraisal of Dialogue. Currently a volunteer at Drake Hospital in Cincinnati, Schwartz continues to write. His new book, Midrash and Working Out Of The Book is now in stores or can be ordered.
Check out my book on Midrash:

Closing Words

Take some time to visit a noun sing e·ratio 11 ·2008


with poetry by David Appelbaum, Donald Wellman, Mary Ann Sullivan, Joseph F. Keppler, Patrick Lawler, James Stotts, David Annwn, David Rushmer, Melanie Brazzell, Jennifer Juneau, John M. Bennett, Geof Huth, John Mercuri Dooley, Mark Cunningham, Derek Owens, Gautam Verma, and Clark Lunberry


edited by gregory vincent st. thomasino.  Another fascinating source of poetry and other literary arts.

Also, the great ezine mgv2>datura is back on the track.  Please go to:  http://mgversion2.free.fr

Now for my special announcement.  Early this year I was considering the future of abovegroundtesting and I decided that December 2008 shall be the last issue of the ezine.  Certainly the events of the past couple of months have done nothing to change my mind.  I will give a full explanation in the next issue.  But understand this, I have realized that it is simply time.  Like I said, a full explanation in the next issue.

All rights belong to the authors.  
This is issue #115.