~the magazine~

December 2008                                                                                                                                                                                       issn 1488-0024

Opening Words

You are looking at the last issue of abovegroundtesting.  As I mentioned in the November issue, I'm ending the run of the ezine with this issue.

Now I thought I would take a few moments to explain the reasoning for this conclusion.  To sum it up, it's time.  I am not ending because I'm tired of doing it, or that I no longer have the input to put an issue together, in fact I'm sure if I was to go through my mailbox, I've got enough material for a couple of issues.  If you read my blog you may think it has something to do with my recent bout of illness.  While I did spend time in the hospital, I want to say that the decision was reached a number of months before it happened.  Nor is it the case of burn-out, I still enjoy putting the ezine together, I enjoy reading all the letters I receive over a month.

No as I said, I have simply decided I've done all I can do with this ezine.  It has been a tremendous experience and now that experience will move on.  As I said, it was a couple of months earlier that I made up my mine that this would be the final issue.  If I can share a bit more, I had considered concluding the ezine with issue 100.  After all, to reach the century mark would make quite a statement, but then I thought it would be wrong to end with 100, it would be artificial, and so I thought I would go a few issues beyond.  But I had such a great time with "the summer of celebration", I felt I couldn't end with 100.  However earlier this year I sat down and considered the future, again, of abovegroundtesting.  This year was different, I knew that I would celebrate ten years of publishing and that is when I came to the conclusion  it was time to end.  I had first thought ending in August or September but I realized it would be best to end the year and to end the ezine with December.  

When I started the ezine I probably thought about the longevity of the ezine;  could I make it to issue 50?  How about 100?  Beyond perhaps?

I conclude not with exhaustion or with regret, but with joy and satisfaction.  I never thought it would reach this many and I have so many people to thank.  I can't list them all because there are simply too many.  There are past friends who were instrumental in making this a reality.  There are present friends who have been there for quite a number of issues.  I have favourites issues and its great to look at them.  I  have other issues which are not my favourites.   All I can say is 'thank you', or 'thanks for being patient'.

What does the future hold for me?  Let me say, I will still be involved with avantgardetimes.  I also plan to do some writing, I have some ideas for short stories and plays I want to get working on.  I've also got my photography, I want to develop that.  So if you think this is the last you will hear from me, you are mistaken.  I have the podcast to work on, my blogs and all that wonderful writing.

So what does 2009 have for me, a lot of things.  You can write, I will respond.

Again, thank you for all your years of sharing and friendship.


Len Bourret submitted a number of poems and other works, however, due to my lack of skills, I have to only present his poetry.  He's been a wonderful supporter:

God is Our Anchor

Dedicated to Harvey Milk, to Heath
, to Judy Garland, and to
Sean Penn.

Both at earth's golden and at Eden's
pearly gate,
God tells me to turn the other cheek,
but He must not look at what I see,
or He would not ask me to do that.
If He'd just take a closer peek,
He'd see that I feel all alone,
and things appear to be so bleak.
There is so much grief and loss,
so much devastation and life seems
to be such a travesty,
which God Himself does not attone.
Does He not feel what I feel?
Does God not hear what I say?
Although other hearts are open wide,
other minds appear to be so closed.
Everywhere, no matter at what time
or where I am,
my faith and hope, in God, I confide,
from Atlantic to San Francisco Bay,
God tells me that, if I accept Him
and put my belief and trust in Him,
that I'll be free and I'll be saved.
Why, God, do I feel so cast aside?
Why, God, do I feel so left behind?
I am no longer just a cork in the
water and floating nowhere.
I am driftwood no longer.
I am not proud, nor am I boastful,
one step backwards and unsteady,
but progressing two steps forward,
with my patience and my kindness,
I am willing and I am ready.
Yes, God loves me.
His inherent goodness tells me so.
God always guards and protects me,
and He gets me where I need to be.

Quandry of Design and Selection

God made a man, and God made a
If God wanted Adam and Steve, what
would have happened to Eve?
A square peg won't fit in a round hole.
Even if it could, we wouldn't accept it.
It's never been done.
Besides, we've never done it like that.
And, what would happen, if the round
holes began holding hands, or started
hugging and kissing?
Could we still treat round holes like
square pegs, or be forced to accept
or adapt?
Round holes don't have babies.
Round holes don't get pregnant.
Majority rules. They should act like
they're square, even when they're not.
We would prefer that the round holes
find a way to be square.
Then, they would be forced to accept
or adapt.
Round holes are round holes.
Square pegs are square pegs.
It's not our problem that the round
holes don't fit.
We don't want to be forced into
deciding whether square pegs
are round holes, or whether
round holes are square.
All square pegs are designed to fit
into female plugs.
Round holes are not designed to fit
into male plugs.
Female plugs don't have an Adam's
apple, they're supposed to be soft,
they're not supposed to be tough.
Everybody's supposed to conform.
I'm a round hole, married to a female
plug. I'm in a quandry of design and
selection, but it's only natural.
And, if it wasn't, Heath Ledger would
have married a man. 

Let's Hear It for the Turtle!

It's not about averages, numbers or percentages.
It's about fighting for what's right.
Connecticut serves as a beacon light, a rainbow
of hope and promise, for the rest of America and
the world.
With our heads held high, seeking guidance and
protection from the Highest Power in the sky,
taking one step backward, but holding steady,
taking two steps forward, making progress slowly
and surely. We're getting there.
With gay pride's flag unfurled and our determination,
we'll reach the finish line.
Because it's not about winning or losing, but how we 
run the race.
Depending on how one looks at winning, the rabbit
supposedly wins the race, but the turtle still comes
in. And, you know, there's just something so awe-
inspiring and empowering about that turtle!

Len Bourret (Copyright 2008)

Ramesh Dohan sends three works

Poetry 1 - Memories
You continue to drink my tea
As if this day is not really happening.

The olives in the fridge look at me
Tempestuously red. I pretend to yawn.

I consider a Max Jacob poem and
You sit on top of me, chewing.

Outside the sky is suspicious
And damp and wants to be smaller.

I pin to your back a paper
Fish, its ink gills flit in the breeze.

Poetry 2 - library
Your flesh is out of the question
so, twirling the pencil you left behind
until your bite aligns with mine,

I lick your fingerprints,
swallow hard,
grind yellow paint between my teeth.

Poetry 3 - Hurt
You were like this knife
I had cut myself on,

every time I saw you
the wound wanted you back

He writes of himself: "I am a poet and short fiction writer haling from the city of Vancouver, Canada. My works have been featured in the Coffee Journal, Ascent, Word riot and Southern Ocean Review."

Our next is Felino Soriano.  He wrote me such a delightful letter.


The beginning light was skeletal bare
crawling into a toward visual dust.
Congregation burst a sudden dance
of specialized circle echoes, blistering
stand still stares, monotony.

Of Human

Crowd shines voices say within depiction
of goings on, aliveness. Trueness
existential by the slanting across
welcoming faces like light sunlight.
Voices carry mimicking beautiful birds
hovering in hunt mode. Static electric
crucial exhibits science,
showing the arm of warmth
reaches realistic face to face fathom.


Of the world unexplored
visually handheld, charm dancing
amid the mind philosophically.
This beginning crawl white to unexpected
color, run to sprint ascertaining all within
comprehended allowance of
mind capacity. Of the explored change
focal points. Diverse appearances
including breath wings flap
over eye blinks enchanting the consciouses
primary grasped. Central core
walking toward harmony
innate slide forward caught by
netted burgeon.

Wing/Light Commonality

Why butterfly wings correlate so well
with undulating time walks
beneath breathing umbrellas,
ask premise built ergonomically
upon the unknown.
Newness nimble allocation of awareness
vibratory colors between
air breaths, habitual earth
homonyms, decisive wellbeing.
Migratory light norms sent
blanketing, day.

Within the Self

Sanity application brings
focus to focal intellect,
crawling through dialect with
mind voice languages overheard
in the learning aspect. Travel
hand inner hand tongue locked
a spoken self, delusion not
only self understood. Polar
one end of spectrum proclaims
northern looking to exit now
existence. Halving a life
harder than extreme once thought.
To the ascertaining self
allowance to abstract life steps
forward equates to dualism

Felino Soriano

Next is  Charles Fredrickson.  I have to include his dedication.

This poem is dedicated to Paul Gilbert, the tenacious founder and inspiration behind ABOVE GROUND TESTING, with many thanks for his generous recognition and support of aspiring poets and best wishes for continued success in his always worthwhile  author-itative ventures!



Running late smack-dab dewy kisses

Sun finally persuaded to rise

Yawning horizon crying out loud

Dawn’s early birds high-pitched chirps


                             Thinking we were we weren’t

                             Unreasonable existence striving for recognition

                             Almost but never quite knowing

                             Desperate to understand unraveled secrets


                                                            Passion flowers given cold shoulder

                                                            Crisp air exhaling frosty breath

                                                            Bellies tickled by icy fingertips

                                                            Daybreak navels turned innie outed


Crosswalk stoplight stuck on red

Amber tiger’s eyes lying in wait

Envious green on the blink

Buckling pavement flipping sewer lids


                             Once was wasn’t ever really

                             Dead man’s float sunken hope

                             Stillborn mummies wrapped in transparency

                             Embalming ointment soaking through gauze


                                                            The first of many goodbyes

                                                            Vowing allegiance to nightshade dreams

                                                            Moonbeams hiding behind own shadows

                                                            Missing stars replaced by scabs


Dr. Charles Frederickson – www.poeartry-combo.com

Robert Demaree brings these poems and concludes with a haiku dedicated to abovegroundtesting



A volunteer at the nursing home,

I clean the vinyl binders

That hold the patients’ records.

With tedium and chemicals

And a single-edged razor

I scrape away labels,

Layer upon layer,

The names of saints departed,

Those no longer with us--

Casual euphemisms

For the everydayness of death.

Red stickers marked “No Code” I leave in place,

A cryptic signal to describe

The deal struck in places like this

Between common sense and guilt.

Inside the cover is a sign-out sheet:

On some there are entries describing

Trips home for Christmas,

Rides in the country to see the dogwood.

For others the pages are as blank as the stares

In the wheelchairs that line the dayroom wall.

In case of emergency:

Here is a detailed itinerary of a niece’s trip to Europe ;

In another, a son says, “Call my boss.”

Some binders are packed with the minutiae of

Emended diets, medications,

An inventory of complaints harbored in

Querulous minds with nothing else to do.

For others a simple diagnosis,

The words few, hopeless.

I scrape on,

Deeper into the agglomerate tape and glue:

Soon the binders will be clean, neat, uniform,

Like death’s own Horatian symmetry, equity.

I come at length,

As of course I knew I would,

To my mother’s name.






I love the certainty of a Baptist funeral:

We will meet again.

Some Protestants hedge their bets:

It may be, we feel, we think, we hope

Still, absent our neighbors’ faith,

We surely have nothing to lose

From betting on the World to Come.






It is a battle of wits, a chess match

We are not going to win,

Our every move countered by a foe

Whose cunning and persistence we cannot outlast.

We have driven miles, spent vast sums

Plotting our next gambit.

But knights can rook bishops,

Baffles to not baffle, and

Extenders to not outstrip his reach.

Pawns, we watch the gray squirrel

Feed happily on sunflower meaties,

Hanging upside down on the tube feeder:







I was thinking of the parents

Of my daughters’ husbands,

Of differences born of place and time,

Ages, accents, causes espoused,

Things held tenuously in common.

What would they make of each other?

I tried to picture conversations, postures,

The small, awkward pleasantries of social congress.

What occasions would there be?

I could only think of one.






Last issue announced:

A sad moment for poets.

Thanks and all the best.



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.


 G. David Schwartz brings us these poems

Curly, Larry and What’s His Name


Curly, Larry and what’s his name

 Platter round in a game

Being almost just insane

Curly, Larry and what’s his name

They got mo laughs back in the day 

Mo humor than so many

And it was funny that curly was bald

And even mo finny was what’s his name



Love Encased In A Heart


I have been thinking

Really dreaming to say

I do truly miss you

Each and every day

O especially I m must say

And one on those days

Which say or even spell with

The word day in it

So o sweet dove

Don’t just rhyme with love

I don't care if it’s a bug

Please find and free my heart


When I Grow Up I Want To Be


When I grow up I want to be

Someone who you’d like to see

Some one who made great sparks

Yes I want to be Groucho Marx 

I’d like to be able top tell

The best jokes as fast as hell

And I wouldn’t mind if they

Didn’t insult me when I walked his way

So next time around

I certainly wish 

I could walk like Groucho

Or maybe Mr. Dix

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: 

While last but certainly not least, poetry by Taylor Graham


The Gold Standard. Silver, copper.
Promissories, fiat currency. Credit and trust.
The numbers’ bottom line.

One pot on the fire, patching & mending,
eat it up, wear it out, make it do or go without.
Dirt,  sweat, the Potato Standard.

Empty shopping cart, the empty
stomach. The woven cloak against cold.
A cup of water from the well.

Economy of sparrows, lilies of the field,
edible bulbs calculated against
their promise of flower.


Crescendo of
whispers, the couple next to me
the price of cauliflower; an old man
coughs; fidgeting in seats,
fluttering of programs,
“silence please”

before a dark wave sweeps the hall.
Prowl of prehistoric beasts,
return of a wild tide that floods the brain
with memories
of what never happened in this
life. Above acoustic walls
a blue moon rises;
stars are microscopic mites dancing
on the darkened slide of time.

Pulse of drum, breath
of clarinet, harp finding its way back
to eons before fingers, to fish-
fin parting ocean-plainsong.
Our everyday appurtenances –
eyeglasses, handkerchief, keys
in the pocket – all trying to join
the harmony of song.


It stops you at the threshold, 
illuminated in its frame:
a dark man in desert caftan
holding the rein of a blood-bay steed.

What alchemist transformed
your uncle, back-country trader
of bare-bone nags,
into this romantic sheik?

Whose likeness did the artist
hold in her inner eye, like a coin
in the palm of one’s hand,
to change scrap metal to pure gold?


leaf out sparely, their green
trimmed against the fences
and aluminum sidings,
the gutters and paved walks.
In October they try on fever-
colors, and let them fall.

The trees at our fringes
bank their treasures of rings:
the scant rains, the floods
before concrete dams,
the earth’s natural patterns
of narrowing and full.

These trees dig deep into
their memory of roots; reach
in the dark for the rootlets
of other trees; speak in tree-
whisper of when they used to
breathe and drink their fill.
Taylor Graham

Michael Levy brings about the last poem of this issue

Authentic Reflections

On the far side of latitude
near the outside of longitude
misty stillness drifts
in ever decreasing circles
echoes of delightful eloquence
vibrate round mystical mountains
resplendent orchestrations
meander through innocent minds
divine wonderment bedecks

the awesome mortal garb
In Love & Joy
Michael Levy. Professional Optimist

"Flogging a dead horse is useless, however, awakening a sleeping one requires perseverance" _Michael Levy

Point of Life Inspirational Radio Show -


New poetry by Joyce Nower! Brett Jenkins! Lauren Shapiro! Benjamin C. Clark!

"Weekends come. Beer abounds, but you don’t drink it anymore. You’ve spent too much time researching the calories of each brand — Bud Light: 110, Coors Light: 102, Miller Light: 88, Busch Light: 95, and you can’t justify wasting the time you’ve spent in the gym on these excesses. Long nights require longer mornings filled with hoppy, malted sweat. You switch to Bacardi, 151 proof — you figure on getting the maximum output for the minimum input, except that you used to be a happy drunk...."

From "Chasing Adonis", a new short story by Adam Gallari

a digital il pleut


 Dear Friends,

 If you want to tide over the waiting time you can also read my column under http://www.artforumasia.com
 To those who ask me for it I can also send free of charge the PDF file of my famous poetry collection PISS TALKS.
 All the best
 Harry R. Wilkens, Geneva

Closing Words

So this concludes abovegroundtesting.  Again, thanks for all the great works, its been a fabulous experience.  I have so many good memories with this ezine.

I should simply stop and say "Good Bye"