the magazine

July2007                                                                                                                                                                                        issn 1488-0024

Welcome to the 99th issue of abovegroundtesting.  This issue is the 9th anniversary issue, it also marks my birthday.  During the past weekend, I celebrated my 50th birthday.  So this marks quite a joyous time in my life.  It could be said its a time of retrospection and consideration of what I have done. This happens during the month of July, this year is different.  Turning 50 means I on the verge of being a senior- and that means I got to grow up.  I thought about it for a time and asked myself what must I do to change, does it mean I can no longer wear my collection of t-shirts.  This would be a shame because each t tells a story.  I can go through and find t shirts of various fun runs and races I've done over the years, I can ones that are based upon radio stations and television programs.  Then there are all my computer t shirts, plus a few I received while I was down at Ground Zero.  These are not just garments, they represent times of my life.

Still does it mean I surrender and start wearing golf shirts?  Hardly.  Will I surrender my jeans and wear polyester?  What else does it mean, pants hitched up to my chest?    What about the ezine?  Is this one of those youth endeavours that I now must surrender and stop?  Again, hardly.

In fact let me say, hang this age thing.  This ezine is 9 years old and have a couple of more years still left in it.  I'm not ready for the rocking chair, I just bought a bike for my birthday, a new mountain bike, not one of those glorified tricycle or one of those hybrid bikes, you know with the cute little electric or gasoline motor.  Never, as long as I can pedal I will keep on top of that seat and get around the city.   I've also got back into running and believe it or not thinking of doing a half marathon.  I'll keep you informed about my decision.

You know, as much as I like talking about myself and in a couple of months that will include the litany of aches and pains, it's time for poetry.  Let's get to it.


The first poet for this issue is: Debora Short

At Sunrise

Quietly entranced
Insects chatter ceased
And bird-song begins
Tea cup sweetly scenting
A table set for morning-prayer
Out on that upper-deck
Gently rocking barefooted
Night’s gown trailing
Eastward on the mountaintop
Edged in God’s
Prettiest and brightest lace
A precious light beacon-ing
Yesterday’s mortal souls
To His glistening promise

(The Mountaintop Porch-swing, Tennessee
~August 29,2006)

Debora Short

Go to: poemhunter.com

to download Debora Short's eBook of poetry.

The next poet is Len Bourret.  He appeared in last month's issue and this month he brings a tribute to Judy Garland.

The Judy Garland Rose
by Len Bourret (Copyright

This poem celebrates Judy Garland's
85th birthday.

Judy Garland, a very lovely lady,
sang for her people by the hour,
a gay, lively flower,
some wanted a piece of her petals,
and some wanted her golden fleece,
her celebrity and her money,
and a taste of her honey,
a star was born,
on the yellow brick road,
the wizard's power does not erode,
success goes up, success goes down,
this lady's will got tired,
after being repeatedly fired,
her physical body withered and died,
but her star still twinkles and glows,
through season's highs and lows,
bee's pollenate at her flower's dawn,
and attend to her under the rainbow,
greatly loved and adored by her fans,
loyal fans still nurture and pollenate,
her legendary spirit they cultivate,
and none of her flowers have gone.

Go to fullsize image 

The Judy Garland Rose...

Louis B. Mayer, the former head of MGM, was a controller and manipulator. When he wasn't able to get actors to do what he wanted, Mayer would get others to do his bidding. When Ethel couldn't get Judy Garland to behave the way he wanted, the studio hired doctors and psychiatrists to give Judy pills, psychiatric treatment, and shock therapy. Later, he got director, Vincente Minnelli (who became one of Judy's husbands), to get Judy to do what Mayer wanted. As June Allyson (one of Judy's closest friends) has stated, Minnelli was not right for Judy. Initially, Minnelli got Judy to do what was in the best interest of MGM (along with Minnelli's personal and professional interest), and not what was in the best interest of Judy. MGM's "The Pirate" was not a success and, after that, Judy chose a director other than Minnelli. Judy constantly worried about her commercial success, and it has been said that an actor is only as good as his or her last picture. Judy was overworker and was, many times, completely exhausted. Nevertheless, Mayer thought only of MGM, constantly abusing Judy by using her as a propertied workhorse. Mayer pitted actors against actors and, when June Allyson became pregnant, Judy was brought in to replace June in MGM's "Royal Wedding". Like "The Pirate", Judy did not think that "Royal Wedding" was a particularly good project (she thought, at best that the picture was a minor musical)--and Judy, justifiably, complained. "Royal Wedding" was really Fred Astaire's picture. Nicholas Schenk, with Loew's Incorporated (MGM was a division of Loew's), brought in Dore Schary. Dore Schary, who later replaced Louis B. Mayer as head of MGM, went along with complaints from Fred Astaire and Nicholas Schenk. On their advice, Schary fired Judy and, after what was a traumatic experience for her, Judy was never to be the same performer as the audience first knew. June Allyson has stated that, after Louis B. Mayer was fired from MGM, quote: "He (Mayer) took the studio with him." Judy Garland, the seemingly tireless workhorse, was repeatedly abused (but not always knowingly) right up to the end of her career. Judy, the beauty, had a beast for singing. But, it was the beast (along with alcohol, downers, and uppers) that killed her. At her passing, no tactics of control and manipulation could reason with, or summon Judy, to go on singing.


Felino Soriano brings us three

In a World of Insanity, the Sane is Outcast

Profiting from the vernacular of propaganda, insanity within
the widened moments of opportunity, the specialized healed,
broken-off cast from popular culture's limbs—
the willing with the open eyes.

Gauging existence as in the specific surroundings
of thermometry, weight truncates, evaporates into
nothingness, showing malnutrition of thought, placing
valuable investigation of ontological glorification,
regarding why such neglectful disappearance of
personifications have occurred so rapidly.

One voice enters an unconsciousness, a forgetfulness,
a realization toward becoming an alone entity.
This voice is sane.
Immediately, the voice is outcast.
For in the world of the insane, saneness is incomprehensible,
a biodegradable occurrence, relegated to the breaths
deep below formations of the disregarded.

Much of what is Aftermath is Illusional

The seen is seen in imaginary implications.
Simple, the tones of drawn metaphors, combining
clever contours with colorful endeavors,
meant in a further attempt to multiply
delusional, aggravated mind manipulations.

Therefore, hiding within minimalism, arranging an
attachment which complies with the combing through
dense, emotional caveat which may ensue,
realization must occur, reoccur, historically
fashioned in the shapes of future's looking back
can create dispositional forthcoming cons with smiling faces.

When Focus is Shunned for an Obvious Blur

Accolades for a foreign concept, akin to smiling into
desolate molds of immovable poverty.
Frightened by reality's existence, the
metaphysical advantage of knowing
epistemologically each organic organism
splaying forth, finding directional attributes
inside the mind's multilayered meanings.

Many though, find these many meanings too lucid,
and retract their existence into a hiding within a falling
smaller, more monotonous with the à la mode
popular lifestyles, there the duality of
roaming within curtailed patterns of
both relegated breaths and unfortunate steps
toward delusional comprehension.

Dina brings us this poem, which she dedicates to her friends

The poem of Hoping.

The summer has arrived suddenly.
The St.Petersburg White nights
still hug our city gently.
A lilac fog
Fills the atmosphere around,
In spite of the fact that the lilac has already faded,
And sweet aroma of a jasmine
Turns our heads, excites and intoxicates us.
There is Heat, and the thunderstorms with rain here,
Flowers and the charming bumblebees live on my loggia.
But why don't the melancholy and alarms leave me?
I think of the next autumn and winter.
Maybe, they have already started to approach to us.
No! This is wrong!
I shall forget them for a while.
I shall take inspiration from a lilac fog,
I shall be drunk with aroma of jasmine,
I shall have fun, listening to the rain,
I shall write new poems for my friends .
And, maybe, the summer will delay in my soul for a long time.

Dina Televitskaya

Our friend Taylor Graham:  a number of years ago, she was the featured poet.  Enjoy her work.


    Black by day and red by night
    - Elihu Burritt, Walks in the Black Country (1869)

Black earth where coal-seams surface
under a sky black with smoke
from furnaces, mills and factories
for this new age of steel.
Iron foundries and open-cast mines.
Grimy workers crowded together
in Dickensian slums.

Already you’d weighed the gains
against the losses,
and declared you were done
with smelting and with forging.
When that dragon, the Iron Horse
shook the ground underfoot,
you preferred to walk.

A walking man takes his time,
and notices the details:
steam-power in the barnyard,
under-draining, deep-tillage, new
ways to ease hard labor;
the blessings of technology
along with its curse.

And so you walked this scarred
Black Country for instruction
and pleasure. How
in the Future’s sooty glass
might be etched a design
of transformation, if
you could learn to see it.


Eleventh grade, intermission
of Giselle. Your awkward
high-heels slip on marble
stairs. Pick yourself up,
subside invisibly
into velvet upholstery

as the ballerina lifts off,
forgets she has
feet; instead, flies.


She’s traded the three-car garage
for a hand-chinked cabin
and a splitting wedge,
a wooden floor
she scrubs on her knees.
The morning’s always light enough
for praise.

This issue features a new poet, John Mcmahon.  He writes: "
hey my name is john mcmahon and i found your link and dcided to send you some of my poems which you may use some time if you like them
if you can and your not to over loaded with poems get back in touch with me as i crave the feed bak thanks hope you enjoy. ps i have more if you dont like these ones".  Thanks John for your interest, here is his work:



It hangs on the wall for all to see.

In the hall that large picture of me.

It’s been hung there for years.

I do wish they would take it down now.


They think of me as being such a good boy.

But the truth is, I’m ashamed!

They never knew me.

In fact they don’t know me, never took the time.

Much to busy to ever see the real me.


In that picture is someone different.

In that sad wooden framed picture is a happy boy.

It was the only day they saw me playing football.

Their jobs took up all their time.

So please take that monstrosity down.

At least until day release is over.




If it all was to stop, all the respect and prestige then where would you be?

If you never had it, would you have wished for it, like I do?

Do you never wish you could give it way, just a little here and

there. Spread the wealth beyond the confines of your high priced

mansion walls?

Daddy was good to you, don’t you think? All this luxury and

material things, diamond rings a plenty, in fact one for each finger,

by the looks of it. Tell me, do pictures of the poor not linger in the clean parts of your mind?

Have you ever took the time to realise, your not special, you

were just born lucky. Right place and all that. You don’t need a

pretty face, when you drive what you drive, do you?

Just think, you could be me. Born with a wooden spoon in

your mouth and your gums impaled with splinters of limited chances.



Look for me in the windows of cheap clothes shops.

Look for me in Ford Escorts when traffic stops.

Look for me when you have lost your way in life.

Look for me in your fancy Bacardi & lime.

Look for me my dear when you have some spare time.

Look for me where ever you feel the need to go.

Look for me, and if you find me, promise me you will

let me know, what it is you find?..

Because to tell you the truth babe, I’m still looking for me.

He will have a poem in the next issue of avantgardetimes.  I'll announce the release in the next issue.

Michael Lee Johnson rounds out this issue:

Bathroom Visitor


A horsefly

travels the world

of my bathroom.

Stops at the kitty litter box

on occasion for refueling.

One thousand round trips

including the bathtub area,

and buzzes past the toilet bowl.

Steady pilot, good mileage.

Frequent flier miles.

I swat his journey to an

abrupt end.

Jesus Knelt in Grief

Over the Death of Children


Breaking out of silence,

Jesus knelt to his knees

in moist desert sand,

wrote messages

with his fingertips

to children-

"water is water, toys are toys,

but by my fingers burn with life,

though I toil over tombs with grief and tears-

I'm the living and I am the dead.

I was born to life to bring

new hope into the death of children.

I'm the messenger of the morning sun

the prayer book between the morning dew,

the play fields of your daily adventures.

When I kneel here again,

the end will be the end.

Fire will be willed into my words.

Driftwood and sand will turn to stone.

I drag my fingers across hot sand once more;

morning will come without a daybreak.

Birds will no longer sing, and crickets

lose their songs."


Cell Phone Mania



Hollow people,

small people with big ear openings,

aisle walkers of endless babble-

big heads, small heads, big thoughts,

no thoughts at all, mounds of 

words piling up on each other.

Free time is cell phone time.

Jaw bone structures jumbling up and down

like pairs of disjointed loose lips;

skeletons of moving gestures

fingers, and hands dancing in the air

pointing to here, pointing to there;

scare those who walk beside them

scare those who sit beside them

in moving cars.

Peapods cell phones jammed in and around

earlobes like miniature rubber mallets.

Speaker phone gadget grinding against white teeth

Conversations, at the grocery store, dripping out

of dried mouths about brand cans of  peas or pears,

which softness of diapers preferred for the babies ass.

Free time is cell phone time.

They roam and talk everywhere seriously about nothing.

Weekends are free times for ignoring the rest of the universe.

Babies carry deactivated phones with 911options

in grocery push carts designed like miniature cars.

The world is a plastic phone shaped and held

like a household fixture communicating

with no one, no one of consequence

or importance.

Free time is cell phone time.

Michael Lee Johnson's 1st  chapbook of poems and his first paperback of poems

both available for purchase or download at:

"The Lost American: A Tender Touch & A Shade Of Blue" (Chapbook with 57 pages)


"The Lost American II:  From Exile to Freedom (Full paperback with 98 pages)



In approximately 45 days a new paperback book, by Michael Lee Johnson, will be available for purchase and download at iUniverse Publishers:   http://www.iuniverse.com/



Mr. Michael Lee Johnson lives in Chicago, IL after spending 10 years in Edmonton, Alberta Canada during the Viet Nam era. He is a freelance writer and poet. He is heavy influenced by Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Irving Layton, and Leonard Cohen.   200 plus poems published. He is a member of Poets & Writers, Inc; Directory of American Poets & Fictions Writers: pw.org/directory . Recent publications: The Orange Room Review, Bolts of Silk, Chantarelle's Notebook, The Foliate Oak Online Literary Magazine, Poetry Cemetery, Official Site of Laura Hird, The Centrifugal Eye, Adagio Verse Quarterly, Scorched Earth Publishing, and many others.  Published in USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Nigeria Africa, India, United Kingdom.  Mr. Johnson has a paper book pending publication with  iUniverse Publishers.

Last issue, I had an advertisement from

You may remember reading the notice from the Dave and Lillian Brummet.  This month they wrote a note about their radio program.  I had  opportunity to listen to one show and it sounds interesting. Here is what they write:

About Conscious Discussions Talk Radio Show

Dave and Lillian Brummet, authors of the book Trash Talk, are thrilled to announce their talk radio show called "Conscious Discussions".  Listeners are invited view the website and click on the Test session 


 to hear what the show will be about. Anyone interested in appearing on the 1/2 hour show as a guest is welcome to contact the Brummet's through one of their websites (see below).  The show will be recorded live and airs every Tuesday at 10 am PST. 

RADIO SHOW DESCRIPTION: Discussions about the environment, the value of the individual and the world of writing. 

HOSTS: Lillian and Dave Brummet, authors of Trash Talk (waste reduction), Towards Understanding (non-fiction poetry) & Purple Snowflake Marketing (book promotion).

KEYTAGS: author, book, book promotion, education, energy, environment, family, interview, lifestyle, money, promotion, recycle, reuse, talk show, trash, trash talk, waste, water, writing, zero waste

LOCATION: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/consciousdiscussions

TIME: EVERY TUESDAY @ 10:00 a.m. PST - (First show airs on May 8th)

Thanks for sharing in the nineth anniversary issue, or my 50th birthday issue.  Either one will do. Remember the August issue  has as its theme, Food.  A few poets have already written works that apply to the theme and there's always space for more.  Don't limit it to poetry, consider a short story that takes place around the dinner table, or in a restaurant or coffee bar.  ARtwork featuring food is also welcome.  Allow yourself to be as creative as possible.

To conclude:  this is issue 99, July 2007.  All work is copyright by the various authors.  Please respect their rights.  This ezine is a means by which the creative community can express themselves.   If yu want more information, go to the home page.  

You can email your art and literary work to  abovegroundtesting@yahoo.com

This was prepared using the Nvu software program.  On a computer running Ubuntu.