Wednesday, September 13, 2023

GAS Featured Poet: Karen Warinsky

Karen Warinsky began publishing poetry in 2011 and was named as a finalist for her poem “Legacy” in the Montreal International Poetry Contest in 2013. Her work has appeared in several anthologies, books and lit mags/blogs, and she has participated in many online open mics including Rattle’s Poets Respond and Ó Bhéal.  She has three books, Gold in Autumn (2020), and Sunrise Ruby, (2022), both from Human Error Publishing and Dining With War (2023) from Alien Buddha.  Her work centers on mid-life, relationships, politics, and the search for spiritual connection through nature, and she coordinates poetry readings under the name Poets at Large.

Find her at

Real Heart


Because I had a real heart

I understood for too long

accepted too much

missed some clues.


Because I had a real heart

wounds went deep

words meant more

sounds scratched and bit.


Because I had a real heart

it was layered over for protection

with durable material 

strong as steel

keeping out debris, rain, wind,

staying cold

preserving the insides

like a refrigerator.


But it’s not a self-defrosting fridge.


It’s an old-fashioned heart. 

Bring the hot water, a towel,

the knife to chip the ice.

It might take an hour.


Bring a book.


 The Burning of Old Love


Unwise to let it fester,

spiral notebooks crammed with

old feelings 

revealing too much pain

too much loss

my hasty cursive running on the lines,

an arroyo of emotion.


It had to be released, I know,

but it’s a decade later

and some decent poems 

now sit in books,

on the net,

shared on stage,

time now to tear the pages out

throw them in the woodstove,

let some of the secrets turn to unpublished ash. 



Now that I love myself


to the max

there’s no one good enough

no one I’d rather wait for

at a sidewalk café,

stumble into at a restaurant, a store,

no one better than me to run an idea by,

take out for a treat,

offer half of my donut to

(maybe I’ll just save it for tomorrow)

write a poem for.

Wish, oh wish I’d had this true love

of self

all those years ago

when I pinned so much on you,

gave you the cream, the first bite, the biggest slice,

waited quiet, silent, for the yes

as you put your lips around all that was offered,

indulged yourself at my banquet,

watched for

the nod, the smile that said

you would grant your time, your breath, 

for a bit

before saying

it was time for me to go home.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

GAS Featured Poet: Derek J. Brown


Derek J. Brown is a poet based in Glasgow, Scotland. He published his first book of poetry, A Strategy of Mirrors in Nov 2020. He is a member of The Glasgow Literary & Music Lounge at The Scotia Bar and likes to collaborate with musicians, namely Brian McFall He also makes video poems often with fellow poet Dr. Jim Ferguson. He has collaborated with Ferguson on a book of poems titled Glasgow Jukebox  He has had poems published in various literary magazines including: The Red Skirt, The Fair-haired Review, The Banana Peel, The Singular Sock, The Scarlet Bow-tie, The Magic Muffin, The Hierophant, Gutter, The Hieroglyphic Hermit, Fathers and Daughters, The Sacred Mackerel, The Syd James Gazette, All or Nothing, The Magician's Scarf and various other literary magazines. He believes any form of completeness is ultimately deceptive. He considers his poetry to be a war against mankind's paucity of being.

Broken Days

In your cemetery eyes, sustained, in focus
Crumpled petals of an autumn lotus
Your blazing moon, your frozen tower
Aimless wreath, random flower

Broken days of wine and roses
Slender truth no mind proposes
Your passive fears, your violent hopes
Your kingdom fixed by supple ropes

A place I strive to breach, to enter
A final, peculiar, undying ember
Your knight of wands in his last uprising
Your magician's fall so unsurprising

Your swift rejection of earthly power
Fruits held sweet and yet so sour
I wait not for any bell to toll
I climb the slope of your erratic soul

Affections neither cold nor warm
Your trackless heart beats multiform
No question here of what love is
I'll be your prophet, your Orpheus

Cross your underworld, its false negations
Its guileful snares, its infestations
Your boneyard eyes, preserved, in focus
Crumpled petals of an autumn lotus.

The Truth

I've read Jack Kerouac, Ginsberg's Howl
I know the difference 'tween a glance and a scowl
You want to kill me, disembowel me
Throw my body in a dismal grave

Is the thirst you have one to be quenched
Your universe a slave, a sulphurous wench
The god you worship, what's he providing
Even the sheep (bless them) have gone into hiding

Liars travel by sturdy vessels
But truth, it carries its own credentials
No twisted cord it won't untangle
Nothing you build it can't dismantle

I'm no vagrant shadow that craves your light
Not some barren page on which you can write
Safe in your castle, you kiss your own loins
Hands complicit dispense worthless coins

But other hands light unnatural flames
Can extinguish faces, annihilate names
Turn a cobra deaf, blind a dragon's eye
Transform you into an ant or a fly

Keep your licorice piece in your candy bag
Call off your brute, pull down your flag
Shut your mouth, discard your pencil
Truth, it carries its own credentials.


We listen to Vespers, we dream of Athos
His grand holy mountain 
No soul moves forward
Unless it is forced. It echoes within us
What slipped through our fingers

And yet, somehow, still lingers
Like post-mortem portraits, Greta Garbo
Expressions, monochromatic half-moons
Existence of evil such a curious comfort
My assailants swept under, I owe my small life

To illegitimate waves of monogamous oceans
I’ve spent time on planets constantly twilight
What does it mean to be part of this tragedy
A world inhabited by coarse veinless creatures 
Their aspects and hands cunningly disguised

Sometimes wounded but not destroyed
There are enemies here we can’t avoid
At last, we were free, in the sun’s rays
But freedom’s deceitful in multiple ways
We are still in a place where all love decays

The past is the present, it always has been
Where you and I covet one permanent kiss
A kiss that is more than it’s initial sensation
God speaks to people thru mouths of others
Some of us listen, we’ve no other choice

Not denizens of this city, its flesh or its bone
Our ears not tuned to its violins but our own
Nameless instruments concocting melodies
Between stone spaces and ambiguous glass
The stranger instincts are waiting to pass

A neutral sky breached by a legion of ravens
Criss-crossing each other’s elusive equations
That join then detach to then join again
Sentient formulas let loose from their slumber
While we enter dreams in which we must wake

But what does it mean to partake of a culture
A place populated by autonomous animals
Whose purified lips are so skilfully sealed
Their faces and palms seldom revealed
A riddle confounds that’s already been solved

To search for one word that equals all others
Is to seek out an entity that utters no language
And yet still possesses a mouth and a tongue
A countenance our eyes may never perceive
An object of truth our brains cannot grasp

Let us go on a journey through liminal realms
Within our patterns let us harness powers
It is the mind that keeps the world’s existence
Loneliness comes from that tiny awareness
And we walk the walkways, in our own ways

Inadequate vultures on Rachmaninov’s heart
Our eyes in sympathy with shadows that hide
Absorb sweet impurities of myth after myth
Simple light refractions feed off of each other
Let our sustenance be music, let art be our love.

A Personal Invitation (From A Psychic Notebook)

She passed me a personal invitation
Directly from her psychic notebook
While I knelt precariously between
Her lawless thighs, her Catholic eyes

Almost transposed me, her Illinois lips
Bore Gothic fruits, species I knew
Only from books. I sensed a process
The most exquisite corruption

A nectarous form of degradation
I felt a rush, a primal pressure
Her blend of Italian and Irish blood
Indecipherable lines of a secret history

Inscribed across her pulsating face
Like an excommunicated priest holding
The Cup of Christ I held with caution
Her heavenly head. She said, "kiss me"

And I wondered what it meant, what
It meant to her, as if a kiss from me
Could mean anything. Casablanca
Projected on a screen in my naive brain

But instead of going by time is betrayed
By its own seconds, minutes rebelling
In the name of romantic elimination
Ascension in vain to a perilous euphoria.

And so I kissed her and she kissed me
Yet the world staggered on, to the next
Sad but imperative new day of oblivion
And so this is the way it always has been

A dream of a dream that wasn't a dream
Cell upon cell, mutating, meticulous
A fugitive tenderness thrives in me still
An invitation from a psychic notebook.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

GAS Featured Poet: Saloni Kaul

     Saloni Kaul, author and poet, first published at the age of ten, has stayed in print since on five continents, including eighteen states of the USA. As critic and columnist, Saloni has all of forty-five years years of being published. Saloni Kaul's first volume, a fifty poem collection was published in the USA in 2009. Subsequent volumes include Universal One and Essentials All. 

    She has been published recently in  Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum (contains ongoing Saloni Kaul poetry page), The Penwood Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, Blueline (State University of New York), OVI Magazine, Mantis (Stanford University), The Whimperbang Journal, The Imaginate (Rutger's University), Mystical Muse Poetry Magazine, The Charleston Anvil, The Treasure Chest, The Poetry Leaves Anthology and Exhibition, Arteidolia, Quail Bell Magazine, Harbinger Asylum and The Transcendent Zero Press and The Lullwater Review (Emory University of Atlanta). 

    In addition to performing poetry solo, Saloni Kaul collaborates with artists on installations and exhibitions revolving around her own poetry and with musicians and composers on live and recorded performances of poetry set to music.

Most hesitantly, unaffectedly,
In her unworldly-wise artless manner,
Without unnecessary fiddling, beating about the bush,
She spread out generously all her unspoken 
Hitherto closeted thoughts
On a timid line like a shawl,
Soon smoothening the creases uttered rough

With pauses unprepared, irresolute
Naively punctuating taut the unrehearsed speech,
As she spoke uninstructedly yet honestly
As though she may well have been insipidly logging
Far-flung distances wishy-washily
In a logbook most unsentimental,
Toying with their propinquity in contexts distant,

Bringing back and forth those adjoining zones
On the termed timed narrow gauge.
There is always a namby-pamby nearness
In narrow-minded constructed time, in spaces solitary
Where close kinship's liberally concerned
And approximations detailed scarcely count
When the point is minutely driven home.

Flabbergasted, as astounded 
As in a hair-raising encounter,
Skin tingling like nap fibres
Covering tiniest of trees 
Or on a downy fuzzy flannel scrap,
Our newly enlightened listener breathed in and responded 
Directly in this volley of words.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

GAS Featured Artist: Jeff Taylor

Jeff Taylor lives with his wife and kids in Massachusetts where he is a union worker when he isn’t writing poems. Jeff has performed at universities, theaters, festivals, bars, coffee houses, and sidewalks across the east coast and is a member of the 2023 Lizard Lounge Slam Team. You can find his work in recent issues of The Bloodshed Review, BOMBFIRE, Oddball Magazine, Cajun Mutt, The Alien Buddha Get’s A Real Job vol.2, American Graveyard (Read or Green Books), and The New Generation Beats 2023 Anthology.

Tobacco & Hash

Jenn was a professional drunk

got killed by a rookie.

What a crap career is that anyway?

When Jenn & I were in Florida

we paid too much 

for a joint of tobacco and hash

the spliff got too wet to smoke

as we rain danced on the pier

cyclones twisting around us.

She overcame addiction

only to have her life ended

by someone who 

wasn’t there yet.

I like to think 

the woman

who caused the accident

was Jenn’s soulmate

they lived thousands of lives together

through thousands of universes 

weaving the possibilities

of two beings colliding.

The roar of this life 

reduced to the moment 

they floated toward each other

locking eyes before everything went black.

Jenn once told me

she wanted all her friends

to smoke her ashes

so we wouldn’t make 

the same mistakes she did.

What if we all smoked 

our dead friends' ashes?

Would there be an energy transference

reverberating across generations

raising our collective consciousness 

to new levels of possibility?

Would we take on the weight

of each other's lives?

Reduced To Art




to watch you

ride horses

through our bed

I will

guild frames

for the pictures

of you


on the inside

of my skin

I am raw for you