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The Houston Literary Review
August 2007 Poetry II Section

 We are pleased to offer our readers the poetic work of Houstonian Martha Braniff, California residents Felino Soriano and Cap Pinkerton, Michael Lee Johnson of Chicago, Jessica Schneider somewhere in North America.

 The poetry of Felino Soriano


Assumption Regarding Beliefs
Assumption among the interweaving of society's patterned thought, posits evaluation toward existentialism, an encompassing philosophical theory regarding the citizenry residing within the metaphoric plazas, palaces, places of interest, hitherto the mind has rested upon forming imagery requiring hyper-imagination.

Silence dons a muted legacy.
Therefore crowds of gathering flocks
forsake mundane ennui for the colorful
attributes of winged, well-informed languages of the methodical anti-established personas, who with respect toward becoming new, intrigue passersby through dedicated aspects of fortunate beliefs.

Severing, or Due to the Act

A graying softness, an intelligent display posited by a poignant wisdom lying underneath exhausted wind.
Gathering there as well ornamented leaves lighted as by fire, worn to the degree of nearly metaphysically impossible to describe.
Even further beyond barely breathing, born into circumstances displaying a sadness where mirrors reflect rounded colors distracting trueness of retrospect.
Through mazes of interconnecting allusions, ailments, alignment with an abstract connection with Plato's theory of ideas forces a conceptual guidance to lose focus with functionality, mirroring that of severing illegitimate theories from the mind's concept of postmodern vernacular.

The Awaiting is Within the Openness

Watching jejune occurrences oscillate atop culture's many mundane metaphors, the act becomes akin to watching recreational racquetballs become bouncing tributes to scientific trivialities, mimicking staring at stark white walls of a bedroom's boredom.
This form of reality often wants to be reversed, a new form of unreality, yet one would settle for quasi or ersatz-reality, however, the jejune is typical and touted as normalcy for the citizenry are the walking sightless among the many facets of the hiding within open eyes.

Existence, Secure

Descending reflects a disposition of possible ascension.
The mind escapes into metaphors, sees outward myriad motions, turning forays of spayed renditions, categorized as breaths of the living untold, mimicking silence in the divided definition of glorified openings.

An economy of elegies burn amid the hanging of hurried lives.
The purification process puts the being into multiple surroundings, doubling shadows in exchange for futuristic speaking of foreign tongues.
Through this form of existence, an inviolability is born into intentional sounds of secure reappearance.

If Terminology Were Upside Down

to Our Reality

Functions escaping externally, claiming future forms of surviving, faculties then would relate within multiple differences, soothing, scraping would shift in exhibitions, declaring in multiple mixtures, antithetical in a way deliverance may or may not succeed in explanation.

Fire's fury similar to that of hypothermia's lowering of the human's condition.
Rain maintains a dry attribute, showering with an aridness in which focus is the hazy element drawn across the entirety of earth's spinning stillness.

In all attributes reality is infused with esoteric benevolence, that is, by way of synchronizing intellect with characterizing change of meandering thought, illusional vernacular coinciding with fascination, the few that understand functionality of thought will never be without conceptual togetherness.

The poetry of Michael Lee Johnson


Casket of Love

This moon, clinging to a cloudless sky,
offers the light by which we love.

This park, grass knee high tickling bare feet, offers the place we pass pleasant smiles.

Sir Winston Churchill would have
saluted the stately manner this fog lifts, marching in time across this pond layering it’s ghostly body over us cuddled by the water’s edge, as if we are burdened by this sealed
casket called love.

Frogs in the marsh, crickets beneath the crocuses trumpet the last farewell.
A flock of Canadian geese fly overhead in military V formation.

Yet how lively your lips tremble
against my skin, in a manner no
sane soldier dare deny.

A Gift Of Desert Sand

I wish to offer you
a possession, but all
precious things have
been given to you-
diamond rings from weary strangers,
fine linen weaved by foreign hands;
but a nomad owns little,
scavenges much.

For this reason, I write
warm words in dry wilderness,
hijack a private plane,
parachute down to you
this short poem, a gift
of desert sand, a gift
from desert sky.

My Own Puppet

Beaten down by
my own puppet
drawn up by my own strings
I don’t know what to do
with myself but hang loose.

I am a swinger of words, & loose conditions.
My fingers hang limp like impotent genitals.
My puppet bows her head with nothing to show for.

A curtsey before her king who has somehow misplaced his private crown of jewels & golden rings.
Such a humble act, a dancer of sacrifice
lacking joy, but long term the commitment lingers.

Gallant of her victory in void
she smiles with disgust.
Nothing drips from her face but tears.
I am a swinger of words, & loose conditions.

Chinese Man

Oblivious to far reaching
implications of Chinese
philosophical propaganda,
a Chinese man sits on
the end of a long pier.

His bamboo pole tip bent downward toward shallow water,
a weaved basket full of flopping fish by his side.

He lives a simple life-
wages a simple war against the underwater world, finds peace as noonday sun bakes down hard upon his bare, skinny, dark-skinned back.

40 Below

Face it!
if you don’t think your cold,
you’re not cold.

Bravely, her eyes
lean forward
with an icy

Hazy Arizona Sky

7:00 am
Sonoran desert,
sleep dust covering my eyelids.
Morning fireball
hurls into Arizona sky,
baking down on cracked,
& crusted earth-
makes Saguaro cactus
split it’s rubbery skull
flood dry & open
valley with one cup
of cool, clear,

 The poetry of Cap Pinkerton

Hobo dreams

The cities mean nothing to the vagabond.

the Business, the Building, the Capitol tours;

These are a child’s dreams to him.

It spills a single thread of meaning
Transient as a drop- dripping, dropped

Nothing is forever, so she spits, “FUCK THE MOON!”
and weeps only for the police.

They make her so sad

Speaking in toungues
holy intangible verb and noun sweage,
drugs and molested memories
craze Our Queen.

He and Her
are soft only


a poem.


Laid before you are grammars broke
and silences bashed into noises
sounding like farts
but if you channel your humanness
you might feel the letters coming together
in catastrophe like notes
atrophied from their original body.
weird words and aliens ideals are not the point
objective mission-
to unite the division of labor
between life and living.
maybe this is unwelcome or seems in jest.
oh well here goes.
I love you.
O but I do.

The poetry of Martha Braniff

Hummingbird at Midnight

When I was a child, I used to, yes, I used to listen to sharp branches of a shrub called the bottle brush graze and scratch, forever clawing on the screen of my open window. This bush billowed forth a red-feathered bloom attracting hummingbirds, but long ago they cut it down.

Or, if it was not the bottle brush scratching, scratching fury of the night, it could have been, yes, it could have been whiskers against my cheek, and Father’s fingers the shape of white cigars, cracked even then, his breath laced with nicotine, and the smell of Mother watching, a distant gloom who hid in icy corners.

dedicated to the souls who visit me in dreams

a gloaming world awash in shadow
where black girls tap on tabletops filled with drinks,
the sheen of their blue satin skirts alive with oomph and vigor.

ferocious, bloated rabbits lying in wait for a chance to attack a lonely teenage boy. His sad hair fringed above blinking oval eyes,
he seems to say, Somehow, all is lost.

the bleached-blond queen of Wonderland comforting a child who will love any stranger, a backseat journey squeezed between two men, one an artist, one a writer.

For me
in the corner grocery, running naked up and down the aisles, chased by my mother,
her orange hair and red beaded bangs bouncing as she bleats my name, but I escape her.

the child poet living in a burned-out church, foraging for food on the back road.
my first love, a boy of fourteen, standing naked, gently pressing me against the wall.
in a panic, ripping on a turquoise blouse, my head sheathed in white veils.

Africa, where I play with two cheetah cubs, feline sisters, and my androgynous child, both daughter and son, playing with furry ferrets curled around each other.
the crowded bus where a man flirts, puts his head in my lap.


a little girl, floppy as a rag doll, who crawls beneath a bathtub.
an Arab boy dressed as a Saudi Prince.
For the boy, seventeen and deranged, hiding in my closet, building clowns out of plastic blocks.
the cottonwoods, their branches knobbed-out juicy green.

The Poetry of Jessica Schneider


illustrations by Dianan Magallon