Monday, July 24, 2017

Tracey Ikerd


Neutral ports full of spies, Lisbon lay in wait
for this naive merchant of the sea.
Baixa, city of refuge,
how Tagus' smile greeted me,
and washed me in its blissful tide.
Like Sebastian so young and green. I longed
to herald my country's fame.
An agent in the doubles game.
I wanted that - I wanted more.

I fished along the alehouse shore
for my sweet Karin, but met instead
an Abwehr who favoured my dilemma.
For a little intel he would pass to her my letter.
The truth he asked I did not know
so I sold him what sounded better.
Little did I know his honey trap was set.
And I caught deep in blackmails slanderous web,
coercion most foul.
A convoy of secrets I betrayed.

Like Jonah, under storm cloud eyes
I sat upon the swell.
Espionage adrift.
As regents swarmed down tainted wires,
racing to England’s sunny shore.
Kedge anchor dropped its chain pulling
me towards my fate.
If only Garcia had sheltered me under
his double agent’s wing.
In secret I was met, feeding
false intel was declined. My value
would be better met as scapegoat for the rest.

Eighteen pounds paid for my noose.
They'll hang this lesson
from the dock.
The price of treason
for all to see.

Gerald So reads "The Downfall of Duncan Scott-Ford":

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Tracey confesses: "This poem was inspired by the true events of Duncan Scott-Ford who was from my hometown, Plymouth. Through Duncan's persona, I wanted to portray an alternate point of view, one that shows his naivety, and that if British intelligence officers had used him as a spy his outcome would have been different."

TRACEY IKERD is a mother of two wonderful daughters and a granddaughter. After spending her working career in management she took some time off to complete my BA in English Literature and Creative Writing where I am now patiently waiting for my results. She didn't write poetry until her final degree module and this poem is her first attempt at persona poetry.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Best of the Net 2017

Again this year, The Five-Two will enter Sundress Publications' Best of the Net competition. I am allowed to submit six of the poems that appeared here July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. Every poem I publish is my favorite in some way, so I leave it Five-Two readers to determine three of the six picks.

From 10:30 a.m. July 15 to 10:30 a.m. July 21, the five poems below received the highest combined number of blog comments, Twitter retweets, and Twitter likes. Three tied for third place, so I extended readers' say to five picks and made one of my own:

Thanks, everyone, for participating. Congratulations and good luck to the poets.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Karen Petersen


Dead male body in hotel room
age 23, overdose
with yesterday's tan.
Cheerful coroner,
little black bag,
"This one’s easy."
Hot sun melting
the weeping needle
Parking lot tar,
footprint by the door
the last evidence of life.
This kid was no one
but he had a past,
and dreams
The ticking clock...
all gone by the stillness of noon.

Karen reads "Persona":

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Karen confesses: "This poem was written when I read a small AP news item on the increase in drug overdoses in Miami, and I thought of all those young people whose lives were now over, and forgotten."

KAREN PETERSEN, adventurer, photojournalist and writer, has traveled the world extensively, publishing both nationally and internationally in a variety of publications. Most recently, she was published in The Malpais Review and Antiphon. In 2015, she read "In Memory of W.B. Yeats" at the Yeats Festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is currently at work on Four Points on a Compass, a collection of her poems from overseas. She holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Classics from Vassar College and an M.S. from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Tonia Kalouria


Smart, dimpled, and graceful,
tall, handsome Kareem
shouts the FED EX’s message:
"MOM! I made the team."

Those plans made for law school
they now would abort,
for the future's a slam-dunk
when sneaks rock a court.

Proud Mom, nascent PRO,
– who both work without lull–
are so happy and giddy
they break for the Mall.

They giggle through colas,
and curled- ketsuped-fries.
"Now, let’s buy fancy sneakers!"
popped out Mom’s surprise.

"Those Airs you’ve been wanting,
–we couldn’t afford–
well, I’m proud of you, son!
They’re a fitting reward!"

Back home–in new sneaks–
Kareem heads for the park.
Shouting, "Don’t worry, Mom!"
"I’ll be home before dark."

He was walking on air;
life was nothing but net.
"I wonder what jersey...
which number I’ll get?"

While jumping and shooting,
his brain swirled and sang,
but with thoughts in the clouds,
he did not see... The Gang.

Bruised, broken, and bleeding,
Mom’s hero so sweet
on the Gang’s turf lay dying–
no shoes on his feet.

Thus, darkness struck early;
Mom’s heart skips a beat
as she I.D.’s her baby
beneath the white sheet.

Rosa's game plan each week's
now a trip long and hard:
Two subways, three bus rides,
one lonely graveyard.

Grieving Mom, supine pro,
still a team; both alone.
And her son's assigned numbers...
They're now etched in stone.

Tonia reads "LeBron Airs":

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Tonia confesses: "Unfortunately, violence over costly sneakers is not fiction, and not rare. They are a status symbol to be had at all cost by some young men. And some pay dearly."

TONIA KALOURIA is a retired Spanish teacher who played psychiatrist Tonia Wilson on Passions from 2002 to 2007. Her book, Aerobic Poetry: Critter Connections Collection, features humorous, rhythmic poems meant to be read aloud to help lower blood pressure and improve lung function. She has also published poetry in The Litchfield Review, Common Threads, and The Senior Years. She lives with her devoted husband of many years on the West Coast and has two wonderful sons and a lovely granddaughter.

Monday, July 3, 2017

J.H. Johns


A moment of glory—
an instant of a thrill-
before you know it—
knew it—
you were back;

for the rest of your life—
if you had been told,
you never would have believed it;

to become—
just another "laborer" in life;
a near-to-meaningless cog;
an infinitesimal aspect
of an institutional machine;

that cared nothing
for, of or about
your sacrifice,


Paul Churchill Mann reads "And That's the Way It Went":

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J.H. confesses: "This piece is the product of observing the one-time proud, handsome, attractive, beautiful, shapely, fit, strong, enthusiastic, determined cross-section that you see in the supermarket, committed, relegated- imprisoned- in the embodiment of what they have unwittingly become."

J.H. JOHNS "grew up and came of age" while living in East Tennessee and Middle Georgia. Specifically, the two places "responsible" for the writer that he has become are Knoxville, Tennessee and Milledgeville, Georgia. Since then, he has moved on to Chicago—for a brief stint—and New York City—for a significantly longer stay. Currently, he is "holed up" in a small town where when he is not writing, he tends to his "nature preserve" and his "back forty." His goal is to surround his house with all sorts of vegetation so as to obscure it from the gaze of the "locals." He is assisted in this task by his coonhound buddy and companion, Roma.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Nathan Lauer


It would be beautiful if
looking up from his own blood
in his hand he saw your face
without the obvious line
from Shakespeare disturbing his
sad final thoughts of himself.

Gerald So reads "Live! With a Ceramic Kitchen Knife...":

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Nathan confesses: "The fictional narrator opines that iit would be beautiful if' events transpired as described and is not inciting any specific public figure to action; only that, and this is true by the way, many wonderful people say this – very smart – it would be the very very best assassination ever. Huge."

NATHAN LAUER is an American writer living in Hong Kong. He is an MFA candidate at Pacific University's low residency program, where he has been awarded the Pearl Scholarship. His work has appeared in the Asia Literary Review, Buffalo Almanack, Meat for Tea, The Valley Review, The Eloquent Orifice, Of Zoos, and the anthology Hong Kong Future Perfect (Inkstone Press, 2016).

Monday, June 19, 2017

Robert Cooperman


The state of Tennessee
wants to pass a bill

that would legalize silencers
on their already approved

open-carry weapons:
So when fathers blast potential

burglars because they’re, you know,
black or brown or Muslim terrorists

or all three, and will murder us all,
the shots won’t wake the kids,

who’ve been playing first-person
shooter videos after they zipped

through homework in maybe five minutes
of tiger-maw yawning boredom.

Nothing more important
than a good night’s sleep, after all,

along with a hearty breakfast.

Gerald So reads "Silencers":

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Cooperman confesses: "This poem grew from an email from a friend from Tennessee, which he said, in the infinite wisdom of its Republican controlled legislature is trying to make the purchase and use of silencers on the state's open carry handguns legal. This struck me as patently ridiculous: isn't it enough you can pack heat on your hip and scare the hell out of non-gun carrying citizens who might, God forbid, be Democrats?"

ROBERT COOPERMAN's latest collection, Draft Dodger Blues (FutureCycle Press =, for orders) is just out. His other recent collection is City Hat Frame Factory, from Aldrich Press.