256 Shades of Grey's November 1996 Edition

A Collection of Poetry

How I Became a Dictator and Died

by Christopher Stolle

attempting to uncover
everything this culture hinders
as beggars scamper in the streets
and priests shout from the pulpit
while everyone of a tender age
begin to question
all the things they were taught.

my little pinkie
starts to bleed
but if my head was to ooze
could a bandage
trap in the fear
that a disease
would come and take me away
never to gasp again?

fortresses built
in overpopulated cities
to keep the virgins sacred
and the local merchants
would sell you a bottle
of the finest wine
for a few hundred dollars
to ferment your mind.

snapshot of horror
and the broom sweeps
all the wisdom
under the carpet.

so long virtual reality.


Cliff Top

by Trina Stolec

I stand on
flowers gone wild.
Watch waves riot toward land....
waves born in crisp Arctic surges,
traverse galaxies of space,
go Kamikaze on
stone blades
miles beneath my feet.
Hydraulic explosions

Their haunting song draws me
a step closer to the edge ...
their end now visible, yet
still slipping from my grasp.
A ritual
I can't seem
to shake...
Stand at
the edge
Inches from
Wait for
the reason
to not leap
to erupt within my thoughts.
The wind brings mist to my face.
No need to watch their demise today.
Just hope the reasons ...
whatever they may be ...
erupt in my brain very soon.


by Amy Lyn Turner

Can you see the thunder rumble,
or hear the gritty rocks?
Can you taste the bright sunlight,
or smell the sugary socks?

Just slowly reach your curious hand
and feel the aroma of the land.


by thomas j. clancy

Blind great grandmother
rocking in her chair
knitting a scarf in
kicks me away with
old, decaying feet in
pediatric shoes.

Grandmother preparing
sausage and ziti
in the kitchen,
cleaning garden tomatoes
for salad, tells me to go
to my

Mother sitting drunk
at the table in tears
speaking with
grandfather about father,
tells me to go
out and play.

I sit in the shade
of the old willow
tree, dreaming of
yesterday and
tomorrow and
things never did
quite turn out as
good as I imagine


by Cora M. Kammer

From the darkness of heaven I heard them cry
Angels were weeping and sad because God died
And the world down below was lying in flames
And the lost souls of Satan were not to be blamed

From the darkness of hell I heard them cry
Demons were howling and sad since Satan died
And the world up above was engulfed in tears
And it wasn't because of the angels' fears

From inside the emptiness of our torn hearts
We knew this was how our destruction starts
And our world fell apart in a wave of black death
And eternity had been all that we could get

From the coldest dark void collapsed the stars
Galaxies were screaming as they ripped apart
And the Universe ebbed away into dust
And it hadn't to do with what's right or what's just

From the shores of our Universe the storm went away
Silence fill up what once was a beautiful day
And nothing remained but a smear of gray ash
And the tide has ceased its once so terrible crash

From a speck of reality that was once ours
I wept but smelled nothing except the burnt stars
And I wished that my soul had then disappeared
And it would have been less than what angel's had feared

From a faint hope a being was born to love
He built himself a place of clouds far above
And the Lord built a Universe because he was alone
And all of its things reminded me of my home

From His spot in the sky He saw me weep
He came down from heaven, to me He would speak
And the Lord gave me wings upon which to fly
And He swore He would never be able to die

From His seat in the heavens He heard my laughter
Life had finally made it to the happily ever after
And a world sang below, praising existence
And a change had been made from that very first instant


by Pearl Mary Wilshaw

Without looking...
in the very early morn
before dawn, shades
still drawn, from
beneath my mound
of blankets, cocooned
against the cold, I
know when it's snowing
by the hushed, muted
of trains on tip-toe,
humming through town,
blaring horns wearing


by Pearl Mary Wilshaw

Christmas, pink cheeked
children, candles
bright, snow
white wedding
gowns, candle
light, ocean
blue skies,

Two Orchids

by Tom Brand

He walks in with two orchids.
Forty four.
Bustling with energy. Pizzazz.
One hour later
he stumbles out. Stopped and ninety five.
In the shade.
Wilting with each step.
ahead but bad news and neighbors
avoiding eye contact. And one orchid--
perfect symmetry destroyed.

A Simpleton Looking at a Blank Museum Wall

by Brice Patrick Gorman

"Aint really nothin' for sure,
resembles a butt crack upside down, inside out,
with a barn's poetry on the outer fringes
and a 1950's refrig that aint working'."


by Rod Farmer

"OK" is our subject.
Will you OK the American word OK?
I need your OK on OK
OK, Please agree.
Your approval would be, well OK,
after all, OK is truly OK.
OK, I have your attention?
It is OK that OK wears
many grammatical hats--all OK,
it shows how OK OK is.


by Rod Farmer

There he is, Mr. Erect,
standing at an aviator's
one o'clock
so full of himself
so purposeful
self-centered, audacious too,
it's enough to make one laugh
in amusement but we don't
want to embarrass him,
makes him shrink away.

Change-the Word

by Benjamin Ivry

Where humans silhouettes
reduce to signposts for the toilet,
and ancient spouses reunite for trysts
with warty death marks of the Abbe' Liszt,
we wait. Time drips like spittle,
in no rush to traverse a famous face,
that plays the game of change-the-word:
hospital, hot spur, horse piss, hospice.

Turning Point in Barcelona

by Benjamin Ivry

The idea that sleep is the sweetest benefice
is disproved by the beloved one's
nap in the Parc de la Ciudad.
Parti-colored lights, three old senoras arm-in-arm,
a cyclist's thighs---all are missed
by the one who feels absence of pain is the thing.
Lying shriveled like a Civil War cadet
changed by a bullet into a mess of clothes,
he cannot see that the park is beautiful, people are passing,
and we ourselves might be beautiful,
so I tell it to the pungent wrapper
of a bocadillo sandwich.


The Last Lighthouse Keeper

by Ryan G. Van Cleeve

Sir, though your islands are dry
Take your torch in a sturdy hand,
Look to the white stars for guidance.
Walk among the graves at dusk,
Over the bland withered leaves.

The sea washes the sand clean,
Bleaches the bones of the dead,
But the wise know enough to seek out
A lonely lantern that hangs in the air
Showing sailors how to come home.

Let the mad flee to the dank caves
That are shut up with walls of water.
Learn from the strength of the sea kale
To thrive on the lip of the world.


by Greg Watson

the last thing I hear
is your breath, a silence rustling like spirits
calling to late, the last movement
a red rose
tapping against the bed-
room window, the smell of must
and flesh wounds;
the fact of your warmth
when I come to bed, my body cold
from wandering the apartment naked,
is a book not to be read
but breathed.