To The Tower

The Stairs, by Mat Tarbox

Tristful tower! Up stumbling stairs
Of severe ascent, to a laden daze,
You are an emblem of the years
Of shade — a hiding heart —
The muddled maze of this lost art
As Kinski’s starkest gaze;

The Arch, by Mat Tarbox

But when within this arch she peers —
Which glimmers then, and shifts —
Why, then, the stilling of the fear
Her shimmering persists;
For in my heart — as in this tower —
Her specter fallen lies —
This heart may rise and cease to cower,
Beside her woken eyes.

The Tower, by Mat Tarbox

(photos & poetry by Tarbox, in the style of Edgar Allan Poe’s “To The River”)

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Panama Diaries, Part I

The woman pretending to be my aunt tells me those are sex hotels on the side of the highway. They’re called “Tu y Yo” and “Paraiso Real.” I note the prices, marked on a sign outside: Seventeen American dollars for three hours/Thirty-five dollars for “Toda La Noche.” We keep driving.

I’m glad we have left Panama City behind. It’s like the city I grew up in and left, New York. But a New York long vanished, full of beautiful abandoned spaces, cracks in sidewalks, graffiti, shady characters and salt smell of ocean in the air.

We zip through mountains, one’s crags looks like a sleeping old woman, past roadside stands selling mangoes and cold coconuts towards the small town of Pedasi.

The whole country has been drenched in rain, lightning illuminating palm fronds against inky skies punctuated by glorious bright beach days. Rainy season in the tropics, you never know what you are going to get.


Guadalupe tells everyone she’s my aunt because she says it’s safer that way and maybe she’s right. She’s a retired Spanish journalist and television personality who’s interviewed some of the world’s leading political figures as well as hosted The Jackson Five on her television show “300 Milliones” back in the ‘70s.

“I used to be very famous, now I end up living like a gypsy in the country.” She tells me as she does over eighty on narrow highways lined with jungle and rolling pastures of cane sugar, corn and cows.

She has good reason to be paranoid. She’s been robbed twice on her campo, a big piece of land with tidy casitas guarded only by a rusted black metal gate. So I pass as her tall, grey-eyed nephew from the States and with my decent Spanish accented by the downtown New York bodegas of my youth, no one asks many questions.


After all, this is the land of Noriega, who died in a cell overlooking the Panama Canal. A land of drug lords and poverty, ghettos in Panama City still containing rubble from when Reagan bombed it in the ‘80s. A land where dead dogs line the highways, where pirates once burned down the old city and breezed along the coasts, a land stamped with the violence and greed of conquistadors before them and more recently the Panama Papers, dark money and lawlessness. Like so many others, I’ve come here to hide.

But it’s also full of heated beauty. Guayacan and Banyon trees silhouetted flaming against the sunset, nights full of stars and satellites, whales gathering off the coast in one of the deepest parts of the Pacific to give birth, pastel pink and blue cemeteries dotted with rich tropical flowers, warm people who insist on feeding me my favorite carimañolas, fried yuca patties stuffed with ground beef, iguanas crying in the night rich with fresh cut grass and promise.

I burn saint candles even though I’m Jewish, wish away my past and hope towards my future like a drunk leaning into the bottle. Most times, I am drunk sipping my tenth Balboa beer, my favorite, named for the conquistador who “discovered” Panama was the world’s only isthmus. A cradle of life full of sloths, crocodiles, snakes, butterflies, the country with the most species of animals on the planet.

In the jungle by the sea, I feel a peace I’ve never felt anywhere else.


Each crash of distant wave a lullaby helping me forget who I was in New York City. What I’ve lost and left behind. What, like so many adventurers before me, I hope to find in this part of the world they call Los Azueros.

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A Prophecy

the old systems are being destroyed
right in front of our eyes-
refrain from shielding your sight…

we exist within the hidden nature
of a heedless epoch.
a severance of our accepted
deference toward divinity.

our examination of
behavioral traits
stretches decades.
was it all part of the plan?
we participated, subscribed, and invested wholly
in the disruption of the anticipated outcome.

perhaps, the convincing argument
articulates a recollection,
not an institutional
creationism that
may protect the possible
consideration of the

the evidence is everywhere.
a collation of failed firewalls,
as reckless malware
creates a composite portfolio
of corruption.

is the mirror image an exercise of divisive involvement?

we are being asked to
define formality.
a curious reclamation
of a previous reality.

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CC Poem

waiting for the break to break
for the pressure that has
over time
amassed and disrupted the peripheral priorities
the restless ones
the ones where longing lingers
the ones that lead me
lie to me
tell me what I want to hear when I want to hear it – they are sweet nothings

the whispers wash over me in waves
they swirl and eddy
they push and pull and vie for attention
some undue
some worthy of




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I don’t know what to title it

I don’t know what to title this piece of writing.
It feels like a suicide note, but there’s no way it could possibly be such a thing.
But I do hate the demon.
Always lurking.
Maybe it’s a homicide note.
DEMON must die.
Doesn’t make sense.
It’s inside me.
It is me.
I made it.
It’s mine.
So what do I do?

There’s a certain pain to it.
Like a sickness.
Always there.
Always lurking.
Sometimes fine.
Sometimes nasty.
Sometimes nastier than most.
So, how then?
Who then?
What do I do, then?

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The Balance of Power

The woman is perfected.
Her dead
Body wears the smile of accomplishment,
The illusion of a Greek necessity
Flows in the scrolls of her toga,
Her bare
Feet seem to be saying:
We have come so far, it is over.
Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,
One at each little
Pitcher of milk, now empty.
She has folded
Them back into her body as petals
Of a rose close when the garden
Stiffens and odors bleed
From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.
The moon has nothing to be sad about,
Staring from her hood of bone.
She is used to this sort of thing.
Her blacks crackle and drag.


a new photo narrative featuring Model: Jane Alice
as my LIBRA
for the new series: Personal Universe, an astrological study starring the model stable of Michelle Gemma (2017-2018)
Photograph by Michelle  Gemma
27 July 2018
Stonington Boro, CT  USA
Full Moon Lunar Eclipse

featuring the Poem:
Edge      by      SYLVIA PLATH





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Walk at Dawn

the sky is still blue
the sky is still and blue
the sun only hints at being a part of this like we are a part of this
in this middle of it all
this field
where this field and the makeshift pavement meet like an indecision
bits of one strata dissolving into another
the normally tall golden stalks of grass
erect and proud, now weighed down
with the seriousness of the night before
the cool and damp
the incremental impact
the slight change in the atmosphere
as if from positive to negative
and back again

we join hands
one of us shivers
the difference is imperceptible
neither of us speak
as we step in unison
the sky is lighter though not bright
the birds have taken notice and the edges of the field start to come alive
the grasses, their heads full of seeds, crane slightly as the defining forces stoically imply their will
almost with each step there are changes taking place
where our feet meet the ground
where the wet of the grass, on careful occasion, meets with our flesh in dewey transference
a diamond exchange
an offer glistening
pausing, glistening, dropping to the ground

up the hill
around the corner
in amongst the cattle that come into focus as the day makes its way
there is less blue now
more bright
the balance is tipping
the winds are rising ever so slightly
the mist gives way to a clarity upon which we both remark
it feels good
less alone
more engaging
the individual parts, as we make our way along a ridgeline trail, integrate
root, rot, branch, the slight trickle of a spring bubbling up out the earth’s surface
one grip tightens, the other responds
eyes meet, hearts skip a beat
down the hill we go

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and a Pitbull named Perry

shirt tucked tightly, smoothed over the contours contained therein
the body of evidence in support of the conclusion already reached

this, not in roundabout form, no pussyfooting here, bub,
but directly, like no one I’ve ever met

the soft curves in continuation over hip and haunch where the body bends, folding softly in a series of gestures and suggestions

and somewhere in all this, the differences diminish
the distance is diminished and the gravity,
that which almost inexplicably draws one thing to another
becomes the only thing that matters

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sweet desolation,
you kick my leg again, beneath this victorian table
you stand me up and exit me out with your bottle, your grin.
we leave in a fluster of goodbyes.
we are alone now, you and i,
and what sweet victory,

it is another radioless evening driving out here along the pavement
and out and north i have spent all my money
on tankfuls of gasoline and a styrofoam cup.
all i need is the interstate wind,
a chance to be alone and taken.

it is this time of year
when the leaves have fallen to slick the asphalt surface
and the trees have grown bare to admit the halogen glow.
it is this time of night
when the october rain glistens in the turn
and the rearview mirror is dark and empty.
i have spent my money on gasoline, desolation.
i have spent a lifetime in your avenues
and i am still awaiting
your perfect kiss.

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