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miller's pond

Fall 2017

Sean Lause Cleo Griffith Keith Moul Lee Slonimsky Carol Hamilton
Bobbi Sinha-Morey Richard Carl Subber Frank De Canio Richard Dinges Susandale
Drew Nacht Howard F. Stein

 

 

 

Sean Lause

What memory keeps

How close to the sun your cry once came,
from that first fall to unremembering.
All those angels lost themselves in clouds,
love and loss as close as any ring.
Now I long to soothe this withered hand.

Memory, that flower, once called you
into light. Yet an undertow of wind
and wing schools us in alone.
Time would leave us all in empty houses,
haunted by the rules of sorrow.

Still, your voice, smooth as moonlight,
once called me into song,
caressed the invisible
like departing leaves.
Now memory---so sudden!---catches flame again.

How deep in these veins
your silence beats to longing.

What silence knows

At sunset silence escapes the library,
tests the wind like a hunted deer,
embraces a shadow to learn its heart,
then hides between a cricket's tickings,
radiating mystery through the night.

It teaches the clock tower to seek eternity,
unravels the Zodiac's boastful song,
hears the confession of the waning moon
and visits the lonely where they sleep,
weaving their hearts with dreams.

Ghosts trail it, for ghosts speak in pure hushes.
It glides through the dark like a silver fish,
then returns before dawn to the stacks it haunts,
and before the books awake to words,
whispers the wisdom they never knew.

Sean Lause is a professor of English at Rhodes State College in Lima, Ohio. His poems have appeared in miller's pond, as well as The Minnesota Review, Another Chicago Magazine, The Beloit Poetry Journal, and The Alaska Quarterly. His first book of poems, Bestiary of Souls, was published in 2013 by FutureCycle Press.

 

Cleo Griffith

Neither Hyacinth Nor Hurry

Give me the cup without words,
the glass with no pattern,
the plate with no border.

I am wearied by the demands of optics.

Let me rest unemotionally involved,
give me no excess color or verbs,
no hyacinth or hurry.
Let me relax at a table
calm as a morning half-moon,
unassuming as the nesting sparrow.

Nettles

You are there, the four of you,
in a field of green nettles, in constant rain.
He, heavy as a thundercloud,
is the center of your prickly universe
where it is always wet summer,
nettles in full bloom, unavoidable.

You turn this way or that, brush against
stinging trichomes, afraid to tear
at the wiry stalks, afraid to tear your
way out of the brambles you know.

He tells you "stay, for lightning never
strikes where nettles grow" but
you are beginning to long for
the quick smart shock
to put an end to the daily needles.

Someone gives you a cookbook.
Now you can decide – to make
a long-simmered stew, and tea, or
a dinner salad of raw nettles.

Cleo Griffith was Chair of the Editorial Board of Song of the San Joaquin for its first twelve years and remains on the Board. Widely published, she lives in Salida, CA with her husband Tom, and their tabby, Tank.

 

Lee Slonimsky

Fox

It's a beautifully still morning,
the only stirring
the cries of four different birds.

Blue sky so bright
any shard of it's a sapphire.

If winter days were always like this,
no-one would need the spring!

But then a single snowflake spins down
out of empty bright blue,
and you become as alert as a fox.
Even boulders seem to quiver
with a sense of the unexpected.
One bird departs, diagonaling
between tree tops and a scimitar
of pale midmorning moon.

The sun remains implacable
in its love for still-running streams,
and seeds in the ground.
Where black water crosses into open light,
sparkles are denser than any blizzard
March might surprise
these almost budding woods with.

February's Softening Stream,

ice-shedding in this land
of ever-warming winters,
sounds at first like muted wind
heard through bramble, branches.

We're approaching in the densest woods
in dimming sunlight,
the color of a particularly pale
Valentine's Day.

But there's no wind:
only speeding water
breaking up ice,

a February ghost
of Aprils past.

Lee has poems recent or forthcoming in Angle, Blueline,Measure and Per Contra. His seventh collection, Consulting with the Swifts: New and Selected Poems 1982-2016, is out from Spuyten Duyvil
Press of New York City. He recently gave a poetry reading (along with Greek-American poet Ginger F. Zaimis) at the Athens Centre in Athens, Greece, where he had previously studied with the great poet A. E.
Stallings.

 

Bobbi Sinha-Morey

Early July

It is early July, a breezy
and sun-riddled Tuesday,
and a long, intricate path
leads me to the quiet shrine
of the afternoon: white stars
of clematis climbing a ladder
of strings, a small green garden
of herbs, pine shadows fluttering
in the breeze; high above me,
over the hills, a golden speck
in the blue sky's haze. It was
all I'd ever dreamed of in my
youth, and I'd inhaled a deep,
silent breath to take it all in,
and the healing energy the shy
hands of the aurora offered me.
Like the river I am wakening,
the faintest footfall of hope
growing faster inside my heart,
the glint of sun above a grey
heron bending to its silvery
image in the water, refreshing
itself before its flight. And,
as far as the eye can see,
a picture of speechless peace.
I've come into this kingdom
of tranquility, all about
splashed with light, and I
meld into its flow.

The Month of Buds

Each late April forsythias
open the lips of their petals
all across the hillside before
larkspur or yarrow cure the air.
It is the month of buds when
myrtle's blue covers the ground
and northern magnolias are
never the same, great starred
candelabra ghosting before
the evening; they break wholly
into bloom, and on a golden
afternoon a fallen constellation
is on the lawn. Shafts of hollyhocks
arrive in deep summer; magnolias,
their creamy-faced babies perched in
evergreen leaves. Under the morning
sky trees appear in their green hoods.
Silence glides in gentle spirals back
to the earth, deer search for a light
wind within the thicket of hazel,
wild rose, and blackberry bushes.
An echo of the sky's calm is in
the air, the nucleus of the sun
a balm for days to come.

Bobbi Sinha-Morey lives in the peaceful city of Brookings, Oregon with her husband, Joe. There she writes poetry in the morning and at night, always at her leisure. Her poetry has appeared in
a variety of places such as Plainsongs, Pirene's Fountain, and The Wayfarer. Her books of poetry include Winter Song, Crest of Light, The Glass Swan, and others. In addition, her work has been nominated for Best of the Net.

 

Howard F. Stein

Reckoning Time, Ghost Ranch, NM

Everything
here sprawls –
mesas, buttes, desert valleys,
cottonwood roots, sky;
They tell the same story
of reckoning time:
luminescent canyons
that glow in a low sun;
high desert
that was once a sea.
In this place
intrepid life grows
where it can
and asks for little
in return.
Space is parable,
mask of sprawling time.

first published in Friday's Poems/Ascent Aspirations Magazine

Howard F. Stein is professor emeritus in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA, where he taught for nearly 35 years. He is author of thirty books, of which nine are of poetry. The second edition of Listening Deeply was released in spring 2017. His most recent poetry book, Light and Shadow, was published in late 2016.
 

 

Richard Carl Subber

Another look

I think it's true that you can't stand still
on railroad tracks without thinking about
going somewhere,
especially if you're alone,
in an old cut,
and you feel a chill in the air
and the tracks are cold, you touch one rail,
it isn't shiny any more,
the last train through maybe was a milk run
with a steam engine, no one remembers...
You wait to take a step
because it seems easier to wait
a few moments more,
because you can't stop staring down the tracks
and you can't tell if you're looking ahead
or looking to the past...will you go
on to a new dream,
or maybe head back
to something you didn't want to leave?

Maybe it's different if you're not alone.

Previously published in his chapbook, Writing Rainbows: Poems for Grown-Ups

One dog's world

The fence is cruel, you understand,
it stops him short
   but does not bar his gaze,
it is the edge of his patrol,
each day he takes those last steps forward
   at a random spot,
and then, again, beyond that rusting truck,
and then, again, those last stiff steps
   to another well-worn station at the fence
      that makes his junkyard a prison.

The fence is cruel, you understand,
its wire links hide nothing
   of the lively concourse and the duck-filled river,
the shipping docks and the tandem rail lines
   outside his world.

The fence tempts his eye each day
   to see a new future a few steps away,
to see another world he cannot understand.
This fence is his faux frontier,
more harsh because so near,
a lure with no reward,
a circle with no end, no beginning,
no escape...

He learned too soon to dream of getting through...

Richard Subber is a freelance editor, a writing coach, historian, and former newspaper editor. Rick's first book of poetry, Writing Rainbows: Poems for Grown-Ups, is available on Amazon. His poetry also has been accepted in The Aurorean, The Australia Times Poetry, The RavensPerch, and elsewhere. His website is http://richardsubber.com/

 

Richard Dinges

Sun

Through a broad glass
pane, I witness
sun as an effect
on other things,
a surface wash,
a glint in chrome.
Eyes shift up, squint.
All those shadows
follow trees, birds.
People free to wander
under open skies
at mid-day, look
up, shade their eyes.
I can imagine
their wonder
at the darkness
where I stand.

Spider

Spider struts across
young woman's back,
wide white linen expanse
coating hot plain skin.
Eight dainty fingertips
sense her rhythms
beneath fabric, pulse
and breath, sizing
her up for a fitting.
I cannot tell her
too much to explain
why I know so much
about her back, hoping
the spider moves on
before I am snared
in another unwanted web.

Quiet Field

Milo lies idly
buried beneath
me. Sun sets into
red, pools over
plants edged in brown.
A mosquito
buzzes in my ear,
whispers the future
a nagging a black
hole that sucks
me forward into
growing noise,
houses and cars,
concrete harvested
from sterile clay.
Still I listen,
in the midst of
this roar for those
moments of silence.

Grove After Ice

Broken trees, limbs
shattered, bark shed
in broad sheets
across once tall grass,
now a rumpled
blanket over dark
brown earth pocked
by remnants of snow
drifts, twigs scattered
in idle scribbles,
trunks broad and vast,
bowed toward earth
in deference
to a blank blue sky.

Richard Dinges has an MA in literary studies from University of Iowa, and after many years, he no longer manages business systems at an insurance company. The Journal, Abbey, Comstock Review, Ginosko, and Red River Review most recently accepted his poems for their publications.

 

Frank De Canio

Sizing Her Up

"I'm five foot nothing," she replied
when I asked her who seemed so short,
if she at least was five foot five.
No extra measures to abort
my fears that I'd capitulate
to some less substantive allure -
with passions that are on the make.
Nor was it pleasant to endure
abrupt dismissal of my pride,
while she seemed poised to commandeer
enthusiasms she belied.
For she'd made vigorously clear
she wouldn't amplify her height
to mitigate my ego's plight.

Marooned

It's not remuneration which I'll miss
when ceding duties that exacted skill;
nor even losing friends I'll reminisce
about with warmth and feelings of goodwill.
I'd navigate nor'easters many years
when toil and sweat conspired with my pride
to bide the tattered hull that ran my tears
aground, by elbowing the tar inside.
But labor's not a temperate clime for age
to ply its course against the shoals of time
or mediate the turbulence of rage
till docked at piers beside the sledge and slime;
and harbors now are merely a mirage
for battered ships that can't afford portage.

Falstaff Redux

I wanted to impress the woman who arrived from Maine at Shakespeare in the Park in New York City - with her child in tow. I tried conveying to her all I knew of opera while we waited in the dark for lemon tea on the concession line, at intermission. "Which ones do you like?" I challenged her with probing third degrees. "La Traviata, Faust and La Boheme," she answered, with her daughter keeping watch upon her ardently beleaguered mom. The girl assumed Dame Quickly's smarmy mien. "We generally see the tragedies," the 13 year old earnestly averred. "Do you like Madame Butterfly?" I asked, now that I felt the girl was competent to join the tête-à-tête. "I never saw Madama Butterfly," she fired back. Her glib response would bring into relief my hasty anglicizing of the work, which I construed as a dismissive gibe at my faux pas. With Falstaff looming large as the conclusion of my effort to engage my Mistress Ford, I moved to ask "Dame Quickly" if she saw that masterpiece.


She didn't. Neither did her pensive Mom, who rescued her by citing Figaro. But my Dame Quickly drew Gianni Schicchi out of the cache of her aesthetic arms to keep me from the ones her mother had.

And she pronounced the words so perfectly, I dared not echo JAN-nee SKEEK-kee's name in kind - afraid it would entangle my thick tongue. Instead, buoyed by its famous tune, I sang "Ciao Ciao Bambino" - maiden phrase of that dear work's enchanting melody - to operatically precede the siege of my purported Mistress Ford. It seemed that she - my rival's mother - would accede to my presumptuously toned conceit. "O Mio Babbino Caro!" her Dame Quickly rejoined. "My favorite aria in opera." The girl parried once again my bogus thrust into her mother's heart by mouthing the correct Italian words!


Dejected by the drubbing I received, I switched my amatory quest to "Meg Page" at the concession stand - as Falstaff might well have done had the occasion rose. She smiled at me, my lemon tea inside her hand while she bemoaned that she had not yet been to the ballet. "The ABT's in town", I crowed, while handing her my cash, content to salvage this presumed romance. Just then I heard the little girl chirp in: "There's also the Australian Ballet," a company that was indeed in town.


"You know it all!" I laughed, in disbelief, amused by her astute intelligence. For he who laughs last, laughs the best", I smiled, recalling Falstaff's final line. And so my nemesis departed with her mom - my fancied conquest - winningly in tow.

 

Drew Nacht

The Knife Was No Dream

Unlike a fish which cannot fathom the arms or the agony
or the closest mammal to our kind,
the agile primate which can grow sad
but never conceive of thrusting a knife into its own abdomen,
I know how she sees herself, but there is an army to stop her-
there are counselors to put words in her head
and little kamikaze pills willing to jettison their own lives
in an attempt to save hers.
There are even places to live, a colony of like-minded souls,
but in restless sleep my dreams have better ideas-
I imagine a compliant, almost eager wife
who puckers her lips as I apply her lipstick.
My date is amused by the mirror highlighting the pretty dress
I bought her that she fits into so beautifully.
She may be a woman who no longer has the head
for normal conversation over dinner at an elegant restaurant
but is clearly still pleased to be there as she nods at my words,
looking at me straight in the eye with a little smile.
In that moment, I forget the last stop of the evening
will be the same voluntary prison which has separated us for so long,
until I am awakened by her shrieking in pain after damaging a tooth
having taken a hard bite out of an empty spoon.

Shoes

At my son's behest we had a serious powwow about his love life.
The girl he is engaged to did something to provoke second thoughts.
Before our talk we engaged in a ritual that is our habit before serious family discussions.
This peculiar family ritual, which began with my parents,
who were married for sixty years,
tended to make us think twice before opening our mouths,
making us more sensitive to different points of view.
My son evidently felt better after our talk
because he joked that he could not go through with the wedding
until he introduced our family ritual to his fiancé.
I voiced my surprise that he had not told her before the issue reached me
though I was happy to contribute.
I reminded him that his Mother and I had to overcome feelings of strangeness
concerning the ritual as well-
for me it was introducing it, for his Mother, accepting it.
But as his Mother is fond of saying,
while it was easy to fit her whole foot into my shoe,
just the act of placing part of my larger foot into her shoe
made all the difference in the world.

My Brave Bald Child

Even a full moon has lost its luster,
it's not nearly as bright as it used to be-
the same for all of nature's colors,
the world looks like a shadow of its former self.
He has a new season every day,
mostly falls and winters,
every once in a while the hopefulness of spring emerges
but never seems to last long.
As for summer, I can only dream of slower days
of sun and warmth with the fully realized potential
of everything nature has to offer-

I squeeze tight when we hug.
At first I was afraid he was too fragile but not anymore.
I squeeze tight so he knows I am with him
with every frightful breath he takes.
I squeeze tight in an attempt to will my spirit into his,
pulling the demon cells from his small body
and depositing them into mine.
I am not committing suicide, as I imagine I can absorb them,
the evil cells not standing a chance inside my body,
the body he emerged from-
I picture my womb re-opening, releasing good cells
to attack and destroy those incoming bad cells forever
and my child would be mine again
without the dearth of sickness
and the menacing shadow of death hovering so close.

Drew Nacht has had over thirty poems published in various magazines, small presses and journals in the recent past. He has had his poems read on stage by performance artists and recited on Israel National Radio. His first full length book of poems will be published by the African World Press in the summer of 2018.

Susandale

*Where Go Our Dreams

Prayer rugs beneath our knees
Our lantern lights fade
While we sleep by the sea

Wondering from yesterday
All the way through
Where go our dreams
if they don't come true

Feral creatures loving the sun
Curling up, purring,
Belonging to no one
Coming and going, as they please
As free as the moment
carried on a breeze

But where?

Within a mirror
giving back the face of another?

To a fading garden
Lost among the weeds
Arranged in a vase
Going to seed?
Climbing with tendrils wrapping
Bearing blossoms kissed by bees?

What colors to paint them
these illusive dreams?
What verses to sing them
to give them wings?

Baubles to bubbles
to prick
These veiled vapors
These will o' wisps

Hanging to the notes
of a requiem giving death its due
Do we bury dreams
If they don't come true

Inside a nest to be hatched into surrender
Acceptance?
Or the residue of schemes?
Are they but the remains
of the gods eternal schemes?

Closed up in a book
with fairy tale ends
These dreams - once friends
Now simply - the end

Warm melancholies
misting off in spring dew
Where go our dreams
if they don't come true?

Steamy vapors – illusions?
Sediments of time?
Dreams: where do they go
When we leave them behind?

Pulsating pulse beats
drifting to ephemeral dust
Dreams, old and forgotten
do they mold or rust

We wonder all and more
As, below on our knees
with lanterns lit
We sleep by the sea

*Where Go Our Dreams: published in Oneswan and won the grand prize for poetry

Susandale's poems and fiction are on WestWard Quarterly, Mad Swirl, and Penman Review, among others. In 2007, she won the grand prize for poetry from Oneswan. She has two published chapbooks on the internet: Spaces Among Spaces by languageandculture.org, and one online now, Bending the Spaces of Time by Barometric Pressure.

 

Carol Hamilton

Weather Forecast

Cold leaped in again
   on the back of last night's lightning,
sulfurous and noisy,
   shouting summer oaths
right into the middle of winter.
   On the flat center of this land,
any curse rolls right down
   from Canada to the Sonora deserts.
Our tongues have no need
   to translate the flatland shibboleth ---
                   trouble.
          We hunker down,
                          endure.

Carol Hamilton has recent and upcoming publications in Paper Street Journal, Cold Mountain Review, Common Ground, and many others. She has published 17 books, and her most recent is SUCH DEATHS from Virtual Arts Cooperative Press Purple Flag Series. She is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma and has been nominated seven times for a Pushcart Prize

Keith Moul

The Future May Include Idaho

Arched barn roofs haloed by pure white, a gift
From this morning's light, attract worshippers
To the corn from all points of all our horizons.
Women lead. Men hang back. Not for reticence,
But rather the final drags of cigars and cigarettes,
Smoke filling their lungs while they yield rank.

"Gentlemen, the King's heart bleeds for you."
So they file into the barn ready to acknowledge
The solemnity in their pledges to corn, the idea.

Each day, or mist of dark, provides certain signs,
While at work, while sleeping, while walking to
Or walking from my objective, directly, or less
Commonly at angles needed to pass impediments,
Its call hovers, holy music, memory from spheres.

Someday, not soon, I will visit Idaho to appreciate
The sun resplendent on the Rockies, from the west.

Keith's poems and photos are published widely. Finishing Line Press released his chap, The Future as a Picnic Lunch, in November, 2015. Aldrich Press has published Naked Among Possibilities in August and No Map at Hand for 2017; Finishing Line published Investment in Idolatry early in 2017.