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Volume 12, Issue 1
Winter 2009

Teresa Chuc Dowell Donal Mahoney
Tammy Ho Karen Neuberg
Donovan White David Appelbaum
Suzanne Richardson Harvey Laura Sobbott Ross
Robert Demaree Joan Rene Goldberg
Sherry Weaver Smith Joan McNerney
Eric Burke

Teresa Chuc Dowell

Rainforest

 I close my eyes so that I can see it.
What we so freely eliminate. Who is

not guilty of it? We reek of paper.
Everywhere we go is paper. Our

hands are stained with paper.
Walls. What echoes from our walls.

The sweet whisper of rainforest -
even the name makes the sound of

rushing water or perhaps it's a ghost
that haunts us. They say the dead

that did not die a peaceful death are
doomed forever to wander the earth.

But perhaps this earth is for them
already a cemetery - stacks and

stacks of flesh on a desk. Which
one belongs to which tree?

Already, we've traded oxygen for
so much.


Maps


I.

Pieces of broken crackers –
the geometry of the United States,
Your finger traces a blue highway along
The Atlantic coast, pauses at periods
Where a city is located.

II.

I love maps –
To seek out circled stars on a page
and to name them,
I love the vast open green spaces
and cities within a centimeter of
white paper,
to journey back in time and to
hear stories,
I love how my hand can lift an
Entire state and turn it over
To where it continues
On the other side.

III.

I lie here on your bed
Looking at maps,
Thinking –
Travel me, enter
My capital.
   
IV.

Your heart - a matrix,
Womb from where
Everything grows.
I love this first map.
I love to visit
Where waves crash upon
The shore and water
Sizzles and foams,
Standing knee-deep
As it returns to its depths.

 

Evolution: Danaus plexippus plexippus


a Monarch flickers its orange and black
lashes on a milkweed stem.
tongue uncurling to drink the poisonous,
white sap.
taking into its body the reason for its
survival - its ability to live with poison
and become it. it takes a bird once
to learn the lesson in eating a
Monarch.
How we survive, take our poisons and turn them
into milky white sap that sustains us.
Spread our patterned wings and be
harbringer - of flowers, plant, food, and
water.

walking stick


phasmida. olive green like leaves
and limb. how nice it is to be
an appartition. to be apparently not
there. how the branches jangle in a
slight breeze. a moving fragment
bouys a bouquet of leaves. with
such a yearning to be tree.
indistinguishable by a bird's eye.
manuevering by night. chewing
shedded skin. leaving no trace.


silently shifting among the shuffling.
quiet against walls, still as furniture.
my antennae perceives static.
I have inhabited this earth for so long
that I blend into sidewalks.
billboards, magazines, t.v.shows.
voices imperceptible from one
another. camouflaged. how i wish

for once to be pecked, to detach

a limb from a beak in my escape

because of my uniqueness.

sticking out.




Teresa Chuc Dowell is a writer of poetry and short stories. She has a B.A. in Philosophy. Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in print and online magazines including The National Poetry Review, Community Life Magazine, Jack Magazine, and PoetryMagazine.com.  Her short stories have appeared in or are forthcoming in print and online magazines including SugarMule.com and Memoir (and). She has written and published a children's book called "Bye Bye, Grandma"(2007).  Teresa teaches English literature at a Los Angeles public high school.

tcd3942@lausd.net

Donal Mahoney

The Honey Room 

Brother Al, in his hood,
is out in his field
making love to his bees.
From my room I can see
him move through his hives
the way people should move
among people.
The bees give him gold
and the gold
turns orange in jars
he sells in a room
near the door of the abbey.
The Honey Room, everyone calls it.
Besides Brother Al, only I
go into that room full of honey.
I go in there and bend
and look through the jars
in white lids sitting orange and still
on the shelves and the sills.
I bend and I look
through jar after jar till
there in the orange, coming clear,
I see Sue standing straight
in a field of her own with a smile
for our garland of children.

previously published in Commonweal Magazine, November 14, 1969


Those Poems, That Fire


I stood in the alley, still
in pajamas, somebody’s shoes,
another man’s coat, my eyes
on the bronc of the hoses.
Squawed in the blankets of neighbors,
my wife and three children sipped
chocolate, stood orange and still.
Of the hundred or more I had stored
in a drawer, I could remember,
comma for comma, no more than four,
none of them final,
all of them fetal.

previously published in Four Quarters, March 1971

Donal Mahoney has had poems published in or accepted by The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, Commonweal, The Christian Science Monitor, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Mid-America Poetry Review, Revival (Ireland), The Davidson Miscellany, The Goddard Journal, The Pembroke Magazine, The Chicago Sunday Tribune Magazine, Sou’wester, Salt Lick, The Mustang Review, Obscurity and a Penny, The Road Apple Review and other publications.

donalmahoney@charter.net


Tammy Ho

 Watching My Dad Fly a Kite

He runs, pants on the grass, and flirts
with the string. Finally he has his kite
flying. The coral sun competes
for attention but loses:
every holiday eye is on the rising kite;
its rainbow pattern long out of sight
but the shape of a solitary dragon
stands out in the sparse sea
of clouds. He releases some string,
then reels in slightly, releases more.
Applause.
That skill isn't luck, that skill is marvellous.

Suddenly, a strong gush of wind. The string
spins out of control. The kite flies
like madness. It flies higher still.
Struggle, and the entire world takes
pleasure watching how you might
fail. After the god-sent wind, the kite
remains highly out of reach.
His audience bored, disperse, leaving him
to spend hours to shrink the distance
between him and the proud kite, alone.

--A different version appeared in A Moment of Deja Vu, Forward Press, UK (2007)

Tammy Ho is a Hong Kong-born writer currently based in London. She is a founding co-editor of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. Tammy's website is http://www.sighming.com.

sighming@graduate.hku.hk

Karen Neuberg

Crush

With you heading toward the other pole, I was all dawn,
taking terrifying chances, making strategically astute plans.
No matter, your innocence in the hall pushed me further to pull -
moving me off plumb line into that other path so mysterious
I gave in to compulsions and wove what wafted from songs
of the day – metal beats and solid strums – into throbbing
pulses.  Allotted.  Out of it all, out of all time, a small
 
screed that as an ‘us’, lived, then dissolved.  Such
fire in our pants.  Simple sentences containing nuance, depth,
an entire well of meaning in hello.  Did you plan to wear
that exact shade of blue knowing I had a weakness for sky?
I exposed my ear and you placed your tongue a moment
too long on your toast while I looked up from juice.  No one
else could wedge between the space between us, littered
 
with everything we brought.  It covered our passion.  Covered
lusty our torsos.  We leaned & yearned, meeting unplanned
at the quad where we felt & heard wind snapping the tent flaps
of our ancestors moving in the shadows of the past.  Our weary
hearts dueled.  Our feet confirmed distance we weren’t ready
to cross.  When we said goodbye, nothing fell with a clang
yet I know I saw a flash of the tomb, felt the crush of never.

Karen Neuberg’s poems have appeared or are pending in many journals, including Diagram, 42Opus, Columbia Poetry Review, and The Dirty Napkin. She’s a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, holds an MFA from the New School and is an assistant editor at Inertia Magazine. Karen and her husband live in Brooklyn , NY and West Hurley.

kneuberg@hotmail.com


Donovan White


Cronic lamentations

“There remains only one person, a woman, who speaks Siletz Dee-ni, the last of many languages once spoken on a reservation in Oregon .”

When music falls to silence,
The songs have dwindled past a drone
To sink into a solitude
As silt-drowned mountain lakes’ identity
Is lost in golden blossom-littered grass.
It takes an eye to look,
To see what splashed before.
But eye without a will to see
It all is only what it seems,
Just this and nothing more,
And not the one that went before.

What legends lost?
What nursery rhymes?
The nursing mother’s soothing croons
Passed down through time,
What grim demons cast away?

The shape of time itself is laid,
A curving path down eons of days,
The peaks and dips of humans form
The rhythm of considered life.

The great gestalt once understood –
The universe from start to end
Goes unparsed in metered verse.
The cadence flattens out,
Less a trope than single note.
 

Deaf first

We’re left without connecting strings -
A painting without solid lines
Whose clash of color thins to wine.

A fog enshrouds a blue Monet
Where waterlilies leave wet feet
And all else fades in gray retreat.

It did not all, does not all go
At once, or even bunched or paired.
It goes in chunks, mad cow despair.

The rest will not work just quite right
A synapse fails into a gap
Where meaning has no shape, runs flat.

But not just deaf, the rest go fast -
The sight, the taste, the touch, the smell -
And leave behind a fractured hell.

The hidden sense that lies in clouds
Where scented arm and tremored hand
Stretch out to clasp a frenzied strand,

We only lose the ones we love,
The rest slip off unheard, unseen.
What’s left is jangly space between.
 

The Ties That Bind


Our secrets lie, full, in plain sight
They only hide behind the eyes.
The pain, unspoken, lingers on -
An oak leaf hanging to its limb,
Clasping through the winter's long
And unrelenting cold and wind
And giving up its pride of place
Only when the second comes
In fulsomeness of careless spring.
The ties that bind aren't love and longing.
Our binding ties are death and dying.


Forget It


Who can't remember simple lines?
An aging, artful literateur,
A nimble fool whose life's defined.

His postured walls expressed in rhymes,
The mime is just a cantling actor
Who can't remember simple lines.

The slightest sequence read for signs -
Significance in single measure -
A nimble fool whose life's defined.

"What's mine is yours, what's yours is mine,"
"I lay me down in greener pastures."
Who can't remember simple lines?

Through summer evenings soft as wine
And winter mornings rimed in shivers,
A nimble fool whose life's defined
By all the words a tongue can't find
When aging memory starts to falter,
Whose cant re-members simple lines -
A nimble fool who life defined.
 

Donovan White made a living as a carpenter while enrolled in a Creative Writing program and wrote short fiction nights and weekends. Then he worked as an editor and wrote nothing but headlines and captions. Now he manages software development and writes poetry nights and weekends and on breaks in his workday commute. All that means he likes structure - formalish verse - which tends toward themes of love and lust and aging - plus whaever he might have heard on NPR lately. He lives in a formerly small house in the woods. Whenever he starts feeling mature, or smart, or sophisticated, sooner or later he remembers that he's had only a few great loves in his life, and three of them were dogs.

dwhite@olinfo.com


David Appelbaum

Golden hook


Each day there is more to see
now the leaves have
surrendered
their stunning beauty
for ash
crushed underfoot
a new ending
for the story I love

This is how it is
do not imagine death
wears a piebald coat
& plucks his fruit
with a golden hook
giddy & serious
at the solemn moment
an altar boy at prayer

& here, the many threads
of autumn spiders
flutter in sudden light
broken, lost
tentatively twining
as they cross
to forbidden colonies
solo
with no passenger

Fungus


Who kills the messenger?
the yellow tumor
I walked by that day
under the oak cork
the wind rushed up & said
the word cloaca
as from a boyhood book
thoughts of caves & coelums
came & I remembered
the worm
that feeds us
the food we are

it seemed a great master
had passed
hunting a subject
even less loved
to display his art
it was here
when I looked at the yellow sun
a wax overgrowth
on that golden bough
cancerous
sure to shame
& felt it cower
under the tender shoot
myself

for what is it
to swallow
that poison
grasping
& leave it behind
as you leave behind a shadow
as you leave
behind
this last breath?


David Appelbaum is a hiker and biker, former editor of Parabola Magazine, whose poetry has appeared in such places as APR, Commonweal, and Verse Daily.


appelbad@newpaltz.edu



Suzanne Richardson Harvey

Off Limits

It's time to establish a wildlife refuge
In the skirmish with creeping asphalt
A soaring shopping plaza
And seven identical motels
An endangered species can't reserve
The honeymoon suite at the Hyatt
Or dine at a restaurant that spins
On the tower of the Holiday Inn

A sandpiper pecks with genteel grace
At the emerald algae that coat
The few unblasted stones where the sea
Left her signature last week
Dotting the beach like grey ellipses
It's imperative to close the border
Seal off the area and mount a sign
Hunters will be prosecuted
Trespassers shot.


The Muses and Their Progeny


They enter on tiptoe
Arriving from some minefield in the heart
Sometimes in bundles or in pairs
Occasionally a solitary wanderer
Who strayed from the pack
Come to map uncharted habitats
Irrigate a desert or carve settlements in the wilderness
Bent on colonizing the outback of imagination.

Suzanne Richardson Harvey is a member of the Academy of American Poets. For almost two decades she lectured in the English Department at Stanford University. She is now retired.

In addition, for a semester Suzanne was a visiting lecturer in the English Department at the University of California at Berkeley, and for almost a decade she was an instructor in the publishing program at the University of California at Berkeley Extension.

Before that, she was an instructor at Tufts University in the Boston area, where she received my doctorate in Elizabethan poetry. Recently, in her retirement Suzanne was active in teaching at Emeritus College (continuing education for older adults) in the San Francisco Bay Area for almost a decade.

Her poetry has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Concho River Review, Mannequin Envy, Convergence Journal, Poetalk, Poetry Salzburg Review (Austria), SpeedPoets (Australia), Ascent Aspirations Magazine (Canada),
NthPosition (UK), Current Accounts (UK), Poetic Hours (UK), Splizz (Wales), among other venues.


SHarvey1210@comcast.net



Laura Sobbott Ross


These Days

 are a boy’s simple melody.
The one our son plucks
from the strings of his guitar.
Notes that lift and align
like birds on a wire.
He has learned to channel
the bright thrum of wings;
the intenerate kingdom
of sound and air
pulled taut in the space
at his fingertips.
 
Summer rain, baseball diamonds,
a treetop in each fist, a stone
the color of rust skipping
the lake’s rumpled, glossy skin—
these are his songs. He wants
to write them, in his own winding
path up the mountain, break the snow
into pale blue shadows, let his initials
thicken in the wall of a tree.
 
Do you want to hear it again?
he asks, the same way he says
Watch this! Watch this!
before he jumps from the canted swing
or tumbles slippery and wild into the sea.
Yes, again, we will say, and remember.

 

Dairy Farm on Britt Road

 
The cows are gone now.
 
They survived hurricanes, blight,
and even August, while dutifully
whitening the chilled rim of dawn
in quotas milky as a morning moon.
 
I would see them crowded later
beneath the only tree in the field,
which spread its shadow across
them like a purpled bruise.
 
Did they long for some release,
cool and thick as pasture grass,
more than their own calves
mewing nearby in a pen of dirt?
 
Interpretable as ink blots
scattered across a white page,
they seemed to be in flux
between the barn, the winding road,
and the fences holding everything back
but magenta, hot and riotous,
in thickets thorny as barbed wire.
 
I still drive by the sleeping kingdom,
ablaze with more than clambering vines.
The oak tree an empty shelter now,
and the same yearning at the fence line
growing wild and wilder.

 

I’m Talking about Love

 
You were the only man who could have
gotten me to the top of the Empire State Building.
I remember wanting to press myself
flat against the walls, make myself
as innocuous as possible when I walked
as if I couldn’t be that far off the ground
and still be allowed free will.
 
I saw everything the way
I hadn’t really wanted to see it,
the enormity of it all—
looking down into an ocean,
you and me at the helm,
flags whipping in the high wind.
 
I suddenly missed the green places
where I had come from, where I ran
unencumbered with the weight
of walls and ledges.
Sweaty palms, breathlessness—
all the usual involuntary reactions.
I can still feel them now.
 
It is easier to remember
then it is to stand at the edge.
Weren’t you scared, too?
This is crazy, I remember you saying it
out loud, grateful for the way
we held on to each other—
slippery fingers interlocking
as if our lives depended on it.



Laura Sobbott Ross is a freelance architectural designer who was nominated for a 2007 Pushcart Prize, and has poetry in or forthcoming in The Columbia Review, Tar River Poetry, Slow Trains, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, The Arkansas Review, Kalliope, and Cutthroat, A Journal of the Arts, among many others.

ross2004@earthlink.net




Robert Demaree

Late in August

 
It is surely not July,
High hazy sun, grandchildren jumping off the dock.
And not October,
Red and gold against evergreen hills,
Nor even September,
Whose yellowing ferns hint at what’s to come.
The last week in August is its own time,
Campers, tourists mostly gone,
Quiet on the pond:
The angle of the sun,
Cerulean light out of Canada ,
Distant warmth on your back,
Walking past the meadow.
Late in August in New Hampshire —
What it tells you is this:
There’s still time,
But maybe not as much as you thought.


Rust Pond, June 2004

 
We are walking now, Martha and I,
Along the dusty road by the meadow,
Past Betsy Winbourne’s garden.
Columbine and wild roses hug the split rail fence;
Later asters and Indian blanket will sparkle
In the crystalline August light.
Beyond the meadow, a thin apron of white pines,
Tall and straight, like slender old men, and
The granite rocks which
Frame the pristine waters of the pond:
That is it a pleasant scene no one disputes,
To call it beautiful a matter of memory and hope.
 
At night I leaf through old magazines from the 70s,
Things my mother had kept:
Ads for electric typewriters,
Defunct airlines and breweries:
The weight of the past
Borne by the slender band of moonlight
Reflected on the pond beneath the cottage window.
 
“Rust Pond June 2004” appeared in Color Wheel Spring-Summer 2006
 
 
Robert Demaree is the author of three collections of poems, including Fathers and Teachers, published April 2007 by Beech River Books. The winner of the 2007 Conway, N.H., Library Poetry Award, he is a retired school administrator with ties to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, where he lives five months of the year. He has had over 300 poems published or accepted by 90 periodicals. For further information see http://www.demareeepoetry.blogspot.com 

rdemareejr@triad.rr.com


Joan Rene Goldberg

Flatlands

 
 Walk with me
 to Flatlands
   street signs hang off
 crooked corners,
 junkyards
stagnant water
silhouettes
  people throw dirt
over fences
men stained and
longing
camouflaged
 
Collage a kiss and my bicycle
a boy's warm coveralls
muscles many places
my  last pillow hug
excuses absent  truancy
letters
 
 
I  jumped fell kicked myself
went to a secret place
where children deliver
discovered Flatlands 
did end
returned to school
hid shame
begged forgiveness
vow abstinence


Joan graduated from Brooklyn College years ago and has lived in many places since. Her poems will appear in Eclectica this summer.

Joango59@aol.com



Joan McNerney  

Wintry Bouquet

 
This December
during wide nights
hemmed by blackness,
I remember roses.
Pink yellow red violet
those satin blooms of June.
We must wait six months
before seeing blossoms,
touch their brightness
crush their scent
with fingertips.
Now there are only
ebony pools of winter’s
heavy ink of darkness.
Dipping into memory of
my lips touching petals
tantalizing sweet buds.
My body longs for softness.
I glimpse brilliant faces of
flowers right before me as I
burrow beneath frosty blankets.
Bracing against that long, cold
nocturnal of wind and shadow.

Joan McNerney's poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Boston Review of the Arts, Kalliope, Mudfish, Spectrum and Word Thursdays. Four of her books have been published by fine literary presses. She has performed at the National Arts Club, Borders Bookstore, McNay Art Institute and other distinguished venues. A recent reading was sponsored by the American Academy of Poetry. Her latest title is Having Lunch with the Sky, A.P.D., Albany, New York.


poetryjoan@statetel.com



Sherry Weaver Smith

Forest Children

For Laura, Natalia and Gavin

We are tracking
three kids in a grove,
what little real green
suburbs can spare,
a forest girl- and boy-scaled.

Just enough space between trees,
for the life of traveling feet,
and just enough dappled sun
for us mothers to follow
remnants of childhood paths.

The boy shouts monkey howls.
The wind cobras over and twists
up a hurricane tree.
Skyward branches, sun-thirsty leaves
funnel up the eye,
a Cyclops trunk.

The girls imagine white stones
spinning around the bark,
chucking rocky bulk, cracking
open as doves.

But soon it's five, as the forest
loses our footprints,
we usher the children to the playground's
flatness.

They are like birds
who drop down from trees
to perch occasionally
above the swings.

An Absence of Landmarks


Grass grows over
the wagon trail that once led here.
June wind blows the dust to rest
on the west side of the stalks.

By a tree that once grew in the wash,
but now has broken down to a low snag,
stands a small wooden cross
draped with sun-bleached rose beads.

They must have chosen this place
for what they hoped
would be shade
of returning leaves.
And the way the tree, the only vertical
above grass-line for miles,
might have guided their return.

But as the path through prairie
has been lost,
and the canopy on the horizon
has vanished,
the memory of who was buried here
has faded.

Only the meadowlark 
perched on the snag
sings of this place.

Sherry Weaver Smith's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in California Quarterly, High Plains Register, Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream, Monterey Poetry Review, The Heron's Nest and numerous local anthologies. Awards include the Charlene Villella Poetry Award (2007) and third prize in the Dancing Poetry Festival (2008). Please find further information at http://www.sherrysknowledgequest.com/aboutlinks.htm.

Eric Burke

Veneer

She feels overshadowed
by her husband's love, by his bright and easy love
 
for their children,
now grown.  She feels left out
 
when they talk about politics, or religion, or sports.
She feels her love
 
is deeper, sterner, more fraught with care.
She feels their need for care
 
ending, their need for ease
beginning: she feels
 
that she has been given a veneer
of pleasantness,
 
a surface she dare not break,
 
that she has been painted
into a corner,

bowdlerized
by circumstance,
 
like a grandmother,
or uncle.
 

Just Before Sunset


A nuthatch
walks down
our tree.
 
As we watch,
 
mother
prepares
our supper.

Eric Burke lives in Columbus, Ohio. More of his work can be found in elimae, Right Hand Pointing, Alba, Spillway Review, JMWW, Word Riot, Tipton Poetry Journal, Roadrunner, Otoliths, and Haibun Today. Work is forthcoming in bottle rockets and nibble.

 ericdonald@earthlink.net