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Volume 14, Issue 1
Karla Linn Merrifield
The man I am going to lose to Death goes
unshaven sometimes for four days, meekly
growing gray-auburn stubble for me to rub.
He wears worn-out Levi’s® & catches dog
slobber on his chin, cussing mildly,
accepting what comes his way in the way
of devotion. The man I am loving until Death
do us part also paints apricot up the inside walls
of our high house, then sees to it the cedar
siding outide is a pleasant Sierra redwood.
Our home glows by sun & moon because he glosses it
with his heart, as he does me, with a brush, a tongue,
lively fingers full of touching life, wood, flesh,
promises of tomorrow, colors of womb & blood,
confirming my belief that the man I shall lose
to Death is already my angel.
Invitation in Maasai
Let us go now to Tanzania
for the tastes of Africa
you have been craving
and taught me to desire.
Feed on the tribal
drumbeat of your heart.
Let us seek the ravaging beasts
of our wildest imagining
in the lion’s kingdom
of elephantine desire.
Feed on the primeval
drumbeat of my love.
Let us savor what it is to fall
prey among zebras and giraffes
and how death comes
to herbivore and human alike
as we feed on the final
drumbeats of our time.
Tercet: New Year’s Advice to My God-King
Stride into your decades’ end as a pharaoh,
body forte as Akhenaten’s, mind as Ramses’—wise.
Let me be your life-giving Nile. Go now, go float
downstream into your decades’ demise as a pharaoh.
I am your river of lapis lazuli nights, of love as gold.
Eat now my figs and dates; drink of my wide green eyes.
Reign as ever in your decades’ waning days, rich as a pharaoh,
heart strong as Akhenaten’s, soul of a Ramses—wise.
Soundtrack for the Man Who Wore Bow Ties
with No Camera and Must Be Dead by Now
Feeling groovy this November morning,
slip-sliding these hundreds of miles away—
seems like it’s been as many winters—
from the 59th Street Bridge beneath his wheels.
I once stole across it in chrome and steel,
cruising in a ’59 Studebaker Hawk,
singing along in white powder ’70s style,
your twenty-something babe in faded tie-dye skirts,
Those were my beret days of truant, sleazy hours
at play as ex-hippie-exiled-to-the-city,
tripping out on jazz combos at Storyville at noon
or late-night Bleeker Street blues,
with wine and a joint, a screw.
It was another November morning,
lifetimes ago. The promo man from Playboy
drove me in his slick ’59 machine
down by the schoolyard in Corona, Queens,
past the police station, over to Julio’s ’hood.
He snapped in the cassette and we listened
to Paul sing the gospel, believing we’d never
burn out; no one was ever going to die
because no one had, no one we personally knew.
Still groovy after all these thirty years,
I spin my S&G albums, select from all their CDs,
travel at mind speed to a love-was-cheap November—
when the 59th Street was my bridge from troubled waters.
Roger’s Psalm of the South
Grant me, husband, admission to this magnificent realm of owls,
who pronounce their gloomy speeches with profound emphasis
to remind us of the beautiful blendings and communions
of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity.
Bless me, friend, for a few more sultry years
with the comfort of flower creatures
in the Land of Flowers, Florida, La Florida.
Come, lover, let us be tempted to sympathize with the bears
and alligators and panthers as well—be willing to fall prey.
And without our blind exclusive perfections, darling,
may we trod the limestone spine of her peninsula knowing
even a mineral arrangement of matter is endowed with sensations
of a kind we come to understand, that touch of porous bedrock.
O, my eternal one, as her panhandle norther bores this surf,
may we assert in unison: the substance of the winds is not
too thin for human eyes, their written language is not
too difficult for human minds, and their spoken language mostly not
too faint for the ears. May it be as if I had fallen
upon another star; may it be as if you also fell
unto the forgotten coast, two fallen, inseparable, to shore.
Because music is one of the attributes of matter,
into whatever forms it may be organized,
may you, my saint of the barrier island,
follow me on a Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf.
Beloved, pray, go with me as one with the windy world.
--with lines from John Muir, A Thousand- Mile Walk to the Gulf
A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, one-time “Best of the Net” nominee, and 2009 Everglades National Park Artist-in-Residence, Karla Linn Merrifield has had poetry appear in dozens of publications as well as in many anthologies. She has five books to her credit, including Godwit: Poems of Canada, which received the 2009 Andrew Eiseman Writers Award for Poetry. Forthcoming from Finishing Line Press is her chapbook, The Urn, and from Salmon Press, her full-length collection Athabaskan Fractal and Other Poems of the Far North. She was founding poetry editor of Sea Stories (www.seastories.org), and is now book reviewer and assistant editor for The Centrifugal Eye (www.centrifugaleye.com) and moderator of the poetry blog, Smothered Air (http://smotheredair.yuku.com/). She teaches at Writers & Books, Rochester, NY. You can read more about her and sample her poems and photographs at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com.
Willie James King
It is still raining here my friend
as if it might never end. Do not
be too hard on yourself thinking of
those awful skirmishes and killings
in Freetown or anywhere else back
home in Sierra Leone . As I write
this, rain-water’s turning to ponds on
the roads, another reason to steer clear
with much caution, to practice courtesy
if one can is to be less lax with one’s own
life. I am told that two bodies were found
near Jones Bluff, nude, it is repeated that
they had been making love. They were
found, frozen in a sumptuous embrace.
What a way to go! I am resolved. Not by
the hands of some robber, burglar, or one
upset because another’s views skewered,
but because one wanted his body to be held
by another’s the very moment death arrived in
the form of carbon monoxide. I heard this awful,
but good news just after I had gutted the last blue-
gill and pan-fried it in light butter. It is
better to slit the throat of a perch than
a person’s. That’s why I fish. I have
viewed the photos you sent via e-mail.
So much hatred, all epitomizing hell----
One guy is pointing to the dime-sized bullet
hole in his head, the other is showing the world
the blood-soaked wound in his sternum,
and he does not yet seem done with war
I surmised. Some are using the name Obama,
which, to me, is self-effacing that hinges on
bad indulgence. Roland, did I ever tell you it
is hard to separate the flesh from the bones of
small fish? I fry them hard enough that I can
eat both, even the fins, my friend. The rain is
a loud thud of liquid that persists; know this,
the very news they send to you from your
Sierra Leone, you can find there in Florida .
I tell you, you might probably fare better if
you were to find some good spot to fish, for
which I would gladly share a good recipe, if
you decide you'd like to eat what you catch.
Willie James King has new poems forthcoming in English Journal and Urthona Poetry Magazine, among others, and his work has been published in magazines including Alehouse, Confrontation Magazine, The Lullwater Review, and The Southern Poetry Review. The poet writes and resides in Montgomery, Alabama.
Pieces of Day
ebb tides of our sorrows
blossoming from dark lingering fears,
poking in and out – day by solar yesteryears,
spring flowers shooting out amid the falling tears,
break up into glistening arrays
molding our forms of clay
pieces of day
The preceding poem is a Trois-par-Huit.
Naani (this is the name of the form; the poem is untitled)
The other side of darkness
Allowing us to see
What’s hidden there.
Running in Starlight
running in starlight
following the shadow wings
pursuing a midnight dream
swirling from the depths
scissoring through the darkness
bursting through the sunshine scene
The preceding poem is a sedoka.
Bernard Gieske is retired and lives in Bowling Green, KY. He writes poetry because it is fun and can be enjoyed at any time. For him the new is always challenging. Some of his poems have been published in Words Words Words, Poetic Hours,Argotist,The Ghazal Page, and Oh, What a Tangled Web.
We so seek some affirmation of faith
confirmation of existence
as if digging deeper affects
the bottom of the hole
some hollow measurement
In a fumbled effort to ascend
man would destroy a mountain
fall down its stand of trees
later scratch his head
and wonder where it went
"Flatfoot"was published by Literati Magazine in Spring 2005
Tom Sterner lives in Redding, California and Arvada, Colorado with wife Kathy. He has been published in numerous magazines and on the internet, including Howling Dog Press/Omega, Skyline Literary Review, The Storyteller, and Flashquake. His internet pseudonym is WordWulf. A native of Colorado and proud father of five children and a stepdaughter, he writes lyrics, sings and composes music with his sons. He is winner of the Marija Cerjak Award for Avant-Garde/Experimental Writing and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2006 and 2008. Published work includes two novels, Madman Chronicles: The Warrior and Momma’s Rain.
We hang the stocking-like feeder
from a tall maple’s lowest arm.
Three finches follow the leader
right to it once we’re gone--no harm
can get to them. Door closed, we’re in
our dining room watching them joy
around, flit, fly and return. Pin-
wheel sunrays turn in leaves. A toy
sky breaks into pieces of cloud.
Finch yellow—brighter than fabrics
we dye and sew, much more stylish.
New arrivers keep coming, crowd,
but each makes a brief space to mix,
eat from an elongated dish.
mandevilla sproings tendrils
across the shed, each blossom
two inches deep—ample for
a bee’s palace. Maybe
the bee only sees it as a punch card,
a job needing to be done
before he can fly back
to the hive, a single day
closer to death.
Kenneth Pobo’s book, Glass Garden , came out from Word Tech Press in 2008. He has a chapbook coming out in 2010 from Tandava Poetry Press called Tea on Burning Glass. In addition to writing and gardening, he enjoys doing his radio show, Obscure Oldies, on Saturdays from 6-8pm EST at WDNR.com.
All that she was,
and it was plenty,
was reduced by a scrub-faced preacher
at 1:13 p.m. on the afternoon they buried her
to this: in the final days before she left us, she found Jesus.
And maybe she did.
In a way.
“Nobody’s an atheist in a foxhole.”
So maybe she did.
Maybe she untethered herself
from all the evidence
and covered herself in a Jesus blanket.
I’ll probably do something similar,
push comes to shove comes to penultimate.
But what’s that the lawyers say
about consent under duress?
Anyhow, those of us who actually knew her
knew that, her physique notwithstanding,
she was pixie-souled.
Life’s a cabaret, old chum.
And she was in a hurry,
maybe because she’d known most of her life
that her life would be shorter than most.
Something about her kidneys.
Her wry wit poured from her
as if frantic to escape a condemned building in a tremor.
Her eyes sparkled behind her glasses.
A tilt of her lip gave her away
when she wanted her zingers
to sneak up on you unawares.
Okay, maybe she found Jesus.
But all that she was,
and it was plenty,
will not be cabined
within the claim
of an epiphanic moment.
The Letter "I"
The letter “I” is appropriately thin,
A shadow cast by Euclid’s line.
The part of us we call “I”
Is a meager, nearly dimensionless thing,
As mute, almost, as a monk under vow —
A watcher at the window.
The rest of us, the magical part, lies beneath,
As inaccessible as Santa’s Workshop.
from Bob Brussack: "Two years ago, I retired after a career teaching law at the University of Georgia in Athens. It must have been a year ago that I heard our Aralee Strange read from her work at a cabaret of sorts in a private home. I'd done some writing, including some verse, over the decades of my adult life, but thought, after hearing Aralee, that I ought to devote more of my time to it, making room in the interstices of photography, jazz piano, and the homeschooling of my son. It's been a kick. I've read now at Aralee's monthly open mikes upstairs at The Globe, a local pub; I've published some of my work on my blogs and I've bought a copy of Poet's Market. "
A Sliced Apple and a Wedge of Cheddar Cheese
Clasped hands, white knuckles.
A sliced apple and a wedge of cheddar cheese.
Clothes hanging from the line,
stiff from afternoon showers, dried, crisp,
clothespinned and sprinkled with rope splinters.
Hunched shoulders pull to correct posture,
until one day, in a tweed coat, resign to stay rolled,
peering from below the brim of a cap.
Calloused hands held over the pot belly stove,
caked with dirt, welcome a mug of tea.
Without celebration I remember
my ignorance like a song, unshakable.
Magpies tiptoe the cement partition.
Bog wood burned in the iron stove,
and we performed by firelight.
Rain beat the thatched roof above us,
the dog tugged at his chain in the yard
as she scrambled to save clothes off the line.
We were damn grateful.
When we prayed, we meant it.
A serrated blade, slicing the skin
of a crisp apple, a section paired
with a pad of yellow cheese.
I will rewrite fire, I will
manipulate those yellow tongues, referenced
by so many. I will take a single match,
hold it below the reinforced toe
and crotch of nylons draped over the shower rod,
bask in the poison glow, as dark plumes
tickle the alarm.
The white ceiling has flooded, rippling smoke waves
spread across the landscape I have
turned my chin up to see.
I reach and trace a new language in soot, in effect.
I control it all. I squint.
I shut the door
but the smoke creeps beneath, growling
in some foreign language, the alarm sounds.
There was a hummingbird at the red trumpet
honeysuckle birdfeed, raging
as she graced the wide window, I see
from the couch, laying in its meadow,
in a bed of purple wood violets,
my cousin hunting minnows in the creek
with a butterfly net, the girls splashing
by the pier in bright tubes, skiers buzzing
past, inspiring wake, inspiring laughter
as bright tubes and young girls
rose and fell in steady rhythm.
Gravel spit in the driveway.
The old man slipped me tiny cars
which he pulled from the box to call antiques,
the old woman pulled pills from a plastic case,
marked with the days of the week.
The men drank whiskey, soothed with a splash.
The women tipped cool wine before dinner.
And I, blissfully humming at the window,
parse the day and the years
with a perfect, fleeting view.
JIM DAVIS is a graduate of Knox College and now lives, writes and paints in Chicago. Jim’s first collection of poetry is forthcoming from Mi-te Press. In addition to the arts, Jim travels the world as an international-semi-professional football player. His poetry and short fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Chiron Review, Red River Review, Penwood Review, Town Creek Poetry, Orange Room Review, Willows Wept Review, Caper Literary Journal and Smash Cake Magazine, among many others.
In her garden at night,
Emily blinks away darkness,
Ankle-deep in shadows,
Attending the slander of crickets.
Peering on her tiptoes,
To the far corner of the garden,
There behind the hollyhocks,
Where others might bury a stillborn;
The earth casts spells of flowers,
Which she garlands into myth.
Still, petals will never be skin;
Nor the scent of roses breath.
Unslanted by the bruise of labor,
She hymns the grist of this world,
Eve with no Adam to tempt,
Herself eating every apple;
Not worth the snake’s effort,
Because she is alone;
Cooing metaphors to the birds and bees
Because simple names slide off like rain.
No annoying Mommy, I need you.
The bee has stung me, come help.
No miscarriage resting in the garden.
Nor unwanted child,
Smothered like a stray cat.
Still a garden of ghosts,
Blooming in the moonlight,
To be cut and pressed.
from the poet: "I am a retired English teacher who lives in Northeastern Pennsylvania with my wife Jeanne. My poems have or will soon appear in Mulberry Poets and Writers Association, Strong Verse, The Bijou Review, The Edison Literary Review, Lunarosity, Penwood, Jones Av., Chantarelle’s Notebook, Centrifugal Eye, amphibi.us, Nefarious Ballerina, Amarillo Bay, The Write Room, Pulsar, Sunken Lines, Menagerie, H.O.D., Forge, and Crash. I am also the author of the chapbook HOUSES: AN AMERICAN ZODIAC, which was published by The Poetry Library and a book of poems SOUTH OF SCRANTON.
When the disaster occurred,
no one was harmed, no one felt
anything. People drove to work
as if everything was normal,
as if the stoplights were made
for them, the faces they saw
weren’t under the direst alert.
It could’ve been an undersea
world, where everyone was
drowning at the same time,
but still believed they could
breathe – that nothing changed.
Time stood to the side, anxious
to get it over with, to hear
the screaming, for history
to crouch by time’s mouth, copy
its whispers about the moments
that should be immortalized.
It seemed only in their dreams
that human beings understood
something had happened:
They ran from molten lava,
fled the cracking earth,
froze in blocks of arctic ice.
Rolling over in the morning,
the sleepers wished to tell
their partners the world
was ending, but couldn’t believe
it themselves. It was easier
to turn off the alarm, to breathe
the city air, as they climbed
onto buses, held on for dear life.
The Heart, A Mistake
Consider the ghost, how it's
not the mystery you thought,
how it's as afraid of you
as you are of it. Think about
the torch you carry to scare
a spirit, when you just as well
could be a creature yourself
that the dead fear from graves,
chattering among themselves
whether you really exist. Your
heart could be the mistake,
its pumping grotesque, while
the flesh is too embodied,
skin an ectoplasm crawling
thing no phantom could touch.
Your only hope is that love
has a universal language,
that the haunting needs you,
will keep you alive as life
drops rung by rung down
the ladder, toward the point
where funerals are celebrations,
the marches there a romance.
from the poet: "I've published work in LIT, The Iowa Review, Nimrod, and other publications. I am a writer-editor who lives in Rockville, Maryland."
a carapace of pure delicacy
a shade of fragile gold
a movement both sound and unbroken
timed to exquisite perfection
a drink of crystal
that ripples with the touch of surrender
she is the glow of a memory
the hope of a heart
shuddering with deep, heavy breaths
you cannot leave her alone
you cannot abandon her
leave her on the pier encased in morning fog
before the heat of the Carolina morning swamps her
you cannot leave her
to face the razor teeth of dusk alone
she will grasp for a weapon
her fingers will encircle the air of what you used to be
unsnake the life that is hanging over the tree limb
untie the knot forming the noose
and take your rightful spot beside her
until time and the scent of evening magnolia arrive
Daniel Ames writes, "I am a poet living and working in Michigan. My work has been featured in Magnolia: A Florida Journal of Literary and Fine Arts, Merge, Bijou Poetry Review, Edison Literary Review, Tonopah Review, Iodine Poetry Journal, Pulsar Poetry UK, Stone’s
Throw Magazine and the Ambassador Poetry Project."
In Tall Yellow
Leaf fingers point to the sun
and sustenance. Giant ebony eyes,
laden with unshelled seed buffets
in tall yellow golden halos, bow
in reverence along rivers and creeks
once traversed by wagons and herds
of Longhorn cattle.
Wall clouds march across rolling
shoulders and the lap of open prairie
escorting lightning bolt Stomp Dancers
darting this way and that, while
Thunder Gods applaud the performance.
Claps of ghost hooves on well worn
trails westward echo through green
valleys on four winds to blue sky
promises, in hills that whisper
but reveal no secrets.
published by Victorian Violet Press, 2010
Kevin Heaton lives in South Carolina, formerly from Oklahoma where he published Country Music. His e-chapbook, "Post Cards of Faith", is at Victorian Violet Press. His work has appeared in Foliate Oak, Elimae, Grey Sparrow Journal, WestWard Quarterly, Sacred Journey, Kansas Poems, and others.
Let the universe sleep, tonight,
in its cradle of ashes,
in its warm amnesia.
A white guitar
rocks a cradle of ashes
with barely a whimper
from the wind tapping
As the universe sleeps,
crickets like a necklace
tremble a well’s broken collarbone.
Alan Britt’s recent books are Greatest Hits (2010), Vegetable Love (2009), Vermilion (2006), Infinite Days (2003), Amnesia Tango (1998) and Bodies of Lightning (1995). Britt’s work also appears in the new anthologies, American Poets Against the War, and Vapor transatlántico (Transatlantic Steamer), a bi-lingual anthology of Latin American and North American poets. Alan currently teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University and lives in Reisterstown, Maryland with his wife, daughter, two Bouviers des Flandres, one Bichon Frise and two formally feral cats.
Manatawny Creek 1944
Orange-yellow day, pellucid,
October crunching underfoot,
Takes me not to New England,
No sumac, sugar maple reds,
But back to Pennsylvania,
Along the Manatawny Creek,
On a Sunday afternoon
In a time I took to be childhood.
The current quickly pulled my toy boat
Away, and my father
Set off in pursuit along the bank,
I do not recall if he retrieved it,
Only what I told my mother:
I’ve just said goodbye to Daddy.
Could I have sensed that day
What one finds out later:
The precociousness of love,
Its fragile tips and stems.
At the Laundry
Summers I worked at the laundry,
Money for college. This was in the ’50s,
People still got polio then.
We washed the dingy garments of the shoe towns
(We still had them in New Hampshire then)
And the fine percale of the folk
Who lived down gated roads by the lake .
The girls who did the folding
(We called them girls then)
Would offer coarse jokes
About the bed sheets of the rich.
Caught, then as now,
Somewhere in the middle,
I passed wrenches to Neil, our boss,
As he straddled the ancient boiler,
Expert turnings of things we chose to think
Kept us from blowing up.
He nursed and finally lost a son to polio.
For forty years I went by his house
And we would recall the ones
Who ran the presses, fed the mangle.
The laundry is gone, of course,
Chiropractors and aroma therapists in its space;
Gone, too, is Neil, my gentle friend,
Who valued me in a fragile time,
On hot July afternoons,
Steamy with the innocent fragrance of
Starch, fresh linen, decent toil.
"At the Laundry” won the 2007 Conway Library Poetry Award and has appeared in the Tapestries anthology and the 2008 Poets’ Guide to New Hampshire
Robert Demaree is the author of four collections of poems, including Fathers and Teachers (2007) and Mileposts (2009), both published 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 four months of the year. He has had over 450 poems published or accepted by 100 periodicals, including Cold Mountain Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Miller’s Pond, Homestead Review and Paris/Atlantic, and in four anthologies including the 2008 and 2010 editions of Poets' Guide to New Hampshire and Celebrating Poets over 70. He lives in Burlington, N.C. and Wolfeboro, N.H. For further information see http://www.demareepoetry.blogspot.com
Over bric-a-brac balustrade and
close-cropped lawn, past
high-mown meadow guarding the fifty-dollar
pine your wife made you keep because it was
not worth removing;
Beyond indigenous brambles and wild blackberries favored
by a local family of bears, frequented by
motley furred mammals with names only found
in field manuals protruding from your bookshelves
I see the hill
Squeezed between ghost gauze morning-clouds
and mist held hostage in woods where
there must be a path that wends through
stubble and brush, leaf and
flower, hosting spiderbirdsquirrel, faunal
recluse, patient predator and nocturnal
noisemakers bearing witness to
wanderers, muffling the fugitive feet of linked-arm
lovers threading ridge and ravine, cove and
peak, forking and
joining, joining and forking,
and joining again coming
finally to the hill.
I see the hill
Until insistent sun yellow breaks out of
obscurity diffusing white glory through a
forested fog palisade, bestowing the gift of
shear blindness to everything
But that fifty-dollar pine midway in the meadow
skirting the lawn across your porch rail.
Children of the Night
Open page three of the morning newspaper
To a two-column photo of mother and child's
Bloods' mingled stains waiting for aid
To come. A backdrop of destruction borders the look
Of panic four eyes betray to the shutter
A half-world away from my coffee and roll.
Their morning began, as I read, with a roll
Of the earth and sky and their walls, weak as paper,
Collapsed. Trusted foundations shuddered
As mothers ran for their screaming infants
Afraid - both afraid - never to see
Each other again. Hold on to each other and run for help!
Help that may not come in time; help
Contingent on everyone playing their role:
Photographers capturing the distraught look
Of terror rendered on screen and on paper;
Teachers collecting coins from schoolchildren;
The rich and the famous posturing for shutter-
Bugging paparazzi. Then there are those who shutter
Their souls, sparing not even a bandaid
For those not like themselves: moral infants
Regarding the devastation with a roll
Of their eyes and a shrug. They turn the pages
Quickly to avoid having to look
At eyes searching their eyes, seeing
No friend. Eyes seek a mother who will not shut her
Heart to their misery; a priest to open a book
Of answers; a God of strength and succor
Who, with a wave of hand, will roll
Back time to a careless day where children
Play in dirt and grass. But today babies
Are found crying in rubble while workers, spying
Their mothers buried in debris, roll
Concrete chunks aside and, with a shudder,
Recognize a bloodied mass of hair, too late to help
A poor woman. Another picture for the papers.
Roll after roll of film feeds the clicking shutters.
Mothers in mourning look above and abroad for help.
The children of the night stain my morning paper.
Portrait of Myself as a Young Man
Three tables away behind uncovered cup
of brew on a cold cafe porch deep in thought,
I spied myself propping a fat volume up,
Thumbed open midway, so intent on its plot
oblivious, watched through my own older eyes
Alone with some words on a page while I jot
A few lines in which I myself recognize;
albeit my clothes now are no better matched,
My hair very picture of frightful surprise
As thirty years later when watcher was watched
in distant and alien world full-absorbed
Akimbo, a-gangle, relaxed in half-slouch.
Book down, I stood up, from my seat then observed:
built square, tall and solid - a good-looking sort
I moved without grace, neither clumsy nor sure
As foreign to France as to basketball court;
a guy undistinguished except on a page
Where fancied heroics awake printed word
And reader-protagonist takes center stage:
amusing, romantic, loaded with charm,
Inhabits the plot, in the conflict engaged.
Returned to the tome now, the coffee new-warm:
a glance my direction, a nod too abrupt;
Saw he in the watcher a well-known old form?
Three tables away beyond uncovered cup,
Spied I myself propping a writing pad up?
Terry Zimmer works in software development and writes poetry in his free time. A well-spent Saturday morning is sitting in a coffee shop with muffin, notebook, pen and dark brew pouring words on paper. Some of his work has been published in Every Day Poets and The Rose and Thorn Journal.
Krikor N. Der Hohannesian
Out of thin air, back lighted
by the orange harvest moon,
the alchemy of spinnerets,
protein into silk, gossamer
suspended between eave and gutter
at the whim of a puff of wind
or the weight of raindrops
or a sparrow’s hunger.
In the morning, droplets of dew
hung by the night mist diademed
the filaments, lustered by low
shafts of sunrise, elegance
to rob the breath. Each night
I prayed for its survival. Like
matins and vespers added
to a diurnal ritual, a treasure
of communion, of serenity,
nothing asked in return. Seven
days it defied wind, rain
and predator, a damselfly
or two sustenance enough,
and just as it had appeared
out of thin air, of a sudden
it was gone - whisked
on the stealthy wings
of the first light frost.
Previously published in Poem.
Soft crunch of our footfall
on the pine-needled path,
a cardinal’s call to his mate,
the zephyr of a March breeze
rustling the blue spruce-
the only sounds other
than our own breath.
We, mute, captive to
youthful reverence, certain
we were tracing Thoreau’s
footsteps in imagined wanderings
from Walden. A downward turn
in the path and the blue-green
reflection off the pond, still as glass,
rose up to say – “I’ve been
waiting for you…”
An April morning driving Route 2,
the concrete/macadam gash
slashing those magic woods.
Ghostly fingers tug the heart – some
would call this nostalgia, after 50 years
who could fault them? But
I watched as the bulldozers
flattened acre after acre along the highway-
Concord’s new dump. I have watched
year by year as barrows of refuse build
skyward toward the cumulus. I watch hawks
circle and swoop to pick the leavings,
thinking each time ”this is what
it has come to” and each time
I reach out for Thoreau’s hand.
WAITING FOR THE RAIN
In the afflicted very young
there is a phrase for it,
“failure to thrive”,
a lack of interest
in their yet small worlds,
a tendency to squall more
than most – not yet have they
the words to describe.
For those of us nearing the inevitable,
the drip, drip of falling energy,
the ache in the bones, skin
cracked like a dried up arroyo
waiting for the gully-washer
that never comes. There is
a catch-all for this, too-
“ah, it’s just old age.”
For the aging poet it is words,
his life blood, that slowly dry up.
He searches for rock hibiscus
and pigeon-berry in his desert
of desiccated inspiration. He
hopes for the flood of afternoon rain,
the thunder-squall of words, the poem,
the arc of the rainbow at day’s end.
Krikor N. Der Hohannesian writes, "I have been writing poetry for some 40 years but have only been submitting my work for the past six years or so. Since then, I have had poems accepted by many literary journals including The Evansville Review, The South Carolina Review, Atlanta Review, Peregrine, Connecticut Review and Hawai’i Pacific Review. In addition, Finishing Line Press has selected my chapbook, Ghosts and Whispers, for publication in December, 2010."
David H. Sutherland
A Coming to Age
Tomorrow will have softer
colors than today.
Pictures of children
whose pastry faces
create memories in me.
All to say, time is
left to the leaving.
in a blur of warm kisses,
alleys and games,
a tally I’ve taken
to be a census of one.
Sometimes, I feel, an age
with new hopes
and dreams are due.
And an older present
or disappearing past,
might unify tomorrow
on the grounds
of my leaving.
There are names for this,
but I prefer ---time,
an indistinct diagnosis
of care or concern
Just now, a memory!
a child’s toy soldiers
a rank and file
a bugle’s call.
And their cries heard
between valley and bluff
hint of a victory
are clues, I believe
of which side I’m on.
Reincarnation . . .
. . . is not some hazy nirvana whose thinning airs
like an asthmatic’s, derives its confessions on weed or dust.
From all perspectives there is more space than nucleus,
more stomach than earth. And all one can believe is lost
in a moment that passes through bowels as quickly as consumed.
Tonight’s diners feast on a millennium, abandon the dessert
for an apocalypse. Or in 50,000 years wakes its next generation
like a Rip Van Winkle to a morsel of its crust while debating
the end of an era or when the soufflé might fall.
David H. Sutherland writes, "My work has been published in The American Literary Review, The Midwest Quarterly, The Adirondack Review, APR, and others. I have received a Rhysling Award and Pushcart Nomination, and serve as editor in chief for a net publication called Recursive Angel.
AIR IS SUDDENLY COLDER
In all things. Every moment.
Under pine branches behind her house
Dome of trapped darkness.
Pine needles tick down
When I turn
Space in air
Shapes draped in shadow
Where she used to be.
I hear her echoes in my voice.
It has no sound of its own.
LEAVING SAN FRANCISCO
The sun comes to my door
In a limousine.
An elegant day
We are two laughing high school girls
As we leave small gardens where banana palms
Grow secret phalluses
And streets yearn for womanly curves
In the indifferent air.
Say good-bye to San Francisco
Harp of fog and narrow roadways
Where the city shimmers
And my longing collapses in water.
A pomegranate gleams on my kitchen counter.
Beside it, starlines
Nebulae of spilled milk
And the fruit wobbles like a tiny planet.
This Grecian marriage symbol
Stands like the bride unveiled:
Its rind a flushed cheek, its flesh human
And seeds bright as nipples.
Sweet and bitter, the seeds shine
In vulnerable flesh,
The open pomegranate
Bleeding like a woman.
Marilynn Talal’s poems have appeared in Poetry, The New Republic, Southern Poetry Review, and Louisville Review, among others. She earned a Ph.D from the University of Houston where she was awarded the Stella Earhhart Memorial Award and has also been awarded a Creative Writing Fellowship from the NEA. Her poems are forthcoming in Western Humanities Review and Straylight.
--HF Stein for G.C.
It was cliché become flesh –
Maple, oak, and sweetgum,
Brilliant in reds, golds, oranges,
Yellows, even lustrous browns.
I had no illusions about their future;
I knew they were doomed
To wind and rain and cold,
To soggy extinction and decomposition
Into next year’s soil.
Still, there was now, this
Advancing time could not deprive me of.
It came as almost an assignment:
To behold what is, to bear testimony
To a moment, in the face of knowing
For certain it will all go away.
Howard F. Stein, a psychoanalytic anthropologist, has taught at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City since 1978. He has published six books/chapbooks of poetry, the most current of which, Seeing Rightly with the Heart, was published at the end of October 2010.
Echoes of the Climb
Grandpa took us on the long walk to the top of
Hobb’s Hill and back again. Our feet hurt but
his didn't, probably because they already as
wrinkled and brown as the trail we trod. Young and fit
as we were we could barely keep up. The landscape
knew him, favored him I reckon. But that was before
he grew so gray and bent.
It was the kind of journey that works best
when accompanied by someone who knows
his stuff, who can name the trees, the birds,
who even points out a red eft struggling across the
path, a creature we wouldn't have noticed in
a million years, who didn't shunt us away
from the sight of crows feasting on a dead
raccoon but made us stand and watch the
birds doing nature's garbage disposal.
He was as busy, as feisty, as the crows then.
But we'd come to know him later, as that poor raccoon.
We passed some farms on the way and
Grandpa waved. He knew everybody then.
Not like when we'd visit him in the nursing home
and he'd go on and on about the curtains but
couldn't remember our names. Thank God he knew
what was poison ivy and what wasn't. He saved
us many a time from lumps as big as marbles
on our face and hands. We couldn't save him though.
Not with the tube in one arm and another up his nose.
We made it up Hobb’s Hill and we looked down
at the valley. Having conquered the slopes, the rocks,
the puddles, even the one brisk stream we walked
across, we felt superior to just about everybody in
the world. Grandpa grinned. Look down on
something or someone and it's hard not to feel
the pride swell up in the chest. And a man in his sick
bed, for all his accomplishments, is as near to
no one as the antlike people we saw far in the distance
from the top of Hobb’s Hill. We stood atop
that peak until the day he died, only came down
for the burial of old Grandpa Hobbs, in the soil
of Clay cemetery, a day's walk from his mountain.
A brilliant bird settled on the aspen branch.
A boy gripped its colors like talons,
pecked at its tremble with his beak.
His heartbeat drifted away like clouds.
His blood sheathed itself
in cold blue vein.
His lesser thoughts stayed clear of awe
for fear of contagion.
He stared at the bird
like light honed by glass.
He made invisible
the mountains beyond
that bloomed with sunny snow,
the grizzled shadows
that lay by Connor Lake
like lion with lamb
He stared at the bird
like adding it to a collection
of no cages, no pin-pricked boxes,
barely a synaptic lattice of brain.
It fluttered a crimson wing.
He was a crimson wing fluttering.
John Grey is an Australian born poet and US resident since the late seventies. He works as financial systems analyst. Recent publications include Slant, Briar Cliff Review and Albatross with work upcoming in Poetry East, Cape Rock and REAL.