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Vol. 11, Issue 1
Winter, 2008

Robert Demaree

Roy Mash

Richard Fein

Vicki McGee

Bryon D. Howell

Ashok Niyogi

David LaBounty

Suzanne Roberts

Joseph Lisowski

 

 

Bryon D. Howell

WAX ON, WAX STAYS ON

The woods are littered

with the tents of

the homeless,

from under the bridge by the

causeway,

to deeper in where they can intricately

pretend

to be cavemen.

They hang their damp clothes

near the limbs of the

weeping willows,

and light their joints like

fireflies

beginning every evening around 7

when the sun starts to

go down

emitting the musky scent

of a well-worn

day ...

a day as worn as their sandalwood

sandals and the scent of

glistening failures.

Their freshly washed socks and

underwear -

ever-being dried by the intervention of a faint,

salty breeze

in the humid overnight tumbles.

Bryon D. Howell is a poet currently residing in New Haven, Connecticut. He has been writing poetry for a great number of years. Recently, his poetry has appeared in poeticdiversity, Red River Review, The Quirk, The Cerebral Catalyst, The Greasy Spoon Saloon, and The Lost Beat.  Bryon is also the Editor-in-Chief of three online poetry 'zines: The Persistent Mirage, Bringing Sonnets Back, and The Brave Little Poem Daily.

ctsfinestpoet@yahoo.com

Suzanne Roberts

LURE

Somewhere else,

the hazel eyes stare

into nothing. The naked

body flops on the cold

checkered linoleum,

shakes on the spilled

juice and broken glass.

(I made the mistake

of giving you the juice

in a glass). The body curls,

then uncurls, like a fish

pulled from water,

nose to tail, the bend,

the shudder, the stillness.

I search the refrigerator

for syrup, jam, juice,

anything to counter

the insulin, anything

sweet to lure you

back to the body.

Suzanne Roberts is the author of two collections of poetry Nothing to You (forthcoming from Pecan Grove Press) and Shameless (Cherry Grove Collections, 2007). Her work has been published in The Adirondack Review, ZYZZYVA, Smartish Pace, Spillway, Gulf Stream, Eclipse, and elsewhere. She is a Ph.D candidate in Literature and the Environment at the University of Nevada-Reno, and she teaches English at Lake Tahoe Community College in California.  More of her work can be found at http://www.suzanneroberts.org

suzanneroberts28@hotmail.com

Roy Mash

PINKIE

here’s my pinkie finger

weakest of any

I use it

for entering small places

nose holes eye nooks ear mazes

 

incorrigible pansy

scrupulous peon

immaculate pal o’mine

 

always at the end of things

like an aisle seat

always coy always

the lilting one

junior partner of the firm

the one who attends to the details

itself a detail

daughter I must leave out

of the boy scout salute

who flirts with my thumb

when I’m nervous

 

definitive unit of etiquette

meticulous imp

ultimate runt

 

I’ve tried to teach it guitar

make it type

play golf

karate

it’s useless!

it wants to be insignificant or nothing

to know at the end no one

have no one

know it

unfamous as a thread

ninny of my care

stick without width

 

THUMB

To you, my bludgeon, comes the width

of years, the wiles, the bully’s glance.

Blunt as you are, my first friend

and nourishment, you are

 

no bulwark of simplicity, no mug

merely, or underling, as you lumber

through night’s sad mitten, fronting time,

plumped in your loneliness as in a psalm.

 

Dear squat padlock, I would not wrest from you

the fist, or stave off your brawn

to bluster with gentleness

the high-stacked anvils of grief.

I would not forge you into a kiss.

 

Old grappler, butt. How you must hate

the pinky, that cringing sissy,

all those mealy fingers

banding together against you.

 

Oppose them! My kickstand, my pug-

nacious übermensch.

In the brunt of dawn shall you rise

from your basement, weeping

and ruthless. 

 

INDEX

 

This.

Is I. Is You. The One. The Only. First born. Numero uno.

Identity.

That of course is They. The Many. The Rest. Cast

and chorus to this triumphant, starring

solo. Supreme,

 

it sweeps its wand of names over the world

and its lists.

Like any hero, it knows

no ambiguity, no shy yearning, no subterranean shame.

Not like that disgruntled schlub grumbling

off to the side. Not like

that crybaby at the other end,

sniffing back the tears of a scraped

knuckle. Nor that Dad lording it over.

Nor that clinging

Mom balancing the tableau. Rather, we have

 

this rugged digit of choice. The one you hold

forth with. The one that commands

attention. The one you count on

when you finally decide to

push the button, flip the switch, squeeze the trigger.

 

Starting quarterback. Squadron leader.

Peninsula of sanity

above the dribbling, wriggling mob.

Mast that holds together the rigging of your life.

Sturdy, certain axis. Protagonist you.

Honcho.

Integrity's own J'Accuse.

 

Everyone knows the gun in the trench coat pocket

trick. But think: What other would you trust to

gauge the wind

or wag a warning,

scour frosting

or trace a heart in the sand,

beckon a lover

or touch your nose

to show you're sober,

traverse a list

or pull out your cheek

to make a pop?

 

Who else would you have keep your place

in a book

or point the way

out of the jungle of things in which you are forever

getting lost?

rmash@saber.net

Joseph Lisowski

A LONG MONTH UNTIL HURRICANE THANKSGIVING

Even a sneeze creates

dangerously low pressure.

Blood rises and wine

will not be contained.

It drips on the page

unaided, straight from the glass

like a nose bleed, hopeless to staunch.

 

What kind of world

has my body become

that the pleasure I gain

I can’t keep?

 

What I ingest comes out

as blood and stains.

   

 

BLUE TAIL FLY

I’m thinking blood,

but it’s not what I want.

Wine is more like it—

dark, deep, red enough

to satisfy a vampire fetish.

 

I drink from a blue tinted glass

to feed my imagination—

blue beard, blue ridge, blue balls—

Blues. I own the recipe.

Each swallow satisfies.

 

After a while, I forget about revenge,

those distasteful demands of lust upon age—

you’ve heard it before: the blushful Hippocrene,

a beakerfull of the warm south,

promises of a perfect day.

 

I spontaneously combust.

And hope it’s heard as song.

    

BLACK AN' BLUE WINTER

This early winter got me down.

Ice is everywhere.

No matter where I step

I slip, sometimes fall.

I bruise a hip, break

a wrist, scrape a knee.

My brain freezes

an' my heart goes numb.

From 1986 to 1996, Joseph Lisowski was Professor of English at the University of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas, which serves as the setting for Looking for Lisa, his recently published novel available from Fiction Works (http://www.fictionworks.com). Dr. Lisowski is now teaching at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina.  Recent chapbooks include Letters to Wang Wei, along with two essays, (Words on a Wire); After Death’s Silence (2River View); and Grief Work (Kota Press), JB, a dialogue in poem form between John the Baptist and King Herod (PoetryRepairShop), Stashu Kapinski Strikes Out (Rank Stranger Press), Fatherhood at Fifty (Tamafyhr Mountain Poetry), Sketches of an Island Life (dpi press), and Art Lessons (Tamafyhr Mountain Poetry). The chapbook, Stashu Kapinski Gets Lucky, was just published by Pudding House Press

jalisowski@mail.ecsu.edu

Ashok Niyogi

 

MORNING WALK

put away those crutches

restore that picture

of me walking to the shore

just before

 

I overturned

like love spurned

into thickets of unseasonable mangoes

the woes

of virgins mated with fellows

and thin children

walking in the morning

through thick mistakes

even as the wolf wakes

with a sun historically setting

into swamps

 

oblivious

this sea

that swims into ocean

televises its roars

and migration helps

me to weep into my river

and to hope

    

 

INEVITABLY

before I cease

I must unify

my follies

that are like marigold

in a wintered land

 

I must bring back the moon

to its predictable place

the sun to my metaphor

the stars and others

all so pretty

too pretty for an epitaph

to hoary hills

dill pickle in cuisine

I must pick up

 

with cabbage in the vegetable stall

and salmon from where

the river stops

and stares at a death

that has already birthed a million

children who will learn

to use the sun

and the crescent moon

too soon

 

before poems crop up

in conversation

at the cottage barn

when will I learn

that it is time for me

to lie inert in virgin white

light those incense sticks

now carry on

and remind me

that the lord is somber

silent and inevitably bored

in this mindless dawn

Ashok Niyogi is an Economics graduate from Presidency College, Calcutta. He made a career as an International Trader and has lived and worked in the Soviet Union, Europe and South East Asia in the ‘80s and ‘90s.  At 52, he has been retired for some years and has been cashew farming, writing and traveling. He divides time between California, where his daughters live, Delhi and the Indian Himalayas.  He is increasingly involved in his personal spiritual quest and has undertaken serious study of scripture.  He has published a book of poems, TENTATIVELY, [iUniverse, Lincoln, NE – 1995] and has been extensively published in print and on-line magazines in the USA, UK, Australia and Canada. Numerous chap books of his poems have been brought out by SCARS Publications, UC-Davis, Slow Trains and others.  Ashok writes about life.

ashokniyogi@yahoo.com

Richard Fein

CURVING INWARD

Sitting in the barber’s chair, I’m sandwiched between facing mirrors

with an array of back-of-my-balding heads taunting me,

each scalp a savannah of skin and gray hair.

The ping-ponging light between mirrors multiplies my aging.

But my next head veers slightly to the left,

and one after that even more.

Before me is a curved line of heads,

one twelfth of a gross in number,

that veers off from infinity and into the edge of the mirror.

The penultimate head is flush against the mirror’s edge,

and the last one is half in and half out.

The curling line of a dozen heads

creates a minor arc of a greater circle.

And now the barbers’ dozen wet towels

are thrown over my balding hydra heads,

then many scissors, snip, snip what little filament is left.

It all reflects on me while I do what I always do,

sit here motionless.

    

 

PLAYING DIFFERENT GAMES

Each day I’d choose a new weapon,

a fallen-tree-branch whittled to a stick,

and with that armament I’d become fierce.

Cattle rustlers met my six-shooter justice, British redcoats fell before my musket,

my M1 rifle made Nazi snipers yell their last seig heil, Apache warriors bit the dust,

my Tommy gun leveled Chicago mobsters,

and even Caesar’s legions were decimated by my rotten-wood sword and garbage lid shield.

In the vacant lot between 2nd and 3rd street my courage was beyond imagination.

But then one day bulldozers ripped up the great battlefield

reducing it to a diamond in a grassy plain.

And I was no longer Wyatt Earp, Custer, General Patton, Elliot Ness,

or the first marine to hit Iwo-Jima beach.

I no longer battled America’s enemies hand to hand.

The Star Spangled Banner called me to stand in line.

Instead of dodging bullets and ducking arrows

I ran straight and narrow ninety feet, base to base, trying to get back home

while measuring time in innings.

But most of all I obeyed.

My battlefield fell under the rule of umpires.

I had grown older by half an inning. Not much, but enough.

For to wield a bat as if still a mighty warrior would be to strike out.

Bardofbyte@aol.com 

David LaBounty

Because of the Heat

the over-treated

hair is long

and frizzy and

streaked silver

and black and

the sundress is

loose and almost long

enough to cover

the legs varicose

scratched and pale.

 

she sits on the dead grass

on the edge of

the parking lot waiting

for her car to be fixed

as her sandaled feet

rest on the cement

cracked and gray

and I can't help but

stare at the tattoo of

of a rose on her chest

just above where

the cleavage used to be

and the rose is

bright, bright red,

the stem so

very, very green.

David LaBounty lives in Royal Oak, Michigan with his wife and two young sons. His poetry has appeared in several print and online journals and his novel, The Trinity, has just been released. It is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble.

davelabounty@gmail.com

Robert Demaree

TO OUR SON-IN-LAW RETURNING FROM IRAQ: APRIL 2003

That you were a writer and not a soldier

Made you no less brave,

Your war short, hard to defend,

But no less noble.

You went to report on things Homer had seen,

In a land older than Hector.

We found you on a map of unknown places,

Read your dispatches and heard you on TV:

We tasted sand and young men’s fear.

We did not attend rallies of protest or support

But went instead with your sons

To soccer games and preschool plays.

I do not pray much but prayed for you.

We read your coming-home piece

And thought of Odysseus.

We tracked your journey— Kuwait , London .

That night I went back downstairs after midnight

And turned on the computer again,

To be sure that your plane had touched down.

* This poem has appeared in Mobius and Pegasus.

 

AT THE FROST PLACE

Spiky stalks of lupine, deep blue,

In the high meadow.

Plumes of mist lifting off the mountains

Across Franconia Valley from the Frost Place .

Inside the barn, awaiting the event,

Bearded professors, ladies in small print dresses,

Clutching rare editions of West Running Brook,

New Hampshire poets, one or two famous,

Most known mainly to each other,

A few only to themselves,

Pilgrims at a farmhouse shrine.

Oboes are played, poems read:

The road less traveled and the one not taken

At length wind up in the same place.

    

AT THE FUNERAL HOME

We stand in long lines

To pass a moment, clutch a hand:

It is what we do, what we can do.

The survivors we know,

The departed less so, or not at all,

Young men suddenly gone.

A blue suit points us unctuously to the right line:

He has seen us before,

He will see us again.

In another room

Another family watches quietly,

A smaller crowd, considering perhaps

A lesser grief.

Down corridors two hours long,

Floral print wallpaper,

Gilded sconces of papier mache,

Fragmented voices overheard:

An aneurysm, they thought;

Church politics, golf courses, new cars;

And them with a young baby.

(It is March in North Carolina ,

But we will not talk of basketball):

Small distractions

From the night’s unspeakable occasion,

Teachers mourning their students,

Fathers burying their sons.

Robert Demaree is the author of three collections of poems, a chapbook titled New Hampshire Pond, an online collection, Things He Thought He Already Knew, and Fathers and Teachers, a book-length collection published April 2007 by Beech River Books. He has had over 275 poems published or accepted by 75 periodicals. A retired school administrator with ties to North Carolina , Pennsylvania , and New Hampshire , he has also written a history of Greensboro Day School .

rdemareejr@triad.rr.com

Vickie McGee

Somewhere

Somewhere someone is crying.
Somewhere someone is lying.
Somewhere a heart has stopped beating

to the rhythm of time.
While we are here wrapped up in our selfish now,
somewhere someone has stopped playing.
Somewhere someone has stopped praying.
Somewhere childhood is but a
breath in the inhaling and exhaling of life.
And while we are tucked safely in our now,convincing
ourselves that the emotions of the rest
of the world are myths and don`t exist,
somewhere some one is giving up.
Somewhere some one is silent and stuck.
Somewhere outside our insignificant
now, like fragments of broken glass we have
fallen apart from the together.
Somewhere a child is again calling.
Somewhere a tear is again falling.
And as we rest easy in our images of now,
forgetting that the seven continents were once one
mighty land, telling ourselves thank God it's them and
not me,
somewhere their now is dark and cold.
Somewhere their truths aren`t allowed
to be told.
Somewhere there are faces you don`t know.
Somewhere there are places they can`t go.
Somewhere the sky is just empty space.
Somewhere there is no mercy and grace.
Somewhere between the rock and the hard place.
Somewhere in the world the cure is not faith.
Somewhere in a land things aren`t what they seem
and pinching yourself won`t help, we are all
somewhere in someone else`s dream.
Where are we?
We are now.
We are there.
So somewhere in your today`s now and your
tomorrow`s now,let your eyes greet those of another.
Simply for the grand restoration
of the shattered whole.
For the deepening of the somewheres inside your
soul.
And so that somewhere in time,
everywhere will be yours and mine.

Vickie McGee lives in Beloit, WI.  A 33 year old the mother of four, all she has ever wanted to do was get words out of her head.  "How they seem to drain me, but on paper they become my nourishment," she says.  "Second to being a mother, writing is my only something to contribute to the world."

realestlove5@yahoo.com