Permanently punched is how it feels today, like a bruised banana or a rug being beaten with a beater or run over with a vacuum, bag bloated with its mush of dust, lint smoke chuffing out at the least press.
In the end it's not the heart to which the passions adhere, but this baser tub, this inner sky, across whose dark concavity Dread, Rage, Shame, etc. play their ferment out, like Aurora Borealis minus the awe.
Today the sun is a lump, down here in here, smudged above this rotunda of walking wounded, sunken death, tarred armies dug in in the trenches and the murk, the hurt full firmament curving overhead.
In time of course one comes to put by the dent of everyday, to deaden the deadeness, to slog on, doubled over even while standing straight.
Roy Mash is an electronics technician living in Marin County, California. Previous and forthcoming publications include Atlanta Review, The Evansville Review, Poetry Midwest, RHINO, andthe 2007 and 2008Marin Center Poetry Anthologies. He was the 2nd prize winner in the 2008 Two Review Poetry Contest (judged by Marvin Bell).
Wrapped in the quilt
of a saturated night sky crowded with lost loves and sleeping children and my aunt's white hair, the things that ramble through the wee hours like the music that puddles in my ears since it is too wet and heavy to float through open windows which really should be closed tonight except mine is open so I can let the darkness in where I watch it to make certain it steals nothing else that matters.
J Brasseur lives in Virginia with her husband, two children, and many assorted pets. She has been writing poetry for as long as she can remember and recently had work published in Poets Ink Review.
After Three Days of Rain
I heard the wind past the middle of the night clouds blew overhead faster than any walker towards the ocean breakers at the steel fence-gate by the cement block stairs I knew I’d walk in lamplight along the slope’s side soon I’d see the night’s neon of the city from a hilltop as I rose the steps the forested hill vanished a tar-pitch wall of darkness drew up behind the path’s first three trees something walked behind me or ahead low leaves like eyes quivered around tree trunks when a twig snapped and the animal moved I felt the cold on my neck and turned back a cricket moved his legs outside my study window just under the wind.
The reason I came to you is the reason you dreamt of a man with scissors and a hammer. It was wrong to want to touch you. That’s what you said when we both pulled the blankets from our bodies. Inside you, slivers of ice purred. The torn bits of paper left from our love smell like an old chemical dump. I am too old, you said, to make you happy.
During the Full Moon: a Response to a Poem
(A Translation of a poem by Hŏ Kyun)
The order of seasons belongs now to mid-autumn— a year lasts fleetingly. I enjoy a poem endearing the moon— the skill and emotion, a matchless pearl.
The perfect mid-autumn— golden waves flood the sky. Late at night, I recline in pure light: the clear scenery, aglow this time of year.
Strolling my garden, the pull of shadows— rays of cold penetrate bones of men. I want to speak with Li Bai— raising a wineglass, I address the moon.
Facing this landscape, I want to sip wine— sadness rends this traveler’s heart. Since times of old, men have looked to the moon— who can endure as this light has?
Ian Haight has been awarded translation grants from the Daesan Foundation, Korea Literary Translation Institute, and Baroboin Buddhist Foundation. He is the co-translator of Borderland Roads: Selected Poems of Ho Kyun (White Pine, 2009). His poems were awarded the John Woods Scholarship, and were selected as finalists for the Pavel Strut and SLS fellowships. For more information, please visit ianhaight.com.
meant catching sunfish and smacking them against smooth rocks, poking piles of scat with sticks, meant muffled laughter as the buck mounted the doe in the movie reel, blowing quarter sized holes
in the replica of a deer with muzzle loaders, meant comparing the flies we were tying to the youngest boy’s sprouting pubic hair, slicing open rainbow trout and swiping their innards onto the ground,
meant ignoring my cabin mates as they chided the fat boy for crying because he missed his mom, climbing down from my canvas bunk, placing my hand on his shoulder and saying You’ll see her soon, soon.
What to Do with a Dying Parakeet
We considered the possibilities: we could drop a rock on him, drown him in the sink, poison
him with household products, hold him inches from the exhaust pipe of my running car. Neither of us
would take his life – even though it was the humane thing to do, so Miller Bird, the green parakeet, died
naturally, died after two hours, two hours of screeching, falling off his perch, flailing his failing
wings against the bars of the cage. We then wrapped him in a towel and held him, held him
so he couldn’t fly, or try to fly, held him when those green eyelids fell, when his legs straightened, when his
feet curled into submission.
(Previously published in Entelechy International)
Corey Cook's work has recently appeared in Brevities, Chiron Review, A Handful of Stones, Oak Bend Review and Plain Spoke (as featured poet). New work is forthcoming in Hanging Moss Journal, Relationships: The Good, the Bad, and the Funny (a collection of stories by various authors), and Willard and Maple. Corey edits The Orange Room Review with his wife, Rachael.
The day mom died there was a wicked west wind. My sister said the night before she dreamt they were off in a store buying dad shoes. “Mom kept coming up to ask, ‘how about these,’” her hands buried in black, then brown shoes. My sister thought it a sign of her trip to live with her spouse in the spirit world.
I could see a painting go off in her mind, gathering haloes in the mall, an apotheosis, a dome opening up as a hand from heaven reaches down for his sole and his mate - after he had made her serve in his closet, made her crawl on earth in his path. But the hard wind in the trees, what did that mean,
of a different order, indifferent to the myths of it swirling in the brain, carrier of the soul, psychopompos? It was just blowing through the trees, plane trees, to be specific, but not the ones we ate her pies beneath a long time ago, when first in laughter I saw her spirit leap.
(For Tom Oveis)
You praise the sunlight on the floor, the hospital floor, while I complain about traffic and a parking ticket.
“Things will get better,” you laugh, making me red in the face. You have left out, “for you,” dying of AIDS.
Your father enters the room, lifting you, the pain in your face, the smell of urine. You wink at me. ”It’s ok to look away.”
A retired police captain, he has strong hands and a big soft face. Once you could not tell him your secret. Now he cradles you in his arms.
Upon your death, a favorite book of yours arrives in the mail. “Enjoy the love of life,” you wrote. A falling light fills the room.
The blessing of the tongue is the bounty of silence,
when to bear its burden, when to take, when to bestow.
To speak despite the words, those twigs that break in the quiet forest when we turn away…
Anthony DiMatteo’s poems have recently found a home in Exquisite Corpse, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Mimesis, Main Street Rag, Words-Myth, and forthcoming in Front Porch and Tar River Poetry. Recent criticism and reviews have appeared in Renaissance Quarterly, Early Modern Literary Studies and College Literature.
the silent hand on her shoulder is the reassurance that he still stands beside her. he feels a pulse now and then, weak, going badum. badum. the only proof she knows he’s there. the words that come from white parched lips are I forgot to take my medicine, and like a parent, he has to slowly lead her hand from her mouth, scolding, no. she sleeps, he thinks nothing of it, stroking the last hanging hairs of white as she grows cold and motionless.
1047 St. Bernard
a man parks his truck on this house, fishes in the levy that caused this nothingness. a concrete slab in the center of grassy fields, he is alone. he trails mud through the kitchen,
drives over the bathroom, doesn’t wipe his feet on the welcome mat. goes back to his stilted house, away from the water, thinks he has learned a lesson from the Little Lady.
the wind blows, a seed scatters, the paint reads 1047 and no one remembers what that means.
Meg Eden has been published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Claremont Review and Ancient Paths. She has won various writing awards,including AACC’s Marjorie Flack Award, Scholastic Writing and Arts’ Gold Key Award, and Blue Mountain Arts’ Poetry Contest. She is currently working with a literary agent with the hopes of publishing novel works.
What They Say
They say no one can save you but yourself. It’s not true. My children saved me when there was nothing else.
Days when every sharp edge beckoned, walks in the trees a secret search for a limb to hold the rope.
They saved me.
Their construction paper valentines in pasted envelopes or thinking of them in the cafeteria making faces with the orange smiles.
They never knew they saved me,
their small voices pledging allegiance.
Between sunset and dusk the sweet light's scattered in the atmosphere through the high thin air.
A paper landscape cut with dull scissors, edges softened in ambient light.
When I was eight, I believed I could vanish into the refracted luster; there was alchemy in the distortion and my borders could melt into the afterlight.
I was the last to ollie ollie oxen free playing kick-the-can, hidden behind the fire thorn bush heavy with berries I chanted magic words to disappear.
Hospital Waiting Room Originally published in Juice 2006
I’m here alone to sit by the window, watch the rain, and wait.
Guardian of your valuables; your watch with its scratched leather strap, the wedding band I can spin on my thumb, a battered wallet you’ve owned for years.
Inside, behind the license and photos an old torn sketch of mine, a peace symbol drawn within a heart an apology for some regret we’ve both forgotten. And long strands of my hair, tied and folded in a cellophane wrapper.
When you saw the piles of hair on the floor your eyes looked like mine do now, in the glass while the rain streams down and everything blurs.
Pesto Originally published in Juice 2005
I’ve been culling the Basil seedlings. The stronger plants need the room for growing. I’m tired and damp from the work. The shiny purple leaves of Osmin cling to my hair, Red Rubin hides in the cuffs and folds of my blouse, a large leaf of Genovese is caught under my sandal strap.
I come to you fragrant with the promise of Vishnu’s paradise. You trap me in your arms as I change my clothes shaking out the herb cuttings onto the bedroom floor. We tumble, laughing together, on the bed,
“You smell …like summer.” You kiss me and inhale deeply. I arch into you whispering my response as basil’s spicy fragrance rises on the warm air.
“Damn! You smell good," you say as you move away from me and prop up on one elbow, "Do we have any pasta?” You leave our bed, off to the kitchen to search.
I stare at the ceiling, thinking about how long we’ve been married and the mellowing of our passion for each other. Still, I like the idea of love later, with pesto on the breath.
I meet you in the kitchen. “There’s a bit of Parmesana Reggiano left in the fridge.”
Wednesdays in Tilden Park Originally published in Juice 2005
The jazz combo meets. Old musicians talking about the days when hip was hep, the intro and the outro, melodic minor, modulation, scat, swing, and syncopation.
They drum their fingers on redwood tables, whistle and riff to band-tailed pigeons who come close for crackers broken and tossed as they argue what's legit, cool, or ragged.
The old men grow quiet change tables following warm patches of sun like cats copasetic.
Dannan O'Brien is an artist and writer published in poetry, shortfiction, and educational nonfiction. She has poetry archived in Juice online and was a recent winner in the Flash Fiction 40 contest. Her entry appears in the anthology of the same name.
Laura D. Nolasco
Shout to the Flame Tree/Grito al flamboyán
Vietnamese high school graduates call its blossoms the pupil flower when they bid farewell to classrooms and youth.
It grows wild and endangered indigenous to Madagascar but all people cultivate it everywhere: China India the Philippines Hawaii Mexico and even South Florida or Texas in June.
Flame tree of many names: Flamboyant Royal Poinciana Delonix Regia Christmas Firebush in Chile and Australia thrives even in sub-Saharan Mali and the semi-arid United Arab Emirates.
It is an evergreen in the Caribbean.
Kiwifruit green foliage against vermilion sunset and golden flowers– no, the four petals are scarlet and the fifth white standard waves like a banner.
A distant relative of the crimson Christmas flower Royal Poinciana shares both division magnoliophyta and class magnoliopsida with the Consul’s Daughter until order family genus species diverge.
The poinsettia is Euphorbia Pulcherrima sprung from the weeds a Mexican peasant child’s gift on the church altar in honor of the Christ Child.
Both are bright ornamental plants but the poinsettia waits harmlessly on a windowsill while the flamboyant puts down deep roots that absorb all the moisture gives off too much shade and stunts other trees’ growth.
The flame tree’s seeds make maracas make noise as I shake them.
Tú no eres puertorriqueña, ¿ verdad? ask the crooners to the flamboyán. No, I am not Puerto Rican. My Spanish is Argentinean or even foreign not neighborly Brazilian they shut their ears to my bel canto how dare I corrupt their plena as they praise the Virgin of Divine Providence.
They wish I were the Consul’s Daughter sitting pretty in a pot kept in the dark to sprout more blood-colored flowers.
A handful of disenchanted islanders are not the owners of the flamboyán.
¡Ay Mami! I Miss the Snow
¡Ay Mami! I miss the snow. You say this is where I was born but I remember evergreens. They try to make me feel better by showing me how the mangoes and guavas fall right from the trees and they let me pick the oranges and lemons and help make juice from cherries and pears and star-shaped carambola but ¡ay Mami! I miss the snow.
The kids back in Queens are jealous because it’s summer year round here but this is no camp. I always have to worry about killing mosquitoes and when the lights go out in the middle of the afternoon there’s no campfire or toasted marshmallows and no one’s ever heard of s’mores.
They try to make me feel better by telling me this is where I was born, in Higüey, the town of the Little Virgin of Altagracia. But she looks so sad with her huge crown that’s so heavy it tilts her head to the side and her folded hands that make an arch. Her eyes are closed so how can she see the Baby Jesus?
¡Ay Mami! I miss the snow.
They try to make me feel better by showing me the biggest nacimiento I’ve ever seen with shepherds and Wise Men and angels that are two feet high. But I miss the jingle bells and candy canes and red-suited Santas. It isn’t Christmas with palm trees and parrandas and merengue and maracas. It isn’t Christmas without snow.
*At the age of nine, Juana Borg Nolasco, nicknamed Chacha, lost her mother to cancer. She had lived in Queens, New York since the age of three, but she was sent “home” to the Dominican Republic.
Lost Kings and Carols
. . .With an alien people clutching their gods. I should be glad of another death.
–T.S. Eliot, “Journey of the Magi”
I should not be grieving for lost kings and carols for those who follow those who followed the star never took away my reflection.
What if the three kings took a wrong turn? Would they backtrack and forget Birth and Death and embrace the alien people they left behind?
As they searched the mirror would they clutch those same gods again?
I should not be grieving for lost kings and carols for the once-alien folk would gladly take me back. And the ones I left them for would rather nail themselves to the cross than say out loud or even chant prayer-like that I lost my way when I wandered down their path. This was not a time I regretted.
What more of Birth and Death when yet a third people waits to throw open their doors? No need to journey or even knock as they take me in even if I come bearing no gifts.
Let them sing parrandas and villancicos off-key and forget the words as they shake their maracas and beat the claves together and make the guiro make that scratchy sound all throughout la Nochebuena. I should not still be grieving for lost kings and carols despite the melting snow.
I have seen other winters and this is not the worst time of the year.
Laura D. Nolasco has lived in Paris, France, where she earned her Doctoral degree in Comparative Literature. Like Robert Frost’s wife Elinor, her husband Ramón is the “unspoken half” of everything she writes. She has taught French and Multicultural/World Literature at various colleges in the Greater Rochester area. Her upcoming poetry book Ariadne of the Freezing Rains/Ariana de las lluvias heladas will be published in March 2010.
Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. -----?
Again, the urge to pack it all in one suitcase, to take another ‘last’ encore then hop the next train, plane or bus to Out West, Paris or Marrakesh, but shirts and skirts won’t be tucked in. I can’t zip the lid shut,
and the sharp ends of my eyes keep hooking overlooked books, shoes I can’t leave behind, a sandalwood fan, a boat-shaped basket from Sudan . Will I miss them when I gaze up at statues or sip lattes in outdoor cafes?
I’ve change left. I’ll slip it into the ticket booth slot. Inside, Customs may insist I open my grip bulging with parental advice, billets-doux, pills, a year book from high school, but no compass, army blanket or rosary.
I’ll find a room with three hangers a cot and a few open shelves. Where will I put my stuff? What comes out must go in plus items I can’t resist, a lamb with matchstick legs, painted eggs from the Ukraine, gifts for friends....
Then I’ll feel the urge to take off again. Flames surround the right tools to help me pack. If we meet don’t ask where but how I’m going. My goal: to descend with what I’ve sensed, faced and learned packed in my skin. And no suitcase.
Carolyn Stoloff, poet and painter, has published nine collections of poems, six full-length collections and three chapbooks. The most recent are the chapbook GREATEST HITS, published by Pudding House Press and REACHING FOR HONEY, a full-length collection published by Red Hen Press.Her books are available at Amazon.con.
“When Aphrodite wore her magic girdle, it caused men and gods to fall hopelessly in love with her. No one could resist her, and she was all too irresistible ...” -Greek Mythology
Imagine Aphrodite’s girdle tucked into the back of her closet, under crocheted quilts and moth balls, in a plastic bin bought on sale at one of those discount wholesalers.
Instead of casting some spell on some adoring young man, imagine her washing sheets and folding towels.
It’s like a rooster in socks, a penny with a whole in its center, a tweety bird flying backwards toward a tabby cat’s nest on Super Bowl Saturday morning.
I was Aphrodite. Goddess of little nighties and nighttime, goddess of little black dresses and a little bit of wine before checking into a suite for the weekend. My girdle was incense. My navel was wine. One toss of my hair and my man was my dinner.
I’m married these days – wearing sensible shoes, making crockpot meals, doing it missionary.
Adrienne Christian is a Poet, Freelance Writer, and Associate Editor for Silk Road Literary Magazine. Her work has appeared in The Michigan Chronicle, Today's Black Woman Magazine, and African Vibes Magazine. She is currently earning her MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University.
Jill McCabe Johnson
If whales can find themselves in the wrong passage, directionless, swimming in their sleep, then who is to say we are not floating in our own slumber, years into emptiness with nothing but the day-in, day-out, sway.
Combing through tide-swept marriages, we pluck remnants. The strewn toys, refrigerator schedules, plans to go camping, and the promise of a second honeymoon ebbed. Whales do travel in their sleep. Passive echolocation
alerts them to rocks, ships, lost jobs, and the rank wounds of the disgruntled dear. We sleep in front of the television. We disregard tsunami tremors, and the salt-stained traces of desolation. No wonder whales beach themselves.
No wonder they linger in the receding tide of whatever luck that has carried them this far will now leave them languishing among driftwood and broken shells. Beautiful whales. Please, please, wake up.
previously published in the Winter issue of Sea Stories
I propped the envelope wide on the potting bench to catch the clean scent
reflected off snow. When sealing for mail, the trick lies in not
fanning these moments thrushing back like birds’ wings into the crowded day.
The snow is so young its light bleaches everything brighter. I had to ink
your address last so morning wouldn’t wash your whereabouts away.
When you gather my letter, it may appear empty as an envelope, a missive lighter than air,
but open it, gingerly now, and breathe.
Birds at the Bon Odori Festival
August delivers fresh sun and sky as the four of us prance in cotton, hand-me-down kimonos. Our flat, round fans chop the air in jagged choreography. We can’t feel our clumsiness until after the dance when we sit at the edge of the grass, outside the temple, to watch our older sisters, and then our mothers, perform with small, restrained movements and humble grace. The silk fans spread like a monarch’s wings, curved coyly in front of their bodies. Their heads turn shyly toward the shoulder. Fans lift in time to shield telltale traces of smile. Under the swollen sun and breathless sky we see each flock of birds rising in turn from a single oak tree to sweep and carve the air before lighting on limbs to view the next flock. We become aware of chirping as the birds observe each other practicing maneuvers, preparing for their autumn flight. The shadows of birds flutter over grass. They dance with shadows of our mothers’ fans while we practice with our own crude fans, we four girls, perched as we are on the edge.
winner of the Whidbey Writers Workshop Award and published on their website in August 2007
That Good Night
After the end of class, after the end of a marriage,
I threw my gi in a bag, and walked barefoot
to the dojo door where a ninth degree black belt
saw his students safely out. Goodnight, he whispered
like moth wings against the light.
That goodnight followed me all the way home.
In the poverty of the divorced, I’d placed a mattress on the floor. Who knew it crossed this swath of moonlight like me walking earlier through the path of your goodnight.
Skin soft from the bath, I listened to the echoes of your whisper pale and smooth. Each syllable weightless as windswept cinders or fingers stroking bones
whittled by the moon.
Jill McCabe Johnson is the director of Artsmith, a non-profit to support the arts. She was awarded the Paula Jones Gardiner Poetry Award from Floating Bridge Press, and has had poems published in places such as Umbrella Journal, Pontoon, and Oak Bend Review. Jill has an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific Lutheran University, and is pursuing a PhD in English from the University of Nebraska.
Washed in the rains of autumn There comes to settle A distance in our eyes.
Speeds splash by On roads between roads. And skies without color Stretch to meet Waters without reflection.
Filmy webs of summer’s dregs Are webbed in the windows Of summer daydreams. While in the ground The death rattle of a thousand fireflies Replaces the rustling spurts Of summer’s bounty.
Susan’s poems are featured online on Jerry Jazz musician and languageandculture.net, where she will also have two short stories in the autumn edition. She writes regularly for print magazines Shadow Poetry and WestWard Quarterly. Mostly, she is involved in stretching her unpublished novella into a novel.
Lee Marc Stein
Variation on a Line by Dylan Thomas
F Stop Fitzgerald’s camera eye foresaw the future receding before us, recorded the close ups and crack ups of our movie-of-the-week lives, imaged Warhol rehearsing his minuets of fame, but shuttered closed for second acts.
The eye lives on and captures Heath posting too many debits to his abridged ledger, the King of Pop unable to rise from his ethereal moonwalk, Elvis exiled from Graceland , Little Sheba never coming back, even that Che can no longer see.
The still wobbly Welshman would say “After the first life there is no other.”
As if my life were lacking in mystery – the what if of our son’s war with lymphoma, whether our teenage grandson stays clean, who really killed the Kennedys, what being an American means – I clicked on the icon that sends Magritte paintings to my home page.
Today “The Menaced Assassin” came. Two men with identical faces (are they “The Law”?) lurk outside the door, one with a club, the other with a net.
Inside the presumed murderer stands listening to a gramophone, hat and coat placed coolly on a chair, face triplicating those waiting.
Is Magritte mirroring Mailer’s mantra that perps and pursuers are one and the same?
The victim, naked and dead on the bed, bleeds only from her mouth. What did she say that caused him to slay her?
Across the room, we see three clones on the balcony look (not stare) into the window. Are snow-covered mountains behind them symbols of their impassivity?
What will tomorrow bring? More stone-faced men wearing bowlers? Smoking pipes that are not pipes? Locomotives still running through empty fireplaces? Perhaps blue skies with white clouds and theater curtains opening (or closing). Painter of eternal irresolution,
everything is mystery, nothing is real but the constant twinkle in your eye.
Lee Marc Stein is a retired marketing consultant living in East Setauket, New York. His work appeared in the previous issue of miller's pond and he has been published in Still Crazy and Cynic Online.
How many geoglyphs are there in this country?
Because by tomorrow’s end, - when there is nothing else to buy, or drink, or retch - we will, finally, have gone up to the apu. Once on top we will maunder in its magnetic field, each of us balancing a trinket of horizon in the dithering, L-shaped altar between thumb and forefinger. We will listen for the lazy swoop of any passing angel, as it ferries ancient carnage to its young.
And then we will strew ourselves all over that apu, you see, where lie in wait the scurf of whiskered, unkempt little stars, the slurring of nebula into yesterday’s Milky Way, and another hulking,
infrared dawn. What will we talk about then? What have we left to say to each other as we lounge on top of sacrilege, our muscles clattering against each other, against the impending chill, shoulder buttressing shoulder against a tangle of breeze and sigh and fingers, against exhaustion?
Except that this is where they lived, where they baked every other plain and hillside in the kiln of collective geometry, with sinfully oculate and owl-headed gods, with needles - big enough to mince this whole desert floor and leviathans enough of suture to patch it all back up by dawn - or with a spread-eagle hummingbird, or a sneering orca.
This is where they trepanned three-year olds.
And down there, that lump that glowers back at us bluish grey beneath scaffolding and the sooty rictus of cloud, that is where those three-year olds lived long enough to weave about it and build the biggest mud megalopolis this planet ever saw.
This is where they thanked the Thankless, and resisted that lust to insinuate
all of nature with their own name.
one more time, (in Lloret de Mar)
first, the short litany: a truck stop outside Girona hunkering in some stifled autumn, listing into a triptych: crosshatches of cindery pine, bowered shards of saffron, a cloister of dusk crumbling over a hail of gnats three bottles of - (one Dominican rum, two Polish vodkas), a hospital cot in Barcelona , all arrant white and plumes of chrome hewn from the same sallow sunrise and wafting curtain
and all that before you hit the beach, before you lay downwind of her: at your side, cooing in Cockney, or Dutch, or Walloon, plucking daintily at a tendon on the inside of her thigh, the Castellet drizzling, each speck of mortar a postulate of the next gangly breeze, from opaque terraces of stygian memory puddling in the small of her back, clotting into one last epilogue: the truck stop outside Girona where you haunted him, nod for sigh and glimpse for creeping blush
Conversion in Nara
“Nothing is sacred and nothing is wasted on me” – Bill Nelson, “Theology”
“Up the hill and beyond the begging deer.
Take a left at the third pagoda on your right”, she says, “ten – maybe sixty – meters”.
I imagine that on the way there ought to be a barrow, all shaggy verdure. Balconies and clotheslines will plunder the view of it, even in death.
Instead I walk until there are no more street corners, or stone lanterns, or wisteria, but only an excrescence of silence where once was a town, grubbing tourist maps for tiny, blazing swastikas, lambent upon gloss.
Instead I bow three times, nervously, soldierly (from the waist, arms clamped to intercostals, wrists to hips), in front of them all – schoolgirl, grandfather, and ashen foreigner alike
to a bodhisattva who cants, in that swath of listlessness, pilloried by their footfalls, and straight-ahead stares, toward the sepulchral maw of Kintetsu Station.
A smile cradles his cinched eyes, then bolts from him like a crow from a scalding sidewalk.
Somewhere under that moraine of straw, rosewood, and calligraphy He bows too. And before the coins even hit paper and gray porcelain, doffs three little clockwork blessings in my direction.
I will think of him when the plane convulses and an engine stalls, for a couple of seconds, over international waters.
Benjamin Andreu currently resides, and when he has time, actually lives, among the remains of the Great American Desert in northeastern Colorado. In his spare time he works for a living, travels, and makes himself an insufferable nuisance to his elected officials. He draws his poetic inspiration from the inescapable conclusion that the human condition is simultaneously the greatest illusion and the most sublime reality there is.
On the side of the irrigation ditch the emotion Flourishes by accident, Spillage, The antagonism of shorted delirium. I am so manic I could kill a pill, I could make a Stephen King story out Of your desertion. Come back to me Mary Martin And I will dress you up again as Peter Pan. I am not afraid of the Croc. The miles we travel in our canoe lead us To the merriment of native dances Around the pot. I am boiled in excitement and indigenous To the insane breed that escapes institutions, That wanders wild and free as a werewolf. You have never left while your mind Has wandered in the woods among spooks. You and I could fit somewhere in a Harry Potter book. The spine breaks. The opportunities run wild like fallen chapters.
Demands from a Selfish Lover
write a love letter on birch bark with a hawk's flight feather quill and corn poppy ink
find an ancient alchemy book collect the morning dew turn it into aquamarines, emeralds garnets, sapphires leave it on my doorstep, wrapped in silk you have spun yourself
gather robins and doves to serenade me as i fall asleep then perform an aubade when i wake
and when i wake, on a day when the sky is bluest blue arrange the clouds to spell out our names entwined
do something about that time-space continuum thing turn back time then fast foreword then return to now like a ride, you see? just for us from you, to me
(previously printed online in Poetry Victims)
he is cinnamon speckled nutmeg paprika red pepper scented jasper garnet mahogany redwood hard he pulls me to him i become a poppy a rose a cherry blossom
Cynthia Pfeiffer lives and teaches in the suburbs of Chicago. Her work has appeared online in The Melic Review, Cynic Online Magazine: Cafe Del Soul, Blue Rose Bouquet, Soul Reader and Poetry Victims as well as published by CRAM (ChicagoPoetry.com Press). She is working on her first book of poetry and hopes to hear from everyone in the world at firstname.lastname@example.org.