Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Poem by Marianne Szlyk

After the Summer of Young Men in a Hurry

The young men in a hurry played
all that summer in Manhattan,
the once black and white city
ripened beyond lavender into red.

The piano sounded
like storm clouds on the horizon
in a neighborhood
with only fans and open windows.

The high-hat shivered
like the taste of ice chips
about to melt.
The saxophone slipped

into the tightly-packed room
and across rough brick walls
like the last breeze
before September.

Listening to them, you wonder
how they would have sounded
in winter when clouds mean warmth
and storms spawn the steady fall of snow.

Marianne Szlyk is an associate professor of English at Montgomery College and serves as an associate poetry editor at Potomac Review. Her poems have appeared online and in print, most recently in Jellyfish Whispers, churches children and daddies, Poetry Pacific, and Kind of a Hurricane Press' anthology Tic Toc.  She keeps a poetry blog at http://thesongis.blogspot.com/ and hopes that you will consider submitting a poem or two to her "contest": http://thesongis.blogspot.com/2014/06/lively-up-blog.html

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Four Poems by Michael H. Brownstein


Because the subbasement flooded,
I dig into the fresh earth
in search of pipes,
cracks in pipes,
something I do not wish to touch.
The clay a few feet down,
the rock full of grease:

cast of clouds

cask of clouds

casket of clouds.

Did You Know the Poet Who Lost Her Voice?

This is who crushed the water
and this is how the tree died
and do you see it in the distance?--

    how the mud grew
    how limestone forms
    the color of graffiti,
    the statues of litter and paint . . .

Did you know life is a poet who lost her voice?

The Science and the Design

The Sunday after the Great Blizzard of 2013,
the only atheist of Calloway County attended church,
the sun threw a flare between clouds of thunder coloring a diamond strand of
   paper birch completely white
the old lady of the wheelchair walked unhesitatingly to the front of her fellowship
   thanking them for their letters and support,
Bible thumpers of a different sort began the reading of the New Testament
A. discovered a bag of minneola tangelos padlocked to her front door,
K. discovered a completed research paper in her inbox,
L. savored fifteen minutes of internet fame.
This was the truth of Wallace and Darwin,
the morning a seven year old sat on a school bus looking out over fields of rain
   and water and thought:
God or no God, it's raining outside and I'm on my way to Sunday school.  It will be
   this way if I pray or don't pray.
Rain.  Water.  This bus ride,
and he knew immediately everything in his long life would always be that ordinary.


-- from an anecdote by Alexander Yakoulov who tells of one of Stalin's trains on the way to Siberia stopping very briefly at a crossing and leaving behind a litter of small scraps of paper full of addresses, names and phone numbers

I was there when her train stopped,
Vents open in the cardinal corners like scars
Or better--the pox mark left by a crucifixion.
The day was a solid blue, so pretty, beautiful.
I could not know what was soldered in behind
Sealed doors and steel curtained windows,
But I could see the litter of paper scraps like rain.
When the train left, I picked up as many as I could
Pretending to be the one in charge of cleaning platforms.
When you bend to work it is easy to deceive.

Money was hard to come by then, the war just over,
And food, yet there were things you knew needed doing.
Twice before I had failed:  A woman across town
Wailed for help when her baby stopped breathing,
And I could have done one thing, but did not.
Then there was a failure of the shelves at the art fair,
A lifetime's work crashing to dust and broken clay.
Was it really so impossible for me to balance one shelf
To save the others?  I left her to her dust and tears.

I had one pair of torn shoes and I was hungry,
And I gathered the scraps of paper and waited.
Somehow I knew I could do the right thing.
Years later I still find a phone number in a crevice,
An address in a pocket, a name stuck in a box
I knew I would never send.

Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published.  His latest works, Firestorm:  A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Books on Blogs) and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100F Outside and other poems (Barometric Pressures -- A Kind of a Hurricane Press).  His work has appeared in The Cafe Review, American Letters and Commentary, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others.  In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005) and I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011).  He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Poem by Tejan Green Waszak


On the waterfront
you blankly stare
waiting for some ship to sail in
or out
and maybe this time you'll get on one
We all know you've never felt you belonged
The winter is killing the flowers but the spirit is awakening
And you with this hatred of these Canadian breezes
at least you know that you're alive
The man who runs the fruit stand
Sees you walking and says hello
Smiling, you manage something inaudible as your hellos are selective
not reserved for strangers
Maybe he is just a nice man hoping for a halo
Everyone down this broken road deserves pleasantries
You are careful as there are cracks in the sidewalk
Ever aware, ever on guard
Waiting for the rain that will make everything new again

Tejan Green Waszak is a New York based writer, educator and doctoral student.  She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Long Island University and a BA in Journalism from Hunter College.  She can often be found consulting with writers about their work in the writing center of Columbia University.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Two Poems by Art Heifetz

Chez Heshme

It seems like yesterday
I was dining chez Heshme
on a pigeon a student had brought
in payment for his lessons
served up in a piquant sauce
on a bed of steaming couscous
with the sheeps balls Heshme said
would make me virile.
Tears streamed down my face
the tiny bones caught in my throat
I cried for more water
and the brown burnooses heaved
with raucous laughter

When I returned at sixty
with an envelope of old photos
everybody argued over
who was who
the restaurant remodeled
Heshme gone to his reward.
But dining there alone
I could still see his bovine face
behind the counter
beaming like the laughing cow
on a box of French cheese.
I could still feel
the warmth of your petite body
curled up like a satisfied cat
on my straw mattress.
I could still hear
the muezzin's cries as the lights
of the medina flickered on
reminding us that no one lasts forever
that before too long we'd all
be dining alone chez Heshme
on a plate of fragrant memories.


you were a child
of the East
not yet nineteen
hunched over your sitar
playing ragas for me
in your bedroom
your feet tucked under
the green sari
you always wore
your long braid
tossed back
over your shoulder

your body had already
turned against you
but you talked about
the immortal soul
born again and again
in new incarnations

what form have you taken
now that you've left us?
are you the sparrow
perched on the fountain
or the caterpillar
inching its way
across the railing?

I imagine your ashes
floating down the Ganges
accompanied by
saucers of burning oil
petals of exotic flowers
and I a mourner on the shore
holding a candle
in a paper lantern
chanting a prayer to Vishnu
remembering your ragas
which changed
according to the season
according to your mood

Art Heifetz has published over 140 poems in 11 countries, winning second prize in the Reuben Rose international competition in Israel. See polishedbrasspoems.com for more of his work.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Two Poems by Neil Ellman


(after the painting by Adolph Gottlieb)

What grows soon dies
what dies transforms
imagination to a dream
a dream to flowers
in the garden of the sun
soon grows again to die
again in dreams
of solitude and light
until the silence of the end
where flowers grow
to die at last alone
in a sepulcher
of fading light.

The False Mirror

(after the painting by Rene Magritte)

Such arrogance
In the random spray of sprks
that constitute a thought
create a symphony
from separated notes
and waves of air
a vision made of specks of light
that register behind the eye
as something other
than it truly is
the mind connects the dots--
such impudence that sees reality
in the muddle of the stars
the future in a cup of tea.

Neil Ellman, a poet from New Jersey with almost 1,000 published poems to his credit, has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and Rhysling Award.  His poems appear in print and online journal, anthologies and chapbooks throughout the world.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Poem by Eric Evans


". . . hell doesn't want you,
and heaven is too full . . ."
                     -- Tom Waits, "Earth Died Screaming"

And the survey of the selected
says there is no justice for
the trafficker, no sufficient
retribution for the salesman
of a seven-year-old's still-forming
sex, just a businessman, he'll
claim, matching service to clientele,
finding a market and making it known.

The survey of the selected offered
suggestions of the second bunk
in a rapists quarters, of incarceration
and the burial of an ocean-bound
key, of torture and colonization
and the chance to prey on one
another, of a metal chair and
a slowly flipped switch.

The survey of the selected fell
silent en masse with a thoughtful
pause before a voice rose over
here and a murmur issued from
somewhere there, words measured
for weight and handled with care
as I asked with the certainty
of genetic disease if hell, in
all its permutations, could be too
good for such an enterprising soul,
the punishment grotesque enough
for the incomprehensible crime.

Eric Evans is a writer and musician from Buffalo, New York with stops in Portland, Oregon and Rochester, New York where he currently resides.  His work has appeared in Artvoice, decomP magazinE, Tangent Magazine, Posey, Xenith Magazine, Anobium Literary Magazine, Pemmican Press, Remark and many other publications and anthologies.  He has published seven full collections and three broadsides through his own small press, Ink Publications, in addition to a broadside through Lucid Moon Press.  He is the editor of The Bond Street Review as well as the proud recipient of the 2009 Geva Theatre Center Summer Academy Snapple Fact Award.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Two Poems by Ralph Monday


In the moment that we realize we are
uninhabited, the dance a nullity,
intuitive instinct like an insect’s
hum flows in, rushing waters, ebbs, recedes—

any blank space moving now to fill our
cracked Roman urn. The time eternal as
Earth’s star casting shadows on a sundial—
        reach for an insulated place, clean, well-lighted
where consequence consumed drives moment’s fable.
Life’s gluttony, unfulfillable satiation,
pipes to us, forest satyr—drunkenness,
        miasma’s dust eternal inebriation.
Begins then the feast in many mansions:
couplings like springs coiling and recoiling
eventually ends, a Tiresias snake breaking
where love and desire fall apart.

Perhaps money’s love, usury of self—
gold, unconscious desire for the sun
that warps our time, our space on cave’s shadowed wall.
        All now Sisyphus or Job burnt stoics.
Or youth’s forceful memories, time forever green—
possibilities, promises, eternal balm
soothing unopened wounds, unsung lullaby
        rocking us into wakened dream.
When all have failed, many turn to the apple,
find it sour, bitter, all faith mirror’s reflection—
final fidelity remains, an embrace,
caress, solace in faith a faceless face.
Three Muses Bitching
Only three of us left now,
the other six split long ago,
Paris, Rome, New York,
anyplace but Athens.
Whatever, they never write,
mail, phone, or even drop
a short text saying “hey sis,
how are ya!”
Left us with this drag, me
Calliope, Erato and Euterpe.
Can’t even visit Olympus
anymore. Everybody split
to condos, mountain cabins,
tiny three room apartments.
Get all these requests from
rappers, pop music kings,
queens, and wannabes
begging for inspiration.
Hell, since Orpheus passed
on (or maybe Elvis and Dusty
Springfield), what with the
internet and music videos,
there are no more golden
voiced oracles.
Get email all the time with
stuff like “need inspiration,
just two hit songs, a poem
or two to crack the best
Most of the time I just ignore
the pitiful requests, or laugh
with my sisters about this
pathetic lyric, this clich├ęd
theme. If I’m feeling really
wicked, I write back and
say “leave a bowl of milk
and crackers on your doorstep
at night. In the morning the bowl
will be empty except for inspiration
on folded slips of paper.
Copy right optional.”
Ralph Monday is an Associate Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN., where he teaches composition, literature, and creative writing courses. In fall 2013 he had poems published in The New Plains Review, New Liberties Review, Fiction Week Literary Review, and was represented as the featured poet with 12 poems in the December issue of Poetry Repairs. In winter 2014 he had poems published in Dead Snakes. Summer 2014 will see a poem in Contemporary Poetry: An Anthology of Best Present Day Poems. His work has appeared in publications such as The Phoenix, Bitter Creek Review, Full of Crow, Impressions, Kookamonga Square, Deep Waters, Jacket Magazine, The New Plains Review, New Liberties Review, Crack the Spine, The Camel Saloon, Dead Snakes,  Pyrokinection, and Poetry Repairs. Featured Poet of the week May, 2014 Poetry Super Highway. Forthcoming: Poems in Blood Moon Rising and Down in the Dirt Magazine. His first book, Empty Houses and American Renditions will be published by Hen House Press in Fall 2014.