Friday, August 31, 2012

A Poem by Bradley Morewood

a moment of clarity

the water rose above the piano
and over the shelved Hummels
which began to swim with the coral fishes

I lay on the couch
my arms lolling about like tentacles
my eyes the size of a grouper’s

the blue and yellow streaks of sunlight
painted shimmering sequences on the carpet

we all just accepted the sea
since its rise had been foretold many times

we enjoyed the volumes of clear water
the problems of our past now washed away

the foundation of the house
became a rectangle at the end of a camera
swishing by on a sparkling robot

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Poem by Ben Nardolilli

Bloom a Song

Whether a cluster of faces or a shadow,
There is always an audience bringing
Open eyes, empty ears, and naked hands,
Someone can always come into the orchard
And demand you shake the tree.

Make sure the fruit is ripe for touch,
With no waiting or walking away needed,
Keep the rigid baskets away, but hands
Should be used to hold out eager aprons,
Soft targets that still have bounds.

It is good to capture the collective breath
But if seeds fall out of juice stained hands
That is good enough, but if the audience
Rises, applauses, and dances, keeping
The serpent away, that is the best solution of all.

Ben Nardolilli currently lives in Arlington, Virginia. His work has
appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, One Ghana One Voice, Caper
Literary Journal, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, fwriction, THEMA, Pear
Noir, The Minetta Review, and Yes Poetry. His chapbook Common Symptoms
of an Enduring Chill Explained, has been published by Folded Word
Press. He maintains a blog at and is looking
to publish his first novel.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Poem by Phillip Maguire

Want and Worry

Sunset’s red ribbons
Stripe soft bellies
Of dove-colored clouds
Above bluffs brocaded
With olive, gold and rust
Leaf smoke, musty leaves
Sharpen chilled air as
Geese chevrons honk South

Fall’s incandescence
Flames trees to sulfur
Bronze, hot-poker red
While blazing boas and
Gaudy garlands of
Wild grapes crepe along
Wires and scallop
Between bowed branches

Wanton winds ride high
Through tall trees and sky
Painting my mind white
Washing away my
Wanting words and
Worried sentences

Phillip Maguire is an Emergency Medicine physician and self-proclaimed
Zen Baptist. His hobbies include bicycling, gardening, cooking and
creative writing. His short stories and poems have been published in
print and online. His collection of short stories and poems, "Thunder
Under Water", and poetry, "Reversed", are available at

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Poem by Michael H. Brownstein

Where have all the lightning bugs gone and a personal trainer is no longer an option
The muscle-bound sky
cloud shot, blood worn,
and my friend with rabid eyes,
a slur of lips,
chews fresh sugar cane everyday
his teeth perfect.
Some of the time he speaks for the two of us,
other times he is a very private man.
All around us contours of blue,
graying heat,
sheet lightning.
In the distance
the slow flex of another grand summer storm
leaping towards us
Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks includingThe 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).

Brownstein taught elementary school in Chicago’s inner city (he is now retired), but he continues to study authentic African instruments, conducts grant-writing workshops for educators, designs websites and records performance and music pieces with grants from the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, the Oppenheimer Foundation, BP Leadership Grants, and others.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Two Poems by Joan McNerney

Charlie Horse

Gambling everything: bank book
insurance policy frame house.
He bought into the business.
Now he was superior could push
us around. Brag about being
management. Wasn't I lucky
to have such a nice boss?
There's no wishing him away.
Charlie was something definite
like that charlie horse tearing
you out of sleep at 4 a.m.
He told some personal stories
making me feel all covered with slime.
How he'd never finished high school,
been a drunk, got divorced, beaten
up dogs, kicked his kids out.
Impressive. He affected everyone.
Some to tears. Others to screaming.
Certain bosses sort of stared
at him puzzled, smiling slightly.
Day after day, he hammered in ideas.
The old ways were best. He never
made mistakes. Nobody works anymore.
It had something to do with
America and obedience.
Malignant sweat grew through his
heart and became putrefied. Charlie
dropped dead one day from a heart
attack and somebody buried that horse.
The Search
We are the lost who have
climbed hillsides...gathering
innumerable and unnamed
stumbling over sharp rocks
searching for our long shadows.

Tracing darkness with
vagrant fingertips
tasting the disdain of dust
we are long shadows
moaning with open mouths.

Eating bitter food grown
on the wrong side of this moon
our hearts caged in fear
fearing we have been cast off
fearing we have no destination.

Sands burning our feet
whipping our unnamed faces
we are long shadows crossing
this dessert longing for
an end to our thirst.

We are losing our shadows
entering empty caves
now listening for echoes
now finding wells of memories
innumerable and unnamed.
Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Blueline, 63 channels, Spectrum, and three Bright Spring Press Anthologies. She has been nominated twice for Best of the Net in 2011. Four of her books have been published by fine small literary presses.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Poem by Rick Hartwell

Sun-filled firmament above, God’s or god’s or gods’filaments of
Sentient creation: an exploded view of double helixes entwined
Like strands of twisted wind chimes. Iridescent incandescence of a
Billion, billion votive candles illuminate the dark night of a cosmic soul.
Far beyond, those to the east of Eden, expelled by whim or chance,
Fancied to have transgressed His or his or their law, await the
Wanderers from the west, bounty hunters in search of quick payment:
Wanted dead or alive. Thoughts search for quietude, conflicts of
Faith versus reason, taking vows to listen deeply, living life of
Open monasticism. We only live in the partial present; our
Vision is not sufficiently clear to see the real truth of the future
Until it becomes legend or myth or the history of the past.
I am the heart of my own soul, the soul of my own limited life, so
How will I apply what I know, what I think, and what I feel, to what I do?
Surrounded by life, but sunk in thoughts of death, ultimate duality of
Existence, yin and yang, universal wholeness, purity of balance of
Every birth, whether of suns or souls. Duality has acquired a bad name,
Which seems unreasonable considering the obviousness of the point and
Counterpoint of births and deaths. My view this morning, my local Tibet,
My eternal mystery mountain, hidden in the fog of my ambiguity,
Reinforces my mental Shangri La. I await weekends in order to putter
Around in the garden, play in the elysian fields of my dreams, and
Yet am often disappointed with an uncooperative Eden. Narrowing
My personal worldview is not a restriction, but rather a focusing
On that which is universally important. A hereafter? A there-before?
Time is a murky application of geometry to psychology, like rays
Starting from a point definite in space, extending outward, linearly,
Indefinitely, to infinity. Time, too, must travel forward undisturbed,
But as we all know, such is not the case. Time folds and wraps back
Upon itself, crisscrossing its own axis of travel until the mind rebuses
Inside out, duplicating in thought what it couldn’t play in fact.
We have all encountered this duplicity of time; facts have lied to
Memory and the reality of recollection has been subverted by the
Truth of actuality. Parallel lines of non-Euclidean duality
Cross and double-cross until the rug burns of personal myth
Form protective scars of fact. I am continually drawn back and
Back and back yet again, lured into this theological introspection.
In the final analysis, perhaps this is, in fact, the soul –the search
Rather than the discovery, the quest rather than the prize!
What if all the sins confessed to a priest, of whatever caste,
Become his burden to carry forward into a hereafter? He then
Becomes the urn of all transgressions, buried on behalf of all
Others. We reside in a universe of excesses and infinitudes, for
Without this surfeit the natural winnowing of life that approaches
Zero would reach its nadir, life would collapse in upon itself.
To count the grains of sand or cores of pollen; to number the
Stars or the distances between them; these are the activities of the
Damned: the ultimate hell of science without sense or sensitivity.

Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school (remember, the hormonially-challenged?) English teacher living in Moreno Valley, California, with his wife of thirty-six years (poor soul, her, not him), their disabled daughter, one of their sons and his ex-wife and their two children, and twelve cats. Yes, twelve! He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing poetry, Rick would rather still be tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Poem by Sonnet Mondal


Sheets of the calendar fell in front of my
Feet tearing off from the pinned joints
Of a short childhood and long remembrances;
Flap in lights wild wafts as if lifting an arm
Appealing help to save them from the
Gravitation of laws of eternity-
One which flows, flows forever
A cardboard holding a click of four wild horses
And another with two tigers sitting
Have changed their positions but still
Tie the nerves with captivating chains
Of silence whose language is just for
Me, just for me...
They take me through sands where
I lie as a thorn detached from the huge
Cactus without any hedge in the neighbourhood.
I can’t hide from myself, my nostalgia
And a life devoid of the time around
Which my mind dreams to be...
I have chosen to be born and to walk
Through mirages and minds;
Shadows shouldn’t able debar me, confuse me;
Broken glasses lie everywhere in the path,
I will have to drive myself through them
And live, live to walk further....
Sonnet Mondal is an award winning bestselling Indian English poet and has authored eight books of poetry. His latest book is Diorama of Three Diaries (Authorspress, New Delhi). He was bestowed Poet Laureate from Bombadil Publishing, Sweden in 2009. His works have appeared in more than hundred international literary publications including The Macedonian Stremez, The Penguin Review of Youngstown State University, Two Thirds North of Stockholm University, International Gallerie, The Istanbul Literary Review, World Poets Quarterly, The Journal of Poetry Society of India, Holler of Princeton Poetry Project, Friction Magazine of New Castle University, Foliate Oak Journal of University of Arkanas and Other Voices Poetry Project(endorsed by UNESCO) to name a few. He was inducted in the prestigious Significant Achievements Plaque at the museum of Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur in 2011, nominated for Pushcart Prize in 2011 and was featured as one of the Famous Five of Bengali youths by India Today magazine in 2010. Sonnet is the pioneer of the 21 line Fusion Sonnet form of Poetry. At present he is the managing editor of The Enchanting Verses Literary Review, Editor of Best Poems Encyclopedia, Poetry Editor of The Abandoned Towers Magazine and the Sub Secretary General of Poetas Del Mundo.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Poem for Changming Yuan

January 2: For Yuan Hongqi
That was the day when my father died
Before finishing the longevity noodles
Mom’s trying to feed him below our feet
On the other face of the planet, where
He had persisted long enough to allow
Us to celebrate another new year’s day
In Jingzhou as well as in Vancouver
When my brother’s only son managed to
Travel all the way to Grandpa’s dying bed
To report how he was doing in New York
This was also the time when I and Hengxiang
Felt like making love again after another
Cold war, when Iran successfully testfired
Two long-range missiles in the Persian Gulf
To deter the invasion to be led by Uncle Sam
And his running dogs, when the very first
Plymouth Neon was made in 2000, when JFK
Became a senator in 1960, when a stamped
Took 66 human lives after a soccer game
At the Ibrox Park Stadium in Scotland
Even earlier, and when God was taking
A long overdue nap, since he knew
All was well with this wild wild world
On that day, I became the oldest male
In my entire family, ready to take my turn
To deal with death in a masculine manner
Changming Yuan, 4-time Pushcart nominee and author of Chansons of a Chinaman, grew up in rural China, holds a PhD in English, and currently works as a private tutor in Vancouver; his poetry has appeared in nearly 510 literary publications across 20 countries, including Asia Literary Review, Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Exquisite Corpse, London Magazine, Paris/Atlantic, Poetry Kanto and SAND.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Poem by Liz Dolan

When We Were Young
Norma Jean and I had the same last name
which we both changed because she longed
to be a star and I longed to be a saint.
While the steam from a subway grate
billowed her vanilla skirt up to heaven,
I shrouded myself in opaline linen
and the stiff veil of the novice.
As she exploded on the big screen,
I scratched the Rule like a hair shirt
til my face soured white like a millstone.
I shriveled into a scrupulous bag of bones,
so the folds of my habit would fall
with the grace of a dancer, not the grace of God.
As I chanted Ego ad Altare Dei, she oozed
Diamond’s Are A Girl’s Best Friend
in a cerise sheath, stripped off elbow length gloves.
As I inhaled the host she was devoured.
by the camera’s web. I thought I was letting go
but I was holding onto a life a yard wide and all wool.
But Marilyn couldn’t hold on while her therapist
paraded her on a Freudian red carpet,
not to a cloister of peace but back to a maze
where her schizoid mother split in half like a ripe,
summer melon. Sleepless she swallowed pills
while I awakened, staggered backwards to my old self,
to the twenty-year-old I was called to be
who burgeoned like cherries on a bough,
who grew her hair til it brushed her waist
and pencilled the arches of her eyebrows.
Liz Dolan’s second poetry manuscript, A Secret of Long Life, which is seeking a publisher, was nominated for the Robert McGovern Prize.Her first poetry collection, They Abide, was published by March Street Press. A five-time Pushcart nominee and winner of The Best of the Web, she has also won an established artist fellowship in poetry and two honorable mentions in prose from the Delaware Division of the Arts.She recently won The Nassau Prize for prose. Liz serves on the poetry board of Philadelphia Stories.Her nine grandkids live one block away from her. They pepper her life.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Poem by Marilyn Braendeholm

Tonight we invite nightmares
To visit our sleep. Pick one
From this string of fluttering flags,
Where sacred prayers and elaborate rituals
Once blessed high summits with dreams.

Good intentions, charms and chanting.
Repeating rhymes in dead languages
As we exorcise our demons while we sleep.

Belief we say has lost its meaning,
It lacks significance. We live where gods
And goddesses were once indigenous,
Now endangered in this thin cirrus whipped air.
Enlightened, we are our own worst nightmare.

Marilyn Braendeholm lives in the United Kingdom. Her hobbies include religious (gothic) architecture, gardening, recipe testing, baking yeasted and sourdough bread, photography, and writing. She has participated in four NaPoWriMo challenges, starting in 2010, and has poetry published with Mouse Tales Press. She has two grown sons and two grandchildren. You may find more of her work at her writing blog and her cooking blog.

Cooking and Photography:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Four-Part Poem by David B. McCoy

--after Alberta Turner


Beat up
Beat down
Beat it out

* * *

The beat goes on….
Industrialization, commercialization, standardization
Can you hear that beat? --Can you feel it?
They’re beating the life out of us.
"So I guess you might say we're a beat generation."

* * *

We’ll beat them at their own game.
We’ll flip, we’ll wig out, we’ll cut out of their dullsville society.
Like sputnik, baby, we’ll get sky high.


as in to lower temperature
To lose the heat of excitement, of passion
To calm down
To take it easy
To cool one’s heels
To blow one’s cool
To be detached, aloof
To be calm, to be fresh
To be done well
To be very good
To be Hot!


Dig into dirt flesh one’s past
Dig into dreams
Dig what they’re telling you
--‘Cause, man, you’re in a hole
You’re in a rut
You’re in over your head
Exhume yourself, baby!
Dig free of the nowhere shit and
get it together.
Can you dig what I’m sayin’?


The action was being put on
by the hipster with a sharp axe—
I mean he could blow!
But if you paid him no mind,
he’d freak. Like today,
that cat was hip on a ‘Trane side,
but we wanted to watch the eye.
He got so salty the squares
next door called the fuzz.
That was a gas!
Turns out that jive-ass turkey
has been five-fingering all over town
to grease his buzz.

After words, we all piled into our rods
and hit the passion pit
for a Dean flick.
I was hoping to score
this hot chick I hooked up with
at the grind, but she was
just puttin’ me on.
When we hit my pad
I was so bummed
I wanted to blast off.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Poem by Heather Elliot


“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”
                                                                     -L. P. Hartley
Well I love to travel so
I’d shake pixels from my arms,
walk past the ice fishers’ shadowbox
huts on the wintered river.
I know the shape
of these armchair hills, valley palm wrapped
around the city lights.

Still, rewind the glacial shelf, let me
skirt its unfriendly coast. I’ll wash up
against my nostalgia long enough to ask

Australopithecus if she knew a word or sound
for pleasure, in sex or holding an infant or just
winding her fingers through pelts. If she ever
held a feather and stroked its silky threads.

I’d watch the crucifixion of a man
whose name history lost, for the same
reasons I walked Dachau’s iron gates
and pored postcards of lynchings; smiling woman
with the sun in her eyes. Man
in his good jacket and hat
pointing casually at what they’d done.

I’d die quickly, on a day
no one wrote about, my body too
soft, my opinions too strong.
I would judge the people
by my modern standards, lose
my historical idols
along the way. If someone painted me
or snapped a photograph, I’d look
hunted, mouth pursed like in the black
and white photographs
sprinkling Grandma’s house. Look
for me there, my shape pressed
near the frame, waving to the future.

Heather Elliott recently finished her MFA in poetry at Minnesota State University Mankato, and is currently teaching a little/writing a lot while she considers what’s next. Her work is informed by avid interest in travel (she was an English teacher in China for two years), current events, linguistics (she rationalizes her poor Chinese) and everyday life. She has been published by Terracotta Typewriter and Chamber Four Literary Magazine.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Two Poems by Garrett Rowlan


He drank from cupped hands and soon felt younger, stronger,
though the creases remained around the eyes.
Walking back through the forest, his knee didn’t hurt
from that old football injury. Back in his own bed,
he found that he didn’t have to get up twice at night and pee.
His shoulder no longer ached in the morning. Rejuvenated,
he divorced the wife and bought a sportscar. He met a girl
with nose rings and a tattoo in Chinese. (She’d forgotten what it said.)
They motored together for a weekend in Vegas.
It all would have worked except for the memories that trailed him.
Checking in at the hotel, the patterned carpet reminded him
of the leaves he had pushed through to reach the gushing waters
of youth. He recalled that water’s taste, as he drank from a plastic
bottle that cost five bucks. That untapped fountain, he knew,
had given back everything except time and innocence.
That was gone forever. When she asked him, “Why you so sad, Ponce?”
He only smiled wearily and shook his head. (Like her father, she thought.)
He returned his glance to young bodies frolicking in the hotel’s pool,
near to the Jacuzzi’s gurgling promise.

(On hearing “Dead Moon Ritual” by K.K. Null and James Plotkin)

Pounding coming from a place where only fire gave light.
Slow, hard strokes in1/8 time on rusted bulkheads.
Deep within the iron bowels, sound forged
from a hard hand lifting a hammer with a death grip spilling
sweat shiny and silvery as Mercury. Clang with reverb.
It could be a signal, a distress call or a warning, emissary
from a sunken mariner, spark-making fist flaying the ocean floor.
Each heavy blow makes thick vibrations that rise to the surface.
We heard the sound leagues away and could not help, only listen.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Poem by Isaac Chavarria


within vowels
clings of throwback
drip on the wall
of my cheek
and speak
as they travel
down, creating
goose bumps
and hunger pangs

the sounds

climb over each other
toppling into
your partially
open lips

Isaac Chavarría is a graduate from the University of Texas Pan American with an MFA in creative writing and the co-founder of the Raving Press. His poems have been published in Acentos Review, Rio Grande Review online, and Gallery. Forthcoming publications to be included inBeat Texas Anthology and NewBorder: An Anthology. He currently works in the University Writing Center for UTPA and as an English lecturer for South Texas College.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Two Poems by Tom Riot

She says i am changing
We are all changing
Copper pennies turning green
We are all oxidizing under the bacteria
She talks to me like
I am alone and crazy
Like I am infantile and infatuated
She cannot separate my saturated emotions
“Why?” I ask the walls and the ugly curtains
The air and the pollution that surrounds me,
It trenches in and burdens my already muddy masks,
stakes my tasks more curious and less courteous
“What did you say?” Her words are spilling in like star light,
too blinding, too fast
For my slow digestion, my discretions warning
and working, threatening to spill out on this cold tile floor
My feet are cold and I am staring at them
Yellow Lemons rolling on the floor, towards the open door
To the bedroom, dirty sheets and rolled jeans, old soles
I want to crawl under the bed hide from your thoughts
Rules of Spring
I sit in my black metal chair
under my tree, spring breeze and all
the kids are rowdy rough in the back
wrestling around bright ideas, I hear them like harmonies.
A young Mocking Bird is sitting on my old fence
He jumps off and steals a berry from the tree
Flying in mid-air to snatch the small blue ball
Then back to the perch eating happily
White down feathers show his age
But something else strikes me
He is not scared of me, only 5 feet away,
He is naive to us humans
He doesn’t know this animal
He doesn’t know who we are
How we hate and hurt and take and turn
everything into what we want it to be, he doesn’t know.
The clouds are scattered today like
They don’t know who is in charge
and I join the club.
Who am I to have that bird’s trust, I wonder?
I move too quickly and he spooks and flutters
Like I was so quick, so spry and light
but my 200 pound frame is better suited for
Concrete and carpentry, not midair bird catching.
The day is waning and my hands are tired
and my arms are tired and this smoke tastes good
thick tea leaves and lemon
like turmoil untwisted, I can’t resist it I know.
The bird flitters back stealing berries again
I watch for a minute, pissed, why can’t he trust me?
I yell loud like a lunatic bear and jump up running
He flies away and I sit back down, light and write.
Tom Riot was born in a small California town. He is 42 years old.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Two Poems by Jeanpaul Ferro

Southernmost Point


After years in Salina , rain-bands drifting
up north toward New England ,

ten thousand days of the monotonous
green flat of Oklahoma ,

taking my family and driving them south,
as south as one can go in the lower forty eight,

where the road ends and life begins,
the southernmost point of Key West—

At the edge of the sea’s shaking helmet,

where dreams swim beneath the shafts of green
water with the rock hind and the juv fish.

A place where you can see Havana
and the Yucatan Peninsula ,

hurricanes that float as far north as
the Sigsbee Knolls,

up over land into the Mississippi Delta,
past New Orleans and the flood plains,

past the stars one hundred billion light years away,
blue super giants collapsing into neutron stars,

our heads emptying, calmness flowing,
blue, down into our throats,

peace coming, euphoria, something none
of us have ever felt before—

in the north, on the plains,
in the mountains—

skies full of thunder, every thought
I have ever tried to forget:

father’s coffin being lowered
down into his grave,

that car wreck up on Suicide 6
when I saw her arm hanging out,

seeing her leave me like that,

looking at her when she didn’t look like
herself lying down in that coffin,

all the reasons why we leave sometimes,

all those dry silos full of our abandoned
dreams up north.


September Again On East Beach Road

The tourists on bicycles ride half in your way
down the broken up old beach road, these beautiful
seeds floating on high amid the aerial trapeze of

station wagons all packed up,
most of the driveways already empty,
swollen roses broken apart in trails below their vines,
all the golden-red haired surfers arriving in a nick
of time,

a half-moon in the sky like all of this is still summer,
a sheen of August at rest over the uncovered parts of
the lifeguard’s tender body,

broken stars suddenly coming out at twilight,
all these wind sails skating across the flat-blue surface
of Ninigret Pond,

A laughing bald guy from Jersey with spider
eyebrows begins to sit there on East Beach as
he stares out at the ghost of Block Island,

the wind getting colder;
the summer flashing by in the blink of his eye.

Jéanpaul Ferro is a novelist, short fiction author, and poet from Providence, Rhode Island. An 8-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Jéanpaul’s work has appeared on NPR, Contemporary American Voices, Columbia Review, Emerson Review, Connecticut Review, Portland Monthly, and others. He is the author of All The Good Promises (Plowman Press, 1994), Becoming X (BlazeVox Books, 2008), You Know Too Much About Flying Saucers (Thumbscrew Press, 2009), Hemispheres (Maverick Duck Press, 2009) Essendo Morti – Being Dead (Goldfish Press, 2009), nominated for the 2010 Griffin Prize in Poetry; and Jazz (Honest Publishing, 2011) nominated for both the 2012 Griffin Prize in Poetry and the 2012 Kingsley Tufts Prize in Poetry. He is represented by the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency. He currently lives along the south coast of southern Rhode Island . Website: * E-mail:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Two Poems by Jack D. Harvey

Vlad, the Impaler

John Crow,
royal by-blow,
Voyevod of Transylvania,
take this ham,
and eat it;
a pig died for you,
strung screaming on a wire.
Hung on a standard,
black and hairy,
Valeria Victrix
bores into Britain.

take this golden hand
and shake it;
Mehmet's dark warriors
wait for Byzantium
to tumble
at the little gate.
Bang, bang, Urban's cannons
break the walls,
the lavish halls, the streets;
defeat is here,
the retreat of Constantine
from the west,
penniless, is here;
here he is, dead on his feet;
here he is, facing the foe;
he dies here.

Emperor of the east and beggar;
bargaining with a bad pope
a good king
does what he can.
The rosy shoes,
beloved Pharonic ikon,
fall broken
beneath Peter's ravening cross;
after ripe autumn, the
storms of booted winter.

King Constantine
on his feats,
by default rests;
lost in the east,
he struck wonders
out of his head,
calling argosies to the
last of Byzantium.
Dim, fine, old,
the skin of
his golden likeness
through the dead and
bygone winters
burns our minds still,
like bitter frost.

Black Tuesday, the burning city,
exquisite reliquary,
evolved centaur horrors;
ghosts aghast at helosis
floating from the tombs,
the ruined churches,
saw black Vlad, coffin-clad,
between dog and wolf;
Vlad, Count Dracula,
a likely bat,
likable as the plague.

After centuries,
now and then,
a church bell or
something like it,
rings in the dawn;
a mystic freshening
calls up the day.
Night abides while
the sun sees all,
widening and widening
his eye.

For the sake of Christ
take my hand,
prince, sever your ties;
this kind land's not forever.


Hannibal at Zama;
among the cannibals
an eye as fierce as any.
A quick revenge
proved slow as sand
in an hourglass;
the swamps, the lake,
like dreams
on the long marches
back and forth
across the Roman boot.
Elephants wonder
how many there were to
defeat, again and again;
so many legions,
beast against beast.

Then a pause.

Loss follows loss,
an old general
makes his last stand;
unfortunate palaver
at the end;
then slaughter
complete as a harvest.

Down the drain
goes Carthage,
gone for good,
and history can't tell
us what was
left among the ruins,
and what was not left.
We see Cato's fields of salt,
the old Greek
tells us a thing or two,
sharpening his point,
and then
blue skies
under which
paints with red paint.

The bodies glisten
at Zama
the bodies glisten;
and then zebras
and then the brimming sand.

Jack D. Harvey is retired and lives in a small town near Albany, NY. Old enough to have been properly educated in the classics, he has been writing poetry most of his life. He hopes there is still some audience for poetry although he is aware that poets serve at a ruinous shrine and that the public ear is not and may have never been at their disposal