Tuesday, June 30, 2015
The Winter of Their Discontent
A Dusty Soleless Army
Petite jury of lead soldiers
Arrayed on their field of battle
A phalanx of them as they
Prepare to march into the trash bag.
-- Silent neighbors tell tales --
Moccasins worn thin,
Pointed roach stoppers from a bygone age,
Oxfords and lost chain names --
Time gobbled them up
Ruins, vestiges of soldiers
Twisted into your shapes.
Shuffling transcendence of corporeality.
Tendentious eye-popping Igor --
Step sleepless into the good night,
Resting at the foot of the closet.
Rusty shirts limp, hanging above
wrinkled trousers on wooden hangers --
Two-stepped to the cattle car
Three-stepped to embroidered numbers
On the insides of his arm,
Remnants of an ago
When wooden clogs played a rhapsodic marching tune
On the endless miles of rutted roads.
And times, ill-fated, he stood
Until tired, he laid down
Snored himself into oblivion.
Tatterdemalion man exited
Soles faced up,
Toes curved leftward
Homage to a crooked existence.
The orphan army
Sweaty interiors oiled black with his being
With their tips curled; the scuffed toes and angled heels
Telling tales trippingly,
Their loose tongues pillaging truths,
The lollygagging laces limp and frayed
Slather slurpy raspberries of Bronx-cheer ululations
At the living.
The smells of urine and feces couple with the little troupe
And the light from the single-pane window
Washes the hospital bed in cool remembrance . . .
They piffle unheard
Speaking of life in the soles
Discard like the sloughed off skin of the original snake.
Sy Roth comes riding in and then canters out. Oftentimes, head is bowed by reality; other times, he proud to have said something noteworthy. Retired after forty-two years as teacher/school administrator, he now resides in Mount Sinai, far from Moses and the tablets. This has led him to find words for solace. He spends his time writing and playing his guitar. He has published in Visceral Uterus, Amulet, BlogNostics, Every Day Poets, Barefoot Review, Haggard and Halloo, Misfits Miscellany, Larks Fiction Magazine, Danse Macabre, Bitchin' Kitsch, Bong is Bard, Humber Pie, Poetry Super Highway, Penwood Review, Masque Publications, Foliate Oak, Miller's Pond Poetry, The Artistic Muse, Word Riot, Samizdat Literary Journal, Right Hand Pointing, The Screech Owl, Epiphany, Red Poppy Review, Big River, Poehemians, Nostrovia Poetry's Milk and Honey, Siren, Palimpset, Dead Snakes, Euphemism, Humanimalz Literary Journal, Ascent Aspirations, Fowl Feathered Review, Vayavya, Wilderness House Journal, Aberration Labyrinth, Mind[less] Muse, Em Dash and Kerouac's Dog.
Friday, June 26, 2015
When My Father Died
My father died on Groundhog Day
too early in the morning
for the rodent to appear
but his shadow casts all around us.
Saturn and Mercury retrograde
both nearly ready to go direct
but Dad couldn't wait, all that week he'd gasped out the tune
"Off we go into the wild blue yonder."
He wanted to be a fly-boy again.
All around me machines
speech fails to carry intention
my clocks stutter
backward and forward,
and I must learn to keep the time without them.
Saturn, who ate his children,
Lord of Death
as cold as ever you were
stations high above me.
Move along now, Dad.
Barbara Ruth was a featured activist/writer at the 2014 national gathering of Old Lesbians Organizing for Change and poet-coordinator of San Diego County California Poets In the Schools. She writes memoir and essays as well as poetry and is also a photographer. She is Jewish, Potowatomee, disabled, fat, inquisitive, and still ain't satisfied.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
This wall and sunlight
hiding under the faded wallpaper
though its flowers no longer move
--a single 3X5 snapshot
brings the room down
in flames and further off
the rickety wooden frame
smelling from corners
already broken open
lifted alongside in pieces
and the glass in pieces
holds you closer, closer
and your chest keeps warm
--it alone left standing
as if the wall you don't use anymore
could recognize the place
without getting lost, or your voice
or the arms next to her.
Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Osiris, Poetry, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, Published by River Otter Press (2013). For more information, free e-books and his essay titled "Magic, Illusion, and Other Realities" please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Paint This Day
Art is the only stay against
extinction--the birds shucking
seeds at the feeder know this but ar
unconcerned, having their own
Trees, too, are aware but spend their
time shooting out roots in search of
earthy nutrients, water.
The dead are unaware being dead.
So let there be art, music, poetry for
immortality--at least the comfort
the grave can be cheated by temporal
creation, works spun from small
hands as stay against the void between the
galaxies, that personal energy lives
on in words or clay, pigment or musical
If you are lucky . . . if you are lucky
for there are always those who will
steal the life--Alexandria's library
burning, Nazi plunder, increments of
water and rust--but the birds shuck
on in the trees whose roots go out as
In Praise of Spoken Differences
Books always do this to her
unfathomable books on bottomless
themes that she sits reading in a red
dress in the fall leaves, mind clothed
in scarlet thoughts.
Have you ever thought of this,
she asks me
to pull Moby ick from the waters
a great white light swallowing transgressions,
crucified upon the sea, upon frothing waves--
crests tipped pink by his sacrificed blood?
How different it would have been
if her faith had survived.
How different would it have been on
the island if Ralph and Piggy had
never found the conch shell?
Almost a thing of abstract art
her father died when she was seven,
splattering his brains all over the garage
walls in wet grays and reds with a 12
gauge while she and her brother slept
How different it would have been if he
hadn't lost his job, wasn't depressed,
if his girlfriend had stayed.
How different would it have been if
Hamlet never toyed with Ophelia, if
Gertrude spurned Claudius?
At forty her husband left her for a younger
woman, without remorse, without explanation,
gone like a shadow that ceased following its matter.
How different would it have been if
Abelard kept his balls, Heloise never
donned the habit?
How different would it have been if
Iseult had not told Tristan the sails
How different would it have been if
Romeo and Juliet changed the ending
of west side story?
Not such a small thing these
pantomimed silhouettes dancing like
Not such a small thing.
Trangressions follow like
mosquito's multifaceted eyes,
locked in the vast deep the way
that only a special human can
hear humpback whales compose great
cetacean epics in celebration.
There in the deep quiet black where
disintegrated fish bones fall, float eerily down
like artificial snow in a glass winter globe.
Ocean snow covering the mud like watery
hoarfrost--these are the Saharas of the
What would it be like if I had never been born?
What would it be?
How different would it have been to
How different would it have been?
Snakes and Butterflies
A simple enough assignment
write an essay about what you
fear--800-1000 words--make it
interesting, great hook, vivid imagery,
figurative language that pops.
I asked the one girl what do you
Serpents, easy to understand,
like dragons and lions and tigers
and bears, oh boy, Eve without a
skirt, the whole orchard gig, but--
I dunno. They remind me of snakes--
not their wings--their wings are
beautiful, but their long bodies are
icky, and caterpillars look like
worms waiting to do something to
I dream about them, snakes and
butterflies, and they are always trying to
get on me. I can't shake them off. They
squirm all over me. Yuck!
She kept tapping on the computer
keys, but in her mind I knew she was
fending off atrocity and Freud.
Keep writing. You definitely have imagery
there that pops.
Ralph Monday is Associate Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN, and published over 50 journals. A chapbook, All American Girl and Other Poems, was published in July 2014. A book, Lost Houses and American Renditions, is scheduled for publication, May 2015 by Aldrich Press.
Friday, June 5, 2015
Writing During the Homily
Be grateful if you live among tigers
And elephants, if you can listen
To the stream's songs where birds
Forget the sky's theirs. Be thankful
If you wake with the meadows
Where there's no need for words.
I see daily our concrete follies.
We adorn churches with dying flowers
And water is how we prolong their torture.
They wilt while the organist
Accompanies our thanksgiving.
I imagine the rich and fame chasers
Going to church dressed
In fur of slaughtered animals.
We're in awe of our ceremonies,
Before us image of one crucified.
We celebrate his excruciating death,
Follow with rosaries ordeals
From Gethsemane to Calvary,
Refusing to see we embrace prayers
For life with agony's beauty.
After mass I pay the indifferent fast food
Cashier for an early death, the kind of lunch
That constricts my arteries the way asphalt
Chokes grasses, or smoke the skies.
No wonder this poem bristles with anger
Passing itself off as proof I still have feelings.
A poet suspension points alternative lives to locate his inmost measure, which isn't only a line's undulations of moods and milieus; nor only mimics of nature, the sea, seasons. Orchestrated flow beyond repetition shimmers if and then of emotions, dos while subtleties are true, reconstitutions with voice (garment of tones, vision, insight), honestly (not moral honesty but fidelity to, or adulteration of, form), craft. Creating ebbs against reason like chiseling a marble mountain. Doubt tricks eyes and ears, chicaneries of tongue. He evolves in terms of backpedals, gradations to dusk, wondering why sunrises reborn, waves repeat, suspecting our planet is circular as claimed, that we must arrive where we reaffirm, the only space for the mind's grays curvilinear and layered. If the poem is good, it grows holes for gleaning to insinuate without becoming. When he tires of perfecting: lightheaded, enters buoyancy, the search ending in self-forgiveness.
Jonel Abellanosa resides in Cebu City, the Philippines. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals, forthcoming in The McNeese Review and Poetry Pacific, recently in The Penmen Review, Anglican Theological Review, Penwood Review, Philippine PEN Journal, Otoliths and New Mystics. His chapbook, Pictures of the Floating World, has been published by Kind of a Hurricane Press. He is working on a number of chapbooks and two full-length poetry collections.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Scenes from Parallel Worlds of a
Small Town on the Chesapeake Bay
British muskets snapped the silence of air
And dissolved blood-dilated skin and muscle
In the small town two hundred years ago.
The buckle-cinching militia in all whiteness,
Loose from lager, passed once in the shape
Of a body inverted, then merged with woods.
The single militia battery, one iron cannon
In quiet irrelevancy, was laid aside.
Releasing all elements from wood,
A flame just touched off moved in stoic image
Seeing to be the sun. Black smoke twisted
Once and sought the form of a near whole sky.
Ashes, coming apart in the just-balanced light,
Awaited the quick return to earth and
All stone walls left standing.
Today, the leaves released in calm chatter
Fabricate a once told story
In the many colored drifting of words.
Within the heads of creatures, the moment
Of inactivity ceases in bold notions of equilibrium.
Small boats in quick rust move beyond
The bulk discoloration of metal.
Move slowly to this side and turn awkwardly,
Proceed between the clear space-time plates
Left half hanging in air. Arrive in an
Where all possibilities are played out.
Enter the old tavern at an angle warped towards
The obtuse. Drank ale from a tin cup and
Absolve all sins. Listen to the bartender read
Passages from the Farmer's Almanac and predict
The severity of the coming winter. Watch light
Pass through his body and contemplate the
Pattern on the wall. Join the pig-iron workers
Now arrived and sing the words you have
Written in soot with your finger.
Rush from the tavern as the Britsh
Release all trembling volleys in quick time. Lie still
In a bone-depleting position by the cannon
Were you have fallen. Watch people etch names
In stone walls left standing and dump the last kettles of
Blood pudding into the bay. Wish the bartender
Well as he bends down and ties your socks together.
Sink into the bed of a tomb with thoughts of
Riding with the four horsemen as your
Many lives continue in the adjoining universes.
Philip Bartram lives in Bel Air, Maryland and has recently retired. He writes occasionally. His latest poems were published in the Camel Saloon and Black Poppy Review.