Sunday, October 2, 2022

Three Poems by Wayne F. Burke

 
Stay up all night
and listen to the 
radio and
write;
the dark in me
spreads on pages
as branches scratch
in calligraphic
on the window, and
the snow sifts
and wite-outs' the 
dawn.





The sky is not sky
but lava
the birds swim through
at their own risk
and leisure, unlike
me, hurdling through
at 500 mph
in an aluminum tube
that incubates fright.





As the sun sets behind the 
ridge line, a truck driver
backs his truck
into a barroom's parking lot.
A girl, standing in front of the 
bar, puffs on a cigarette.
The barroom door swings open
and shut as
a pizza-delivery man
exits, and 
a bird, on a telephone line, dives
and disappears from
my sight--
all of which
has something to do with me
but
I am not quite
sure 
what.






Wayne F. Burke's poetry has been widely published in print and online (including Kind of a Hurricane Press Anthology).  He is author of eight full-length published poetry collections -- most recently, Black Summer (Spartan Press, 2021). He lives in Vermont (USA).




A Poem by Susan Dale

 
A Prophesy of Earth's Final Hours

Comes the night that swallows our feeble lights
And the moonstruck girl who sleeps under a gypsy moon
There is one day and a hundred years
Of the slow death of life
When burns a brazen sun
And howl contemptuous winds
There is a sad boy who
Stands under a broken bridge
And sells his songs
For a sixpence and a memory
There are loves' contortions: fierce, false
Spawning along a boulevard of broken dreams
And rains, cold that sing one kind of song
The barren sands, another
There are mystic dreads pounding at the door of dark
Songs ringing with the skirling music
That transcends earth and time

And at the far edges of yesterday
On the seaward side of tomorrow
Lamplights are fading
And the heavy-lidded eyes of the moon
Are closing on a fate that dares to dream



Susan Dale's poems and fiction are on WestWard Quarterly, Mad Swirl, Penman Review, The Voices Project, and Jerry Jazz Musician.  In 2007, she won the grand prize for poetry from Oneswan.  The Spaces Among Spaces from languageandculture.org has been on the internet.  Bending the Spaces of Time from Barometric Pressures is on the internet now.  She has been nominated on Jerry Jazz Musician for the Pushcart Prize of 2022 with her poem: To Paul.



Three Poems by Suzette Bishop

 
Dakota

Your name of prairie grasses,
of freezing months,
of winds carrying me off,
of blizzards making me lose myself,
of your gray coat turning to white,
of breath hanging in the air,
of sparks crackling from your just brushed tail,
of hooves making a sacred drumbeat against earth,
of smooth gait rivering toward ocean,
of mane's tendrils firing white,
of smoky dust rising after us.



Eclipse of the Moon

it leaves and returns
like you

feather laid against the moon
loosening into the profile

of a death horse
the moon her eye

remnants
of cloud signals

say don't feel afraid
the horse can see your envy

stomp it out
let it go like a feather



Dear Plexiglass Students

It's lovely to see your shiny selves again
after going online in March
and being off during the summer,
recovering from the screen,
from typing all day and into the early morning,
my eyes burning.

You are a sight for sore eyes,
so clear, see-through,
attentive and waiting,
seamless waves
rolling gently ashore--
     The live stream is lagging
     Press "Skip" to catch up--

Speaking through a coral mask
made at a bridal shop
makes me slow down,
pronounce every word carefully,
after months of rarely speaking.
I saw the usual things bout the syllabus.
your part, my part.

I didn't miss the sound of my voice,
or words in PowerPoints,
or textbooks,
or official emails,
or assessment reports,
or syllabi,
those word arrangements undertowing both of us,
wires ready to lasso us tightly,
finish pulling us under.

I've scribbled a few words on a pink Post-it note
I've placed in front of me:
Breathe,
Don't make it harder than it is,
Stay with me,
Focus on taking in the info
rather than putting out texts.

At the moment, that's all I have for us,
post it to yourself
and let it drop once it becomes a part of you
or no longer serves you.





Suzette Bishop has published three poetry books and two chapbooks, including her most recent chapbook, Jaguar's Book of the Dead.  Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies.  She lives with her husband and two cats in Laredo.





Three Poems by Anthony Ward

 
Battlements

I'd thought my life settled,
Like sediment in a half full glass.
When all of a sudden,
My stomach's churning,
The sentiment swirling
Dissolving into a glass half empty.

Did I keep you like a tree?
Pruned to my liking,
So you wouldn't outgrow your confinement
And dredge the ground,
That would cause the foundations of my castle
To crack and come crumbling down.

Now you grow to your full potential.
Rising above the battlements
With your head in the sky,
Your memories clouded.



Framed

The picture on the wall
Hung for half their lives
Homely to the outside world.

Every now and then it would tilt,
And stay that way for months
Before anyone would straighten it.
Other times it would be straightened every day of the week.

The back had been temporarily Fixed with masking tape,
For years, nobody noticed.
Then one day it was placed in a brand-new frame,
Though the thought of a new frame had been hanging for some time.
And it remained in its new frame until it was old.

The picture didn't face a window,
There was never much light shed upon it.
It shone mostly in the shade,
In full view of its banishment.



Cacophony

The Sound of the sirens increased with the silence,
Whether because or despite of it, I don't know.
Was it always like this that you just didn't notice?
When the world was loud in concert-
The city crowd.
A cacophony of eyes, like frogspawn
Flooding in a pool of faces

My thoughts fight like a stopped clock,
Stuttering for time,
Outfoxed by memories I wish I had.
How abysmal the duration of the moment undergone,
The blank canvas of inspiration drowned by buoyancy.





Anthony Ward tends to fidget with this thoughts in the hope of laying them to rest.  He has managed to lay them in a number of establishments, including, Shot Glass Journal, Jerry Jazz Musician, Literary Yard, Ariel Chart, The Metaworker and New Note Poetry.





A Poem by H. Edgar Hix

 
Across the Street from the Wishing Well
(Phrases from Playmates)*

Privacy is not easy to find
she says, 
and writes poetry
to know a measure of isolation
at Beverly Hills

has acquired a year-round taste for 
Christianity and a modest lifestyle
however, her plans call for a trip to
somewhere between indignation and outrage.

I think crocodiles can jump
into womanhood
looking natural for the camera
just relaxing on the surf-soaked rocks.

Living with her mother,
a sample snap-shot or two of herself
first born in
a lens click

I want to be
a small house not far from
a full moon.

Most of her poems are about
her life in a remote Alaskan fishing village
wearing a hat -- and nothing else.

she was just a lens click
a dormant volcano
a professional poodle
our unenlightened past

here's our hope
to provide shelter from the storm
that I was able to define only later
As a child

Thank God she's a 
field with lots of mud
during the latter part of World War Two
with a knack for covert maneuvers.

she lived until four years ago
looking back, she wonders why

I feel very close to large animals,
leather bikinis
romantic poetry
and amusement park

in the desert
girls like to stew their beds
with the sun
and metaphysics
with ice in it

You should live through things rather than be
a bumblebee three years in a row
come face to face with
the line of pompom-wielding girls
even own a television set
Besides, there's always next summer.

woodland nymph likes
ashes of Chicago
all around

In Los Angeles money and sex are
giving her a woman's body from which to 
get married, have babies and watch television

With the ashes of Chicago
always in motion
through the crowd greeting people with a laugh and
I'm concerned, this is utopia.

hot fudge and footlights
that she might go after, just for fun,
and afterward settle down to raise a family.
"I never really pursued that dream," she says
I've learned how to be
on an assembly line

She lives in a small house not far from
World War Two, Korea and Vietnam
exercises and writes poetry.  Most of her poems are about
what the hell a Moon Pie is

my parents tell me I shouldn't get
a real religion
my family
couldn't even go to McDonald's

here I am, living the dream
to provide shelter from the storm
in big wardrobe racks
but if I continue to stay here I'm going to have to find a horse.

fabulously beautiful woman
paranoid about getting fat
writes poetry
obsessed with tall, emaciated girls

When the arrow went through the guy's chest
I went out and bought some books that explained how
Things seem to have a way of working out

you can be a phenom
get past the dogs
feel the vibe 
be the last character left alive

dreamed of becoming
an anonymous model
riding off into the spotlight

tall, emaciated girls
whose sentences have the force of
sleeping

it's cold and you're naked
"I want to be the last character left alive
trying on hats in Ensenada

She steers clear of the fast lane
is always at the ready to flee
and confides that her secret ambition is to be
a promising threat

always been crazy about 
beautiful women
from popcorn peddler
She still lives in the thin air

the girl of your dreams
often screams at night
lives in a small house not far from
a brace of Dobermans and 
has "no desire to act,"

she likes to exercise her
nice breasts or
real religion
at random boutiques

busy making her mark in
lots and lots of hair spray
she said, "Wait a few years and then
I intend to study yoga and metaphysics

I've always wanted a Chihuahua
born in Jacksonville, Florida, and raised in
Christianity and a modest lifestyle

she smells like jasmine
in World War Two,
the hunted
not easy to find.

I believe very strongly in God.
But every so often I think, I sure hope he doesn't have a heart attack
to dramatize the dissenting viewpoint.

the line of pompom-wielding girls
Living in awesome beauty threatened by
a waitressing job
in Pittsburgh

the ocelot of often screams at night
Somewhere secluded, like
a beauty salon.

We discovered her at an exercise class
Not ready to go home and admit
the active pursuit of pleasure.
"I couldn't even go to McDonald's after class," she says.
but she likes to exercise her freedom
by not hanging up her clothes and not doing the dishes.

here's our hop for the future
barefoot
as an anonymous
peach in June

For those unfamiliar with Boston,
happiness is what counts, and
leather bikinis, as small as the law permits
"Somehow, I think that's significant," she says.

four-wheeling in a field with lots of mud
she's been at it a year and a half now and 
During her spare time
she's dead serious about getting that ph.d.

She also has her sights set on
a rest after good sex
with the sun

I can't compose music,
But every so often I think,
bring on the violins
awash in daydreams

you're reading
romantic poetry
so ashamed of being skinny

it was so violent they had armed guards
across the street from
the wishing well

I want to be
little doubt Brittany
from the ocean
in touch with her inner wildcat





*Each verse/poem is made of single lines from Playmate profiles in Playboy magazine.  Each line is from a different Playmate.  They are not meant to be taken in their original context in the articles.





H. Edgar Hix, like his work, appears here and there, now and then, but generally stays home.  Do a duckduckgo search and you'll find a few pieces, mainly poetry and flash fiction.




Three Poems by Jeffrey Zable


Wondering

You can't always bless what kills . . . 

"Why not?" asked the aardvark of the canary.

And just as the clock struck 7 the window opened
and the rain came pouring in, while I prayed it wouldn't
reach me in the tub, give me such shivers that I'd die
before I got the the towels on the shelf.

And with that I returned to my internal muttering
only to remember the time my neighbor banged on the door
while I was bathing.  "Let me in!" she yelled,
"I haven't a single lump of sugar and it's my last cup of coffee!"

"Mother isn't here!" I shouted back, and eventually she went away.

I rose from the tub, shook myself dry, and listened to the rain,
wondering if I'd make it through another day . . . 



Golconda

Yes, it's raining Englishman and all I can say is that
I hope that one of them doesn't land on me, because
I completely forgot to put on some armor before leaving
the house, something I must remember to do as the world
has become such an unpredictable place that one must be 
ready for anything.  Speaking of which I was walking down
the street yesterday in a part of town that I'd never been before
when some guy stepped in front of me and said, "You've no
right to have all the money in the world when I have nothing.
Here I can't even buy a sliver of a corned beef sandwich while
you can buy the whole city if you wanted to!"  Telling him he's 
mistaken me for someone else -- maybe the guy who originally 
started that online bookstore -- I took out my coin purse and 
deposited all my change into his outstretched hand.  "That's more
like it!" he said in a voice that reminded me of my late father
who once commended me for reading the financial section
of the newspaper and reporting that I learned something new
which I'd one day be able to apply.  "Good to see that you're
taking the initiative!" he said with genuine enthusiasm 
before returning to the comics section of the newspaper . . . 



The Final Test

"No, mother, I would never put a chicken into a pot without plucking
it first!"

And as the world turns--mostly to dust--I recall that teacher who said
to our class, "Your identity will be 90% complete by the age of seven,
and for the rest of your days you will struggle to undo the trauma 
that beset you!"

With that, I asked, "Then why even bother living if that's all that one
has to look forward to?"

To which he smiled and replied, "That's entirely up to each of us to decide.
Now, are there any more questions before I hand out the final test?"





Jeffrey Zable is a teacher, conga/bongo drummer who plays for dance classes, rumbas, and Latin music gigs around the San Francisco Bay Area.  His poetry, flash fiction, and non-fiction has appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies, more recently in Locust Review, Once Upon a Crocodile Raw, Defuncted, Fleas on the Dog, Uppagus and many others . . . 





Saturday, September 24, 2022

Three Poems by Karen Neuberg

 
Sidetracked

I start with the intention to peel
the potatoes for a bubbly scallop
when I suddenly find myself
thinking they'd make better fries

only to quickly envision them
as hash browns for next day's breakfast.
It's like that with my writing -- an idea
comes to me in a way that feels

as if I'm channeling finger to finger
when suddenly "be more wild"
hurtles out of me as though it located
a path through a dense forest and I'm 

in the forest, measuring trunk sizes,
thinking about sentient life and looking
up at light patterns through leaves
while surrounded by sounds of birds

and scuttling creatures and breath.
I'm alive in breath. I want to pull it all
into myself.  Want to share it with the quick
of this world.  I don't want to waste

time or breath on worry.  But, there it is,
always pecking at me.  My liver aches
but I'm not chained to any mountain,
no eagle in a loop to tear my side.

Instead, I'm here with the potatoes
and my latest plan to keep their skins
and bake them, then split and slather them
with butter, sour cream, a dash of pepper.



Somewhere and Elsewhere and Everywhere

Agency of weather.  Of virus.  Of unrest.
Contingency planning, disaster planning.

History bleating, bleeding, bloating into the future into our eyes
crumbling into our bones.

Wind and rain rattling our doorways:
hurricane, tornado, downburst, cyclone, monsoon, derecho . . . 

Somewhere nothing remains upright.
Elsewhere, tremendous hours of watching

what's approaching.  And everywhere, everyone
knowing what's already arrived.



Just a Handkerchief of Thought

Just a handkerchief of thought -- there,
in its corner, the girl on a swing
is me.  My skirt lifts above my knees
& shrieks of joy carry through the years

past the moon and back,
through the waves, at the shore, around
the playhouse, into the kitchen, platter of sandwiches,
bowl of cut melon, my mother, still
young, holding out her arms to give a hug.

How I want to step in, step up
and introduce her to these two boys
whose hands I hold -- her great grandsons.



Karen Neuberg is the author of the full-length poetry collection,  PURSUIT (Kelsay Press) and the chapbook the elephants are asking (Glass Lyre).  Recent poems can be found in Big  City Lit, Nixes Mate, and MAINTENANT 16.  She is the associate editor of the online journal First Literary Review - East.



Three Poems by Robert Cooperman

 
Good Neighbors

They never robbed in the neighborhood,
but would return at 2 a.m. or so, and silent

as a cloaking fog, unload TVs from their truck,
piled them high as Stonehenge in their living room,

and always polite as refugees afraid to say
or do anything to upset their American neighbors.

Once, the family patriarch offered you a monster
system bigger than your living room wall.

You thanked him, but said your son
had already bought you a very nice one.

He tipped his battered fedora, and sauntered
back to his house, with its buzz-cut front lawn.

Hours later, their pick-up rumbled off,
on another foraging mission:  washing machines,

from factory outlets, appliance stores, or private homes?
Discourteous for a church-going lady to ask.



The Lies We Tell

These are the lies we tell
to comfort a friend
whose small, skittish Sheltie
vanished during an evening
of sorcerer-dry thunderstorms:

"She'll make her way back,
just search the neighborhood
and call her name.


"The chance that a fox
or coyote took her
is more remote than venom
from a cobra
in our safe Denver streets.

"Someone found her
and will call any second,
telling you to forget
the reward you posted
on every tree and telephone pole
within two miles of your house,
and he'll bring her around
in a minute or two.

"And of course, the biggest,
most comforting lie of all:
you'll open your back door--
the door she always returned to,
when you let her into the yard--
and there she'll be, wagging
her elegant, impatient tail,
wondering what took you so long."



A Lesson in Gambling

Once, watching on TV with a friend
and his old man, as the anathema Yankees
played the Tigers, I gloated:  Dean Chance
was striking out Yank after Yank.

"They can't touch this guy."

Freddy's dad, who smoked cigars
bigger than Babe Ruth's bat, got fed great,
bloody steaks by his run-off-her-feet wife,
and had guys dropping off paper bags,
and whose mugs I'd seen on post office walls,
smirked,

"Blomber'll hit one out,
and the Yanks'll win the game."
Before I could reach into my first wallet,
Freddy gripped my arm and shook his head.

On the next pitch, Blomberg parked one over
the right-field fence, so short I could've put one
into the stands if I pulled it right down the line.

I sat fuming, not so much for the Yankees winning,
but that they needed to cheat, like the dumbbell-rocks
who threatened they'd make me bleed everywhere,
if I didn't let them see my math answers.



Robert Cooperman's latest collection is GO PLAY OUTSIDE ( Apprentice House). Forthcoming from Kelsay Books is A NIGHTMARE ON HORSEBACK.



Two Poems by Kelley White

 
Pandamonium 

It's a black and white world.  Papa
and Gran.  Momma and Dad.  Skin
that looks gray and purple and red.
You know those old jokes:  Black
and white and red all over.  A newspaper?
A nun chewing on a razor blade.
Lick your finger after you run your 
test strip.  Sweet?  That metallic tingle.
Yes, of course, sweet blood.  Name
the sweetest of them all?  Candy Kane?
Sugar Cookie?  Daddy Sweetums?
Here we are, alone and sour.  Camden
across the river with His Master's Voice.

I have a tuxedo cat.  You have a dog
in formal wear.  So polite, these pets.
'My dog is more popular than I am.'
He got a dozen valentines.  I got none.
The Elite Hunger of Belonging and I'm 
alone.  Along for the ride and he's dangling
his tongue out the window.  I'll finish all
the vegetables on my plate, especially
the peas.  Call me Lima Bean.  Green
is the color of my blood.  Ichor.  Ah,
serum of the Gods.  Tomorrow we may
all twitch and stutter to the beat
of a spoiled neuron.  It's a white
and black world.  You know the jokes.



Phila/delphia

The children have made a new game.
Peacemaker.  One child sits cross legged
atom the slide platform and dispenses
wisdom to the others.  Until she gets bored
and slides down the woodchips.

Another takes a turn.  Perhaps he closes
his eyes, hums.  This is after all, a Quaker school.
Questions are asked.  Advice is given.
Then a quick slide down.  And another climb
up.  They sit atop their world and play at truth.

And Liberty and Justice play together
on the swing.  And a See-Saw for all.



Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner-city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire.  Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA.  Her most recent collection is A Field Guide to Northern Tattoos (Main Street Rag Press).  She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant and is currently Poet in Residence at Drexel University College of Medicine.  Her newest collection,  NO HOPE STREET,  has just been published by Kelsay Books.




Three Poems by Ray Greenblatt

 
Play Time

Once our skin was golden too,
as sleek and agile
        as river otters
nosing and grinning
        in and out of the river
sunning on the bank--
        moist bodies tingling
our tongues were fragrant
        saliva heady
our fingers, our members
        explored new lands--
who knows what moments
        we will remember
as our Eldorados,
our kisses then
        were not hollow
wrapped round moral lapses
those sighs did not
        yet croon blue songs.



Daylight Savings

The train sighed to a stop
          2 AM
darkness stretched in all directions.
Couple of distant lights twinked,
lost stars fallen to earth.
I hoped most people were tucked
         in their beds,
not twisted in tragic moments.
Those on the train snored through the time.
An hour given back, in a way,
a golden hour!
What had I done with it.
What had I done
          with all the golden hours.
What would I do?
An engine turned on,
          the train lurched
and we continued down the track.



I Swam at Walden Pond

Surface sparkling
mottled shadows of leaves
          float on the water
bottom silted and warm.
You were all around, Henry,
tramping, taking measurements
and observing . . . observing.
What would you think of all
          the people?
All the development?
The Fitchburg Railway upset
         you enough.
But life must go on
and things always change,
you'd agree readily
         to that.
However, what you wrote
indelible as Testaments
still aids in pointing the way
limning the verities.



Ray Greenblatt is an editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and teaches a poetry course at Temple University in Philadelphia.  His most recent book of poetry is Until the First Light (Parnilis Media, 2020). He has also written book reviews for the Dylan Thomas Society, John Updike Society and Joseph Conrad Today.





Three Poems by Rose Mary Boehm

 
Counting Sheep

I am trying to recite my mantra:
'aum mani padme hum'.  It's just long enough
to force some concentration and cheat my
brain into believing that getting it right
is all it needs to agonize about.  I sleep

until that aging bladder wants to be emptied,
and after feet on cold floor, broadening hips knocking
the chest of drawers again, I worry that
I might have woken my partner, but daring
to look in his direction I cannot make out movement
or accusation.  My brain lights up and gets to work,

making lists of everything that might be useful
for a little panic.  Will I remember that first line
of my just conceived poem tomorrow? Did I put
some beers in the fridge to be cold tomorrow?
Perhaps I ought to write to my bank first thing or they
block my account! Where will my friend and I have lunch
tomorrow?  (Why on earth should that make me worry . . .)
If the lift doesn't work, I'll have to climb six floors tomorrow.
When was that funeral -- should I have gone?
Do we have onions?

Sleep finally finds me again 15 minutes before
my body knows it's time to make breakfast.



I always love you, life

You have showered me with riches.  You have hurt me beyond
measure.  But I am getting tired now.  I started the battle
early, and the warrior woman's arm is lowering her bow.

I wore a coat of many colours, became what the world
wanted me to be.  Claimed my freedom by melting
into walls.  Sometimes you could see the fissures.
I did what I needed to do in the anonymity of plain sight.

I lusted after the steppes of my mother's forebears,
my long mane blowing in the wind.
My DNA remembered that I honoured the goddess,
cared for the land, herded and told the stories of old.

Didn't know what it means to belong.
But I always was a quick learner,
my deceit well practiced.
You never quite found me out as not of your pack.



About Bread.  Germany, 1944

I can see myself.  A small girl.  White vest, black, ballooning
shorts, handmade. She stands on a milestone, giving her the height
to overlook the wheatfield, trying to see the wave.
In the distance a coocoo calls.

The children have finished picking out the
potato beetles and their larvae by turning over each leaf,
walking slowly through the field where row after row
of the potato green thrives, ready for August.  I see the girl
in front of the big farmer's wife, her apron a sea of colours,
here and there slightly soiled.  The woman presses
the big round loaf against her swelling belly,
cuts it in half and hands her a slice as long
as two of her hands after spreading some lard.

The girl is walking home from the bakery.
The baker lady cut out two coupons from the ration
card. Under the child's left arm a big, crusty loaf.
With her right hand, and an experienced finger, she hollows
the bread through the crust from the exposed end.
At this moment she doesn't think about consequences.

They picked up the last wheat from farmer Braun's
field after he finished the harvesting.  Mother
carried it home in a bag she'd brought.  Left the stalks
to dry on the windowsill, beat out the grains.
She sits, the coffee mill between her legs,
her dress sagging between her thighs.

If we find enough firewood, we'll have
a small fresh loaf tomorrow.
If the train doesn't get bombed,
Father will arrive just in time.



Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru, and author of two novels as well as six poetry collections.  Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print).  She was twice nominated for a Pushcart.  DO OCEANS HAVE UNDERWATER BORDERS? (Kelsay Books July 2022) and WHISTLING IN THE DARK (Taj Mahal Publishing House July 2022), are both available on Amazon.  https://www.rose-mary-boehm-poet.com?



One Poem by Rebecca Behar

 
Puppets and Pain

Tears for bones fragments
From Ground Zero
Tears for thousands of photos
And one disaster, layers of memory
The Merry Widow takes a gamble
Rewind: back to the 90's, the 70's
The fashion in the 80's was the 50's
I love Radio days, etcetera, I just saw
The Adicts mummified at the MacBa
Linking Park's still good on line
"Waiting for a light never comes"
I just mumble my own life
At odds with my recollections
While the parrot of the retro clock
Squawks "what's new, what's new"?



Rebecca Behar is a French writer, poet and slam performer.  She has published children stories and short stories, CDs of poetry and music, philosophy and literary criticism.




Saturday, September 17, 2022

Three Poems by Taylor Graham

 
How They Got Where They're Going

Early memories jammed into 
projects, poolrooms, suburban split-
levels -- what outlaw habits, or one
bad choice, brought them to this place?
Their present bonds are of the psyche
as much as prison bars.
But you come here voluntarily, once
a week, to give theme men a voice,
unchain their thoughts through 
metaphor.  You bring the generosity
of words. Poetry. Your reward:
to see metamorphosis in their eyes.



A Scotty-Dream

Beam me up
to a space I've never seen
and never heard of,
not a tourist attraction nor at war;
some place that's suffered
no human contact
since pre-Industrial Revolution;
out of human time.
I'd wander among plants and animals
left to themselves,
who won't regard me as an enemy;
some place I can't identify
by name or position
on a geo-political map
and -- waking --
can't return to again,
to see how we've changed it
already
in my lifetime.



Letter to You in the Other Seat

Our trip yesterday up the mountain --
you should have been driving, corner of one
eye on the road while you appraised ridges
and canyons -- miles of skeleton pine and cedar.
You'd tell me about the forest coming back
after fires you fought when you were younger,
when you could still pass the step-test.
You'd tell me how this fire was hotter, more
unpredictable, born of climate change.
You'd point to small green coming back --
deer brush, bear clover.  But you're far away
in the passenger seat, while I drive
and tell you what the landscape looks like now;
if you could remember how it used to be --
hardpan forest roads we'd drive, wondering
where they went; their names on wooden signs
burned away now like your eyesight
and your memory.  I'd wait for you to tell me
the forest will come back.  And I'd believe it, if you'd come back too.




Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler and served as El Dorado County's inaugural Poet Laureate.  She's included in California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present; California Fire & Water: A Climate Crisis Anthology, and elsewhere.  Her latest collection is Windows of Time and Place (Cold River Press, 2019).




Three Poems by Michael Estabrook

 
Earth Day 2021

     . . . gale-force winds brought down two
     large trees snapped them right over
     along with a clutter of branches and twigs . . . 

I'm at the Lexus dealership
in Northborough Massachusetts waiting
for my car's first oil change when Otis Redding's
Sitting on the Dock of the Bay comes on the radio
immediately dropping me back 51 years
to Earth Day 1970 --
I'm on the Wagner College campus a month
before graduation and I'm with my brother Kerry
and we're planting a tree
in honor of Earth Day, the very first Earth Day.
My brother's dead now all these years later
cold in the ground but I hope
the tree is still alive thriving in the sun
he'd like that too.



Autumn

     . . . some things are worse
     than retirement you know
     I wanted to remind her  . . .

"Now that you're retired
I'd counsel you
to change the overall mix
of stocks and bonds
in your portfolio from 70/30
to a more conservative 60/40
in order to help ameliorate
the vicissitudes
of an ever more unpredictable
stock market" Danielle
my pretty young
financial advisor advises me adding
"You're in that season
of your life after all."



Ain't Diets Grand

     . . . trying hard to lose weight
     but that blueberry pie
     has my name written all over it . . . 

So I have to pick up
the grandkids after school
make an excuse to my wife
about needing to leave early
for some errands stope off
at Dunkin' Donuts for a half dozen
scarf down two in the parking lot
with my cup of coffee
while waiting for the kids.
At least I'm not hiding booze
in the medicine cabinet
or in my sock drawer
or out behind the garage not that
I've ever done any of that.




Michael Estabrook has been publishing his poetry in the small press since the 1980s.  He has published over 30 collections, a recent one being Controlling Chaos: A Hybrid Poem (Atmosphere Press, 2022). He lives in Action, Massachusetts.  https://michaelestabrook.org/




Three Poems by Karla Linn Merrifield

 
Frolic with the Doctor

He, my first, probably only, molecular biologist
(one who never studied human anatomy)
recommends L'Oreal Collagen Moisture Filler/
Combleur Hydratent; twice? thrice? he smoothed
fragrance-free/sans parfum cream into my face/
mon visage! Oh, divine moisturizer!
He instructed me to use it with -- ta da! --
hyroleuric acid. (Started the ones you gave me,
order placed for more, arriving tomorrow).
He applied his fingertips to my flesh,
across skin and the many bones below:

Femur of a foal
femur of a tiny dance
delicate/sturdy femur
of my beautiful legs' thighs --
smackkissdive

Watch out! I've got
their muscles in spades:
vasus madialis
gracilis
rectus memoris
vastus leteralis
The squeeze is on.

Somehow I don't think you'd mind
if I wrapped my tibia and fibula
around the seven cervical bones of your neck.
C1 to C7, easy-peasy!
A beautiful view
to complete this brief portfolio
of my beautiful legs.
(You said so first)
Now I'm even more shameless.

And the maxilla of my upper teeth
conspire with mandible below
to support my smile when you fuck me.
And before and/or aft,
nipbitenibble thee.

He lectured on the topic
of the intestinal biome;
together we blessed the bacterial
balance of my belly and lady parts,
not without minutiae of mitochondria,
kabillions of cells powering flesh and bone.
Later, I conferred with him about nights
of foot/leg cramps, rude awakenings
despite potassium these past two months:
More hydration necessary, he advised.

Yes, I will get my bone density scan
after I migrate north.  Other appointments
booked: mammo, PCP, gyno, derma, dentist.

One last bone I know is metaphorical,
colloquial, not boned but where blood
rises and -- voila! -- your beautiful boner
between my beautiful legs.



#65: Amana

I rubbed the lamp
of my imagination
and a proverbial genie emerged
in my mind with the notion
of granting my words their wishes thrice.

My words dream
of an Arabian stallion.
Scion out of Al Shaqab --
fine-boned, fleet, proud.
But a dashing young man
appeared from Al-Salt, Jordan --
sleek, slender, muscular, taut --
wielding his proverbial phallus
in this face of this infidel.  Am I?

My words conjure
boundaries dissolved between
our ages, nations and religions,
our culture, languages and literatures.
We are only all flesh, all soul.

My words desire desires,
so I mount my virile mal─ôk,
take his thick equine length
within me, and ride him
hard across the finish line to bliss.
An angel earns his wings.

And the come-true poem has us
entering the sacred Kingdom of Trust.



#64: Tri-fer

My Serbian sommelier
slipped into my suite unobserved,
bearing a sweating bottle of Sancerre
to skip through the preliminaries
of my undressing him from waistcoat
to cravat to crisp white shirt,
bent on below the belt.
My plush virgin-white bathrobe
opened easily to age-gap eroticism
in etrmis:  forty-three years.
There's something to be said
for such a youthful member.  Thrice!

Once upon an ocean liner's balcony,
I knelt between muscular thighs, believing.



Karla Linn Merrifield has had 1000+ poems appearing dozens of journals and anthologies.  She has 16 books to her credit.  Following her 2018 Psyche's Scroll (Poetry Box Select) is the full-length book Athabaskan Fractal: Poems of the Far North from Cirque Press.  Her newest poetry collection, My Body the Guitar, recently nominated for the National Book Award, was inspired by famous guitarists and their guitars and published in December 2021 by Before Your Quiet Eyes Publications Holograph Series (Rochester, NY). She is a frequent contributor to The Songs of Eretz Poetry Review.  Web site: https://www.karlalinnmerrifield.org/; blog at https://karlalinnmerrifield.wordpress.com/; Tweet @LinnMerrifield; https://www.facebook.com/karlalinn.merrifield.




Three Poems by J.K. Durick

 
Crows

I'm sure I could learn all about them
Their situation, their behaviors, and
Their place in the greater scheme of
The bird world, but I like the mystery
Of them, these crows look the part
They can play in my imaging.  Their
Coloring seems sinister, their cawing
Puzzling, as if they are complaining
Or making a claim on whatever it is
They are going after.  The three I see
Every day on my walk seem to have
This neighborhood as their own.  One
Day on a lawn on Greening sharing
Whatever they have to eat, another
Day on a roof on Duchess, huddled
As if planning their next move.  They
Spend their day moving around, but
Join the others at night, seems like
Hundreds who gather in a tree or two
Not far from here.  They seem sinister
Almost dangerous, like all the birds in
That Hitchcock movie getting ready to
Chase Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren
Down the street.  I watch them carefully
And they are watching me.



Walking a Mile

My feet march to the beat of
a difficult drummer
mis-stepped, mis-shapen
draft-dodger glat
bunioned and broken
with the large toe lapsing over
the others
rubbing while I walk.
Sneakers and sandals crowd
and scrape them
as they complain, protest
almost too much.
Then my diabetes doctor
checks them, warns me
with advice I can't follow
off-balanced the way my feet
make me
out of step, always hoping
a cure might happen --
a feet transplant or an entire
person transplant,
the one about walking a mile
in someone else's shoes
but instead in someone else's
feet.



Walking to This

Someone is still in bed, wrapped up
tied up in the blankets.
His head buried face-first in
the crushed pillow.
It's been a bad night, but this is worse,
the day he faces
the stinking mess of the morning
the snake-pit of an afternoon
the numb nothing of the evening and
then another night of off and on
dreaming, waking, and then this.
He rolls over, tries to see the ceiling
as sky enough, the night-light all
the stars he needs
his bedside lamp sufficient sun
just enough moon.
Watches his sky, feels his sun
then gets up to face what's left of
his day,
the part he plays in it --
that is so much like our own.




J.K. Durick is a retired writing teacher and online writing tutor.  His recent poems have appeared in Third Wednesday, Black Coffee Review, Literary Yard, Sparks of Calliope, Synchronized Chaos, Madswirl, Journal of Expressive Writing, Lightwood, and Highland Park Poetry.




One Poem by Edward Lee

 
Bones Speaking with Hard Tongues

Last night I heard
my bones whispering
to each other
in a language I couldn't understand
or even identify,
hard sounds colliding
like stone against stone.

I realized too
that this was not the first time
I had heard them,
all previous whispering
categorized by my brain
as the mutterings
of my own mind,
my thought-processes
with no off-switch,
not even when sleep beckoned
to the point of necessity.

Some nights I would fear
my chemically unbalanced brain
was mutating its depression
into some blunter madness.
But no, it has only ever been
my bones speaking
with their hard tongues,
whispering about things
I might never know.

My bones whispering incessantly,
keeping me awake.

I wish I could either decipher
their colliding words
or they would cease
for a night or three.

Whichever is easier
for them, either works
for me, truly, either
works for me.




Edward Lee's poetry, short stories, non-fiction and photography have been published in magazines in Ireland, England, and America, including The Stinging Fly, Skylight 47, Acumen, The Blue Nib, and Poetry Wales.  His play, "Wall", received a rehearsed reading as part of Druid Theatre's Druid Debuts 2020.  He also makes musical noise under the names of Ayahuasca Collective, Orson Carroll, Lego Figures Fighting, and Pale Blond Bov.  His blog/website can be found at https://edwardmlee.wordpress.com




One Poem by Frank Joussen

 
Checking Out When Checking In

more and more people's lives
in our own Western world
have come to resemble,
amazingly quite obviously,
bourgeois one-night stands
in middle-class hotels,
in rooms with a view
not looked at:

checking out when checking in,
small talk given for small change
with not so much as a 
sideward glance at your 
'I'm-not-really-fortyish-looking'
partner in petty crime,
moving on before truly getting there
leaving nothing but anonymous stains behind.




Frank Joussen is a German teacher and writer.  His publications include two selections of his poetry, one of them being a bilingual collaboration with Romanian poet Ana Cicio.  He has co-edited two international anthologies of poetry/fiction in India and one of short stories in Germany.  His poems and short stories have also been published in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies in Australia, the Republic of Ireland, Germany, Romania, Malta, the USA, Canada, India, China, Thailand and Japan; some of them have been translated into German, Romanian, Hindi and Chinese.  His latest publications include Pulsar (G.B.),  Poetry Pacific (Canada), FreeXpresSion (Australia), Verbal Art (India), and Word City Literature (International).




Three Poems by John F. Keane

 
The Haze of a Sweet Afternoon

Slow moments clad in flame dance between
dormant memories.  Coverts of yearning
stroll sun-slashed afternoon alleyways like
bechoning streetwalkers murmuring with

honey-slick voices.  This is the time, this
is the time to make eternal experience
they say, in the haze of a sweet afternoon
too perfect to endure, and never to return

slow moments clad in flame dance between
dormant memories.  The blazing instant 
lost, the brimming goblet spilt, the afternoon
that might have been discarded in the trash.



Incel in the Rain

outside rain pelts from grey
I ask my Stacylite friend if she
will share her umbrella with

me to the station she agrees
but anxiously checks if people
are mistaking us for a couple

she says the rain has slowed
she must hurry home fast
because Chad is waiting

she cannot endure walking
beside an incel subhuman
with people looking at us

I reach the station soaked
forlorn to the freezing skin
for the homebound train.



The Consolations of Philosophy

Always strive to make the maxim of
your action a universal law because
if you don't then everything we admire
will come to an ignominious and futile
end like a former rock star in a nursing
home, leaving nothing whatsoever of
interest to anyone as the earth spins
through the void towards eternity.

If no one bothered to have any kids
(which is a dirty job though some poor
bastard has to do it) then civilization
and all the achievements of our species
would crumble to dust and be forgotten
leaving vultures and grizzlies crapping
all over the White House floor and
bats roosting in the Bodleian library.

If no one ever bothered to go to work
(even if almost everyone hates their job
except famous athletes and performers
or professional beer and wine tasters)
then society would grind to a halt and
humans would devolve into illiterate
hunter-gatherers with no mobile
phones, coffee shops or hospitals.

Don't tell malevolent lies or practice
fraud because it will erode trust values
turning all communities into debased
and violent autocracies with oppressive
police forces and corrupt government
with everyone being even more hostile
to each other than they already are
(if such a thing were actually possible).

Above all, don't take hard drugs because
if everyone was high on crack cocaine
or crystal meth or even strong skunk
then trains would never run on time and
there would be loads of car crashes and
apps would not work properly because
software developers would not know
their asses from their elbows.

So there it is, ignoring the categorical
imperative and not making the maxim of
your action a universal law will result in
corrosive chaos with ostriches, crocodiles
termites and other low IQ, uncultured
lifeforms knowing jack shit about anything
inheriting the earth, never composing or 
reading poems and being utterly boring.




John F. Keane lives in Manchester, in the UK.  A software developer and securities trader, he has published poems in a number of British anthologies and publications.  These include the Live from Worktown Anthology 5 (2018), the Poetry from the Platform Anthology (2021), Prole (2010), Best of Manchester Poets Volume 3 (2013) and The Bread and Roses Award Anthology (2018).  In addition, he has published poems in a number of international publications including Analog, the American speculative fiction magazine and Jubilat, literary journal of the University of Massachusetts.  He also won Bolton Station's Community Partnership contest in 2020 and the 2021 Ekphrastic Poetry Contest sponsored by the Friendswood Public Library, Texas.