RITUALS 2020

Page 1


Rituals A Collection of Poetry.


This is a special Domesticated Primate & Anomaly Poetry Summer Solstice 2020 publication. All works Copyright © 2020 by the individual artists. This collection Copyright © 2020 by Domesticated Primate

Cover Art by: Sarah Jane Mulvey

READ MORE, YOU TROGLODYTE! This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imaginations or are used factiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. So, chill out fool. Contact the publisher: nick@domesticatedprimate.com


Foreword by Sarah Jane Mulvey

When there is a moment of monumental shift or change, we consider time as Before; and After. Right now, we are in the middle. In gestation. All of our actions right now will determine what After looks like. I hope this finds you in the middle of reckoning with what your After will look like. Rituals bring us comfort. As I sit at my desk and write this, on June 19th (at the very last minute of deadline, which is also a ritual…sorry Nick), comfort seems out of reach. The smallest of mine – a walk from work to my favorite cafe – seems like a distant memory. I will probably cry on that first morning I return to those red brick sidewalks and a sunny coffee shop. Speaking selfishly, I’ve suffered some of my deepest personal losses in these months of unrest. My After is already greatly altered. But rituals must, and should, change. Question why the past brings you comfort. Question what you hold on to.


Hindsight By Andrew Tedesco Those winding roads That led to smoking pits That we had to look behind us To find them May as well be my first real memory Of barbecue culture And on the long list Of experiencing food With you. That you taught me how to make banana bread Before, I could reach a counter Standing on a chair to help you, Show me the way That once I could reach the stove top To make my own eggs That for many Birthdays we would Seek out barbecue That for many birthdays I would be shown that Food can indeed bring happiness. There is so much That I cook, That I taste, To relive A memory A culinary memoir To time I wish I took more care of That would be more looking to Than looking back


Barbecue by Kathleen Denizard After a hot sun had cooked through a steam of clouds onto the concrete The patio finally cooled Evening arrived The Weber grill smoked and sizzled and carried the smell of roasting meat Dad's big hand fit securely into a size large oven glove wrapped around the spatula Patting, flipping, smothering beef and pork under shakes of spice He was aproned in vinyl smeared with red sauce, his forehead shining with sweat Pausing now and again to swat some pesky insects Yet smiling broadly Behind him our family mingles with drink and laughter under the citronella lanterns But as the spatula turns a feast onto platters We gather unceremoniously at picnic tables next to a bunch of plastic knives and forks And invite Dad to join us.


Eight Degrees of Control by Patricia Gomes Shugah’s outside working hard to make it rain: dancing, chanting. Tiny, naked feet pounding, sending up dust-cloud prayers. Her brother’s undershirt sags on her skinny hell-bent frame. Fill me up, fill me up, fill me up! she demands of the solid blue. I’ll behave, I’ll behave, I’ll behave! Her rage strong and directed, but the sky remains

solid blue. She stops long enough to write her name in the dust with a rusty screw, then throws her braided head back to assess her progress. Solid blue. She stomps her right foot and begins again. Dancing, chanting. Shugah’s outside working hard to make it rain.


The Feel of The Rope by Joseph Finneran No wakes, no funerals. The feel of death strolls with me thru the empty sanctuary, up the steps to the bell tower Alone with a solemn hovering aura The bell will swing at noon every sway on its housing an indication of a man’s life the clang of metal against metal. To the family, ritual and closure, echoes in the garden the feel of the rope in my hands the weight, the wait, is not lost on me I pull at the inevitable hour.


A Symptom of Lunacy

by Marek Kulig Please Keep Off The Grass signs staked like sentries among the courtyards of Oxford University Colleges.

Why, of course, so pristine— But, scholars, consider the dog, if she has thought once about sod in this shriney sense as she performed, among other droppings, her Versailles Maneuver, pawing over and over over redundant grass, padding it, ka-plunk. Big cats and small alike like it tall, all the more disadvantageous for the prowl-less.

Heavy ants having scaled a blade’s summit are culpable, too, of its occasional droop. Opposite, the sun, wingless in spaceborne glory, partakes in its fair share of beating down on, during mid-summer noon elephantine against the earth.


Tunneling under its safety, while the erect Robin’s legs tremor from the churning of the dirt, the worm, to nobody’s surprise, prefers the grass unequivocally vacant.

And what, scholars, is your preference? The grass impaled, the nodding off sun’s permission for a tipple, its pagan shade stretching and fitting until it has overgrown the city to the extent that the lights come on for those hooving about on the sidewalks.


As We Were That Day By Harley French Cobwebs of light reach for us between branches, rustling the sheets of ghosts, goose flesh taking shape, silent shivers that replace our bones with jelly. And yet, we are at peace here, among the trees and our lake of diamonds, shimmering riches, reflecting the fading lights of day. Foothills that tease the sun as it disappears beyond the horizon. Farewell our fellow golden friend! We run and hide and lay our heads down. Our mothers sing to us while we sleep in hushed whispers that send us off into Graceland. Our fathers watch over us to protect us from things we cannot yet fathom beyond the wolf, or the bear, or the bitterness of winter.


We know these things not, but what we do know is that as we were that day, youthful innocence without finality, is how we will forever find ourselves within dreams. Our Cranberry Lake, where my heart burst and released a thousand butterflies into the world to bless us and spread humble warmth across our lands. Farewell my golden friend.


eternal renewal by Jessika Lazala the need for love for approval admiration encircles me and suffocates me no matter how hard i avoid it. it manifests itself as two snakes, that slither around me whispering and hissing that i’ll never love again. but sometimes they sing the sweetest of songs – a melody of true love. but i can never seem to pin the tune the language nothing i’ve ever known. i tell myself that it’s all in my head my heart and brain stricken with dread i struggle, i stumble find myself in tunnels whose only light is the faint glint in snake eyes. cold, unwelcoming unlike the face of the man who, like the sun lights up my days and warms my cold nights. though his presence is inconvenient these snakes tell me to look for him. and i think in my heart of hearts i already know him. but of all i possess he is the one thing i can never seem to find. still though, his soul and mine are seemingly intertwined. though sometimes i do not love him


he finds his way back through the eyes of a snake wandering through grapevine tunnels of lust. and though i do not love him i see him everywhere. he is the snake but i am the bird that lands beside him as he basks in the sun at the commons. i can fly away whenever i wish but the question is whether i wish to i do not want to love but i think i have already let him in. our souls know each other and our voices are forever intertwined with the wind.


MAGNOLIA by Cynthia Brenner A woman told me during the dregs of winter, to look at a certain tree come spring.

The rain is over, temperature tolerable, sky— an impossible blue. I sit in my car at the bottom of Hill and Water streets watch the shimmering of the harbor. The grey tree has exploded with butter-yellow blooms, huge curvy petals thrust up to delicate praise from the approving sun. Yellow on yellow central eyelashes look with interest at me looking at this certain tree.

There are sacred places on this weaning earth, that draw those of us born longing to return to the stars.


At first we are solaced, then seduced by its beauty, and then we have a new home. Those like you and me, walking up the hill arms entwined, reflected in my rear view mirror.


Public School By Paul Cordeiro All of us in one class stood single file girls first boys in the back push rub knuckles across crewcuts but we knew what had to be done go in and pass the nurse and take your medicine lift up the cup of clear Salk elixir so we could jump rope skip and horseplay ride our bikes into the wind


Strawberries by Sarah Jane Mulvey, after Harry Styles An offering I make to you, at the altar of our table. Strawberries, sweet cream deep red, soft touch.

Sun’s out, tops off clouds smile left hand caught in the wind, right on the nape of your neck firm pressure of your hand on my thigh. sundaes without a plan let this sweetness burn my skin hot to your touch. golden hour, end of June. gentle wave of cotton sheets what more is there to do? kiss me once more taste of strawberries, sweet cream. deep red, soft touch.


2020 April 22 — Wednesday — Week 6 of Stay-at-Home order due to Coronavirus Pandemic by September McCarthy Don’t try to change people’s minds. It’s never going to work. I had the first sign of this when my son was five. One evening we were in the car On our way home from work (me) and day care (him) When he parrots a racist remark He must have heard from another child Because he never had and never will have heard it from me. Wanting to tell him it was wrong But believing he didn’t really believe it — It was not a belief formed from experience, Rather he was testing it, Like clothes, trying on someone else’s opinion In the process of learning how to form his own And learning who and how to trust, And not wanting to tell him he was wrong Trusting that he would figure it out Given a chance to think about it, I told him a true story that Showed the error in his remark. He understood enough to try to defend the remark — The human instinct to defend our beliefs, Once we’ve made up our minds, we’ve made them up, Begins early in life — So I decided to let it go for the moment And just said, “Well, you might change your mind someday.”


He burst out in tears, inconsolable! When he finally calmed down enough to speak About why he was so upset He sobbed out, throat choking around the words, “You’re gonna change my mind with somebody else’s!” Picture the cartoon image of two heads With the brains being swapped. Reassuring him that that would never happen, That I loved his mind and would never trade it, It struck me that even a commonly-used phrase Like “changing your mind” Can have implications of inadequacy and violence — Is my opinion or belief not good enough? Who says it needs to be changed? Can the change be forced? Who can make it change besides me? Why should I change it? — Quickly becoming a rabbit-hole Of questioning and Depending on the person’s nature Endless doubting and insecurity or Stubborn entrenchment in unsupportable beliefs, Neither of which future I wanted for my child. Fast forward thirty years And we find ourselves three years into The most divisive political climate, The most destructive administration, The most negative atmosphere, That we, as a nation, have ever been in, Fueled now by the Coronavirus Pandemic, With a lack of well-intended leadership. What can we do?


Those of us holding out hope That wiser and saner heads will triumph, That science and medicine and common sense Will prove stronger than Fear and discord and distraction and greed, Would like to believe that If only we could get others to change their minds Then there would be a future to look forward to. This may be a mistake — Trying to convince people to change their minds. Instead, what happens if we recognize that No one “changes their mind”? Instead, what if we respect the fact that We each make our own decisions On hundreds of things In hundreds of ways Every single day Based on The information we have at the time The knowledge we’ve gained in life The experiences we’ve had in life The internal belief system we’ve formed The moral and common sense we possess The expectations of society - legal, organizations, The pressure of peers— family, friends, social media The ego - our desires, greed, and needs.

It’s complicated and unique to each one of us. Nowhere near as simple as “changing your mind” implies.

etc.


This is our opportunity — To understand To re-imagine To make new decisions, continuously To re-focus on what’s truly important — To share the best of what we are, know, feel, and can do To be the flowers that attract the butterflies and bees To create that symbiotic relationship Of flowers feeding butterflies and bees, Butterflies and bees creating more flowers, Together creating a future for all.


Emergent Sea By Stephen Norton Emergent sea Gift of life Beautiful waves Danger beneath Do not race to embrace Swallowing water No one can hear you scream


Relive, Revive, Rebirth by Mary Rounds My early summers could be compared to writer’s block Meaning they were all full of intension But we still managed to go nowhere I kept my summers alive through friends And walks across the expanse of our property I spent late afternoons sweating on sports fields Always playing for the win Burning my skin Bruising my knees Now I spend my summers growing Sinking my bare feet into soft grass Dancing to the shift in the breeze I’m alone now All my ghosts are gone My summer homes have been foreclosed They all stand in different stages of decay But every year the intentions keep blooming Like clockwork perennials We’re supposed to be adults now Saving our skin Resting our knees

But I’ve strolled through forests That mimic fallen empires I’ve recognized they’ve remained in place forever And still they have stories to tell So I continue to go to the Sun’s evening shows And watch weeds turn to wishes Upon the attempt to blow ones worries away But it’s not false hope I crave It’s the opportunity to nurture A chance to breathe That draws me to the Earth and Buries me below the surface


Untitled by LR Vineberg It was Summer, the salty blue ocean was warmer than you'd expect, gently stinging eyes and skin The water was especially warm at the end of the day, which is when we went to the Secret Beach It was secret but many people knew about it and were there, floating and having fun Voices called over and between the waves and the ocean rose and flattened to hold us all, reaching to surround us, and include us, surround us, and include us And it was loud, and the ocean was a see-through turquoise, rocking us, rocking us home When I came to Vallarta in those days, I stayed with my mother, rocky shore

The ocean was the one to hold me, to offer space, to help me to remember My brother and his girlfriend and I laughed and joked around so much that day, but we also just rested, and let the ocean and the sun tend to us, and make things right again I had gone there to film their love, and to learn a bit about video from my Step-dad

The project didn't really happen My brother and his girlfriend, magic as they were, fought a lot, and what I really wanted to film was actually invisible, a feeling, of having found someone like yourself, of having found a world I got high with my Step-dad and he'd show me tourist videos he shot with my Mom, and we talked a lot about spirituality, and drank cold fruit juice, while the everyday Summer rain came down I filmed a Mexican wedding, the sister of a friend I didn't know them, and I did not understand Spanish very well at the time, but the tenderness could be felt, the respect, the hope and commitment


They're still together as far as I know, many kids, now grown My Step-dad left my Mom eventually, their project complete He said she wouldn't communicate, she said he never learned the language I left my husband for at least a month or 6 weeks to go down there, and started to buy colourful tupperware and wondered how I could stay But I had a life elsewhere, with a husband, a dog and two cats The ocean far away.


A Fallen Tree Across the Road by Rafael Pizarro isn’t just a tree across the road, of course – I don’t mean that these branches look like a burst of nerves from tendril feet to tendril hands, a twisted trunk the color and texture of a dying elephant. There’s concern all around, though the storm has calmed – the water describing the declining street never got very high. But it is an obstacle and obstacles always seem higher than they are. What I mean, of course, is that this fallen tree is my 91 year-old father in his recliner watching FOX news, in three-day stubble, and waiting.


quiet carbon song by KR Seward who can say what vectors of warmth are even when they run right through our dreams the gnomish librarian who winds herself up into a hug for us another who’s left the stacks most reluctantly to say all the closed shelves will now be open in hopes some old book will surprise you and you it wandering together unawares until this her new certainty makes her cry that an August thrift sale will include a stranger sharing with you the false color monoprint of streets


and another reading the illegible pencil scrawl of a lonesome hand on top of an invoice a manifest mostly of blank space that sort of quiet carbon song sung to any sheet of paper ready when trains rev by letters to write no stamps no envelopes no outgoing address


solo; Portland, OR. 2019 by Mary Rounds I am alone amazing it’s so easy to disappear when you’re not afraid Running the wrong way I feel hypnotized by my own actions This space is full of wonder (Not the whys) I feel the need to explore the need to be free wide open The moon wears a rainbow halo tonight A circle of gleaming souls combine People with golden tongues I love that they exist I love that this doesn’t feel like a risk yet I’m still afraid of needing rescued What I need is to revive myself while I’ve got the time….. “This isn’t a crime this is saving your life.”


Old Summers By Sampson The Poet Summers man! School is fucking out! Just chilling Taekwondo, video games, and all the things I enjoy! Hell Yeah! Yeah... some shit was fucked up. I've been thinking… How much I missed summers growing up. Knowing that I had a few months every year to do nothing.

Where is that now? I need time away from the world. My summers are always full of stress. Like most of you, the train doesn't stop. I can't throw away the ticket. Glued to hand I'M JUST SAYING! Fuck... I miss the summers of old man.


Moral Fiber by Kayla Conner Vavó Alvarina taught me crochet. She called it fazer trabalho, doing work. For hundreds of hours and thousands of stitches, I sat looping yarn over and through itself as she read her Bible. My grandmother applauded every new technique; she was the Poly-fil stuffing encouragement into my knit animals. When she died, I knit her a purple flower to take with her. Channeled my grief through my fingers into fibers. I welcomed my children with love knitted into sweaters, blankets, toys. The meditative knit purl clacking of needles or rhythmic looping of crochet hooks distracting from the wild uncertainty of gestation. Fiber knotted together our generations. Something about the future. And my place in it Softens when focused on feeling the length between my fingers. Counting stitches instead of the problems I can’t being to fix. Hand-knit stockings lined my hospital room Christmas tree, my newborn son snuggled in one of his oversized cabled sweaters. And some magic wrapped in those stitches comforted my daughter and I among the cries, wires and beeps of the NICU filling in the gaps between us with soft and fuzzy fibers, muffing the sound of machines. A dream of wool roving to cocoon us on cold nights.


A Letter from A Terms and Agreements to its Human By Katherine Gregory I have every last part of you wrapped around my itty, bitty, minuscule, little finger. You're backed into a corner, and you don't even realize it. I think my favorite part of this whole situation is that I didn't even have to force you, you willingly put yourself right where you are, blindly agreeing to everything I said. You're deeper within my grasp with every day that passes, mindlessly giving yourself over to me in the blink of an eye. Years from now, after decades of collecting what I need, I'll bring you down, and you won't even have a leg to stand on. You’ll have given me everything I want, so what are you gonna do? Hire a lawyer? Please. Unfortunately however, I need you, just as badly as you need me. You might think you have it all figured out, have everything in place, but that, my friend, is not the case. Day after day, year after year, ever since you were old enough to walk, you've been fueling my fire, giving me exactly what I crave, the okay to use everything you've given me against you. And don't for a second think that after we're done, I'll be out of your life, because I'm here to stay. After I ruin your life, I'll be right there waiting to do it again to your family, your friends, your children. I'm never going away, so don't try and run. Take a page from my book, and get ready for a seemingly symbiotic, never ending relationship between the two of us, because this is just the beginning. And good luck, you're gonna need it.


Hiatus by Jessica O’Connell A creature perched by the cliffside Is silent in sight of sparks flaring Her position far enough Where the splitting of Earth Simply shifts the sand underneath her Dandelions mature between fissures As Twilight runs pale Her eyelids curl open To the heat of a fire sky Dawn breathes oxygen Giving her power to patiently wait While feathers in the distance burn


ALMOST RED by Anne Vincent Becker she blurted, Did you just put that on your head? yeah that lobster shard I did prop on my head shy little girl emerging from under the table wanting to amuse play the ham at a summer seafood dinner exposed stage rigging orange on baby blond more gauche than boat shoes at a christening he sneered, Are you wearing orange lipstick? yes that lipstick shade I did apply on my lips scholarly co-ed entering the room wanting to impress play the sophisticate for a homecoming bash interrupted metamorphosis orange over nipple pink more unsettling than a Lacanian stain chitin chip coral chic orange artifice


called out, name-called. turned garish when didn’t have to be I meant the veneer, didn’t I? made mistakes made mistakes topical choices that are you and aren’t you are imagined you tried you, floundering foolish you older brother’s orange car-key ring, thriving workday waiting older sister’s orange double door, thriving family warming

You won I’m not. I’m not good on paper I’m not good on parchment For real, I wish your paints and plastics have burnished yous up-made yous you made up have made good have been made in earnest


READING PALMS by Cynthia Brenner I studied fortune telling as a young girl, soon to learn the sacred geometry of lifeline splits, triangles, and curves still forming futures on my spotless palms Then life took me up in both hands shook me—again, again I had no time for childish pursuits that sweeten the sunrise Now I string crystal shards from my grandmother’s lamp across bedroom windows on sunny mornings they make small rainbows I catch and cradle them in both hands, awhile Today I cupped a tiny rainbow gently, and saw through its glowing colors that my worn palms have become full of crisscross stars. Chickadee, chickadee, fly away Chickadee, chickadee, fly away Chickadee, Pleiade, fly away.. All. Fall. Down.


Masks By Stephen Norton Speak with your eyes Wrinkles on your face Hints of a smile Or signs of disgrace Stay away For safety’s sake Keep your distance Choices to make The space we notice The feet make us aware Every person a pariah With tender love We care


Down Through April By Dennis Rivard Fluttering sideways up and down and sideways, the hapless hopeless snowflakes. As if to try making a point-this being halfway through April. Such a gentle defiance-- a demonstration well within its rights, you'd think we'd know.


Children’s Games By Harley French Children’s games my little mockingbird. We tussle and rumble! Runaway trains along summer’s tracks while you watch, head cocked, inquisitive. Your calls of the season’s song mimic the energy of our youth. Share with us the secrets kept locked within those tiny wings! Whispered promises concealed in pinky swears and pig-Latin. Witnessed only by the swaying of dandelions on the breeze and bumblebees working slow turns through the air, too busy to notice within the rose packing their pollen pockets full. Your shrill bursts unknown to us, but we imagine and we fall in the grass echoing choruses of laughter at simple pleasures and the silliness of what you say. With a final chirp of acknowledgment and a flit of your wings you are up and off, across the field. And without thought we continue along our predetermined path of tussling and rumbling.


A Glimpse of Once by Joseph Finneran a glimpse of rivers and streams we’ve walked besides smooth stones your hand inside of mine water flows ours intertwine a splash against the bank a sense of time song birds wisp of wind coincide I’ve known you before this I recognize not now or here but once Elsewhere a sense of sublime.


Merry May By Kathleen Denizard May is the Southcoast's seasonal coquette Leafy, blossom-scented hussy of a month Teasing with clear skies Tempting with fresh breezes Seducing with perfect days Feel its warm breath on the soles of your feet How else can you explain the irresistible urge To strap on sandals, Slip past the brooding lawnmower, And head for the beach?


super fun time by KR Seward no good to know I’m that convincing

that aphids do my bidding that angels sing my songs that summer is a super fun time that beagles only bite to say hello that radios gather often to hear the old old story that screens draw blank to show respect that children and pensioners doff their big brim hats that cygnets and swans pose naturally but stiil go still just in case that you understand and believe everything I say that fireflies live in the same shoebox as the rest of us and will soon return to catch our notice that those poorly rendered plans for a go kart once annotated in cuneiform are etched in anodized aluminum shot out past our reach on a Voyager not yet numbered forget Truth


lies used to mean something and if somebody cares as in somebody you know and someone knows you they still do

that we trust words to breathe however studied they may be that to hear and hear again or taste or see gray and humid or poised upriver repetition is still a form of change


The Nut Club – A Poem in Two Parts by Rafael Pizarro 1. Closed I don’t think I told you about that time that the black and scratchy door you led me through when I left home was locked and the rain came sliding hard and sooty and I rapped against it hard, como un supplicante. 2. Lispenard Street …or that other night down Lispenard Street over glass tubes that glowed orange and gold from underneath, as if the important things were being fired, hammered, and shaped beneath our feet, while we staggered towards the cast-iron corner for hot dogs egg creams, and up an armored elevator to a laborious sleep.


Scales by Jessica O’Connell I am a deep blue Dragon in a rugged sea Glistening like stars


Suaimhneas* By Sarah Jane Mulvey How can I mourn you When the rituals are hollowed out Distance, masked faces, fear, keep us from each other? How do I begin to heal my heart In this empty room, holding my sister’s hand Beside your untouchable casket? You deserved more. You deserved the spectacle of a receiving line Twenty faces long. Mourners snaking down the halls. A room lined with photos, your smile replicated Thousands upon thousands of times Faces of the family you’ve joined, Mixed with those you’ve left behind. Smiling, smiling. You deserved a high, holy Mass. Bagpipers wailing on the front steps. A parade from church to graveyard. Your sons holding you aloft, The women keening behind you. You deserved an endless repast, Your house overflowing with kin. Raising toast after toast, Brimming with whiskey and tears. Smiling, smiling.

*The title is pronounced ‘seam-ness’ in Irish Gaelic, meaning peace and tranquility.


© 2020