Tidings 2021

Page 1

Tidings Winter 2021

This is a special Domesticated Primate & Anomaly Poetry Winter Solstice 2021 publication. All works Copyright © 2021 by the individual artists. This collection Copyright © 2021 by Domesticated Primate Cover Art by Andrew Tedesco

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 resem blance 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 Nick LeBlanc Tidings of comfort and joy… Sure. At some point. But, winter is cold and freezing (increasingly less so). And all the plants are dead. And we can’t go outside. And I’m over drafting my account trying to buy all of these gifts for those cousins I don’t even really like. And gas is more expensive. And I’m paying through the nose for heating and electricity. And the floor is so damn cold when I step out of the shower. And I have to wear bulky jackets, then take them off in the car because it’s uncomfortable, then put them on to leave the car, then take it off again when I finally step into wherever I’m going because it’s way too hot and stuffy. And then I have to look at people’s year end lists and Spotify Wrapped and Top Nine Instagram posts and be reminded of all the bad things that happened this year and all of the great things I missed out on. Comfort and joy…pfffft. But then I remember the most glorious thing about winter. Everything dies. And with death comes change. And with change comes possibility. That’s what we’re really all here for anyway, possibility. The possibility that next year might be brighter. The possibility that you’ll get your dream job. The possibility that someone will buy your novel. The possibility that my house, which is almost 100 feet above sea level, may one day become beachfront property. My psychologist calls that last one there a “therapist’s positive reframe”. Sure, we may all be under water but at least I can walk out the front door and take a dip on a hot summer day.

Foreword My point is to say that fall and winter bring death and change with the purpose of inspiring us. It reminds us of how temporary this whole thing is. And that one day we too, like that mangled rhododendron bush outside of my house, will blacken, twist up and turn to dust. How’s that for comfort and joy? All mythology in every culture speaks of a eternal recurrence. At the macroscopic level, there’s a Big Bang, a Big Crunch, then another Big Bang, then another Big Crunch. At the microscopic level, we have seasons that shift and a moon that shows its full face maybe twice a month if we are lucky. Winter and its blues are a part of this cycle. As is the joy that dances up from the small of your back all the way up your neck when you catch that first hint of summer on a wayward breeze some time in May. We are going to feel sad, we are going to feel heavy, both emotionally and physically after we gorge ourselves on holiday feasts. But, we have one another and we have the possibility of sharing tidings of comfort and joy, even if somewhere in the back of our minds we know that those things are just words. That being said, I present you some words. Here’s to another edition of Tidings and a Happy Holiday season.

Mom Always Put an Orange in the Toe of Our Christmas Stockings by Anne Vincent Becker I love (the idea, now) of the orange at the bottom of the stocking. it weighs it down but I see disenchantment with little eyes anticipating more a lesson? weight and stability to make girth and space for the tiny gifts floating above Lifesaver candy book, string of plastic pearls, cherry Chapstick for the ski-trip nestled and at fingertips. Also at fingertips— disappointment in the reach, just beyond. hand-knitted patchwork of possibility and ochre change

Work Shoes

by Rebecca Villineau

In dreams, My father returns for his boots Steel toe leather, stained with paint and oil Sitting half laced with a reek of cigarettes Later in life, he sported a pair of thick socks and wool slippers, Balanced a wad of caramel chew in his cheek, And worked a trillion button television remote I like to think he is doing overtime in the afterlife Driving his phone truck through the moonlit back roads To the fallen wires Sipping his coffee in the warmth of a street lamp Back home, my work shoes collapse in a pile On top of my children's sneakers Outside the roads light to the snow

year end semiotics by K.R. Seward crow from a cold wire tells how goths black gauze swaddle Bethlehem and paint animals and straw to call forth unmooned and starless night or how holy babe cries like cookie monster for every nu metal band gone wandering forty years in the Meadowlands 'twixt venues telling as young Mary and Joseph look on

these three kings of orient bring coal and caviar and flakes of midnight found settled high ‘tween moon and sun they always follow Zeno to a black hole gleaming its accretion disk freezing all bright things at an edge forever shining forever reaching the eye --maybe we can’t understand these creatures for which we care more than flying story arcs and glowing red noses

K.R. Seward

dainty flecks of cuteness on misfit isles they must bear fangs to chew their way from flimsy boxes likely so should we Faunce cornered or beyond or within whose fight is this should any put forth for the latest toys so poised that milk or nog might spoil how better angels can flutter out an index of marble blocks

K.R. Seward

rewatching library DVD of The Agony and the Ecstacy not even a fave in lieu of Heston repainting Sistine with Liberty silt borne verdigris tilted amicably to dispel alpha and omega and any filmed after or between with brush on wet plaster oak leaf clusters grown soylent green ---

K.R. Seward

K.R. Seward Baron Frankenstein’s monster loves kittens and children gets around just fine is not so unsightly as to be unseen by friends fire’s okay nothing afears it but the scant notion it might spook you no bolts no stitches no murderous brains we all can and do get along I want it and the fiancee to be happy the staff to live well no bloodshed nor townspeople riled with torches and pitchforks

yes alive on its own terms autonomous non-binary sure maybe tall tall’s fine just more to love more love to give warm benedictions from the musicians of Bremen already playing inside the door to invite us in

K.R. Seward

Love Is Groovy At Least Full Of Grooves by Linda Richter My warm, open-hearted exterior Is somewhat deceiving I have a small block of ice Lodged deep in my gut Stars in the seventh house of abuse The birth canal or birth order Could be anything It makes me love the shiny beginning of an affair When he is a reflection and I can enjoy my sticky narcissism Of fluffy calories with no substance Then the shiny wears off, exposing bone And I am reduced to my creaky, tired self Putting one foot out the door Often for a year or more (requiring chiropractic attention)

Linda Richter My latest man does not reflect So I have to shine myself I’m now strong enough to replace The reedy thin light with a steady beam As recently my block of ice began to thaw Stars in the eighth house of personal growth COVID, my new love Could be anything Every day I find a hundred reasons to be annoyed But every night I still like him And love myself as I melt

She’s a Merry Little Thing by Maria Giella

She’s a merry little thing Her eyes are The intricate crystals on a Snowflake She carries a holly berry Smile And a jolly belly full Of chestnuts and moms Famous fudge She’s curvy and plump But see her—is to see light, To feel the warmth Of contagious laughter The kind where you lose your breath She embodies the warmth of the hearth Where a penniless mother Knits a scarf for her children this year

Maria Giella To be around her is a dream— Because she doesn’t care about The muddled Little thoughts of others Because— She’s a merry little thing

The Tree of Joy

by David Mello

It was early Christmas Eve, 1955. A chilly night – the feel of snow in the air. I got my wagon out of the shed. Mom and I set out in search of the perfect Christmas tree. A few blocks away, near the town square, was a small lot filled with Christmas trees. A bearded man, standing by a rusty barrel with a flaming fire, pointed out a few. We spotted this little one leaning against a fence looking sad and lonely. Hopeless and forlorn. No one gave it any attention, would it ever find a home? We looked at it closely, nice and full but decidedly crooked and bent.

Mom said let’s buy it, get it out of the cold. We loaded the tree on my wagon for the short ride home to show Dad and little sister. We had lots of fun with the decorating. The little tree looked so pretty with all the lights and ornaments. On Christmas morning there were presents underneath to keep it company. That little tree with its crooked bend brought great joy to our home. It was indeed a wonderful Christmas. With the best tree we ever had.

David Mello

Someplace Warm

by Meaghan Moraes

Transfixed on the glow, the hypnotic movement, the calm, I watched my love turn to flames. They grew with warm breath, resounding laughter, twinkling reflections, and familiar touch. And my heart sat in the middle of the living room, between the tree skirt and the dog tail, under the big window that peered from the dark, silent drive to our glow. We’ve made a home here, a place both new and forever, where older generations can stay and get served tea and bask in their children’s happiness. Where we can pass down dishes and dollhouses and hang quilts made with care. On the first sheet of snow, we can lay on the ground in our long johns and mittens and hold onto the best moments of our lives, when we know we’re alive and true. When our future selves would say: You knew. I looked out the big window, just as the sun started her rising, and felt warm again. And with pats on the back and hands, my family celebrated another holy day.

Autumn Leaves

by Lucas James

Autumn leaves are such fickle things. It takes just one crisp breeze for them to come flittering free, coating the hardened dirt the cold concrete in an orange sea. I cherish these days even as they pass me by yet can’t help but to feel an inherent ennui lingering in the fragile crunch beneath my feet. The cool air drops a harsh twenty degrees. The siren’s song screams; the waterways freeze. Christmas encroaches; it’s a holiday siege. The first snow approaches and autumn leaves.

Lucas James There is talk on talk of kindness toward others while at the tip-top The Toxic fake smiles and friendship for profit. I guess I’m just sick of faux holiday cheer; in days so meant for love for joy the heart quickly disappears. The packs are out hunting and rabid with dead-eyed deep-seeded need but oh I long for simpler times for the crunch of autumn leaves.

My Grandmother's Mania

by Rebecca Villineau

Every year at this time she would stop her pills And spend all the rent in one shot at Kmart The evening would be, present after present Piled onto present, and pork loin boiling over potatoes Glazed carrots dripping over porcelain bowls Stockings hastily stuffed and handed out to all the cousins Vodka pouring into the cranberry juice Christmas was a carnival Until the clanging of dishes sharpened with my grandmother Suddenly yelling at Aunt Dot And Uncle John slamming his fist Into the linen cloth embroidered with poinsettias And my mother would begin to pack our things to leave just as Grandma stood like an unsteady tree boiling with profanity And all around the Christmas music pumped out snow and chestnuts and open fires

Rebecca Villineau

And the candles would lean into the shaking Air between us all till The slam of the door left the tree To tremble in the parlor The day after she would crash Like one does from exhaustion The Catholic mass mumbling from the television Something about gold and light And her sadness would repeat itself in the monotone darkness Until it was held with both hands Warmed between the fingers from the freezing sill Until the candles were lit in the windows And the darkness scattered away And the snow became just snow And the pine tree remained only a tree in the backyard Holding up to the winter storm

Poem to Baby Giovanni

by Pamela Bullard

The mass of thick black hair, downy against my fingertips. Baby Giovanni, 24 hours old, slept in my arms. Head resting securely in the crook of my elbow. Lost in his own world, he gurgled, contented. He made swimming motions with his arms and legs, exploring this universe outside the womb, his home for so many months. There he'd been warm and safe. He'd listened to his mother's heartbeat, his father's laugh, his parents’ soft murmers. Now a peaceful boy, he only cries when cold; the cold. a shock after that cozy place.

Now he closes his eyes, satisfied with the milk he's drunk up greedily and begins to drift. He wiggles miniature fingers and toes, murmurs and sighs. Now a tiny dance, now a stretched out leg, he feels the air move around him. When he settles in for a serious nap in my arms, peace envelopes me. It seems we each sink into another level of consciousness. A while later, he stirs again, opening and closing his fists gracefully. Welcome to this world happy boy, Baby Giovanni.

Pamela Bullard


by Anne Vincent Becker I always thought the tinsel was garish veneer, overcompensating gild rose-gold obscuring, but something was there or intention was there is here (I suppose) but co-opting the “pagen” to what—convert? For symbology? to cut-down, trim decorate simulate what we thought was enactment, realization manifest-[ ] and the [silver] plastic reflects the reel

"Yo Yo Moon" by Phillip J. Mellen. Collage, 2020.

Christmas Dinner *

by Sarah Jane Mulvey

The city was covered in refracted light. The Moon joined him on the walk. Albert was expected for Christmas. He donned his best coat, charcoal grey and free of smudges. Dear friends had invited him to dine, Sparkling for his company. He would freely admit He was a recluse, More intimate with brushes and canvas Than with his companions. He had every intention of enjoying Shades of burgundy and evergreen, Eggnog and pudding. He rehearsed his small talk, And compliments For the mistress of the house. Reaching the door, He stepped into the gold Of hearthglow through the window. How warm, and caressing. How safe and familiar.

Just one more step, To better see the living diorama. The way candle light fell soft On a woman’s cheek. The Christmas tree Glittering in the corner.

Sarah Jane Mulvey

How precious this moment. How fleeting. He thought of his pigments Soft yellow, pale green -honey? What could he cobble together To illuminate the canvas Of a bleak winter’s night? He followed his shadowed footprints back to his splotched and splattered studio, Lit a small needfire in the woodstove. Thought to himself what a lovely party. But now it’s time to work.

*this poem was inspired by Marsden Hartley's poem "Albert Ryder - Moonlightist"

Christmas in Florida

by Harley French

Christmas just isn’t the same in Florida but I really didn’t care. On Dasher! On Dancer! On Prancer and Vixen! I had a new skateboard and the tan of an 80’s youth who knew the joys of living outdoors. Christmas just isn’t the same in Florida. It’s all tacky Santas with ripped off sleeves In cool sunglasses giving the thumbs up… On Dasher! On Dancer! On Prancer and Vixen! Something about the strings of bulbs perversely wrapped around palm trees instead of being nestled within the pillowy snow on firs. Christmas just isn’t the same in Florida. Sunshine and 75 degree weather and a whitewash of memories where the phone never rang and the driveway remained empty. On Dasher! On Dancer! On Prancer and Vixen! I suppose if I knew then what I know now I would have traded all my presents for your presence, dad. Christmas was never the same in Florida. On Dasher. On Dancer. On Prancer and Vixen.


by Kayla Conchinha Conner

A Testament To my children: This year will be as Remarkable Joyful Wonderful As every single year That you are here. My twinkling Christmas lights, Glowing brighter and righter. Holly berries contrasting snow and You grow. Oh, how you grow! Is this grace? Broken open while your heart Starts Kindergarten? I didn’t know awe Until I had you. Thank you.

Elves Are Red

by Amelia Joan Conner (age 5)

Elves are red, Reindeer are brown. Your poem today, Is a good elf down?

"Snow Fun World" by Amelia Joan Conner. Crayola on paper, 2021.

Comfort and Joy, Pt. 2

by Maria Giella

A piece of tinsel Graces the white target Tiles Small $3-$5 dollar Doodads and trinkets Fill the aisles And sugarplum Starbucks fairies Tap us So we get in line And there’s merriment in the rush! There’s no time to lollygag When Barbie dolls and Toy pterodactyls Need to be wrapped

Snow Falls Today

by David Mello

Where does the sparrow fly on this cold December day. Through a broken window pane at the barn on Mellows Way. Snow is falling heavy now. Roads and roof tops covered white. A horse drawn sleigh approaches, bringing friends to stay the night. Our fireplace roars with burning logs yellow flames and embers glow. The steady fire removes the chill so dog and man are warmer still. The snow will stop sometime soon if not tonight for sure by noon. We end the evening sipping wine, with music soft to sooth the mind.


by Nick LeBlanc on the porch waiting for snow to fall the shadow of dying stars dancing on the midnight pavement tiny frozen sprites pulling on earlobes and the tips of noses the city hums like a womb evergreen giants tremble crimson berries shine coated in ice there are no stars just clouds hanging heavily the sky both brighter and darker than any other sky in any other lifetime angels don’t exist but if they did they would be sitting atop those clouds chimneys puff like a rosy cheeked fat man on his pipe

somewhere bigger than here the serpent of time wraps itself tightly around the great egg of possibility it will crack but first everything must die branches creak paint peels flowers droop and blacken waiting for the egg to burst so they can be reborn on the porch waiting for snow to fall not realizing it had been falling all along

Nick LeBlanc

Friends, poets, artists: we wish you a happy holiday season, and a warm and happy New Year.