The Centrifugal Eye ~1~
Ap ri l/ Ma y 20 11
Vo lu me 6 Is su e 1
April Has the Cruelest Voice: The Bitter Pointâ€“of-View
The Centrifugal Eye Staff: Editor-in-Chief & Art Director: Contacts Editor & Review Columnist: Assistant Editor:
Eve Anthony Hanninen Karla Linn Merrifield
Paul Buckner, Ismail Ishaq Art Assistants: Sharon Auberle, D. J. Bryant, K. R. Copeland Casual Reviewers & Essayists: Danielle Blasko, Erik Richardson, D. J. Bryant Editorial Assistants & Proofreaders:
Staff Readers’ Circle:
‚Nikolai Gogol‛ Collage (1st appeared in Rock Heals, 2006, as part of an AIDS series)
Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
He’s a sculptor, painter, book dealer, and teacher. His works have been seen in numerous group showings, both in the USA and Europe, and he’s had 9 one-man shows, including several retrospectives of his sculpture. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum, and The Albright-Knox Art Gallery. His paintings, drawings, and collages have been published in many online and print magazines, not limited to but including, Rock Heals, Otoliths, winamop, Melancholia's Tremulous Dreadlocks, decomP, Foliate Oak, Siren, Triplopia, Thieves Jargon, Opium, Dirt, The Centrifugal Eye, DMQ Review, Broadsided, hotmetalpress, Double Dare Press, Unlikely Stories, Right Hand Pointing, Ascent Aspirations Magazine, Brew City Magazine, Mastodon Dentist, Fiction Attic: The Journal of Elegant Wit, BluePrint Review, Ellipsis, The Indelible Kitchen, Lily, Literary Fever, GlassFire Magazine, The Houston Literary Review, Lilies and Cannonballs Review, Wheelhouse Magazine, Terra Incognita, qarrtsiluni, The Tusculum Review, Sacramento Poetry, Art & Music, Anti-Poetry, Sea Stories, The Bicycle Review, down in the dirt, Psychic Meatloaf, and Diverse Voices Quarterly. Over the years, he has received 3 National Endowments for The Arts Fellowship, 2 PollockKrasner grants, and most recently in 2004, received The Adolph Gottlieb Foundation grant. Currently, he teaches art at the United Federation of Teachers Retiree Program in Brooklyn. Ira Joel was also The Centrifugal Eye’s Autumn 2006 Cover Artist.
Copyright 2011 The Centrifugal Eye * Collected Works * All Rights Reserved
Sour Gripes / Editorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A Tang Like a Hawk on the Tongue
Eve Anthony Hanninen 6
Enviable Spotlight / Featured Interview Poet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Interview; Poems; A Few Shots of Bitter
Persimmon Love / Relationships . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Dawn Manning, Billy Howell-Sinnard, Brad Rose, Margaret Walther, Tim Diggles, Sylvia Woods, David Sprague, Jana Russ Who Put the Skunk in Cabbage? / Environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
J. S. MacLean, Elizabeth Weaver, Michelle Barker, Phil Gruis Libelous Lemon / Writing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Byron Matthews, Rebekah Turmel, Robert E. Wood, Michelle Barker, Juditha Dowd, Scot Siegel Moldering Ambition / Politics & War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Scott Owens, Marjorie Bruhmuller Good Lie, Cruel World / Immorality & Abuse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
J. S. MacLean, Norbert Krapf Distorted Mirror / Self-Contemplation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Brad Rose, Denton Loving, Clare L. Martin Desiccated Justice / History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Vincent Renstrom, Karla Linn Merrifield Bitter Melon with Coffee Cup / Art . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sherry Pelley, Kitty JospĂŠ Poison Goblets / Myth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
James Welsh, Sherry Pelley, Salli Shepherd, Gilbert Allen Venomous Tongues / Insults . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Noel Sloboda, Drew Riley Swan Dive in the Scathing Pool / Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Merrifieldâ€™s Qao of Poetry: The Wait of Atom
Karla Linn Merrifield: on Jessie Carty
Coffee Grounds / Crumbs & Tidbits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A Tang Like a Hawk on the Tongue Editorial by
Eve Anthony Hanninen
The year I was born, 1961, Canadian modernist poet Anne Wilkinson* died at age 51 (b. 1910) of lung cancer. This was also the year my grandmother, Dorothy (still living, at 92), tucked away a 1911 Mercury dime for me until my 20 th birthday. Not long after it was given to me, the dime was lost when a friend put my purse and tote bag on the hood of his car while I was climbing into the back . . . and then he forgot to hand them in before driving off. We’d gone only a block before I realized that the purse and bag — along with dime — were gone. I always wondered who’d ended up with my ‚inheritance.‛ More importantly, the incident continues to serve to remind me of the fleetingness of value we place on items or associations; it isn’t really the loss of the potential worth of that Mercury dime that still bothers me a little — nor even the first draft of a novel manuscript that was in the tote, for that matter — it’s the fact that my grandmother had lovingly planned this unusual gift when I was born, and I’d managed to spoil it through carelessness. But now, 30 years later, I have a new association with 1961 (and in my thought processes that lost Mercury dime): poet Anne Wilkinson. While I can’t say I was exactly bitter over losing a fancy coin, I can relate to disappointments, which Anne certainly had; and I’m drawn to the inevitable creeping of bitterness into her poetry as she neared the end of her still-young life — for who, at 50, doesn’t realize she is at the beginning of discovery while also nearing the possible end? And, too, I’m drawn to her fighting spirit (as I am to poet Philip Larkin’s for a similar reason), which cried out passionately in her poems. From Anne’s poem, ‚Falconry:” As falcon on a falconer’s wrist, So should I, on God’s big fist;
And so do we, most of us, while struggling against time, fate, and our eventual deaths. ‚Against the bitter wind‛ she’ll fight, before she ‚dives, with God’s mercy in [her] claws.‛ The poet says she’d ‚rather bate:‛
Head-down hang and scream and squawk And churn the air and rough my feathers, For though the leash that holds my jesses Ties me to the precinct of His glove, I will not love.
Who Was Anne Wilkinson? Anne Wilkinson was the literary editor of Here and Now magazine in 1949, and was founding editor of Tamarack Review. Anne wrote Counterpoint to Sleep (1951), The Hangman Ties the Holly (1955), Lions in the Way: A Discursive History of the Oslers (family history, 1956), and Swann and Daphne (children's story, 1960). A sampling of her poetry may also be found in Modern Canadian Verse, (Oxford, 1967) edited by A. J. M. Smith, including ‚Falconry.‛ Smith later compiled her poems and fragments from journals and manuscripts into The Collected Poems of Anne Wilkinson (1968). Anne’s prose can be found in The Tightrope Walker: Autobiographical Writings of Anne Wilkinson (essays, edited by Joan Coldwell, 1992). Her work is said to have enjoyed ‚a minor revival‛ since the publication of Heresies: The Complete Poems of Anne Wilkinson (1924–1961), edited by Dean Irvine in 2004.
Eve Anthony Hanninen — an American poet in Canada — writes and illustrates from beneath the dripping fronds shading a North Coast town in British Columbia. Her poems have appeared in Switched-on Gutenberg, Sea Stories, Magnolia: A Florida Journal of Literary & Fine Arts, Long Story Short (interview, 2009), from east to west: bicoastal verse, Sein und Werden (print and online), and many other fine journals. She’s anthologized in Crazed by the Sun and Trim: The Mannequin Envy Anthology. Eve edits and publishes The Centrifugal Eye poetry journal and is currently at work on a TCE anthology, as well as on 2 collections of her own.
‚Bitter Chocolate‛ by E.A. Hanninen, 2011
There are many circumstances that might cause a person to feel bitterness — not just the awareness of one’s own impending death. And bitter is a comestible best taken in small quantities, for its dubious flavor contorts the features, distorts the emotions. Take it from our Featured Interview Poet, Mike Harrell. As he’ll tell you, a measurable appreciation of the sour or acid may be necessary now and then to balance what could become cloying in its insistent sweetness. Chefs well know the importance of balancing flavors in each dish, and this is accomplished by mating small amounts of opposite tastes: the acidic or salty along with the sweet, for example. Certainly, The Centrifugal Eye would no more offer its readers a full-course meal with only bitter dishes than would a 5-star chef. Within these pages, you’ll be served accompanying, savory sides and delicate desserts that in their composition seem to deny our emphasis on bitter, but taste again— the discerning palate will note the subtle infusion. And bitter is often a possibility, rather than a constant probability. One woman’s favorite food or beverage is another man’s least; one type of event or circumstance may lead to a bitter response in one of these people, while producing only lingering sadness or brief anger in the other. Bear this idea in mind when you sit down to toast and drink with the poets in our 2011 spring issue. If you don’t find each part of the meal bitter or sharp, ask yourself: Could someone else taste bitter in this?
The Centrifugal Eye’s Featured Poet Interview:
Eve Anthony Hanninen, TCE’s Editor-in-chief: Mike, I’m excited to learn that in your primary occupation you handle props for the film and television industry — my personal interest comes from being a retired, windowdisplay artist and miniature-scene modeler. There’s just something about manipulating objects with a design in mind, isn’t there? In some ways, it’s similar to working with words, which very often represent objects. Does poetry, in any way, influence your ‚role‛ in the film world, or is it more likely that props, acting, and film make appearances in your writing? Mike Harrell: ‚Miniature-scene modeler.‛ I like that. ‚No Job Too Small.‛ ‚Will Work For Scale.‛ A lot of possibilities there. I’m sure my experiences at work influence my writing, though I haven’t often taken filmmaking as a subject. ‚The Extra‛ is an exception, and was a response to seeing the way ‚background actors‛ are used on a film set. I assumed a judgmental voice, a voice of bitterness that I imagined might grow out of the anonymity of extras’ work — of being told to
mouth words without making a sound, of being handed a gray coat so as to better blend in with the scenery, of waiting for hours in a holding room and then finally being asked to cross the street at the far end of the block, in the middle of the night, in special-effects rain. I don’t think there’s much influence the other way around. As a prop person, I’m directed by someone else’s words, the words of the screenwriter, and though there are choices to be made in getting and managing props, the path is fairly well-defined. We do have to solve a range of problems in a lot of different fields, as we’re responsible for anything an actor might handle in a scene — a room key, a cigarette, a croupier’s rake. For instance, on the film Cold Mountain, we had to have flies on hand for a squalid, Civil War, hospital scene. We were ordering the pupae from a biological-supplyhouse, and timing it out so we had hundreds, if not thousands, of adult flies, every day. A fly’s lifespan is short, from pupa to maturity in just two or three weeks, so we really had to consider scheduling. On the day we were to film the scene, we had several
~7~ humming, 5-gallon jugs. But the director wanted the flies to be crawling on the lead actor’s face. How do you direct flies to be where you want them, and keep them there? We found that if the flies were sprayed with a fine mist of sugar water, they usually stayed where they were put, content to preen the sugar off their bodies. With that, and a slight addling achieved by shaking the jug, they always hit their mark. EAH:
Of course, I’m a little biased.
So, why write?
MH: I write so I can see. Or, maybe more accurately, I write so I can see anew. Poetry brings focus, and insight. It invites contemplation of, and engagement with, the world. It’s condensed, sometimes to the point of song, so it can be carried whole in memory. It encourages a reverence for words and their transformative power. It’s an engagement between writer and reader on the white expanse of the page. EAH: Yes, transformative — a great word for describing the act of writing. And despite the sour slant of our Spring issue, you’re more of a positive thinker, aren’t you? With what attitude do you explore writing? MH:
I think of a John Cage quotation, concerning the creative process: When you start working, everybody is in your studio – the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas – all are there. But as you continue, they start leaving one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you’re lucky, even you leave.
That quotation resonates with me because I think I write best when I subsume ‚attitude.‛ When I’m able to get out of my own way, so to speak. To lose selfconsciousness. To drift. To open up. This is what I think Cage means in his quotation. If you can get somewhere close to that as a writer, I think you’re in a good place. EAH: Me, too. Composer Cage’s quotation also seems to support the allowance of fictionalization, of creating character in art, and moving away from the worry of exactly replicating the details of ‚truth.‛ When you’re writing something based on or influenced by actual events or persons, how does “subsuming attitude” help you set the stage? MH: If you’re writing about someone long dead, the ‚truth‛ about that person is distant, filtered through the experience of others. An editing takes place, and what remains is arguably an invented, or re-invented character. So there’s a measure of ﬁction in the ‚truth telling.‛ When I’m writing, I try to quiet my own voice in order to invite the truth-telling of another. EAH: Not all writers are good at satire, and it takes a practiced skill-set — like in acting — to pull off an assumed voice without risk of sounding inauthentic. Any tips? How did you approach entering the bitter point-of-view for your poems appearing in TCE? MH: I tried to assume what I imagined to be the internal voice of the subjects in ‚An Elephant at this Distance,‛ ‚Loser,‛ and ‚The Extra.‛ I wasn’t thinking of bitterness, although bitterness entered in, naturally, as a result of the circumstances the poems describe. And yet, I don’t think the poems are oppressive in their tone, or caustic. To the contrary, I’d like to think ‚An Elephant at this Distance‛ conveys a bemused quality, ‚Loser,‛ a sense of resignation that finally finds peace, and ‚The Extra,‛ a tongue-in-cheek self-excoriation that sheds as much bitterness as it retains.
~8~ EAH: Agreed. I was keen to select poems that nibbled away at all edges of our chosen theme, but not only those that were ‚caustic.‛ MH: As for advice, the best I can give is present in the Cage quotation. Be patient enough to allow your self-awareness to dissolve. This invites other perspectives, which can be revelatory. EAH: We’ve touched briefly on actual-versus-imagined events — circling back to actual events, what’s the cruelest thing you’ve ever done? Had done to you? Did either cause temporary or lingering bitterness for you or someone else? MH: I’m not sure the cruelty I remember resulted in bitterness, but the first thing that comes to mind, and it’s not a happy story, was when I was probably 12- or 13-years-old and visiting my grandmother���s farm with a friend. One summer afternoon, bored and listless, we used a small gauge shotgun to shoot into a flock of birds perched in a tree behind the garden. To our amazement, and ultimately to our horror, several small songbirds fell out of the tree, dead. That was the first and last time I’ve ever shot at an animal, and the senselessness of it still troubles me. As far as cruelty done to me, what comes to mind again is another bird, a chicken in this case, and again, my grandmother’s farm was the setting. When I was 6 or 7, the local grocery gave away chicks one Easter in an illadvised campaign to get people into the store. (This was back in the ’60s, when these kinds of things were accepted.) I took mine home and kept it for a few weeks in a box under a heat lamp. Soon, however, it was no longer practical (as if it ever were) in our suburban household, so we took it to my grandmother, who kept chickens, and not just for the eggs. You might guess what eventually happened. Though I had warned her not to harm my pet, one afternoon I looked out the window and witnessed her dispatching my now fully grown chicken. It was my Old Yeller moment (and also my first reckless use of profanity) and I remember it well. EAH:
That had to be painful for you.
No bitterness at all?
MH: Well, I’m sure I was bitter then. That was my pet, after all, though admittedly it was a chicken. How much of a future could we have had together? I could have taught it to play the piano, I suppose. Nonetheless . . . Perhaps that small, acrid dose was homeopathic, providing me an early lesson in how to come to terms with, and ultimately shed, bitterness. EAH:
I’d love to see a piano-playing chicken!
MH: I remember seeing them at some roadside ‚attraction‛ I went to as a kid. The chicken was trained to peck the keyboard of a toy piano, which would then cause a kernel of corn to be dropped into a little cup. Of course, I loved it as a kid, but now it just seems kind of sad. (Wow. Another sad bird story. I hope I’m not coming off as some kind of animal abuser.) EAH: Hmmm, sounds like a common, psychology, behavioral experiment. Was Pavlov considered abusive toward his dog? Maybe that’s a theme to explore another time. But as for you, the result of shooting the songbirds seems to
~9~ have taught you compassion for animals. Yet another of life’s lessons asks us to come to terms with envy, which also can cause bitterness. We know you wouldn’t fall into a poison rage, given your perspective on having a healthy mental outlook, but tell us — have you ever felt envious of other writers or poets? Even just a little? MH: Envious of their achievements? Certainly. I really admire the writing of Thomas Pynchon, for instance, particularly his novel, Mason & Dixon. It’s a remarkable work — a sprawling story, centering on two historical figures, that manages to encompass aspects of British Empire, astronomy, gastronomy, friendship, a mechanical duck, politics in 18thcentury America, the western frontier, Native American culture, and elements of the supernatural, all while doing so in dialect and with an extraordinarily dry sense of humor. It’s really stayed with me over the months since I’ve read it. So yes, I do envy other writers’ work, though I’m not bitter or begrudging of their achievements. That, truly, would be sad. EAH: You pursue a bit of the dry, dialectic, and even the historical, in your own writing; for instance, what’s the story behind composing your ironic poem, “An Elephant at this Distance” (pg.11)? MH: Regarding ‚An Elephant at this Distance,‛ I’ve been working for some time on a collection of poems centered around ‚last words.‛ I’ve found final words to be a rich source of inspiration, as the drama of the moment just before death
provides an exquisite frame for memorable lines of wisdom and humor. In the case of ‚An Elephant at this Distance,‛ I’d read an account of Union General John Sedgwick’s bitterly ironic death by a sniper’s bullet just moments after dismissing the danger of snipers. I tried to assume Sedgwick’s posthumous voice, and imagine how he might, barely believing it himself, describe the events that led to his death, and the footnote that will follow him around forever. EAH: TCE’s staff readers knew that poem was a ‚hit‛ the moment we all read it. And speaking of ‚last words‛ — before I offer you and our readers an issue of (poetic) hemlock — what do you do for fun? MH: I really enjoy live music. I’m lucky to live in New York City, where there are so many opportunities to hear it — and often, in halls or clubs that have been important venues for live recording, like Town Hall or the Village Vanguard. EAH:
Any live-chicken bands?
MH: Actually, there was a band in Richmond, VA, a few years back, and I don’t remember its name, that featured a chicken playing keyboards. And perhaps John Cage, who advocated for a broader definition of the word ‚music,‛ would have applauded them. But I don’t recommend making a chicken your bandmate. Being on the road is hard enough. EAH: Amen to that, Mike. Thanks for entertaining me and TCE’s readers, and for sharing your poetry and prose with us.
~ 10 ~ Harrell Mike Harrell Mike Harrell Mike Harrell Mike Harrell Mike Harrell Mike Harrell Mike Harrell Mike
A Moratorium on Moons Stop. No more borrowed shine. No more rising through mist and getting hung in trees with a face that portends loneliness, or lifting the blood-sea until even Jesus can’t resist the pull (and isn’t it lovely) and now would you mind if I stuck my hand up your skirt? No more conversing with wolves or neighborhood dogs. No more shedding light for figments in capes and creases of darkness, dependent on the milk of unsuspecting skin. No more commanding water. No more directing the fish’s lip to the hook, fastening it firmly there. No more breaking the nightjar with desire, a chirr through the window of our luminous room. No more doubling on the gun’s blued-barrel, or rolling like a pearl along the knife’s raised blade. No more encouragement for depressives to fly, open a vein in a tub of warm water. No more calling the sleepers into the streets, the birds through southern passes, the poets to the page. No more. Stop.
~ 11 ~
An Elephant at this Distance from the Last Words Series They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance. ~General John Sedgwick, Union Commander, killed by a Confederate sharpshooter
Mike Harrell lives in Brooklyn, NY, and makes his living in the film industry as a props person. He has been published in Barnwood International Poetry Magazine, Clapboard House, and The Alligator.
Hell. Itâ€™s bad enough to be killed by a lucky shot from farther than a man can holler, but now this footnote follows me around like a hungry dog. It was supposed to be inspirational, walking tall when all around me men skittered behind rocks, and the Whitworth sent its punctuation whistling past. Pride was part of it. Hard for men who are wallowing on the ground to have it. But by God I did. Right up until the moment it hit me, and even then until my last breath, when that Goddamn dog came scuttling up.
~ 12 ~ Harrell Mike Harrell Mike Harrell Mike Harrell Mike Harrell Mike Harrell Mike Harrell Mike Harrell Mike
Loser I’m a loser. Or at least I’m not winning. With a bindlestiff, a bell and a unicorn, the dollar I spent on the pull-tab* joins the ones I stuffed into a g-string last night at the Paper Moon. and now dehydrated, in the parking lot of my ex’s apartment, my options are diminishing. I could crawl
back to her door, find the honey that’s left in my voice, wheedle my way in. But the odds are longer than the lottery, and even if I could coax the door off its hinges, that look is killing. I could retire to the shell of the truck my brother gave me, ball my clothes into a mouse’s nest of flannel and hope the Wyoming H.P. doesn’t find me popsicled at the Sheridan rest. Well, fuck all that. I’m meeting it full on, heading back to the Bighorns. I’ll climb until the old girl says no, then wade my way into a cathedral of snow, sit down and listen to what the woods have to say, stoic as a stone owl, staring down the awful indifference of the stars.
*Pull-tab — a gambling ticket on which a player uncovers symbols, which — if matching — win a monetary prize.
The Extra You are the nondescript diner, told to eat nothing, the blur behind the closeup of the ingenue, in browns or grays, preferably animated, but without words, so a soft hissing issues from your lips, as you say nothing, in a plausible way. Even your title makes you seem superfluous, something left over after the essentials have played out. You are context, merely canvas, a shape in soft-focus over which a star will mouth the words that, under different circumstance, would be yours to release, slithering across the set, liquid as quicksilver, fat as fish in undiscovered ponds.
Harrell Mike Harrell Mike Harrell Mike Harrell Mike Harrell Mike Harrell Mike Harrell Mike Harrell Mike
â€šCarpâ€› by E.A. Hanninen, 2011
~ 13 ~
A Few Shots of Bitter An Essay by
E.A. Hanninen, 2011
~ 14 ~
“Who has never tasted what is bitter does not know what is sweet.” ~German proverb
Sometimes you pour the glass. Sometimes the glass is poured for you. Sometimes you take a tiny sip and let it pool on your tongue to be reminded of a counterpart to Sweet. Sometimes you shed Bitter in another voice, returning without Bitter to your own. I wasn’t thinking about Bitter when I wrote the poems published here in TCE, yet Bitter is in them in various forms. Bitter irony in the last words of General John Sedgwick, shot by a sniper just seconds after lightheartedly dismissing the threat of snipers, and thus forever footnoted. And in the voice of a cranky poet, ironically complaining, in a poem full of ‚moon,‛ about the propensity of the moon to appear in poems. Bitter frustration in the lot of the overlooked ‚extra,‛ whose talent no one ever seems to recognize. Bitter resignation in the life-addled loser, who is slowly seduced by the idea of simply sitting down. The glass is poured, and offered. But you don’t have to drink. It might be enough to simply hold the globe up to the light, to notice its particular color, its odor. It would be risky to drink too deeply, as Bitter is strong, even in small measure, and flavors everything it comes in contact with. Yet, maybe there’s something homeopathic in taking small sips of a bitter draft. In the way listening to the Blues mitigates loneliness, or sorrow. A shedding of bitterness by assuming bitterness in another voice; poison leaking out around the words . . . someone else’s words. ‚My baby left me.‛ A small, acrid sip.
‚1883 Bitters Label‛ by D.J. Bryant, 2011
~ 15 ~
He was gathered with his troops near the skirmish line. Someone pointed out the sniper, a gray speck across an expanse of cropped field. The warm air rising between them willowed his view of the man, who seemed to exist in a distance not entirely defined by space. Voices faded as the wind came about — there and then . . . not. When they heard the bullets sizzing past, pluffing in the red dirt, some of the men skittered away like crabs. It so angered him that he stood straight up and said . . . ‚Shhhh! Quiet. Pantomime.‛ She was seated in the background, behind the lead actress, having been asked to put on a gray coat in order to blend in with the scenery, and further, to mouth a conversation with her mismatched ‚date.‛ It was all she could do, hearing the dialogue, to keep from rolling her eyes during the takes. And there were many takes. He, by comparison, was out of everything. Choices, especially. And his had been made badly. With perseverance, too, now gone. Bitterness turning to ice and slowing his steps, until finally it made sense to just wade into a field of snow and sit down. So he did, and in the few minutes before he fell asleep, watched the moon clear the trees, and was tickled to see that it did in fact look a little like a lozenge. A few shots of Bitter, then: irony, frustration, resignation — but with a sense of humor, in spite of circumstance, and the hope that these small sips give prominence to Sweet.
~ 16 ~
Persimmon Love / Relationships
“Persimmon Love” by K.R. Copeland, 2011
~ 17 ~ Manning Dawn Manning Dawn Manning Dawn Manning Dawn Manning Dawn Manning Dawn Manning Dawn Manning Dawn
Oranges in Winter We measured our lives in cigars, in cups of tea, trips to the video store, in weekly spaghetti dinners; passed the time eyeing stacks of used books, composing messages on sticky notes, masquerading that our boredom was cabin fever. And we carried bitterness in the skin like the Clementines we peeled together, carefully
Dawn Manning is a writer, photographer, and anthropologist living in Philadelphia. She won the Edith Garlow Poetry Prize in 2003, but took another five years to realize she might just be a poet. Recently her work has been published through qarrtsiluni and escarp. She is currently working on her MFA in poetry through the University of New Orleans. Contact Dawn (email@example.com) Website (http://dawnmanning.com)
pulling up the veins with the rind.
~ 18 ~ Howell-Sinnard Billy Howell-Sinnard Billy Howell-Sinnard Billy Howell-Sinnard Billy Howell-Sinnard Billy
two natures remember cousin gary who killed chickens grew to six foot four weighs two hundred and fifty pounds somehow you got an egg on your forehead falling in the bathtub the night he stayed over and your mother nearly died when she found out you were on a bridge in chicago alone with him and he and you were leaning over the rail she swore she'd never leave you with your aunt lila again he's in the state patrol now and you're standing on a bridge wondering how far down the water is and who's behind you
~ 19 ~
Billy Howell-Sinnard is a poet living on the island of Moloka'i in the Hawaiian Island chain. Heâ€™s been published in Poetry Super Highway, Black-Listed Magazine, Victorian Violet Press, and Ocho #19 (an anthology). He has placed 2nd three times, 3rd two times, and made honorable mention with the InterBoard Poetry Competition. This is Billyâ€™s second appearance in The Centrifugal Eye. Contact Billy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
My father laid me in the snow, ran again into the burning theatre to grab Carroll balanced on the second-floor window ledge in his Roy Rogers pajamas, smoke's heavy hand on his back. In photographs, my brother posed like Charles Atlas, or wore a cape and drew a six-gun. Sometimes, I feel the cold on my back, lying in that drift, helpless, while Carroll imagined landing on his feet unscathed.
~ 20 ~
Mornings, my wife calls me to the lanai. She savors her coffee and orchids, reads to me the Holy Word. I play with the cats until she stops mid-sentence to glare at me. Honeygirl nips my calf as she snakes around my leg, mewing, eyes barely open like doors ajar to paradise. My wife reads again. I sneak a hand below my chair. The chugging fur train circumambulates its god.
Howell-Sinnard Billy Howell-Sinnard Billy Howell-Sinnard Billy Howell-Sinnard Billy Howell-Sinnard Billy
â€šPersimmonâ€› by E.A. Hanninen, 2011
On the Lanai with God
~ 21 ~ Rose Brad Rose Brad Rose Brad Rose Brad Rose Brad Rose Brad Rose Brad Rose Brad Rose Brad Rose Brad
Departure Day sheds its husk of hours. Kitchen fills with a sad darkness. Nothing outside, now, the playing children, all gone. Only the sound of a distant freight, as it drags its shrinking blare across a far-away sky. The song continues, long after it has ended. The worst of it: when I close my eyes, I nearly forget you were ever here. Your back turned to me, your departure a misshapen blur. Bags packed in the car, you left so quietly, so vaguely, without protest or complaint. At the door, the dog, head bowed, obediently waited for a beating.
Brad Rose was raised in Southern California and lives in Boston. His poetry and fiction have appeared in Third Wednesday, Off the Coast, Barely South Review, San Pedro River Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Tattoo Highway, Imagination & Place, Right Hand Pointing, Sleet Magazine, Six Sentences, Staccato Fiction, Fiction at Work, Monkeybicycle, Six Little Things, Short, Fast, and Deadly, Calliope Nerve, and other publications. Contact Brad (email@example.com) Blog (http://bradrosepoetry.blogspot.com/)
Read more of Bradâ€™s poetry on page 53.
~ 22 ~ Walther Margaret Walther Margaret Walther Margaret Walther Margaret Walther Margaret Walther
Stone Family Saga Father and mother stones, having left their parent stones, rub against each other, make the next generation of stones. The children grow up under the commandments of stoniness. Don’t talk, don’t cry, gather anger. And, for heaven’s sake, do unto others, as you do unto yourself. When they became stony enough, a brother and two sisters rolled into the world. Married. Divorced. One day, one of the sisters decided she didn’t want to be a stone anymore. Weekly, she dug through layer after layer of silica to find yet more silica. Grit crawled her mouth. She dreamed of moth soot. The moths from the barn, hundreds of them. The mother used to catch them in a huge bowl held under the light, where they would flap fear until they went under, became dark blotches in the detergentwater of unconsciousness. The moths could not eat, no mouth parts. They only lived to fuck and die. The stone family lived to fuck, too, reamed each other’s silica out. Teeth bit down on gravel, granite slivers slicked down esophagi. Lies, lies, and more lye. At the end, the father and mother eroded to tiny pebbles. Mothwords slipped off their dementiaed tongues, slippery as soapy water. Meanwhile, the siblings took turns in the game called Falling Rock and Windshield. As time progressed, they fought virulently for the grand title, Mother of All Control Stones. Who won the title, except death, is a mystery. The brother, Cutting Slate, declared it was he, then went home to drink his edges numb. The sisters, each secretly thinking she was victor, went back to being sweet as sediment to each other. The grandchildren hiding in the Well of Disgust declare they will never become stones. Not us, they cry, silt spilling over their lips.
~ 23 ~
Margaret Walther is a retired librarian from the Denver metro area and a past president of Columbine Poets, an organization to promote poetry in Colorado. She has been a guest editor for Buffalo Bones, and has poems published or forthcoming in many journals, including Connecticut Review, anderbo.com, Quarterly West, Naugatuck River Review, Fugue, Anemone Sidecar, Phoebe, and Nimrod International Journal. She won the Many Mountains Moving 2009 Poetry Contest. Poems published in the online journal, In Posse Review, in 2010, were selected by Web del Sol for its e-SCENE best of the Literary Journals.
â€šSat around Gripingâ€› by E.A. Hanninen, 2011
~ 24 ~ Diggles Tim Diggles Tim Diggles Tim Diggles Tim Diggles Tim Diggles Tim Diggles Tim
A Tale of the Children I Never Had They arrived late Busy at work at college at home Cursory greeting a drink then sleep Morning blew bright white clouds Over grey green waves Gulls fought with rooks for beach leftovers Before the tide spirited them away As usual I was up early they hated that A morning person amongst sleepyheads Tea porridge toast marmalade as usual An hour painting in the studio Mary scouring the beach for shells David drinking coffee smoking on the veranda in pyjamas Mike sleeping in churned-up bed just like his great aunt One-thirty Jane arrives Late of course (one of the reasons) blaming traffic Mary David Mike went to greet her She brought a rice salad Knowing I didn’t like her cooking We didn’t speak there was no need Jane stood by a window watching her children I laid out lunch in the kitchen Jane offered to help (another reason) Mary cut freshly baked oat bread for the gathering I was on trial in the dock at the table end Jane began the interrogation during sea bass in a chilli and dill sauce When are you sorting this place out? I need the cash Oliver and I are moving It’s only fair Mum has rights they all agreed I sliced ham spiced with paprika and cloves served with horseradish and beetroot I’ll sort it soon it is my home after all Too far out you don’t even paint the sea Do you even notice it after all these years I did each day You can’t even swim no I can’t swim I never wanted to nor ride a bike I served baked root vegetables with fresh tarragon
~ 25 ~ You never played with us whilst they cracked open rye-bread rolls Dipping them into walnut oil you stood back and watched You never got involved got dirty laughed shared Mum did (another reason) You couldn’t even paint with us Only moaned when we used your brushes I spooned out a trifle made from my great aunt’s recipe Never let us into your studio your world Lunch was making a large hole in my wine collection Even though I always bought bottles they wouldn’t like Get But You You
up to date Dad buy some lighter wine rose zinfandel they moaned they still drank up the ones I had didn’t really want us did you should have stayed on your own
That’s not fair I said as nuts cracked cheese chopped Incapable of love you were told you liked that But I love you all pouring Chinese tea Do you a chorus of offspring chanted So why leave mum when she needed you and was so ill It had to end it was getting too easy Selfish no thought for how we’d feel Have I ever let you down You all seem to want so much I always help Just money Dad that’s just money You want more then give more I thought as One by one they folded away from the table to sit walk laze I cleared the remnants glasses plates cutlery cups Jane wanted to help wash up (another reason)
Tim Diggles (b. 1954) lives in Stoke-on-Trent, UK (where they make pottery). He’s worked in various artforms for more than 30 years, organizing events, fundraising, running workshops and classes. He trained in fine art, and made films before moving into community-based work. As Coordinator for The Federation of Worker Writers & Community Publishers for 15 yrs., he also worked with US and Canadian orgs. He has completed a novel (as yet unpublished) and is working on another. His ‚poetry‛ is primarily meant to be read aloud or performed. Contact Tim (firstname.lastname@example.org)
By dusk they had departed And I gave thanks that they were fortunate To have never existed in the real world
~ 26 ~ Woods Sylvia Woods Sylvia Woods Sylvia Woods Sylvia Woods Sylvia Woods Sylvia Woods Sylvia
Stud Finder You can buy a gadget to locate the hollow in the wall, find the stud. I wish I’d had something like that back before I took up with Bill. To put a shelf in the laundry room the fool pounded nails for hours; the wall looked like a spaghetti strainer. When he was gone I marveled why I hadn’t the good sense to know what was solid and what was hollow.
Sylvia Woods’ work has been published in several anthologies and literary magazines, and has won several awards. Her most recent publication credits are Southern Poetry Anthology III, and Cornbread Nation: v.5.
‚Persimmon Slice‛ by E.A. Hanninen, 2011
~ 27 ~ Sprague David Sprague David Sprague David Sprague David Sprague David Sprague David
(Love, Love, Said the Fucking Poem)
David Sprague is an English student attending the master's program at York University, Toronto. His poetry has appeared in multiple Queen's University publications over the past few years, and more recently, his work showed up in the online publication, Exercise Bowler. Particularly fascinated by surrealist poetry, his work examines the tension between what is wildly original and what is simply cliché. David is also the creator of a single-panel cartoon strip, The Colo(u)r of the Sun. This is David’s second appearance in The Centrifugal Eye.
Not because the poem starts, but because of the way you looked at me. And the movie we saw was a sequel. I’m a fish out of water, I said when I was somewhere out of place. Am I old enough to make a collage that people will take seriously? On that subject, did you know meteorites burn up before they hit ground? I wish all dangers did that. Say, a piano from the nineteenth floor or heartbreak. The black you see when you have your eyes wide open in the dark— that was how I felt.
~ 28 ~ Russ Jana Russ Jana Russ Jana Russ Jana Russ Jana Russ Jana Russ Jana Russ Jana Russ Jana Russ Jana
How a Woman Can Be Frozen 1 My shadow has been swallowed cold down the throat of a dark-winged angel Stone silent fucker unconsciously wrapped his fingers insistent as any Tuesday in the saffron ropes of my hair kissed me like poets do with kisses of jasmine and sorrow 2 Begin by putting ice in her mouth the tongue grows still and her words fall like rain wash away Set chill stones under her feet cracked flagstones of an abandoned temple then pull them away very fast Leave her no bath but the remnants of uncontained green seas 3 The sticky wrappings of my feet bind in their perfume of aloes and alum and dusty pain toes crushed by the weight of your last whisper: Iâ€™m gone
~ 29 ~ 4 There is a black swan in the pond at the park She refuses to mate Did you know swans mate for life? Some think it was fireworks that scared her or scarred her 5 My eyes bleed ink His are the still topaz of arctic ice My voice is a pinprick of bells easy to ignore after midnight
And under that moon a smaller moon or a satellite coldly revolving in a neglected orbit Have you noticed that the moon is always full here? It never sets Not even when we do 7 Place one last hard word in her mouth to silence her Wrap her in passionless sheets until all the fever has left her veins
Jana Russ teaches writing, nonwestern literatures, and Chinese history at The University of Akron, where she also coordinates the MFA program. She has an MFA in Poetry from the Northeast Ohio Universities (NEOMFA). Her poems have appeared in Georgetown Review, Up the Staircase, The Coachella Review, Riverwind Poetry, Penguin Review, and Poetry Midwest, among others; and in two anthologies: In the Hardship and the Hoping: Poems of Northeast Ohio (J.B. Solomon, 2008) and Women. Period. (Spinsters Ink Press, 2009) She is also the poetry editor for Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies.
6 There was once a golden ball in my sky promising a two-for-one
~ 30 ~
Who Put the Skunk in Cabbage? / Environment
“Skunk Cabbage” by K.R. Copeland, 2011
~ 31 ~ MacLean J.S. MacLean J.S. MacLean J.S. MacLean J.S. MacLean J.S. MacLean J.S. MacLean J.S. MacLean J.S.
Report from the Mara
Read more of J.S.’s poetry on page 50
J.S. MacLean is a Canadian of Celtic extraction. He has been published in a variety of poetry publications in Canada, USA, UK, and Australia. He tries to write poems that are at once accessible, but that will continue to reveal themselves over time.
Something is aridly wrong, the Wildebeest tarry and Maasai wander from their kraal’s centers, far from any place that I can tell, aimless as the acacia’s whistle. Like blood flecked on cream they dot the Mara, the search for every cow has spun them. Their shukas dazzle to attract, like ballooned children. The Simbas spot them, but are intimidated and tourists only roll along the ruts to kills, crossings, and luxury tented camps. Some track goats that might have a home, a few scramble up sausage trees with cell phones for MapQuest®, but I fear that unless you help by sending compasses and road signs, these people will not find their huts and each will be swallowed up like a human cry in the acoustic chaos before dawn.
~ 32 ~ Weaver Elizabeth Weaver Elizabeth Weaver Elizabeth Weaver Elizabeth Weaver Elizabeth Weaver Elizabeth
Organic Redefined I’m old enough to have walked 10 miles to school each day rain or shine, blizzards or hail, well . . . not really, but old enough to know a peach by its taste since ‚organic‛ meant no pesticides, herbicides, nothing ’sides soil, worms, water and sun, but the deputy admin, AMS of USDA in DC of USA, wants to simplify by expanding that nasty little word organic to include so much more. Now I agree growing genetically engineered tomatoes with flounder genes would save valuable time, no more fish in the skillet with diced tomato, now my flounder’s in tomato with no pans to scrub. I can buy that tomato sprayed with ‚inert‛ or ‚synthetic‛ substances and grown in s-l-u-d-g-e, that’s right, sludge, but not just any sludge, it’s ‚municipal sewer sludge‛ crème de la crème à la gutter, and that juicy red fruit will already have been irradiated with nuclear waste like cesium 137 and cobalt 60 to kill bacteria and extend shelf life. Mmmmm mmmmm good.
A two-time semi-finalist for the ‚Discovery‛/ The Nation award, Elizabeth Weaver focused on poetry for her M.A., and is currently completing her first novel, the main character of which has her own photoblog. Elizabeth’s prose and poetry have been published in numerous anthologies and journals, including RATTLE, 5AM, Cezanne’s Carrot, Journal of Truth and Consequence, and HOT FLASHES: sexy little stories and poems. Bonegirl Blog (bonegirlpix.wordpress.com) Weaver Blog (elizabethweaver.wordpress.com)
Though I’ve got my flounder in tomato I’ll still want meat, now injected with antibiotics for its first 21 days of life while contained indoors, in close quarters, under florescent lights— all this renamed as ‚organic free-range‛ as stipulated by the USDA while the National Organic Standards Board looks on in disbelief. It’s reassuring to know our government is protecting farmers and consumers from all that extensive red tape and restriction while expanding definitions.
‚Skunk Tomato‛ by E.A. Hanninen, 2011
~ 33 ~
~ 34 ~ Barker Michelle Barker Michelle Barker Michelle Barker Michelle Barker Michelle Barker Michelle
Enviro Elegy for the Orchard, Penticton, B.C.
Now it is the fashion in these parts to plant vineyards trees having gone out of style and so whole orchards are razed to make room for grapes because even the word vineyard has the power to conjure cobbled Italian roads a villa old men with purple grape-stained feet a slender flute glass and a violin which in an orchard would be a fiddle who can resist such magic?
subject to worms Eve’s bane it doesn’t tempt us anymore that sensation of passing an orchard on a mid-summer evening and feeling the sudden delicious chill of shaded air smelling the sweet-green scent of ripening fruit imagining paths beneath the trees’ protective arms in the end, it seems it’s just real estate.
‚Skunk by Any Name‛ by E.A. Hanninen, 2011
and where is the charm in the lowly apple?
~ 35 ~
Treed Community Aurora, Ontario
That’s what the sign calls it.
and a phone number to call if you want to buy a house. You don’t expect to see the creek from the highway, but you look for the trees. They should be easy to spot in a treed community. But there are none. Not even a shrub. Accordions of houses packed in tight, each square foot accounted for and sold to the highest bidder. Every house a gravestone – Memorials to what once stood here.
Michelle Barker’s poetry has appeared in Room of One’s Own, Descant, Cahoots Magazine, Cicada, The Mitre, carte blanche, The Antigonish Review, Vallum, Autumn Sky Poetry, Taproot IV, Tesseracts 14, Room, and The Scrumbler, with poetry forthcoming in Tesseracts 15 and an Australian magazine called dotdotdash; and fiction in Grain. In 2008, she was nominated for inclusion in the Best New Poets Anthology. She has published creative non-fiction in Event, which won a gold National Magazine Award (2002). She’s also published non-fiction in The Globe and Mail, Vancouver Sun, Cruising World Magazine, and Reader’s Digest (Canada). Her short fiction has been published in WORDS Literary Journal, and in Taproot II, and she recently won honors at the Surrey International Writers’ Festival Storytelling Competition. In 2012, Leaf Press will publish a chapbook of her Queen Charlotte Island poems called, Old Growth, Clear Cut. Michelle is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye. Website (www.michellebarker.ca)
Read more of Michelle’s poetry on page 42
There is even a picture of trees (naturally) with a creek gurgling by (you can tell from the picture that it will gurgle)
~ 36 ~ Gruis Phil Gruis Phil Gruis Phil Gruis Phil Gruis Phil Gruis Phil Gruis Phil Gruis Phil Gruis Phil
What crows know The wind reeks waves slap greasy shores glaciers waste away grass succumbs to sand trees and tri-levels char cities dissolve in smog the godly bomb the godly the rich eat the poor and whine about the gristle. Crows linger aloft, knowing it’s fucked below.
Phil Gruis (Johnson’s Landing, British Columbia, Canada; Spokane, WA) is the author of two chapbooks from Finishing Line Press, with a third – On the Road to Limbo – to be released in 2011. His poems have appeared recently in Cirque, Plain Spoke, and Naugatuck River Review and are found in many other journals and anthologies in the US, UK and Canada. He and his Newfoundlands live on a clean, glacial lake at the end of a long, bad road. This is Phil’s second appearance in The Centrifugal Eye. Contact Phil (email@example.com)
Rain would rise if it could.
~ 37 ~
Libelous Lemon / Writing
â€œLibelous Lemonâ€? by K.R. Copeland, 2011
~ 38 ~ Matthews Byron Matthews Byron Matthews Byron Matthews Byron Matthews Byron Matthews Byron Matthews Byron
Like Falling off a Rancorous Legume Poetry will end "when we have compared everything in the world to everything else in the world." ~Billy Collins
"Her heart was a gerbil's tooth, her eyes like shoes with hanging tongues, and when she spoke you heard a vinegar wind rake the panicked husks that hunkered weeping in some azure field, like reptile hatchlings pounded, broken by the sordid cudgels of surmise." Recognize it? Well, no, I just made that up, unfortunately. Yet I'm betting there's some furtive ring, a sound, a sense, A feel common to a certain species of poetic writing, the tradition I'll call the School of Overloaded Metaphoric Gunk â€” OMG for tweets. These poems start out nicely, delight, tantalize for a while, the comparisons seem so Wholly new. But a few stanzas down finds you staring at the page and moaning, softly, calling for Sweet Jesus, an Idle muse, anyone, to make it stop. But no, it won't and never will. OMG is far too tempting. We'll elucidate its Abstract model, theoretic absolute, sacred yardstick to lay against the sadly real: Imagine a matrix in two Dimensions. Along the top we see the columns, one for every single thing; repeating that across the rows makes A field of cells, one for every combination there can be: each thing paired with every other â€” it's the Metaphoric
~ 39 ~
Universe! Picture it pasted on a giant dartboard and the idea snaps to mind: To make innovative metaphors just Bring your darts and let them fly. But that's excessively abstract; let's move on to the workshop stuff, the realm Of purely practical technique: a Bucket System for novel tropes on demand. A five-gallon plastic one is perfect, Convenient wire handle and a lid. Put in every noun you know, add the ones you don't, then shake them up and Plop a handful on your desk. For outlandish similes in quantity, leaven with a scattering of "as" and "like" — Voila! Finally, to anticipate a question surely in the air: "But where's the creativity, the craft?" Ah, that's in how you
Byron Matthews left Iowa for graduate school in North Carolina, and later gave up a tenured position in Maryland to make furniture for ten years in Santa Fe. He lives now in the mountains east of Albuquerque, New Mexico, with his wife, a cellist, who encourages his poetry because it’s finally something that does not involve large quantities of tools and equipment. He has had poems published, or are forthcoming, in Quantum Poetry Magazine, Ramshackle Review, Victorian Violet Press, Front Porch Review, nibble — a poetry magazine, Willows Wept Review, and other journals.
Shake the bucket before your hand goes in; besides a lot of practice, the secret's mostly in the wrist.
~ 40 ~ Turmel Rebekah Turmel Rebekah Turmel Rebekah Turmel Rebekah Turmel Rebekah Turmel Rebekah Turmel Rebekah
Dear Sylvia Plath I think you’re tiresome, Ms. Plath, when you speak of sluttish dryads of trees and nymphs and sex of girls, females, (heaven forbid) ladies whose entire purpose is to have sex (and do it so well)
Rebekah Turmel is a senior at Texas A&M majoring in English, with an avid interest in East Asian language and culture. She has lived all over the United States, but currently lives in Austin, Texas, where she is a contributor to INsite Magazine. Contact Rebekah
and yet exist, live, thrive, grow forever as a tree, which is really an unsexy thing (all that rough bark and scratchy leaves can’t be good for one’s softer parts).
I think I cannot stand your voice which goes click-clock like the sound of horse hooves on pavement. I think you speak of mystical and magical things, of luminous, moon-eyed boys. (But do they call you back? That is the real question.)
Come on, honey, I think you’re better than this.
I think you speak well of the macabre (dead deer, stars grinding into dust) like you see it everyday and perhaps you do.
~ 41 ~ Wood Robert E. Wood Robert E. Wood Robert E. Wood Robert E. Wood Robert E. Wood Robert E. Wood Robert E.
WWBCD What Would Billy Collins Do in Chicago?
Robert E. Wood teaches at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. His film studies include essays on Fosse, DePalma, and Verhoeven, as well as The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He is the author of Some Necessary Questions of the Play, a study of Hamlet. His poetry has appeared in such journals as Blue Fifth Review, Jabberwock Review, Sojourn, Minnetonka Review, and Prairie Schooner. His chapbook, Gorizia Notebook, was published by Finishing Line Press.
Probably not hike past the Water Tower that survived the Great Chicago Fire and the red engines flexing steel in the fire station a block away as if to say never again. Probably not stroll past a sleepy Bughouse Square noting the absence of fiery speakers watching a man in brown walk three leashed pugs past the orderly plots of flowers around the fountain. Probably not ride the clattering El where there is always a guy a little short of carfare when you look like you just arrived from somewhere out of town. Billy Collins tends to stay a little closer to home. His tough luck if he didn’t linger at the front desk of the motel chatting with two reception clerks who might be Salma Hayek’s only slightly less comely sisters. Maybe he’d venture as far as a window watching the man in the street who’s peddling Chicago Tribunes and dodging the skaters and taxis. Would he be miffed at the aging black and white tiles in the shower or be pleased at the toilet tissue folded to a tidy point so you know the room has been cleaned? Would he be sliding open a drawer in search of a sheet of paper or two for this poem? Billy Collins would stay at a better hotel.
~ 42 ~ Barker Michelle Barker Michelle Barker Michelle Barker Michelle Barker Michelle Barker Michelle
Reading Poetry to Cows ‚Lemonade‛ by E.A. Hanninen, 2011
I’ve often been tempted to read my poems to the cows at the end of the road they seem a patient audience always interested as I pass by they stop their meanderings stand still and chew which in other audiences might be considered rude but in the company of cows is about what you’d expect I’m sure they would listen and there would be no heckling unless you counted the moos it’s true, they would be suspicious of big words and miss every metaphor and if I left the pages for them to read later they would probably eat them— still it strikes me as a better arrangement than the present one
and receiving for my trouble months later a small card that begins with the dreaded address— Dear Writer.
of dropping my painstaked words into a red metal box
Read more of Michelle’s poetry and bio on pages 34-35
~ 43 ~ Dowd Juditha Dowd Juditha Dowd Juditha Dowd Juditha Dowd Juditha Dowd Juditha Dowd Juditha Dowd Juditha
Ours Poetica It’s not about the cat. That’s what the poet says when someone asks a question. Forget the grandchildren. Pretend you’ve learned nothing but how little you know. And enough about you, especially your parents. So let me say this is not a poem about the cat, not to mention beauty, so everywhere, unless you’re Anne Carson or we’re talking physics here — that’s fresh — or anything usually thought to be ugly, irony being ripe for reinvention. And don’t get cute about line-length, even if you’re being ironic. Forget the garden. Nature, too, except if it concerns the nature of irony’s beauty. Ignore your gray cat sitting beside the pond, its big shoulders weighted by concerns that are nothing like yours — that’s anthropomorphism. Therefore, I tell myself, leaving the warmth of the hall. Start your old Toyota, old What’s-Its-Name. Air is permitted. Or two-lane blacktop. Once per poem.
Juditha Dowd’s poetry has been featured on Poetry Daily and appeared in many journals, both print and online, including The Florida Review, Kaleidoscope, Relief, and The Barefoot Muse. Her chapbooks, The Weathermancer and What Remains, were published by Finishing Line Press. A member of the Cool Women performance ensemble, she is working on a full-length collection.
Disguise the cat. Call it anything but grace. Run over it. Just don’t begin there.
~ 44 ~ Siegel Scot Siegel Scot Siegel Scot Siegel Scot Siegel Scot Siegel Scot Siegel Scot Siegel Scot
Minor Poet in Space
Scot Siegel is the author of four volumes of poetry. A past contributor to The Centrifugal Eye, Siegel has recent work in Aesthetica's 2011 Creative Works Annual, High Desert Journal, MiPOesias, and the Salmon Poetry anthology, Dogs Singing. His second full-length poetry collection is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in 2012. Siegel serves on the board of trustees of the Friends of William Stafford, and edits the online poetry journal, Untitled Country Review.
His work is out of print before they bury him. All the Internet links shorted or discontinued or censored and forgotten. In five hundred forty-nine years nomads exhuming nuts from a cache in the rubble of San Francisco find a five-by-seven pine box containing a heap of rags and bones and a ream of little manifestos. Reverse three hundred twenty-four years: Hydrogen fuel-cell shuttles scurry to the Moon where water harvesting continues and root vegetables and poetry are hoarded by the lucky few. This slim volume about life on Earth before the Mayansâ€™ predictions came true receives rave reviews. It becomes a best seller.
~ 45 ~
Moldering Ambition / Politics & War
“This Means War!” by K.R. Copeland, 2011
~ 46 ~ Owens Scott Owens Scott Owens Scott Owens Scott Owens Scott Owens Scott Owens Scott Owens Scott
Patriotic Norman Sings, America When in the corpse of half-human America, one nation way under God, land of my fathers, missing or dead, land of sons dying before fathers in cities whose names they can’t pronounce, land of the broken promise, the shattered dream, land of the almost-free America the greedy, America the mother of all bombs, America the seriously screwed-up, America who didn’t like Tim Peeler’s poetry or Leo Connellan’s, who only buys words by people like Jewel or Bukowski, who lets the best live and die in obscurity, America, your free lunch is waiting at the Hickory Soup Kitchen. (In the dream, strings run up from each hand, each foot, move the mouth, nod the head, jerk the eyes open.) E Pluribus Unum, E Pluribus Americunum, E Pluribus Americunt, I, too, sing, America, sing as I put the underpinning back, sing as I stand in line for cheese, sing when it’s 105 degrees and no AC, sing to another bastard stepson in hand-me-down clothes, sing on my way to Goodwill, sing with open mouth my mendicant song, sing, Piss off, America, sing, Fuck you, America, sing, Kiss my ass, America, sing, Let me bend over and pull these down for you, America.
~ 47 ~
My country ‘tis of shit to eat, shit to do, shit to come home to. It’s July 4th again. Once a year we place one hand across our chest, cover our eyes with the other. He drank quickly and said, If you don’t like it, you can get the hell out.
Author of 6 collections of poetry and 800+ poems published in journals and anthologies, Scott Owens is editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review, Vice President of the Poetry Council of North Carolina, and recipient of awards from the Pushcart Prize Anthology, the Academy of American Poets, the NC Writers’ Network, the NC Poetry Society, and the Poetry Society of SC. He holds an MFA from UNC Greensboro and currently teaches at Catawba Valley Community College. He grew up on farms and in mill villages around Greenwood, SC.
“Fortification” by E.A. Hanninen, 2011
~ 48 ~ Bruhmuller Marjorie Bruhmuller Marjorie Bruhmuller Marjorie Bruhmuller Marjorie Bruhmuller Marjorie
Ides to my cat Brutus and pretended to die again right here in my kitchen. The Ides of March have always gleaned such ghosts filing in the back door a parade of violent leaders struggling in with their swords bows and arrows, semi-automatics and bazookas straddling their shoulders squeezing past the door frame Cassius in the yard barking at tanks pulling at his leash. Always with the haunt of detriment— sitting at my table bleeding on my newspaper
Marjorie Bruhmuller lives on a farm in Quebec, Canada. Her poems have appeared in Grain, Event, Room, The Antigonish Review, The Tupelo Press Poetry Project, THEMA, The Cold River Review, Taproot IV, The Mitre, The California Quarterly, Willow Review, The Light in Ordinary Things, (Fearless Books), The New Writer (UK), Sleet Magazine, The Frogmore Papers (UK), The Nashwaak Review and Other Voices. One poem won third prize in FreeFall’s Prose and Poetry Contest 2009. She was also awarded a fellowship by the Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) Unified Fiction and Poetry Contest. This is nd Marjorie’s 2 appearance in The Centrifugal Eye.
leaning by the sink lighting up a smoke in the living room. Never a thought for me, or the future with no ashtrays, no plastic on the couch. They even have the nerve to lift my dusty photographs stare out the lacy curtains hands behind their backs the same old strategies pulsing through their bloodless souls.
Caesar came to me today pointed to my calendar
~ 49 ~
Good Lie, Cruel World / Immorality & Abuse
“Our Perfect Victim, Mother Earth” by K.R. Copeland, 2011
~ 50 ~ MacLean J.S. MacLean J.S. MacLean J.S. MacLean J.S. MacLean J.S. MacLean J.S. MacLean J.S. MacLean J.S.
Under a Rock The most arrogant dynasty lies dying amidst old plunder while minions pray for the kings of the hypocrites. The sheathless still die hard, a tally like Stalin’s, but slyer, washed hands wave slowly to the dead. A radiance of redbirds, ironic homophobes and misogynists, roost to purify their beaks. Rapists and slappers of inculcated children are hidden lovingly behind doily dresses, since they have worth, unlike their victims. They deny our evolved nature and when graced with true audience utter only hollow and sorry platitudes.
‚Doily Angel‛ by E.A. Hanninen, 2011
The head regenerates, but the body cannot survive; even the cockroach adapted so as not to follow the dinosaur.
What are your natures, Fishheads; deviants, defectives, or cowards? What does your wrinkled skin desire?
Read more of J.S.’s poetry and bio on page 31
~ 51 ~ Krapf Norbert Krapf Norbert Krapf Norbert Krapf Norbert Krapf Norbert Krapf Norbert Krapf Norbert
“Two-Feathered” by D.J. Bryant, 2011
Angel in Drag Once walking down the street, I saw in a shop window an angel in drag. Wasn’t sure why the unexpected appearance, but my eye liked the change from gauzy white to splashes of extreme color. If every angel dresses and looks exactly the same, how can you know which one is your guardian and which is coming on to see if you’ll go for the bait? Maybe God wants to work us up to see if we know the difference between his helpers and his betrayers, his real sidekicks and his hangers on. What’s a boy to do, for example, if the man who dresses as a priest during the day
Norbert Krapf, author of eight poetry collections, was the Indiana Poet Laureate 2008-10. His recent volumes include Sweet Sister Moon, celebrations of women, and Bloodroot: Indiana Poems, a retrospective selection of 175 poems including 40 new ones. Forthcoming is a collection titled Songs in Sepia and Black and White, and he is completing another, Catholic Boy Blues. As Indiana Poet Laureate, he had a mission of “reuniting poetry and song.”
takes off his clothes at night and breathes heavily to lay a hand on boy flesh in the filthy dark?
~ 52 ~
Distorted Mirror / Self-Contemplation
â€œDistorted Reflectionâ€? by K.R. Copeland, 2011
~ 53 ~ Rose Brad Rose Brad Rose Brad Rose Brad Rose Brad Rose Brad Rose Brad Rose Brad Rose Brad Rose Brad
In the Jardin du Luxembourg, amid the Little Pink Roses of Spring, Monsieur Zero Disappears Like the winter solstice, he was the shortest day of the year. Women overlooked him, men never noticed. He was plot-less: no beginning, middle, nor end. With no word in his language to describe him, he became ineffable. On Tuesday, after arriving eleven minutes early for the company’s weekly meeting, he discovered he wasn’t on the agenda — again. Later that afternoon, while strolling in the Jardin du Luxembourg, a shriek blossomed in Monsieur Zero’s throat, as if he had swallowed the wail of an ambulance. The tulips, blood-red, exploded in brutal bloom. Like a killer fleeing the scene of a child’s murder, he ran. He was conspicuous as a toy suddenly grown taller than the Eiffel Tower. All eyes fixed upon him. Even the little pink roses craned their stems and waved their petals in the direction of Monsieur Zero’s flight. At the corner of Rue de Medicis and the Boulevard St. Michel, Monsieur Zero disappeared, a situation for which he was utterly unprepared.
Waiting Room View Gray as a gull, I am an old man now, gruff, yearning.
I am a window. There is no view. She does not stop at my heart.
Across the nearly vacant waiting room, a young woman, beautifully bored, eyes darker than Poe’s raven, peers though me.
Read more of Brad’s poetry and bio on page 21.
~ 54 ~ Loving Denton Loving Denton Loving Denton Loving Denton Loving Denton Loving Denton Loving Denton
When Next I Dream
Denton Loving’s fiction, poetry and reviews have appeared in numerous journals, including Birmingham Arts Journal, Appalachian Journal, and Minnetonka Review. His work has also been published in a number of anthologies, including the recently released Degrees of Elevation: Short Stories of Contemporary Appalachia. He has poems forthcoming in Main Street Rag and Plain Spoke.
‚Vining Mirror‛ by E.A. Hanninen, 2011
There will be no snakes, only wild elephants with flapping ears and ancient wisdom — sturdy beasts I can count on. There will be girls who find feathers and boys who are looking for their own forgotten names. We will all retrieve something lost, something we forgot we needed, objects known by sight when we see them. I’ll recall songs from memory, heroes from the past, saints praying under live oak trees, shaking blue bottles, bringing peach pies and spring babies. One of these good people will teach me how to pray like I’m on fire, supply me a soft pillow of a lap to place my head. I may still be lost, but I’ll be happy because I’ll discover some piece of myself somewhere I wouldn’t have thought to look, like in your pocket or under your shiny new shoe. There will be no cords to bind my hands, to lace around my body, tie me to what I no longer wish to be hitched. But in case the ropes surprise me, curl up like vines around my neck, I will dream wire cutters are lying nearby.
~ 55 ~ Martin Clare L. Martin Clare L. Martin Clare L. Martin Clare L. Martin Clare L. Martin Clare L.
Note to Self I have been thinking of the sea and all it contains. Like a dream we cannot know completely â€” I am lonely, I admit. The rain has stopped but will start again. I taste metal in the atmosphere. On these pages I write only the bluest of secrets. I remark when thunder collapses on itself, and when the river embarks from the rock â€” I have darkened this room. I want sleep. Somewhere, someone remembers my sins.
Clare has written for theatre and recently served as a writer for Play. Music. Heal., a multidisciplined collaborative theatre project in collaboration with the company Acting Up (in Acadiana) which brought together actors, musicians and writers in creating a contemporary story revolving around the potential for music to heal.
Clare L. Martin's creative writing has appeared in Avatar Review, Poets and Artists, Blue Fifth Review, Referential Magazine, Scythe, and Literary Mama, among others. Her poems have been included in the anthologies: The Red Room: Writings from Press 1, Best of Farmhouse Magazine Volume 1, and Beyond Katrina. A group of her poems are forthcoming in the 2011 Press 53 Spotlight anthology, which features a select group of emerging poets and writers. Her work has been nominated several times for best-of-internet publication prizes.
~ 56 ~
Desiccated Justice / History
“Desiccated Justice” by K.R. Copeland, 2011
~ 57 ~ Renstrom Vincent Renstrom Vincent Renstrom Vincent Renstrom Vincent Renstrom Vincent Renstrom Vincent
Europe Meets America (not its real name) We represent the Catholic Kings and weâ€™ve come to help you folks. Here's our sword and here's our cross, and we would like you to wear these yokes. Because your gods don't compare with Ours; please get that through your thick collective head, and pray that He'll forgive your sins, so you can learn what the Good Book said. You see, Jesus died for all of us, and it's your turn now to be proselytized. If you don't understand, you'll burn in Hell; it's not our fault you're not civilized. For the honor and glory of the Crown, we declare you Spanish now. We'll exact the tribute we see fit while you sub-human heathens kowtow.
Vincent Renstrom lives with his wife and daughter in Middletown, Ohio. By all accounts, he is a stellar, stay-at-home Dad and hustling househusband. Other poems of his have appeared in MARGIE/The American Journal of Poetry, Vol. 7, as well as in the online journals Alba, A Journal of Short Poetry, Silenced Press, Slow Trains, and Tertulia Magazine. Vincent is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye.
That's the deal; take it or leave. Resign yourselves to serve our Lord. And while you're at it, find us some gold, you nameless, faceless, godless horde.
~ 58 ~ Merrifield Karla Linn Merrifield Karla Linn Merrifield Karla Linn Merrifield Karla Linn
1513: Ponce de Leon and the Fountain of Death All flora and fauna, panther among them, knew. On a hawk’s cry from mangrove to mahogany they received word. He would come for slaves and gold on the first white sail. He would arrive in courtly velvet shoes and glinting armor. He would come with crossbow, sword, cross, the pox, and greed and glory and God. Even the periphyton understood he would come to conquer La Florida and its Everglades’ sweet river of grass. ‚Black Cloud‛ by Ira Joel Haber, 2011
~ 59 ~
Ruinás di Velho Airão
As 2009 Everglades National Park Artist-inResidence, Karla Linn Merrifield has had poetry appear in dozens of publications as well as in many anthologies. She has 6 books to her credit, including her most recent, The Urn, and Godwit: Poems of Canada, which received the 2009 Andrew Eiseman Writers Award for Poetry. She was poetry editor of Sea Stories, and is book reviewer and assistant editor for The Centrifugal Eye. She recently worked on a project with poet William Heyen, photoillustrating his essay, ‚The Green Bookcase,‛ published by Janus Head. Karla Linn also teaches at Writers & Books, Rochester, NY. Blog (http://karlalinn.blogspot.com)
The white rubber balls, floated downstream from his Rio Negro plantation to Manaus, concealed bones of a thousand African slaves. Either the rainforest toil for latex took its mortal toll in equatorial heat or his thugs gunned them down on orders to recoup their pay. Just say a jaguar did the deed. Today no stone marks the Portuguese Coronel’s grave. Just say his body’s blood fed a thousand fire ants.
~ 60 ~
Bitter Melon with Coffee Cup / Art
“Bitter Melon Coffee” by K.R. Copeland, 2011
~ 61 ~ Pelley Sherry Pelley Sherry Pelley Sherry Pelley Sherry Pelley Sherry Pelley Sherry Pelley Sherry
Holy Shit Michelangelo sent me his only son (I didn't know either, but he said something about ‚divine misconception‛) with a message. He stated, My Father, who art in heaven, says he captures the light and the truth. I said, Hell yeah, I never understood Picasso anyway, and where's the value in the splayed-out carcasses of Rembrandt, the plattered heads of Caravaggio? Someone should build a bonfire,
Sherry Pelley lives in small-town, southern Alberta with her husband and two teen-aged sons. Some of her interests include European history, nature photography, and baking an edible cheesecake. She is slowly writing a novel for young adults. The Centrifugal Eye is her first publication credit. Contact Sherry (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sherry Read more of Sherry’s poetry on page 65
stake all those primitive paintings to a post. And let's not forget Dali's disjointed offerings. As I sat in reverential contemplation of The Creation of Adam, a follower of Van Gogh approached the chapel, gas can in his hand.
~ 62 ~ Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty
For the time being, Mona Lisa* says, I’ll ignore the crack in the sky above my head. She is painted on poplar, famous enough for someone to dovetail the back, popular enough for people to care to prevent the wormholes from widening. Tell me, she says, what you think lies behind my smile? She is caught, like a mouse in a world layered in brown ochre, imagination above her. It’s April in Paris, and she remains in her museum frame. How many ask her questions? Isn’t her smile the requisite polish used to hold ourselves together?
Kitty Jospé (MA French Literature, MFA Poetry) is a teacher, with a passion for languages and the arts, and enjoys lecturing on elements of craft and composition in music, painting, and poetry. She resides in Rochester, NY, with her husband, but is often flying about the world to be with her children and family. Contact Kitty (email@example.com)
Like the man on the podium, giving a speech. No one guesses that his son is one of the survivors, as well as the soldier who shot himself. Or the woman who turns the corners of her mouth into a pleasant vacancy, alluding to changing jobs. Or the museum guard from Peru telling the docent flashing a JewelRed-26 lipsticked stamp, you have a lovely sonrisa. Her message seals back: I’m just fine. Is that what Gioconda is telling us in the Louvre — charm-at-any-cost?
What if she believes her smile is the only way to engage for an eventual conversation?
*‚Mona Lisa‛ is known as ‚La Joconde” in France, after the Italian, Gioconda, her husband’s name.
Or is it like the crack above her head, which, for the time being, she ignores, her lips playing a trap for une souris, the French for mouse.
~ 63 ~
Poison Goblets / Mythology
“Medusa Sideshow” by K.R. Copeland, 2011
~ 64 ~ Welsh James Welsh James Welsh James Welsh James Welsh James Welsh James Welsh James Welsh James
James Welsh is living in New York City, where he is pursuing an M.A. in English Literature. On the rare occasion when James is not working on his thesis (an examination of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy in Joyce’s Ulysses), he can be found working on a new poem or short story. Contact James (firstname.lastname@example.org)
He’s late again – Odysseus is. Zeus! I spent (or tried to spend) this afternoon in feathers that I plucked from some old goose while baking wings like Icarus (too soon?). And now I’m sitting here with empty suitors, only sure that if (and not when) that Odysseus comes walking in with boots in need of twenty years of repair, that I will go up to him and say to him, My love, you better have some really grand and truthful reason for why you’re late. Hmmm, he’ll say, Believe me, love . . . I lost my men to Scylla, that Charybdis, and wretched Cyclops . . . and that is when I’ll smack that liar with a pot.
~ 65 ~ Pelley Sherry Pelley Sherry Pelley Sherry Pelley Sherry Pelley Sherry Pelley Sherry Pelley Sherry
Orion The big man's out tonight to shake the club, dance the sky alight on the southern horizon of heaven. A nebula of groupies hang in star-struck awe from his studded belt, hot young things pumping energy to fuel the atmosphere; a torrid tribute to their own youth. Luminous Bellatrix bends his ear, whispers,
‚In Orion’s Ear‛ by E.A. Hanninen, 2011
Those kids are still green. I'm a giant and I know you like the big game. Let's walk the river, talk
about what we've seen and, maybe, you'll tell me what it is about Scorpio that makes you run.
Read more of Sherry’s poetry and bio on page 61
~ 66 ~ Shepherd Salli Shepherd Salli Shepherd Salli Shepherd Salli Shepherd Salli Shepherd Salli Shepherd Salli
Witches Perhaps you thought we were gone when the puddles of fat and ash congealed, and our stink unstuck from the back of your throat. When you exhale into the face of your wife, does she smell us? Lately at night, familiar as cats, we've taken to creeping about in your room, reeking of bonfires, empty-headed as pumpkins, poppets of wormwood and rue. In your sleep, you eat our bodies then brag about it— and come the morning, you dare not pass a hedge nor linger where any three roads cross. We are slowly collecting your fluids and fallen hair; we hide in your socks like foxtail, diffuse our dust into every meal. Soon we'll leach as salt from your skin, fly in flecks of spittle out of your gasping mouth. We are the hook and the bait, see? We are always to blame. ‚Rue Doll‛ by E.A. Hanninen, 2011
~ 67 ~
The Art of Unknowing Give your burden the mane of a lion. In yourself, make a kraal. Split your heart and fashion its two halves into a pair of goats. Tether one to a stake. Go inside. Pull the shades for darkness, barricade the door, listen for a nervous bleat, a skitter of hooves in the mind's dirt. Feel nothing when the animal screams. Believe: it's only a goat. And here, the art â€” a bloody thorn, a twist of hair will show you how the lion gets in, where to dig the trap. When it is dead burn the carcass. When the winds have drunk
Salli Shepherd is a founding editor of Soundzine, and lives in Melbourne, Australia. Her work has appeared in various publications, including Magma Poetry, Mimesis, Umbrella, and The Chimaera. She is currently exploring spoken word poetry and is also collating poems for a forthcoming chapbook.
the last of its ash, you'll still have one good goat.
~ 68 ~ Allen Gilbert Allen Gilbert Allen Gilbert Allen Gilbert Allen Gilbert Allen Gilbert Allen Gilbert
The PROZAC Poems 1. Genesis Let’s have a little illumination here. Nothing too harsh— something California, you know? Maybe like what they got at that fern bar on Adams Street. That’d be pretty good dontcha think? 2. Calvary Gee Dad, what’s the big idea of hanging me up here all by myself? 3. Lear Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe. 4. The Garden Annihilating all that’s made to a green (and white) thought in a green (and white) shade. 5. The Declaration of Independence See man, sometimes when human events get together and relate, it becomes necessary to forget about brand-name loyalties and go generic. Does that make any sense?
~ 69 ~
6. Rip Van Winkle I can’t sleep. 7. No Second Troy My life had stood — a loaded Gonne — In Taverns — till the Day She saw my Pharmacopoeia — And carried Me away — 8. The Waste Land Oh to be in London Now that April’s there!
Gilbert Allen has lived in Travelers Rest, South Carolina, since 1977. He teaches at Furman University, where he is currently the Bennette E. Geer Professor of Literature. The author of five collections of verse, he received the 2007 Robert Penn Warren Prize from The Southern Review for his sequence of poems "The Assistant." His newest work has appeared (or will soon appear) in The Georgia Review, Measure, A Review of Formal Poetry, Sewanee Theological Review, and The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume III: Contemporary Appalachia. Contact Gilbert (email@example.com)
9. Il Duce Rush Limbaugh. 10. Howl
The PROZAC® Poems are purely fictional, with no medicinal purpose, express or implied. Consult your personal prosodist for further details.
I’ve seen guys with above-average IQs who seemed to be emotionally challenged hungry, upset, in what I believe were only their boxer shorts but hey, it happens.
~ 70 ~
Venomous Tongues / Insults
“Knife Thrower” by K.R. Copeland, 2011
~ 71 ~ Sloboda Noel Sloboda Noel Sloboda Noel Sloboda Noel Sloboda Noel Sloboda Noel Sloboda Noel Sloboda Noel
Couples Art Therapy Once in shared bodily fluids splashed across canvases I’d filled but left unsigned, you forged my name: an act of love — now each night alone in bed, you make a mouse’s nest of tissues and magazine clippings, while out in the den I’ve torn down my easels and fashioned a sniper’s perch— so far off my words can’t be heard
Noel Sloboda serves as dramaturg for the Harrisburg Shakespeare Company and teaches at Penn State York. He is the author of the poetry collection Shell Games (2008) as well as two chapbooks: Stages (2010) and Of Things Passed (2010). He has also published a book about the autobiographies of Edith Wharton and Gertrude Stein. Website (http://www2.yk.psu.edu/sites/njs16/)
as they hurtle toward their inspiration.
~ 72 ~ Riley Drew Riley Drew Riley Drew Riley Drew Riley Drew Riley Drew Riley Drew Riley Drew Riley Drew
Tell Me Your words are trapped in the brains of dead elephants rotting in tall grass.
Drew Riley is a graduate student at Fairleigh Dickinson University and lives and writes in Helena, MT. His works have appeared in Breadcrumb Scabs, as well as a poem in an online anthology of health and illness poetry hosted by fieralingue’s Poet’s Corner. This is Drew’s second appearance in The Centrifugal Eye. Contact Drew (firstname.lastname@example.org)
“Blades” by D.J. Bryant, 2011
~ 73 ~
Merrifield’s Tao of Poetry Karla Linn Merrifield
The Wait of Atom by Jessie Carty Folded Word Paper/24 Pages/$9
“a surprising creation” When you hold Jessie Carty’s The Wait of Atom in your hands, you’re holding a piece of literary history. At least that’s what I felt when I opened the chapbook to read her introductory ‚Poet’s Note.‛ Readers will recall in the last issue of The Centrifugal Eye how Harry Calhoun’s I knew Bukowski like you knew a rare leaf: Forty poems in three acts sent me scrambling off on a tangent to read one of Charles Bukowski’s books to see for myself why Calhoun connected to the rascally poet. That’s the tao of poetry: Open one door and another also opens. And there I was again with Carty’s Atom, traveling its brief trail while also meandering the long road through the history of the chapbook. She writes in her ‚Poet’s Note:‛ ‚I decided that I would try to write a poem for each element on
the Periodic Table. 100 or so poems later, I had developed two characters who stood out and quite a few other poems (good and bad) that no longer fit into what, I began to realize, was a chapbook.‛ Think about it. Some 100 poems that she acknowledges were a mixed bag. Rather than force them into a full-length book of irregular quality, she acknowledges her limitations and distills for the reader the best 19 poems into a chapbook. And, thus, for me, Carty’s The Wait of Atom became a textbook example of why chapbooks exist and why poets need them. And thus she led me back to the 16th century!
“what I needed: fertilizer” If The Wait of Atom did anything for me as a reader, it fertilized my brain with a rich compost of literary history. So, I beg TCE readers’ indulgence: Travel with me the tao of poetry to 1553. That’s the date most literary historians agree saw the advent of ‚lytle books,‛ which were peddled in England in pubs and at fairs as well as door to door and in the streets of towns and villages
around Britain. Many chapbooks were popular others told historical stories, ~ 74songs, ~ while yet others were tales about clothiers or weavers, for example, aimed at specific tradespeople. Ye olde chappies were cheap and widely distributed and are credited with spreading literacy throughout Great Britain. Modern poetry readers can read many of those original chapbooks, thanks to Samuel Pepys, who avidly collected the ephemeral publications all the while he was writing his monumental diary of Restoration England. Still, many others are lost to us by the very nature of their ephemerality – 16th-century references cite the use of these pamphlets as ‚bum fodder,‛ ahem, toilet paper. (Think of that, poet-readers, the next time you get a rejection from an editor; it could be worse.) But it wasn’t until the 19th Century that the word ‚chapbook‛ entered the English language. Bibliophiles eager to distinguish them from other kinds of pamphlets, tracts and printed disposable materials came up with the term, derived from chapmen, a variety of peddler who distributed them along with other wares. Chapbook has since become a catch-all term for ‚an inexpensively-produced thin booklet‛ that ‚can be anything from religious tracts to nursery rhymes. Some chapbooks may contain political prose, while others hold poetry,‛ so says wisegeek.com. This source claims 32 pages is ‚the maximum of most chapbooks.‛ My search of submissions criteria for chapbook competitions and a riffle through my poetry bookshelves proved wisegeek.com correct. No wonder the chapbook remains a highly popular form of publication, even in this technological era. It proved to be the right vehicle for Jessie Carty’s The Wait of Atom. Today’s chapbooks aren’t halfpenny-cheap, but they are affordable. Chapbook editor Patricia Schwartz, who edited Michael Rhynes’ Guerillas in the Mist, and Other Poems (reviewed in the November 2009 issue of TCE), says she chose the chapbook because ‚this format was what we could afford with Olive Trees, our small grass-roots publishing effort, and also because the poet, Michael Rhynes, had a collection of short poems that all hung together thematically and stylistically. His manuscript made a perfect 42-page book which we could sell for only $5.00.‛ Chapbooks also don’t strain our time-budget. Leah Maines, editor and publisher at Finishing Line Press, one of the largest chapbook publishers in the United States, explained to me in a recent email why chapbooks are so popular among poets and readers: ‚I think the chapbook is popular because it is very inviting. The reader can enjoy a sample of the poet’s work in this smaller format. Chapbooks are a great way for lovers of poetry to explore what’s going on in the poetry scene without committing the time needed to digest a full-length collection.‛ And sometimes, chapbooks just happen, much as they did in their early 16 th-century heyday. Such was the case with poet Beau Cutts, whose chapbook, Night Is a Rare Place And Other Poems, I reviewed in my first ‚Tao of Poetry‛ column (August 2009). Cutts claims, ‚The idea of 'chapbook' was not part of my publishing strategy. My book of poetry is considered a 'chapbook' by some people, while others, including me, have not used the word in association with the book. Why should I? I'd guess fewer than 20 percent of the purchasers of my book knew the difference between a 'chapbook of poems' and a 'book of poems.' If I had promoted my collection of poems as a 'chapbook,' I would have been obliged to explain what 'chapbook' means. Some potential buyers would have had questions about 'chapbook' and how it differs from a regular book of poems, etc. These potential side-issues would have eaten away at those precious first moments of trying to close a sale.‛ His non-strategic strategy worked; Rare Place is now in its 4th edition and won a first-place, statewide competition in Georgia. Print readers can find more information at these URLs: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-chapbook.htm http://issuu.com/centrifugaleye/docs/tcenov09-stereotypes http://issuu.com/centrifugaleye/docs/tceaug09-unbidden
~ 75 ~
On “Conductive wings” So, with Atom, here’s a chapbook that evoked for me the genre’s rich and long history, yet is utterly post-modern, wrestling as it does with ‚depression, desperation, dysfunction, and the sense of impotence against the oppression of time, nature, society and inescapable ignorance,‛ to borrow poet and contributor Scott Owens’ words, the TCE reader who recommended Atom be reviewed. I might add that there’s a bitter aftertaste in a few of the poems, which makes it apropos to this issue’s theme. Carty’s device for exploring the Sisyphean human endeavor — with love at its center — is the Periodic Table. We humans are, after all, a package of chemical compounds comprised of elements. What began with ‚Oxygen is Obvious,‛ she’d hoped would turn into ‚a poem for each element on the Periodic Table, and she wrote ‚100 or so poems‛ using the Table’s elements as touchstones. As noted above, a complete set of Periodic Table poems didn’t pan out, but there are plenty enough in Atom to make the device a cohesive umbrella in which to experiment with the chemistry of love. In this case, love as expressed between Carty’s illustrative characters, Atom and Zoe. Some poems adhere tightly to their ruling element as in ‚Atom’s Definition of Copper.‛ Spoken in Atom’s voice, the poem follows a dictionary’s format, moving in its three stanzas from ‚Noun,‛ to ‚Verb‛ to ‚Adj.‛ But the surprise comes in the departure from a straightforward dictionary entry in Atom’s third noun definition where he says: I’d like to shape a butterfly of copper. Maybe a string of butterflies made from copper wiring. Conductive wings.
The ‚malleable metallic‛ Cu is transformed and we look at the copper bottoms of our cooking pots in a whole new way. Atom, striving to rise above the human condition, tries his hand at art. Alas, there is no escaping the destiny of our mortal electrons, especially in love, as Carty makes clear in ‚Covalent Bonds,‛ a poem inspired by chromium (element 24, Cr). It’s Atom’s and Zoe’s wedding night. Set in two columns, which can be read both down and across, mimicking the couple’s togetherness-but-ultimate-individuality, the poem ends: It’s what Chromium does
Hung with red curtains
When it shares
Pairs of electrons
Separated into panes
~ 76 ~ Nitrogen is another symbol (element 7, N) of bitterness in ‚House Hunting.‛ While shopping for real estate, the couple’s incompatibility comes to the fore; he’s a country boy, she’s a city girl. He wants a place with ‚‛nitrogen rich soil’‛ but she wants ‚to live in the city. / I’ve had enough of this so called clean air.‛ She kept her ‚head down‛ and admits: ‚Here my clothes can’t / hide that I don’t fit.‛ But Zoe doesn’t speak up; Atom ‚goes with the real estate / agent to inspect the barn.‛ Like separate panes, there’s no way to get from A as in Atom to Z as in Zoe. This is not to say that the poems are uniformly burdened with bitterness and failure. Carty leavens the chapbook with humorous flairs. I’m particularly taken by a pair of poems, ‚How We Met: Her Version‛ and ‚How We Met: His Version.‛ What fun to compare and contrast this scene. ‚Her Version‛ is thick with the chemistry of sexual attraction. She eyes him in a bookstore while picking up a romance novel. She selects a book by the same author and observes at the poem’s end: ‚He turned up in front of me / in line and I asked him if I could buy him a / coffee.‛ Twelve pages and 9 poems later — and I admire Carty’s strategy of separating the 2 versions just as the couple is ultimately 2 separate entities — we read this opening line in ‚His Version:‛ ‚She thinks we met in the romance aisle / of the bookstore.‛ Ha! Atom’s eyeballing of her doesn’t have the sizzle her version depicted. Instead, his modus operandi is analytical — he deals in facts: ‚Her dress was light blue.‛ In his step-by-step review of her movements at the bookstore, he charges her with deception: The fact that she didn’t know where the aisle was made me think she was buying a cover-up for her comic book, like when you pick up a container of milk whenever you are buying condoms.
You have to smile at this kind of he-said/she-said, eyewitness report. A quick smile . . . and then you’re back in the swirl of bitterness as you realize this is a sad beginning for love. That the future of this relationship is doubtful is subtly underscored: ‚Her Version‛ is not linked to an element, but features the little Atom graphic, while ‚His Version‛ features the more typical element identifier, in this case gold (70, Au). The sexes are not only separate but also unequal.
With “thin stainless steel strips, gloves” Art is another theme woven into this slim volume. Humans, in striving to rise above our chemical destiny, make art. Here, it’s Atom who rules in the realm of art in four poems, including another pleasing pair, ‚Arts & Crafts‛ and Arts & Crafts 2.‛ We’ve already seen that Atom dreams of crafting copper butterflies in ‚Atom’s Definition of Copper.‛ He also toys with tin (element 50, Sn) in ‚Arts & Crafts,‛ a poem that contains the best lines in the book. Here we join a younger Atom in his school’s woodshop class.
Atom, however, was drawn to a stack of tin sheets. Each was a square. The teacher taught Atom how to make divots in the tin without breaking through. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
His first project reminded him of a nine block quilt his mother had kept in a doll cradle she’d had from girlhood. He tried to turn each square of his creation into one of the quilt blocks he remembered. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
He might have called it “Your Quilt” if he could have shown it to his mother.
I think of that teenage boy fumbling with his tin scraps and pieces of wood to frame them. I think of his effort through his emerging artistic endeavors to assuage the loss of a mother who will never see the artwork her own handiwork inspired. Sigh. Atom is a word artist, too. Under the pseudonym AT Meadows, he writes romance novels! The very ones that Zoe browsed in ‚How We Met: Her Version.‛ And one of which she purchased, ‚entitled The Love that Ended Twice,‛ which may foreshadow the fledgling couple’s fate. We are treated to a sample of Atom’s/AT’s literary efforts in ‚First Draft: Working Title: The Plantation Owner’s Daughter,‛ a prose poem featuring radon (86, Rn), depicting a classically clichéd page from this novel-in-progress, complete with dying heroine. We read through the lines and are forced to imagine Atom’s reallife romance with Zoe and what a far cry it is from the fictional couple’s passionate love. Trevor handed her tissues but he never used them himself. He let his tears flow across his tanned cheeks. He was unashamed of his grief. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
He’d stand there and breathe deeply, hoping to suck in enough of that bad air so that he’d start dying.
By juxtaposing the real with the fictional, Carty subtly, skillfully generates full-throated bitterness in this reader’s mouth.
“Atom” by Megan Graustein, 2009
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~ 78 ~ Unfortunately, as much as I admire Carty’s marriage of science and poetics, as involved as I become as voyeur in this post-modern romance, I’m also a bit peeved. A bit. I repeatedly tsk-tsked as I encountered evidence of my pet poetic peeve: weak line endings. Scan the lines I’ve quoted above, you’ll see what I mean. Carty has a penchant for ending lines with insipid indefinite articles and prepositions. And those lines lurch when they should be leading the emotionally-engaged reader to the next line and the next in this compelling human drama. My hope is that this limitededition ‚lytle book‛ will see a 2 nd (or 3rd!) edition in which Carty is able to recast the lines for greater impact and fluidity. A minor flaw, but it recurs. Often.
Not another “bit of grungy / shine” A pleasing aspect of The Wait of Atom is its design, which harkens back to early chapbooks. Designer J. S. Graustein has crafted a physical artifact that is a pleasure to hold, a lovely foil to Carty’s post-modern romance. The stitched, linen-textured pages are wrapped in a glossy cover stock, which in turn is tucked into dramatic, black, matte cover stock that is lined with an antique, muted-green floral paper. Gold calligraphy graces that black cover, and each poem title within is calligraphic. A final handsome touch is artist Megan Graustein’s Atom character, who appears framed atop the opening and closing poems. Reminiscent of GE’s 1950s Reddy Kilowatt, Atom is an atomic-age, visual grace note complete with a tiny nuclear insignia on his chest where his heart should be. On the remaining poem pages, the reader finds the poem’s element as it appears on the Periodic Table, complete with its assigned number, symbol and name: 74 W tungsten. The Wait of Atom is a worthwhile poetic experience, a short trip you can make in one sitting, a chapbook as brief diversion, a romp with the chaos of the human condition, a lesson to poets of how beautifully science can abet literary art. Carty has earned her niche in chapbook history.
Column Editor’s Note: What’s your story behind a poetry book that you’ve read and desire others to read? What path led you to that book? Tell me. Just complete our online Reader Survey. From your stories I’ll select the books and I’ll review them for all our readers in future issues of The Centrifugal Eye. Give me something new to rave about! (http://home.earthlink.net/~tinyviolet/thecentrifugaleyepoetryjournal/id366.html)
As 2009 Everglades National Park Artist-in-Residence, Karla Linn Merrifield has had poetry appear in dozens of publications as well as in many anthologies. She has 6 books to her credit, including her most recent, The Urn, and Godwit: Poems of Canada, which received the 2009 Andrew Eiseman Writers Award for Poetry. She was poetry editor of Sea Stories, and is book reviewer and assistant editor for The Centrifugal Eye. She recently worked on a project with poet William Heyen, photo-illustrating his essay, ‚The Green Bookcase,‛ published by Janus Head. Karla Linn also teaches at Writers & Books, Rochester, NY. Blog (http://karlalinn.blogspot.com)
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The Centrifugal Eye’s Coffee Grounds / Crumbs & Tidbits
The Centrifugal Eye has been around for nearly 6 years and much of the work published during that time is still available in our online archives, or is currently being collected into an anthology. During the past 2 years, all but one of the issues has also been made available as a print-on-demand edition through Lulu.com. If you’d like to peruse our archives or pick up print copies, please visit these sites: Archives http://home.earthlink.net/~centrifugaleye/index.html
Centrifuge/Special Projects http://home.earthlink.net/~centrifuge/
Esther Greenleaf Murer’s new book, Unglobed Fruit, from lulu.com, is now available on Lulu and at Amazon.com. Karla Linn Merrifield’s chapbook, The Urn, from Finishing Line Press is now available from her, the publisher and at Amazon.com. Later this year, Finishing Line will also be publishing her collection of Antarctica poems, The Ice Decides. Scott Owens will see his new book, The Fractured Word, from Main Street Rag Press, out in August.
Jared Carter’s fifth book of poems, A Dance in the Street, will be issued next fall by Wind Publications. You can check it out at his blog, Rushing the Growler. http://www.the-growler.com/?page_id=135
Submissions If you are a poet, or artist, and you may be a match for guidelines page on
essayist, reviewer think that your work us, please visit our TCE’s website.
Submission Guidelines http://home.earthlink.net/~tinyviolet/thecentrifugaleyep oetryjournal/id5.html
Edward Nudelman’s first full-length collection, What Looks Like an Elephant, is available from Lummox Press. http://www.lummoxpress.com/lummoxpress/elephant.htm
Laury Egan’s Beneath the Lion’s Paw is now available via her website. http://www.lauryaegan.com/poetry_fiction2.htm
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“Woman’s Lib” by Mike Morell, 2011