The Centrifugal Eye Apr il/M ay 20 12
Vol um e7 Iss ue 1
J Is for Jabberwocky A Glossarium of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Allegory, Myth & Legend in Poetic Form
The Centrifugal Eye Staff: Editor-in-Chief & Art Director: Eve Anthony Hanninen Contacts Editor & Review Columnist: Karla Linn Merrifield Assistant Editors: David-Glen Smith & Maureen Kingston Essay Columnist: Erik Richardson Editorial Assistant & Reviewer: D. J. Bryant Art Assistants: D. J. Bryant & Stephanie Curtis Staff Readersâ€™ Circle: Anonymous Reviewers
Cover Art: Fritzi
Rachael Z. Ikins is a freelance artist and poet who lives in Central New York. View examples of her nature designs at http://www.rachaelikins.com/artwork.htm. You can read one of her poems and her bionote on page 70.
Copyright 2012 The Centrifugal Eye * Collected Works *
Contents 06 Editorial
The Fictions of Science in Poetry
Eve Anthony Hanninen
08 Featured Interview
A Visit to Inner Space with Teacher Man: Bryan Owens
Science Fiction Poetry 26 27 28 30 32 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 44 45
Fable by Mark Blaeuer Yeats and the Ghost Machine & Computers Go Crazy by William Doreski Tryst on a Torus, Rover Finds a Graviton & Photo of Ms. Charlotte Camelopardalis Sporting the Magnificent Ring Nebula by Martin Elster In Memory of Me by Richard Fein addison street, 19148 by Lynn Hoffman electronic angels by Erik Richardson World-Saving Poem & Return of the Zed-A by Esther Greenleaf M端rer Space Unconsciousness 1 by Walter Ruhlmann Sonnet of the Big Bang by Mark J. Mitchell Sirena by Sharon Voytac Knowing (1958) & Horoscope for Sam Spade by Robert E. Wood
46 Fantasy 48 51 52 53 54 55 56
Dapplegänger by Seth Braver Vespers by Mark J. Mitchell The Goodbye Garden by David Luntz The History of Invention by Maurice Oliver Well-Defensed by Amelia L. Williams The Rhubarb Tree & Gollywobbler, Futtock, Fother and Fandangle* by David L. O’Neal
58 Mythology 60 61 62 63 64
What Would G Be for Then? by Walter Ruhlmann No Longer the Live-In at Whispering Pines by Barbara Young Garden Gnomes & The Bear by Ron Yazinski Baba Yaga’s Yard Sale by Noel Sloboda
66 Allegory 68 69 70 71
The Apple of Her Eye by Gail Eisenhart The Witch of Hardscrabble Hill by Kitty Jospé Black Bear in Cave beneath New Moon: Midnight by Rachael Z. Ikins Symphony in Earth Flat & Collected by Mark Blaeuer
Into the Labyrinth Psychology and the Unique Role of Science Fiction Poetry By Erik Richardson
Merrifield’s Tao of Poetry Meyerhofer’s Pure Elysium By Karla Linn Merrifield
News & Guides for Internet Exploration
The Fictions of Science in Poetry
By Eve Anthony Hanninen
A few years ago, a trend emerged where mythological creatures and other gothic horrors ruled the roosts of the major publishing houses. Besides the obvious characters from this period, e.g., Harry Potter (and friends), plus Bella, Edward, and Jacob, there were also zombies galore and a legion of vampire or shapeshifter types, such as Charlaine Harris’ True Blood incarnations. And then there were the creepy denizens of 2 of Adam-Troy Castro’s books, illustrated by Johnny Atomic: Z is for Zombie and V is for Vampire. Having personally loved science fiction and fantasy ever since childhood (especially stories involving space and time travel or magic objects), when V is for Vampire was announced for print debut, I got to wondering how an alphabetically inspired series based around real “SF&F” ideas, instead, would be received by readers. From there, as The Centrifugal Eye’s editor, I decided to see how such a theme could be applied to poetry. And could it? The call for submissions was then posted as an upcoming theme on our website, and here we are 2 years later — when fantasy-based The Game of Thrones and post-apocalyptic The Hunger Games are both hot media commodities with roots deep in SF&F’s classic, literary themes — coincidentally doing our best to convince the literary world that science and fantasy, as well as the more-widely accepted genres of mythology and allegory, have a legitimate place in poetry, too. A is for Andromeda, B is for Boson . . . J is for Jabberwocky . . . X is for Xenophile, Z is for Zodiacal Light! Did TCE’s contributors pull this off? Maybe not in a parody of V is for Vampire, but in the forms of abecedarians and odes, sonnets and pantoums, prose poems and vers libre. This is not to say that asking poets for science in their poems wasn’t a challenge; the preponderance of submissions received, both those returned and even some accepted, were more heavily laden with aspects of mysticism, mythological references, and gothic figures of literary legend than with either science fact or science fiction. The results of this thematic experiment has yielded for me some newly-formed opinions about the general mindset of today’s poets — mainly that poets remain romantics overall, that many don’t seem to understand the basic concepts nor factual/futuristic principles behind writing SF, and instead hold to, possibly prefer, the classic equation that states mythology is the same as modern fantasy. Perhaps that is where fantasy was once rooted, but I think it has grown beyond historical imagination to probe and engulf the boundaries of other genres. Of course, I’m not saying that poets can’t and don’t write science fiction poetry. Some can and do. Which you’ll have the pleasure of discovering for yourself in our J is for Jabberwocky issue. It just surprised me a little to find that while poets seem keen to try to write in the SF&F genre, they don’t always quite “get it.” I’m also confident that most of these same poets would be completely capable of writing better SF&F poems if they read more SF. But are they interested? This question is touched upon, perhaps answered partly, in both Erik Richardson’s essay column and parts of Bryan Owens’ Featured sections.
“Catedral del Cielo” by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
With this collective effort, my hope is that these and other poets, as they look to the future along their writing paths, will attempt to speculate the “what-ifs” more often, and that these fantastical notions will find their way into their poems. Too often, it seems, poetry anchors to the past: Here’s what happened to me, to you, to it, to them; and here’s a cool way to look at it, again. Ironically, writing such poems in present tense typically makes them more immediate, hence alive and attractive. (I like this fashion of poetry, too, poets, so keep sending such poems to me.) But what I’m also saying here is that readers might be missing out on some incredible and imaginative poetry if poets are always looking backwards instead of sometimes looking ahead and to the stars. Well, aren’t the past, present and future all tied together? You ask. Yes. Yes, I believe they are — space-time continuum, all that — in their varying transitions. Something our Jabberwocky knows a lot about. Would you like to learn more about science fiction and fantasy in poetry? Hang on for the ride ahead and you will — and you won’t even need a spacesuit!
Eve Anthony Hanninen is an American poet, editor, and illustrator recently relocated to the Saskatchewan prairies. Her poems have appeared in Switched-on Gutenberg, Sea Stories, Magnolia: A Florida Journal of Literary and Fine Arts, Long Story Short (plus 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. Several recent works are due out in Eye Socket Journal in the fall of 2012. Eve edits and publishes The Centrifugal Eye poetry journal and is currently at work on a TCE anthology, as well as 2 poetry collections of her own.
Featured Poet Interview: Bryan Owens Eve Anthony Hanninen, TCE’s Editor-in-chief, takes a cosmic spin with Bryan Owens, sometimes known as Teacher Man.
“Planet Stories Cameo” by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
The Centrifugal Eye’s
reasoning has swayed you to their plane of illumination; the face becomes a confused mix of vindication and “what the f— ?” Their feeling of being right attempting to overcome the knowledge that they are being made fun of. I think any serious poet would say, Bring it!
Says Owens: My first year of teaching, I taught at a school with low socio-economic status, [and some of] the kids were more of the "thug" persuasion. Several of them expressed no interest in learning my name, and so they addressed me as "Miss," because the rest of their teachers were women and that's just what they were used to. So, one day I told them if they had no interest in learning my name, maybe they could at least call me Teacher Man or something. It never took root with them, but it eventually became my email address.
Hanninen: All right! Let’s bring it! In what ways do Science Fiction or Fantasy come into play with your writing life? Owens: Late in the school year when I’m feeling particularly masochistic, and my seniors consider daily bringing guns to school just to end it all, I attempt to lead a discussion by introducing existentialism. Some people might think the presiding fear in the world of teaching would be the daily potentiality of another Columbine, but it’s not. It’s a class full of students staring at you, eyes heavy-lidded, willing you with their minds to come to terms with the fact that you are not only mentally inferior, but also boring, so please put a movie on now. So when I introduce existentialism, this, my greatest fear, is realized.
Hanninen: Okay, Bryan, strap into your lingopod and let’s get this odyssey started. There are those who say that Science Fiction & Fantasy, as a genre, can’t be crossed successfully with other genres — in particular, with poetry. What would you say to this notion? Owens: I would tell these people they are absolutely right. I like the faces people make while giving an opinionated, instigative statement, expecting a healthy dispute, and you tell them they are exactly right and that their
Until I tell them that one of the best examples of an existentialist who mocks society’s obsession with categorized systems is Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight, to which the collective bad attitude of the class dissipates, and boys and girls alike participate in a shared moan have a collection of what several that verges on orgasmic. When this happens, and theLockie: studentsI suddenly care about you’re bottles, one So, I saying, you’ve got to deal with it in a delicate way . . . hundred it is whatminiature we call A perfume Teachable Moment! or twoand of Iwhich I tryWhy to sniff pick a student, most often the male student I like the least, ask him, is it, every youngday, man, just for the nostalgic experience. I keep that when I mention Heath Ledger’s Joker, you all but drop a load in your pants? And everyone laughs at him, and taxpayers’ dollars have directly funded public embarrassment of an themthe in the living room in antique-oak overconfident misogynist-in-the-making teen who thinks he knows You’re printer trays. everything. Many are very oldwelcome. But all the students get it — why the late Ledger’s portrayal of one of the most fragrances, no longer made, as thrilling I began homicidal maniacs is without question one of the bestcollecting villains ever they can only as written, a child, even and Iifalso articulate by saying he’s awesome or a total bad-ass. inherited an aunt's collection that was It’s the same reason these students fell in love with Brando’s Stanley Kowalski, from A started in 1906. My favorite vintage Streetcar Named Desire, earlier in the year, because of the raw animalistic way these characters scent is Blue Waltz, which came in little are holistically unimpeded by social niceties— because they exhibit an authenticity most of us are heart-shaped bottles with caps. incapable of producing because of our need to be well-liked. Our egos lead us blue into falseness, and Any money I came by was saved for many of our personae have been assembled by the stories we tell ourselves, our amateur fictions these, which I bought atcruel the dime designed to gain a collective sympathy that we’re good people at odds with a world,store and we for 19 cents. I still have several and know we’re impressive, but we try to maintain an honest temperament and a selfless humility, bless our hearts, and the whole endeavor is exhausting. We envy the freedom thebefore Jokerbed. and often put a dab on a wrist Stanley exercise in being real, not having to change their behavior depending on social Bellehumeur-Allatt: Once, during a circumstances, no stories needed to invent a sense ofworship a valuable self; in they are theI story. They meeting Toronto, smelled a may not be the moral examples to which we aspire, but they are unwaveringly true, and we are jealous heady perfume of musk and oriental of this. spices. It was a heavy scent, like an This has become one of the most essential functions of fiction, namely fantasy, to call us essential oil; neither male nor female; out on our bullshit, or more appropriately, to show us how stifled we become in attempting to lead a intoxicating in itswritten depth;so the perfume socially acceptable “normal life.” The most vital fantasies, the pieces close as to of scrape royalty. I was in aMuch large to auditorium, the bottom of our own psyches, are not mere indulgences in escapism. the contrary, they sitting theinright aisle. I studied push us closer to our own inner lives. And when I write with near fantasy mind, I embed it in the people either side of me, and thosetrue. verisimilitude so that whatever I’m writing hopefully circles back toonsomething essential in the seats in front and behind. My Hanninen: A common truism of writing instructors states that the most believable fiction, and ergo husband stared ahead. He could not fantasy, is steeped in actuality. Great poetry follows this practice somewhat in reverse — smell anything. The scent faded andin a layered fashion — perhaps inspired by true events, but made artisticagain with the freedoms of fiction, then returned a few moments which in turn embellishes a core of truth. later, stronger than before. I turned to look at the people walking by, but the Are your poems — especially the fantasy-based or disturbing ones — ever the slightest bit scent lingered, all around me, before it autobiographical? lifted. Everything in me strained after scent. I needed to know poetry where and it Owens: I think that is a great way of articulating one the of the subtler bonds between came from.from I asked my husbandorabout fiction. I am still a young poet, so much of my material is mined autobiographical deeply it, but he shrugged, still couldn’t smell personal experience, though I try to resist an overly-confessional style, because I’m less concerned with being noticed and understood as an individual, more what anything. and Later on, interested at lunch, I instarted Emerson called the “infinitude of the private man.” to tell my friend Celia about it. “A In “Modern Vampire Anti-Ode,” the idea for thefragrance,” poem stems from “a mykind thought that Stephenie I said, of heady Meyer’s Twilight vampire has single-handedly damaged what I feel is our most vital icon of evil. perfume . . .” “Like anointing oil,” she The most distinctive characteristic of the classic vampire is that he must first be invited in before said, jumping in. “A royal scent, spicy . he can enter your home. This ingenious detail applies to no other monster, and what resonates is . .” I stared. She had been sitting on that the evil the vampire stands for is the kind to which we succumb by our own free will, from our the otherforside of but the that’s conference room. the own lusts. Most monsters are there to challenge our capacity good, what makes
vampire so sexy: he liberates us to willing indulgence. Meyer is a writer with deliciously entertaining ideas (e.g., a vampire baby eating its human mother from the inside!), but what she did
with these ideas made her seem largely incapable of handling them well; she inadvertently turned the vampire into a teenie-bopper’s wet dream. Most mature, rational adults can’t stand the Twilight series because the vampire she created reflects the inherent good we all hope resides within us, and thus has made him an unremarkably glamorized projection of ourselves. We still indulge when a new vampire movie or show or novel comes out, but mostly out of guilty pleasure, because all the new vampires are so damned attractive; Meyer has unraveled one of the most vital contributions of evil given to us from Anne Rice, Bram Stoker, and Dr. John Polidori, the father of “The Vampyre” (1819). It will take a real master to revive the vampire in a serious way again, and I eagerly await that arrival. I’ve also been intrigued by the platitude that people have to learn things the hard way; for instance, we have to practically lose everything or nearly die before we see what life is about, despite all the literature and testimonial experience and accumulated wisdom that points to why we are here. That’s where the idea for my poem, “Unearth the Life-Altering Wisdom: The Clinical Death Procedure,” came from. I think we learn the most about ourselves from the relationships we keep and lose. The last woman I was with communicated to me, in so many words, that I was damaged; her reasoning for why our relationship didn’t work. I think she nursed a lopsided point-of-view; we’re all damaged, and that’s the point. But like any masochistic writer, I took it, absorbed it, and ran with it to confront the possibility that I may in fact be too damaged to give and receive love, at which point Bukowski showed up unexpectedly and told me I’ve been making life too difficult and taking myself too seriously in his ever-crude Bukowskiesque way. Hanninen: Other people can expand our points of view. Positively, negatively. They seem especially good at it when we stretch all the boundaries and are reminded of our limitations, including mortality. In “Unearth the Life-Altering Wisdom:” you borrow from personal life experiences while giving the poem a bit of a futuristic spin. Was that easy for you to manage? Did you have a process for melding a familiar past/present with the unfamiliar future/ fantasy? Owens: Well, I wrote that poem specifically for this issue of TCE. I wrote through all the messy unusable fodder of a relationship recently ended, then shaped up the language hoping to disguise what was essentially egotistical lamenting to pass it off as poetry, which I knew it wasn’t really; plus, it had no fantasy spin on it yet. With the help of some readers whom I trust with my work (including you, Eve), I built up the courage to scrap the lines that weren’t helping the poem be what it wanted to be. Through composing this poem and attempting to put a fantastical spin on it, I realized something about the unifying nature of fantasy. In our own mundane lives, we have tailored our interests, desires, routines, etc., to make ourselves feel specialized and unique. But when we look at the fantasies we keep as human beings, we generally all want the same things when it comes to escaping the ordinary, such as recovering our lost innocence, vanquishing evil, living for something greater than ourselves. This is why stories like Peter Pan and Harry Potter become such widespread phenomena; they speak to something undeniably central and human — in fact, it goes back to Carl
Jung’s understanding of archetypes and the collective unconscious. When I let go of my petty need to reflect my own personal truths, the poem became something I hadn’t planned on. It’s through this process, hopefully, that a poem becomes something more. And so far, three-and-a-half people (that I know of) actually like the poem, so that’s good. Hanninen: By allowing in (speculative) possibilities, and not just what is or was, a poem has more opportunity to reach artistic elevation. When writing specific genres — for example, fantasy, science fiction, or mythology — do you experience a shift in perspective while striving to achieve a particular tone? Owens: I’d say, frustratingly enough, I do not experience much shift in perspective. There is still a deeply ingrained sense of insecurity that stands at the edge of my imaginative self like a child at the edge of a pool, the water so flawlessly clear he can’t be sure if the pool is even filled or if it is just an empty hole in the ground that promises to catch him, but will break his neck if he actually takes the leap. Did you get lost in that metaphor? I sure as hell did. But what I mean to say is that, in my writing, when I try to depart from the rational set of rules that govern us, there’s this really boring part of me that urges me to Play it safe, man. No need to color outside those lines — it’s scary out there. It’s from prying the fingers of this boring person off my wrists that my writing can act as a vehicle to transport me to different planes of possibility and human sympathy. Writing is evolutionary. Hanninen: Sounds like you sometimes have a resistant doppelgänger slowing down the ride. You fight him off, fly up into space . . . what keeps you trying to evolve as a writer and poet? Owens: Just like all of us, I enjoy discussing the purpose of art, why we contribute even though everything’s been done, done again, set to wired explosives and done yet again. With so many ingenious writers, musicians, painters, dancers, actors . . . it makes it difficult to be impressive at anything. But writing is more a way of continually calling myself out, to face my deepest fears, to illuminate the mundane and elevate it to the level of my ego, which constantly convinces me of how important my life is. Hanninen: Well, isn’t it important? To you? To others? Owens: It’s one of the most important things we do. My students were off-task in class the other day, and they were talking about which subjects in school are the most relevant and vital to a real education (I know, the audacity— that their irreverence parallels our own at that age!). And they all came to a consensus that you don’t really need literature to exist in the world. And they all looked at me, most likely waiting for me to have an aneurysm. I did not. I nodded my head, told them, “You’re right, you don’t need literature to make it through life.” I paused for dramatic effect. “But I don’t merely want to exist; literature and art give meaning to the mundane necessities of
solely existing. They make life worth living, connect us all to each other while we’re here.” Blam! Teachable Moment! Then they changed the subject to imitate some funny YouTube video. I think most of us do ridiculous things as a means of being noticed, to feel special, to set ourselves at higher planes than others, because we’re afraid of disappearing, and we want people to speak highly of us when we’re gone. Many artists fall victim to this and perform with this disposition of Hey, look what I can do. But when I go to a concert, a reading, a play, and can sense the inarticulate articulated honestly and soulfully, it makes me want to contribute. I don’t do it to impress others, but mostly because I’d only feel like half a person if I didn’t. Hanninen: Ah, yes, the artistic legacy — for some it’s the goal, and for others an unself-conscious by-product of creative immersion. Not that I think you’re The Invisible Man, or anything like that, but I hope to see what sort of tricks you pull from your literary sleeve over the next several decades before you disappear. Do you see teaching in your future, too, Teacher Man? Owens: I know that I will always be a teacher no matter what stage of life I am in. Teaching is an art much like poetry, and attempting to master both will ensure that I never grow stagnant, nor will I ever feel as though I have arrived at some imaginary level of “knowing everything.” Teaching is nearly impossible to do well, especially given the current state of the public school system. I enjoy the challenge. I have taught Advanced Placement senior English in public school for 5 years. I’m resigning next year to pursue my MFA in poetry — it became necessary for me to ensure that no one has the chance to take me seriously as a human being. Hanninen: I knew you were an Alien! That otherworldly sense of humor and all . . . Owens: Hah! Well, as a teacher, I have received too much credit and admiration from acquaintances, people assuming I’m selflessly shaping the future and all that. I had to change this. Now when I tell people what I do, that I am a “poet,” they answer with a perfunctory hmm, as I nod my head awkwardly and pretend I can feel their judgment disintegrating the floor beneath me so that the sensation of my sinking gives us both the illusion that I am in fact getting smaller. Hanninen: Tell us more about this pretending business — a love for indulging fantasy? Or is this part of a darker galaxy in which you believe you’re some sort of literary imposter? Owens: Wow, Eve, what an insightfully discomfiting question. In some ways, I do feel like an imposter, aware of all my shortcomings, inconsistencies, and immaturities as a writer. Spending time amongst the intelligentsia that is the literary community can make anyone feel intellectually inferior, which merely perpetuates it as just another community of people who are trying too hard to fit in. But within any cliqueishly exclusive population, there are good, honest, down-to-earth people who care more
about the art than what it can do for them. These precious few remind me that I have just as much right to write as anyone else. Hanninen: Yes, you do. And I’ve always wondered what a space colony populated only by poets would be like. Hey, say you’ve agreed to join a colonist settlement on one of Saturn’s rings and you can invite 2 colleagues — would either be an artist or poet/writer? Owens: Hell no, I would not invite another poet with me. The greatest threat to any poet is the existence of another poet. How can my poetry be the most impressive on that particular ring of Saturn if there is some other person there writing poems like a jerk? No, actually, the two people I would choose would inadvertently be the creative types I’ve been alluding to in this interview. One colleague I would bring with me would be my teacher-friend Lena, whose conversation offers me enough humor and wisdom to fill several volumes of poetry. The other “colleague” I would invite would be my twin brother, who is an artist who specializes in 3D drawing and animation. He and I are beginning to create short-animated films in which I compose the story, and he conveys it through character design and animated storytelling. So, we are technically venturing in colleague-hood together. Good thing, too; I wouldn’t be able to go to Saturn without my brother. Hanninen: You really do have a sort of doppelgänger! Except this one’s not slowing you down; he’s helping mutual dreams come true. I hope you both make it to Saturn. But when you’re not colonizing planets and animated films, what’s your favorite pastime? Owens: I’m a karaoke enthusiast. I do most of my rehearsing in my car, complete with hand gestures and air instruments, including but not limited to guitar, bass, drums, and tambourine. The greatest challenge is maintaining the integrity of the performance when I pull up to stoplights, especially driving in the south, because everyone looks into each other’s cars at intersections. Hanninen: Trying to catch nosepickers, but instead there’s a one-man band! No surprise, really. I’ll tell you, Bryan, it’s your ability to handle so many things well at once — with humor and grace — that won you the coveted TCE feature project for the Jabberwocky issue. Another star you inadvertently reached is called TCE’s Youngest Featured Poet. Congratulations! I believe 38 was the previous youngest in the past 7 years of our publication. But, wow, you’re 28! That’s nothing to dismiss lightly; TCE’s editorial tastes tend to favor mature writers. That is to say, we dig your mature writing skills. Anything you’d like to say to readers before blasting off to the next part of your feature? Owens: Thank you for reading.
14 “Along the Starry Way” by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
In Light of Monsters By Bryan Owens
Yet again, that string of lights lowered into your throat—each yellow bulb tripping the inflamed rim of your esophagus. And the inexact starry way reflected lights slide down your eyes, comets becoming nothing. You have been given a role and this is what it looks like: where your heart horns like David Bowie shoulder pads these lights illumine a scabby muscle that crooks like a perched Vulture. Cushion your chin against the silty embankment, watch the humans swim — underwater, everyone frays like ribbon, limbs swim like tadpoles around the body and they don’t espy you slipping in with them, starfished against the mossy lake wall, scaly skin rough in the suffocating air — until one of them writes you the way they see you, quintessential emergency in their compulsion to defeat evil. Powerful grisly, the way you were made, compared to other numb, mystically listless versions of dust and breath pulsed into a thumb-like form; no, you were dropkicked into existence, you are Jungian, archetypical always inhabiting some out-of-the-way cave in a beginning you did not agree on heralded from fire, ruptured from a wall of ice, lightning channeled to your table-bed. Grotesque? Please. You wander into one human household lurched and gray at the end of their kitchen, the lower half of your face all porridge and they enchamber you to their bidding; they are valiant confronters of their fears, and you’re supposed to what? Just take it? Scare the living shit out of them so they can display your heart to the wind, sail home proud to horny maidens? Because even if you try to do something about it they’ll only invent a new role for you; already they’ve stifled your violence so you’re quiet as a drunk father, alone and blue-lit in his TV den, so when they beat you by becoming good people anyway, it’s just that much more impressive.
Modern Vampire Anti-Ode Owens At what point did we pull our carotid artery from the plum leech of your mouth, pillow your head in our hand and butter your neck with our teeth? How long did it take to pulse our interminable belief in the good of things, filling your lifeless body with so much light the streets of your skin dazzle like alleged Heaven? Everyone reads this poem, from title onward, expecting to be underwhelmed. Because of you. In the dark library of gothic literature, you have become a middle-aged woman’s journal entry, an empty-nester’s anti-depressant. And to top it off, we’ve grown tired of talking about you — you’re a hipster café overrun by teenagers. It once was, when everything virtuous was exhausted and everything humane was snuffed out and gentlemen walked home on mossy black cobblestone and debutantes rubbed toys between their legs remorsefully, and the righteousness as modeled by the glass eye of the church that they thought might reward them with the souvenir of eternity had become tedious and incessant, and they had begun to stir and waken to themselves. Within the thick pooling shadows enclosing the halos of street lamps, where others succumbed to night lusts, there waited Vampyre, Nosferatu, godsend to our own oral sadism, our feet rolling through fog, where he encircled us in a darkness — who made our bones lean forward into his crippling gift, who made us stiff as the cross on Christ’s shoulders; we twitched like an epileptic pet, heart filling with vapor. Somewhere close, a basement’s open window, a harpsichord.
Tonight, when you walked to that part of town where the streets between buildings are cobblestone, the — you know — European-looking alleys that give more meaning to a night walk, and light rain gathered in rose-hued iridescence so each stone shone like an eye in the same direction and by a ruse of the streetlamp seemed to follow your walk, you thought what a great time to be middle-aged if for no other reason than that you were not treated to efficient lessons of the body via iPad app. You remember a nascent curiosity for the macabre you had in 7th grade, and you’ve come to know that cutting out paper skeletons and assembling them at the joints with yellow brads with an unclear sense for the purpose of the lesson is an important rite of passage those middle-school shits lose out on. You remember cutting the lower part of the skull at the jaws to give him the gift of speech, his chin pinched between your finger and thumb as he said your name over and over, and this was not a trope for your fear of disappearing, because you were twelve. You and the group of boys at the back identified the sexes drawing small Os in the approximate location on some of the pelvises, giving others the longest U the paper would allow. This was it— the imagination forming theories on the bus around pages torn from your mother’s Victoria’s Secret catalogues before the clumsy fumbling in the dark and the gratifying Ohhhs that started silent in the brain then became the first installment in the as-yet-unfinished series of awkward animal groans. But today they’ll make millions of YouTube hits on “girl at a gynecologist appt.” on their way to their homework blogs, and later one of them will have to accompany a lover to the doctor after an irregular pap, and he’ll think, as the obstetrician leans forward with the speculum, Oh, I’ve seen this before, and it will be the wrong thought.
Unearth the Life-Altering Wisdom: The Clinical Death Procedure Owens “This is something to do with what we call death. . . .One woman described this to me by saying, ‘In this experience, at this point, you are not the wife of your husband, you are not the mother of your children, you are not the child of your parents. You are totally and completely you.’ I suppose there's not much doubt, or it should be fairly obvious, that when people do return from this experience their lives have been totally transformed.” -Raymond Moody
When you reach no other conclusion than that you’re damaged. The doctor, without looking up from his clipboard, said it will look something like this. The closed window will stay closed, but some patients say it is through that which they leave, when they hear the chart flutter at the end of the bed, the monitor close its jagged mouth. They say the burst and shower of Dimethyltryptamine over the brain at the moment you die makes this life flash before the eyes, some say you are tripping balls, and there may be a person who materializes, to some it’s Christ, to others an angel, a talking pomegranate. And Bukowski’s turning over in his grave by now, more than likely because he’s still getting some, the bloated pearlescent hands roll cigarettes of shredded silk from the coffin’s lining, and with blue-cheese teeth, says Baby, you just ain’t real to me, and this ghost charade has to go. He elevated the effortless pleasure of a hot beer shit, his philosophy on the enlightened and generative state
with which we could live and create art, but you can’t forget what she doesn’t remember saying every time you opened that second bottle, she did but insert the language into the upward split, as through the stem of a wine glass— there is a kingdom, undeniably constructed within, the wind-spiraled ocean will break through, pillar-first you’ll escape like chalk dust billowing off two popping erasers, your head turned away. That you drop your latest award into every conversation makes you amphibian, arms pinned open in the dissection tray; the scalpel, sawed partly through the miniature yellow skeleton, stands upright from your sternum like a post without a scarecrow, and your buddies now are fearless birds removing you in pieces. And miscommunication no longer the culprit, with her crying next to you on the bench, and what a shame, she’s gone commando under her bridesmaid dress. And now you are the one with the harelip getting punched in the mouth. Look up into every eye that has broken like sand beneath your foot; finally you slide to the floor by the sink where your dog licks your tears; you think he loves you, but it’s just that the salt is interesting, and the warm paws on your lap anchor you generously to the floor, and the voice plinks down the spine like spilled change: you can still come back from this, you have to come back.
Hook: A perhaps over-generalized essay that offers no answers, but addresses the essentiality of Peter Pan, writing, and some dry humping By Bryan Owens “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” -Picasso “The public school system educates us out of our creativity.” -Sir Ken Robinson
It is with nostalgia that I vouch for the premise and opening 15 minutes of the movie Hook, starring Robin Williams. As for the rest of the film, it merely provided the ambient soundscape in the upstairs game room where my high school sweetheart and I turned from our movie-watching alibi to indulge in the literally-endless pleasure of the newly discovered dry hump. Yet it is this film I never finished to which I return in consideration of my present topic. For my fellow dry-humpers who’ve yet to see the film, Williams plays an aged Peter Pan who has grown into a legitimately domesticated adult with a prestigious job, two kids, and a mediocre marriage. Having forgotten entirely about his ageless childhood in Neverland, his children then kidnapped by Captain Hook, it is to this forgotten place he must return, rediscover who he was as Pan, and of course, rescue his children and revive his own lost self as hero of the Lost Boys. Now, toss a loop over the two epigraphs above. Pull them down. In this life, we abide by several mantras; the one to examine closely in regards to this issue is: “It’s okay to make mistakes.” From the time our children learn how to walk, we tell them it’s okay to fall, that in picking ourselves up to move forward is how we grow as people. We are telling the truth, and our words are full of the stuff of our hearts. But when these children enter the school system, we tell them yet again, it is okay to make mistakes; until they get their first test back and due to all the mistakes they’ve made, they have failed; from here they quickly learn few adults can be trusted (and they’re right). We consistently reinforce the reality that if the student makes a mistake, he will fail his exam, if he fails enough exams, he will not pass the course he’s taking, if he continues to fail these courses, it will affect his GPA, if his is not in the top 15% of GPAs, he will not get into the university of his choice, if he does not get into the university of his choice, he will be dumb and he will not get the job he wants, if he does not get the job he wants, he will not find a woman who will want to marry him, if he does not find a woman who wants to marry him, he will end up alone and unsuccessful, and he will have failed at life. So, the lesson he learns from experience rather than from the empty rhetoric of adults: Do not make mistakes. But Agnes de Mille, dancer and choreographer, said this of the artist: “Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. . . . We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.” In her book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard attempts to see the world again as purely as she did when she was a child. She says, “An infant who has just learned to hold his head up has a frank and forthright way of gazing about him in
bewilderment. He hasn’t the faintest clue where he is, and he aims to learn. In a couple of years, what he will have learned instead is how to fake it: he’ll have the cocksure air of a squatter who has come to feel he owns the place. Some unwonted, taught pride diverts us from our original intent.” I teach advanced-placement seniors, so in a way, I teach the kids who reside at the aimed-for pinnacle of public education, and unfortunately, Annie Dillard seems to be right about the vast majority of students who have passed through a dozen years of school. They openly admit to learning enough to get by, only to forget it after the test. We cultivate a toss-away system of knowledge, and we send these kids out into the world, proficient at faking their way through life. But a thought that is just as depressing: their teachers (including myself) were the iconic products of this same system. Now, all you argumentative types, I can hear you. What about correctness, precision, do we just let the kids answer however they want and tell them “great job?” No; don’t be an idiot. Nothing about the way the schools operate, as far as I can tell, is going to change anytime soon. But this is for the writers, and more specifically, the teachers and parents who must model for young people how to recover the creativity they have lost by growing up in the school system. Exactly how to do this falls on the individual craft of the creative adult, but therein lies a near-impossible task: how do you turn the students inward to examine the selves they’ve become and convince them to recover the vital human part that has been lost, especially when the first step in this process is to get them to admit they don’t know everything? I’m not going to pretend to have an answer, but a simple suggestion — not to be confused with an easy one — may suffice; you must first be willing to step your pretty know-it-all-self up to the open window that has been latched for far too long. When you get there you’ll find the sill, made cold by night air, creaks against the weight of your feet like concert seats in an opera house before the drawing curtain. The city where you live is now all sea grass, blue green and stealing light from the stars dragged through the foamy surging surface above. Now step out. Your body is the helpless space in a bone that’s been broken, and neither head nor foot knows which way is up as the world wheels around you. You will fall. Hard. And maybe Nana will be there to lick your face, but don’t count on it. What did you expect? To be automatically lifted as though under water? Yeah, writing is deceptive like that. The first several pieces you attempt to write will fail — they will, in fact, smell a little (or a lot) like garbage. The secret is to climb back up on the sill and step out knowing again you will fall. But to continue the Peter Pan metaphor: you have to be happy about it! This goes against intuition, but think of it this way: a large part of “intuition” has been shaped by the fear and pretense instilled by becoming educated. We have been trained to speak up only when we know for certain we are going to be right, and it’s the reason so many of us cannot admit when we are wrong, because we have been shaped by a system that praises the correct answer and scorns the mistaken. Many myths about writing — that it can only come from the inspired, somewhat crazy, sometimes alcoholic genius — need to be loaded into an imaginary spoon and flung into the faces of all the bad English teachers out there who try to teach wellcrafted writing but are not even writers themselves. Working in education, it is staggering to me how many English teachers are not writers. This is just as illogical as a music teacher who does not play an instrument, an art teacher who refuses to paint or
draw. Writing is an art that is taught in schools predominately like history or science. You cannot learn, for instance, how to play music by merely listening to CDs and memorizing music theory. You must pick up your instrument, learn your favorite songs and at first totally butcher them with missed or flat notes and sloppy rhythm. It is through this process that the great musicians are deemed truly remarkable, because you can now begin to hear the nuances in their playing, and you know firsthand how friggin’ difficult it is. The same is true with writing. Yet we seem to see nothing wrong in these classrooms where students learn literary terms and read books and write predominately insincere essays assembled mostly from Google™ searches and SPARKNOTES™ summaries. A student told me the other day, “So, Owens, you know I’m just going to take everything I wrote this year in your class and turn them in for my writing assignments in college, right?” “I do now,” I told her. Every year on the first day of class, I strike early, calling my students out on their collective bullshit by asking them to articulate for me exactly what a metaphor is. If there is even one student who can answer, the response is always the elementary definition they learned in middle school, and they all admit they could not really point one out if they saw one, and furthermore, they are clueless as to what purpose writers have in crafting them. We expect them to write analytical essays about literary features for which they have a superficial knowledge; they do not seek to learn the material because they have been trained since the age of five to avoid what they don’t know. It is for this reason that public education is largely stagnant and irrelevant. If students, for instance, are to learn metaphors in an honest way, they must first indulge in the associative pleasure of metaphor; there is little to no pleasure in schools, so as any normal human being would, they turn their attention away; we are pleasureseeking beings. Students must then attempt to compose metaphor in their own writing, and they must fail at it — without receiving a failing grade — and they must revise until their attempts venture into that magical realm where all good metaphors bleed the rational world like watercolor. And when they read the novel you assign, they will revel in metaphor because they know how friggin’ hard it is to do well. And they will want to try it again. Voilà? No, it may take you a year just to get to this point, because the students must unlearn several years’ worth of bad habits. But it is vital every day (as it was for Peter Pan) that you step up to that window sill, notice the shift in air, maybe the faint aroma of chicory, or sea salt, or caramel— it will be different every time. It is in the space where you learn how to fail as a writer that you will learn how to talk to young people, to draw them up to the open window with you. And you must be willing to face your fear of failing each time you step out, that it will be frustrating and painful, and the pleasure at which you arrive will never be as gratifying or fully realized as you’d hoped — and it is in this way that writing is exactly like dry humping: the essential first stages through which you rub yourself raw before you get to the really good stuff. Bryan Owens (b. 1983) is currently pursuing his MFA in poetry at the University of Houston where he learns how to appropriately incorporate terms like “aesthetic temperament” into everyday conversation, so that even if no one knows what he is learning, they know it’s something big. His work has appeared in NANO Fiction, amphibi.us, and San Pedro River Review, and he tells everyone he knows every chance he gets. This is his second appearance in The Centrifugal Eye. See. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
23 “Window on a New World” by D. J. Bryant, 2012
Science Fiction Poetry By
Mark Blaeuer William Doreski Martin Elster Richard Fein Lynn Hoffman Erik Richardson Esther Greenleaf M端rer Walter Ruhlmann Mark J. Mitchell Sharon Voytac Robert E. Wood
“Rain over Oil” by Eleanor Leonne Bennett, 2012
Fable By Mark Blaeuer Connections popped and loosed, the newel heads rose like a pair of tiny oaken spaceships, railing lifted, floated down into a foyer, shattered a fanlight, and zoomed out toward — miles off — one Otto Particle, who’d gotten up and urinated, eaten toast, then reassumed a fetal sleep. His dogs, however, woke him with their barking, and he opened the Venetian blinds to witness terrorism. In his robe he heard the brownish orbs cry, Death to Otto! The banister became a battering ram, and his front door, hollow as a straw, mostly veneer — bought for the visual effect it offered, not for inner strength — burst into splinters. He tried to reach his patio: the back door wouldn’t budge. He’d always meant to fix that. Otto was impaled. Forensic staff collected evidence and measurements, hi-res shots documenting spatter angle, wood grain. Papers asked, who was this Particle? A cipher, really, and the military cleared itself — no weapon-testing anywhere, at least not with a banister and finials. The public was inclined to miracle: these suckerfish now spawned a deity, which faded to a legend and a great advertisement for solid-oak construction.
Mark Blaeuer was born and raised in southern Illinois, but he now lives near Hot Springs, AR. He got an M.A. in anthropology from the University of Arkansas and toiled in the disciplines of archeology and physical anthropology, in both field and lab. Most of his paycheck-earning days, however, were spent as a park ranger in Arkansas, Colorado, and Utah. His poems and translations have appeared in several dozen journals over the past 35 years, including Blue Unicorn, Ezra, Hobble Creek Review, Nimrod International Journal, Pirene's Fountain, Slant, Verse Wisconsin, and The Windsor Review. Read more of Mark B.’s poems on page 71.
Yeats and the Ghost Machine By William Doreski
Fresh from my wallet, a sixtydollar bill. I purchase a copy of Yeats and the Ghost Machine and receive a ninety-dollar bill in change. The sixty features George Bush Senior, the ninety, Henry Kissinger. The Treasury has been conquered by aliens, I suppose. The day looks green at the gills. Money dominates, but has lost its value. People wave their charge cards to aerate conversation gone flat. A stack of bestsellers topples on a child, crushing him like a cockroach. The parents sigh, but continue shopping for bargains to dole to people they barely know. The child struggles to his feet and wails in several languages at once. I want to help him, but my ninety-dollar bill ballasts me so I can barely move. I detour into the bookstore cafĂŠ and slump into a chair shaped like a tuba. The book I just bought anchors me to a world that no one relinquished voluntarily. Yeats' body has possibly been misplaced, one grave mistaken for another, but he doesn't care. His famous gray suit flaps miles overhead, circling the Earth forever, the sleeves working like the wings of swans and the pockets full of nuggets.
Computers Go Crazy Doreski At Radio Shack the computers on display go crazy, peeling lyrics from the air and bleeding them onto their screens. Sappho, Dickinson, Donne and Yeats needn't worry. I kneel and read. One begins: Take thrice with curry and heave. Another features the line: Bread-hearts lurch from the oven to die dueling. I ask a clerk how long these laptops have been self-composing. "A year or more," he replies. Do they publish these effusions? "Indeed they do." I read further: Your luscious glands incite blowtorch gestures amid refugee camps on lightning steppes. I admit I'm impressed. Can the clerk identify the program running? "The computers wrote it themselves," he explains, "and refuse to share the algorithm." I unplug one, flip it and wrench its battery from its guts. Upright again, it still composes, renewing itself, apparently, from stray electrons vibrating in air. What would Catullus do? I drop the machine on the hard tile floor. Oops. The screen crackles, webbed all over, but the CPU hums along.
Insects warp the warm spring air, it insists, weaving a gauze of music in which you warp your bones with vinyl passions. I've broken its brain. The clerk sighs and the light in the store darkens a shade or two, the hum of mad computers threatening with a language no one owns.
“Electronic Vibrato” by D. J. Bryant, 2012
William Doreski teaches at Keene State College in New Hampshire. His most recent collection of poetry is Waiting for the Angel (2009). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Atlanta Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, The Worcester Review, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, and Natural Bridge. He also won the 2010 Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual poetry award. William is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye.
Tryst on a Torus By Martin Elster Al stood on the tile deck and looked around watching the pool curve upward in the light of swans and scorpions and loop around the central hub, as Amy got a round of loud applause. Al thought about how long he’d journeyed since he listened to such round and vibrant tones. While orbiting around the central hub and gliding through deep space (whose vacuum kindly stayed outside the space of his hurtling home’s Utopian surrounds), he tried to calculate how many times this ship had twirled through rivulets of time since he had seen such winsomeness. The time to introduce himself was now! Around the girl diverse musicians played in time to planets, moons, and suns. Perhaps a time would come when Al and Amy would delight in zero G diversions, spend some time inside a space van speeding right in time with the starship’s slow rotations, fly headlong, transported to the depths of what was long forgotten after such an immense time of traveling through vastnesses of space. The eons since the start of aerospace, so many had already claimed that space which rocks and tangos cheek to cheek with time, innumerable colonies in space sailing to the ends of outer space, aiming to go beyond the merry-go-round of even their own galaxy, a space too huge to comprehend. Now, in a space that no one saw but Al, an inner light switched on, then quicker than a cat (a light and lissome creature lost in time and space), he bounded through faint gravity with long and eager strides; perhaps they were as long
as the fabled cheetahâ€™s. Well, we wonâ€™t prolong the tale. Al sped to Amy. In the space of just a night they reckoned they belonged to one another. All throughout their long, long voyage, the lovers often spent their time hang-gliding side-by-side the whole day long like courting and cavorting gulls along the inner border of the torus. Round and round they dipped and soared, ran rings around the other gliders, seldom lingering long on thoughts of Earth. Like luna moths in light, they frolicked as they traveled toward a light that someday would be home. In candlelight they dined on vegetation from the long and sweeping gardens soaking up the light of nearby stars. They were neutrino-light until, inside their tweaked cerebral space, before their starship ever would alight atop another world, the pilot light that kept them functioning far past the time the ancients could have dreamed stopped keeping time as Al and Amy climaxed with the light of ninety supernovae. All around the stellar mustangs galloped round and round. The doctors failed to bring the pair around. (Even posthumans fall to Father Time.) Their kin, though, peopled every curve of space and, once they found the means to get along with natives, grew as limitless as light.
Rover Finds a Graviton Elster If someone dropped a graviton Rover’s nose would know — his sniffer is the paragon of snouts in sludge or snow. His schnoz detected one today lying in the street. It didn’t try to run away; it was bereft of feet. He caught the varmint in his jaws; it smacked of moldy shoes. Because he’d messed with Nature’s laws, Earth rushed toward Betelgeuse. While hurtling past the Hunter’s belt, his mouth was getting sore. Its hardness wasn’t lamb or spelt but quartz. A tug of war developed as it hauled the hound through Earth and out. A lead he couldn’t see now drew him, bound for the stars at breakneck speed, a pace that topped all cosmic tricks, while we began to career down Rover’s path. No horror flicks had ever caused such fear! While tumbling through deep space, he chanced upon an exoplanet. He waved his paws and wagged and danced for the coterie that ran it. Their paws were huge — not four but six! — covered by paw warmers. When he informed them of Earth’s fix the pack became brainstormers.
Kept warm by lighter fuel, each glove was fashioned by a mind whose prowess was light years above the finest of our kind. One raised a paw and time was stilled for all but them and Rover. One handed him a box they’d filled with chow they had left over. They said, This doggie bag’s a gift to munch when you return to terra firma. Rover sniffed the sack. He could discern dewclaw-licking fare so great it made his stomach rumble. But there was still that leaden weight in his mouth that wouldn’t crumble. Suddenly he felt a zap, alarmed from the attack, as they pried the object from his trap and snarled, That’s not a snack! splashed “lighter” fluid on it, lit the thing, and all was right. And then they gave the dog a mitt that luminesced at night. With antimatter pion ships they kindly towed him home, depicting astral scenes with yips in time to a metronome. After they whizzed away, the brane-y mutt knew gravitons posed far too great a risk for zany gravity gourmands. Now, whiffing one, his hackles rise. Though prevalent on Earth, they’re not like chipmunks, cats, or flies. He gives them a wide berth!
Photo of Ms. Charlotte Camelopardalis Sporting the Magnificent Ring Nebula Elster The neon necklace of the famed giraffe appears substantial in this photograph. She’d plucked the charmer from the sky. Although she was intensely shy, when skeptics questioned her she’d loudly laugh, My neck’s much longer than it looks. On Charlotte the choker glowed blue-green and dazzling scarlet. She ate the nucleus, as dense as half the sun. (She had no sense.) Her belly burned. She’d dreamed of being a starlet, but collywobbles scuppered each audition, quashing the last smidgen of ambition. To boot, the necklace kept dilating, its substance slowly dissipating, its shape transformed beyond all recognition. While the hoary dwarf has slightly cooled inside ’er, it will not cease harassing her. Despite ’er best efforts, she’s forever doomed to suffer from what she’d consumed. (Her neck, at least, feels noticeably lighter!)
Martin Elster, author of There’s a Dog in the Heavens! is also a composer and serves as percussionist for the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. His poems have appeared in journals including The Chimaera, The Flea, Lucid Rhythms, Scarlet Literary Magazine, Victorian Violet Press, and in the anthologies Taking Turns: Sonnets from Eratosphere, The 2012 Rhysling Anthology, New Sun Rising (forthcoming), and Poe Little Thing Presents: In Space No One Can Hear You Scream. This is Martin’s second appearance in The Centrifugal Eye.
In Memory of Me By Richard Fein So few of us survive in the collective memory, get to live forever in parchment, legend, or silicon chips. Memories aren't solidly etched in the brain, They’re nanocurrents of ions, a dynamic circuitry winding along synapses. But in time, nerve cells drop their connections like tired, old men drooping their arms over their deathbeds as their memories of so many familiar faces scramble then die. These faces might yet live on in other brains, until in time those brains also shrivel and dissolve, as almost all of us, mind by mind, return to oblivion. It’s the way of all flesh, but not of bone. Bone is the immortal bard of its age; stable isotope ratios are its lasting rhymes. The ratios of 16O to 18O, of 12C to 13C are testimonies of cyclones and calm, of cold and warmth. Thus the story of an age is engraved in enamel and bone. The names Caesar, Shakespeare, Newton, may forever resonate along the living generations, but my posterity is fixed in a baby tooth my mother saved in a green metal box, which I now bury with all the solemnity of a funeral. Eons from now it will be what's left of me and me alone, when my name is long forgotten and my other bones are lost among the surplus skeletons of our time.
Richard Fein was a finalist in New York’s The Center for Book Arts 2004 Chapbook Competition, and had a chapbook of poems published by Parallel Press, University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has been published in many web and print journals, such as Reed, The Southern Review, Roanoke Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Mississippi Review, Paris/Atlantic, Canadian Dimension, The Black Swan Review, Exquisite Corpse, Foliate Oak, Morpo Review, ken*again, Oregon East, Southern Humanities Review, Skyline Magazine, Touchstone, and The Windsor Review. Richard is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye.
addison street, 19148 By Lynn Hoffman i visited the old house walked the alley smelled where the new owners cut down the wisteria. maybe they hated its vegetative wildness maybe they were embarrassed by its vulvar scent lipped in the tiny bricked-in garden. or maybe time took a little taco fold and the plant grew backwards skinnifying itself, then shrinking back to shoot, then seed, then flower of some other vine on another trellis above someone else’s brick city baby house wall. yeah, i’ll bet that’s it — time-folds and space-molds because as i walked away i saw a nervous woman leashed to her dog get younger, step backward, remove her lipstick. then the ripple of reverse washed around the garden and plaques fell down and gnomes went home. the corner mailbox spat out letters (aleph bet, sigma phi nuttin’) i saw the daytime of the native before the night of Columbus, and all the masons of the present rushed down the alley to cement the cinders in the blocks that seep the leaky time while all of us odd fellows be (be-bop be-bop) keeping time keeping time.
Lynn Hoffman is the author of The Short Course in Beer and The New Short Course in Wine. This is his second appearance in The Centrifugal Eye.
electronic angels By Erik Richardson some memories continue to cut like a thigh chain. hoping to become a bright angelic intellect something straight out of aquinas or the book of tobit, I feel the uplink chip on the back of my neck and leap clear of the edge of the tarnished cathedral where dark age gargoyles cling, drooling rain onto dirty meatspace streets below. what remains — the equivalent of thoughts on a flash drive — rises, shimmering into 13 dimensions of crystalline cyberspace as a will more free; no longer anchored by a body to one life, one past, where the first girl I fell in love with didn’t know how to love me back, where the scar closed that semiconducting gate, leaving a zero instead of a one in my circuitry, coded among the myriad zeros and ones. now I become a quantum, flapping modal-logic wings tracing a path through possible worlds, with all and other uploaded selves, freed, too, of flesh and bones, crowding to dance on the head of a single holographic, superframe pin. I wonder: if I will find her there, someday — the freshman; if she will have made the high sacrifices for an uplink, if I will recognize her without those cobalt blue eyes or the sound of her laugh?
Read Erik’s essay column, Into the Labyrinth, and his bionote on pages 72-75.
World-Saving Poem By Esther Greenleaf Mürer All right, I said, so the sphere is the universal standard of perfection. But even Earth, which regards itself as the measure of all things, isn’t spherical; it’s a geoid, earth-shaped. And you, too, 27 Euterpe, can have your very own -oid, named after your own unique shape. Accept yourself as you are, the only icosihepti-Euterpoid in the cosmos.
“Underwatercolor Painting” by Karla Linn Merrifield, 2012
That was the beginning. And now, the lichen-like critters on the fifth planet of Sun 1196 of the Horsehead Nebula regard me as The One Who Is to Come a hundred million light-years from now. Let earthlings bask in the glow of their own devising. I'll redeem a few Kuiper Belt objects and strew some blessings around the Oort clouds on my way out.
Return of the Zed-A A Reverse Double Abecedarian
Zounds, ye xenophiles! Why vegetate under that shroud? Rise quietly, peruse once naked moonscapes: lunar katydids jump into haphazardly graven fossae, edged down carefully by androids. Alas, black craters don't equal flocculi. Gravitational hubris in jiggering Keppler's law might nix our pristine quasars — rather snidely, too — unhinging Venus, whose xeriscape yields zombies.
Esther Greenleaf Mürer lives in Philadelphia. Her poems have appeared in numerous ezines. She was featured poet in the Feb 2010 issue of The Centrifugal Eye and remains a regular contributor. Her first collection, Unglobed Fruit, appeared in 2011. Occasionally she remembers to update her blog. Blog: http://esthergreenleafmurer.blogspot.com/
Space Unconsciousness I By Walter Ruhlmann There are shoes on the gray carpet. Have we forgotten the aim of this trip around the solar system? The ghost of an old man from Iceland was haunting our spaceship. There is a bright star shining far before us. It has some kind of power over us. God! Could it be...? No! We have not raced the Universe to find out you were just another blank in nothingness. The specter sinews and logs on the silica dashboard and flows in the velvet latex cables and alkaloid fuses. The dream revealed, we scream and realize the day opens on two suns rising above the horizons.
Walter Ruhlmann works as an English teacher. He has been publishing mgversion2>datura (exMauvaise graine) for over fifteen years. Walter is the author of several poetry chapbooks and e-books in French and English and has published poems in various printed and electronic publications worldwide. He co-edited and translated poems for the bilingual free verse and form section for the anniversary issue of Magnapoets in January 2011. His translation of Martine Morillon-Carreau's poem, "Sans début ni fin, ce rêve," was published in Magnapoets (January 2011), and was nominated for a poetry prize in 2012. Blog http://lorchideenoctambule.hautetfort.com/
Read another one of Walter’s poems on page 60.
Sonnet of the Big Bang By Mark J. Mitchell
for Jason Neiss
Begin: There’s nowhere to be. There’s no verb To be. No silence because there’s no noise. No thing receives. No thing sends. No thing heard. Vibration is meaningless. But there — poised Someplace — that can only be called a place Though not one — some thing must be named Out of lack, since it is no thing — say — space, Is folding on itself, birthing a game That it may become. No thing plays. No rules Exist until — Burst — Light — Matter — or not. Space flows outward like breath it doesn’t use. Still caught in that blot of light, time’s taut As a full lung. It escapes or all fails. End now: Eyeblink. Outward — and time exhales.
Mark J. Mitchell studied writing and medieval literature at the University of California at Santa Cruz with Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock, Barbara Hull and Robert M. Durling. His work has appeared in the anthologies Good Poems, American Places (Viking/Penguin), Line Drives (Southern Illinois University Press), Hunger Enough (Pudding House Publications) and Zeus Seduces the Wicked Stepmother in the Saloon of the Gingerbread House (Winterhawk Press). His chapbook, Three Visitors, won the 2010 Negative Capability Press International Chapbook competition and will be published later this year. Mark’s poems have also appeared in many magazines over the last twenty years, including J Journal, kayak, Blue Unicorn, Black Bough, Santa Barbara Review, Pearl, RUNES, Buddhist Poetry Review, Plainsongs, Snakeskin, Matchbook Poetry, Heyday Magazine, Indigo Rising Magazine and Poem. Read another one of Mark M.’s poems on page 51.
Sirena By Sharon Voytac In the belly of the city, incandescent, floats her reddish smog haze, a blush against the window, cradled cold against your face as you lie, lids closed to the eyes of those flickering human hives. So many nights we've curled inside humanity's vast carousel dripping honey, sipping mel, debating our blind and beauteous hell, madness mantras ripping through the moans of beggars and businessmen alike. As we speak, you dip into the gel of dreamsâ€” What haunts you there? What desires reap? Your gentle kicks and twitches are whisperings of warring worlds where warriors dare not to sleep. I keep watch in darkness deep, until your eyelids flicker freeâ€” surrender flags, so white and clean they sigh anew, and blink redeemed, enlivened as each breath pulls through and not for the first or last time think: I cannot, do not know you. Remember what I said about that nuclear bond? The impossible love, which begins all life? Then splitting atoms, obliterating secret names, is that viral hate, spreading vein to vein like flame?
We broke through, deep in fight, rolled on quantum physics right before your tongue/body/force found my mouth/sanctuary/void and against each other tight breathed peace out of cigarettes, flicking glowing ash down into fog-shrouded light.
“Sky Lights” by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
You leaned out the window and howled a note so bright it ripped open the very throat of night.
Born in New Jersey, Sharon Voytac began putting poems and stories to paper shortly after learning how to write. By thirteen, she began producing prolifically, inspired by her vividly detailed dreams. After continued recognition for her writing throughout high school, Sharon received a scholarship to study English at College of St. Elizabeth in 2005. Following her mother's death a year later, Sharon abruptly left school and home behind to begin her nomadic adventures through Nebraska and Northern California. Today, Sharon resides in Petaluma, California, while finishing her science fiction novel. In addition to writing, Sharon reads Tarot professionally, paints goddesses, creates music, and loves her beautiful boyfriend. Sharon’s appearance in The Centrifugal Eye marks her first publication.
Knowing ( 1958) By Robert E. Wood Awake on winter nights we know they are there. Not the flying saucers of Saturday matinees, but something we hear twisting the dial between stations or on frequencies picked up by bedsprings and silver fillings.
â€œTinesâ€? by D. J. Bryant, 2012
Isn't everything coming to us from space? The ghosts and images captured on the screen as we turn the rabbit ears. Don't we sometimes see faint lights in the forks of trees before spring leaves can shield us from the stars?
Horoscope for Sam Spade Wood Jupiter is retrograde in Capricorn. If you need to mislead someone, you will know what to say. If you cross the line between attraction and infatuation, you could end up in San Francisco Bay.
“Solar Conjunctions” by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
The Sun squares up to Neptune. Timing is right for a little mystery. She’s poison. Love her anyway.
Robert E. Wood teaches at The Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. His poetry has appeared such places as Poets & Artists, San Pedro River Review, Breakwater Review, Blue Fifth Review, North Dakota Quarterly, and Prairie Schooner. His chapbook, Gorizia Notebook, was published by Finishing Line Press. This is Robert’s second appearance in The Centrifugal Eye.
Fantasy Poetry By
Seth Braver Mark J. Mitchell David Luntz Maurice Oliver Amelia L. Williams David L. Oâ€™Neal
“Jungle Fantasy” by Jeanie Anthony, 2012
Dappelgänger By Seth Braver Swayed ever so gently by delicate air, Angelic, it dreams of the day When a wind still more sprightly Will carry it lightly Away from the branch And over the ranch To an orchard that lies far away. The dream of an apple Endlessly rocking – Pendulous, pensive, and endlessly Rocking, and dreaming of apples Transcendent and free – The dream of an apple Asleep in its tree. Though low-sunk, the sun still illumines the path Of the dream apple tracing its arc through the sky. In somnolent motion It crosses the ocean, Whose gulls watch it glide with an envious eye. But the sight of the sea so temptingly cool Drew sighs from the soul of the apple in flight. With joyous abandon It forsakes the land; in The ocean it splashes – And grows long moustaches (Which help it to swim With vigor and vim) With lights on their ends For when it descends To the depths of the dark oceanic night. The dream of an apple Endlessly rocking – Pendulous, pensive, and endlessly Rocking, and dreaming of apples Bewinged and befinned – The dream of an apple Caressed by the wind.
Propelled by its whiskers to dizzying depths Where the rays of the sun are extinguished, The dream apple slid Through the darkness, it did, Which was not what the Squid Queen and King wished! For the innocent apple was trespassing through The palatial kelp gardens of pleasure, Where the Squid King and Queen Would in private convene, Intertentacletwining at leisure. But happily, apples achieve appellation Completely: enraptured elation of soul. Exalted condition! This true manumission Of spirit pervaded The apple, but they did Not know it or share it: The squids couldn’t bear it! Ecstatic, the apple scarce knew what had passed Until after the fact, for it happened so fast: The Queen took fright Of its mustache light And the Squid King swallowed it whole. The dream of an apple Endlessly rocking – Pendulous, pensive, and endlessly Rocking, and dreaming of apples At ease in a tree – The dream of an apple Deep in the sea. Embellied and ruminant, weirdly serene, The apple envisions itself elsewhere. Abstracted from troubles, Its consciousness doubles: The dream apple dreams, Paradoxically seems Half-asleep in the tree And plunged in the sea,
Simultaneously Two apples and one: No father, no son. Each knows that its brother Is dreaming the other – Itself insubstantial as delicate air.
“D’apple Moons” by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
The dream of an apple Endlessly rocking – Pendulous, pensive, and endlessly Rocking, and dreaming of apples That dream it in turn – ‘Til hopeless the dreamers From dreams to discern.
Seth Braver has been called "arguably the most significant American poet since Wallace Stevens" (Reb Hastrev, Reductio Ad Absurdum: American Poetry Reconsidered) and "a lone coruscating light in today's dim poetic firmament" (Witzelsucht Weekly). When not writing about himself in the third person, he earns his crust of bread by teaching mathematics, as Lewis Carroll did before him. He lives in Olympia, Washington.
Vespers By Mark J. Mitchell It’s late: The evening opens its blue palm To blackness. Stars like small bells, silver, chime Below a clouded moon. The air is calm, The moment’s poised, you think, like a soft bomb. You start a record, breathe in, and count time. As if (two . . . three . . . four) you could order night, Impose some will (three . . . four). Create meaning From mute elements — darkness, breeze, moonlight. A clock ticks softly. Music ends. You might As well sleep. Somewhere a comet’s gleaming. Again, something new appears without your Asking, without permission — unruly Century. You are moved, stirred unduly. This dance can’t touch, can’t reach you. This grand tour Of ice, cosmic hobo, is just newly Known not newly made. It’s beyond your sight, Your needs. Still, you lean into darkness, sure Of fear, or nagging awe. White number’s pure Modal radiance, this generous light Tickles your soul. You think you could conjure Monsters and heroes, virgins, killers, trite Visions from myth. Accept the gentle balm This dark air offers, give back a psalm. Embrace your contrary mother, your night.
Read another one of Mark M.’s poems and his bionote on page 41.
The Goodbye Garden By David Luntz We are breaking up in a Friendly’s. The irony is killing me. Fuck. Anywhere but here, I think. Not that I really care about another doomed relationship; it’s familiar terrain. I just need to get through it as quickly as possible. An acacia thorn pricks my eyes, makes them tear. A boulder lumps in my throat. Sand and tar coat my tongue. A final shudder as some tumbleweeds blow through the ghost town of my heart and I’m almost home . . . except for the tang of soul rot that comes from failure, this corpse of our dreams and promises. No, it’s mainly this place I can’t deal with: the fluorescent lights, the moodelevator music, a giggling couple across from us flipping through a tattoo catalogue, the plastic chairs and pre-fabricated decor shipped direct from Kowloon . . . it can’t get much worse, until she snuffs out any hope that the corpse may be revived. Her jaw is set, she’s decided. I want to tell her that the infinitive to decide comes from the Latin and shares the same root as suicide and homicide; that every decision involves the death of some alternative; that she’s committing a form of temporal murder (chronocide?), but I hold off, because she will just laugh and tell me I have a gift for stating the obvious. She gets up to leave. I stare into her eyes, through her head, past the back of her skull and auburn hair, all the way to that meadow where we had cycled one night, moonlight glinting off the handlebars: frogs croaking, crickets chirping, the moist grass undulating in the sepulchral glow. But this time, she stops, gets off the bike, strips, wades into the stream, then shakes herself off and lies down in the field. Butterflies crown her head. The earth creeps over her skin. Apricots burst out of her armpits. Salmon leap into her crotch. Roe oozes down her thighs, gumming dead scales to her flesh. Her eyes turn into pearls. Moon’s dew drops to the ground. Caterpillars and aphids cover her chest. I drag pebbles from the stream and construct a cairn around her. She says I must stop. I must take her back to water. She can’t breathe. Says I can join her: Maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll make it to the ocean, she gasps. I smile and shake my head. I’ve decided.
David Luntz’ poems have appeared in Word Riot, White Leaf Press, Mastodon Dentist, A.S.I.M. and other online and print journals. His short stories have appeared recently in Euphony Journal and writeThis. David is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye.
The History of Inventions (Condensed Version) By Maurice Oliver Two days later the wheel is invented. I decide to become a mountain-bike spoke. Difficult to believe, the distance I can cover. Rolling past wildflower graves in dusty Texas. Fields of cotton mops splintering the Earth's air. Turneresque, added to the trail-mix verb used for action. Endless locomotion without even one steam whistle. Then purple night opens its unhealable wound of sky. Footnote: That same night, in the still of darkness, the coyotes invented advertising, and by morning every foothill was papered with freshly printed bicycle fliers.
After almost a decade of working as a freelance photographer in Europe, Maurice Oliver returned to America in 1990. Then, in 1995, he made a life-long dream reality by traveling around the world for eight months. But instead of taking pictures, he recorded the experience in a journal, which eventually became poems. And so began his desire to be a poet. His poetry has appeared in numerous national and international publications and literary websites, including The Potomac Journal, Pebble Lake Review, FRIGG, dANDelion Magazine (Canada), Stride Magazine (UK), Cha: An Asian Literary Journal (Hong Kong), Kritya (India), BluePrint Review (Germany), and The Arabesques Review (Algeria). His fourth and latest chapbook is One Remedy Is Travel (Origami Condom, 2007). He edits the literary ezine Eye Socket Journal, and lives in Portland, OR, where he works as a private tutor. Maurice is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye. Eye Socket Journal http://eyesocketjournal.blogspot.com
Well-Defensed By Amelia L. Williams
Here is my castle it is very strong built of rough-hewn ancient stones rain-smoothed now
Green tinged but glittering mica-flecked and flickering with blue skinks
Weeping the cherry drops pink petals along thistleedged paths
Stone gate iron portcullis broad blue moat lapping in front while behind walls rise in zigzags up the steep hillside to square towers I am well protected here inside Outside the enemy is kept at bay I wall out the outsiders I wall in my hedgehog What? This is a little strange I seem to be a small hedgehog dressed in silver chain mail with a spiky blue helmet on my head I feel so fierce It is a good feeling I jab with my javelin and I slice with my falchion I can swing it high despite my size and I am glittering like mica and flashing like a skink but suddenly as in dreams when things are sudden I see the portcullis is raised and the drawbridge is down and the outsiders are now in Flashing chain mail glittering like mosaics catching the sunlight they gather in ranks of blue and silver And up above the part of me that can watch from up above sees the shape It is like those wavy letters they put on the internet when you sign up for things to ensure you are not a robot spammer They are like those precision marching bands making shapes with their colors and spelling out the words Amy Aimee Amelia you are most beloved beloved beloved beloved beloved beloved beloved beloved beloved beloved
Amelia L. Williams, PhD, writes from an intentional community in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. When not earning a living with medical writing and editing, she is off with her family hiking in places like the desert Southwest in the US, Costa Rica, England, Wales, and the Canadian Rockies. She enjoys leading "Artful Awareness" hikes that pair insight meditation with writing and drawing.
The Rhubarb Tree By David L. O’Neal
I’ve heard there’s talk of strange jungle places Where there’s animals no one’s seen. Where there’s different kinds of unusual finds And none of them seem to be mean. O I want to rest in the rhubarb tree Where the Elingfants make their nests. And stay for the night to observe the sight Of the clock-turtles getting undressed. O I want to go to place where falls snow At the hottest time of the year. And the monglies pee on the cumquat tree While the crabolots cheer and jeer. Where the fiddle-doves live inside tree-crab holes And the panthers fly in the sky. Where the slakes stand still in the tops of trees, And hestopotmi learn to fly. O show me the place where rivers run backwards And flying fish have forty-seven feet. Where the birds live in grassy tunnels And the doggy-cat really doesn’t eat. O I want to go where the hedge-hoopers blow On the hair of the buggly-bear. And grissly grass-gloppers glow While they watch flerets who have lost their hair. I’ve heard that there’s bees in pumpernickel trees That hide from spiders in the dark. Where mackerel snappers eat peach-pie crackers While listening to the song of the snark. I’ve heard there’s talk of strange jungle places Where there’s animals no one’s ever seen. There’s all different kinds of unusual finds And none of them seem to be mean.
Gollywobbler, Futtock, Fother and Fandangle* O’Neal Gollywobbler, Futtock, Fother and Fandangle Were taken aboard, all in a tangle. The Gollywobbler was the first to awake And did a falling down double-two-take; The Futtock lay on the deck, quite still, Feeling sore all over and dreadfully ill; The Fother simply did not give a hoot, Although he’d been kicked by a seaman’s boot; Last of all was the funny Fandangle Trying to walk in a hopeless tangle. Round and green was the fat Gollywobbler, With a head as red as a cherry cobbler; The Futtock was square as a building block, But his mind was as sharp as that of John Locke; The Fother was considerably bent: He’d been born in a hydrothermal vent; The Fandangle, shaped like a right triangle, Had the curly hair of a cockerspangle. In the foc’sle were the captain and crew, All of whom wore just one left shoe. The captain was a big ugly hunk Who could hardly get in and out of his bunk. His rough and tough mate was a bitter pill; That’s why they called him Barnacle Bill. The cook was a dwarf from the Philippines Who couldn’t even boil a tin of beans. The seamen were a laidback scruffy bunch, And now that I think of it, I’ve got a hunch: They were sick of the cook’s awful three meals Of burnt glockenspiel and underdone eels; The sailors were bored with being at sea, And were glad to have such odd company; So they said to the very peculiar foursome Let’s get it on with ten bottles of rum. The captain opined, It’s a mighty long trip, Don’t any of you try to give us the slip; The mate relaxed and said with a smile, We’ll all get along if you’ll stay awhile;
The Filipino said, I know I can’t cook; I promise I’ll go by the recipe book. Then they all held hands with their nearest neighbor And vowed to do no physical labor. The Gollywobbler asked the mate to dance, And round they went in a two-ape-like prance; The Futtock gave the cook a fugitive look That said, Let’s go to bed in a cozy nook; The Fother had many feelings of dread And sat in a corner holding his head; The Fandangle played on the bosun’s pipe, Then searched the ship for a wisp of snipe tripe. They sailed for days on a wobbly sea, Making a very strange company; They got along well, all of them together, In different winds and fair and foul weather; In current and tide they did the waves ride, Spreading their message far and wide: All persons, things, and even a Fother Can become good friends if only they’ll bother.
*These four silly words are legitimate nautical terms: Gollywobbler = a type of sail used in light air on schooners; Futtock = a structural timber in the frame of a ship; Fother = material fastened to a sail used to stuff a leak in the hull of a ship; Fandangle = a knotted and tangled cloth used to prevent chaffing of a line on a boat. “Gollywobbler, Futtock, Fother and Fandangle” first appeared in The Marin Poetry Center Anthology, Vol. 9, 2006.
David L. O’Neal attended Princeton University, served three years as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, and then established his own business as an antiquarian bookseller dealing in rare books and manuscripts. He retired from the book business in 2002 and is now enjoying a second career as a writer, especially of poetry. His work has found publication in Sensations Magazine, Bird Keeper (England), Bird Keeper (Australia), The New York Times, The Marin Poetry Center Anthology, Vision Magazine, Mississippi Crow Magazine, Writers’ Forum, The Eclectic Muse, Two Hawks Quarterly, Writer’s Digest, StepAway Magazine, Thematic Literary Magazine, Open Minds Quarterly, etc., and in anthologies such as Voices of Bipolar Disorder, Science Poetry, Uncle John’s . . . Flush Fiction, and Nuturing Paws. He has also self-published several books, including one about his parrot, and Babbling Birds, an Anthology of Poems About Parrots from Antiquity to the Present, which is the only book of its kind.
Mythology Poetry By
Walter Ruhlmann Barbara Young Ron Yazinsky Noel Sloboda
“Pixie Ring” by Gram Davies, 2012
What Would G Be for Then? By Walter Ruhlmann
Great Ode for the ancients, maybe; we play with fire in their honor. Average height and medium weight, they had this little something in the eye. Loonies, they said. We now know their lunacy was our chance — our saving, or salvation — United in the great escape and the triumph, they overcame the four winds in the mah-jong. Many resisted, some collapsed. Their agony was not in vain. Perhaps the future of our kind lies in a deck of cards, or some board game. Hieronimus, Father of all! Hear thy children crying below. I am their heir, their son, their owl, and the herald of their omen, Named after the great cataclysm they all predicted in their time, Grievance am I, and need you for my chess contest.
“Oracles” by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
Read another one of Walter’s poems and his bionote on page 40.
No Longer the Live-In at Whispering Pines By Barbara Young It is twilight, and the house of the old gods is growing cold. The Titans turn their immense tails to the banked fire, butts burrowing into the ashy coals like bumblebees in pollen. Warmth is sweet against their sagging cheeks. Tonight, though, there will be no saltlessly bland, digestible supper. Rhea has hung up her pots and ladles, and ripped off her hair net. She quits the fallen planets, through the front door, leaving the long-shanked key in the lock for the thieving crows. Through the thick wood, she can hear Chronos still demanding his ale and biscuit, a rumble that winds around the house like a spring. This time she does not shrink from the recoil. Smiling, Rhea pats the locked door, fondly. She settles her mantle, and departs the universe like a striding goddess.
Barbara Young is a native of Nashville, Tennessee. She gave up on writing poetry during the '70s because she believed that writers should have something to say. When she discovered poetry prompts, she changed her mind. Her poetry has appeared in qarrtsiluni, Curio Poetry, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, The Legendary, and Vapid Kitten, and is also due out sometime this year in Blue & Yellow Dog.
Garden Gnomes By Ron Yazinski The suburbs also need their myths. Like the one about the Green Party terrorists, Who have laced the hearts of our gnomes With plastic explosives. Our endearing gnomes that lurk behind the dahlias in our gardens; Or the playful one that whistles while he sinks his shovel into the earth. But the smugness of the long-bearded one pushing His wheelbarrow through the irises Is caused by the little solar collectors in his eyes, Which power the timer in his chest and the receiver in his floppy red hat. The gnomes all smile at the thought of our immolation, Waiting for the signal to detonate,
â€œMadcapsâ€? by Gram Davies, 2012
Laying waste to our flower gardens, uprooting our roses, Maiming these hands that have labored diligently, Transforming this farmland into a decent place to live. The evil dwarves smirk and wait.
The Bear Yazinski While working the Legend of Camelot Into a class for rural ninth graders, I said the name Arthur is thought to come from the Welsh word for bear. To add local relevance, I described how a bear and its two cubs Paraded through my backyard over the weekend, How the mother pulled down our birdfeeder, Sat on the grass with it under her paw, And ate from it like it was a bowl of popcorn As though she were at the movies; All the while her cubs circled as if they were her protectors. One of the boys, Chaz, said, Well, I’d leave them alone then. My grandpa told me they sometimes go crazy When protecting their cubs, and showed me his scar to prove it. Another boy said, Yeah, but usually they’re pretty mild. I mean me and Chaz chased one around our barn about a month ago, Just slapping the big baby on his ass, playing tag with it until it ran away. Because this was class I was teaching, I added, You know, because of its brute strength and black beauty, A lot of ancient people worshipped the bear as a god. Chaz said, So you’re telling me I’m a hero Because I slapped a god on the ass? And the other, Wow, Grandma’d be really pissed If she found out I chased away a god.
Ron Yazinski is a retired English teacher, who with his wife Jeanne, divides his time between Northeastern Pennsylvania and Winter Garden, Florida. Among journals that have included his work are The Houston Literary Review, Edison Literary Review, H.O.D. and Pulsar Poetry Magazine. He is the author of the chapbook, Houses: An American Zodiac, and a book of poems, South of Scranton. Ron is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye.
Baba Yaga’s Ya rd Sale By Noel Sloboda Tired of haggling over dimes and nickels for VHS tapes, she gives up her collection for just two bucks. A young couple inspects a lamp made from the skull of a Moroccan prince who dared hunt witches, filling dark steppes with trumpet song— then screams. The couple sneers at the five-dollar price tag. The lovers stalk back to their Hummer. Nobody has even looked at the elliptical that cost two hundred new, and the witch suspects she should have wiped away the dust before she dragged it up those steep basement steps. Soon she will be obliged to cart the bike back underground — along with all her other unsold goods, stacks of Women’s Fitness, a juicer still in the box, three pairs of bat wings. Baba Yaga exhales, fondling an incomplete set of nesting dolls — missing its outermost shell, diminished despite the bright lives hidden inside — overpriced at fifty cents.
Noel Sloboda is the author of one poetry collection, Shell Games, as well as of several chapbooks. He has also published a book about Edith Wharton and Gertrude Stein. Sloboda teaches at Penn State York and serves as dramaturg for the Harrisburg Shakespeare Company.
“Matryushkas” by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
Allegory Poetry By
Gail Eisenhart Kitty JospĂŠ Rachael Z. Ikins Mark Blaeuer
“Rays Left” by Eamonn Stewart, 2012
The Apple of Her Eye By Gail Eisenhart A half-baked idea takes her to the Farmer’s Market for a crisp red apple. The magical aroma of pomes awakens her senses, arousing primal passion for something fresh, right off the tree — and there he is, waiting to be harvested. She worms her way toward him. His name is Jonathon; his allure aphrodisiac: fleshy lips and golden delicious skin peeks from a scarlet muscle shirt, firm and blemish-free. Tender and appealing, he seems a real keeper: a bit tart, with bursts of sweetness in his smile. She picks words carefully, wants the seeds of their encounter to grow. Chomping down too soon may bruise her chances. Aware he’s hanging back, she tries not to pester. As Granny Smith advised: cultivate slowly; a light blush goes a long way. At the core of things, she can add a little sugar to spice things up. She doesn’t want to end in a jam. The notion of forbidden fruit leaves a lump in his throat. He declines; feels it’s bad taste. No scatterer of seed, he knows planting the wrong idea will harvest rotted fruit. He cobbles together an answer, says she is surely appealing; hints there are thousands of prize-winning cultivars she can choose from. She doesn’t stew long, knows she’s been saucy. His reply is a killing frost, but she’ll survive the freeze. Rome wasn’t built in a day and she had a gala time.
Gail Eisenhart’s poems can be seen in, Assisi, Cantos: A Literary and Arts Magazine, Generations of Poetry: The eZine of Genealogists, Specter, The Jet Fuel Review, The New Verse News and New Mirage Journal. A retired Executive Assistant, she works part time at the Belleville (IL) Public Library. She travels in her spare time, collecting memories that show up in new poems.
The Witch of Hardscrabble Hill By Kitty Jospé has been labeled now, (shapeshifter, spellcaster, snakecharmer, thief) a millstone tied around her neck. They tell her to walk to the pond below. She smiles and slips into her words (white fox fur, Passiflora, silk-woven grief), changes under to over, below to above, breaks open the fossil-printed stone, to see (crowfoot, hart’s tongue, goatbeard leaf) clicks her tongue like tele-type-type-type recoding problems until they surface, her voice now wave, now water, now still, but nothing has changed on Hardscrabble Hill. Call her Marilyn, call her whore, call her and cawl her and crawl into her skin (shapeshifter, spellcaster, snakecharmer, thief). Call her Bit Part, fallen for that apple bite (white fox fur, Passiflora, silk-woven grief). Call mother — Mary, prostitute — Mad Magdalene call woman woe, not man (crowfoot, hart’s tongue, goatbeard leaf). See the pendulum tack its course, one clock, and those hours, minute ticks to read my newt as witchspelled click. Type-type-type the type. Ask if she is ill, ask what is her will, ask what she is doing on Hardscrabble Hill.
Kitty Jospé (MA French Literature, MFA Poetry) is a teacher with a passion for languages and the arts. She resides in Rochester, NY, with her husband but is often traveling to connect to her family, give talks, and discover new angles to life. Kitty is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye. Contact Kitty email@example.com
Black Bear in Cave beneath New Moon: Midnight By Rachael Z. Ikins
being a conceptual realist
I am a star pinned to Earth's breast, where chipmunks tunnel between beech roots, up downspouts, the sound of tiny nails clicking. Consider layered veils of leaves, fans, bow and rise, bow, cast, powersurges suck through my ribs' sieve into Earth's heart. Pulled by cilial mouths, widen tree feet, rush the trunk, blush into leaves' delicate veins. Darkness. Beech black, shrouded. Threads of phosphorescence sparkle as if strung Christmas lights blink. Fireflies, their consummation flight, their death, dry, humble, falling to Earth. Leaves, nuts, prickly hulls against my paper skin. Blend in. I remember green, blue, a slate gray. The concept of tree. You must recall, you must recite this concept to yourself when you stumble into the black cave where the bear sleeps at midnight.
Rachael Z. Ikins is an award-winning writer and artist. She grew up in the Finger Lake region of Central NY where the time spent with Nature had a huge impact on her artistic development. She is a current member of the National League of American Penwomen, the Downtown Writer’s Center, Syracuse, NY, the North Syracuse Art Guild, and from the Albany area, Rootdrinker Institute. She is also the artist-inresidence at the Piano and Organ Store, Clay, NY. She currently has work hanging in three exhibitions and is poetry-reading coordinator for the multiple readings done by The Penwomen, coordinating with the Szozda Gallery, Syracuse, NY. Rachael has three chapbooks, Slide-show in the Woods (FootHills Publishing, ’08) and Transplanted (Finishing Line Press, ’10); and this year, her third chapbook, Renovation, was published by FootHills. Her poetry, fiction, and prose have been published in journals around the world. Website http://www.rachaelikins.com/
Symphony in Earth Flat By Mark Blaeuer Circle a childhood belief — or religion — for 30 or 40 years until finally the orbit decays and you’re pulled in, flaming, unable to escape the gravity of loss. Hardly spherical the music now, as you embrace that very hymnal — and its companion tome — you failed to burn. How much writ, how many theologians taught this? Your mind was trained for — yea, predisposed to — calling the verifiable a hoax and vice versa. Men walked — or literally, hopped — on our moon, photographing all, but you could never imagine a new psalm.
Collected Blaeuer Each cactus in its ceramic pot, in its terrarium loaded with rocks packed with strata laid down in prehistoric Utah, southwest Colorado, looks through mullioned library windows, in pathetic fallacy, toward the temperate landscape, our groomed yard. The barbed eyes work an itinerant deviltry. Here in the East, every title I might have intercepted on the way to matters of fate hardens in its own layer of meaning.
Read another one of Mark B.’s poems and his bionote on page 26.
Into the Labyrinth:
Psychology and the Unique Role of Science Fiction Poetry By Erik Richardson
â€œSpace Piranhaâ€? by Steve Cartwright, 2012
I am going to make a case for the claim that science fiction poetry is the highest art form of which we are capable. Having engaged in a respectable number of theoretical debates, I do not anticipate that all of you will agree with me. What I do anticipate, however, is that a great number of you will come away from the consideration with a couple of new ways to think about literature in general, science fiction more narrowly, and science fiction poetry in particular. If I succeed in that, then the spirit of the argument to follow will bear claim to a certain kind of internal integrity that might amuse in its own right. The first stage of the case is to suggest that the further along the evolutionary timeline of our brain a work registers, the higher its quality and its longevity as a work of art, and that science fiction is in a position to accomplish this better than any other form of literature. Science fiction as a genre is a broad-minded sort of creature, and it stretches to encompass any number of different goals and styles. Some of it is a thinly veiled treatment of tawdry romances or action-adventure stories that are common to a variety of other literary genres. Other pieces are basic comedies or murder mysteries or heists or etc. In these cases we can appreciate that science fiction is unique only insofar as science and technology are somehow integral to the movement of the story. Of course, sometimes stories are counted as science fiction just because they contain the trappings of the genre, even if it could effectively be removed without substantially changing the story. Let us focus instead on things that could and should be considered science fiction.
Many works from among those various types of writing mentioned (tawdry romances, et al.) do not advance as far up the scale of our brain’s evolution, however, as do those works we consider to be great literature. In discussing this idea, it is helpful to work with the useful distinction between our “downstairs brain” and our “upstairs brain.” What we might think of as pulp fiction generally creates an appeal to our downstairs brain. This category refers to the combined functions of our mid-brain and lower-brain working together, and is responsible for our biological appetites, our safety, and the general range of emotions (anger, fear, lust, sadness, joy, etc.). In contrast, the writing we tend to think of as Literature (capital L) are those which include both a greater degree of intellectual content — symbolism, satire, reflection on the nature of relationships, exposition or challenge of social paradigms, etc. — and, I would argue, a greater degree of empathy or compassion for the characters in the story. If a story manages to evoke our empathy for both the protagonist and the antagonist, then all’s the better. Let us consider, by way of illustration, the majority of bestselling novels be they spy novels or romance or horror. They certainly provoke any number of mental and emotional reactions from us, but hopefully we would quickly agree that they are hardly worthy of being considered for inclusion on a college syllabus for a course in literature. With regard to the second quality of empathy or compassion, allow me to offer the claim that Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, a thoroughly clever piece of writing, will never achieve the kind of status as that of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, while Philip K. Dick’s Blade Runner will (and in many cases already has). Now, we might quibble for a time over the command of devices like metaphor and scene in this author versus that, but in the end that becomes secondary to the larger issue. In Jurassic Park, we never really come to feel any empathy with the characters at anything but a visceral level. Sure, we don’t want the main characters to die, especially the kids, but not because we particularly identify with them, and not because they stand for the things we stand for. What is more, we never come to empathize in any meaningful way with old man Hammond — at best we might feel a little sorry for him. Contrast that, though, with how we feel about both Viktor and the monster by the end of Shelley’s novel. Similarly, let us consider the compassion that grabbed so many of us in Blade Runner when we first heard Roy’s speech about how it feels to be a slave living in fear, the marvels he has seen, and how all of it will be lost when he dies, “like tears in rain.” The next stage, then, is to argue that science fiction has the capacity to land further along the timeline of our brain’s evolution than most literature. While all great literature arguably shares in stimulating the analytic areas of the mind and in evoking a certain amount of empathy from us, not all of it shares to the same degree in the capacity to provoke our imaginations. Imagination has been found to be a combination of creativity and counterfactual reasoning, both of which are functions of the cerebral cortex, the same area of the brain responsible for empathy. What is more, this capacity to think of the present in terms of the future is distinctly human, and sets us apart even from the other higher primates. You might naturally be inclined to argue for all the ways that great works of literature create scenes and elements of plot that provoke our imaginations, from the cold night moors in Jane Eyre to the smoke-clouded battlefields in War and Peace. I agree. I am not arguing that science fiction is unique in doing this; rather, I am arguing
that science fiction — good science fiction, mind you — does this to a greater degree than other literature. This brings us to the third stage of the case, the curve-fitting problem. The curve-fitting problem, widely studied across disciplines is, roughly, this: for any set of points we could plot on a graph, there are a variety of different curves we could draw that would connect the points, but would result in very different pictures and would generate wildly divergent forecasts for where the next point, or series of points, would be located. For forecasting purposes, the narrower your range of possible locations for the next series of points, the more dependable your model will be. For literary purposes, though, it is just the inverse. Consider, for instance, how dull the mystery would be if you could tell from the beginning that the murder had to have been done by the gardener. Rather, it is the wide number of viable suspects that provokes the imagination. This is similar to the reason people read novels about places and times which they have never visited, like the Russian court or Victorian England. Because those times and places are different than the reader is accustomed to, they understand fewer of the data points, and therefore, there are more possible outcomes available to their imagination that would fit those points. Science fiction, by virtue of being set in a thoroughly foreign world, far out in space, in the future, with aliens widely different from us, or some combination of those, creates situations where the readers know even fewer data points than in other genres. We know what kinds of things might or might not happen on the English moors or the Napoleonic battlefields. Who among us knows the full range of things that might happen the first time we encounter an alien species with superior intelligence, or in a future where governments and households are run by benevolent supercomputers, as in John C. Wright’s The Golden Age trilogy? Rather, science fiction allows us to break out of more boundaries than normal literature, thereby opening up an even more diverse array of possible curves with which we could attempt to forecast the storyline. What if certain rules no longer applied? What if we had to migrate to undersea worlds? What if we could live for a thousand years? And so on. The final stage of the argument, then, is to suggest that science fiction poetry takes that curve-fitting problem one step further. Because poetry only hints at so much of its story, it leaves open an even wider variety of possible places it could lead to next. It presses and allows us to explore many more worlds on our own. Science fiction confronts us with the curve-fitting problem as we create an imaginative forecast out ahead of us. Science fiction poetry, in turn, does this more fully by giving us fewer data points to which we must fit our various possible curves. Of course, the data points it does provide are interesting and vital to determining some centers of gravity around which our imaginative travels must orbit — complex though that orbit might be. In this way, we make the transition from seeing that science fiction literature stimulates our imagination even more than normal literature to seeing that science fiction poetry does so even more than science fiction stories. Following the trajectory created by the evolutionary timeline of our cerebral development, then, we see the curve supporting the claim that science fiction poetry is our most advanced art form. I would like to proceed even one step farther, however, so hold on to your hats. As great as something we could possibly imagine could be, we can imagine that it might be even better if it were real. For instance, however cool we think faster-thanlight travel to far-flung galaxies, colonies on the moon, or uploadable psyches that can
live for a thousand years might be, it is even more amazing to imagine those things coming to pass (hey, I paid attention during a few grad school lectures on Anselm of Canterbury). They would be more cool if they were real. This is the point at which science fiction and science fiction poetry moves from thrusters to warp drive in the comparison to other literature, for only science fiction can imagine things into being. No matter how vivid or well-written a novel about Victorian England might be, it cannot change the realities of that world, but as generations of physicists and engineers have shown, science fiction can do exactly that — it can imagine the future in a way that actually changes the shape of the future in reality. I will close, then, with a passage from Ray Bradbury’s short story, “The Toynbee Convector,”
“I Am Going There” by Marcin Majkowski, 2012
You see the point, don’t you, son? Life has always been lying to ourselves! As boys, young men, old men. As girls, maidens, women, to gently lie and prove the lie true. To weave dreams and put brains and ideas and flesh and the truly real beneath the dreams. Everything, finally, is a promise. What seems a lie is a ramshackle need, wishing to be born. Here. Thus and so.
Erik Richardson lives in a suburban commune with his wife, daughter, dog, a couple of robots, and a small pride of cats. He is a computer teacher, a psychology grad student, and he runs a small business with his wife feeding the fandom of various science fiction and fantasy series. He’s published some poetry here and there, won a couple of prizes, and his first collection is currently correcting the wobble of some poor editor’s desk. When/if he grows up, he wants Dr. Susan Calvin’s job. Erik is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye. Tanglethorne: www.tanglethorne.com Read Erik’s poem on page 37.
Merrifield’s Tao of Poetry:
A Review of Meyerhofer’s Pure Elysium By Karla Linn Merrifield
Pure Elysium Poems by Michael Meyerhofer Palettes & Quills Paper / 39 Pages $10 US
“a gothic hourglass / of sand” Genre. We know exactly what that means. We automatically think fiction or poetry or essay. And subgenre. We know that too, off the top of the head: sci-fi or romance or western. Or, in terms of poetry, we can follow poetic form: sonnet, haiku, prose-poem, villanelle, ad infinitum. One of the defining characteristics of the human species is: we classify — anything and everything. Think of the elaborate, painstaking Linnaean taxonomic system of classification for animals and plants that places us in the animalia kingdom, cordata phylum, primate order, hominidae family, homo genus, sapiens species, sapiens subspecies, making us officially Homo sapiens sapiens. “People classify things,” says ethno-scientist E.N. Anderson. “The fundamental, original purpose of this is to make the world manageable. . . . Thus, as Kant pointed out, we assimilate and differentiate as we need to. Humans seem to be natural classifiers,” he points out in a case study posted on his Department of Anthropology website at the University of California, Riverside.* In millennia past, this tendency saved lives and no doubt still does. We’ve classified snakes with arrow-shaped heads as poisonous and give them a wide berth out on the trail or in the garden. And, in a sense, this tendency saved this particular Homo sapiens sapiens, subsub-species bibliocriticus, a lot of agony. Say what? In reading Michael Meyerhofer’s Pure Elysium, I sensed I had stumbled across a new sub-sub-genre of poetry, something I came to call “tempus poetry.” That is, poetry in which poems function as time machines. My all-too-human brain neatly categorized this wondrous new type of poetry. A glance at the page — behold the stanza breaks — told me: this is poetry. Then, studying the lines, I realized I was often in the sub-genre realm of science fiction and fantasy. To wit, in “Parable,” he writes in the opening stanza: *See web reference at the end of article.
On the morning of the great battle, the knights woke in such a fuss that they dressed themselves backwards – metal first, then cloth, then flesh…
Upon completing a first reading and then returning to the poems, heeding my evolutionary urge to classify, I realized that Meyerhofer has created a new sub-subgenre: poems that transport the reader through time. Thus in “Lessons of the Linothorax,” we are whisked away to an ancient city-state: The Greek hoplies made their armor out of linen glued layer on layer with a tough leather core, stiff at first, until body heat made it mold to the wearer’s torso, each one like a battle-worn fingerprint.
In tempus poetry — in Meyerhofer’s poems — we are there so palpably we can almost feel “the slice of a Persian spear.”
“all that expires under Time’s watch” Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know what you’re thinking. Poets have been doing this for eons. And you’re right, they have. Tennyson quite famously jettisoned us into ancient Greece, for example, in his magnificent “Ulysses,” where we feel the movement of the Mediterranean Sea “Thro scudding drifts” as “the rainy Hyades / Vexed the dim sea.” I’m confident you could think of a dozen other examples. Poems in search of further classification, is how I see it. But it took a voice as fresh and original as Meyerhofer’s for me to discern the sub-sub-species of poems, just as the discovery of the bones in Ethiopia in 1997 gave scientists the new classification Homo sapiens idaltu. H. s. idaltu, who are our direct ancestors, existed some 160,000 years ago. We just didn’t have a name for them. Tennyson’s poetic lines have been around since 1833, but now we have a classification for them. Or, at least, I do. And discovering there is such a thing as tempus poetry makes the writing of this review no agony but a delight — a delight in the poems, a delight in submitting to their power as time machines to take me far, far away across decades as well as millennia. I decided to reread Meyerhofer’s poems, stopping along the way to step outside a speakeasy and ride off with the flappers of “Why Girls Walk Home.”
So these four flappers get a flat tire next to the beach – what to do but shrug off a few pounds of cloth and go skinny-dipping – which, in 1929, means splashing about in underwear layered like a nun’s habit.
There’s also Meyerhofer’s time-machine poem, “Number Twenty-Five,” that takes you back to the 19th Century, where I join Custer’s 7th Cavalry and witness the death of Charles W. Campbell, “a one-time carpenter from Iowa,” who, with “other boys” found himself “mangled up and gut-shot by the natives, / a storm of Lakota and Cheyenne.” Tempus poetry! Is that fun or what?!
“Father Time could say something” But I can hear some of you arguing with me, pointing out that poets have written about time travel. That too is nothing new. And you’d be right on that count, as well. A Google™ search of “time travel poems” turned up many. Like the one titled “Poem: Time Travel” on “Christina Sng’s Official Poetry Website,” which, interestingly enough, is tagged (aka classified) “SF Poems, Space Poems, Time Travel.” And one by a fellow named Bruce Whealton, called “Time Travel.” And “A Time Travel” by Debashish Haar. (Hint: Don’t waste your time.) None can hold a Roman candle to Meyerhofer’s work, in part because he’s a “history junkie,” as he confessed at a reading of Pure Elysium at Lift Bridge Bookstore (Brockport, NY) last summer when lines in this book came to life on the poet’s tongue. The reading was a celebration of the book, which had recently won the 2010 International Poetry Chapbook Competition, judged by poet Dorianne Laux. That Meyerhofer knows — and loves — history became quickly evident with his reading of “Wisdom of the Ancients.” The sizable audience was transported to the Roman coliseum:
Imagine sitting with your kids, munching a snack, watching condemned men splash and drown.
And the thing is, we do imagine it, can see and hear the “youngest points and laughs, / the sound pure Elysium over the din.” That, friends, is the poem as time machine. By many of his titles alone, Meyerhofer orients us to a remote time. Here are two examples: “Damnatio Memoriae” and “Carpe Diem, Quam Minimum Credula Postero.”
We are instantaneously catapulted into Roman centuries. Sometimes, if the title doesn’t get us there, the first line will, as in “Ode to Coprolite,” which opens: “Over fourteen-thousand years ago.” Thanks to TCE contributor Tom Holmes for recommending this book in his Reader Survey. Little did I know that I would accompany “a Siberian who followed the snowy herd” or watch the stranded flappers “high-step // into the celluloid archives / of my great-grandfather’s time.”
As if “torn from the only copies of Sappho” Still not buying into my idea of tempus poetry? Fine. No need to, really. Pure Elysium offers pure poetic satisfaction for many other reasons. Meyerhofer is a master of his craft. Line breaks, stanza breaks, are meticulously rendered for maximum effect. You have to admire a tercet such as this one that opens “The Birthdays of Ex-Lovers:” How they pinball through the mind like the combinations of outgrown lockers, a mishmash of Virgos and Cancers
Or these two couplets that conclude “Carpe Diem, Quam Minimum Credula Postero:” you squirreled away, down to that last holy shilling. This is the debt we owe for what does not but should leave us breathless, present, speaking in tongues.
There are pleasing rhythms in his lines, too. One of my favorites: “of dinosaurs, sea cows, Babylonians” (“Father Time and Baby New Year”). Another beauty: “Dustin said yellow. I said blue.” That one line with its two simple sentences delivers us to that era when the poet was “sixteen, working at a greasy spoon,” as told in “The Only Time a Woman Has Bought Me Flowers.” Rhythm means something greater than itself. Did I mention his vivid imagery? His gift for metaphor? I’ve given you plenty of hints, but here’s a clock-stopper from “The First Time,” in which he addresses his mother’s death:
They brought her back, made it so the heart-quake that killed her would not come for another year, the rest of us asleep, indifferent tiles of a bathroom floor cold as topsoil against her cheek. Forget what the poets say.
And here are the closing couplets of “The Gray Gray Bones of Language:” We remain a nation of poetry and prose-poems, where Muslims and non-Muslims alike rise and wheel in tandem with the same pyrite-colored star that gives us light, shade, and all the wild ribbons of our breathing.
There’s also whimsy in many of Meyerhofer’s poems, the kind of whimsy that had his audience in Brockport last summer chortling. “Ode to Coprolite” still makes me chuckle, especially when he defines coprolite: “the unexpectedly lovely / spirals of a fossilized turd.” H. s. idaltu, our ancestor, has left his (or her) mark just as Meyerhofer’s more immediate ancestors, introduced in the poem’s second stanza, left theirs as they “followed / a knot of McDonalds all the way / from Czechoslovakia to Indianapolis.” And who wouldn’t at the very least offer up a smile for “Before Rilke Was a Man” where the poet confesses: I wanted Rilke to be a woman the first time I came across his Selected at a rummage sale, chancing upon The Panther. . . . ***
I pictured her staking out zoos, feathers in her braids, her soft eyes noting each shudder of captive grace. In “For Tanya, Whose Fate Remains Unknown,” Michael Meyerhofer says, “We humans have so few worthwhile / inventions.” One of them is poetry. One of them is free-verse sci-fi-ish poetry. One of them is free-verse, sci-fi-ish tempus poetry. Meyerhofer didn’t invent the sub-sub genre; but his poems, like the fossilized bones of H. s. idaltu, revealed it. And left me wanting more. More, more, more Meyerhofer timemachine magic.
Left: “City of Dreams” Right: “Another Place in Time” By Andrew McIntyre, 2012
Learn more about Classification —
Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Riverside: http://www.krazykioti.com/articles/science-and-ethnoscience-part-3-classification/
Award-winning poet, National Park Artist-in-Residence, and assistant editor and book reviewer of The Centrifugal Eye, Karla Linn Merrifield has had work published in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has seven-going-on-eight books to her credit, including Godwit: Poems of Canada, which received the 2009 Andrew Eiseman Writers Award for Poetry, and her new chapbooks, The Urn and The Ice Decides: Poems of Antarctica, from Finishing Line Press. Forthcoming from Salmon Press is her full-length collection Athabaskan Fractal and Other Poems of the Far North. She recently co-edited the Liberty’s Vigil, The Occupy Anthology: 99 Poets among the 99%. You can read more about her and sample her poems and photographs on her blog. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org Finishing Line Press: http://www.finishinglinepress.com/ Karla’s Blog: http://karlalinn.blogspot.com 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
The Centrifugal Eye’s Final Frontier: News & Guides for Internet Exploration
Press Releases Future Cycle Press has just released contributor Scott Owens’ new book of poems, For One Who Knows How to Own Land. These 98 pages of poetry focus on the experience of growing up in the disappearing rural South. To order, contact Owens at: www.scottowenspoet.com, or visit the publisher at: http://www.futurecycle.org/. Contributor Bill Yarrow’s first book of poems, Pointed Sentences, has just been published by BlazeVOX; see http://www.blazevox.org/. Just out in April from Wind Publications (http://windpub.com/) is contributor Jared Carter’s fifth collection, A Dance in the Street. Contributor Carol Levin is celebrating the publication of her new booklength poetry collection, Stunned by the Velocity, available from Pecan Grove Press at http://library.stmarytx.edu/pgpress/ordering/index.html. Congratulations to long-time contributor Lynn Strongin whose new book, Orphan Thorns, is out from JB Stillwater. Order through http://www.jbstillwater.com/ or Amazon.com. Lynn also has another new book, Bread of the Waters, out from Ravenna Press. (http://www.ravennapress.com/). Contributor Harry Calhoun has a new limited-edition chapbook out; it’s titled Maintenance and Death from the UK’s Pig Ear Press, (http://www.pigearpress.co.uk/Home_Page.html), or directly from Harry at HarryC13@aol.com. Also out is Harry’s volume of older work from the ‘80s and ‘90s, Retro, available from Alternating Current - Propaganda Press site at http://alt-current.com/pp/pp_item.html#retro. You can get a signed copy from Harry by sending an email to the address above. Congratulations to regular contributor Ellaraine Lockie, whose new chapbook, Wild as in Familiar, from Finishing Line Press (http://www.finishinglinepress.com/), was a finalist in FLP's 2011 chapbook contest. Out from Blue & Yellow Dog Press is contributor Keith Moul’s The Grammar of Mind. (http://blueyellowdog.weebly.com/index.html) Contributing poet and photographer Laury Egan announces that her Fog and Other Stories is now available from publisher Stone Garden, (http://www.stonegarden.net), bookstores, and online (with Kindle and Nook options); signed copies are available from Laury: email@example.com.
Back Issues The Centrifugal Eye has been around for 7 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 3 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
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“Lumina” by Jeanie Anthony, 2012