The Journal of Undiscovered Poets

Page 1

and are hunted we take it all in we take it all personally we stand upright foolish or wise double

vision superstition you have yet to find us unless we want you to

T o see from both sides to see what isn’t even double vision superstition slow motion no motion

we ride the night alone in our own candlelight we eat and are eaten we hunt

All Journal content Copyright Š 2020, 7moredays and its contributors.

We are unspeakably

alone. -Rainer Maria Rilke - ‘Letters to a Young Poet’

The Journal of Undiscovered Poets

Published by 7moredays Summer

Premier Issue: 20Twenty ISSN 2563-2132

Co-founders & Publishers

Margaret Sullivan Editor

Jeff Lederman Creative Director

Heartfelt thanks to The W. Garfield Weston Foundation & Pilar Bauta for the generous grant that set this journal on its path. 100% of any profits realized through this publication will be donated to Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre, on Salt Spring Island, in support of their work rescuing and caring for injured and and orphaned wild animals.

FROM the EDITOR Had I enjoyed the benefit of lifelong psychoanalysis, I might have in time, identified a few running themes in the emotional-intellectual inventory of my life. Aloneness, to be sure. Poetry, always the refuge, the link to everything around me, ahead of me, behind me. Beauty, because it is so easy to find and so hard to explain. And secrets. Secrets can be wonderful, brutal, surprising, obvious, on the surface, buried. They can establish intimacies, they can destroy them. Secrets carry a sense of the forbidden, the mysterious. What I like most about secrets is that they give us a sense of what is hidden, and what is waiting to be found. In these pages you will encounter poets whose work has, in large measure, been hidden from the public eye. Their poems are secrets waiting to be told. Helping to build this journal is fulfilling a lifetime dream of mine— to shine a light on the wisdom, the beauty, the talent that can be found in the hidden— revealed in the secret— discovered in the undiscovered. - Margaret Sullivan

TABLE OF CONTENTS In Search of Mumbai What If The Queens Necklace


8 10 11


12 13


14 15

Ghost Boy What Have I Gotten Myself Into


16 17

Untethered I am Tahoe



All Things Must

A conversation


With Poet Carl Watson

Asked and




26 29

What To Listen For In Music poem XIV



Memory Near or Far



Harvest Kitchen



S wimming Maria’s Island



Dead Men



Feathered & White-Haired Folk


36 37

On Blake Street Childhood



J ust When You Thought






I Loved You Like



Where I’m From



No Bacon

The Reach of the World As Long as We’re Heros



Let Down



The Mullet



All That Glitters



They can’t Kill Us All



Amazon Two Stars





55 56



58 59

A Rainy Afternoon in My Grief Group Beyond the Pine Rail



Memories of Holy Ghost



A Blank Page (for Bliss)



Run On Sentence to the Trees





64 66 68

Hiding Places Alcohol and Power Saws The Mesas of Her Knees


70 71

The Ancient Ghost of Regret Peace on 51st Street



Mean Dogs


Special Thanks to Diana Hayes Printing by Contour Grafix All Journal content copyright © 2020, 7moredays and its contributors. 7moredays 434 Eagle Ridge Drive Salt Spring Island BC V8K2L2 Canada Journal of Undiscovered Poets

MURZBAN F. SHROFF In Search of Mumbai Sometime back I went in search of Mumbai wondering if I had read her right. Sometime back I set out with trepidation wondering if I had written her right. Writers embrace such doubts, you know, which are usually born out of paranoia that you might turn extinct, you might get called out, you might be written off as a prejudiced, lopsided fool. So first I went and asked her vendors, her sellers of clothes and trinkets, cell phones and pirated books ... I asked politely what was this city called Mumbai and what it had delivered to them. And they looked at me as though I was mad, as though I was some kind of an obstructionist, as though I had come to interfere with their camaraderie, to question their destiny. Why you do this to us, sahib? they said. In Bambai, who has the time to answer such questions? And at once they went back to their seduction of customers, a shrewd gaiety in their voices, an indifferent silence toward me. And then I turned to the chroniclers of the city, its historians and its poets, its artists and its actors, and I asked each of them individually in my own way, how was it that Mumbai had impacted them – what a fine word to use, I remember thinking, how much confidence it exuded, how much promise it held.

But instead of giving me the answers I sought, they all hissed their contempt at me. What! they declared, you want a millennial’s version of the city? Then go ask the millennial, show some respect for our age and experience! By now I should have been in tears, but I wasn’t I had removed my spectacles and put them on To show I too was a man of age and experience, I too had my version of Mumbai, which was hard-earned. Thankfully, no one asked me about that, though one enterprising pirate tried to sell me a copy of my book, with the ink smudged, the paper transparent, the cover glossy, and my petrified clean-shaven face staring out at me. On the basis of that – a backcover - we became friends, and he admitted most sheepishly that I did know the city, that I had disturbed it with a case and a controversy, that raged for a longish time in the courtrooms of Mumbai.

shroff 9

MURZBAN F. SHROFF What If What if in the name of humanity you are allowed to commit just one crime legally? What if you could give vent to a feeling, a storm, a resentment, a rage? What if you could act on a thought, an impulse that has long taken root, knowing you’d get away with murder? What if you could choose your victim, your weapon of choice How precise would you be in your mind and method? Would it be the politician you would opt for He who auctions your city with primal ease? Or would it be the builder who defaces it with gaudy highrises and cramped, poky parking lots? Or would it be the engineers and the inspectors who greenlight projects in exchange for a few sweeteners? Or would it be the hawkers who stake their claim on public pavements and bikers who tear up the pavements in order to avoid the congealing effects of traffic Or would it be the policeman who looks the other way on all minor offenses, his demeanor that of a man on vacation, enjoying your taxes? Or would it be the policewoman who has learnt to look cute in a uniform bantering with her male colleagues and assured that her training is paying off well? Or would it be the idler, the stroller, the bleak-eyed zombie too overwhelmed by the city to realize he stands between you and your chores? But your first task remains to understand the chore of your existence, why you were born here, in this country of 1.3 billion, trapped somewhere between the yin and yang of poverty and prosperity. Till then you will always be a What-if, carrying the burden of your outrage in a land where a single life won’t be missed, might not even be reported. Ah, the luxury of rage, the temptation of a thought murder, and the only thing standing between you and that murder is a space button that has your fingerprints.

MURZBAN F. SHROFF The Queen’s Necklace I stand before your blue frothy smile and see the waves rushing in I stand before your inviting arms, dead center, and marvel at your perfect symmetry It wasn’t planned – this symmetry, and yet it mystifies, stupefies, and defeats It should be the blueprint, this symmetry, for the keepers of the city But no, they are too busy protecting their jobs, appeasing wives, bosses, kids, contractors, and appetites And meanwhile I just stand before your twinkling smile, seeing what they can’t I stand and feel that surge of joy, as you rush to wash the feet of my city I stand, not quite oblivious to the walkers who fly past, seeking distraction, salvation, resuscitation, morning and evening And I stand before you, thinking of my father, grandfather, uncles, all passed now, but who – at one time – might have stood like this, feeling wave upon wave of gratitude, feeling washed and clean and majestic It is the mountains that are majestic, I am told. But no, no, I prefer you, the soul of my city In your arms I can love, hurt, whisper, confide, forget I can even refuse to grow old, gracefully You see I am not destined to grow old I am only on a long walk by myself, by the sea.

shroff 11

WILL SCHMIT The Reach of the World

The reach of the world is a dog barking in a borrowed voice. The reach of the world is unnatural winds protesting ruined water. The reach of the world is a backyard butterfly farm. The reach of the world is earthquakes triggering the sliding scale. The reach of the world numbers houses by missing tenants. The reach of the world is a child’s hand clasped to a cage. The reach of the world is a pair of shoes strung along telephone wires.

WILL SCHMIT As Long As We’re Heroes

I picked this road just to scare crows, terror being all the rage. Being culturally unsure of myself, I screamed like a banjo. The empty rope, banging on the flagpole, indicates I may be late. The bellwether breeze shifts the clouds like optimists at a fire. A drought is one way to measure water, let that sink in. We drag our feet in lockstep as darkness reloads. The library is full of stories, and empty chairs.

schmit 13

JOHN GREY Ghost Boy The baby was almost transparent, and it had just been born. It glowed translucent under lights as if already fitted out for halo. The doctor shook his head, medical sign-language for death. The mother was still shell-shocked from the pain, unaware of the IV pulsing to and from the child. And yet it survived, found the teat like a cub, sucked its way into “maybe there’s a chance”. Still pale and bloodless but so was its father when confronted with the worst scenario. The more veins filled with blood, the less visible they were to the naked eye. The boy’s skin dug up a little color from somewhere, a pink as gentle as his touch. By six months, it was as if the baby’s parents were two sighs of relief. Their exhalations couldn’t move him. He weighed enough by then.

JOHN GREY What Have I Gotten Myself Into I struggle with the connection of love to marriage. I was expecting a continuity like that of joined letters. But they’re really apples and whatever it is that could not possibly be an apple. Love is non-representational. Marriage is a series of images. So we have this paradox of abstract form trying to exist within the boundaries of suburban house, two car garage, and picket fence. And working through the labyrinth of relationships is heightened by the fear that romance is just taking out the garbage in a different form. It’s beautiful, fulfilling, and must be ready for pickup on a Wednesday morning early.

grey 15

WREN TUATHA Untethered Blame it or praise it, there is no denying the wild horse in us. —Virginia Woolf To be caught in the woods, his sense of place. He had the smoothest canter of the ponies, like the moment a plane untethers from pavement. The palomino Dodge could see girl me, lead in hand; would lead me to the trees. I would be quick and right with the halter. He let himself be led to the mounting block, Pap watching. I dovetailed to every twitch of skin and shift of hoof, every witnessing tree. Dodge knew what I wanted—to gallop up and down the avenue (a field, not a road) until my thighs were sore from holding on. It’s a peregrine ribbon, souls of planet, zephyr, muscle and saddle becoming chimera, painting the jetstream, drumming veins... Dodge, day moon squall, would veer at full tilt for the trees that lined the avenue and wipe me off, a hard hit to the ground. Always get back on! I knew the light and dark of this. Colonial/cowboy/suffragette hand-me-down, as if grown girl me would be barred from rodeos and legislatures. So much depends. The race to be untethered. What did girl me want to be? Senator of thickets and notebooks, stag of the ribbon way. I woke to galloping under my window, jumped to see where Dodge was heading, called out to Pap, Dodge is free— But no pony was on the path. Just bluegrass and birdsong. They found the palomino, legs up in the woods. His rest, his place, his choosing

WREN TUATHA I am Tahoe My traveler friend Birdsfoot sees my need, searches her backpack, gives me Lake Tahoe. “This is you; Fill yourself up...� Ancient mud crack jigsaw and jutting fossils, I start empty. Miles to the rim, my rim, a stream traces green and picks up minerals, vitamins, recycled. I am aware of its approach. I am aware of the approach of a stormfront but I had enough millennia ago. So my mountains catch it, taming its complaints into concerns, hardly concepts, really. Migratory water and molecules, streaming down the bowl for the slow building soak. This will take a while.

tuatha 17

Water means to tell the story of oneness But water presents itself in pieces A wave is itself and can be counted And beads on a windshield have names Fire? It’s no different There was a year in my life That I didn’t get to have It was taken away from me because I was too distracted The invention of desire in this bed of invention I could try to get it back is where we have made ourselves But the longing for a quiet life has made my mind dull TodayofI took minute to look up My Love has a voice purealonging I found the clouds assigning their parts in the play I sleep under his eyelashes He can appear to me in the smell of his hands - - M. Sullivan He waited and his flesh waited He waited without any help from time or from the other heaven My Love and I lie in a bed of pure dreaming The one we invented

CAREN BEILIN All Things Must All things must go. Deck furniture, architecture-themed coffee table books (Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, different movements of Frank Lloyd Wright), a never-used hammock, soiled bathroom towels and towelettes, some with the monograms ripped out like Oedipal eyes ripped out, appliances with dull blades from blending birds, the canary an ephedrine sun, half-filled fragrances (Estee, Calvin, Hermes, assortments of homemade musks, plus our other concoctions), red marbles that are Mars in a board game about outer space, crystal decanters, several black photographs signed by Bill Clinton, old watches and plastic pansies that are supposed to go in a clear display dish, new garbage bags, a sundry of taxidermed items (deer, birds, squirrels, bears, rabbits, dogs, unidentified), whips, whips, and more whips, books on cannabalism, old Brainteezers, two dull shovels, books, (lots from the canon, including too many copies of “War and Peace”), “Dwells”, and a big stack of “Art in America”, (some with the pictures of penises cut out), interesting glass bottles and fun random mugs, our daughter’s poetry chapbooks, How-to books (basic writing, water torture, build a deck, 1001 braids, canning fruit, jarring meat, curbing), framed museum posters (Lichtenstein at MoMA, Botero at SAM), an assortment of musical equipment and sound-proofing strips, a ripped and shitted-on mattress, women’s clothing, men’s clothing, women’s shoes, men’s shoes, women’s jewelry, men’s jewelry, women’s contraceptives, men’s contraceptives, used.


A conversation with poet Carl Watson Carl Watson is a poet, fiction writer, playwright and critic living in New York City and the Catskill Mountains. His fiction works include the books Beneath the Empire of the Birds, The Hotel of Irrevocable Acts, Backwards the Drowned Go Dreaming and Idylls of Complicity. His poetry collections include Anarcadium Pan, Astral Botanica, and most recently, Pareidolia. His works have been published in The Village Voice, NY Press, The Williamsburg Observer, Sensitive Skin, The Brooklyn Rail, Evergreen Review, Degraphe, La Liberation and others. He is widely published in French contemporary literature. Watson won the Kathy Acker Award for Fiction in 2012. 2012. Margaret Sullivan - Tell us about what influences you in deciding what, to whom and how to submit your work. Do you try to make it a regular habit, or is it affected by internal or external events/moods? Carl Watson - I rarely submit to anything, and when I do it is entirely affected by outside events— someone asks me for a piece or recommends that I send something somewhere. My own experience over the years is that unless you have some kind of referral or connection, you’re unlikely to be considered, thus the hyper-active social life of many poets. Of course, my lack of ambition is a problem for me. I should be submitting. I still send stuff to the New Yorker every couple years. No luck there. MS - Which of your voices/characters (in poetry and fiction) represent you best consistently throughout your life? Do you feel that you and/or your work have changed much over the years? CW - My fictional characters are far closer to who I am in real life. In fact, I have been accused of merely stuffing my own words into the mouths of my supposed “characters”. I’m not really very good at creating interesting or unique characters, so I guess all of them in some way are just me in different disguises, like in dreams—they say all the characters in your dreams are really you. The voice I use in poetry is more abstract and while it reflects my own psychological and philosophical interests, it is more a floating meta-voice not really tied to me. MS - What forms are you most drawn to in your reading and writing? I took a course with Irvine Welsh where he had us read our favourite opening paragraphs of stories or novels. It was a very interesting exercise in learning about what forms writers are drawn to. Some were third person background details, some dialogue, some went straight into first person extreme visual action. It’s pretty easy to tell from your fiction what you have liked, but how would you answer that today?

CW - My reading interests have changed a lot over time. Grad school pretty much killed my interest in reading altogether. By the time I got my PhD I never wanted to open another book. But I’m trying hard to like reading again, although it’s difficult in this mediated age. I think the internet had destroyed everyone’s ability to concentrate. Our brains are ruined and most people suffer from advanced ADHD. That said, for the last decade or so I’ve been most interested in non-fiction, theoretical or scientific. I haven’t been able to read fiction for quite a while, though I do read the occasional crime novel. Lately I am trying to read books on my bucket list. Sometimes I’m successful. I’ve finished Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, Moby Dick. I’m reading Dracula now. Notice these are mostly long books, which is why I’ve been avoiding them. I think Spenser’s Fairy Queen might be next.

“Grad school pretty much killed my interest in reading” MS - What if anything has changed about the locations of your writing? For example, if you ever get back to Chicago, how do you find Uptown now and does it mean anything to you? (My son lives there, and it is very similar to my 80’s youth in some ways, very millennial moneyed in others.) CW - As you know I have set a lot of my writing in Chicago. For me it has always been the city of my early inspiration and I did first find my voice there. Sadly, I have not been back to Chicago in years, mostly because my parents are no longer around. And being old I don’t travel as much. Last time I was in Uptown I was surprised how gentrified it had become. I was originally drawn to Uptown in the late 70s, because it was so unique—the mix of people, the peculiar life of the streets. And it seemed like no one was trying to capture that world in literature or art. I used to walk around there endlessly. In fact I loved walking in Chicago in different neighborhoods. But I was young. Now I stay home mostly. What I’d like to do now, in this late stage of my life is write more about nature. I’d even like to write a book that didn’t have a human narrator, where all the drama took place in the natural world, in the language of rocks and trees, animals, water and lightning, etc. Probably won’t get around to it though.

MS - A reader critic posts about you, “He is both a witness to and a creator of the chaos around him. . .” Do you have any thoughts or feelings about that?

watson 21

CW - I don’t remember seeing this, but maybe I did. My memory is shot. Like most writers, I want to be a witness. I’ve tried to be a decent witness in my limited realms. But I wonder what the critic means by a creator of chaos. Does it mean that I create chaos where it might not exist? Guilty as charged, I guess. Actually I think I’m just recording reality. It’s all chaos—this is becoming more obvious every day, in politics, in physics, in economics. Chaos and order are just levels of perception—you can see through each one to the other, on and on and on. MS - How is it the same or different for you when you are in mode of writing versus a mode of submitting? Is submitting more like an activity—like paying monthly bills, or does it hold a sense of promise or adventure? CW - Submitting forces you to make a temporary final version of whatever it is you’re submitting. And that’s a good thing. But once I send something in, I immediately think of the different better ways I could have phrased something or a better word I could have used. I already have enough self-doubt. Consequently, if I do submit something I try to forget about it right away. I don’t actually need to try that hard because my memory is pretty bad.

“Submitting forces you to make a temporary final version of whatever it is you’re submitting” But what I mean is I don’t keep track of it. I don’t pace the floor waiting for a phone call or check my email every hour. Then time passes and when the rejection (usually an email) finally arrives, it comes as a surprise, like phone call from someone you owe money to, who you haven’t seen in a while and you think, “Oh yeah, I remember now, I did that”. I usually feel bad about submitting, I get a bad feeling from it, like “Oh no, what have I done!” But I think most writers get a high from the anticipation—it’s a dopamine thing—acceptance, rejection, acceptance, rejection—it’s can be an addiction. But at least people who send out a lot of stuff have something to look forward to in life, and that’s good. Like I said before, poets should send out stuff, it’s what you’re supposed to do. I just don’t, and that’s my problem. MS - You mentioned the hyper-active social life that poets seem to need to stay noticed or recognized. Do you think that poets are naturally introverted, and that ‘get-ting out there’ is a painful contrived thing? Or are we just like everybody else—

some outgoing, some not? My boyfriend is a painter, and he would rather hide his work in a barn than show it in a gallery and stand around it. CW - Poets don’t seem that introverted to me. They seem very social, so getting out there isn’t painful or contrived. At least this is true of a lot of poets I know. But their sociability isn’t related to some expansive Whitmanesque desire to connect with the brotherhood of man, because they mostly just hang out with other poets. I know people who make a point of going to three or four readings a week, maybe even every night. The reading scene in some cities can be quite demanding, even exhausting, trying to be at every event, to be seen there, to be noticed, and hopefully to make a connection, to be asked to read or be in a magazine. It can be fun. But what starts out as joyful networking might breed social obligations that will eventually backfire. I used to be a part of all this, but I am old and jaded now, and far more introverted. Actually, I was introverted long before I started writing. I should also say here that performance is its own kind of art and being a performer of poetry is an ancient and noble pursuit. It can be exciting and inspirational. Even open mics can be a great learning experience. They certainly were for me. But it’s also true that writers need to, or should, spend a lot of time alone just to get anything done. This can lead to substance abuse and paranoia. There is danger everywhere. Many revered writers didn’t do public readings, and a lot of them didn’t care much what other people thought of them. Some of the greatest works of literature would have never survived an MFA workshop. It’s hard to know what to do. MS - Do you think there is a relationship between work quality and a need for recognition? Not sure abut this question, but do you have an opinion about whether the best poets would just as soon stay undiscovered? And maybe those who are not as brilliant want the limelight? CW - I don’t think anyone wants to stay undiscovered. But the need for recognition has little to do with the quality of work and may well compromise it. There is great value in having an audience, of course. You just have to be careful that it doesn’t limit your work in terms of what that audience expects, i.e. a certain kind of work, complete with the desired laugh lines and acceptable punditry from a character they know. I think that happens a lot in the reading scene. People start to imitate themselves just because it worked before. But I suppose that’s pretty much how we all get by socially. Predictability doesn’t always bring success, but it does make people comfortable. No one wants to have a beer with a time bomb. I guess this is a good place to end. I have to go back into isolation. I’ve contradicted myself enough for one day. watson 23

Asked & Answered questions from readers Hi Jeff! Hi Margaret! I know everyone in the poetry world is awesome. But I still want to be careful about people’s feelings. Is it OK to send my poetry to a bunch of different journals, even if they seem to compete with each other? Some of these magazines can take a year to get back to you. -Amber L., East Hampton, New York Hello Amber, It is thoughtful of you to consider this. Most journals post their submissions guidelines somewhere in the front matter. Usually, it is called ‘simultaneous submissions’. If they say that they’re OK, then you can submit the same poem to many journals at once. Some may say that they do not want this. Some will tell you simultaneous submissions are OK, but they want you to let them know if and when another journal accepts you. In any case, here is an important reminder to keep good notes about what poem went to whom and when, as well as when you expect to hear from them.

Dear Jake, We think it is a good idea to show an editor that you are choosing them for a reason, that you are not just mass mailing your poetry to hundreds of journals. You could start out your first paragraph with something like. . .’having seen your recent publication of undiscovered poetry, I think you will believe that this poem is just right for you. Or, ‘I read with interest that you have an issue coming up that will feature poets from the deep South.’ Another suggestion we would like to offer is that you describe a bit of your poetic philosophy and connect it to the mission and purpose of the journal. Most have some version of a mission statement. If you have difficulty learning about that, your local librarian is sure to be helpful. Dear Friends, My only glimpse of a social life is about what’s in the mailbox, which is typically a rejection letter. My question is about how other poets cope with the loneliness and the state of being an anonymous nobody? How do they deal with the constant rejection? -Winifred, Alberta, Canada

Dear MargaretGot any tips for grabbing an editor’s attention? Any sure fire tricks? -Jake from Topeka, Kansas

Dear Winifred, Or as we would like to call you, Dear Preaching to the Choir. Yes, it is widely known that writing poetry is a lonely undertaking. And there is a reason that

the Journal honours Rilke’s sentiment about ‘unspeakable’ aloneness. Loneliness has been attached to the poet’s life for so long that it has become stereotypic. Consider Emily Dickinson’s ‘The Loneliness One Dare Not Sound’, or Keats’ ‘To Solitude’, or Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘Alone’. The theme reaches back to Shakespeare, in ‘Sonnet 29’. We’d say that you are in good company, dear Lonely. Dear Margaret, I am about ready to call It a day. My poetry has gotten the kibosh from a dozen publishers. I’ve tried art magazines, literary journals, chapbook publishers, even contests. My question is—at what point do poets plain old give up and decide that they are not cut out for that particular calling? --Andrea in Mount Pleasant

Dear Andrea, If they do give up, and in some cases, we are awfully glad they didn’t, it isn’t after a mere dozen attempts, however diversified they may be. Robert Pirsig, was rejected 121 times before ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ found its publisher. Louisa May Alcott was told in a rejection letter for ‘Little Women’, to ‘Stick to Teaching’. Samuel Beckett’s play ‘Murphy’ was rejected by forty publishers before winning the Nobel Prize in 1969. We’re pretty sure they would all tell you not to give up too soon.

Are you an Undiscovered Poet? Read on and see. Promise me boy. Your grandfather’s words grow stronger. You bite down hard on the leather, its stale dryness cut with salty tears. You touch needle to flesh and an animal like wail erupts from deep within your soul and you pray. You pray to the needle and to the father you never met. You cry out for the old man...

If you are reading our Journal, then you have discovered Tony Martinez, a very gifted “Undiscovered Poet”. And if you are moved by what you have just read, then perhaps Tony has discovered a new audience. I was in a book shoppe the other day and the woman next to me clutching a volume said breathlessly, “I just discovered this poet and I am in love.” I glimpsed the name on the jacket and it was Rilke’s, “Letters to a Young Poet”. Like it or not, published or not, to everyone who has not read your work, you are an undiscovered poet. Not only is this a brand new journal and for you a new publishing opportunity, but also the doorway to a new audience - potentially an audience to whom you are still an undiscovered poet. We are aggressively seeking the poems of gifted poets working in any style to fill the pages of our upcoming issues.


(subscribe) q & a 25

MICHAEL SCHUVAL What To Listen For In Music Morning came, a tundra of forgiveness I couldn’t satisfy death, it just burned away ignored the countenance of my cellophane striving That’s what laughter will do, assist you in ignoring the things that people do to maintain a firm grip upon their slippery hands I tried calling up the stevedores but couldn’t find them anymore, perhaps they went extinct I looked for the recipes of ancient painters but their fluid mistresses didn’t care to share the secrets of the trade Linda, call me, please Linda! Call me. Sorry, that doesn’t belong there, it slipped in unannounced and I fucked up by including it where obviously it has no place Forget about Linda even though I can’t Linda, please call me I’m living in a desert without you I really have to stop this and get back – Back to talking about the hunt I went on to find the map to a kingdom of perseverance No one would help me they all thought it was less than futile they wouldn’t even give words to what my quest might mean So I went up and woke up late at night scratching my self without knowing why Looked out the window to discern the happening but what was happening? who could tell I collected my coins in a can and started a band The other players never showed up so I decided on a series of monologues written in the tongues of betrayed sailors but I couldn’t find any sailors so I switched to soldiers but there were too many and

so I did old classic folk tunes using only voice and harmonica I saw the mind doesn’t belong where music bleeds That there was no bandage to block up the wound that the everydays administer in smiling silence I stood on the corner with the can of romance clanging And there they came, all the doubters and critics with pencils breaking over the necks of lost birds I hit a certain note and bunting flew down off the buildings as if it were a holiday I was unaware existed and then the rain came and a flood forced me to reconsider my career path Linda please call me! There I was again at the window Depending on confluence, whispered by consequence Saturdayed by Sunday Dispersed by buried faith suddenly arisen to claim the last inch of me that sleep had already won from death Oh, watch, just watch this thing unfold, with a rhythm you couldn’t predict though it mirrored what you envisioned in every single unknown fashion And there’s one dance left for those with cards, go, gather around I should have stopped when going was unsure and become satis ed with desert silences Linda?

schuval 27


Poem XIV

There is little reason to expect reason The dolphin leaps over the moon’s moon Darling will you come to dinner ? Change your mind in the hallway beyond the rain Tip the waiter who has already gone home Lift up your boots soaked from snow and light Dreams shatter cups unmanufactured Witnesses alight on the coaches of flaming horses The advisor sharpens his pen and dulls his miles Faces at windows are not the current topic Rap performers have never taught opera workshops What you think is laughter is merely perfunctory choking I forgot what I sold and where I put the money What they are surveilling is not what should be seen There’s no way to explain the unfolding of disappearance There is a way to verbalize the drama of words on the walls This hook, this cry, this paper in your hand A town where dirt gathers lies and excuses A place where the regrets are burnished and kept and forgotten A woman who cannot intuit why her instinct is deadly and vivifying A man who tumbles at yes and trembles at knowing All the dreamers will gather their ignorance to support non profit theaters All the sitters will not stand even to shovel many inches of snow Applause should begin only when hands are available Love should arise when daughters have gone home Love should please when roofs have come down Love should appease when blindness the metaphor is suddenly seen Treatments, phones, voices and no voices Piled up things in a room that – piled up things in a room that no one And this has not ended said ticket taker to the patron with wet eyes and dry coat Are you leaving already? No, they are staying for they have paid already what they saved in time’s unfallen memory

schuval 29

EDWARD GARVEY Memory Near or Far The words behind a curtain so fine as to make memory transparent, or maddeningly nearly. I dreamt last night I went to the movies of our youth. We were older, like we are now. And you said “we have not saved our stories for when we grow old�. Are they safe, still within our youth? There are singular moments each day or night I swear that hour 24 passes and minute one clicks. Though the moment changes not every day and sometimes several. Often, as I turn off the bed light. But lately when we you me our two dogs are walking back home at night. Is it always at night? In the dead of summer when every leaf on every branch of every tree is alive in the darkness, I almost remember how you looked in our youth awake asleep. The words on this page fail memory near or far. But later now in the fall each night our tallerdog stays true through leaves thick along the roadside. Then we are back home deep within minute two.

MIMI JENNINGS Harvest Kitchen Cold this morning I stayed long in bed. Cottons to the basement, woolens upstairs. Sun took its time to bring today to the garden— soon kale will be sweet. Dew isn’t frost yet time to bring in peppers, cukes, tomatoes. Missed the basil for pesto, beestung picking berries. Beans gone hard—next year’s starts. Pot, lids drip, brine burns the house smells of vinegar and dirt. Kids are gone now who is all this for? I walk through the motions of fall. Debbie is dead her asparagus gone to fern, rose to hip. Summer’s over and I’m here, canning pickles.

jennings 31

Wrap your thoughts around your greatness and mimic as you’re on your way the ripe clouds’ pathway ever slowing the sun’s own brightness, full and glowing, great rivers that take the world where it’s going The beauty in things overflowing. -- M. Sullivan

DIANA HAYES Swimming Maria’s Island for Maria Mahoi – Russell Island By skiff, kayak, paddle we set out from Fulford Harbour’s wide-angle reach beaching your island, Salish midden a carpet of centuries on the west shore. You swam these waters too only a cotton nightdress grandchild riding your back Hawaiian father’s bloodlines giving you the swimmer’s edge multitude of nudibranch flying their tiny parachutes with diaphanous wings. I am in deep waters now, current pulling to the south-east tip. I follow your opalescent gown midwife, matriarch of Chuan apple blossoms, wild strawberries in fields of your planting, Asteroidea – stars of plenty tide pooling in your home cove smallest star broods its eggs,sea daisies no bigger than a dime. Ocean thrums my sternum I swim your laps midwife of babies orchard’s abundance bearing Haumea’s kings heart of a grandmother keeper of the moon’s language. You do not read but sing by ancient memory. This shoreline has all the fragrance the beauty you tended in spring or storm, in loss or birthing always you knew what to do. Teach me your songs Ma-Rye-ah as I breathe and crawl these seas, listening to the melody your voice, the music of Kapuna. hayes 33

ANNA VILLEGAS Dead Men These barb-wrapped boulders These stones which hold The fence in line Against uneven ground The ranchers call Dead men. They are never lured By wind pull Or gopher swell. Even the lust-charged bull Can’t craze them From their wire caskets Where the taut upward lines Define their parole. They have a lifeless job That can be done by none Except by them like you That have been made Dead men.

JEANNE GILES Feathered & White-Haired Folk Sitting in warm Spring’s arms as dusk falls I listen to the birds flutter and chitter home, saying goodnight to their loved ones. I picture a white-haired woman, Bent with time and love and worry and the work of courage, Joyfully greet the small child who waited so long for her mama in that eternal dawn. Is this a coming or a going? The two become one again and their long-since fallen tears become part of the current that carries us all along whether we want to go or not.

giles 35

LAURENCE SNYDAL On Blake Street 1967

Here’s my small house in Berkeley where Herb kicked The potted plant from the paintless porch, mad Because the morning he and I had picked For filming hadn’t worked. (I was gone, had Other fish to fry.) He still made The Death Of Alex Litzky which I watched today In San Jose and had to hold my breath When I saw myself, 27, play A poet drunk on drama and on dreams, Snagged in a snare of love and loss and lust, Who struggled to the surface of strange streams And searched for undercurrents he could trust. I played myself, a lost and lonely man, Tuned to the times. Bartending, wallowing In my books, intent on a secret plan To digest all that I’d been swallowing. I’ll never be that young again but stillSee in that film somehow someday I will.


God must have had a childhood much like mine, Plagued with chaos at the beginning, Fetal struggles, wet beds, the sun ablaze Over what was half imagined. The line Between life and light so close, then thinning Into matter. And finally amazed At what appeared to be success. An earth Enclosing everything that he could think. Of course, there would always be problems. Birth Is never easier than death. The wink Of knowing never easier than not. I have to hope he spent his childhood in A tree, engrossed in books. And that he spun His bike down summer shaded streets and bought Cold soda from a neighbor. With a pin, He outlined pictures, held them to the sun. He must have been a lot like me, so pleased With being that he’d never let it go. A being so involved in being god That he imagined that he never ceased, Surprised at everything he’d never know, Convinced that no one else could be as odd. We are companions in the grand design. I, cast in his own image, he in mine.

snydal 37

Z JAMES PROZ Just When You Thought Behind the third door was a planet waiting to be discovered. The planet was not an ordinary grouping of life forms, but a distinguished universal mix of institutions and sychronicities. In this world of mystics and miracle workers walked a gem of being referred to as Goodness. Goodness fell from the sky one day and just became a citizen of this wonderful world locked behind the third door. Goodness knew what was to follow was meant to be. That was the philosophy, that was the way. Well, one fine day 8 came upon Goodness in a field of tall trees. Green hands and green fingers of the trees waving at 8 drew him into this world. Hello Goodness! 8 said as he approached the patch of reality colored with love. May I sit and converse with you? Yes, please join me. I am dreaming of discovery and dimension. Have you seen the pool of prayers, my friend? Yes, 8 said as he wiped away a drop of yesterdays from his brow.

M.D. BERKMAN Digestion We argued throughout dinner, about what I can’t quite remember, as now you sleep, and I still lie awake in the pinching hour, when each undigested morsel is a thought and vice versa. Problems tightly curtain. Our bed seems the entire room, this room the whole apartment, the apartment our life, our life my life, folded down like paper for a snowflake How to make the right cut blind? One hand is on my belly, the other on yours, loathe to give or take heartburn as advice.

berkman 39

Some silence is cold as the wind off the coast of Maine. Its thrashing leaves a hollow path. It is numbing as a hostile parent. Its secrecy seems political. I know another silence. It tells secrets. It descends everywhere like morning rendering its world pure and new. It draws us together in quiet and seperate places. And when we slip away together, that silence is where we go. - -M. Sullivan

BRENDA GUILED I Loved You Like I loved you first like fire scorched earth take no prisoners hard-eyed happy to waste you with myself unquenchable loins unconscionable, oxidizing hunger for mutual down in flames destruction Till you said I think I’m falling I shook my head falling . . . Don’t . . . in love with you You yes you said it first Never me I’d learned my lesson well I said, better not confuse love and this lust is greedy enough

perfumed by your pungent water thirsty, god yes parched for more barely able to catch my breath from our whitewater ride daring to break down solid lesh to liquid cohesion to be drenched, illed daring to become sleek, shiny, wet, wet you

So you, yes tacit, actions-speak-louder than you said, But I do

Until camped ashore and married to the daunting don’t think too hard notion of conception, family, domesti . . . shhhh, just do it I loved you like earth like giant trees that survived the ire, the lood roots rammed through summer loam down past hardpan seeking underground rivers branches raking the stars as we forced the ground to yield and wondered what happens when you dare to plow the earth and touch the moon

Do you know what that means? It means I could love you like water coursing over wild terrain plunging over dangerous cliffs heading for a fertile ocean welcoming your rushing fluid no barriers boundaries, policies seeping into my every pore

And now years and children later I love you as I breathe like air just air thin air always there too given to be gauged blessed nonetheless

guiled 41

ALEXIS WILLIAMS Where I’m From I am from shiny woks Sitting on top of piles of old mail and medical papers. I am from cylinders of medicine and vitamins Next to bottles of Fabuloso. (The finest smelling universal cleaner I know.) I am from an outdoor junkyard playground. Where in some place exists The tallest tree I’ve ever climbed. I am from Ate Rose and Ate Esther. Who say, “Kumusta kana?” when they come over And “Sige na,” before they go. I am from a Food Lion that’s within walking distance Where I buy neon-green juice in a plastic bottle And a Star Crunch for fifty cents. I am from tables full of Lumpia, Pancit and Lechon. A little slice of my mother’s homeland Seven days a week. I am from plastic bins piled high Everywhere imaginable. I am from secret messages, old photographs and lost loves. Hidden in shoe boxes under my bed. I am from a mountain of unfinished diaries And piles of stories by my favorite authors And lonely books filled with my poetry.

MARTIN McGOWAN No Bacon No Bacon or Erasmus today, knowing all that could be known. Renaissance digging, reason delving and globe-netting talk swamp us. We know too much now and yet must be lifelong learners keeping up with the keeping up, which of things and knowledge has no end - an infinity of finites denied by the wonder-fille symmetries of math, but challenged by an expanding universe and serious dilettantes and artists who mess with charisma not cliche, with zen not dogma, with magic not statistics, with the ineffable not the inevitable. Therefore, trot naked with your pals, seek rainbow treasure. Note the shadows on the cave wall, then check the entrance and the light.

mcgowan 43

ELISA F. EVANGELISTA Let Down Let down your hair when it’s lost color Face down former auburn halos in picture frames Let go of girlish tales of lovely Rapunzel Let go of ads: Don’t Let Your Hair Go Let go of the hubbub at a party puffed in smoke Let go of let me compare you to salt and pepper Let go of the need for a foamy dye as if it was a potion, a beer: une blonde, une brune Let go of smirks and double takes at cafe tables Let go of flutes filled with ice cream called dame blanche, white lady Let go of your hair treated to fine peroxide Let go of heady promises from camouflaged cultural roots Let go of your stylist’s color palette Let go of restoration with touch ups from your roots to dip dyed tips Let go of your tresses rinsed with a mash of potpourri Let go of your monthly cover-ups with the blessing of bleach Let go your carefree fingers to love the hair you’re in Let go of your hair being versions of Grimm’s Tales Let down your damned natural hair.

CINDY ORSER The Mullet I hear that the mullet has made its return Oh for the 80s, my old heart does yearn Shoulder length locks cascade down his back Skin tight blue jeans showcasing his lack Cropped at the sides, bangs feathered so fine Disco and Bee Gees, dancing divine Light prism dance floors where mirrored balls turn Excited young lovers rock dance moves they learn Saturday Night Fever blasts on through the night Travolta-like clones swarm like moths to the light Singing “Stayin Alive” and trying to score They loved the excitement on the frenzied dance floor Hanger pulled zippers did up our jeans Big hair and mullets making the scenes Doubles and shooters gave us the boost To disco like John, once we were goosed I’m happy that hairstyles relaxed much since then The discos replaced by meditation and Zen Chapters and Starbucks now fill up my nights Soft chairs and fires and cafe dimmed lights A guy with a mullet and hips that gyrate Have lost their attraction for me as of late A silver haired senior with a twinkling eye Has all of a sudden become my kind of guy

orser 45

like silence, wa t er, or still air: what’s beautiful is what’s not there.

TONY MARTINEZ All That Glitters The powder sparkles in its lucent glycine bag each fleck capturing the embers of the dying sun. Wipe the vomit and sweat from your chin, The sick has arrived with a vengeance. Alternating between dry heaves and diarrhea, you finger the one bag of dope you have left. One load delivers you from the thunder that rages in your bones. One load in exchange for another sliver of existence. You’ve made it three days without using since the old man died but it is no longer tolerable. Your body soaked in kerosene and lit aflame. You empty the bag onto the charred spoon, use the syringe to add a few drops of water. Your hands operate on muscle memory, separate entities from a body in revolt. You heat the spoon with your lighter drawing the brown liquid into the syringe. The pungent smell of vinegar tickles your nostrils. So soon now... You don’t bother with the cotton filter. There’s no time to lose, except all the time that’s left.

You feel the weight of your grandfather’s scapular that now hangs around your own neck, as you pull the cracked leather belt tight around your scarred arm with your teeth. Promise me you’ll stop this boy. Promise me... The vein in your left arm kneels in anticipation, begging for deliverance. Promise me boy. Your grandfather’s words grow stronger. You bite down hard on the leather, its stale dryness cut with salty tears. You touch needle to flesh and an animal like wail erupts from deep within your soul and you pray. You pray to the needle and to the father you never met. You cry out for the old man. Your eyes fall upon the bleeding heart, enshrined in cheap plastic and you yield, beg a God that you don’t know, to deliver you to a place where grace exists. You let the belt slide off your arm, drop the still loaded syringe crushing it under your boot. Dr. Tony Martinez is a physician specializing in Addiction Medicine.

martinez 49

PATRICK BLUDWORTH THEY CAN’T KILL US ALL Fact is, they can’t kill us all. Not when we stand and move together. We must move together, sisters & brothers, and hurl our blood-red song of love directly into their empty hearts! When a million and a half of us surrounded the White House, and refused to leave, Nixon called off five thousand twitching cops & began to withdraw the troops from Vietnam. Not a shot was fired that day in Washington We must sit together, children, refuse to be moved and raise our voices in a message of love sung directly into their empty hearts! When half a million of us poured into Wenceslas Square, and refused to leave, the old Party hacks pulled back their tanks & began to flee their armor-clad offices. Not a shot was fired that day in Prague We must stand and lock arms together, dear friends, and hurl our blood-red song of love directly into their empty hearts! Fact is, they can’t kill us all, not all at the same time, If we stand and move together. Not if we all stand and move and sing together, dear ones

But alone they surely will murder us all, one by two, by twenty, by fifty, or a hundred at a time, cut to pieces in our beds, shot down in the street, blown to heaven by drones while we dance at weddings, while we writhe in pain in hospitals slammed by rockets and mortar shells. Don’t let them murder us all one by one, dear friends! Fact is, alone they will surely continue to murder us, all of us, one by one, by the dozens, two by two, by the millions, just like they are doing right now, every day, all over the world. Surely they will not stop slaughtering us ‘til we’re all gone, children, Every last one of us, dear ones, without a doubt. Unless we stand and move together, sisters, brothers, by the tens of thousands, by the millions, everyone Hurling our blood-red song of love directly into their empty hearts as they turn and flee! Fact is, as of today 2.6 million individual persons have been killed by US troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, & Pakistan. No one is counting the people killed by our drones & jets in Yemen, Libya, and Tunisia, or what once was Syria. Don’t let them murder those of us who are left, dear friends! Let us stand together, sing and move together until they turn and flee or throw down their guns and rush to join us in singing our cry of peace and love!

bludworth 51

DENNIS WINKLEBLACK Amazon Two Stars I’d expected five stars on Amazon. Would have understood four — first book, new author, quirky style, unschooled reader. Four would have been bearable. But two? Three is average, sure, yet couldn’t imagine average — three never crossed my mind. Two though. I first assumed the guy must have misunderstood — thought the title implied religious fare, then got pissed. But, apparently not — said my humor was cheesy, my plot unbelievable. Okay, two. Wasn’t one, thank God. One wouldn’t have been survivable. Not with the first review of my first book. Two’s pretty good — I mean, it could have been one. But something rocketed it to a two. Something like my uncommon gift and artistry, that’s what. Two out of five — that’s .400 in baseball. .400 in baseball puts you in the Hall, first ballot, easy. Not saying I should be in a Hall of Fame. But two stars says I just may be on my way.

RC deWINTER While Waiting for Snow bleary eyed i wake to a sky muddied with monk gray clouds swimming across the eye of a reluctant sun every bit as bleary as my own i can smell snow in the air leaking in through the ill fitting window nearest the bed i don’t want to get up but know i must there’s no one else to shovel the driveway pitted with cracks that catch the edge of the shovel with every scrape sighing i layer myself in the warmest clothes

coffee i think about the hearts of men how even the best of them are so often cracked as well catching the hearts of others with every scrape leaking the bitter cold graffiti of grief the hot rage of failure the jumbled leftovers of all they've suffered in the bleak blizzards of love as the first flakes drift down from the monochrome sky i refill my cup grateful to have just a cracked and pitted driveway to conquer today

i can find swapping slippers for boots old and cracked as the the wretched driveway as i sip my first cup of de winter 53

VIRGINIA RALPH Ova I heard, on the radio, A doctor on the cutting edge Of medicine, or madness, Describing his attempt to save (For later, at a more convenient time) A woman’s ovary, By slashing it out of her belly, Slicing it into tiny strips, And inserting it into her forearm. The woman returned the following month When a hot lump bloomed on her arm: The savaged ovary, Doggedly making eggs. Some years before that, I lay in a hospital bed And watched, awestruck, The tides of my intrepid, beating heart On a television monitor, In Doppler-radar color, Blue, red and green. The radiologist looked at my face; She said, Amazing, isn’t it? They’d beat forever if we let them. Better than anything man ever built. My good, echoing, animal heart, Like a lovable pet, Doing its work in the darkness. Our bodies bind us to time. Ovaries count off the months, Hearts count off the seconds, Until our borrowed time is through. In the mysterious meantime, What a lot of birthing and dying there is. ralph 55

VIRGINIA RALPH Absence They recede from me, my absent ones, like towns from a train. Some of them are, or might be, living others are not. The difference more subtle than one might think. In the flick of a butterfly’s wing in Japan makes hail in Texas some days later then what harm or help could not come from idle comments made in another state or country by someone half-forgotten? What harm or help might not come from a careless thought by a restless shade doing whatever it is they do on the other side? I waken, during the night of The first winter storm, Between rafts of dreams, I reach for my dog’s silky ear And murmur, angel baby, That’s an echo.

That was never my phrase, but yours. I see you at my kitchen table in Chicago, Stroking your beard with long, artistic fingers, Cigarette burning in the other hand, Speaking of a man you liked, Caressingly angel baby. I see each hair of your beard, The long line of your profile, and Your mad prophet’s eyes Gilded with western light Reflected off the river. Angel baby. The seven years gone since your last breath An eye blink, a moment’s inattention. You are fully present, here. Sometimes something stops me In my tracks. A whiff of rosemary, the brush of a wing, A flash at the edge of my vision, And I imagine a pathway To other places Where my missing ones Might be. But, mostly, Our lives are laid down in this world This maple, these sidewalks, This strip mall on the way to work This cold, bright day, here Once only and never again. We have to let our absent ones Lie, or sit, or stand where they are And fare forward Whistling in the dark. ralph 57

JOSEPH D. MILOSCH A Rainy Afternoon in My Grief Group After her son’s death, Nancy began coming to group. A knitted shawl covered her shoulders, and the bags under her eyes were as wrinkled as her nylons. “Do any of you have suicidal thoughts?” she asked before telling us how it rained during her last visit to the cemetery. Afterward, we walked through the rain. “When it poured that day,” she said, “I believed the sky cried with me.” Opening her door, I watched her drop into the seat. As rain rolled off her hair, I faced my truck, listening to the shower drip and drip from the leaves of the magnolia. As she left, I remembered the last visit to my wife’s grave – the sun was everywhere. Shadows of markers shimmered. The heat rose in ribbon-like waves, as I walked to her marker. Looking at the empty space, I reached and caught the rain. How strange to hold the sky’s sadness. Watching the rain splash in my palm, I felt its coolness as I tried to hold onto my life, which flowed from me like the rain, streaming between my fingers in ribbons of water.

JOSEPH D. MILOSCH Beyond the Pine Rail On their way to the seawall, waves lift and lower the seaweed, floating beyond the rough-hewed rail. At the breakwater, surf slides over the boulders and concrete chunks. Birds perch on the jetty’s peak. Suddenly, two otters break the surface. Shaking their heads, they roll on their backs and crack open shells with a rock. After dining, they wash before spinning in the waves. Their whirling motion helps them wrap themselves in kelp before napping. Two cormorants glide low over them, and when a trawler disappears into the horizon, the bay holds empty space. Behind the pine rail, I adjust my cap as the wind-waves rock the otters, sleeping arm in arm amid the kelp. Watching their almost human ritual: work, lunch, and a good scrub before napping with their companion, I realize their rite expresses nearly everything I’ve learned about living.

milosch 59

ROBERT ZISK Memories of Holy Ghost

Sitting here at the edge of Holy Ghost I ache for all whom I have known and lost Lovers, friends, dogs who’ve flopped across my knees: Lovely as sunlight on lean aspen trees, They have warmed me, they have nourished me, Washed me in the green leaf of memory, So that now, on the rocks of Holy Ghost, I sit awhile with them whom I had lost.

MARK BROYARD A Blank Page (for Bliss Broyard) for any intellectual the quest is to leave something of value some reference that is useful and thereby broaden the scope of human endeavor a sentence a sound a perfectly plowed furrow inevitably to ‘say something’ of lasting import to record a record of the day and the environment that shaped it to bind pages full of the fertile ruminations of a focused imagination to hang something of concrete importance to take the detritus of memory sift it sift ed beautify clarify state without ambiguity it is this arrogant headlong rush that propels us sweeps us along from the past to the future Some in one fell swoop a devout, zealous and overbearing cold function off the Maine. of creativity Its leaves a that backs you into a corner and forces you It is to come out a hosscreaming Its se-

silence is as the wind coast of thrashing hollow path. numbing as tile parent. crecy seems broyard 61

BARRIE COLE Run-on Sentence to The Trees Although we rented the apartment, we still were not sure about having done so because we love trees we love trees we love trees and there were not a great deal of trees on the block where this particular apartment is but nearby there is (fortunately) a park where there are so many more trees and so we visit them, the trees, we do, we visit the elms, oaks, willows, and magnolias we do and when we arrive at the park we say hello trees hello trees and we say these hellos with great enthusiasm and if we also see tulips or daffodils as we often do we say hello tulips hello tulips, hello tulips or hello daffodils hello daffodils hello daffodils and we are pleased with the colors and we are pleased with the smells of the fl wers and their shapes too and the green and the leaves and the bark of the trees and yes we are pleased and so we will probably stay in the apartment just as long as we can go to the park and we should be able to do that and we will run we will run we run on to the park or we will walk but either way we will get there we are certain we will because we always do.

NORMAN BAXTER Unraveling We are weary now with the unraveling. The burden of memory, knowing that the column of sorrow and disappointment will never balance with the count of happiness and joy. Still, there were scattered moments, soaked in the sweetness of exalted light, just enough to carry us to the next blow. But I still see you new, and I remember the beginning of us. Nestled in that little cleft of despair, near my heart, a memory of a green shirt, the one you said you never owned, creation’s light shining from your face, tangled up in your hair. We won’t know that again on this path. But we might catch it anew in the joy of others, just before they tumble into the maw of life.

baxter 63

CARL WATSON Hiding Places She lived in old candy and cookie tins Filled with ancient forgotten chocolates Stored against future cravings, now gone to worms. She lived in the pockets of jackets never worn Hung in closets never opened, where she slept With used tickets, doomsday trinkets, obsolete addresses. She lived in music boxes,—a turntable fairy Twirling in her own time as the prongs of the platen Struck the tone reeds of old familiar tunes. She lived in jewelry boxes filled with Tarnished silver chains, brooches and broken settings For semiprecious stones and glass of no value. She lived in white envelopes of 20s, 50s and 100s, Folded or rolled and tucked inside pillows Where no one suspected any fortune or forethought. She lived with her small glass animals In white gift boxes—their painted eyes were only dots That watched over since forever. She lived in these hiding places amongst treasures No other could understand or violate And I still hear her there, her soft off-key voice Like a Monteverde mouse, a Motzart butterfly, And sometimes I see her peeking out Of a tiny cave she'd made in domestic darkness

And I think—there’s that shy brown eye, That girlish glee, peering into my much harsh world now Wondering if I'll find her again. If only she knew how hard I still try, And that I do find her, she is my eternal surprise In a fruit cake cake can full of buttons, At the back of her white wicker shelf stand Where I also find an old ring she'd hid there And remember how it once looked on her hand.

watson 65

CARL WATSON Alcohol and Power Saws I think the guy’s name was Bob or Jim. He was helping out for a few days. He’d gone down to the gas station For breakfast sandwiches Before we’d start working on the Rotted roof beam above the entrance door. He came back with three egg and cheese Numbers and a six pack. It was 10 am so I guess it was time By his clock. They were dark and sweet, “Good breakfast beers,” he said, Full bodied and nutritious. So we ate our sandwiches, drank our beers, Got out the shaky ladders and Fired up the power saws for the day— Chop saws, chain saws, hognose Milwaukees. The sky was bright and clear.

The motors howled, and the September air Was filled with sawdust and the sweet smells Of gasoline, oil and burnt lumber. The radio was playing too, classic rock, And loud, so no one for miles around Would hear the screams if there was an accident. But when the noon whistle blew at the firehouse We made another run to the store For a 12-pack of whatever was on sale. It was a glorious afternoon, laughing under the autumn sun With not a thought given to death, taxes, Or the fragile constructions of our days to come.

watson 67

The Mesas of Her Knees I sometimes thought of her legs As landscapes in an Old West novel— The lone rider loping along In a harsh country that mocks his quest, And I would pause my fingers on top Of the well-defined mesas of her knees, Look out over that barren wild land And watch the sky we shared turn to fire. -- CARL WATSON

My flowers soon fade into memories That nourish my worn winter days This year I’ll keep that softness close to my heart I won’t let it slip away --M. SULLIVAN

PAUL BARILE The Ancient Ghost of Regret Decades gone by like a heavy wind we shared our lives – not always of our choosing We traded kind words once – sometimes heavy punches – sometimes just our anger We never stopped to explain or apologize – rarely showing gratitude – we just were Consumed by perceptions of our own mortality and legacy we eventually drifted apart There was one day – lost to the ether of our youth – when I killed what we loved The ancient ghost I made that day haunts me – after all these years it still hovers over me I had your trust and I betrayed it mercilessly until you cried then I laughed at you The ancient ghost of regret haunts me for not treating you better when I had the chance More than a lifetime has transpired since that day when I made you so miserable We have forgiven each other unspoken apologies for pain we inflicted on each other We have soared and we have floundered – sometimes together – sometimes alone Still I can’t keep the ancient ghost of regret from knocking on my kitchen door at night

PAUL BARILE Peace on 51st Street They’re calling for peace on 51st Street From the Islamic Circle Center to Family Food and Liquor Angry eyes shoot arrows at the unfamiliar moving eastbound on 51st Street Bonila’s Tire Shop glows – a brick and mortar flame against the dying light The El Shaddai Miracle Center is in need of a miracle and a bottle of Windex The Universal Grocery has something for everyone under their royal blue awning But Harold’s Chicken is still the last best hope for a piece on 51st Street these days Repairer of the Breach is filled with promise But hope for the repairs seem unlikely People sit on milk crates that support their weight but neglect their dream Someone whispered in my ear about peace on 51st Street I can only hold out hope for Harold and his amazing chicken.

barile 71

MARGARET SULLIVAN Mean Dogs Bring back my heart I brought back yours I won’t continue this, dissembler I won’t if your cloud-like whispers would beg me I won’t not even languished with flowers It’s off and I won’t Give me back my soul User of my secrets Manipulator of my truth Give it back to me, liar Who once said I see all that is Calls me blind Give me back my heart Who once wept at my tender sadness Now, half embarrassed, is ‘put off’ Give me back my ruined hope You, who teaches me of intimacy And takes it back in a trite explanation of love The sand that would rest on my face Has fallen from your hair My roads have wound their way into your roads But you’ve torn your path from my path You’ve killed my essence that lived in your heart Now the cry of my pain takes its breath from your air Think of it as the wind that tortures you in winter It howls and frightens you at night Give me back my art, Traitor Who once dreamed my stories Who once danced my songs, sang my poems Now blankly states, “You’ve made it all up”

Give me back my pride You, who would accuse me of your own miserable failings Give me back my mind, Idiot Who said I never gave him anything Who contemptuously claims never to need me Give me back my self, Vulture Who preys on my sadness Who mocks my struggle Who throws in my face my mangled weary goals You took these from me and You can bring them back, cool neurotic liar Ignorant and arrogant Ruiner of my heart, criminal of my passion Stay away from me assailant My hatred is a weed So wrong be your streets And lost your way Dark your mornings Darker your nights Fail you your sight in hostile alleys Lose your way on moon gone nights That you won’t frighten my heart That you won’t with your beauty That your beauty won’t capture me again Give it back to me, conqueror Hero of my broken soul Strangler of my dreams Breaker of my heart Breaker of my heart Give me back my heart You who once wept at my tender sadness took back yours And slept peacefully that night sullivan 73


Premier Issue: 20Twen Premier Issue: 20Twen



Premier Issue: 20Twenty

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.