CARTIER STREET REVIEW November 201 1
Editorial group: Joy Leftow Dubblex Brad Eubanks Thomas Hubbard Marc Carver Mike Finley
Table of Contents Three Poems by April Bulmer.......................................................5 Featured Artist Claudio Tomassini .....................................11 Suenos Tomassini...........................................................13 Curriculum Vital.............................................................................14 Book Review: The Weight of Wings by April Bulmer ..........................................................................................................15 Reviewed by Joy Leftow..............................................................15 The Crutch Robert Gibbons..................................................21 String of Pearls Annika Ruohonen .................................24 The Body Politic Nicholas Damion Alexander...............26 The 99% Patricia Carragon.............................................29 Darker Shades of Truth Fred Arcoleo.........................30 Self Portrait Niccola DeVereaux..................................32 Two Poems by Lorna Dee Cervantes.........................................34 Devas 1 Claudio Marcelo Tomassini................................37 Two Poems Mike Finley.........................................................38 Billie’s Consumerism Blues Joy Leftow................................44 Skelton’s "Upon a Dead Man's Head" and Auden’s "You".....46 Two Poems John Yamrus.................................................58 death of a galaxy (gt-1000m) Bernard Alain......................64 El Beso Tomassini..........................................................66 Mike Finley's Yukon Gold, Reviewed by Karen Bowles..........68 Occupy Wall Street photo J. Leftow....................................71 Fall Ann Rodriguez................................................................73 Laptop Thomas Hubbard................................................74 Untitled Ann Rodriguez.......................................................77 The People’s Republic of America Dubblex.........................86 Dharma kin, Chicago, October 1969, by Kevin O'Rourke.....89 3
Three Poems by April Bulmer Cartier's featured poet is April Bulmer who hails from Toronto, where she was born and raised. She now lives in the small city of Cambridge, Ontario. Bulmer has published six books of poetry. Many of her poems deal with women and spirituality. She holds three Masters Degrees in Creative Writing, Religious Studies and Theological Studies. Her poetry has won several awards over the years including two first prizes from the Ontario Poetry Society. The haunting prose poems presented here are excerpts from her second book The Weight of Wings (Trout Lily Press, Stratford, 1997). Each piece in the collection deals with the spiritual life of a character in fictional Sweet Grass, Saskatchewan. "Bruised bone" and "oracle" in "Mai Po" are references to ancient Chinese divination practices. These early people heated bones and tortoise shells to read the cracks and lines that appeared. Years ago Ms. Bulmer visited the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and toured an exhibit of these inspiring spiritual relics. April's newest manuscript is entitled Women of the Cloth.
For more information on April Bulmer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_Bulmer http://www.poets.ca/linktext/direct/bulmer.htm To contact her and order books: email@example.com
April Bulmer by the Grand River in Cambridge, Ontario
Mai Po Mother, I searched for scars in ox bone and tortoise shell, desired the simplicity of a symbol: the stark perfection of moon, horse, rain. But my heart is the relic, the pale artifact: a bruised bone, an oracle. How to say this battered beat is a stroke, a breath, a divine pain. How to speak the fissure, the hollow, the ash, the cleft, the rip. Is my blood your signature, your wild script?
Mr. Po My Bluebird Café nests low in the Sage River grass. Foam hangs on the river stone like the beard of an old man. Here are roots and medicines for many things and the muscle and blood of fish. Last night, my wife’s mouth a red flower. We fed on oranges, their pale sweet juice. Then her chest shaking like a bird cage, her heart a cool plum. But our daughter cradled, her baby charms tinkling like rain. This morning I bear the wind in my hands. Feel I am a hunched bird on the bank of this river – today.
I washed Esther’s face with a warm cloth, a thin bar of soap; shampooed her hair. I brought her talc and cool lotions, chewing gum and tangerines. I clipped her fingernails, swabbed the wax from her ears. Sometimes we shared tea and biscuits, then bowed our heads and offered prayer. And some days it snowed and the wheelchair was slow. I wore short galoshes and pushed her over the hard earth. She told me, “in dreams my heart pecks at my rib cage, so tired of bones and of the dark. But in the morning it does not fly or sing.” I told Esther not to struggle with the weight of wings. I did not coax with crumbs or seed. I did not point to the easy flight of crows. When she died, some men broke the virgin prairie and made a hole there. And they laid Esther down. The nuns came, their black wings tight and they cawed their sad songs. She is in a box lined in pink silk. I pray the earth remembers she is Esther. I pray the angel women pull her through the small space, touch her gentle and give her some milk.
For more information on April Bulmer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_Bulmer
http://www.poets.ca/linktext/direct/bulmer.htm To contact her and order books: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our featured artist is Claudio Tomassini from Argentina. Born on October 24, 1969 he lives and paints in the city of Bahia Blanca where he was raised. Tomassini has developed various styles of artistic expression and can paint abstract as easily as scenes from nature. He doesn't restrict himself to one style. Admirers of his works say that contemplating his art work expands one's consciousness. To learn more about Tomassini visit his blog.
Editors note: Salvador Dali mixed with modern graffiti style elements creates a new vision.
Curriculum Vital _______________________________________________________________ Nombre y Apellido: Claudio Marcelo Tomassini Fecha de Nacimiento: 24-10-1969 Lugar de Nacimiento: B. Blanca Dirección: Viamonte 2221 Código Postal: 8000 Tel.: 0291- 4884623 Ciudad: Bahía Blanca Sitio Web: www.claudiotomassini.com.ar Mail: email@example.com Estudios • Título de Profesor de Dibujo y Pintura Conservatorio de Arte Dalma Bahía Blanca • Academia de Arte Conte Grand de Bahía Blanca. • Profesor del Instituto de Arte Expresiones de Bahía Blanca. • Participo en las actividades del Grupo Poetas de la Bahía y soy integrante de la Asociación de Artistas Plásticos de Bahía Blanca Muestras • XXI Salón Anual de Arte 2004 de la Bolsa de Comercio de Bahía Blanca. • Primera Bienal Regional de Dibujo y Pintura 2006 Colegio de Abogados de Bahía Blanca. • Cocreador del Proyecto Sala de Arte Casa del Vecinalista 2006 declarado de Interés Cultural por el Honorable Consejo Deliberante de la ciudad de Rosario. • Muestra individual Sala de Arte Casa del Vecinalista 2007 Rosario. • V Muestra Anual de Arte Asociación de Artistas Plásticos de Bahía Blanca 2007. • Muestra Grupo Poetas de la Bahía Salón Blanco de la Municipalidad de Bahía Blanca 2009. • VII Muestra Anual de Arte Asociación de Artistas Plásticos de Bahía Blanca 2009. • Muestra Asociación de Artistas Plásticos de Bahía Blanca y Fotoclub Bahía Blanca en el Salón del ACA 2009. • XXVI Salón Anual de Arte 2009 Bolsa de Comercio de Bahía Blanca. • Muestra en UTEDYC Bahía Blanca 2010. • Cuarto Salón del pequeño formato 2010 organizado por la Asociación de Artistas Plásticos de la ciudad de Bahía Blanca. • Muestra Grupo Poetas de la Bahía Salón Blanco de la Municipalidad de Bahía Blanca 2010. • VIII Muestra Anual de Arte Asociación de Artistas Plásticos de B. Blanca 2010. • Encuentro Nacional de Escritores 2010 B. Blanca • Muestra individual en la Casa de la Cultura octubre 2010. • A Puro Arte 2010 Bahía Blanca. • XXVII Salón Anual de Arte Bolsa de Comercio de Bahía Blanca 2010.
Book Review: The Weight of Wings by April Bulmer Reviewed by Joy Leftow
I first saw April Bulmer’s poem, “Mai Po,” on another poet’s website while browsing online looking through websites of other writers who had other commented on my work or glanced through my blog. The poem, “Mai Po,” touched me and brought together universal qualities of longing, sadness, the passing of time and personal search. I immediately googled April Bulmer, located her and told her I wanted to review her book, The Weight of Wings. Ms. Bulmer kindly forwarded a copy of this small but packed-with-valuables collection to editor Brad Eubanks and myself since he too was enthralled with her writing. The Weight of Wings is a mixture between a novel and a spiritual journey, written in poetic verse. First I read the book to myself, stopping and browsing along the journey. I paused to engage with the spiritual theme and read the small-but-mighty book through to its end. To absorb more of the work and to examine how it sounded when read aloud I read it aloud to a poetry co-conspirator. After reading several pages, I asked if he was bored. “No,” he said, he appreciated my reading and would I continue. Thus I completed my second reading.
Later I sat and examined the fine papyrus paper purposely frayed and roughened at the edges of this sixty-page manuscript, running my fingers across it. The feel and look of the paper made it feel sacred. I opened the book. I measured it as though its measurements would reveal its meaning. The frayed cover measured 5 ¼ x 5 ¾ 14
inches and the pages within 5 x 5. It was typeset with Cochin, “a font named for a family of 17th and 18th century Parisian engravers.”1 This made me feel the weight of time while experiencing a journey of verse.
Lulled into the rhythm and pace of the words I discovered a range of characters. I decided to list and outline each character to define where they fit in the text. I realized there are over twenty characters and some reappear. The recurring voices follow themselves or a member of their community.
It was there I stopped counting. I began concentrating on the threads that run through the prose. What connects all the characters is a personal relationship to their savior: “Most blessed of Women is Rosie, earthen vessel in whom Jesus now grows.”2 Each character struggles to maintain their faith and purity while simultaneously trying to survive in a sometimes harsh, unforgiving environment where loss, pain and loneliness intertwine with passion and desire. They are either residents of a convent or live in a nearby religious center. Thus they are connected through their faith as well as their losses. The first poem throws us right into the battle. Mr. F. Johnson I laid down by the little plot, my heart tethered to the stone. And God fell upon me like a warm blanket, though I still shivered in the cold. I prayed early that evening. God my horsepower. For Him my faith cantered, unreined. But your death, daughter, was a saddle 1 2
Final page, text Mrs. Gross, page 11
a dark weight; your body folded untidy as a map in the rumble of the black coupe. Heart a compass, the needle spinning dizzy till it stiffened north. It is noteworthy that much of Bulmer’s poetry appears in theological reviews such as The Anglican Theological Review, as well as in feminist publications and anthologies. Some of her other works are Spring Rain, Oh My Goddess, Holy Land, The Goddess Psalms, and A Salve for Every Sore, all except the last title, published by the well known Serengeti Press. Bulmer utilizes simple language that becomes complex and has layers of meanings, hauntingly presented.
In an email Bulmer explains, “The mention of ‘bruised bone’ and ‘oracle’ in ‘Mai Po’ are references to ancient Chinese divination practice. These early people heated bones and tortoise shells to read the cracks and lines that appeared.” Bulmer visited the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto years ago and toured an exhibit of these inspiring spiritual relics.
Bulmer’s works encompass every man’s struggle between good and evil; she brings us back to basics. In a world where every bad deed is counted and dividends for rewards run steep, stakes are high. Brimstone and fire tactics often help the populace behave and survive. Putting your best foot forward is what’s expected although humanity has always struggled with issues such as greed or lust. These desires coincide with our desire to be good and do right.
Bulmer brings profound new meaning to our inner struggles and brings to light the uncertainty that the only reward we receive in this life is the confirmation that if we
are good enough, we will enter the kingdom of God after death. Sometimes reaching for the light at the end of the tunnel seems useless when suffering and loss are all we know. Here may be the point. All of Bulmer’s works dance with the desire for the universal search for truth and righteousness while trying to survive the day in a human body with desires and needs. It gives the word guilt more power.
As I spread my wings though the poems, I was carried through a dream-like sequence of events, mixing eroticism and religion with hints of sexual behavior. In addition the characters always attempt to make sense of themselves and their struggles in a way they can understand. I thought God so loved the Virgin, he himself stepped out of his work pants, hung his belt on a nail. I wedded him in a bridal gown… But God so loved me he sent Diamond. … I trip on my way to chapel … The thorns break my skin, my ankles and calves bleed. Diamond takes me to his shed where he stores his tools and bags of loam, lays me down on a burlap sack: a leak in the roof, a hymn gentle from the chapel …. A hot drink, eggs scrambled over fire, crusty bread Diamond hacks from a loaf. When the cinders die, shadows sweep the ashes.
When I got to “Annie,” I wondered if I was misunderstanding. I worried so that I finally wrote Bulmer and asked her if I was on point, raising several issues. My new dog liked the smell of my yellow soap, thanked me with kisses to the elbow, wrist and knee. He growled a little when I clipped his nails and when I snipped at his dewclaw 17
he broke the skin on my left thigh. I bled. He didn’t like it among the brooms and buckets, whined for hours. He was asleep on the rag bag when I opened the door. I carried him to the bedroom, his body warm against the sleeves of my cotton night dress. We slept cheek by jowl. At noon he stood at the window like a little man, wiped the dew from the window pane and cried. It was the sheriff and a vigil of town folk at the front door. They kicked at me with their hob-nailed boots, struck me with shovels and frying pans. The sheriff shot my dog-a weight he slung into a burlap bag and carried to the river. Sunday, and no heaving and crying at church. All cheeks were dry. But as the choir rose, I heard a high-pitched howl, a soulful baying that swelled my heart to a full moon. “Did they really kill the dog and beat the woman because the two had sex and they had to be punished?” I wrote her. Bulmer replied, “My fantasy worlds are a little bit eccentric (as you gathered in reading about the woman who slept with her dog). I have a low-key life. I don’t think anyone would be interested in reading about it. You highlighted the major themes of the book. Thank you for your keen reading.”
And my heart swelled to meet the moon and I too heard the cries of a dog dying for doing the forbidden when obviously a dog wouldn’t know better. I wondered too at the charity of letting Annie live. I figure they released her so she might repent her sins. I wondered how the townspeople knew what she and the dog had done.
I recommend all of Bulmer’s work heartily. It is not for the feint of heart--neither is it for prudes. I love the lilt of Bulmer’s words and how they continue to sing in my head, resonating long after the reading is done. 18
Article first published as: Book Review: The Weight of Wings by April Bulmer on Blogcritics.
April Bulmer was born and raised in Toronto, but now lives in the small city of Cambridge, Ontario. She has published six books of poetry. Many of her poems deal with women and spirituality. She holds three masters degrees in Creative Writing, Religious Studies and Theological Studies. The prose poems that appear here are excerpts from her second book The Weight of Wings (Trout Lily Press, Stratford, 1997). Each piece in the collection deals with the spiritual life of a character in fictional Sweet Grass, Saskatchewan. April's newest manuscript is entitled Women of the Cloth. To contact her and order books: firstname.lastname@example.org
yesterday I forgot the ugly beautiful junkie christ asleep on the subway meets me like the pungent smell that trails me I am no different from him it is the addiction to crowds and morning silent people push pins popsicle sticks eyes running across news lines reminds me each time my grandma hung clothes today I hang in effigy by crutch standing there for next dayâ€™s light this heel hangs because I smell the hospital furniture the warehouse for the downtrodden those whoâ€™ve gotten HIV and ADD want to leave this silence it tells me things I do not want to hear stop and pay attention not to mention your health I lay here in the asylum of emergency room as paraplegic and anesthesia merge and my urges to be free again this crutch is bondage itâ€™s taking me under the Miami Bridge with a man with a red paint bucket watches wind for a living is giving me authenticity not pity I hang here because I am skeletal melting like butter in my bed the utter loneliness if I could just hop a train want this refrain want to retain some sense of voice as I fulfill my mission to the people.
Robert Gibbons is a poet living in New York City, recently published in the Uphook Anthology. He has featured as a performance poet all over New York City and recently read in Woodstock as part of their celebration of National Poetry Month. He is a regular on the poetry circuit and has read at Cornelia Street Cafe, Saturn, the Bowery, the Yippie, Stark, and many others. Gibben's work is published in many journals both printed and online. Email: email@example.com
String of Pearls
Annika Ruohonen is a fine art photographer living in Finland. She works as a language teacher in a junior high school and focuses on global education in her work. Environmental issues are very important to her and she works on conveying this through her art. Annika's photos are shot in natural light and she does not postprocess her images. She has been a photographer for over twenty years using film cameras. Annika enjoys wandering in the wilderness where she hopes to capture beauty and tries to make people see ordinary things in a different way. In nature she looks for the perfect light and angle to convey a unique story and feeling for that moment. Observing life with its beauty and imperfections through the lens of her camera is her paradise. You can find Annikaâ€™s portfolio and blog at this address. If you are interested in buying one of her works, contact her via email.
The Body Politic
Nicholas Damion Alexander
We are the body politic, the ones who walk the city's streets in search of salvation and home. We crowd the buses to heaven hoping that some illiterate preacher will teach us the meaning of life; thinking that somehow meaning will unfold from nonsense like truth from lies. That something will emerge from nothing like genesis. That new beginnings will commence from old ceaseless ends. And so, we rush by each other on the streets, daily going to and from places of work and the ones we call home, unaware that salvation is our own dependence on each other.
Nicholas Damion Alexander is a teacher of English and philosophy. He is also a poet. His works have been published in The Jamaica Gleaner, The Jamaica Observer, Caribbean Voice magazine, Poets Against War, Auckland Poetry, The Black Collegian, Angelfire, Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge, Eos, Poemhunter, The First Cut and the Calabash anthology, So Much Things To Say. In 2008 he was awarded a fellowship with Calabash International Writers' Workshop and in 2011, was featured on e-Buffet's online magazine: "Postcards from the People of Earth." He has also been featured on TV programs and in newspapers in Jamaica.
the 99%: Wall Street bailout $ changes everything
the 99% walking in gutters paved in bullshit the 99%: not fat-free just pissed off
the 99%: one city, one nation, one world kicking ass
Darker Shades of Truth
for my students
You might assume this class was out of whack to see them squirming (trapped) inside this room. You have to look beneath the obvious facts: appearances to darker shades of truth. The boy whose hair looks like a smoking gun can read a Shakespeare sonnet like a palm. The girl who only seems to swear and grunt writes essays that light fuses on a bomb. Some big shots thought that they would have it made to banish these young people to this school. It's true, they pick a few off every day with hopelessness and drugs and gangsta cool. Like squeaks that leak when bullies squeeze balloons, these minds are seeking revolutionary truths.
Fred Arcoleoâ€™s deepest desire in life is to help influence the way the world changes. He writes songs and poems that strive to reveal the contradictions in our society between appearance and reality, and spends most of his time channeling his anger over the conditions of life that exist for so many into productive activities. He is particularly interested in the role music and the arts can play in raising awareness of societal issues and inspiring people to study and act on the pressing challenges of our time. He lives and works in Washington Heights, where he is a high school English teacher at George Washington High School Campus. He just released his first CD, "SEEDS." Listen to his music and join his mailing list at:
DeVereaux is a student at Art Center College of Design. niccoladevereaux.blogspot.com mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Two Poems by Lorna Dee Cervantes Integrity for E. S. Yours is the integrity of flint, of steel, of iron. Yours is the integrity of birds flocking, whales in their loving pods. Yours is the integrity of sand, what moves with the will of you; all your sweet sweat, your simple construction. I love the sudden fill of you, your swell and sway. I love how you do what you say. You slay me with your truth. I love the way we fit together as if I were your seed. I love the far away look in your multicolored eyes, the land and sea of you. I love the way you look at me, that ancient shore. I love how I am more with you, your carbon, the filaments of your fine hair. I love how you hold me together, how fast and vast the ocean of this love in its gentle tide, the integrity of flesh, of salt, of we.
Strength All I've ever had was strength. I show it in the cracks. I smooth out stone on stone, I sheen with use. All I've ever known was shame and philosophy: Plato's Republic, The Birth of Tragedy, Young Werther's Sorrows... I have an affinity with the sea, my sailor's blood, my stance: my wild stallion, the waves I do not enter lightly. I moan and creak, the leather of a slave. I can take the heat; hell, a sudden parting. I do not know. I hold fast, the spirit text: the great death inside us; strong, inside us.
Lorna Dee Cervantes provided her Blogspot link.
Editor's note: I have taken the liberty of copying the following about Lorna Dee Cervantes from The Poetry Foundation website.
“One of the major voices in Chicana literature, poet Lorna Dee Cervantes’s writing evokes and explores cultural difference—between Mexican, Anglo, Native American, and African American lives—as well as the divides of gender and economics. Born in San Francisco in 1954 to Mexican and Native American ancestry, Cervantes was discouraged from speaking Spanish at home in an attempt to protect her from the racism prevalent at that time; this loss of language and subsequent inability to fully identify with her heritage fueled her later poetry. ” To read the article in its entirety, follow this link.
Claudio Marcelo Tomassini
In Response to a Tattoo of My Name and Jack Kerouac's Having Been Inscribed on the Forearm of a Friend
It is hard to know the right response to a thing. Someone offers up their body for you and what do you say, Thanks pal? Gratitude is impossible to the cool so you must make the awful choice, whether to speak the effable truth or to bury it with the pat of a shovel in the yard of a friend who lives just down the street. You could rent an airplane of course and squirt out a reply in brilliant vapor but in a minute or two it melts away, formless as a train of elbow macaroni. You could hand out matchbooks that say Your Patronage Is Appreciated so every sour sniff of phosphorus is also the scent of thankfulness that burns and leaves a divot in the skin, which lasts forever I am told till the last white worm pats its tummy in the grave and slowly slides away
The arm of Danny Klecko (Thanks pal)
Dumb Thing A few will understand it and they will rejoice for you that some predictable thing connected you, a little dog yapping on its porch, a blossom of strawberry jam on your shirtfront, a yellow ticket slid under the wiper blade, a picnic without forks under a dripping willow. Let others break into pieces because the arrows of life have penetrated the skin. You blast them out again with a trumpet of air you call laughter.
Mike Finley is a Pushcart awardee who writes for a living in St. Paul. Mike's work has appeared in Paris Review and Rolling Stone. Mike was the winner of the 2011 PKV Kerouac Award. His most recent project is an album of tracks, Big Assed Angels, from Lucky Park Productions in St. Paul. Mike's books are downloadable for free at this link, and his wonderful poetry videos are viewable here.
J. Leftow reporting from Wall Street and performing Billies Consumerism Blues. There's a consistent flow of free food, blankets and clothes at Occupy wall street plus entertainment too! Onlookers insisted on an encore so I read Welfare's Still A Bitch.
Latest blog entry is about my experience chilling with the demonstrators.
Billie’s Consumerism Blues
Consumerism’s got the best of me in spite of my fighting so hard to maintain the good thinks in life. I keep fighting a losing battle. I want to believe the best things in life are free but I get stopped in my tracks. Buy buy buy they implore, while I have nothing left to buy with except very extended credit debts. I’m outta cash supply, debts mount easily. Buy, buy, buy, come read poetry. Buy a glass of wine. You can’t sit there and read for free. You’ve got to pay your dues too. Don’t forget the entrance fee. Cough it up. Tons of paper discarded daily senselessly. No one could be so sad. Trees ask me to tell them why they’re born to be discarded they wail about their senseless lot, they live to be - they ask me if I know why it’s like this, what’s all this suffering for? I cry. I cry. Lights on in every room whether you’re home or not to keep the burglars away. In Harlem Mexicans crowd 3 families to each apartment while we pay taxes to build another Yankee Stadium right next to the one already there. The rich pay more for private boxes while Mexicans live in NYC barracks, 20 in a 3 room apt, barely able to pay the rent. Please I beg you give the poor some of my taxes instead I plead. They turn a deaf ear. Please, please? I sit in my room looking out at the rain, no one could be so sad. Gloom everywhere, I sit and I fear, I don’t know what the world is coming to. Kill canned hunts. WTF, what kind of concept kills caged animals for a few dollars from the rich? I can’t wait. I want to kill hunters; torture them watch life slowly drain from them, their heads lolling to one side. I place their head on my lap. Take a pic too, like they do to the lioness bleeding from her mouth, trying to feed her cubs behind the fence, teats full of milk. Make them like quarry, my prey, another trophy. You can’t hide from the ugliness I try to hide I do, I do. I can’t take much more. I sit in my chair filled Filled with despair. No one could be so sad. gloom everywhere, I sit and I stare. 42
What’s the state of the universe? Is there anybody out there? The ugliness all a glow, picture show for family. Bring up your moohlah! We got yours here. Worse than Sodom & Gomorrah. My soul’s for sale. Name your price! Sold to the devil at the crossroads! This revolution will not be televised; will not put the shine back on your teeth. Civil rights gone, lives tapped into by government, someone’s in control somewhere. Not me, hey, I’m all alone in here waiting for the pain to go away. I sit in my chair full of despair, no one could be this sad. I cry to trees. They hear my pleas. No one else does. Please! Please. Is there anybody out there?
Billie's Consumerism Blues published in Madswirl, 2009 Welfare's Still A Bitch first published by http://worldwidehippies.com Also published by: http://www.occupennial.org/blog/2011/10/15/a-poem-by-joy-leftow.html
Skelton’s "Upon a Dead Man's Head" and Auden’s "You" Philosophical Speculation in Lighter Verse Essay by David Cooper John Skelton’s "Upon a Dead Man's Head" (text included after this essay) and W. H. Auden’s "You" (likewise), though separated by four and a half centuries, demonstrate the effectiveness of the short line for philosophical speculation in lighter verse. Skelton’s poem is written in six stanzas of varying lengths; Auden’s has seven stanzas of seven lines each. Skelton’s lines rhyme, mainly in couplets; Auden’s do not. The reader will find the most apparent similarity, however, in the rhythm. Scanning these lines we do not find a regular meter. Rather, the rhythm results from stressed syllables, usually two per line. Skelton invented this kind of rhythm known as Skeltonic verse.
In Skelton’s day iambic pentameter had not yet become the standard metrical pattern of English poetry. Andrew Welsh has written, “In Skelton we can still hear uses of language that go back to the rhythms of a primitive curse, and the rhythms of vox populi, roots which become more difficult to trace in poets who weave their rhythmical strands more finely.”3 In the previous century poets sought rhythms other than regular meter, and Skelton was read with renewed interest.
3 (Princeton, 1978) 44
Auden admired Skelton and wrote many poems in Skeltonic verse. Yet I have a nagging suspicion that he had “Upon a Dead Man’s Head” in the back of his mind when he wrote “You.” Indeed, the title and subject of Skelton’s poem are echoed in Auden’s lines “Oh, I know how you came by/ A sinner’s cranium,” though the latter head is that of the person addressed and, we take it, rests securely on his neck and shoulders. In both poems the stimulus seems to be a friend’s offensive behavior. Because many of Skelton’s other poems reveal a vulgar Falstaffian side to his personality, we may suspect that he was not offended, but instead merely feigning the philosophical to indulge a morbid taste for the horrific. Perhaps the gift of the head was a fiction devised for that purpose; such are his descriptions of the severed head, followed by conventional Christian moralizing.
The poem achieves a highly musical sonority. In the third stanza, the feminine rhyme of "counsel" with "gospel" is a nice way of breaking up the masculine rhymes "fell," "spell," "dwell," "quell," and "mell." So too are "purchase," "palace" and "solace" among "grace," "face," and "place" in the final stanza. "It is general / to be mortal," an eloquent understatement that lends itself to quotation, is here the more effective as it prefaces the list of revolting descriptions. These are not merely revolting; they are audaciously revolting. Eeriness is also evoked by the rhythm of the list, which resembles a witch's curse. This effect is repeated in vv.29-36. In taking us to the extremes of the horrid and fearful, he has achieved something of the sublime, impelling the reader to purge, in the Aristotelian sense, his fear of death.
"You" also has something of the sublime, but here it is the sublime of obscurity, rather than of terror, as Edmund Burke might have put it. Less sonorous and more 45
conversational than "Upon a Dead Man's Head," it seems to say more or at least is the more thought-provoking poem.
In contrast to Skelton, whose descriptions are unambiguous and who even answers his own question, Auden ends his poem with questions and in other places in the poem asks questions he cannot answer to his own satisfaction. If Auden is perplexed, the reader is at even more of a loss because of the obscure personal nature of the poem.
One is almost inclined to make the same accusation of Auden that Auden made of his companion in vv.31-35. One wonders what "tastes"(v.25) and to what "fact" (v.29) Auden is referring and can only guess at the meaning of the surrealistic metaphor in the sixth stanza. Yet this incomplete information has the artistic effect of making the poem's adjectives as suggestive as they are descriptive. The reader may also wonder about the identities of the persona and the companion: Auden and Chester Kallman, Auden's Christian soul and his worldly body? If the latter, then the affinity with "Upon a Dead Man's Head" is stronger still. The obscurities of the poem, however, are also strengths because they lead the reader to ask just such questions. Considering the possibility, for example, that Auden's soul may have been addressing his body can lead the reader to a more thoughtful, perhaps even insightful, rereading.
Among the delightful aspects of the poem, and keys to its success, is the unlikely consideration of philosophical questions in a casual conversational tenor, and the unexpected posing of universal problems, indeed appeals to a universal consciousness, in the very places where it is most obscurely personal. We don't expect a poem that begins "Really, must you," to make us consider the meaning of our own existence. Yet when we have finished reading the last line of the poem, so we have. The poem's conversational tenor fits its rhythm well, demonstrating that Auden made good use of the latent colloquialism of Skeltonic verse.
Where Skelton affects the philosopher from the start, Auden is overtly philosophical only in the last lines of his poem. At the beginning of Auden's poem the reader finds herself eavesdropping on a highly personal monologue, much of which she does not understand.
When she reaches the philosophical questions in the last three lines, she realizes that these questions, with their implied metaphors are what the monologue has been leading to. Auden did not just have a go at writing in Skeltonic verse. Here and in other poems he harnessed that verse form for poetic consideration of his own predicament as a modern man and of the existential questions posed by that predicament. Yet while these questions may evoke an emotional response in the reader they do not afford her a sense of resolution. She feels perturbed, but not purged. In using a very old form to express modern concerns Auden calls to mind the Hebrew poet Gabriel Preil's verses (my translation with the late poetâ€™s permission):
the modern painting slides into old hues the modern structure designs the old form Auden has created a thoroughly modern poem in an old and overlooked idiom.
Two Skeltonic Poems
SKELTON LAUREATE Upon a dead man's head that was sent to him from an honorable gentlewoman for a token, devised this ghostly meditation in English covenable, in sentence commendable, lamentable, lachrymable, profitable for the soul.
YOUR ugly token My mind hath broken From worldly lust; For I have discussed We are but dust, And die we must. It is general To be mortal: I have well espied No man may him hide From Death hollow-eyed With sinews witherèd, With bonès shatterèd, 48
With his worm-eaten maw, And his ghastly jaw Gasping aside, Naked of hide, Neither flesh nor fell. Then, by my counsel, Look that ye spell Well this gospel: For whereso we dwell Death will us quell And with us mell. For all our pampered paunches, There may no fraunchis, Nor worldly bliss , Redeem us from this: Our days be dated To be checkmated With draughtès of death, Stopping our breath; Our eyen sinking, Our bodies stinking, Our gummès grinning, Our soulès brinning. To whom, then, shall we sue, For to have rescue, But to sweet Jesu, On us then for to rue? O goodly Child Of Mary mild, Then be our shield ! That we be not exiled To the dyne dale Of bottomless bale, Nor to the lake 49
Of fiendĂ¨s blake. But grant us grace To see thy face, And to purchase Thine heavenly place, And thy palace, Full of solace, Above the sky, That is so high; Eternally To behold and see The Trinity! Amen. Mirres vous y.*
by W. H. Auden (1960) Really, must you, Over-familiar Dense companion, Be there always? The bond between us Is chimerical surely: Yet I cannot break it. Must I, born for Sacred play, Turn base mechanic So you may worship Your secular bread, With no thought Of the value of time? Thus far I have known your Character only From its pleasanter side, But you know I know A day will come When you grow savage And hurt me badly. Totally stupid? Would that you were: But, no, you plague me With tastes I was fool enough Once to believe in. Bah!, blockhead: I know where you learned them. Can I trust you even On creaturely fact? I suspect strongly 51
You hold some dogma Or positive truth, And feed me fictions: I shall never prove it. Oh, I know how you came by A sinner's cranium, How between two glaciers The master-chronometer Of an innocent primate Altered its tempi: That explains nothing. Who tinkered and why? Why am I certain, Whatever your faults are, The fault is mine, Why is loneliness not A chemical discomfort, Nor Being a smell?
David Cooper earned his MA in creative writing at The City College of CUNY where he won the Academy of American Poets Prize. His ebooks were published by PulpBits (2003) and his poems are anthologized in XY Files: Poems On The Male Experience (Santa Fe: Sherman Asher Publishing, 1997). His translation of Israeli poet Rachel Eshed's second book Havtachot Ktanot (Little Promises) is published by Mayapple Press (2006). His poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous periodicals. Cooper was a finalist in the 1999 Snake Nation Press book contest, has been a semifinalist in several other national contests, and was nominated for a 2007 Pushcart Prize. He is seeking a print publisher for his two ebooks of original poems, and also for Jewish-American couples willing to be interviewed and photographed for a book on Jewish-American marriages he is co-writing. He reviews books for New York Journal of Books and covers the New York Jewish culture beat for examiner.com.
Sing Me A Song And I Will Paint You A Picture Annika Ruohonen
from his latest book Can't Stop Now!
on reading some of
my poetry, this guy i knew said “damn, if that’s what you call poetry… i can do that any time.” and he pulled a pen out of his pocket and wrote: “the birds that fly over my yard in the summer
never bother to land, they only shit in the pool.â€? then, he put the pen back in his pocket, smiled, and walked away.
the other day he said to me: the only subjects i have left are sex, drinking and the writer’s life. and i’m sorry to have to say i’m now writing better than ever.
John Yamrus has been a fixture on the American poetry scene since 1970. Since that time he has published 18 volumes of poetry, two novels and has had more than 1,300 poems published in countless print magazines around the world. His books are available on Amazon. His latest is the volume of poetry, Can't Stop Now!
Editor's Note: Click on these links to view:
• • •
a recent Yamrus interview a review, and a recent blurb about John
Claudio Marcelo Tomassini
death of a galaxy (gt-1000m)
"EST"!? ma femme vlingo says it as she sees it faux-pas? fractured acadie maybe? lead me to the great homarus americanus where we eat and wait to be eaten by paradise where Pateral's by the ocean glistens in crystal wafts neath sailing gulls spinnackers dip on the horizon and you my virtual confident, my electroid star lead me to the Barachois where a tryst will die among the dismissing blips of wishful thinking ions flee a victim of passion the tossing of a brick but no crime
as long as we arrive
Editors note: Bernard Alain is the founding editor of CSR
Editors note: The following is copied from Bernard Alain's Blog.
Bernard believes expression should not be inhibited by form and reflect honestly, though enjoying a wide scope of appreciation for the many shapes the art provides, it is a personal mandate of his to increase readership for contemporary poetry by encouraging more organically formed and conversational text that reacts to and captures everyday events. He is the founder of two online sites, 'The Ink Blot' and 'The Cartier Street Review' where artists can submit their contemporary art and poetry for publication and feedback.
Mike Finley's Yukon Gold: Poemes de terre Reviewed by Karen Bowles Yukon Gold: Poemes de terre, Poems 1970-2010, with a Key to the Mysteries by Mike Finley Kraken Press of St. Paul, August 2010, 546 pp. Downloadable, free PDF format.
Mike Finley is an author who reminds readers of the eternal principles of matter – nothing dies, only changes form. In his expansive new collection, Yukon Gold: Poemes De Terre 1970-2010 With A Key To The Mysteries, he reveals a life spent witnessing and processing the ways in which humans build up or strip away the aspects of existence. His own life has seen both richness and difficulties, such as the death of his daughter from suicide. In this tome’s author biography, he tellingly writes that he has two children – present tense, in spite of his loss. He and his wife, Rachel Frazin, created a foundation called Robots & Pirates in order to assist others who are encountering tough times whilst living and creating in the Twin Cities punk scene their daughter Daniele was an integral part of. This action, taking something difficult and creating new life and energy out of seeming destruction, is a recurrent theme in Yukon Gold. Finley is a product of a proud Irish family, and Celtic symbology is interwoven in the literary threads. Horses are a common theme, and perhaps represent various personal traits of the author. For the Celts, the horse was sacred, and very powerful. Our modern word, nightmare, actually is thought to be derived from the Celtic idea that these dreams were brought to humans by a horse goddess. Horses can represent the night, achievement of freedom, and displays of strength, both magical and mundane. All of these adjectives can be used to describe the poetic imagery in Finley’s work. Readers may well feel they are hearing Finley’s personal motto in “Thoughts of Another Shetlander:” So I say rear up, ponies, step up to the edge, 66
snort back at the green wide world. This is echoed in “Beasts of the Burren,” where the poet again urges readers to boldly take on the trials of life: But the ponies in the paddock, sheltered by the hedge, have never been to the edge, will never see the splendor. Finley is a poet who prizes hard work and a firm self awareness. He is not one for lazy introspection, seemingly on a journey to find challenges worthy of a good fight. In “The Soul Is Not Perfect, Gets Set in Its Ways,” he abhors potential ruts that can keep a person from their potential: You must be firm sometimes with the soul!... Say, You belong to me, now get to work. Readers have their work cut out for them, in a good way, when they tackle this collection of poetry. Finley is unflinching in his presentation of heartbreak and loss, but it is always buoyed by a wry sense of humor and a wisdom that reveals the kind of fortitude that trusts in the changing of the seasons to bring about rebirth… as long as one is also personally invested in working to make things better. In “Everything Dies But Nothing Goes Away,” the all-too-human cycle of consumption and disposal is held up against the wall under a harsh spotlight, daring us to peel back the layers of habit and see what lies beneath our fictitious exteriors: In front of a log cabin I saw a broken treadmill labeled "Endurance." I saw four school lockers, leaning side by side against a wall, their yellow paint flaking in the subzero cold…. 67
A part of me says how wasteful. A part of me says what a mess. But it teaches us a lesson. it teaches you that everything we make takes up space. We who ship everything off to the dump have convinced ourselves we are tidy people when somewhere a half dozen zip codes away a landfill is groaning from our excesses. All is not lost, ever, in the world Finley shows us. No matter the tribulations we must face, be it loss of a loved one or loss of an ideal, each event or item has value and can be, must be used for a better purpose. As the principles of matter once again are at play in “Everything Dies But Nothing Goes Away,” the poet leaves readers with hope, revealing that the edge of the horizon is not an ending, but another destination on the journey: it is proof that things go on it is proof we are grateful and everything mattered in the end
Karen Bowles is the founder, publisher and editor of Luciole Press. She gained the nickname “Firefly” from a friend for her enduring love of the glowbugs in the South; “Luciole” means firefly in French. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in Literature, and loves photography, reading, writing, theatre, and painting. After spending many years moving around, this military brat has lay down roots in Northern California, where you can find her gazing at stars and arguing with the bossy blue jay in her backyard.
Occupy Wall Street photo
J. Leftow 69
Ann Rodriguez, an artist based in Huntersville, North Carolina, works in an alldigital medium. Her style incorporates realistic photo-elements into an impressionistic setting using digital photography and working with Photoshop and painting! Rodriguez uses real elements and applies time and emotion around them in a surreal or implied way. Her inspiration evolves from life itself and in particular the beautiful 'Sky-Scapes' that are an everyday occurrence in North Carolina. Rodriguez is currently working on a series of 'Sky-Scapes,' using simple swirls which are also evident in her ‘Whimsy’ and ‘Dreaming Series’ to capture and convey time, space and emotion of a sometimes metaphorical moment of longing and coming of age.
...a short fiction...
Our cabby seemed to know. That still bothers me. Maybe it was just coincidence, his monologue about a cousin who flew to the coast on business and never returned. “He was just an ordinary kind of guy, like me or you.” All the way to the Cincinnati airport this cabby went on about his cousin. About my age, a little heavier, the fellow talked into his rear view mirror. His five o’clock shadow showed some white. Who knows, maybe all his passengers hear the same tale. “They traced him to a hotel room, and all his stuff was right there,” the driver told us as he drove. “Like he just disappeared into thin air.” At the time I figured maybe it just gets too boring, driving a cab all day. So maybe the guy makes up stories, I thought. Despite his disappearing cousin talk, he was a real pro, moving through rush hour traffic as though he could do it asleep. “People disappear.” He glanced over his shoulder, shrugging. “One day they’re fine, next day no trace.” Entering the airport, he turned in his seat. “You both in sales?” “Yes sir,” Joey nodded. “Sales.” Absently but carefully, Joey tugged his shirt cuffs. Every day the kid would wear a different suit, lapels stiff as a funeral. He must have bought them all when he finished business school. We eased to the curb. Last thing the cabbie said, removing our bags from the trunk, “Y’know, my cousin was a salesman…” After we picked up our boarding passes there was time for a beer. “C’mon Joey, I’ll buy.” Joey sat with our bags. I carried glasses from the bar. “Here ya go, kid. Let’s drink to 72
seminars and California girls. Maybe our instructor will be a sweet little number who offers supplementary night lessons.” Joey winced. Then he sipped his beer and glanced around the room. The set of his mouth showed his determination to be patient with me. I used to watch my neighbor throw a stick for his dog to fetch. After a couple tosses, the dog would glance at me before going after the stick, as though to say, “OK, my master is a schmuck. But I love him.” My bawdy jokes brought that expression to Joey’s face. From the time he came into my sales group, it was a kick to yak it up about girls and watch his reaction. In twenty years selling I never knew anybody so sensitive. But Joey was serious about his work. “Let’s just hope this helps our commissions,” he finally replied, blushing. “You know, Mannie, this will be my first time to Los Angeles.” For me, it was just another training session. I always went along with new salesmen for their first training after probationary period. It initiated them as full-fledged employees. “Well, you won’t see much of LA, Joey. We fly in this evening and out Friday.” I sipped my beer. “Two days in the hotel and back to the airport.” Our jet was a wide-body. Joey sat at the window, I sat in the middle and this balding high-school football coach sat on the aisle. He seemed impressed with Joey at first. “Yessir, high school football makes a boy into a man, ya know? Teaches him to identify his target and lock onto it.” He leaned forward, talking directly to Joey. “Helps ’em with the girls, too.” He grinned and winked. Joey seemed to sink in his seat. “You played in the backfield, right? Or maybe you were an end?” “Well, as a matter of fact, no. Our school didn’t emphasize sports.”The coach turned
away abruptly, opening his newspaper I kept on composing letters to a few prospects, on my laptop computer. Joey stared out the window. As we descended over St. Louis and eased into Lambert Field, I gathered my notes and stowed the lap-top under my seat. Several passengers, including the football coach, left the plane. Others boarded. Among them walked a slender, dark-haired woman with the unlined face of somebody barely escaped from her twenties. I smoothed my wrinkled jacket as she filed past the flight attendant and along the aisle. The way she glanced from face to face, I figured she must be searching for somebody familiar. She looked straight at me, then fixed on Joey. She headed our way. Stashing her large purse and leaning across the empty seat toward me, she said, “This seat is vacant, and I don’t care for my own.” I remember that her face was flushed. “Sure. Glad to have you. I’m Mannie. This is my friend, Joey.” “Hi Mannie, Joey. My name is Monica.” As she settled into the seat, I noticed her heady, spicy scent. I thought about coming on to her. Lots of sharp young women go for older guys like me... Before I could take up the conversation, she leaned forward, talking to Joey. “Are the two of you coming to Los Angeles on business?” “Yes....” Joey closed the manual, marking his place with a scrap of paper. “We’re on our way to a training seminar. And you?” She clicked her seatbelt. “I’ve been visiting friends in Saint Louis. Southern California was… ah, is my home.” As soon as the seat belt light blinked off I excused myself and visited the rest- room. It was strange, y’know? I got into the restroom and realized I had no need. While I
was up, Monica had traded seats with me, moving next to Joey. They were gabbing like old friends. Joey must have left his shyness in St. Louis, I figured. “Oh, here you are, Mannie.” She flashed a big smile as I sat down in the aisle seat. It occurred to me she’d be good at sales. “I’ve just been telling Joey about LA. What a pity to have only two days.” “Our training center is there. Over the next year or two, he’ll see LA plenty.” The air between us hung silent while Monica studied her nails. Flight attendants worked their way along the aisle, bringing coffee and soft drinks. Clouds glided past the windows. After just long enough, she said, “Joey says he’s always lived in Cincinnati. How about you, Mannie?” Years and years of the stale apartment, the corner deli and a bar near the office riffled through my mind like cards in a Rolodex.“Yeah, Cinci’s my home.” I sipped coffee and reached for my laptop to continue with the letters I’d started. Monica and Joey talked and talked. After a while the flight attendants returned with dinner. Monica concentrated on every morsel, as though it were her last meal. Soon the attendants picked up our trays, and I dozed off. When I woke up, Monica and Joey were holding hands. She rested one arm on his shoulder and reached across to point out landmarks as our plane descended through the Los Angeles evening sky. I’d never seen Joey show so much assurance. That fresh, spicy aroma I’d noticed on Monica was stronger, but not too strong. I wondered, maybe she had put on more perfume. The jet touched down and we hustled through LAX. Monica shared our cab to the hotel. She had no bags, only the oversized purse. While Joey and I checked in at the desk and picked up our keys, Monica waited. They exchanged a glance, then Joey picked up his suitcase. “Why don’t we all have a drink in the lounge? You up for that, Mannie?
“Sounds good. I wanna take my bag up first.” I moved toward the elevators. Joey moved toward Monica. “I told Monica she can use my room to freshen up.” I was in the lounge, nursing my drink when they strolled in holding hands like a couple of teenagers. Joey gave me a sheepish glance, then escaped to the bar to order drinks. Monica met my gaze straight on, with a wide, warm smile. “Tell me a little about yourself, Mannie. Do you have a wife? Children?” “Divorced.” I didn’t bother telling her how long.“My kids went with their mother. My son lives in Indianapolis now, and my daughter’s in Dallas. Both are doing OK.” My memory replayed fumbling telephone conversations that over the years had become less and less frequent. “I don’t hear much from them anymore.” Monica gave a curt little nod, like she was checking off a list. She glanced toward Joey, carrying drinks to the table. Sitting down on the edge of his chair, he sipped from his. You could tell Joey wasn’t a drinker, the way he screwed up his face. “How about you, Monica? Work? Family?” “Only my parents and my brother. ” She sipped, eyed Joey momentarily, sipped again. “They live in the Valley, and my brother’s in Phoenix. I would have left too, but I had… I have a good job in a bank.” Joey gazed at her over the rim of his glass. A piano played. More drinks came. More talk… Friends are quick, easy and usually superficial in sales. This seemed special, though. Work seemed less important, somehow. It took a real effort when, after a while, I made a point of looking at my watch. “Well, I wanna be sharp for the seminar tomorrow morning.” I wanted Joey to notice, but he was giddy from the drinks. And his eyes were riveted to Monica. I nudged his arm. “Guess I’ll turn in. How about you, Joey?”
“I think pretty soon.” He stood to shake my hand. Monica stood, too. I extended my hand and she took it, moving toward me. Her other hand went to my shoulder. She hugged me, quick, and before I knew it she’d kissed me smack on the mouth. I didn’t know what to think, but I enjoyed it. She tasted of the same spicy fragrance I’d noticed earlier. “Goodnight, Mannie. I’m glad we met.” The taste of her stayed with me as I rode the elevator to my floor. My lips tingled. That night I dreamed of an angel who looked like Monica. She smiled at me, waving. Then she faded. Next morning, Joey didn’t show at the workshop. Five hundred dollars plus airfare and four work days, out the window, I was thinking. It rankled me, but I covered for him. “An emergency at home,” I lied. “He’s been on the phone since before dawn.” The instructor was really nice about it. “Is he all right? Can we help?” “Thanks, but no. I’m sure he’ll come as soon as he can.” I was sure because I had already rehearsed how I would go to his room during lunch and read him out. At lunchtime I made a beeline for Joey’s room. I knocked the door. No answer. Again. Nothing. I phoned from my own room. Joey answered. “Mannie?” “Yeah. What the hell, Joey?” “Was it you knocking earlier?” “Yeah. Why d’n ya answer if you heard?“ “Sorry, Mannie. C’mon over, and give me time.” His voice carried more force than usual. “It’ll take us a while to get to the door.” “I knew it! Joey, your personal life and your job are…” “Just come on over.” He hung up.
Nobody hangs up on me. The dinggg of the hotel-room receiver lingered after I banged it down. “Yeah, I’ll come over smart guy.” I slammed the door shut behind me. “I’ll come over after class this afternoon and fire you.” Cursing under my breath, I rode the elevator down and hot-footed across the lobby to class. The workshop ground on all afternoon. I was too steamed to know what went on. It was for Joey, anyhow, not me. After it was over I stopped for a drink, to calm me so I wouldn’t do anything stupid. The fact that he was normally a model employee would only make it harder for me to explain to the home office. I decided to just knock on his door, fire him in two words, and go to my room. After a wait he opened the door. Or they did. He stood nude in the doorway, grinning like a kid with a new toy. Monica, nude too, faced him, astraddle his hips. They were doing it standing up, for chrissake! Right there in front of me, in the doorway! Suddenly my face was so hot it itched. I’m no prude, but I think some things are private. “Just what in hell are you doing, Joey? Monica?” I felt too dumbfounded and embarrassed to remember how mad I was. “Just come in, Mannie.” He seemed about to pop out of his skin. “You’re not going to believe this.” I eased past them, trying not to look. They made no move to separate. Monica spoke. “I’m sorry, Mannie. Well, I think I am. But actually…” She smiled at me like my mother. “Sit down, there’s something you need to know.” The shock felt like a kick in the guts, but I was recovering. “Damned right I need to know.” Still, I sat. “What’s with you two, anyhow. This just cost Joey his job, unless you have something to say that’s beyond my imagination.” “Finished yet?”
“I thought you both had more sense, more class…” My voice sounded empty. Joey sat on the edge of the bed, Monica’s legs still around him, and then turned so they could both look at me comfortably. “Mannie, tell everybody I said goodbye.” He giggled. “Whataya talking? Goodbye from what?” I couldn’t believe they were still doing it, and he was talking to me. Talking crazy. “If you wanna talk, maybe you should, ah…” “Dismount?” The word seemed ridiculous, coming from Monica. She continued, “Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t.” “Mannie,” Joey broke in, “We made love all night, hours and hours. This morning we were like this.” He leaned back to show me. I got up to look more closely. “We grew together.” “Jeez!” I couldn’t bear the sight, but couldn’t look away. “No!” Their privates had fused. With each other’s. Joey leaned back toward Monica, kissing her earlobe. “It’s all right, Mannie. It’s worth it. You’ll see….” “Whataya mean, f ’chrissake? I see, all right.” I grabbed the phone. “I’ll call a doc. Police. Room service… Don’t get excited, they’ll help you.” Monica’s voice cut through my head. I don’t think she actually spoke out loud. “No! Sit down. Listen.” “I wouldn’t stop for anything,” Joey said, easing the phone from my hands. “I don’t want to go back the way I was… Just hear what Monica has to tell you.” Her eyes found mine and held for a few seconds, then she spoke quietly. “While I was in St. Louis, this happened to my friend, Marilyn. I was in your situation. Now it’s happening to me. You’re next Mannie.”
I stared. “The guy chose my friend.” She brushed a stray hair from her face. “He kissed me, then they carried on all night long in the next room. I was upset when they told me. But now I know it’s all right.” “What’s all right?” I recalled her kiss, the taste, the tingling. Whatever “it” was, she had passed it to me the night before, with that kiss. Damn! DAMN! “I’m glad, and tomorrow you will be too.” She traced her finger along Joey’s cheek. “I don’t even remember the guy’s name. He and Marilyn were in her room. I stayed in the guest room. Next morning they had grown together, like Joey and I have now.” “Are you telling me…” I caught my breath. “This is going to happen to me? I’m going to be like this if I…?” “Please don’t hate me, Mannie. See what happens next.” “What…?” “I can’t tell you now. Wait.” “The hell you can’t tell me.” I was on my feet reaching to grab them. That was as far as I got. Her voice was inside my head again. I wasn’t paralyzed. I had no pain. I just couldn’t do anything. She sat me down. I stared. “It gives you certain powers.” She smiled. “By tomorrow you’ll be able to do this to anybody.” My lips were tingling again, and I noticed the strange, spicy fragrance. “I won’t do what you’ve done. I won’t hurt some innocent stranger.” “You don’t know what you’re talking about yet,” she murmured. “Not until you see…” She and Joey grinned, moving together a little. They rose several inches above the bed, in mid-air. Levitating, for chrissake! The spicy odor filled the room. Then they gradually floated down to sit on the bed again.
“What’s it like to float in the air like that?” “I can’t tell you, Mannie, but you’ll find out in a day or two.” I forgot the seminar, the company, everything outside Joey’s hotel room. Before long, Monica murmured, “Our time is here, Mannie. I don’t know where we’re going, but you’ll be along next. Maybe we’ll meet again.” They levitated again, and began fading. “No!” I tried to leap from the chair, to touch them, hold them. I couldn’t move. Monica smiled, “So long.” Joey reached as though to shake my hand, but waved instead. “Bye, Mannie. Thanks for everything.” Then he winked at Monica, and I was alone. They were gone. Into thin air. I put my hands where they had been. Nothing. After a while I could tell they wouldn’t be back. Staying in Joey’s room would be useless. I returned to my own room, showered, gathered my things, and rode the elevator down to the lobby. The seminar would be resuming, but it meant nothing. I checked out and caught a cab for the airport. I’ve exchanged my flight for an earlier one. I’ll be on my way back to Cincinnati in about an hour, although it really doesn’t matter where I go. My face feels flushed, and that familiar spicy fragrance is with me. I haven’t told anybody, but I’m typing the whole story into my laptop computer right now, as I wait for boarding. Two rather attractive women are waiting together nearby. They’ll be on my flight.
Thomas Hubbard is an accomplished editor, writer, poet, and musician retired from teaching English on the reservation. He runs a small publishing house, Gazoobi Tales, and is editor on several publications including Cartier. email@example.com
The People’s Republic of America
The dictator knows whom I call and who calls me The dictator knows where I go and whom I see The dictator knows the sites I surf ~ the emails I send The text messages I receive They know all my bank accounts my social security numbers my fake ID’s They know my race age and sexual orientation They know my tribal nation Political affiliation and activist organization Filmed and photographed too many times to mention, Documents filed about normal citizens Our data tracked by satellites Followed by GPS OnStar hooked to my car The dictator censors the news so I only hear the untruth Their propaganda campaign distorts perceptions Promises protection from terrorists I want protection from dictatorships My civil liberties stripped Innocent citizens detained tortured and whipped Illegal wars to over throw so our rich can get more The Geneva Convention is rarely mentioned Extraordinary Rendition and covert political CIA missions My fellow Americans your democracy’s been hijacked Not by terrorists But by our The Patriot Act Read the facts 84
No search warrants Unlimited wire taps Cast your vote write it in quotes Change the name of our political scapegoats Promote the results-the so called cleansing of the voting polls Black votes bounced -falsely accused criminals on parole Government officials on company payrolls The dictator commits crimes without consequence or trials Hiding behind government lines of classified access further replies denied Another war looms and more innocents die. They put a microchip in my fingertip Tattooed a serial number on the back of my neck They want me to believe America is land of the free home of the brave Didnâ€™t they kill millions of Native Americans and make my ancestors slaves
Dubblex, shown with Joy Leftow, lives in New York City writing poetry and playing melodica while trying to keep his sanity. He has been published by Street Literature Review Magazine (paper),The Cartier Street
Review, the Nov. 3rd Club, Polarity, Mad Swirl, readerjack.com, wheelhouse magazine, and Omega 7.
Late addition: Kevin O'Rourke The great gray poet of St. Paul: I spend a lot of time deconstructing historical trauma and constructing a language to speak to polarizing and classist behavior. Before that I just beat people up and went to jail. I think one can only become a Tzaddick by having profoundly fucked up, committed atrocities, and then making amends. I think the worst atrocity is innocence. I think every atom and the space between atoms, every turd and every blade of grass, every fly and ant is Tzaddick.
Dharma kin, Chicago, October 1969, by Kevin O'Rourke I took the train to Grant Park to riot where cops with nightsticks three feet long engage the skulls of most of us. Not voting age, I surrender, handcuffed without a fight as cans of teargas explode in the night from riot guns converted from 20 gauge. Student crash helmets pool with blood and hair upon the pavement in the strobing light. For a moment I give up making bail to grieve the bastard who fathered my race of dharma bums, and consider suicide from a bridewell bunk in Cook County jail. A guard by my cell, tears down his face, just informed me Jack Kerouac had died.