Organs of Vision and Speech An Art and Poetry Journal
Owner/Founding Editor, Ivy Page Co-Editor, Lisa Sisler Associate Editor, Lynne McEniry Guest Editor, Lauren Gordon Art Editor and Layout Dude, Mike Lewis Guest Art Editor, Patience Page Web Guru, Stephen Page Ivy and Stephen Page started OVS Magazine in 2009 to give new and established artists and poets a place to publish their work in a respectable, peer critiqued journal. OVS Magazine is an online and print literary journal based in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, edited by staff and guest authors/artists.
Copyright ÂŠ 2017 by Organs of Vision and Speech Magazine. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, write to: Organs of Vision and Speech Magazine c/o Ivy Page, Editor 30 High Street Plymouth, NH 03264 To order additional copies visit, www.ovsmag.com Cover art is: Altezza E Peso Per Uomini E Donne by Melanie Faith. Back cover art is: We Are in an Enormous Quiet Now by Elena Botts. OVS Magazine will hold the First North American Electronic Serial Rights for the piece for the issue in which the piece is printed. At the end of the month, rights revert back to the author, though OVS Magazine reserves the rights to archive the piece. If the piece is chosen to appear in a later print edition, the author will be contacted for OVS Magazine to reserve First North American Print Serial Rights. OVS Magazine cannot offer payment for accepted submissions to the magazine. Each contributor will receive a free PDF copy of the journal.
Submissions Please note that we only accept one submission per author/artist during our reading period. Simultaneous submissions are welcome with immediate notification of acceptance elsewhere. No previously published work, please. Reading Periods are on a rolling basis. All submissions are viewed through our submission manager. http://ovsmag.com Art Submissions: All art submissions must have an identifiable name for the purposes of discussing the piece. Please send no more than 6 images. We are currently only accepting Black & White images. **Please send art as a 300 dpi jpeg attachment. A cover letter with contact information and bio is required, and should be in your cover letter/message addressed to the editors. Please list your title(s) in the body of your cover letter. Poetry Submissions: All poetry submissions must have an identifiable name for the purposes of discussing the piece. Please send 3-6 poems (max of 10pgs) A cover letter with contact information and bio is required addressed to the editors. ISSN:1949-8225 (online) ISSN: 1949-8217 (print)
CONTENTS INTERVIEW WITH FEATURED ARTIST: MELANIE FAITH 11 INTERVIEW WITH FEATURED POET: JEFF SANTOSUOSSO 19 POETRY Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas Mouse Queen Josef Krebs So There I Was Jan Chronister Desire Jan Chronister Windfall Deeya Bhattacharya Desperate Lies Deeya Bhattacharya Fear Deeya Bhattacharya Claustrophobia Riley Ward A Thursday Afternoon in Gorenjsko Richard Fox how to tell my dog I’m dying Robert N. Watson My Mother Taylor Fedorchak Elegy for Our 5th Grade Cells John Sullivan Llano Estacado Claire Scott Balcony Carol Hamilton A Quiet Life Charlotte McCaffrey Conservation Limits Jay Brecker That Morning KG Newman Getting Clean KG Newman Sheet Gail Eisenhart Murmuration of Starlings Maggie Boyd When I Awake in Your Likeness Carol Hamilton Easter Eggs Claire Scott Lament Paul Ritter Rain Dance Kerry Tepperman Campbell Dreaming of France #44 Rebecca Gay Cartographies of Silence: with credits to Adrienne Meryl McQueen Sound Scar Lesley Dame Belong Jeff Santosuosso Apartment J-5 Jeff Santosuosso These Regard the Bed Jeff Santosuosso Subject Jeff Santosuosso Dressing Gown
23 24 25 26 28 29 30 32 33 35 36 37 39 40 42 43 44 45 46 48 49 50 52 53 55 59 60 61 62 64 65
G David Schwartz I Knew a Girl in High School G David Schwartz The Tongue of Tulips G David Schwartz You Ask a Person Where They’re From G David Schwartz Its Not My Job to Know Marian Kaplun Shapiro Time to Marian Kaplun Shapiro Expedition Caroline Cottom Indra’s Net Terry Lucas Attention Shoppers Laurie Patton Beams Laurie Patton Fountain Claire Scott Colors Claire Scott Poem With Blue Fescue and Red Breasted Nuthatch Michael Scott Cain To Think Michael Scott Cain On Missing my Southern Drawl Riley H. Welcker Machado Shanti Weiland Defect Claire Scott Scriptio Inferior Eugenie Juliet Theall Bloody Scrap
66 67 68 69 70 72 74 75 78 79 81 84 86 87 88 89 92 94
PLATES Melanie Faith Altezza E Peso Per Uomini E Donne 13 Melanie Faith Impermeable: Waterproofing Polish Vial & Leaf 31 Elena Botts Untitled 27 Laura Kiselevach Rearview 31 Alexandre Nodopaka 72 34 Mitzi McMahon Resting in Luzern 41 Alexandre Nodopaka 63 47 Melanie Faith Eye See You 54 Melanie Faith Eye Turn From Him 63 Laura Kiselevach Nordstrom 71 Amy Kotthaus Half Moon 77 Alexandre Nodopaka 4 83 Mitzi McMahon Bliss Dance up Close 91 Melanie Faith Electric Eye - Vivisection 95
Interview with Featured Artist: Melanie Faith film or digital? Both! Life is short, why not have some variety? For convenience’s sake, and so I don’t have to spend time scanning, I’ve been taking mostly digital lately, but I still own and love my film cameras. Where are you from and who set you on this path to make? I am from rural Pennsylvania. So many people inspired this path: my dad who is a mason and constructs buildings, as do many of my uncles on both sides of my family, my artistic friends, and also I have an inherent desire to bring my (sometimes rather shy, INFJ) personality and vision to life in a way that I often don’t express verbally. I’m not the most direct person in the world sometimes. I tend to be a private person, although (paradoxically) I love to emote and express myself creatively. I’m often intrigued and amused by what I create and hadn’t realized I’d been (subconsciously) thinking about and carrying inside of me for a while. Did you do the art school thing or did you learn on your own? Yes, but not for photography-- I have an MFA in Creative Writing, with a Concentration in Poetry from Queens University of Charlotte. I’ve taken a few wonderful seminars in photography online, with instructors from Britain, Canada, and the US, but these were not workshops and I’ve not had my photos formally critiqued, as I’ve had done numerous times for my writing. I don’t even know how to read F Stops properly. Much of what I create is inherent and even I might not know how one photo worked but another failed nor how to replicate the ones that work. Still, poetry informs my photography for sure-- the concentration of an idea into a compressed space, focus on imagery and symbolism, an interest in characterization as well as people- I find people’s motivations, deflections, and hopes inherently intriguing, contradictory, and meaningful-- including my own.
Do you happen upon images, or do you seek out the exact image to shoot that you want? A blend of both. Sometimes, I notice an interesting rock, tree, or other natural element that inspires me and I break out my camera. Other times, especially with my still-life photographs, I have boxes of props I collect along the way as well as backdrops and a photography table and I play with different assemblages until one combination resonates with my hopes for the props. Many times, the creative process is very much like play and surprises me. What I think may look great on a tabletop doesn’t photograph so well, but what looks so-so when organized as a flat-lay takes my breath away when shown from a certain angle. It’s mysterious and inherently fun, and never quite the same process for me any two times. What are your most favorite things to shoot? I love small items-- feathers, stones, skeleton keys, little cloissone boxes a student from Korea gifted me years ago, retro flashcards with a word or image, pins-- as well as interesting elements of the natural world, big and small. As you can see in my photos, I also like retro objects, such as that Italian scale in Pisa, which I never did get to hop on for a test run, alas!, as my tour group and family were just passing through on our way to the Tower. The 1940s-1960s, before my own birth, are time periods I seem to return to again and again as far as exploring meaning as well as the resonances of objects created then and introducing them as elements in my own work. I love architectural features, such as those stone-work flower patterns carved onto the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and I also find objects that suggest both identity and refusing to perform for an audience interesting-ergo, the masks from the store in Rome. Are you more of an obsessive creator or a methodical creator? Can you explain your general workflow? Photography is my place of relaxation, restoration, and play. Unlike in my writing and publishing life as an author, where I obsess and edit and generally am much more methodical in my presentation of essays, poems, or fiction, I’m much more relaxed and whatever-will-be-will-be about my photographic compositions. I like being surprised by slightly moving objects, taking them out of the frame, 12
Altezza E Peso Per Uomini E Donne Melanie Faith 13
replacing them, or taking shots from different angles. I’m discovering the art of the strategic blur at the moment. Sometimes, I take the same picture fifteen times, with slight modifications, but I’m not that fussy about making sure the props are all in alignment or perfectly clean or without scratches. I like a certain amount of authenticity about my photos-- similar to wabi-sabi, the imperfect and lived-in can be gorgeous in its own right. My photography goes in cycles-- at times, I will take photos four or five times a month, other times I have filling-the-well periods where I might not pick up my Nikon for weeks. As I’ve grown as an artist, I’ve given myself more peace about this sporadic artistic output; photography is a friend always waiting and willing to have an interaction when I’m ready and my schedule is pretty packed between my various teaching engagements and my writing and publishing. Some photos will wait for months or even years on my hard drive-- several of these photos were taken on my dream European trip to Italy, France, and Spain in 2009; when I reopened the files last fall, I was amazed at the many images I enjoyed but had totally forgotten I’d taken. I couldn’t resist submitting them. Other photos, like the shoe-sealer polish and grass, I took just days before I submitted them. I’m very open to approaching files at any age or stage, and pretty much I allow myself to scroll and go with an internal hunch or whim about which files to pull up and play with in Photoshop. It’s an inherent, personalized approach. If you could go back in time to anyplace or to meet anyone, where would you go and who might you meet? That’s a fantastic question, and one which my university students are answering in an assignment just this week! Great timing. It could likely change, depending on the day and project, but right now: Jane Austen for her wit for sure. Louisa May Alcott. Georgia O’Keefe and Imogen Cunningham strike me as women artists who would have intriguing, practical advice for another woman visual artist. The Impressionist painters. Jesus, for his compassion and warmth and parables. My mother’s father, who died when she was just 15, although I feel like I already know him through my mother’s stories. My grandparents. Picasso. Robert Doisneau--his photos of the everyday are supremely fulfilling- the way he encapsulated children, families, and everyday people in that tender period after WWII just breaks my heart and amazes me- there’s so much humanity, love, 14
despair, and joy in his photos. Vivian Maier, for reasons similar to Doisnau’s work, although something tells me the infamous street photographer might slip a parcel under the door and refuse to appear in person, for which I would be disappointed but would also respect her wish. Are there any photographers or other creatives that you look to regularly when you are in need of inspiration? As far as photographers: Doisneau and Maier, but also far more recent work. I took Canadian Kim Klassen’s wonderful class 18 months ago and learned of an Instagram feed where photographers (and some her former students) from all over the world post their recent still-life photography. It’s called My Still Sunday Competition; I peruse it several times a week, just to soak in the amazing creativity that abounds and to see what is possible within the medium. https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/mystillsundaycompetition/ I have also been a longtime subscriber and fan of the black-and-white photography magazine out of Minneapolis, SHOTS. They publish four times a year, and I seriously cannot wait until I get the next issue. My favorite issue is their yearly portfolio issue, where they ask authors similar questions to some you have asked me, and to read of the artists’ inspirations in words--as a writer-- adds layers of meaning to how I approach their visual art and inspires both of my arts. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to during the different stages of your making? I compose my photos in silence, but I sometimes edit to a variety of music (from my Amazon streaming in just about any era or genre you can think of) or play a site called Coffitivity, which has a burble of café talk that is said to be good for creating or editing, which I’ve found so. https://www.coffitivity.com/
How would you most like to be remembered? Iâ€™d most like to be remembered as a generous and approachable friend, teacher, and acquaintance. Iâ€™d love to be remembered as talented, slightly quirky, passionate and prolific creator, and as someone who composed much from limited resources. If they happen to also remember that Iâ€™m imaginative, an auntie, a good listener, and a loyal person, all the better.
Impermeable: Waterproofing Polish Vial and Leaf Melanie Faith 17
Interview with Featured Poet: Jeff Santosuosso When did you first feel like a poet? I first felt like one about a decade ago, in my mid-40s. I’d been writing since grammar school, took courses, etc. but never committed myself until then. What I “felt” then was indistinct, immature. Following my parents’ divorce, I spent my adolescence on public assistance, working after school, summers, etc., I concentrated primarily on financial self-reliance, focused on career achievements. I was unable to connect that to poetry, relegating writing to an avocation. My wife and I raised our son very attentively. Then we empty-nested, giving me a chance to focus more on writing. My advice to your readers, particularly the young ones, is to make time for writing. Every day. I’ve still got a long way to go, poetry-wise and am amazed and inspired by all the great poets and poetry with which I’ve become acquainted. Editing an e-zine, www.panoplyzine.com, has exposed me to a raft of contemporary poets and writers from all over the world. The breadth of styles, subjects, techniques, voices, etc. is awesome. What is your love affair with words, how did it start? I always had a facility with words, a strong vocabulary, good verbal skills. I’m a bit of a dreamer, an idealist. And I read to free my mind, using reading as travel - physical and metaphysical. Plus, I really enjoy words. Not just as labels, but as entities themselves, the sounds, spellings, derivations, associations and relationships, connotations and symbols, even sometimes the appearances. I am a proud word geek. I like to say that words (language, poetry) create precision from imprecision and generality from specificity. What inspires your poems most often? I daydream. It’s actually a state of mind that can be developed with practice. Occasionally, I’ll construct, engineer a poem. But more often they “land on my shoulder.” In terms of subject matter, I write image-oriented poems most often. Reading good poetry can be inspiring. For me, walking liberates my muse, so to speak. A little time to myself, with my body in 19
motion, my attention freed - that’s when the ideas “land.” I keep a pocket notebook to scrawl lines, images, mnemonic devices. Once in a while, I’ll just stop mid-step to write. Additional advice and comments: Write every day you can. Make it a priority, when you’re at your best. For me, that’s usually right after I get up (before FB, email, etc!) Submit actively. Keep trying. Follow the submissions guidelines. Some editors are generous and try to be “inclusive,” even when submitters don’t follow the rules. Still, there’s a limit! The ones that get buried with submissions are compelled to have short fuses. Join a free workshop or writing group in your area. Search the internet, your local library, or college/university. Go to open mic nights, which are great for networking, companionship, support, and especially exposure to the sound of poetry. Read your drafts aloud, not just in your head. Pay attention to the rhythms, the music, the assonance and dissonance.
Mouse Queen Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas Delayed, is the way your forgiveness arrives, not through the voice in my sisterâ€™s tears or during the Grand Pas de Deux of the sugar plum fairies, as we sat together during Nutcracker years, silent in awe of life and Tchaikovsky. A backwards walker; you entered space with awkward grace between olive trees and parked cars knowing departures were soon to come. My thumb turns outward towards the passengerâ€™s side, while you wave me by never offering a ride. You are an enigma of narrowing bones with a decade of stillness between us and yet I remember your soft-lit face that warmed over flowers and cocktail hours before you left in the middle of drumbeats so easily given to rain. Even now as you gleam through martyrdom, your tam-tam banging all the way down to the doldrums.
So there I was Josef Krebs Swept beneath the bough of the boat Rescue drowning me like therapy Releasing the demons As layers of repression are peeled And defenses stripped Shoulder epaulettes ripped and buttons torn As cavalry sword is snapped over knee With no severed limb But heart cut in two The surge keeps coming The wake of your story drags you down you gulp it in and spit it out.
Desire Jan ChronisterÂ She never picks berries with the men stays home, needle licking cloth. Afternoon clouds caress her thoughts. In the climax of heat voices call her over the cliff. Pickers return with full buckets and scratches ignore her pale fruit embroidered on linen.
Windfall Jan ChronisterÂ for Etta Laid in a coffin at twenty-nine dead from childbed fever during September harvest stillborn son wrapped on her chest no time to grieve what was lost (wife and mother son and brother) certificate filed in the coronerâ€™s book statistic of the 1920s no time to gather broken branches of a storm-struck tree.
Untitled Elena Botts
Desperate Lies Deeya Bhattacharya Always come to me in desolate nights when I speak the language of salt in the sea; of charcoal madness of brine in my hair the distant cry of a seagull on foam Oh! Come on, the years spilt on your shoulders and breast of walnut madness of the pain etched on my heart bleeding to the brim of a reluctant eye The whining noon eavesdrop on the dead shores of your eyes, it saunters along the purring lips, the death of my cat is moon and madness to me The girl with satin sachets auburn hair and peanut eyes swaggering along speaks the Inca tongue I see death in her hair pinned to her nape, moving on her helpless knees begging for life
Fear Deeya Bhattacharya Fear is unknown; I’ve felt it in my fingers and toes. I backpack it in my nightmares. The devil’s face in sickening colours engulfs my shadow. Lilacs hum a weedy tune. The livid oracle smears my porous skin. Running past tunnels of thick darkness, a magenta scream escapes my mouth. I relive the murky past. The surging clouds are snowflakes of agony. It drizzles. I can steer crystal clear. A pain is logged on my mother’s face, as she holds a dead foetus in skinny hands.Trees mourn-a deadening griefan embryo of grief. The language of a rusty noon with shackles of sand is gritty. My mother rocks herself to sleep. Her muffled grief courts the dance of death. She repels my doomed thoughts. I squirm in it. The dread is a sepulcher of our fragrant dreams long lost in her hazel eyes.
Claustrophobia Deeya Bhattacharya Pinned against a wall a moth flutters desperately. It isn’t his wall. I can wall up my desperateness well. His inadvertent fall might have been blue or green. Green relieves ones senses. My senses can build up octaves well. Octave reveal themselves in blue arteries. They carry velvety red plush. I can carry flutters in my womb. My navel carries the carcass of my dreams. The embryonic fluid is disaster itself-dank disastrous waters. Italic dreams sizzle in the golden glue. Two swans mate in the acrylic waters. Its placid green spells carry hunger in them. The hunger of silk and glowworms. The loony moon nestles in the avid air. It cocoons in the soft mud of the heart raucous with echoes. The wounds turned septic. Nobody cares for a sceptic. I sell my wounds. I trade in boots, raisins and hiccups. Words choke my throat. I sell my flesh. I trade in death…….
Rearview Laura Kiselevach
A Thursday Afternoon in Gorenjsko Riley Ward Aleš Debeljak (1961-2016) The fallow is seeded in a corpse’s mouth harvesting itself from inside, Turkish rugs—
finally, only in ultraviolet—the flame unfurling. Europe is an orchard and we’re wrapping you in an ode to your footprints
and the unwrought thought you swept beneath them. Imagine this: an avalanche, the slur of metal hurling imperfectly, the Adriatic boiling just the same, bloody tuffs, a cloud of patchouli
how to tell my dog I’m dying Richard Fox crawling on his belly, Bailey smelled blood, my incisions. pulled his ears back when I groaned, pillow to side, after a cough. he hovered, back curled into my waist. Bailey sat on the bed edge. followed me when I had to pee like I did for him in puppy days.
our walks, still shorter. I eat. make my own food. feed him. longer naps, less fetch-time. a hospital cot will crowd the bed we’ve shared. my table will reek of salves, preparations. Bailey will witness me weaken, ears pulled back. sniff vomit, diarrhea, industrial hiccups. when I die, I want him to watch over me. to know that body became corpse, to know I didn’t just leave him.
72 Alexandre Nodopaka
My Mother Robert N. Watson In high summer, the honeysuckle heaped itself On the cyclone fence, on the brittle copper vines Of summers gone: trumpets of nectar. She saw us through the winter With the sweet scent of narcissus bulbs, Nestled in a bowl of pebbles. After Thanksgiving, after we went to bed, The leaves turned. The air went black, Then blank. She saw through the winter With the sweet of a narcissus bulb Resting in the stones.
Elegy for Our 5th Grade Cells Taylor Fedorchak We wrote as if asked to describe the same scene, as if there had been some agreement to collaborate. Water and silence showed up throughout the collection, and our words did not match the world. We said crystal clear, as if we could see our reflections, not a basic outline. Her Facebook now says “remembering.” She (Emily) asked a lot of questions then (2002) but like the rest of us, she also wrote about water. Her cause of death is missing— nowhere (probably heroin). Before he (Ryan) brought a gun to her house, he wrote about crickets chirping, about being alone. The moon appeared in both of their poems. He (Chad) wrote about the river. When he fell from the tower, the ground did not bounce him back like the trampoline he described. The blue cover
Llano Estacado John Sullivan “I’m so sleepy and lonely. Both of them.” Frank Stanford Wake up, Isis, wake up, see how the Wormwood Star casts its dicey shadow across our mother-road, how this ghost-moon glows in our belly like yellowcake, wake up, make that motion, Isis, make the move that makes us fly above, makes us dive deeper, dive way under, Isis, witchin’ on each other while boss-wolf lopes across the Llano Estacado, pace for pace against the thwap-thwap-thwap of our tires, chases down the paw he left all lonely on our dash Jericho, Vega, Willaree: his ghost, the ghosts of his buildings that boss-wolf paw glistens on the dash glistens like a gun on the dash Wake up, Isis, wake up hear how this wind across the Llano Estacado blows a drunk song our throats sing back, blood answers lonely, beat for beat for beat, how I wake up, how I think: Ima’ warm now, naked, full of us, ‘til a wolf comes, ‘til a star, ‘til we wake up haunted, you scream: O this bruise we wash and feed and carry 20 years ahead, O whistle cut me open, cut me
dead, I reckon: yellowcake moon’s got boss-wolf by the throat, shakes him pretty hard: in true night lingo this dark with no bottom is a skin of fevers we don’t want to kick Wake up, Isis, wake up, you say: still there, square, you say: where the hell am I, your thigh against my thigh, steering wheel against our story gone dark as Texas, miles and miles and miles of nothing but blur, erase, and no tears left for mama, dancing to the old drunk song, too drunk, too old to dream against it, wake up, Isis, wake up, there’s another nest, somewhere, beautiful or not-so or, at least, there’s always that same wind like the conjure works, or it just doesn’t like a star, or a wolf or the wind
Balcony Claire Scott I see you standing on the balcony your back turned to us smoke drifts from your cigarette you in all your demolished beauty still in designer clothes & the scent of Shalimar nails lacquered Fiesta Pink hair colored & coiffed a performance piece of perdition we know, we know you who made our lives unlivable my sister and I locked in dim closets reeking of mothballs off to school with ratty hair and ragged dresses children jeer they do not speak to us you who brought men home oh anyone at all staggering into the house with shrill laughter that woke us from nightmares of men with wandering hands we could say you fell & we will, we will
A Quiet Life Carol Hamilton
The simple elegance of it. Does Robert Hass live it? I think not but could be wrong. His black and white eyes on the back of the book reflect twin Chinese junks drifting into golden ripples at sunset. I was to have met him once but didn’t. Instead I stayed in the old monastery where he would have stayed, perhaps in the very room. The grotesque Purépechan masks glared from the white of patio walls. Esperanza had silver moon steps, flat despair on her stitched-together face, a soft voice to tell of the accident, deft hands. She could not read the note I left her. Her fresh spinach soup was of the world’s greenest green. Today the brittle interlace of the old elm’s branches barely stirs against cloudless blue. The refrigerator is old, too, and hums.
Resting in Luzern Mitzi McMahon
Conservation Limits Charlotte McCaffrey for PCM I put my brother down on paper to preserve him– pin him to the world: a framed butterfly– sanguine wings spread but still. Imagine I have displayed every line and shade of him and yet I cannot make him fly.
That Morning Jay Brecker
August 6, 1945, 8:16 AM
We sit under an open sky. I cannot say being under an umbrella would have made a difference: at that moment I only cared about your hand on my thigh. Your fingers like three ants crawled up my legâ€” stealthy as bombers in the angle of a rising sun. I sit waiting, hoping to explode, unable to anticipate we would turn into blackened alligator hides which could not scream. The noise we made was worse. Eyeless & facelessâ€”we utter a continuous murmur: locusts catching fire on a midsummer morning.
Getting Clean KG NewmanÂ The gasman knocks at 3 a.m. to fix the smoking HVAC system. He unscrews and removes the front vent, and a sooty assortment of tangled tubes spills out like a sliced American gut. There is no cure for this, he says with a grim nonchalance, other than a complete recalibration, to which my mother begins to sob. Because when black turns blacker, all seems lost: I sit on the porch swing smoking and watch his low beams cut through the fog, the specter of his truck still there even when itâ€™s gone.
Sheet KG Newman I had the idea of hanging sheets over the windows in our bedroom where sunlight used to stream through— so the eyes could have an endless reprieve, so our bodies could roll blindly into each other, so there’d be clearer dreams in the infinite darkness under the covers. But it wasn’t possible—by then the dreams didn’t belong to the sleep anymore, by then the dreams didn’t even belong to the sleeper. The dreams didn’t belong to the dreams.
Murmuration of Starlings Gail EisenhartÂ A monotonous thrum saws the silence, low and indistinct as lovers grumbling. We look up and see an immense flock of starlings whirl into the sky, wings beating madly. The birds interlace. Sky-dancers, they never collide but appear to emulsify, swirling like oil on water. Thousands of starlings undulate, a silk scarf tossed into the wind. I watch their poise and realize how inept we are. The flock swoops and bursts, obsidian fireworks exploding in a grand finale then without warning they disengage, fade from sight.
63 Alexandre Nodopaka
When I Awake in Your Likeness Maggie Boyd a maple tree grows in my belly roots arrest every muscle I killed it and still water it and wait for fall like maple waits for farmer singular attraction until drained and tasted
Easter Eggs Carol Hamilton I only colored five last night, as his mother is preparing some, too. I was surprised at the ease compared to the last time I did this, fizzed up the little colored tablets with vinegar so that the eggs reeked with acidic breath. Sometimes, then, I had drawn and written with waxy crayons or stuck on tiny tattoos of chicks and bunnies. This time I poofed some sparkles over the damp dye from the bottle provided in the kit. This morning I feel cheery looking at the violet, green, blue, rose and yellow eggs standing in their holder, a droopy cardboard that barely keeps them from rolling off. In recent years, weâ€™ve mostly used plastic eggs to hunt, but this is his first time old enough, perhaps, to hide and find. I think of his uncle when his age, we five adults circling him like a halo, photographing every move. When he, adored object of our attention, became more interested in a puppy next door than in the next egg, we were distressed. Last nightâ€™s scant effort is my bow to ritual, barely nodding to tradition. Even so, these five colored eggs on the counter lift my heart unaccountably.
Lament Claire Scott So very still, like a library or a church I touch the tangle of underwear in the top drawer Grey bras with safety pins strung across the back Underpants with limp elastic nylons in a silken heap Ladders of runs nightgowns and bed jackets Fill the middle drawer lace frayed and yellowed At the bottom of the oak chest I find Cashmere cardigans missing buttons I open the closet quietly dresses with Dior labels Housecoats and wool skirts with uneven hems Scuffed shoes, elegant heels two musty ball gowns A silver fox stole heads chasing tails 50
In a lifeless drama smelling of camphor I try on a bra, fasten safety pins step into underpants That hang on my hips slip on a shapeless housecoat With pink and orange squares pull on nylons and roll them Down around my ankles two lumpish doughnuts Step into high heels wrap myself in the stole dead fox legs dangling I look like a woman Collecting old cans muttering to herself Sipping dregs from a bottle of vodka Scavenged from a dumpster sleeping under cardboard Where wind whistles through missing teeth Foxesâ€™ eyes shine I stare at the stranger in the mirror Mother, who were you 51
Rain Dance Paul Ritter When I was five I lived in Portland, Oregon, a city known for rain. Thunder storms produced showers with really large rain drops that bounced when they hit the pavement The rain danced. Thousands of inch-tall water people jumping up and then vanishing. Fascinated, I watched while listening to the water music drumming its rhythm on the roof. Iâ€™ll be 65 soon, living in the Willamette Valley again after decades in California and elsewhere. I struggle with Medicare options. There are so many, which is best? Five years old feels very far away. Suddenly the roomâ€™s skylight explodes with sound. I look out and see the water people dancing on the patio. I watch, still fascinated by the rain dance. For a few minutes five years old is not so very far away.
Dreaming of France #44 Kerry Tepperman CampbellÂ One of the cloisters she dreams of in France is inhabited by a nun who exists out of time in a series of perpetual gestures, stepping from darkness into light, from heat into shade. This woman in her dark habit does not think about the heat or the light, being inside or out, as she enters the cloisters; she is simply alone for a moment between destinations. A small book rests, tucked in her hand with the tip of one finger curled in to hold the place. In a moment she will enter the shade, sit on a bench, and read aloud softly. As she speaks, the words of this passage will annihilate everything: the fragrance of the lavender in the container beside her, and the sound of water in the fountain behind her. She does not anticipate any of this; instead she listens intently and hears the hem of her skirt brushing the stones she walks on. She hears this sound first as an extension of her own heartbeat and then farther away from her body as the pulse of this place.
Eye See You Melanie Faith
Cartographies of Silence: with credits to Adrienne Rebecca GayÂ ! Before the conversation begins already a truth is lost a lie left in its place; monolingual speakers like refugees or polar bears stranded on ice drifting away from one anotherâ€™s gaze. A poem like a lie can be torn up and taped together. And still the conversation taken place leaves its trace like on the dna. My dnr a plea to receive my wasted skull by how a head lays on a leg. @ No radio can fill the veins as the cell phone is check check checked to consider what with a txt loneliness in lies a halloween horror maximum volume with curtains down
a reverberating drone phonetic awareness of the poor old handwritten script alive trapped tied up and held by the unsaid word. # Technology remits to etiquette and prevalence of ritual shifted awareness to suddenly with shock take note that what was absent was only quiet, silence like a prescription historically analyzed like a form of violence not to be confused. $ Separate still we sought to know how to create our voices the barrier became abstract when I offended you in my grief and anger but there was a pain and now, how calm it seems in retrospect I will try to keep from hurting you and myself but still rooted in our pain? Is the music a semblance or assemblance of our expression?
^ The video of the vampires, Adam and Eve: the wish for a poem that would resemble how blonde and full and dark haired their love was tangled in a bed across the universe they slept finally at dawn and if only with no gap between the words a poem could time travel and not skip a beat finally the silence seeps. % After evoking a scream the novice asks itself how do I exist? And I was waiting hoping for a chance to break into the silence you held without reason for you to respond or to accept my offering. & the ridicule and graffiti sprawled across the memory of peering into mausoleums and the death of another poet creates a coffin or a body thrown into the public grave creates an old theme: Language cannot do everything but if the poem like the dead could riseâ€” and hold each accomplice by the cuff and force the meaning, clarified by its stare.
* The infant roots to nurse and the muted noise of those who fled upon return, evermore in exile still like a grain of sand described as a mustard seed. The impulse, desire, envy of the visio beatifica. No. I accept the pithy pulse and am grateful to own any method, but especially privileged to choose my own with humility, a hope still a woman waits in the kitchen or on a mountain beside her some faithful stead. She and I, how I and she exemplify the desire to be safe and to be free. The candle meant for burning, the congregant who wanders. What of these jokes, these conversations, are these the mumbled words that crack through but not often enough crack through the cold blue.
Sound Scar Meryl McQueen Scrape. Slam. Sit Still. Count them Through the door: Four. Twelve. TwentyTwo. Just like me/ Not like me. Buzzing In my head. Mom Says they’re sound Scars. Quiet, it’s Not quiet. Teacher Says draw straight Lines under Letters. Only I can Hear the paper Howl.
Belong Lesley Dame If they held an auction of you, if I could own some small part, if I could bid out all the others, I would want to choose hands, but now I want to choose forearms, and then there is neck, there is chin, there is cheek. I wouldnâ€™t know which to choose. Youâ€™ve been my friend, my lover, my pain, my joy. Take away all that is mine and you are still there, a compilation of parts, all strange and confusing.
Apartment J-5 Jeff Santosuosso All I want is warmth, my shawl by the rocker, the afghan underneath. That heating vent stays dusted. I could nearly eat off of it since it’s at the edge of the kitchenette! That’s my little joke. That’s where my cat takes the other chair. I play a game of turning the knob down, when I nap with my shawl so that I can turn it up and feel the heat coming. Oh, it’s a soft little blow, this dainty comfort rising up on my shins, past my arms and up, up, up. Then I remove my scarf. The cat sleeps through it all, only waking for dinner. She sits in my lap, cuddling as the tv sends me drifting off. Sometimes, we get a thaw, some fresh sunshine. Oh, but that can be a tease. Used to be I’d just layer up and take a stroll. Nowadays, I don’t have the energy or the spirit because sometimes the most wicked storm follows! I just turn the rocker to the window and pull up the shade. Mostly, I observe the sunshine out there, a few birds, a few people, on holidays a few kids. I can hear them even if I can’t see them. Once I focused on the window casement, saw where the caulk had rotted, and made a note to call the super. I’m always ready when spring does come. I fold up the afghan and put in the closet. I keep the shawl hanging on the peg just in case. The cat gets more lively, too when the warmth returns.
These Regard the Bed Jeff SantosuossoÂ The last to lie on this bed was a corpse, a young woman in full flower. There, on the pillowcase, near the hemline, she drew her last breath, then exhaled. She entered barefoot, cool to her toes, drew the quilt, cool to her shoulders, nuzzled the pillow, cool to her cheek. Cool yielded to the warmth she radiated, blankets drawn closer, then thrown off. Eyes that discover her, hands that lift her, these regard the sheets. These regard the bed. Hands to mouths, gasping, hands to nightgown, cradling, fingers clutching what was, what is. Imprinted pillow, blankets thrown aside, tears fall on her nightgown, on the tousled sheets, body heat cooling, yet unnoticed from the last to lie on this bed.
Eye Turn From Him Melanie Faith
Subject Jeff Santosuosso I’ve never heard the laughter of kings, seen the scowl of dunces nor crossed paths with the Knights Templar. In those days, I kept to myself to the grasses, stones, horses and wind, to seize the goose, wring her neck swiftly then pluck the feathers from her warm body. The gizzards made a stew with dandelions, wild onions and carrots overwintered in the cellar. I uprooted them by hand, by hands torn and red, scuffed, chafed, broken and gnarled. They were never clean, just good enough to wring the goose neck, to scythe the grasses, pull the carrots, slap the horse’ flanks at plowing, to work my land within the kingdom, having never seen my lord nor any of his retinue, hearing only his name, watching grave eyes and brows as it was spoken. As I lay my father to rest by my own spade, my own sweat, I lay one hand across the burlap on my chest and bowed. I’d heard his laughter, seen his scowl, crossed his path all my life,
Dressing Gown Jeff SantosuossoÂ White knot waistline thigh-length ivory she disrobes in white. Beneath, a bone-white garment; revelations of white tucked away. She is layered this way; I will never see her other than her hands, a scoop line at the clavicle, and curvatures collecting around her eyes, shadowless like fog; and if Iâ€™m lucky for a moment the relaxation of her chestnut hair as she lifts her ringlets to cool her nape. I could blow there gently; just approach and linger and count those hairs as my breath billows them along and they come to rest where there is no white.
I Knew A Girl In High School G David Schwartz I knew a girl in high school I even knew her mom And although she did love me Her dad had other thoughts Each day I made a visit Heâ€™d be there and just stay seated In his favorite chair Where understanding is there needed After a few good years After many many tears I went into a restaurant And just guess who was there top So I did smile and turn away I had not a word to say And what is there which I could say I loved her then as well as today And I have been back many times But it seems I must keep crying
The Tongue Of Tulips G David Schwartz Allow me to come and kiss you With the force of wonder And allow me to swim up Thought the shards of thunder And also let me Search the seven seas So I may kiss the tongue of tulips Eternity shines in shimmering shares Of absolutely delicious grapes and pears Tantalizing the ornery sun spouts Licking steak of iron claws Solacing near the suns tears Making rudeness a dark sedan Singing well into the night Well so far past the life
You Ask A Person Where They’re From G David Schwartz You ask a person where they’re from You can accept an answer fairly quick But it’s your choice To use your own voice And accept the answer as truth
Its Not My Job to Know G David Schwartz Its not my job to know Its not my place to go Its not a man I know I am simply sleepy now There is a road out this door And it the evening I do snore And if I wanter to do any ore Iâ€™ll go to a foreign shoreâ€™ Which one I am not sure Because Its not my job to know
Time to Marian Kaplun ShapiroÂ get up (I say to myself), to go to bed eat lunch go on a diet break up buy a car get married stop smoking have a baby move to the city (move to the country) get a new job wake up! Youâ€™re living on a faultline. Either shore up your house or get out.
Nordstrom Laura Kiselevach
Expedition Marian Kaplun Shapiro Our ancestors didn’t stick around long enough to tell us how to bear these sexless, wrinkled, white-haired years. We limp forward with our canes and walkers. We rise from the toilet with our grab bars. We peer at menus with our magnifiers. We fiddle with the tiny batteries that run our hearing aids, foiled by arthritic fingers, dropping our glasses which, being without, we cannot find. And that’s the best of us! Do not go gentle into that good night! (Dylan Thomas, 39.) Or, why not relax. Retire and move to Florida. Play golf. Play bingo. Play cards. Play. Then go to bed early. They died too young, our poet seers. Keats conked out at 26. Shelley at 30. Byron, 36. Coleridge, 37. Shakespeare, 52. Chaucer, the agèd, 56. These are our mentors. These are our old men.
We’re in it all alone, this brave new world of pills and surgeries. We finished with to be or not to be; we’re up to what, and how and why. They left us in the lurch, and there we are. Reluctant heroes of the Land of Aging. 70, 80, 90…. The lurch is ours. We navigate by feel, making it up as we go along. Sans GPS, sans stars to steer by, we count on ourselves and on our greying peers, hoping to arrive at last in time to know where we are headed.
Indra’s Net Caroline Cottom Night. I pad barefoot into the grass beyond the deck, look up at that vast expanse embroidered with stars and imagine my place in it. I feel what it is like out there, silent with the weight of shadows, dark as the reach between worlds, plunge into folds where planets orbit stars within clouds of stars. Plucked by the gravity of distant spheres, I am suddenly whirling through space, everywhere at once, facets of Indra’s net lit by the eyes of night, those three hundred sextillion suns; sparks imploding, cosmic debris, everything still. We are each of us the cosmos; our bodies chalices for these fiery gems. Fireflies, candle glow, planets, stars—all visible because we have eyes; all felt because we are heavenly bodies.
Attention Shoppers From K-Mart’s 30th Anniversary In-store Music Program, March 1992
JFK’s in The White House; the Clampetts are in Beverly Hills. They gotta new dance and it goes like this… People in Michigan have a great new place to shop. Bop shoo-op, a bop bop shoo-op. They gotta new dance and it goes like this… On their car radio as the customers drive Bop shoo-op, a bop bop shoo-op To K-Mart, the store, that’s now a household name. On their car radio as the customers drive: Well you like it like this, the Peppermint Twist. K-Mart, the store, that’s now a household name. It goes round and round, up and down. Well you like it like this, the Peppermint Twist. Refreshing a house or throwing a party, Round and round, up and down, The key to success is organization. Refreshing a house or throwing a party, And a one two three kick, one two three jump, The key to success is organization. Yeah yeah yeah yeah (yeah yeah yeah yeah). And a one two three kick, one two three jump. Fortunately, Rubbermaid makes everything, Yeah yeah yeah yeah (yeah yeah yeah yeah), You need to put your home in order. Fortunately, Rubbermaid makes everything. Well, meet me baby down at 45th Street, You need to put your home in order Where the Peppermint Twisters meet. 75
Well, meet me baby down at 45th Street, And don’t forget there’s lay-away Where the Peppermint Twisters meet In all those new fall fashions. And don’t forget there’s lay-away, And you’ll learn to do this, The Peppermint Twist In all those new fall fashions. It’s alright all night; it’s okay all day. And you’ll learn to do this, The Peppermint Twist. People in Michigan have a great new place. It’s alright all night; it’s okay all day. JFK’s in The White House; the Clampetts are in Beverly Hills.
Half Moon Amy Kotthaus
Beams Laurie PattonÂ In our kitchen they were vaults of darkened skyâ€” their splinters stars to be gathered by our hands. You lifted me up so I could touch them. Perhaps it was then I began to believe sky was possible because of the circle of your arms.
Fountain Laurie PattonÂ On the day after I die, and my heart finally escapes its beautiful cage, its pulses scattered to the winds, let the young woman watching the fountain that morning see a sudden surge of splash and color and greet it with jubilation as if it were lava or witchesâ€™ brew, let the little man who opens the drawbridge at high noon turn the crank one more time, his body a happy flag on the lever as the gulls sing the boats through,
let last yearâ€™s ghost, waiting by the bed that night, finally quicken her loverâ€™s dreams so that he turns in his sleep and curls his hand around nothing in particular, let my heart roam free, for it has been pounding against these bars for so long.
Colors Claire Scott I saw her in your studio I came by to bring sushi To share and maybe more On the lumpy blue couch We bought years ago Fifth floor walk up On the seedy side of town Forty dollars seemed A lot to us then Do you remember Blonde, curvy Gold hooped ears Diamond stud in her nose Green eyes flashing Pink lips parted Hand on cocked hip Exuding ’tude Red dress revealing The surge of her breasts Who is she She doesn’t look like me Stocky and dark Jeans and black T shirts Bulky sweatshirts Backward baseball cap Pony tail poking through No cleavage to be found No make up to be seen Not a dress in the closet That’s me
You an abstract painter Huge swaths of bright colors Across giant canvasses Orange, turquoise, magenta Yet here she is Staring at me from Your easel Green eyes beguile Pink lips beckon The rank smell of turpentine Seeps into stale air Sable brushes stuffed in jars Palette of dried paint Please I promise to White wash my body And come to you You can paint me any color You want You can paint me the color Red pink green Of her
4 Alexandre Nodopaka
Poem with Blue Fescue and Red Breasted Nuthatch Claire Scott A listless clump of brown No foliage glinting silver blue In the sunâ€™s sharp gaze I grab a trowel and dig in Loamy soil Beneath the surface A small bird Rests on one side Ants crawl over its blue wings Ants crawl over its rusted breast Ants in the hollow of its skull Itâ€™s pale eye glazed Opaque in the black line Striping its head I remove the withered plant And toss it in the compost How can it weigh so little How can it seem so nothing I take a new plant From its plastic pot Roots dangling, seeking soil It feels earthy and dense I tuck it in the ground Glaucous tufts glow In the fierce sun I want to cradle the bird In my muddy hands Murmur prayers to The avian goddess 84
But I canâ€™t get past the Ants the horror the disgust I scoop the bird up In the trowel Set it deep in the dirt and Cover it with chips of bark The garden looks serene No sign of deathâ€™s long fingers
To Thinkâ€Ś Michael Scott Cain Every day men die for the lack of what poetry gives them. John Ciardi A metaphor could have saved him. An image clear and sharp as a diamond Could have cut through what was, like seaweed, Dragging him down with its sheer weight. If only someone had, instead of oxygen And a dripping IV, rushed up and read him A sonnet, we might still have him today. The art failed him and so did I. Because we did not reach him in time with our similes, he is no longer with us. How, then, can I just sit in my study telling the truth but telling it aslant? I must rush out, proclaim poems in the streets, The shops and offices, in cars and trains. Only that will save us.
On Missing my Southern Drawl Michael Scott Cain For years I hated the way it made me sound stupid as a mud-born catfish, dumb as dirt. It wasn’t just the “yall” and the “Come back real soon, hear?” Or the “howdy” when I saw a neighbor or the way I said, “totin’ a croker sack.” No, it was the slowness, the way my speech crawled like a drunken spider in a broken web. Senators could give speeches before I could say my name, could be reelected before I got out “I’m here to vote.” Southern is to language what molasses is to water. Travel drilled the drawl out of me and I was glad. No one credits your brain when you talk as though you’re learning the language at the same moment you speak it. Now I sound as neutral as a disinterested God. These days, the drawl is heard less. I miss it. The south is not what it was and neither am I. Time has made us both better than we were. The drawl, now dead as the southern dream, Was a high price to pay.
Machado Riley H. WelckerÂ He walks the slow and weary walk of a man with verses on his lips, pen pressed to paper, paper pressed and reaching out for mercy beneath his thick and wrinkled hand. He saps life and truth and beauty from a butterfly, a midday moon reflected in a window, a silent sea, white sails, a poppy field, a plane that hums somewhere out of sight. He does not wear blood-bathed or tattered boots, his leather loafers clean and neatly polished. He does not stroke wheat in a field in August or ring an anvil with a hammer. He pummels paper, rams ideologies down the throats of uneager students, scribbles a mighty French phrase, reconquers tanks and towers from the safety of his classroom. Fresh cut grass clings to his austere heels. Pen and paper clutch his leg as he plunges a hand inside the pocket of his pants, and tugs that bulge there with effort. A gold ring glints; in his hand, a lemon.
Defect Shanti Weiland for Robin Radikowski (First Published Summer 2014, in Third Wednesday.) You were smart, to slip out first. I remember when boys laughed at your red face, the trouble your kidney’s failure caused when you didn’t make it to Typing class, and I had no idea that you died. You were 12, and I lost it in History. Today, a blogger called “homos” victims of a birth defect, and I thought of you, Robin, sitting at lunch with us. I don’t know if you were gay. I always saw you as sexless, really. The champion of delight: the only relief from adolescence came to you as quickly as death did, and I think, now, at age 40, how I wish you’d come to me again in a dream as you did the week you 89
died, explaining why you were still here, cleaning out your locker, and making me forget, once again, to be afraid of this world.
Bliss Dance up Close Mitzi McMahon
Scriptio Inferior Claire Scott She created and recreated herself a life-sized palimpsest parchment paper scraped clean and used over and over each time a fresh start a new version of an unloved child lazy stupid annoying an unhappy teen sneaking out at night seeking solace where she could bitch slut fucking whore pages rubbed with milk and oat bran removing all traces of unlove unrespect unmercy writing a new life on top capable wife, mother, actress but writing faints and fades with light and time and touch muted signals from the words below old stories bleed into the new moments of self-doubt the audience bored the applause polite children texting from obligation, warm words masking indifference moments of heartless heart hoping the lead gets the flu her mother a case of shingles blisters oozing and itching 92
moments of self-hate the lure of sharp blades the call of tall bridges scriptio inferior the underwriting is never scraped away not ever
Bloody Scrap Eugenie Juliet Theall I knew a Harvard man who slept like a crocodile— jaw locked open, with a bloody scrap of meat wedged between his teeth. A strand of his mother’s white hair, trailed from an incisor, rippled waves of nausea in me. Territorial, she climbed inside his mouth, feasted when I wasn’t there. I couldn’t liberate the entrails, proof of his insatiable hunger, no matter how far I crawled on his acrid tongue, breasts swollen with sugared milk, searching for a backbone, a beating heart, someone with balls. Like a cheetah, I dragged his carcass between my legs to the top of a tree, but she couldn’t let go of her baby, her sustenance. She followed, waited until the limb broke.
Geometric Eye - Vivisection Melanie Faith
Our Winter 2017 issue of OVS Magazine