__MAIN_TEXT__
feature-image

Page 1

passager

 Passager Poet: James McGrath Honorable Mentions:

passager 2015 poetry contest

Issue #59 $10

Liz Abrams-Morley Shirley J. Brewer Christopher Buckley Art Cohen John Davis Mark DeFoe Sylvia Fischbach-Braden Paul Fisher John Glowney Renny Golden Rachel Heimowitz Mary Hennessy Christine Higgins Margaret Hoehn Wendy Hoffman Stephen Hollaway Meredith Holmes Lynne Knight Ellen LaFleche Gary Lark Barbara Lyon Fran Markover Henry Morgenthau Jed Myers Peter Nash Robert B. Nelson Christine O’Connor Mary Beth O’Connor Kathleen O’Toole Rosalind Pace Joyce Ritchie Sophia Rivkin Sharron Singleton Douglas Walter Tow Arne Weingart


Passager is an independent journal published with thanks to: Adalman-Goodwin Foundation, Inc. The School of Communications Design at the University of Baltimore Generous donations from our subscribers All material copyright 2015 by Passager Printed by Spencer Printing: Honesdale, PA Distributed by Spencer Printing ISSN 1052-889X

Passager is dedicated to assembling a range of voices and subjects that bring to light the collective imagination of older writers, along with the perspective that comes with experience. Editors Mary Azrael Kendra Kopelke Managing Editors Christine Drawl Saralyn Lyons

Address all correspondence to Passager c/o University of Baltimore 1420 N. Charles Street Baltimore, MD 21202-5779

Business Manager Jaye Crooks

Editors@PassagerBooks.com

Designer Christine Drawl

Subscription $30 four issues (two years) $35 outside of the U.S. Order online www.passagerbooks.com

Passager has sprouted some new feathers! We are pleased to introduce our new logo:

Mrs. Prane

Art Director Pantea Amin Tofangchi

pa ssager

But please, don’t stare too much, she’s already quite proud of herself.


Art is like a drum in the night. marie-lÉontine tsibinda

passager 2015 poetry contest


From the Editors

Dear Readers, We are pleased to present the results of our 2015 Passager poetry contest for writers over fifty. This year's winner is James McGrath, from the village of La Cieneguilla, Santa Fe, New Mexico. James has dedicated his life to poetry and art as a creator and creative mentor. His work has touched people of all ages in the U.S. and internationally, from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe to schools in Europe and the Far East, Yemen, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Republic of Congo. James' poems in this issue address the persistent and incessant engagement in war; he is a poet of witness, the poet who gives voice to our collective cry for peace. Baltimore was in deep turmoil in April when we put this issue together following the death of Freddie Gray. That week, we received a poem from a long time friend of Passager, Art Cohen, who was a public defender in Baltimore during the '68 riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King. We close this issue of Passager with his poem "Urban Requiem," expressing the deep frustration and sorrow so many of us feel about injustice and the slow pace of change. Among the 35 honorable mention poets whose work appears here, you’ll find Henry Morgenthau, at 97, writing about coming out, Rachel Heimowitz, who lives in Israel, writing about protecting her children, and Liz Abrams-Morley, unlearning the advice of a writing teacher, and many others whose poems we hope will move you, inspire you, make you think. Let us know. We'd love to hear from you. The Editors


C ont e nt s

6

Miracle liz abrams-morley

20

Ionized Air rachel heimowitz

8

Plaque with Figure of a Python Shirley J. brewer

Flight Patterns of the Unfit Mary Hennessy

9

Getting Up There Christopher Buckley

22 23 26 27 29 41 42

11 Making Peace with Gravity john davis 12 The Howl mark defoe 14 Before You Ascend sylvia fischbach-braden 15 Painting the House paul fisher 16 Sons john glowney 18 Lorena renny golden

What Shelter, What Hope Christine higgins Fire Season margaret hoehn Birth-day wendy hoffman 2015 Passager Poet james mcgrath Nepal Fall Down stephen Hollaway Hera meredith holmes

43 Night Time lynne knight


Contents

44

Prayer for Weather ellen Lafleche

45 Beast of Burden gary lark 46 Where Art Thou? Barbara p. lyon 47 Stew fran markover

55

Every Time, the Same Mary beth o’connor

56

Her Bungalow Kathleen o’toole

57

Advice for the Un-forlorn Rosalind pace

58

Mainely Belfast joyce ritchie

48 50 52 53

Ladyfingers Henry morgenthau

60

The Drought over the Whole Area sophia rivkin

White Twine jed myers

62

I Think It Was an Orange Sharron singleton

Rocky’s Place peter nash

63

Like Lambs for the Barbeque douglas walter tow

The Sense to Die robert nelson

64

The Weather on Mars Arne weingart

54

Alien Fields christine s. o’connor

66

Urban Requiem art cohen


passager

Miracle for Wesley

You make of your mouth a mirror of mine as if, at 3 months, your own creation story sits on the tip of the tongue in that toothless cave we call your mouth. You fill your eyes with bare branches of magnolia, your ear with the drip of snow melt. Maybe you think you hear milk flow, sun finally chasing winter from our city stoop. Take time to look, Georgia O’Keeffe is said to have said. I once had a teacher who told me, Don’t ever write about your grandmother. Everyone has a grandmother. Nights when I was not much older than you are now, I watched mine brush the snow river of her hair, 100 strokes root to ends each night, as her glacial blue eyes stared off somewhere. Maybe she looked back into azure shadowed woods. Maybe her ear cradled the hollow beat of hooves, her nose the odor of Cossacks, their approaching horses. That fool teacher wanted me to write only Cossack poems when my ear was tuned by the swish of an old woman’s brush: root to end, 100 hundred strokes, my bubby transformed, become Rapunzel. This was my miracle each evening. In the morning, she was all tight bun and business. Now cirrus wisps striate a milk-blue sky and,

6


passager

for the first time since your birth, the scent of earth screams spring, even as oil black ice clings to sidewalks. One day I’ll tell you about the burning bush, how Moses had to stop and look to see and hear the miracle. Today I point out the first crocus and your mouth shapes the O of crocus. I tell you how the hibiscus bush, hauled in from the patio late in fall, and which just last week I could have sworn I’d killed, was only sleeping. Now it presses watery green leaves from dried stalks. Wesley, Look! it will flower again. Listen: There are two ways to live . . . as if nothing is a miracle . . . as if everything is. Let others live in dark forests, hoof beats of Cossacks their memories’ bass line. Let them wake each day and call that living. Liz Abrams-Morley

7


passager

Plaque with figure of a python a 16th century sculpture Constrictor of the Old World, once I feared you – your length, your appetite, the cost of your hug. Now, I study your body as you curve through silky grass. Your route makes me dizzy, yet I see myself in you. When your skin splits, no sound marks your rebirth. No drama. I keep my distance. Deep in the woods, I take off what I can. My breath slows; night falls. I’m still waiting for a chance to break open. Shirley J. Brewer

8


passager

Getting up there Beard white, face a little ruddy, pleasantly fuzzy, already half drunk. A hundred years pass with the wave of a hand. po chu i

The other day, a friend, just a few years older, said he’d like to have a last book out before he meets his editor in hell. . . . And though getting a book into the world and what’s cut away from the underflesh of the soul might not be equal to the infernal torments, the company you have to keep there, a good glass of pinot and most of us might see the equation – influence, networks, quid pro quo, et al . . . Po understood what it took to land even a minor position in the provinces. And now there’s the young one-book-wonders cutting in front of you in line. You look at the EXIT sign and it shakes each cell of elemental jelly in your bones, synapses calcifying, burning out, not so metaphorically speaking. And there’s damn little you can do about any of it anyway. And despite his discrete and down to earth illumination of each daily pleasure or

9


passager

star-hung sorrow, Po Chu I is not much help . . . a deep sense of loss edging the sky wherever he looks. He knew what was coming. So do you, regardless of every embargo you’ve sailed or pushed up-river through to arrive at this rocky place. And more and more now, they want to take every least bit of biscuit or cheese away from you, let alone Po’s jug of wine near the window, reflecting the moon riding the back of a choir of clouds, rising into the dark. Christopher Buckley

10


passager

making peace with gravity And I am warm as the black-eyed Susan, pallid and punched as the tree frog croak, knotted and furled as peach leaf curl, I am as warm as allegro viola. And I am as bold as the burnt sienna sky, as flashing as satin, as scented as pine, fluffed as a pillow in the bridesmaid’s bed, I am as fluid as the bold hush of blue. And I am as lusty as a peacock mask, as buffed as a boot, as long as a look, as nimble as a fir flame and smooth. I am the lightning. I unlace the black sky. And I am as old as the mold in the Bible, as hot as a hit, as frozen as a ghost. And I know what it takes to make hips swivel and heads tilt and lips twitch. John Davis

11


passager

the howl He spoke less and less, thinking his profundities on politics and life were dry leaves in the gusty wind of the now. His wife admonished him to smile more, and he asked, had things improved? His friends, garrulous codgers, haunted the local Hardees like albatross of the trivial, launching into their pointless spiels midstream, as if people knew the backstory, and gave a damn. He spoke less and less, worked like a field hand in his garden. I’m a serf out of Tolstoy, he thought, remembered another surf, beaches littered with the fallen. But his war was a grainy newsreel. You’re losing it, old fool, and he saw a beach sultry with strolling bikini-clad nymphets. I could direct this film, this promenade, and was pleased that lust had not forsaken him.

12


passager

But he spoke less and less. And one day he found cut worms in his Romas, found that thirps had stunted his glads, that his dahlia tubers stank with rot. Son of a bitch, he shouted. Jesus, Mary and Joseph! His hands flew off, clutching the air. At his back door he stood before his wife, tears cutting his cheeks. What is it? What is it? He spilled out gibberish, raging. And he just stood there howling. Howling. Mark DeFoe

13


passager

before you ascend You’ll squirt your pepsodent at the eight-pointed star you took for a toothbrush fire your pepsodent at the block of cheese you took for a pirate ship hurl your pepsodent into the aquarium you took for a Mayday parade hold your pepsodent like a trapeze you took for a Trappist monk fold your pepsodent triangularly like the flag you took for your tongue trim your pepsodent with manicure scissors you thought you bought on eBay wheel down the hallway in your pj’s sipping pepsodent from the tea-kettle you took for the anti-Christ Sylvia Fischbach-Braden 14


passager

painting the house It’s hard to match summer gloss, much less blackberry sheen, when shadows won’t allow sun to brush the peeling porch where young bones say it should. It’s hard when, from her rocker, your grandmother knits one day into another as you spill archipelagos, atoll by atoll mapping the floor. You imagine painting her as a girl adrift in a crone’s chair, the house a Sargasso Sea, doilies on her dresser crocheted from mermaid hair. It’s hard to guess what colors clouded eyes may choose to quiet each raucous room. But gold-leafed light’s done for today, and you’ve grown tired as any boy forced to own the mess he’s made. Paul Fisher

15


passager

sons Long-haired thirteen-year-olds coast dusk on skateboards. Three summers ago they wanted to be astronauts or firemen climbing tall ladders into windows of fire. Wheels rattle against pavement, thunk against a ramp made of castaway 2x4’s propped up on old produce boxes: the boys launch a few brash feet off the ground, twirl, land crouched, or stagger sideways, or crash. Did Icarus, shouldering the gorgeous ensemble his father fashioned, the tight straps pinching his rib cage, complain? Did he share Daedalus’ dream of flight over the sea’s unfolding horizons and inexhaustible trenches;

16


passager

or did he, within the chambered maze that stabled his own bull-headed heart, aim for the sun on what he had made from what he could find in his father’s attic and garage – plywood, pigeon feathers, glue? John Glowney

17


passager

lorena Family Detention Center: New Mexico Border

I

Her hands, if they speak, will say: bitter, slut, violated. She must hide her hands, their trembling. How they were pinned. Useless. The gringa lawyer wants to know. But Lorena has only emptiness. Journey flashes back, she cannot speak, cannot look at her son’s eyes. How could she not have stopped it. Her shame a bright moon that floods her. Her boy screaming. Beggars. Nothing, nothing to give. Her body, the price. In that filthy car, pleading: Take my boy away from here. Please. It is in her child’s mind like a fire that cindered him even as he bellowed into starless silence, until he understood his mother was broken. 18


passager

Desert sky had no eyes, only a boy, a witness without a childhood. II Yes, your honor, I left Honduras four months ago. How? Alone your honor, with my boy. Why? Gangs. He no have chance. How did you travel? Cousin knew driver who take us through Guatemala, another take us through Mexico. Did anyone harm you? She pins hands to her sides that might testify her shame. Liar hands. Did they harm you? Renny Golden

19


passager

ionized air This solitude covered with iron. robert bly

Kneeling in my garden, hands lost in sandy soil, urging each blossom to launch into the long spring that is a desert winter, I smell every ancient man who has passed here before me. Days rise out of empty hills, unleashing into clear light and white birds who glide into this new winter-green, their feet arrows trailing behind, pointed and black. Or nights, when a full moon is stretched across the sand, the thunder I hear isn’t a coming storm ready to feed the flowers, the hills, or me. Each clap is cannon fire bursting into the transparent night, each bloom attended by a machine gun that enters my body in a wingbeat of panic, 20


passager

a battle echoed into ionized air in a land where the hills are etched in centuries, in battles, in the trail that follows an ancient aqueduct deep into the wadi, in these lines on my hands sunk into this soil that smells of urine and copper, the smell of old American pennies, each ingrained with the face of a proud Indian, long dead and forgotten. Rachel Heimowitz

21


passager

Flight patterns of the unfit Ink-stained and trawled-out I am sitting in the middle of a crowd of seabirds. The ocean crooks her finger at me that old come-into-my-web gesture of the spider to the fly and I can not wait to go. Fish pop in the surf like corn in hot oil. Knife-shaped, they levitate in the silvered morning. Wiggle their fins mid-shining like Pentecostal flames like a warm-up act for the three stooges. My running toward surf wild as the wash cycle in the laundromat – and the fish leaping out of it might be evolutionary missteps. Pelicans on cruise control – their beaks and empty throat pouches glide inches above the water –W while flames spread across the base of each breaking wave. In the salt tide, fazed and scuttling sideways, my feet quick step to a dance I don’t know. I am one of the stooges, one of the flames. Mary Hennessy 22


passager

what shelter, what hope ER Visit, Thanksgiving We bring our child to the ER. They put her in a disposable hospital top and pants. They want to take her bra, but she won’t give it. They want her earrings and her watch, as if she’s going away for a while. She is so anxious she’s biting the sleeve of the top, a material that resembles a coated tablecloth. We are here because she kept saying she wanted to kill herself, no back-pedaling. They take her backpack and her cigarettes. They ask about marijuana use, and she says 4x, no maybe 5x a week. Her friend is outside, but I won’t let him come in, afraid that later she will regret all of this and the scene she is making with nothing to soothe her. Four hours later, her father asks how much longer and can she have something for her anxiety, which is now through the roof. The nurse looks at her with disdain,

23


passager

tired of hearing my daughter curse, blubber, and beg to be taken home. I’m okay, I didn’t mean it, I didn’t know what I was saying, I just want to go home. I wonder what white coat is going to fix this, what bright personage here on this holiday is going to sweep in and tell me: here’s what’s happening to your teenager and here’s what we need to do. We return home to cold mashed potatoes. We eat rolls with butter and chilled cranberry jelly. Later, I lie down in her bed with her, the child I delivered into this world. Love Child In the beginning we would look across the table in disbelief. Often, we said to each other, “What are we going to do?” And then one of us would cry hot tears, and the other would hold tight to a grimace. Those few days in Key West we had a routine: walk around in the hot sun until our t-shirts clung to every part of us, 24


passager

come back to the B&B, lie under mosquito netting surrounding the bed, cry separately while holding hands and then, waiting for the day’s intensity to disappear, we would fall asleep. Three years into it now, we still hold onto the idea that one of us has to be okay, but it’s different now: I rub the soft hair on his head, and nightly, he reaches out a hand in sleep, checking to see if I’m still there. We make love, and it’s not just performance or gratification. It’s as if we have formed a new triad. That space made empty has been filled with our warmth, that space where our baby loved to sleep. Christine Higgins

25


passager

fire season A book of matches lies forgotten on a closet shelf. So much heat can be concealed in the darkness for years. And a match, like any secret left to nimble in an unlit space, can kick up a sweltering wind, cause the asphalt to soften, cars to overheat and break down, men to get lost in those wavering ribbons of heat. Once the first spark is struck, all it takes for the next is a sideways look, a fever, or the rasp of a word against skin. Tonight, all it takes is a man and a woman who sit in the sweat of the kitchen and will not meet each other’s eyes and will not speak. The woman is fingering a rose that she has picked from the garden: that match head of orange which can light up a room or burn a house down. Margaret Hoehn

26


passager

birth-day

On a forest path studded with hypnotic bouquets of wild red, yellow and purple emerging from a green carpet of shiny, pointed leaves, I feel a kiss slide and press in, though it is not physical. It coats my face and tells me I am someone’s child. I cannot tell whether this voice comes from my desperate inside warriors or the pregnant outside. As I thread over soft earth and ancient stone, a healthy umbilical cord descends from beyond a spotless sun through choppy clouds on azure. It is spring and my birthday. The air smells of swollen summer. After seventy tortuous, orphaned years, a pleasure joins to my barren lips. I walk in a light jacket along a squeezed path and belong. Wendy Hoffman

27


2015 Passager Poet

“

These poems are my responses of late to the Big Pain we receive with war and terror�


2015 passager poet

my poems It’s when I wrote my poems o n scraps of letters and envelopes of my dead brothers. When I tied my poems to my rifle. When I read my poems after I killed a man. When the war ended, I couldn’t read them anymore. The inks had run together into images of their faces.

30


2015 passager poet

you You killed me before. You bombed my wedding. You killed me before. You starved my children. You killed me before. You broke the doors of my home. You killed me before. You violated our women, my wife, my daughters. You killed me before. You dirtied the Holy Book. You killed me before. You stripped, made me naked, my father, my sons, my brothers. You killed me before. You sneered, derided over Prophet. You killed me before. I killed 12 of you. Hundreds of my fathers, thousands of my sons, millions of my brothers killed 12 of you. You, you killed me before and still I breathe. I only wanted to be loved – like you.

31


2015 passager poet

guns

guns

guns

They broke down our door. They never knocked. They yelled words we never heard before. They never knocked. They wore metal helmets and carried guns. They never knocked. They rushed into the room. They broke our jar of drinking water. They tore open our cushions and pillows. They screamed

GUNS

GUNS

GUNS.

They never knocked. They tore the curtains to the room where our children were crying. They never knocked. They tore blankets from our childrens’ beds. They screamed

GUNS

GUNS

GUNS.

They tore clothes from my husband, made him naked. They screamed 32

GUNS

GUNS

GUNS.


2015 passager poet

They tore up our rugs, They pulled our grandmother’s picture from the wall. They screamed

GUNS

GUNS

GUNS.

They never left. They never left. They never left.

33


2015 passager poet

my winter soldier My brother played drums in his high school band. He sang Bacharach songs to Fatima down the road. He tickled my mother with a peacock feather. He laughed at my 4th grade elephant jokes. He teased Dad about his bright ties. My brother came home last week from Iraq. He wore a piece of shrapnel from his shoulder on a chain around his neck. He had a prosthetic arm with five plastic fingers in a white glove. He called Dad a motherfucker because he wore a tie. He said he had shot elephants and peacocks in the Baghdad zoo for target practice with his buddies. He said Fatima was just another stupid Hajji. He sold his drums on e-Bay.

34


2015 passager poet

Last night at dinner he told us how they poured gasoline on a library in Fallujah, shooting into the shadows until they ran red. How the books burned, even Rumi couldn’t escape the flames. He cried in his room all night, tossed grenades of four-letter words into the dark. This morning he never came down to breakfast.

35


2015 passager poet

the trumpet player in memory of Philip Patrick Gibbons

Philip, just back from the war, took his trumpet to college with the GI Bill. After English Comp, just before going to the dining hall, he took his trumpet to the irrigation ditch outside the dorm to play taps. He thought the willows and cottonwoods muffled the sounds. Ravens were his audience: the black-haired ghosts in his company, the young Japanese suicide boys holding one another in the Okinawa cave, the ones who couldn’t surrender. Despair drained into the irrigation ditch when he blew tears from his trumpet.

36


2015 passager poet

Interview with James McGrath Looking back at your childhood, do you see early influences on your life in poetry? As an only child in a quiet, hard-working, out-of-doors, hunting, fishing family, with generous parents who only went to the 8th grade, I spent a lot of time outside. We lived near a swamp in South Tacoma, Washington: skunk cabbage, dragonflies, frogs, other voices. Nature has always been my mentor. One of my favorite places was the swamp and the hill at the end of 48th Street. There were three car bodies that made islands; I could jump from one to another, making big tin drumming sounds and ripples in the water that ran across the skunk cabbage leaves. There was so much in the swamp world, that I never felt alone. In the spring I could cover the tops of the car bodies in pussy willows and paint my face yellow in cattail pollen – it tasted sweet and soft. And when I went home as it began to get dark I’d bring clumps of solitude with me: a smell of skunk cabbage, a bit of swamp mud blackness. Perhaps the biggest, earliest influence into the poetry of life is my Indian Uncle Nap, Napoleon Bernier. Uncle Nap and Aunt Sinnie lived on the Middle Fork of the Newaukum River near Chehalis, Washington. I spent much time there – the last visit when I was in college. They had a tub, a round tin tub, used for practically everything. I bathed in it, Aunt Sinnie scalded chickens in it, washed clothes, shucked corn, boiled and sealed jars of peaches . . . and even mashed the slop for the pigs.

37


2015 passager poet

How did you get started writing? Perhaps it all started with my stuttering through elementary, junior high school, senior high school, and into college; even as I began to teach. Because I stuttered, I became a good listener and an eager observer. I discovered the best way to respond to the world was to write. As a child, I had been a victim of sexual abuse, which forced me into a deep silence; one of the results was boxes and boxes of writing. Today, at 86, watching, listening, and responding to the world around me is the source of my writing. I do not stutter anymore. Perhaps it was my poetry that helped to settle things. You’ve been publishing a long time. Were there significant moments? My most profound breakthrough came after responding to a notice seeking poetry concerning male survivors of sexual abuse. I took a risk and wrote a poem about it. The poem, “When I Came Home from School,” allowed me to take a deep breath and share what was important to me with others. After its publication in In Cabin Six, a survivor in New York City contacted me requesting to put one of my poems to music. He was a well-known composer. I said, Yes! Later a high school teacher in Texas called to ask me if one of her students could use my poems in a paper he was writing about sexual abuse. I said, Yes! Your house in New Mexico sounds like a very special place, so different from our life here in Baltimore. I live on eight acres in La Cieneguilla, just outside of Santa Fe, in an old adobe house with solar energy for electricity and a windmill for water. There is a great old apple and pear orchard. The trees form an open, branch-covered room. Local writers and poets have read and launched books here; we acknowledged 9/11 with poetry; and John McGrath, poet 38


2015 passager poet

from County Kerry, Ireland launched his book Blue Sky Day here. The trees sing with fruit every autumn. And your work with other writers and artists? I like writing with others. My first group was with Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones; she turned on my aging poet-faucet. Collaborating with other poets and artists is one of my great joys. Many of my books are collaborations. My new book, The Sun Is A Wandering Hunter, is a collaboration with Hopi Indian artist-poet Otellie Loloma. Sunstone Press of Santa Fe has been very supportive, publishing my five books of poetry. We love receiving your hand-written letters. Tell us about your relationship with technology? It might hold me back in today’s world in some ways not to have a computer, email or a cell phone. But I enjoy a blank sheet of paper and a pen; a conversation on my telephone or face-to-face in the kitchen; and getting news from my radio or my friends. True, most opportunities to submit poetry or creative works to be published are via email. I rarely send work out anymore. Now I just write and find open time to share in the ‘old’ simple ways: reading, via mail – sharings in the gentle ways.

39


2015 passager poet

It is late now. A beautiful unknown day to rest in. My two daughters died this year. I am not alone. Their voices mingle in my voice. Their smiles reflect in my mirror. We walk my dirt road, their feet just above the dust leave no footprints. When the clouds change shape from buffalo to bird, we float over the mountains into the West where the sun never sets for long.

40

James McGrath July 2015 Santa Fe, New Mexico


passager

nepal fall down Obviously the world is unfinished. It is still settling, falling in on itself, seeking a level far below us: deep slides against deep, rock against rock, trying to reestablish balance in the underworld. Here on the surface temples fall, humans run from a flow of bricks seeking their level. When you see how every proud tower has diminished you know that with enough quakes the earth would finally be flat. Every mountain become a plain, Everest even, first the avalanche of snow and then rock, the valleys lifted up to meet the hills. Every last civilization bears witness to the world’s desire to level: at Tel Megiddo twenty-six cities on top of one another, a layer cake of human celebrations gone flat, destroyed by the next or shaken down by earth itself. The temple of Shiva has not collapsed; believers and unbelievers wonder. But earth may not require a destroyer at all: only time and the patience of deep rocks seeking their level. Stephen Hollaway

41


passager

hera Just to remind herself who’s boss Hera jaywalks at Cedar and Fairmount. She could cause a pileup this town would remember until A.D. 5000. She could make all the cars vanish and replace them with stags. But she doesn’t want to be noticed so has chosen the almost invisible form of a 65-year-old woman with matchstick legs and a big belly. Her streaming black hair is secured with a rubber band she found on a bunch of broccoli rotting in the fridge. The evening is fine so she stands on the corner and snatches a newspaper from the box when someone drops in two quarters. She makes sure the girl who works at the dry cleaners finds an extra $100 in her purse and that all the women with babies in strollers get across Cedar safely. At 8:00 Hera sits down at her usual table noting the ritual offerings: water, clean and miraculously cold, candles, and white napkins, folded and virginal. She, Hera, has arranged for the amphorae to be filled with peacock feathers and caused stars to descend into the trees illuminating tables where mortals enjoy, in their way, grape leaves, olives, and honey.

42

Meredith Holmes


passager

Night Time What you call the night is only time letting go of the doors & books again, the clothes in chairs, while the horned owl waits in a hollow of the oak & leaves take up lives of their own, their shadows moving out of themselves like the girl slipping from the dance to the back seat, to You would if you loved me, & it happens that time or the next, but almost always at night, as if the body might incinerate by day with all its heat that you keep seeking, long after the tongues & wet, in many cities far from the time of the father waiting in the dark, the match struck then You’re late & the nothing-to-say, though years later when you read that the father who has lost his daughter looks stricken, your own father’s face comes before you as if the dead are waiting in the shadows, or is it a trick of blood in its long circling, blood memory circling & circling until the hands of the father are the hands of the lovers are the hands of the no-longer, holding you like light, impossibly like light – Lynne Knight

43


passager

prayer for weather Because hail is stoning my tomato plants to death, because a thundercloud is pushing bolts of lightning from its cervix, because the gravid beauty of full moon reflected on my drizzle-glazed roof. Because lightning is igniting my rose bush, because fire hold my white hibiscus in its trembling hands, because the aromatic beauty of hibiscus-scented ash. Because a windstorm is strip-teasing the leaves from my oaks, because their tined branches are whisking dawn’s blood-tinged yoke, because the corpulent beauty of pumpkins lounging in my field like force-fed hogs. Because the noon sun is a fever blister, because not a drop of water is left in the grieving nozzles of my eyes, because the frizzled beauty of cob hairs floating away from my corn field. Because the ocean is rearing back like a fanged animal, because that animal is lunging toward my island in a foaming rage, because crabs and seaweed are swimming through the village, because the percussive beauty of coconut trees slamming against my roof. Ellen LaFleche

44


passager

beast of burden My father was one of the oxen that pulled Northwest lumber mills from the days of the Gyppo and homegrown baron to the era of international conglomerate. In those early rough-cut days the boss lived up the hill, his kids went to the same school and money spilled on the rainy slope that ran from the view to the slough. The little outfits got bought up, squeezed out, bankrupted or burned. Labor was still there at the gate when the fiscal office moved to Portland or Seattle then Atlanta, and the money sailed to a warm climate. Father took early retirement with half pension and bad lungs. He was one of the lucky ones. Gary Lark

45


passager

where art thou? The story weaves in my head From a dream I just had Did someone pick up the paper? Do I smell bacon? What is making that noise? Who is calling at this hour? How find my dream’s voice? There were words, there was truth I’m hungry, the weather is perfect The paper just came Barbara P. Lyon

46


passager

stew How she spoke to the vegetables, soften up, already or take your time, usually in Yiddish. Maybe she was thinking about the garden and how the pungent earth sifted through her calloused fingers. Sometimes, I heard cries to the chicken roosting in thick liquid. Question & response as if she were in shul. The rabbi intoning his queries, congregants nodding amen. Grandmother asking the bird what’s missing – salt, chives, a bissel celery? Sometimes, steam would moisten her face. It wasn’t the onion commiserating or broth on lowest flame, but something bone-deep, green as kale that led her to whisper only in dreams are carrots as big as bears, or mayn cabbage, help me, Got in himmel, my God in heaven, help me remember – how much sour or sweet, how much longer for each layer to boil down, simmer, tender as flesh. Fran Markover

47


passager

ladyfingers In our apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a safe haven for prosperous German Jews, I was cushioned by my loving mother who assured me I would grow up to be anything I wanted to be, even as my father’s anger spilled over me like vitriol. He had his own problems, trying to fulfill his immigrant father’s dreams. When the time came to step out of my cocoon, I discovered a world where Mother couldn’t protect me. My first adventures were staged a few blocks uptown at the Birch Wathen kindergarten. On the first day of classes, boys and girls were separated. The girls were handed pastel-colored chiffon scarves to wave as they gamboled about. I grabbed one, and followed the girls, prompting jeers from the boys. “Hey Ladyfingers,” yelled Henry Furnald, the best looking boy in the class. “Hey Ladyfingers!” He was one of the boys. I was not. During the many years from my uneasy childhood to old age, I have lived with the dread of being uncovered. I have built walls to isolate myself, 48


passager

to hide behind, to fear, and to hate myself. Walls fabricated with stony indifference toward being different. Not wanting to be touched. Wanting to touch. Wanting to be caressed by the soft, sensuous pressure of warm bath water. I shiver as I step out in my exposed nakedness. Henry Morgenthau

49


passager

white twine Will my eyes do, or will you need words? Might it help if it were a spring night? Or better a dim bar and we’d had a few? If bomb-blasts were audible in the near distance, or quiet embraced us like the end of the world? I have the impression conditions aren’t crucial. I don’t want to think it’s impossible that at an odd moment in our snippet of history in sight of each other, whether you take me for lover or enemy 50


passager

or one more traveler here in the thick of the world’s long argument with itself, you might see the trust I have wrapped in its several layers of terror’s brown paper secured with white twine in my grandfather’s army navy store outside Baltimore, knot tight as a dot where he slipped his finger out from under and pulled. Jed Myers

51


passager

rocky’s place There is some kiss we want with our whole lives, the touch of spirit on the body. rumi

Sometimes I think of his thousand Post-its plastering the lamp shade, creeping along the baseboards, up the metal legs of the card table and covering the window overlooking a graveled parking lot. In the corner, boxes of Zip-lock bags filled with alfalfa pellets. A bare bulb dangles by its wire over two rabbits, Flopsy and Mopsy inside a baby’s playpen. Each day begins seven inches above the sink when he whispers the first Post-it: Every seeker is a beggar, before moving on to the next and the next in their ordained order as if they were a trail of stone steps winding seven times around sacred Mecca. And when he arrives at those who have reached their arms into emptiness, I imagine him ascending the path to the door knob of the closet where the last Post-it reads: This is the place the soul is most afraid of, on this height, this ecstatic turret, and climbing into the playpen he lies down with the rabbits who nuzzle his face, their eyes half-closed, their furry, smoky-white heads moving back and forth in mysterious jerks.

52

Peter Nash


passager

the sense to die America, your sons lie in the street, uncovered and alone, The squalid cages where they dwelled have boundaries not their own, They’ve been abandoned from the womb, no indignation were they spared, You’ve turned your back on dreams they had and left them crushed and lying there. America, your sons have gasped for breath, on sidewalks ‘cross the land, You’ve loaded burdens on their backs and shackles on their hands, They crossed the sea against their will, and realized their darkest fears, They’ve felt the lash, it’s never stopped, for more than half a thousand years, America, your sons lie on the ground, with bullets in their backs, They’re hunted down like rabid dogs in unprovoked attacks. When laid to rest, you’ll hear a sigh that echoes to the sky, The only peace they ever found was when they had the sense to die. Robert Nelson

53


passager

alien fields Borrow their fields to graze our sheep. Borrow their bowls to make our broth. hmong proverb

To till this land is not to make it my own although the rake and the hoe belong to me In each new furrow I picture distant paths trod by my ancestors My sheep graze on borrowed fields When darkness comes, I gather my family We make our supper in bowls you have loaned us – bitter broth My tears flow on crops soon to ripen, so I will eat them and plant again because I am a survivor in your land, far from the graves of my forefathers For me there is no returning. I see your hills on the horizon. These fields may belong to my children as never to me. On the day my remains lie beneath the straight furrows they will have an ancestor in this land 54

Christine S. O’Connor


passager

every time, the same I climb down to the cellar to dream of clear water the earth is so close there I can smell new life growing So I walk to the garden to wake up my life and I fall asleep there in the mist of the morning I feel the time passing watch geese fly in formation away from our home here up in the cold north I lie down in the garden to waken my life and I fall asleep there all covered with leaves Mary Beth O’Connor

55


passager

her bungalow Still redolent of lemon oil and moth balls, after more than fifty years. Just the sight of a wrought-iron-railed porch hung with potted plants (hers would have been plastic) brings back the squeaks and smells, the knick-knacked world of Granny Madelyn – shelves of elves and the Infant of Prague, cut-glass bowls above the faux fireplace, more ceramic than you’d cast in a lifetime. And yet for me, those tiny rooms were incensed chapel, sweat lodge. Within them my half-hillbilly, railroad widow granny reigned. She dried her support hose on the metal spokes of the laundry tree above the forced hot air vent in the floor. Her wages at the “five & dime”, that bought me 45RPM American Bandstand hits and popsicles, could barely afford more. As her eldest grandchild, just the chance to spend the night on her side of the tracks was whimsical: I could pray my heart out on the glow-in-the-dark rosary, listen to Hank Williams by the Blessed Mother night light, wind its music box to play Schubert’s Ave, or watch Bonanza on the black and white TV. For breakfast at the Formica table you could choose what you wanted to eat of what she had. My favorite: half a tomato and a Coke. 409 Holloway Terrace – address of memory, whispers a wish to find again such unfeigned grace.

56

Kathleen O’Toole


passager

advice for the un-forlorn Have a little sympathy for the person who waits, who doesn’t tap her foot but keeps absolutely still as others enter and exit, as the tide goes in and out, as the train never comes, or leaves, as the answer to an important question gets lost in the tangled branches of the briar patch that threaten to grow higher around the castle. There is, after all, an art in this. It’s easy to be impatient, to demand marching forward. But think what would happen if armies were experts in waiting and waiting, listening to trees rustle, if there are trees, or taking note of miniscule changes in the shape of the finch’s beak, until they begin to love an old man who embroiders at the age of ninety-four because passing time is about how your time passes. So have a little sympathy for those in the crowded waiting room. It’s an unexpected gift, this wait, because what’s the hurry. One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, she hears the mighty river even in her sleep. Rosalind Pace

57


passager

mainely belfast Welcome back! cries the city from its perch atop the hill that leads down to the Harbor. Can’t say we missed you, but now you’re back, we can say we recognize your absence. Some things have changed, like the new walkway along the harbor from the park past the boatyard, a far cry from the rancid days of poultry processing at one end and lobster shacks at the other. It’s true, time and weather have been hard these past years. Some of your favorite shops on Main Street have disappeared – no more lavender ice cream at the Gothic, and no more browsing at the Fertile Mind. Mainly, we’ve kept our humor: the AirMail box still soars on its pedestal high above Rt. 1 near Perry’s Nut House. We’re still tough souls: behind the spectacle of scenery lies spectacular poverty. 58


passager

Some painted ladies, once quaint, have grown tired and worn down, but Belfast Belle still stands stately on the overlooking cliff. Tides ravage shoreline, erase footprints for all time, but at Young’s they know your name! And the wonderviews – the greens and blues and sunset’s violet hues – are dazzlingly the same. And you? What have you done and become, returning now like some prodigal son? Enjoy! But remember: whatever you carry in, carry out. Though stress doesn’t count. Joyce Ritchie

59


passager

the drought over the whole area That summer at the Shakespeare festival in Stratford Canada we stayed at a tourist home marked “The Powells” I can’t remember the Shakespeare play, but I remember the Powells and the weather, hot, heavy steel-mill lassistude. Living room walls bent, sweated, heat penetrated dark drapes while outdoors, highway grass caught fire spontaneously and Mrs. Powell drank vodka in the morning and afternoon, talked and drank, talked and drank on the edge of her gold frieze chair near the twenty-six inch TV, paper flowers, gold-rimmed teacups, and silver-framed portraits of two grown boys on the shelf and her husband, George, retired, she would tell you, on his daily walk to the Avon river, George in brimmed hat, plaid walking shorts, carrying his plastic folding chair outside past the plaster lions, the thin marigolds tied to pencils. Tired, retired George watched tourists, stared at heat rising from yellow water iris, a plastic bottle and two Dixie cups caught in the mud and the house leaned towards her listening as we listened in hazy light, oppressive, dust-filled drought over the whole area, the cornfields burning out, so Mrs. Powell said her own head was afire – her mouth so dry she returned for another and another vodka

60


passager

and still drinking, she talked again of the thick Avon which seemed to be drying, dying, its muddy flow, its swans reflected darker, blurrier. What could George be seeing in black water, she wondered, twisting one dyed gold curl over and over her finger, her neck outstretched, trying to get her white drowned face in better focus, the Avon now in the room, a dark flood. Sophia Rivkin

61


passager

i think it was an orange She took of its fruit and ate and also gave some to her husband. genesis

It is all belly – dimpled, pregnant, its skin oily to the touch, bitter to the taste. It speaks in tongues, gives a small zesty gasp as you peel off its clothes. It is Persian, whirls, ecstatic, splits into two perfect halves, the membraned sections are zealots of sweetness. Press the globules against your tongue and your mouth is born again. Tuck the moist peelings in your pocket. Your hands, those evangelists, will smell like incense. Sharron Singleton

62


passager

like lambs for the barbeque On any day the news ricochets wildly: Another Patriot is exercising his right to own An arsenal. Another crazy kid or somekindapath Is caught posing in the mirror – “You lookin’ at me?” – Snapping an Instagram holding his favorite weapon, Then dropping by school, or work. Let’s do the math: So many rounds in this many seconds = “X” many casualties minimum – maybe more. A record. At least until the next mistake. The Murderer-American Is a protected minority. His right to bear these weapons Is defended in principle by a coven of cynical senators Gaily turning the spits, roasting carcasses of lambs Harvested from the halls and pavement like roadkill. Read the tabloids, watch the cable news, count the magazines. Not slaughtered in principle, but cut down in the seconds it doesn’t take To reload his Second Amendment Special. Touch the head wounds, punctured lungs and splattered spleens Cradle the children, the cops, and the unavoidable mistakes. Then explain again, Senator, before the barbeque begins About these precious rights – and why they cannot be infringed. Douglas Walter Tow

63


passager

the weather on mars for my daughter and son-in-law, Zoe and Isaac

You’ll say that everything is more or less the same, the way you usually do, although we can’t help hearing the reports that filter back to us, belatedly, of conflagrations of dust and vapor ice in the Noachis Quadrant, your last known destination. We’d guess by now you have undoubtedly moved on to Syrtis Major or perhaps even as far as Elysium, which sounds pleasant enough from this great distance. We have no sense of scale or of the range of reds our common sun surrenders in your dawns, any of which would help us feel closer, although not close, not now, not yet. We shouldn’t blame you for our failed attempts to understand sea level where there is no sea, where all the local hills shoulder Everest aside, where love is absolute and chance has consequences we could never accommodate, however much we’ve seen

64


passager

ourselves and been or hoped to be. We think we know what can be known about the way life turns toward life. But you are in a place we never would have thought it possible to be accustomed to. Some night, out on Bradbury Landing or Glenelg, look down, through all the planetary cold, at us as we look up, as we look up at you. Arne Weingart

65


passager

Urban requiem For every Freddie Gray today A thousand others have gone that way Unheeded invisible with no say About what went down for them that day. It is like some huge mass grave Where bodies accumulate and parents rave. Little changes with each new wave While accountability efforts cave.

66


passager

When will it all end So that we can be on the mend And loud and clear this message send Each life demands that we attend. Art Cohen

67


We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond. gwendolyn brooks

Contributors


poets 2015 passager poet james mcgrath (nm) My work life seems to be a long journey poem: teaching art from kindergarten through the university levels, with elders and the disabled community. I have worked with the Department of Defense Overseas Schools as the Arts and Humanities Coordinator in Japan, Okinawa, Philippines, Korea and Taiwan. I encountered cultures, intensely creative, connected to the natural world: the landscape images, animal, bird, insect, and plant life as animated in the Asian zodiac calendar. I was artist/poet-inresidence with the US Information Service, Arts America, in Yemen, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Republic of Congo. I was a teacher at The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. And I still teach in Hotevilla on the Hopi Indian Reservation, which gives me great spiritual and creative nourishment. My years overseas and with Native Americans have had a big influence on my poetic response to the world’s violence and our continuing wars in the Middle East. The poems selected for Passager came from that well of inner disturbance. (See his interview on pg. 37).

liz abrams-morley (pa) About “Miracle” (p. 6): The past few years of my life have been fraught and blessed with upheaval as my mother-in-law died suddenly days before my third grandchild was born. Exactly a year later, my fourth grandbaby Wesley arrived. Wide-eyed and joy-filled, Wes and his brother and cousins remind me to slow down and remember Einstein’s comment that we can live as if nothing is a miracle or as if everything is. And yes, I’ve been thinking of my grandmother, as well as the mentor who told me grandmothers aren’t fit material for poetry. I am the author of Inventory (Finishing Line Press, 2014) and Necessary Turns (Word Press, 2010), and co-founder of Around the Block Writers Collaborative, www.aroundtheblockwriters.org.


poets shirley j. brewer (md) In February of 2009, one month after my mother died, I took an ekphrastic (inspired by works of art) writing class at the Baltimore Museum of Art, taught by William Henry “Hank” Lewis. Inspired by a sculpture in the African exhibit, my poem, “Plaque with Figure of a Python” (p. 8), depicts a snake with a zigzag body that reminded me of my own nonlinear life path. It also brought to mind a favorite Mary Oliver poem called “Rain.” “The black snake jellies forward…to take off the old life.” For my poem, everything seemed to intersect – the sculpture, Oliver’s poem, and the way I was feeling in the wake of my mother’s loss. I’ve always been afraid of snakes – so was my mom. I like that, in the poem, I’m brave enough to follow the snake. I’m ready to shed my old skin, which is in a way a part of the grief process. I’m ready for a new life, but in my poem I’m not quite there yet. And that’s okay.

christopher buckley (ca) Something my friend Chuck Hanzlicek, a fine poet, said to me got me started on “Getting Up There” (p. 9). Poems the last couple years respond to the new and shifting landscape of retirement and time passing. But time passing is an old theme and probably goes back to me at thirteen finishing my first year of high school and marveling at how fast it went. Also, reading Po Chu I, to whom I return every so often for inspiration and a good direct look at the world. As for style, I try to risk clarity, and am an inveterate reviser, often 30-40 revisions before I get a poem right, at least for me. Back Room at the Philosophers’ Club (Stephen F. Austin State University Press) is my 20th poetry book. I am editor of On The Poetry of Philip Levine: Stranger to Nothing, and recipient of a Guggenheim in Poetry, two NEAs, Fulbright Award in Creative Writing, four Pushcart Prizes, and the Passager Poet Prize.


poets art cohen (md) I’ve worked with community problems since 1967, starting out as a legal aid lawyer in inner city East Baltimore. “Urban Requiem” (p. 66) came right out of the events of April 2015: the fatal injuring of young Freddie Gray at the hands of local police, and the upsurge of community reaction as a result of his death. Like so many others here in Baltimore at the time, I had a welling up of strong and tangled feelings, all set in a context of intense sadness. This period reminded me of the aftermath of the April 1968 death of Martin Luther King.

john davis (wa) About “Making Peace with Gravity” (p. 11): I had been reading a book of Jennifer Militello’s poems and was fascinated by her rhythm and energy. I began imitating her style, paying particular attention to rhythm, nodding and tapping out the beat. I chanted the words until lines connected. I realized I was exploring the sentient beings inside me, which was a peaceful process. I am the author of two collections, Gigs and The Reservist. I have work in DMQ Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, and Rio Grande Review. I am very happy to have my poetry appear again in Passager. I live on an island near Seattle, teach high school and perform in rock ‘n roll bands. mark defoe (pa) “The Howl” (p. 12) is not derived from Edvard’s Munch’s famous painting “The Scream” although that certainly crossed my mind. Munch’s work was perhaps drawn from a kind of universal angst. I wanted this poem to be more grounded in the ordinary – a domestic picture of an aging man’s sudden desperation as he loses control of his world. I have published more cheerful poems most recently in Santa Fe Review, Tulane Review, Pine Mt. Sand and Gravel. I am the token geezer in the core faculty of West Virginia Wesleyan’s MFA writing program.


poets sylvia fischbach-braden (md) I am a fourth year student in the University of Baltimore’s Creative Writing & Publishing Arts MFA program. My work has been published in Welter, Skelter, The Light Ekphrastic, and Passager. “Before You Ascend” (p. 14) is inspired by my fear of mental decline – although this may itself be a delusion.

paul fisher (wa) “Painting the House”(p. 15) began as a vivid memory or dream of my grandmother, who helped my mother raise me after my father passed on when I was two years old. Visual artist as well as writer, I’ve lived, worked and taught in more places around the country than I care to think about. My first book of poems, Rumors of Shore, won the 2009 Blue Light Book Award. I’m now in the throes of labor, birthing my second book, and have poems forthcoming in the anthology, River of Earth and Sky: Poems for the 21st Century. john glowney (wa) “Sons” (p. 16) started from the little story contained therein: watching my son and his friends building home-made ramps for their skate-boarding attempts. A short leap from there to musing (grinding?) on the ambitions and dreams of boys, fathers’ eternal misguided heavy-handedness, and the archetypical Daedalus and son. I am an attorney practicing in Seattle. Poems have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Sixfold, River Styx, Green Mountains Review, and others.


poets renny golden (nm) About “Lorena” (p. 18): I spent time in El Salvador during the war years of the 1980s. Recently, as mothers with children have surged across the border fleeing violence, I’ve met with mothers and their children being held for months in for-profit Family Detention Centers in New Mexico and Karnes, Texas. Mothers at Karnes Center went on a hunger strike because of mistreatment. I am author of Blood Desert: Witnesses 1820-1880, (University of New Mexico Press), which won the WILLA Literary Award in Poetry 2011, and was a Southwest Notable Book of the Year 2012, and am the poetry editor for Voices From the American Land. rachel heimowitz (israel) I was inspired to write “Ionized Air” (p. 20) by the very particular smell the Judean Desert takes on when it rains. In Israel it only rains in the winter, and in the desert it rains less than elsewhere. Then there was gardening and reading the work of Robert Bly, and the poem was born. My work has appeared in Poet Lore, Spillway, Crab Orchard Review, and Prairie Schooner. I am the author of the chapbook, What the Light Reveals (Tebot Bach Press, 2014) and the editor of arc-24, the literary journal of The Israel Association of Writers in English. mary hennessy (nc) My poems sometimes seem to come from a committee that I am not a member of, but not this one. In “Flight Patterns of the Unfit” (p. 22), the surf has a powerful way of speaking to an old body, a way that is absolutely seductive and absolutely terrifying. On the day the poem describes, my husband and I found ourselves standing in a school of fish that sporadically jumped out of the water all around us. We squealed like children. After working as an RN most of my life, I enrolled at NCSU in my fifties and earned a degree in English. I started writing poetry there and it has been the gift of my life.


poets christine higgins (md) About “What Shelter, What Hope” (p. 23): The death of my daughter at age sixteen is now part of my writing life. Grief can be stultifying. As difficult as it is to grapple with this subject matter, I find it’s better for me to keep writing about it, to keep trying to make something new. I am a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars, have been a McDowell Colony Fellow and am the recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Award. My work has appeared in many journals, including the eleventh MUSE, America, Nagautuck River Review, and Poetry East. margaret hoehn (ca) “Fire Season” (p. 26) was inspired by the idea that seemingly insignificant objects can have a life of their own. The forgotten matches in the poem have the power to influence the tone of the landscape and of human interactions. I live in Sacramento, where I practiced law for many years. I have volunteered with a hospice for a decade and am presently volunteering with a medical library. My poetry has appeared in Nimrod, North American Review, Verse Daily, and many other journals and anthologies. wendy hoffman (wa) About “Birth-day” (p. 27): I was in another country searching for my real self and writing The Enslaved Queen, a memoir about mind control and electricity, when I had this experience. The feeling is lasting. I have done performace art and given multi-media art exhibits in NYC and on tour in the 1980s and 1990s, and in Chicago before then. My memoir, The Enslaved Queen, was published by Karnac Books, London, 2013. I have been living in Baltimore for the past twelve years, work as a psychotherapist and am currently traveling. Writing is the best part of my day. The concentration it requires nourishes me.


poets stephen hollaway (ri) “Nepal Fall Down” (p. 41) was inspired by images of the earthquake in Kathmandu on April 25, but I am a pastor on a small island in New England so such images of change are seen within the frame of a theological history of the world. One story is that the creation is still incomplete; another is that wrath knocks down towers; another is that all will be leveled as in Isaiah and Handel’s Messiah. At Tel Megiddo in Israel, I climbed what appeared to be a mountain only to learn that it was a pile of the remains of 26 cities, with David’s being about #10. In Nepal the temple of the destroyer god was left standing amid destruction, which could lead to another story, but I prefer to think that everything is still settling and seeking its proper level. I certainly am.

meredith holmes (oh) About “Hera” (p. 42): Years ago, a friend gave me a pack of “goddess cards.” On one side was an illustration of the deity, and on the other an account of her powers and responsibilities. I was very taken with the description of Hera because it was so different from the vengeful, jealous wife I was familiar with from the Greek and Roman myths I read as a child. Hera protected marriage, women in childbirth, children, and money. I began to imagine this Hera moving among us in the 21st century. I work as a freelance writer, specializing in workplace and environmental issues, and women in science. I am author of Shubad’s Crown (Pond Road Press, 2003) and Familiar at First, Then Strange, forthcoming this year. My poems have appeared in Flyover Country Review and Literary Mama, and in several anthologies, including Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems for Bad Times. lynne knight (ca) I had no idea where “Night Time” (p. 43) was going when I began it. As I usually do, I just followed the first line that came into my head when I sat down to write, to wherever it took me. Once in a while, I’ll start with


poets an idea or a dream or something that’s come to me on a morning walk with my dog, but following the first line is as close as I’ve come to a method. I’ve published four full-length poetry collections and four chapbooks, along with I Know, a translation of Je Sais, with the author, Ito Naga. ellen lafleche (ma) I began writing prayer poems a few years ago when my husband was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. “Prayer for Weather” (p. 44) is a metaphor for the storming nature of grief and anxiety and loss. My husband died in January, 2014, at home with my daughter, son-in-law, and newborn grandson in attendance. I had lost my dad six weeks earlier, so my grief was doubled. On the day of my husband’s memorial service, my brother went into an irreversible coma and died a week later. By that point, my grief was exponential. This is one of many poems about grief written since then.

gary lark (or) About “Beast of Burden” (p. 45): Though my father lacked a high school diploma, he was a skilled worker, able to build and maintain a lumber mill. His skill meant we always had food on the table. I saw the effect on him when industry changed from small to large, personal to impersonal. At one time the “Boss” would sit in the shade and eat a lunchbox sandwich with his crew and talk about work or baseball or the kids. Then came the time when the assistant “Boss” stayed in the office with the engineers and no one ever met the CEO. It’s important to know who and what you’re working for when you work hard. My work includes Without a Map (Wellstone Press, 2013), Getting By (winner of the Holland Prize from Logan House Press, 2009), and three chapbooks, as well as poems in Beloit Poetry Journal, Poet Lore, and Passager. Three poems were featured on The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor.


poets barbara lyon (ca) “Where Art Thou?” (p. 46). At 95 in September, I am grateful each day I can move, go inside and choose what is calling me. I write poetry mainly to put in words the pain and pleasure of being human, responding to what is around me, what is happening to my loved ones, the world. Poetry, painting and dance are my special tools for learning and healing. Now poetry has come forward as my first choice.

fran markover (ny) I grew up on a small poultry farm in the Catskill Mountains with my grandparents and parents. I’d watch my grandmother cook. “Stew” (p. 47) is my homage to her – how she spoke her mind and heart to the dishes she prepared and how they tasted richer as a result. My poems have been published in journals, including Rattle, Runes, Calyx, Earth’s Daughters, Spillway, and others. Recent awards include a poetry residency at the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. My chapbook, History’s Trail, was published by Finishing Line Press.

henry morgenthau (dc) I have discovered I can find relief and a certain degree of pleasure in fleshing out long festering memories, clothing them in images I can live with. “Ladyfingers” (p. 48) reaches back through the years to unravel the contradictions and complexities of living that I created for myself and that I now feel free to share. At 98, writing poetry is my delayed vocation. Formerly a producer and writer for WBGH in Boston, a major contributor to PBS, my awards include Peabody and Emmy nominations. I produced the series, Eleanor Roosevelt: Prospect of Mankind, during the last three years of her life. My memoir, Mostly Morgenthaus, won the annual Jewish Book Council Prize for autobiography/ memoir. I’ve had poems in Nimrod and Passager, and an essay, “The White House Revisited,” in District Lines, published by Politics & Prose.


poets jed myers (wa) Born to an immigrant family, I began writing poems early, wishing to bring those around me into a more grounded presence. Social struggle and internal anxieties have always seemed one matter to me, and I think this is evident in my poem, “White Twine” (p. 50). I did not begin to seek publication until the upheaval we call 9/11. Since then my work has appeared in many journals, including I-70 Review, Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, and Slant. My two collections are The Nameless (Finishing Line Press) and Watching the Perseids (winner of the 2013 Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award). peter nash (ca) My son Rocky rents two small rooms and a tiny kitchen in an aging motel on a busy thoroughfare. He eats, sleeps, studies, meditates and does yoga in one room; his rabbits live in a playpen in the other room. Inspired by Rocky, I wrote “Rocky’s Place” (p. 52) several years ago but could never find an appropriate ending. However, Rocky wrote his own poem titled “Sleeping with the Rabbits” and I recently realized that three of his lines would work perfectly to end my poem. Rocky gave me permission to use his words, and the fact that each of us is imbedded in this poem has given us a kind of connection that we’ve never had before.

robert b. nelson (mi) “The Sense to Die” (p. 53) was inspired by the recent deaths of African Americans at the hands of police officers. My writing technique allows me to immerse myself in the unfolding of events and to capture the effect of those events on the individual participants. My poems, short stories and novel all involve current social issues. I have had poems included in two anthologies, one published by the Mackinac Island Community Foundation and one by Writing at the Ledges. I have also had two short stories published in the Michigan Bar Journal and a novel, Can’t Make It Here Anymore, available on Kindle.


poets christine o’connor [1918-2015] Her daughter, Mary Beth O’Connor, writes: Until recently Tina lived in the small New Jersey town where she was born 97 years ago. Much of her writing came from memories or nature, particularly the ocean. The kitchen table was her favorite place to write, especially when she was surrounded by children. Her many publications include The Galway Review, Haiku Journal, Passager, The Paterson Literary Review and others. Toward the end of her life, Tina composed many short poems, especially haiku and tanka. Tina passed away in March 2015. She had just begun a new collection called The First Day of the Future. “Alien Fields” (p. 54) was inspired by the Hmong community in Philadelphia – an Asian agricultural people displaced to the middle of a major U.S. city. Tina’s son and daughter-in-law, both folklorists working with this community, gave Tina a number of Hmong “story cloths” that described daily life and rituals such as courtship and weddings, as well as origin myths and major events like fleeing across the Mekong.

mary beth o’connor (ny) I write and teach in Upstate New York. My work has appeared in Blast Furnace, Café Irreal, Massachusetts Review, and others. My chapbook, Smackdown! Poems about the Professor Business (Teachers’ Voice), was reissued in 2010. I’m honored that my poem, “Every Time, the Same” (p. 55), appears in this issue of Passager along with a poem by my mother, Christine O’Connor.

kathleen o’toole (md) About “Her Bungalow” (p. 56): Both my grandmothers were strong women, and characters. All it took was the sight of flower pots on a modest porch in NE Washington to return me to memorable overnights at Granny Madelyn’s “bungalow.” My creativity was nurtured in a theatrical family in Wilmington, Delaware.


poets When I took a turn into community organizing as a profession, poetry became even more important to me as ballast and balm. As my two collections, Meanwhile and Practice, attest, my inspiration varies wildly from Civil Rights history to nature and the transcendent. But my desire to honor the ordinary and overlooked is constant. rosalind pace (ma) About “Advice for the Un-forlorn” (p. 57): Years ago a fellow Poet-in-the-Schools used the phrase “Have a little sympathy” as a writing prompt, and the cadence of it stuck in my ear. I used it with kids, and then decided to use it myself. I had no idea what I was going to have sympathy for, but “the person who waits” came to me immediately. Of course! I knew about this! One line led to another in surprising ways and I had no idea where the poem was going. The ending shocked me, which was enormously satisfying. I have lived for 25 years near the sea in Truro where I teach an annual poetry seminar, and Image-Making, a workshop in creative bookmaking at the Provincetown Art Association & Museum. My poems have appeared in many journals, including American Poetry Review, Iowa Review, and Ploughshares. I have exhibited my collages since the early 1970s.

joyce ritchie (md) My husband, a plein air painter, and I enjoy a shared journey exploring the landscape, both internal and external, through painting and poetry. The clear light of Maine and the authentic character of the small town of Belfast on Penobscot Bay were a discovery that became a nine-year annual tradition, followed by a six-year hiatus while life required our attention. Returning last year was like reuniting with an old friend: time and circumstances have had their way with both of you, but the spirit sustains. That spirit was the inspiration for my poem, “Mainely Belfast” (p. 58).


poets sophia rivkin (mi) (p. 60) All the world’s a stage in my poetry. I have had two chapbooks published and won competitions at Rattle, The MacGuffin, and Diner. Last year I won the Siegel-Pearson award at Wayne State; this year I was published by MacGuffin, Peninsula Poets, and won prizes at Third Wednesday.

sharron singleton (va) “I Think It Was an Orange” (p. 62) emerged out of the cloud where the imagination wanders. I began to think that oranges were “sexier” and more sensual than apples, and that perhaps Adam would have been more likely seduced by one than the apple he was handed. I turned to poetry later in life. Before that, I worked with low-income families and the mentally ill and as a community organizer around issues of civil rights and the anti-nuclear war movement. My poems have appeared in Agni, Rattle, and Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, among others. I have won several contests, including the James River Writers Contest, the Poetry Society of Virginia Contest, and the McGuffin Poet Hunt Contest. Author of A Thin Thread of Water (Finishing Line Press 2010), I teach poetry in Charlottesville and in my town of Scottsville, am married with two children and five grandchildren.

douglas walter tow (tx) About “Like Lambs for the Barbeque” (p. 63): Many people believe that poetry and politics can’t be mixed. But some of us feel obligated, in these times, to continue tinkering with a recipe. With a degree in English and graduate work in Theater, my next logical step was to go to work for the post office. I lived in Brooklyn for a decade pursuing theater dreams, then got serious about my day job and found joy raising two amazing sons. Retired early back in my native Texas, I now write, substitute teach and study American poetry.


poets arne weingart (il) About “The Weather on Mars” (p. 64): This particular poem, as do many of my poems, begins with a literal proposition (often an unlikely one) and works through its consequences. The underlying pathos of this poem has to do with the extraordinary life circumstances of my daughter and son-in-law, to whom the poem is dedicated. All of the place names in the poem are Martian landmarks, my favorite being the palindrome ‘Glenelg.’ I live in Chicago, where I am the principal of a graphic design firm specializing in identity and wayfinding. My work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and my book, “Levitation For Agnostics,” was chosen as the 2014 winner of the New American Press Poetry Prize and will be published in 2015.

Erratum: In the last issue, Bob Finch’s piece, “Rowena Myers’ Stories,” Myers was misspelled throughout as Meyers. We apologize for this error.


cover art Grace Frederick graduated from the Maryland Institute in 1937 and twenty years later returned as instructor in the Fashion Department. She became reacquainted with her former drawing and painting instructor, Helene Hedian, and the two formed a loving and lasting friendship. For the many following years, Grace was part of a small group of former Institute students who gathered regularly in Helene’s home to paint together, all sharing a common devotion to “Miss Hedian” and, eventually, to one another. It was always about color with Grace. In the winter the group painted cabbages, carrots, apples, oranges and bananas – whatever was at hand, whatever was colorful. In the summer they painted zinnias, daisies, hydrangea, petunias, and mums and yarrow from her husband John’s backyard garden. The azalea branches on the journal’s cover came from a huge bush in front of their small rowhouse, special to her for its blossoms of deep, near-crimson coral and its wide-leaved graceful branches.


Join us in celebrating

25 years with titles from these Passager authors: Because There Is No Return by diana anhalt Never the Loss of Wings by maryhelen snyder

With forthcoming books by: andrew brown nancy davidoff kelton james zimmerman


Because There Is No Return diana Anhalt

new

These fervid and lush poems hover between an expat life and sometimes a life close to exile – geographical as well as emotional. Therein lies the longing for, and the joy of, return. And then, too, the loss in returning. This is a powerful and unique collection made more powerful by the historical as well as its personal context. thomas lux Poetry, soft cover, 68 pages Cover price: $16

Never the Loss of Wings Maryhelen snyder

new

This collection is grounded not only in those moments of loss that come with age, but also in those moments of realization that there is still a richness in what remains. The poems are interspersed with illustrations of dandelions, their fleeting delicacy a reminder that not everything worth appreciating is lasting. Snyder’s poignant words are not so transient. Illustrations by Passager designer Pantea Amin Tofangchi. Poetry, soft cover, 72 pages Cover price: $16


Beyong Lowu Bridge Roy Cheng Tsung

A young Chinese-American’s “return” to a country he had never seen and the experiences of his family during two turbulent decades in Mao’s China. “I got down on my knees to thank God my ancestors came to America instead of China. I didn’t realize what freedom meant until I read Beyond Lowu Bridge.” helene hopson Memoir, soft cover, 238 pages Cover Price: $20

Burning Bright

mary azrael & kendra kopelke, editors

Burning Bright is an anthology of stories, poems and memoirs by writers over 50, celebrating the power of the imagination to keep us alive. For older readers and writers who are in writing groups, book clubs, and workshops, Burning Bright is an inspiration and a companion. Sections include: Old Age, Childhood, War and Politics, Sex and Love, The Body, Death and Loss, and Identity. A great resource for teachers, too. Anthology, soft cover, 300 pages Cover price: $18


Submissions Guidelines Passager publishes two issues a year, an Open Issue (fall/winter), and a Poetry Contest Issue (spring/summer).

2015 Open Issue Submit work between July 1 and September 15. No reading fee. Please send: • Up to five poems (40-line max) and/or up to 4,000 words of fiction/nonfiction • A self-addressed stamped envelope (for notification) • A cover letter and brief bio Please include your name and contact information on every page. No previously published work. Notify us immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere! No email entries.

2016 Poetry Contest Submit poems for the contest issue between January 1 and April 15. Please send: • Up to five poems (40-line maximum for each) • A self-addressed stamped envelope (for notification) • A cover letter and brief bio • A $20 reading fee includes a one-year subscription to Passager. Please include your name and contact information on every page. No previously published work. Notify us immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere! No email entries. Winner receives $500 and publication. Honorable mentions will be published. Questions? editors@passagerbooks.com • www.passagerbooks.com


passager books Because There Is No Return poems by diana anhalt Cover price: $16

Nightbook poems by steve matanle

Never The Loss of Wings poems by maryhelen snyder Cover price: $16

Perris, California poems by norma chapman

Beyond Lowu Bridge memoir by roy cheng tsung

Keeping Time: 150 Years of Journal Writing edited by mary azrael & kendra kopelke

Cover price: $20

Cover price: $24

Hot Flash Sonnets poems by moira egan

Burning Bright: Passager celebrates 21 years edited by mary azrael & kendra kopelke

Cover price: $14

Cover price: $18

A Cartography of Peace poems by jean l. connor Cover price: $14

Give yourself or a friend two years of Passager $30 per subscription (four issues, includes shipping) $35 outside the U.S.

Improvise in the Amen Corner poems & drawings by larnell custis butler Cover price: $15 A Little Breast Music poems by shirley j. brewer Cover price: $9 Everything Is True at Once poems by bart galle

Cover price: $9

Cover price: $12

Cover price: $9

Give your favorite library a gift subscription $45 for two years (four issues, includes shipping) Make checks payable to Passager/UB University of Baltimore 1420 North Charles Street Baltimore MD 21201-5779 Order online: www.passagerbooks.com $5 flat rate shipping on all orders, big and small.


Passager is an independent journal published with thanks to: Adalman-Goodwin Foundation, Inc. The School of Communications Design at the University of Baltimore Generous donations from our subscribers All material copyright 2015 by Passager Printed by Spencer Printing: Honesdale, PA Distributed by Spencer Printing ISSN 1052-889X

Passager is dedicated to assembling a range of voices and subjects that bring to light the collective imagination of older writers, along with the perspective that comes with experience. Editors Mary Azrael Kendra Kopelke Managing Editors Christine Drawl Saralyn Lyons

Address all correspondence to Passager c/o University of Baltimore 1420 N. Charles Street Baltimore, MD 21202-5779

Business Manager Jaye Crooks

Editors@PassagerBooks.com

Designer Christine Drawl

Subscription $30 four issues (two years) $35 outside of the U.S. Order online www.passagerbooks.com

Passager has sprouted some new feathers! We are pleased to introduce our new logo:

Mrs. Prane

Art Director Pantea Amin Tofangchi

pa ssager

But please, don’t stare too much, she’s already quite proud of herself.


passager

 Passager Poet: James McGrath Honorable Mentions:

passager 2015 poetry contest

Issue #59 $10

Liz Abrams-Morley Shirley J. Brewer Christopher Buckley Art Cohen John Davis Mark DeFoe Sylvia Fischbach-Braden Paul Fisher John Glowney Renny Golden Rachel Heimowitz Mary Hennessy Christine Higgins Margaret Hoehn Wendy Hoffman Stephen Hollaway Meredith Holmes Lynne Knight Ellen LaFleche Gary Lark Barbara Lyon Fran Markover Henry Morgenthau Jed Myers Peter Nash Robert B. Nelson Christine O’Connor Mary Beth O’Connor Kathleen O’Toole Rosalind Pace Joyce Ritchie Sophia Rivkin Sharron Singleton Douglas Walter Tow Arne Weingart

Profile for Passager Books

Passager Issue 59, 2015 Poetry Contest  

Passager Issue 59, 2015 Poetry Contest  

Advertisement