THE TAYLOR TRUST Poetry & Prose Volume 4 September 2009 - February 2010
THE TAYLOR TRUST POETRY & PROSE
Copyright ÂŠ 2010 by Excellence Enterprises All rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, magnetic, photographic including photocopying, without prior written permission of the publisher. The poetry and prose is published on a one-time only use basis within the print publication (and possible future reprints) and with one-time placement on the Internet sites http://thetaylortrust.wordpress.com/ and the journal archive site http://issuu.com/the-taylor-trust/docs/. After that the rights revert to the authors.
ISSN: 1948-2086 (print)
First Printing March 2010 13 12 11 10
1 2 3 4
Front cover art entitled Neptune Zephyr and back cover art entitled Baboon created by Jim Fuess. Images of colorful, energetic, abstract and anthropomorphic paintings and black and white work for your print or web literary site may be seen at: http://www.jimfuessart.com The use of these images is free.
Thank you to the staff: Editor: Jaime Pick Graphics Editor: Timothy Wang Published quarterly: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall The Taylor Trust: Poetry & Prose Poetry by the People, for the People Published by Excellence Enterprises PO Box 903456 Palmdale, California 93590-3456 Contact: email@example.com View online at: thetaylortrust.wordpress.com http://issuu.com/the-taylor-trust/docs
TABLE OF CONTENTS 7 Still Night Thoughts Editorial 9 Special Delivery Letters to the Editor 11 Eve Jeannette Blohm Scenes of Hunger; Michael Jackson; Elements of Time 14 Gerald Bosacker Forgot; Creation; My Designer; Occupation Blues; Gravity 16 Shelly Bryant Translators, Traitors: Tyndale, Wycliffe, James 19 Marc Carver Explainer; Helsinki 22 Ellen Cooney Eight of Pentacles; Nine of Wands; Six of Swords; Six of Wands 24 Santiago Del Dardano Turann Visitation; March 1, 2009; Unexpected Guests 29 Renata Dawidowicz Howling; Light Beacons; Away; Take Me 32 Frank De Canio Shopping Stall; Demure Waitress; Casino Player; Butterfly; Boarding Bus Passengers; Doggone
35 Kenneth DiMaggio Poems from The Spaghetti Scrapbooks: Sacred & Profane; Miracles; Mary
38 Michael Estabrook The Way I Fell for Her; She Only Smiled; Love Speeding Through; Under the Stars, Alone; Every Day of My Life
43 Brian C. Felder Staying Back, Moving On; It’s Your Call; The Little Professor; Remembering Charlie Conley; Ryan’s Mother
47 Diana Festa Birthday Wishes; Remainders; Days in Tokyo; Voices of Continuity; Why the Nostalgia
52 Raymond John Flory Haiku and Senyru; Living Faith; Spirit of All Joy; My Friend; Silver Shay
55 Christopher Fried Hesitation on the Midfield; Royal Sepulcher, Bare as Bones; Feathers of the Eagle Painted Crimson
58 Sonia Halbach Reading Sylvia Backwards; Spam; Almost 61 Gerald Heyder The Chestnut Charger 64 Michael Lee Johnson Willow Tree Night and Snowy Visitors; Phil and Betsy: Illinois Farmers; Cheeks Shining, Mine So Wet; I Am Old Frustrated Thought; Rose Petals in a Dark Room; Raindrop Baby
70 Mahdy Khaiyat A Cultural Fascination or a Plea for Female Manumission; Animals; Symphony; The Power of Fire; Watching Their Homes Burn
73 Martin Kimeldorf Railroad Crossing; Loving You Each Day; Birthday-Valentines Thoughts; Judy Bug; Sociological Sweetheart
78 Mary Kipps Dinner at the Lucky Duck 79 Charles Kray A Writer’s Christmas Gift 80 Peter Layton Seeing Through Sand; The Reverse of When We Were Given Fire; Once; Hold This Shell; Dust
84 Lyn Lifshin Lamborghini; Like a Dark Lantern; September 26, 1996; Mid November; Late November; On the Shortest Day of the Year; Blue Sleighs
90 Abraham Linik War; Dreams; Love; Desdemona; The March 94 Swayamdipto Misra The Prophet
95 B.Z. Niditch December Days; Goodbye, Twentieth; Armenian Dawn; Cambodia, Cambodia
99 Donald Peyer Busybodies; Desert Roads; Full Circle 102 Mary L. Ports Autumn’s Dance; I Took My Share Down to the Sea; Heart of Her Corpse
105 Kit Rainn The Rainn 107 E.B. Reed Ardor’s Niche; Lace in the Furnace; Haiku; No Inn for a Room 110 Lynn Veach Sadler Giving the Lie to Ostrichitus; Elephant Memory; The Moretto of Austria; Carnival in Salvador Bahia
118 G.A. Scheinoha Across This Great Divide; Big Two-Fisted Clipper; Pub Crawl 121 Bobbi Sinha-Morey The Narrow Path; Where the Peach Tree Grows; The Silent Voice of Winter; Waking Before Dawn
125 Paul Sohar Translations: Santa Claus and Burning Leaves by János Szentmártoni; Owls by Charles Baudelaire
128 Robert Stomel Don’t Cry 129 Kimberly K. Thompson Five Cinquain Poems; Romance; Scars; Disease; Angels
131 Wanda Weiskopf The Winds of Change 132 Neal Whitman Ars Poetica Symmetrica; Haiku; Out, Not In; Ching Ming; Haiku; Final Act; Why Not?; Is Not a Moss
STORIES 141 Mary L. Ports Motor Madness 144 Lynn Veach Sadler Going the Last Mile 149 Lily Sun Party’s Over 152 Jon Wesick Challenged 157 Raymond John Flory The Old Man and the Farm 159 Jaime Pick Behind the Lines INTERVIEW 167 Vivekanand Jha Interview with Jayanta Mahapatra BOOK REVIEWS 179 LaVonne Taylor Poem in Your Pocket; Around the Corner; Being in Love, Forever; Pathways to the Pleiades
189 Tom Mirabile An American Masterpiece: Revolutionary Road 192 AND THE WINNER IS ... 193 ADVERTISING & GUIDELINES
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STILL NIGHT THOUGHTS Dear Readers, By now, I suppose you have all noticed that the fall issue never happened. The back story to that is on September 11, 2009, (ironic) we had a water heater leak on the other side of the wall from the niche where we develop The Taylor Trust and several online blogs and articles we write regularly, as well as the newsletter Views for the National Writers Association Los Angeles chapter. NOAH! WHERE ARE YOU WHEN I NEED YOU? I came into the office in the morning ready to heave to work and promptly placed my sandaled feet in a puddle of squishy carpet. After I recovered from the shock, we did some investigating and found out that the wall behind my Mac was also soggy and disintegrating. We called a contractor, who told us we would have to move everything out of my office and replace the wall and the carpet. We did, and in so doing my beloved five-year-old Mac was so traumatized it went into shock and died. I called the Apple Store and they said sure come down, but if you want to wait a couple of weeks the super-duper new Mac will be released. So we waited … and waited … and waited. Eight weeks later, we had our new super-baby. Then came the holidays and more lost production time. By January we were so far behind on every aspect of publishing, we had to find ways to cut corners. One way was to combine the two issues. So, Voila! Here you have it. LOOK FOR THE NEW In this issue, we have our usual wonderful selection of poetry and some delightful stories. But we have added a couple of new features: one is the interview of renown Indian English poet Jayanta Mahapatra, which you will find on page 167 and the other is the book review section. Tom Mirabile’s review of Revolutionary Road on page 189 motivated me to go out and get my own copy of the book. I hope it does the same for you. FOLLOW THE TRAIL WHERE IT LEADS In an e-mail exchange the other day with Santiago Del Dardano Turann, he expressed to me that he was pleased I was able to find use for his poem “Unexpected Guests.” I said, “Well, I like to swim against the tide. That’s what’s so nice about being an independent ... I have complete sovereignty over what goes in and what doesn’t. My choices are not based on commercialism, or on what’s in vogue at the moment, but on what I find intriguing and what I think readers will enjoy.” I have always gravitated to that which is off the “beaten trail.”
GLOCALIZATION I saw the term “glocalization” on a Web site the other day. It amused me and stuck in my mind. With the Internet, everything and everybody has become globally local or “glocal,” if you will. And what I’m attempting with The Taylor Trust is an egalitarian approach to world poetry, with the glocalization aspect well in mind. In this issue you will see work from authors living in China, Great Britain, Ireland, and India. We like to keep the artist, the person, who created the work at forefront of our thinking, not only the work itself. Poetry is a common ground on which we can meet and a foundation on which to begin building world understanding. We here at The Taylor Trust believe in respecting and celebrating our differences as well as our similarities. ART AS CRAFT A rather unusual use for poetry and fine art has been developed by Shelly Bryant and her collaborator, artist Peter Zhou. Shelly’s haiku inspired Peter (see her letter to the editor on page 9) to design lamps and illustrate the shades in complimentary images to Shelly’s words. The result is outstanding! To see what we mean, Go to: http://web. me.com/shellybryant/Site/dtd_video_clip.html A ZEN PARABLE AND FUNDING “A man walking across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger chasing after him. Coming to a cliff, he caught hold of a wild vine and swung himself over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Terrified, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger had come, waiting to eat him. Two mice, one white and one black, little by little began to gnaw away at the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!” Now that’s positivity! And being in the moment. He hadn’t fallen, and he hadn’t been devoured yet, so life in that moment was great! I think of stories like this when we worry how we’re going to pay for each new printing. Somehow, so far, we haven’t plunged to our death. But we’re worried that in the very near future, we may have to go to a strictly online publication. The cost of printing and mailing has become prohibitive. We believe The Taylor Trust could be eligible for a grant, there are so many out there, but it needs help. TTT needs someone to research the possibilities and someone to write the proposal. If you are that someone, please send me an e-mail. Receiving a grant would keep us in the paper and print business. We hope you enjoy this issue. By the time you receive this, we will have started on the spring issue … another sweet strawberry. Happy reading!
SPECIAL DELIVERY LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
I just received the July/September issue. I was very happy to see my poem in print. Your publication is truly a quality piece and I was honored to be included with such fine writers. I wish you continued success with The Taylor Trust. ~ Frances M. Gerard, Woodside, New York, USA September 30, 2009 I have a big launch coming up this weekend of two projects. One is my first poetry collection, Cyborg Chimera, and the other is a series of designer art pieces based on thirty of my haiku. I worked with a designer and artist here in Shanghai and am quite excited about the work now that it is done. I hope you aren’t too swamped with getting caught up on the computer work. I know how it goes after a long time “unplugged.” ~ Shelly Bryant, Shanghai, China November 4, 2009 I thought you would like to see someone else who has a “Trust.” Over in the UK there is something called The Poetry Trust. Charles Christian is editor of Ink, Sweat, & Tears, an online journal, and he is the “blogger-in-chief” for this poetry festival. He just drove four hours to get there and I can see he is already busy at work. I would love to meet Charles some day and he almost came to, of all places, Salinas last year on business (his day job is law). In any case, he does a lot for poetry. He also is active in the British Haiku Association and publishes their annual members anthology. He also publishes a print edition anthology of Ink, Sweat, & Tears. If your Trust goes online quarterly, there still might be a business model that allows for an annual print anthology of poems. Maybe a “best of” –– the poems picked by reader ballots. If you click on “previous ten articles” on top of his page, you will see that his anthology made it onto a “top ten” list for 2009. ~ Neal Whitman, Pacific Grove, California, USA November 6, 2009 My poems in the summer issue 2009 surprised me. I enjoyed reading them, as if they were children living in a distant country who had come back home. Wanda Weiskopf’s “The Hummingbird” reminds me of Robert Herrick’s “To the Virgins, to make much of Time”: “Gather ye rose buds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying: And this same flower that smiles today Tomorrow will be dying” I read in your editorial, “When a brief moment of connection and resonance takes place, it is a joy forever.” I paused, thinking about it. Thank you for providing this moment for us, writers from many places. Unlike anywhere else, I like having the chance to vote for the poems I like the most. And getting picked by others thrills me. Thanks, LaVonne, for connecting us. ~ Emmanuel Jakpa, Waterford, Ireland November 10, 2009
EVE JEANNETTE BLOHM A
SCENES OF HUNGER man sits on park bench with worldly possessions offers food to birds a bird with one leg enjoys the sunshine on cluster of rocks calm morning an egret stands changing shape of its neck
Birds. Charcoal drawing by LaVonne Taylor, 2008.
perched on rocks birds shift their weight trying to fish
MICHAEL JACKSON severe thunderstorm early evening darkness Godâ€™s unhappiness a music star dies suddenly sudden storm a music star dies media coverage sudden storms the weeping willow sheds its leaves large raindrops
ELEMENTS OF TIME Time moves slowly Time stands still Time measures our lives memories, dreams and relationships or experiences Time never stops when we are ill or die It ebbs and flows like the ocean tides It moves slowly like sand in an hourglass Time measures our lives in scenes, segments, acts, chapters, books, stories. Time measures the breaths we take or the work we do. It is the pulse of our heart or the loves we have.
Award-winning poet Eve Jeannette Blohm’s work has appeared in Parnassus, SeLa Vie Writers Journal, Cochran’s Corner, Poets at Work, Lucidity, Lone Star Magazine, Bell’s Letters Poet, and United Amateur Press. She was a featured poet in Haiku Headlines, Poets Fantasy, and Simply Words and voted distinguished poet in PAW. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she also appears in Who’s Who. Blohm writes in New York. See page 182 for a review of her chapbook, Around the Corner.
GERALD BOSACKER FORGOT My check-off list does help a lot to help me know what I’ve forgot. The only thing, I’ve somehow missed is where I put that check-off list. If I could find my missing specs, I’d find that list and break this hex, but where’s my list, that I can’t see, I wrote to aid my memory. I placed it in a special spot, but where that’s at, I just forgot.
CREATION The God of Hope and Circumstance, snapped his fingers and the World began. Inventor of the sharks and fire ants, for pundit’s praise, created man. All life evolved by selection chance, by expiring flaws, from ordained plan. Was man designed for second birth, our time on Earth, a trial event? Could man improve, deserving Earth, with evolving change, design intent? Or was God faulted by wit and mirth, and too forgiving to ask for rent.
MY DESIGNER Perfection looms in God’s design, yet I question the porcupine. Fierce mosquitoes we sure don’t need, and hungry fleas are tough to feed. I don’t expect He’d plan for junk, but then I wonder why the skunk. Maybe God makes some boo-boos too, so he’s patient with me and you.
OCCUPATION BLUES When we unseat a Muslim theocracy, and force a democratic election it will not produce a democracy, or limit subsequent insurrection! New Muslim terrorists, inspired to die, are recruited from subjugated groups the naive occupiers can’t identify, while they innocently smile at troops. Our new government we dare not blame, for policing force with tactful restraint. We cannot brand the bombers with shame since each terrorist is someone’s saint.
GRAVITY Isaac Newton watched an apple fall and then decided gravity was law which indicates to me a logic flaw, since that don’t explain gravity at all. Each hollow molecule’s concavity has vacuum that sucks on the next, and this strong suction simply collects and that’s how we get gravity.
A member of the Friends Society, Bosacker says, “An author cannot escape revealing his spirituality in everything he writes. I am a Quaker and my membership is a motive force in everything I write.” Bosacker’s verse uses ancient cliches and simple platitudes but always with an element of sardonic wit, and sometimes, an important truth. The trick to understanding his wry twists, is knowing when he is telling the truth, or when he is saying what might have been, and this, of course, is done to make you think. Advanced age has not softened his choler against injustice, but he has learned to expose his verities with sardonic humor. Sometimes you have to look closely to see tongue-in-cheek hyperbole and slyly exposed incongruities in his poetry but they are usually there. See more of Bosacker’s wit at http://www.bosackerbooks.com.
TRANSLATORS, TRAITORS1 I. Wycliffe The holy subversive they forgot to burn so dug up your bones for a roast Ashes now scattered in the River Swift,2 swift rising morning star of reformation3 Two hundred years early for real reformation, yet still you shout Sola Scriptura4 for English ears Your short-lived Lollards distributing your Bibles earned your expiration early from Oxford5 Your patron from Gaunt6 brawling on your behalf helped you hastily to charge of heresy At least your Lollards, better than Gaunt, went for you to the stake, wearing your Bible Dear Wycliffe, you speak my language (or almost) but you could have chosen your help more wisely
II. Tyndale Martyred for love of My Language,7 nurturing, insisting on its use Beautiful scapegoat8 standing for my right to read in my own tongue Killed by strangulation, Voice choked out Yet it liveth bound still, now in kinder covers, sitting on my shelf
III. James9 The Word from Hampton Court: We’re putting the Logos in the hands of common men The Authorized Version, as all translation, a polite lie No Promethean gift of power for The People, but a control, maintaining status quo
1. From the Italian proverb, traddutore, traditore!, sometimes translated, “all translation is a polite lie.” 2. John Wycliffe (1328-1384) was condemned in 1415, more than three decades after his death, for his translation of the Bible; the pope decreed that his bones be dug up, burned, and the ashes scattered into the River Swift. 3. Wycliffe is known as the “morningstar of the Reformation.” 4. “Scripture only!” 5. Wycliffe’s followers were known as Lollards, poor Oxford scholars, many of whom died at the stake for their stand against the church in favor of Wycliffe’s translation, which was a word-for-word translation from the Latin Vulgate that disregarded typical English syntax and grammar. 6. Wycliffe’s patron, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, engaged in several brawls in defense of Wycliffe’s translation, which ultimately led to further trouble for Wycliffe. 7. William Tyndale (1494-1536) translated the New Testament from the Greek into beautiful English. 8. The earliest recorded uses of the words “beautiful” and “scapegoat” are both in Tyndale’s New Testament. 9. The King James Version of the Bible, the first legally translated into English (and still known as the Authorized Version), was largely adapted from Tyndale’s translation; the king gave instructions to the translators that would guarantee that the translated scriptures conformed to the doctrines of his church.
Shelly Bryant splits her time between Singapore and Shanghai, sometimes teaching English literature, sometimes studying Chinese language, and always writing. She loves to read, write, travel, and cycle. Her work has appeared in many online and print magazines and journals in many different countries. In 2009, Bryant had a stellar year, with the publication of a chapbook entitled Cyborg Chimera and the opening of an art show in which her haiku is featured on lamps with art and design by Peter Zhou. To view a video of the lamps, go to http://web.me.com/shellybryant/Site/dtd_video_clip.html. Also find other links for Bryant at http://web. me.com/shellybryant.
MARC CARVER EXPLAINER As I sat in the science museum, The young man in the orange top Walked up and down. He watched me writing in my book. As he turned away and walked away I saw the word that was written on his back. At first, I thought that it was a different word than what it actually was. The word was explainer. As I moved from place to place, I saw more explainers, He was not the only one. There must have been hundreds of them, wandering about, explaining things. Even though there were hundreds I kept seeing the first explainer. As I sat down an explainer approached me and I thought that she was going to start explaining things to me, even though I had asked her no questions. But she did not she just wanted to take my cup of tea away.
Then an announcement came over the PA system Could an explainer please come to the desk please. Straightaway I saw Two girls break into a run. Between all of the explainers they must surely know all the answers to everything. As this thought dawned on me, I realized that for the first time in my life I had no questions to ask. Then I heard a man Telling his daughter What the purpose of the experiment was I was tempted to say to him that is not your job that is the job of the explainers, to explain things like that. You are doing somebody out of a job. But, for once, I kept my big mouth shut. Maybe I am beginning to learn, at last and without the help, of, the explainers
HELSINKI In the Helsinki square a man came up to me. He told me to look for the meaning in the light show that flashed against the cathedral. You see the meaning, thatâ€™s what he said. I told him that I did not and I also told him, that I was not a clever man he did not question me. There is meaning in everything and meaning in nothing. That is what I wanted to tell him but did not. When he left he was sure he was a much cleverer man than me. And maybe he was right.
United Kingdom denizen Marc Carver has published in Skyline, Candelabrum Poetry Magazine, and in the online Black Shark Press as well as Nigel Corbettâ€™s Blue Yonder. Carver says his literary training comes mostly from devouring the words of the great masters, American and English, for more than ten years. He has been writing poetry for a couple of years only, and he says the most important thing to him is to continue to write and watch his own work evolve. He lives and writes in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England.
EIGHT OF PENTACLES shovel hoe hammer broom awl sickle cauldron loom from creation until day of doom we work with pride and so we bloom we blossom like the lily flower in a field or in a bower our work sings our work is a tower our work is a diamond dance of power
NINE OF WANDS the trees and I whispering with the summer stars howling with the wolves bouldering with the bears taking the night watch and the voice of the salmon of wisdom swimming through my ears warns of the stalking enemy
SIX OF SWORDS harsh words to the emperorâ€™s face must it be the way of the world that the people starve while he fights another war? now I am banished exiled from my native land the scent of jasmine lingers in the rice the full orange moon lingers over the palace white tea lingers on a snowy evening will my name linger in my fatherâ€™s breast? what Immortal poles this boat to what land of the dead?
SIX OF WANDS hail the sun face the champion in all the games and arts sword fighting archery poetry music smithcraft weaving hail him him whose face shines for all hail him the consort of the Lady hail him as he goes forth to Her realm beyond the river to receive Her kiss hail him hail him Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Ellen Cooney has been living and writing in San Francisco since 1963. She has published seven books with Duir Press, beginning in 1979. She is currently working on the eighth, entitled The Ancestors the Trees.
SANTIAGO DEL DARDANO TURANN
VISITATION Do you sleep with your limbs spread out and bare, Your body open to intruding kisses Across the plains and crevices you wear? Cut from the tropical sunâ€™s humid air Your nakedness is made for midnight blisses. The muscles twitching stir and then perspire A moonlight dew beneath the open window With tell-tale signs of an arterial fire; An occult purple flame that rises higher Enrapt in silken rolling sheets of shadow ... Soft raindrops patter on the edge of your breath Stirred by my touch, for I am the West Wind Who blows upon your skin of hyacinth Impregnating, then bringing dreams to birth With each gush licking on your turning bend.
MARCH 1, 2009 March turns the same as ever Just rolling through our monetary Abstractions and their iron Blind fetters dragging leaden mist. Sometimes we need to look Beyond contorted shrinking numbers All bleeding pixel value As acid eating balance sheets. The sun, the trees and birds Donâ€™t feel Depressionâ€™s chilling damp In mental Petri dishes Where newscasts lay like pasty mold. The Spring time brings us hope Of cycles changing in rebirth. Inhale the sun-washed breeze And try to reach beyond the bars.
UNEXPECTED GUESTS The night came pouring down from off the mountains A syrup splashing on the windshield leaving Both stars and moon lost in the cloudy spray ... The car crept on the pockmarked roads, anemic Old public works that Franco built and then Forgot as they unraveled from his plans. “’It’s cheaper if we skip the train,’ you said. We saved five euros but we lost a day.” Antonia steamed the windows with her breath Exhaling prickly words dipped in acidic Emotions black as her own hair dye hiding The onset of a fading middle age. Roderigo never answered and that killed her So pulling out her verbal grimoire she Glanced at the index seeking potent spells: “It’s like in ’96 in Argentina You couldn’t ask directions, no, not you ...” A figure, barely human, in its layered Long folds of cloth all white and flowing grazed The hood and rolled off in the ferns to vanish. It pulled a scream from shocked Antonia, stole The life out from the engine leaving them To coast along until the potholes stopped them. No matter what he tried the car was dead and His cell phone merely blinked a pale, sick green And couldn’t even muster up some static. While blowing her recriminations she Saw in the distance light against the hills. “Perhaps that’s someone’s isolated vacation Home and we’ll find help. It’s better than Just sitting doing nothing. Well, let’s go!” She pushed the car door open, thundered out. They plunged into the cold Cantabrian air And set off towards the distant flicker glowing With hope of shelter and an old time landline. Her Gucci leather jacket hardly seemed Designed to keep her warm beyond the distance Between a heated car and heated building And clung about her like a withered husk. It wasn’t long before they reached a side road, Or more a cow path, ascending up the hills And came across a flock of black-haired goats. While all were startled equally, the goats Leapt over low stone walls the crumbling guardians
Of properties that seemed the dwellings only For memories in search of their forgetting. Long weeds pushed through the undressed rocks And further up they saw deceased gray cottages Left only as the playthings of the goats And bitchy winds that rummaged the cracked husks. But higher up the road the light was clear: There were four patches, clearly windows, there. The roof was thatched with layered straw and held By rocks suspended on thick ropes before The dense and stony exoskeleton In which a shabby door of alder wood was set ... “This God-forsaken hell hole is a nightmare.” She grumbled in brisk syllables her heels Stabbing at the stones as she approached To bang upon the door and yell “hello!” “Good evening friends and gentle guests how may I help you standing here upon my stoop?” “My name’s Antonia, this here’s Roderigo we Were traveling north toward a seaside resort When we had car trouble. Can I use your phone?” “Please come in from the cold.” “It’s freezing out here!” “I heard geese flying from the right on Tuesday And knew I’d have some unexpected guests So I’m preparing you a welcome feast ... The name I bear is doña Maga Martín Antolínez.” The woman seemed to be old age itself Her skin was pale as sun-bleached tombstones whose Inscriptions had been gnawed off by the rain Leaving streaks as thin as her white hair. The tiny features of the face were molded More from the layered folds of wrinkles Than skin but nothing was as striking as Her right eye with its glossy cataract. “Please sit and rest, yes, rest and have warm drinks.” The cottage was untouched by modern life And cluttered with unusual paraphernalia Consuming space fed by the peat moss firelight. A caldron boiled on the broken hearth beside The iron spits where meat was roasting its Strange smell hung heavy in the stuffy room And when they sat Antonia spoke up asking, “What happened to this village, all the people?” “The people died off after all the youths Had left our ancient mountains for León
And all the things the city has to offer.” “You’ve no relations?” “None except the goats. Here was I born and here I’ll stay forever.” She smiled speaking with her heavy accent and Archaic words like ‘apareçer’ for ‘nacer’ (born). “While this dwelling surely you find humble It’s here that you must pass this very night. The fog will soon awaken in the river It even smoothers your electric lights So there’s no chance of getting out at all.” The heavy dark wool clothing that she wore Scratched like mice upon a hardwood floor. But suddenly her whole form quickly turned: She swung a cleaver hitting Roderigo’s neck. Antonia’s breath exploded in a shriek Her nerves unwound into her wobbling muscles As doña Maga slowly turned her head. Her waxen face was carved with a large smile Revealing yellow teeth set at odd angles. “It’s soon the welcome feast will be prepared To honor our lord Satan, my dear cousins.” Antonia turned to face the crowd behind her. Her mental processes cracked on the vision That spilled out from a Goya fantasy Into a three-dimensional phantasmagoria. The goats with wiry black hair stood together But then she saw their heads had human faces: The faces waxen nightmare sculpted hunger Insane with solid black and pitiless eyes. The other figures were unusually tall With winding shrouds of dingy white and hands From which their grubby nails grew long and sharp But their heads were goat heads with long ears And haunted human eyes glossed over into frenzy.
Santiago del Dardano Turann says, “The basic facts of my biography are rather straightforward. I was born in April of 1968 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and grew up in rural Butler County. I have worked blue-collar and retail jobs my whole adult life and do not have a college degree, yet since beginning to submit poetry in August of 2007, my work has been accepted by thirty-nine journals.”
RENATA DAWIDOWICZ HOWLING
Tree-Bending in the Wind. www.in-between.org.uk/environment/the-wisdom-of-trees/
The wind was howling and blowing away An extraordinary fabulous feeling of movement As the rain continued on wildly To add to the unexplainable mystery Of the behavior of the wind Since the beginning of time Why it changes so swiftly The windows rattled along with it I enjoyed the swift change of scenery Because the moisture felt so good brushing against my face The weather was warm Even though it was November already I felt a twinge in my personality this morning Because the unexpected movement of the wind Fascinated me in depth The clouds above were rolling in the darkness This pleasure in existence is so poignant for my reality It gives me so much enjoyment To feel nature brushing on my threads of life I soothed my senses in the still darkness To enjoy meeting the wind this morning Mysterious â€“ thatâ€™s it
LIGHT BEACONS Draw life and breath from a monument of the past The passion of existence as waves knock back and forth From the wide open stretches of the lake The storm of life as sailors tried to find the beacon of light In the total black darkness of the submerging water Ships that were lost were wrecked to oblivion With the stars hiding as the storm lost control and raged furiously All left behind is salvage in the deep waters of eternity The erect solidified building of the lighthouse still stands Only memories are left faded by time Of these heroic men who dedicated their lives To bring those ships back to land but were lost in the lakes forever Their fight for existence is legend now Let the light shine in their memory
AWAY Drips of water cascading down melting away Blending into the atmosphere of time As Indians roamed an unspoiled American continent Where nature and man coincided for generations As the sand dunes are drenched with scattered threads of grass poking out Miniature trees with varied shades of greens and yellows catch my attention My mind envelops into the sumptuous beauty that will never be again Caught in a time sphere of invasion There is no description on earth To fully surmise the unbreakable bond of nature and man Mingling in the cohesion of unity One in one â€“ love in love It is only relics in museums Left to ponder of what can never be again Lost by discovery
TAKE ME Take me back To the old stone church Situated in the middle of downtown Nestled across the magnificent refurbished theatre Up the creaky elevator leading to the vestibule of my class An old photograph hangs of a graduating class With students long deceased posed together As I closely examine their faces Trying to read their minds What were their thoughts that day Buried with them Their destiny took them to the unknown My piano teacher with his two sets of glasses Listening to his classical music My hero – gentle manners – intelligent mind And he knew his music The beauty of learning Far reaching into time Though he has been gone for years Never for me He will be there When the music plays
The prolific Renata Dawidowicz has published more than three hundred poems in many venues, among them Bell’s Letters Poet, The Poet, The Sounds of Poetry, Poets at Work, Lone Star Magazine, and Silver Wings. She is a member of The International Academy of Poets, Cambridge, and has won many awards. Her book, 20th Century Now, is available from Plowman. Dawidowicz lives and works in Michigan.
FRANK DE CANIO
SHOPPING STALL “Come here for Dead Sea soap you’ll want to buy,“ she chimes. “Tel Aviv! You speak Hebrew?” I ask. ‘Ken ve lo,’ she tutors with a smile, emboldened by her power to beguile me. “Ken means ‘yes,’ ve ‘and,’ lo, ‘no,’ she chants, as if she were a Siren wearing pants. “That means I’m telling every gal I flirt with, ‘ken ve lo,’ I tell her who’s as pert as she’s seductive. “No. You’re gonna tell them ‘ken.’ Just so to me and what I sell you.” Though I’m thinking “lo,” I’m saying “ken,” regardless of whatever I might spend, if just to guarantee a steady flow of banter from this perky dynamo.
DEMURE WAITRESS If spleen’s an act to shield a coward’s heart I’m heedless of combative gals whose ranks betray a regiment that’s torn apart and musters bluster to protect its flanks. But what strong infrastructure does she boast who posts no soldiers at her borders’ gates but plays with flair the diplomatic host. She’s dauntless as my armed invader baits her to assess her readiness for war. She needs no battery of ragtag men to make me wonder if I should withdraw the forces that I’ve mobilized to pen her sensibilities. Her smile affirms she’s won unchallenged peace on favored terms.
CASINO PLAYER Even granting random numbers match some digits on the ticket that we hold, the lover who’s presumptively a catch with winning ways already has been sold, at best. The usual is to excite ourselves with fantasies of moneyed pots that render such investments a delight analogous to putting coins in slots. But that’s no indication that we’ll win. Still worse, instead of numbers duds are drawn with worries that entail another spin of teasing bandits riddling us with scorn. So is it really worth a taxing cost to win the jackpot given what we’ve lost?
BUTTERFLY She pressed me in the book I tendered her. Expostulating Cio-Cio-San’s sad fate in music, I pulled every stop to stir emotions in her that would cultivate her sensibilities and leave her ripe for me to pluck like some exotic fruit. I waxed rhapsodic till compelled to wipe my tears. They grouped like dew upon the shoot that had extended from the seeds I’d sown within her breast. For passion watered them. But when the flower of my love had grown, with wry aplomb she plucked it from its stem; a sign the burgeoning chrysanthemum in me was sentiment she’d overcome.
BOARDING BUS PASSENGERS They rush the aisle as if I don’t exist. I’m more the hassled captive forced to march ahead of shoves whose gist’s an iron fist than someone who wears shirts my cleaners starch. Forget it if I pause before a seat, deciding if it’s one that I prefer to something else. I feel their marching feet behind my own, employing force majeure to make it easy for me to decide. And even as I make a sharp right turn to slide inside a seat, they storm my hide. For my maneuverings are no concern of them who, in the solipsistic fog they’re living in, are tails that wag my dog.
DOGGONE Though dogmatism isn’t meet, of course all canines should be leashed, or owners otherwise beseeched to let us safely walk the street without the fear their pets might eat us, flesh and bone, before we’ve reached the portals they’ve so safely breeched. Why must the innocent entreat dog fanciers for civil rights? Scared prisoners, we dare not run, lest some irate “police dog” bites us on the ankle, face or bun, should we thus pique the appetites of beasts whose trust we haven’t won.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Frank De Canio works in New York. He loves music of all kinds, from Bach to Dory Previn, Amy Beach to Amy Winehouse, World Music, Latin, and opera. Shakespeare is his consolation, writing his hobby. Poets he likes: Dylan Thomas, Keats, Wallace Stevens, Frost, Ginsburg, and Sylvia Plath. His work has been published in more than eighty magazines (and/or e-zines); Danger, Pleiades, Genie, Write On!!, Red Owl, Nuthouse, Love‘s Chance, Words of Wisdom, Illogical Muse, The Lyric, Free Lunch, Art Times, and Pearl; with Hazmat, Medicinal Purposes, Blue Unicorn, Ship of Fools, Raintown Review, and others pending. See his work on the Web: POETZ and Thick with Conviction.
KENNETH DIMAGGIO POEM FROM THE SPAGHETTI SCRAPBOOKS
SACRED & PROFANE Velvet Jesus & neon nativity our religion was plush like the felt pair of dice hanging from a rearview mirror and electric like your sister’s Popsicle-colored bikini (which you shouldn’t be looking at you sick degenerate) but the way your Uncle was a bookmaker while your father was a police officer always marked your family with a moral form of incest Misdemeanors could always get fixed like parking tickets while felonies could always “ambivalate” in the church basement bingo wheel Forgive us if the sacred was sometimes more profane while it was through profanity we learned more of our morality and scripture Eden was still a garden which meant that without a little shit it would never flower
POEM FROM THE SPAGHETTI SCRAPBOOKS
MIRACLES Bleeding velvet paintings or statues that cured anything from impotence to migraine the plaster or painted representation of the Virgin Mary sometimes manifested miracles that put your clapboard pink flamingo lawn neighborhood in the tabloids And the more your parish priest attacked a Biblically dressed big bosomed statue that temporarily cured every grandmotherâ€™s sciatica and every grandfatherâ€™s arthritis the more her statue went up in the garden or got puckered atop your car dashboard And would your Jesus or Mary Night light also perform miracles? So long as the Old Country folks were still around a religious medallion or a plastic crucifix could sometimes make magic because miracles like the grandfathers and grandmothers who believed in them were stubborn enough to happen
POEM FROM THE SPAGHETTI SCRAPBOOKS
God may have been the author of this one boxing arena of a town called New Britain Connecticut but religion for folks like mine who prized fighting worshipped a peasant-hipped blossom breasted matriarch whose plaster lawn statue guarded the pink flamingos (she was even on the dashboard of the car where you were always trying to lose your virginity) And though authors like Nietzche would later bury Jehovah for me you would always love the Madonna like your own mother (who sometimes you would hurt who still found a way to forgive) And if so many like you rejected the traditional catechism ~ never the woman (and only a woman) who could create and give grace to religion Kenneth DiMaggio has published in Quercus Review, Plainsongs, Willard & Maple and in The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. He is working on a poetry series, The Spaghetti Scrapbooks, from which the three poems featured here were chosen. During the summer of 2009, DiMaggio visited the West African country of Benin, which is known for its voodoo, and where he met the head voodoo chief. DiMaggio says, â€œHe told me he had been expecting my visit all along (and probably my generous tip for his brief personal audience).â€?
THE WAY I FELL FOR HER Through those four harrowing years of college, with me at a different school, I tried so hard to maintain my relationship with her, like looking into the cafeteria through a window while standing outside in the freezing snow. I was so worried I would lose her to another more worthy guy, worried sick and frightened some other guy would fall for her the way I fell for her, pursue her as relentlessly as I pursued her, and win her from me, some other guy, handsome, smarter, stronger than me. I worried she would put me behind her, put us behind her, and explore her options, go off and be with someone else, leaving me behind forever, leaving us behind forever. But as fate would have it she, the most beautiful girl I have ever known, chose me. How could such a thing be? If I live a hundred years Iâ€™ll never understand it.
SHE ONLY SMILED “He had the hots for me,” she states so nonchalantly, and I cringe. Even though it was forty years ago I still cringe whenever I hear of her old boy friends or my potential rivals. “What? Did you really just say, ‘He had the hots for me’?” She was telling me about a guy who would come over to her table in the cafeteria, apparently attracted by her long straight dark brown hair. “Well yes, he did, but in the beginning of my senior year, and I don’t even know his name, and nothing ever happened. It lasted less than a month, a week,” she flicks her hand in the air. “He went away as soon as we got engaged.” “That’s nice to know. You couldn’t have dated him even if you wanted to because we were engaged, right?” “Yes silly, that’s right, he saw my ring and went away, just like that.” And I’m thinking about all the times I could have lost her, all the close calls I had. “I should have asked you to marry me long before I did, don’t you think?” She smiled at me then, she only smiled.
LOVE SPEEDING THROUGH What is there to know about love, or not to know. It is there, runs over you like a freight train leaving you tattered, breathless, confused, out of place and time, for as long as it wishes, wondering, hoping, but for what? For what? You are helpless. It is a storm, a tempest really. You simply need to weather it and after it has passed (if it does pass) leaving you in disarray in its wake, perhaps then you can return again to as you were before, untouched, unchanged, but most likely you will be altered forever, improved as it were, enlightened perhaps, as only love can make you, your skin sizzling with sensitivity, your mind taut and bright yet introspective, heightened and wary for the next train passing through.
UNDER THE STARS, ALONE Alone, one night, under an empty moon, I walked the three miles to her house, hid in the bushes in her back yard, stared up at her room. Always felt I should do something extreme ~ serenade her or call out to her like in the Romeo & Juliet balcony scene, perhaps get a ladder, snatch her away, her knight in shining armor. But I didnâ€™t. I simply hid there waiting for a glimpse of her sweet, pure white form up in her bedroom window, then walked back home again under the stars, alone.
EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE All those years ago, back in college, her hair so lustrous and long, her skirts so skimpy and short, she’s in New York City with some girl friends. They get to talking to some boys outside a theatre when one of them says, barely able to speak in her presence, staring at her long, shiny brunette hair flowing down around her shoulders and back, “I can’t believe I’m standing here talking to you.” I know exactly how he felt every day of my life.
Michael Estabrook says, “Over the years I’ve published a few chapbooks and appeared in some terrific poetry magazines, but you are only as good as your next poem and, like a surfer searching for that perfect wave, I’m a poet prowling for that next perfect poem. Right now I am looking for that perfect poem in my wife, who just happens to be the most beautiful woman I have ever known. If I find inspiration anywhere, I’ll find it in her.”
BRIAN C. FELDER
STAYING BACK, MOVING ON Are you still writing poetry? he asks ~ my friend from back then, when we all did ~ admitting, as he does, that he doesn’t anymore, to which I say, yes, as a matter of fact, I’ve just been published in ..., leaving him to wonder: did he lay down his own ability too soon or had I stayed back when the world moved on? I don’t know if there is an answer to that but I saw the poem in it right off.
IT’S YOUR CALL In its worst telling, it is but one long slide into death, made meaningful only by our need to give it meaning and poignant only because it ends. But, that’s in its worst telling. I think, in fairness to life, it is much better than that, though, in my version, it ends in the same fashion because end it does. As for meaning, who cares ultimately? We’re born, we die and, in between, we eat, sleep, defecate, beget sons, or not, and live as best we can in our own circumstances. But, in my telling, that’s the good part. We get to live and feel the breeze upon us and smell the sea and know love if we don’t close ourselves to it. Even if you let the worst telling stand, however, it is still up to us how to face it. We can either plunge into the abyss with terror in our heart or smile knowingly, scream “Wheeee” and enjoy every minute of the ride.
THE LITTLE PROFESSOR When I was washing dishes this morning ~ yes, men do that ~ a small soap bubble drifted up out of the sink and passed before my eyes in all its impudent, iridescent glory. It rose almost to the ceiling but sensing the peril of the stucco above it, it sank back toward me. Not wishing to see it fall, I wafted it up again with the wave of my hand and watched it rise once more. Again ~ as if it knew ~ it hovered safely beneath the sharp points of the plaster and then slowly ~ ever so slowly ~ it settled to the floor by my feet without bursting. It sat there on the carpet for a few moments more and then, poof, it was gone. It so reminded me of us, how each person soars off into life to push the outside of that proverbial envelope. And how our survival instinct kicks in when we soar too high; how we settle into a safe place lower down, from which we fall back when our energy flags midway through the journey. Maybe we get a second wind ~ a helping hand, if you will ~ and we strike out again, as if renewed. But still, in the end, we weary and fall back for good and, after a brief time of rest and reflection, we, too, are gone. It was not sad to see the parallels, to realize these things, though it was humbling to be taught something so profound by something so simple: a little soap bubble, as important to itself as we are to us.
REMEMBERING CHARLIE CONLEY He was no man’s fool and as stand-up a guy as you’ll ever meet; both tough and tender to his kids, as only a father who has lost a child can be with those he still has. Gnarled by circumstances not of his making, he was undone by none of that, looming large in life when living and now, in my memory, upon his death. He was, I’m proud to say, a friend.
RYAN’S MOTHER All the years of you becoming come now to this ~ a new heart, born of yours, to hold your loves and his; a tender gift for tomorrow swaddled in this day’s bliss.
Brian C. Felder’s 2009 publishing credits include Amulet, Art:Mag, Beatlick News, Black Book Press, Blackwidows Web of Poetry, Clark Street Review, Conceit Magazine, Delmarva Quarterly, Pacific Review, Iconoclast, and Pegasus among many others. He is a previous co-editor/publisher, with Cynthia d’Este Dahlke, of Bummer, the only poetry magazine ever to feature covers by cartoonist Denis Kitchen. Originally from the Midwest, Felder now resides in Delaware.
BIRTHDAY WISHES A bed of violets on my card, as those at the edge of the pine grove, with obstinate roots, the will to survive; Seuratâ€™s faded sun in another, his untouching men and women ~ not a spark of fire in them, but a kind of contemplation, as in life viewed from a distance, enshrined in untold stories. A friend sent a poster, Jasper Johnâ€™s crisscrossing sticks in arranged disorder ~ fragments of unseen existences, mirrors of splintered lives upon a bare field, each leaning upon another. So many recurrences in birthdays, thoughts full of weathers ~ cards spread on the table bring breaths of other times in rainbow colors. I long for brighter days, more flowers among graying rocks. On a canvas I paint my own birthday wishes, blue stones resting on red earth, forget-me-nots, orange blossoms as for a marriage. I draw lavish purples, shades of the sky at dawn.
REMAINDERS Still there, the wait for things to happen, a new spring, a new day, a pristine rhythm to swallow long hours in interminable minutes, nights lacking density. I wish for bright tints beyond New York skyscrapers, slivers of sky sometimes blue, without the fires of yesterday. We no longer talk of the rumpled games we played in search of definition, or the castles we built ~ the sand that dribbled, hiding sighs and songs, the floral dress I wore. There was always some god standing on a platform before us, clay feet hidden in the fog. Am I wiser not to comb the space of dreams? I am only cautious perhaps, groping against drizzles in the air and slippery pavements. I no longer have expectations of flowers. Pleasures are simpler now. Before this day wears out, I will go to the Metropolitan Opera. Sondra Radvanovsky is singing tonight.
DAYS IN TOKYO `
I am a landscape Denise Levertov, Zeroing In
After the big rains, a drizzle, umbrellas large, transparent, floating above shoulders les parapluies de Cherbourg, Monetâ€™s fogs. Not quite, that was my familiar world. There were flowers, les nĂŠnuphars. No flowers here, rain sucked them and cityscape into invisibility, neon lights douse the world of man. I move hesitant in a tangle of unknown streets, toward Le Corbusier museum, huge, rectangular box as gray as the sky. I am a landscape and a person walking in that landscape. Blending with reflections, figures rippled on the street, I go beneath my umbrella that is not transparent. Patient steps guide me across the road. I skirt puddles and cars halted by red light, beats I recognize, the rhythmic tap tap of windshield wipers rain in New York, in Paris, glitter on the road. This new world is old.
VOICES OF CONTINUITY My travels ~ I followed stories from books, looked among rubbles and pillars, refiguring triumphs, calamities of ancient times forged on slabs ~ in Athens, Cairo, Beijing, Moscow, across the world, thirsting for more, life sculpted on stones. The past stole my days, rushed mornings into evenings, not a moment could they hold still. I strolled as if across an atlas, piloted by little dots with resonant names, through Asia, Africa, South America, dusty fields, dusty stones. I journeyed within a star, a kaleidoscopic globe, accordion of silent music with echoes into days to come. Tutto mondo ĂŠ paese. The whole world is a village. What mattered in the end were the children. I saw them reflected in every stone their voice of continuity, laughter and cries.
WHY THE NOSTALGIA On top of a credenza I find an apothecary mortar and pestle, venerable, with etched scrolls around it, an oil lamp, a pasta cutter ~ old objects elevated to artistic level, allure they did not possess at their time. We look at them as if to recapture sights of our lives steeped in suffused light. But it often took an entire day to get dinner ready in those days, mixing, kneading, chopping. I loved watching my grandmother in the kitchen. And there comes the wistful thought ~ for the work of others in tallowâ€™s marginal light.
Diana Festa grew up in Italy and came to the United States at the age of eighteen. After earning a doctorate, she began her academic career as professor of French at Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center of The City University of New York. Diana Festa has published a large number of poems in various reviews, and five volumes of poetry Arches to the West, Ice Sparrow, Threshold, Bedrock, The Gathering. A sixth volume, A Landscape of Time, is being published by the Rockford Guild Press. Festa has also published close to forty articles in literary journals and four books of literary criticism, Les Nouvelles de Balzac; The City As Catalyst; Balzac; Proustian Optics of Clothes: Mirrors, Masks, Mores. Her honors include the Priz Guizot from the French Academy, a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Aniello Lauri Award, and several poetry awards.
RAYMOND JOHN FLORY
HAIKU AND SENYRU Church windows reflect in the baptismal fountain ~ incense fills the air. Stars sing in the night with a symphonic splendor ~ a savior is born. Jerusalem heights look down on city of God ~ Lord keeps watch tonight. A valentine prayer written on wrapping paper ~ joy to my heart. Red rose on Bible with morning sun in window ~ a silent prayer. Monastery gate sways in the spring morning breeze ~ wild flowers gather. Rain dripping from wooden cross: Paid In Full!
LIVING FAITH My ship has left the safe harbor for the oceans of life ... sailing on ... and on to seek shores of living faith.
SPIRIT OF ALL JOY
Enlighten me, Lord, with the spirit of your creation. Enlighten me, Lord, with the spirit of your love. Enlighten me, Lord, with the spirit of your truth. Enlighten me, Lord, with the spirit of your peace. Enlighten me, Lord, with the spirit of your forgiving. Enlighten me, Lord, with the spirit of all joy.
MY FRIEND The lamp is low and the fireplace aglow. The library is still as I make out my will. The winds of time drift into my mind ... I wish you love and peace from above. May your faith be strong and your life be long. You have been my friend to the very end.
SILVER SHAY Twisting and turning, rocking and rolling, the silver shay powerfully pulls logging cars over rusty rails ... whistling through the winter woods.
Raymond John Flory has been writing and contributing inspirational works for many years. His poetry and prose have appeared frequently in The Christian Writer’s Pen, Cottage Connections, Conquistador, and Writer’s Gazette among many others. He has established an award program for fellow poets called The Explorer Award. Formerly a longtime publisher of a poetry and short prose periodical called Explorer Magazine, he lives and writes in South Bend, Indiana. Look for his story “The Old Man and the Farm” on page 157.
HESITATION ON THE MIDFIELD This day the sun burns bright upon the field Of browned green grass. A whistle blows so hard Upon the start of the match. This battle they wield No blade, but stand and fight for every yard. Theyâ€™re clad with no heavy armor, but blood Still stains the silky, black, and nylon shorts. Avoiding fast kicks and blows at the shins The forwards rush through the mud. The shrieking coaches point out and exhort Their men: continue forward, press on and win! The checkered globe between the muddied feet Bounces back and forth like smooth pinballs. The tired midfielder tries to resist the heat That overtakes what once was the fullback wall. He falters there, his feet having been swept By bellicose men hungry for the prize Of adoration, medals, and thankful tears; He rises, sees what is kept Under tripping cleats, where the ball now lies, And tries to flank the crowd that he is near. The ball now shifts away, toward his control Of the center line. He stands nervously and waits To see to whom the ball he should tap and roll Before the striker comes and itâ€™s too late. The sweat drips down his forehead drop by drop As the halfback surveys the scattered scene Of shouting men and cheering family and friends. He knows the clock will soon stop And thus decides to sprint, cutting the green But dry grass, making the ball curve the bend.
ROYAL SEPULCHER, BARE AS BONES Here lies a solemn tomb that tries to speak To me as the crowds pass by, without like concern, Its lonely chest, unadorned so as not to pique Its fellow tombs, and yet my turned eyes yearn To see beyond the seven-hundred year Old enclosed box, where royal flesh embalmed Is wrapped in linen cloth from toes to ears And set in simple repose, scepter to palm. “Longshanks,” a giant among dead men and laws, Revealed his fickle mind as a wild leopard And climbed at the Welsh with vengeful anxious paws. At the same time a wolf and a wary shepherd, He dropped tears at the death of his fecund queen, The daughter of Castile’s encroaching king, And settled crosses at the funeral scene, Where on the remaining stumps the blackbirds sing. The marble tomb engraved with a dull knife Hides the sorrow borne and the battles sought. When popular culture overshadows life, Let crimson robes envelop the steady rot.
FEATHERS OF THE EAGLE PAINTED CRIMSON The second century’s rise, Caesar’s guileful apex, Begins to formulate saga into romance, Absolving a hundred-years trial left behind, Affirming deified Augustus’s marble plans. A tawny wolf cub sprawled upon black Dacian cliffs Awaits commands from the plotting senile senate. Distant rural waterways befogged by brisk sharp winds, The whitened bones buried near the wine-stained tents. Ascending wily eagles scour the shield-strewn scene, Five-time consul, declared tribuniciae potestatis, Vetoes the stubborn magistrates’ bitter resolve While centurions pluck the grime from battered crests. Bride Plotina, nubile symbol of modesty, She weaves the scarlet cloth for her staid Aeneas. The stone column placates the fractious populace, Reminding Rome of demagogue Decebalus. Nephew Pliny, domestic consultant, governs And oversees the outworking of publicus legal, His pious Umbrian inspector bestows favor As Pontifex and blesses the golden eagles.
Christopher Fried is a 2007 graduate of the College of William and Mary. He has a BA in English and Classical Studies. His current literary influences are seventeenth century and Modernist poets. His poetry has been published in The Armchair Aesthete, The Eclectic Muse, Blue Unicorn, and others. Besides literature, he has an interest in listening to music, especially classical, jazz, and metal. He says there is nothing like a Bach fugue or a saxophone line from John Coltrane. When he has time, he turns on television to watch sports (college is more exhilarating than professional). When the economic situation improves a little, he desires to join the insurance or financial field. He believes it could possibly help his poetic craft just like T.S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens. Until then, he’ll continue to plug along and steadily work on improving his writing.
READING SYLVIA BACKWARDS like blowing up a shredded red balloon, I move air through the lungs that deflated alone ~ bowed in a furnace; seven times hotter for you, who would not dance before our statue, calling us bastards and announcing youâ€™re through; but the heart never stops. I reach in pages turning left to right, and grip tight your wringing of hands; pushing forth the sea over the fiery tomb, uncut you free; my axe carries you back onto the edge, not of kindness; just an answer.
SPAM Suspiciously processed appendages of meat ~ packaged in a perfectly, eye appealing can. It took years before I could take a bite of a gelled covered slice, but still less time than my grandfather worked at Hormel, making the machines move towards the meals and mouths of families ~ including his of fifteen. When I finally ate a fried piece, I tasted my grandfatherâ€™s time before I existed and the greasy wheels that continue to roll after his passing.
ALMOST I write only in pen ~ the Latin prefix for almost; So I write only in almost, making words almost. I am almost. My pen finds no patience in short prose and no thought in long ones, so I write just enough to get by without saying really much of anything at all.
As a student of English and Communications, Sonia Halbach considers winning Augustana Collegeâ€™s Peace Poem Competition in 2007 and having the opportunity to read her original work in front of 3,500 people, including Maya Angelou, as her first experience being a poet. Since then she has been published in a dozen literary journals on three different continents, including Venture and Chronogram.
THE CHESTNUT CHARGER Billowing flaxen tresses ‘n eyes of emerald green, in flowing satin dresses of glowing pastel sheen, mistress of country estate with luxury at beck ‘n call ‘n propensity to remonstrate living boldly in grand Taylor Hall! Father’s English blood prevails as arrogant family trait, at early age unveiled Morgana could exasperate! Quite apparent as child her true passion is horses, galloping carefree ‘n wild thriving on four-legged forces. God, she loves to race without having a care, the wind flushing her face blowing gently her silky hair. Powerful Arabian stallion with coat of chestnut red, spirit of a fiery hellion this creature, from shank to head. Day after day with yen she feels magnificent stride lunging through meadow ‘n glen her eyes sparkle with pride. Riding chestnut charger, obsession in time of leisure, no ecstasy is larger giving rapturous pleasure. Morgana bears her grief riding chestnut every day this gives measure of relief as heartache wears away.
Servants become more fond as she treats them tenderly with result going beyond duties that they render. She clearly refuses to marry remaining queen of the hive, she will not tarry for sake of love to give. Ballet ‘n opera she declines, ‘twas never her cup of tea, as companion she’s fit ‘n refined but at home she’d rather be. She pays swains no heed for they’re of mundane taste, though craving her attention indeed their effort is a total waste. Days are pleasant ‘n bright moving in rhythm as one, the chestnut is her delight; she’s in bliss beneath the sun. The day of foxhunt is due with thrill of maddening chase, this English event true blue has gentry baited for race. On Hallstead grounds they are awaiting signal to start, Lady Taylor appearing demure leaving gentlemen with throbbing hearts. Bugle blast is shrill like startled rook’s caw ground is covered hill to hill, the wind is bleak and raw.
Over the hedge they fly but charger stumbles ‘n falls, this jump Morgana will rue until the day she dies. Her life fills with remorse until last breath is spent, yearning to be with her horse, from this she’ll never relent.
“O’ sweet beauty high on steed across the moor you ride; do you prove horsemanship or from society do you hide?”
After a stint in the United States Army as a Communication Center Specialist and Cryptographer, Gerald Heyder has had an eclectic professional life. He was recovering from a broken wrist when he submitted the above poem. Heyder has published in many venues, among them Bell’s Letters Poet, Poetic Expressions, Poetry Protocol, Lone Star Magazine, Art With Words, Poetic Speak Digest and numerous anthologies. Heyder is a resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
MICHAEL LEE JOHNSON
WILLOW TREE NIGHT AND SNOWY VISITORS Winter tapping hollow willow tree trunk ~ a four month visitor about to move in unload his messy clothing be windy about it ~ bark is grayish white as coming night with snow fragments the seasons. The chill of frost lays a deceitful blanket over the courtyard green and coats a ghostly white mist over yellowed willow leaves widely spaced teeth ~ you can hear them clicking like false teeth or chattering like chipmunks threatened in a distant burrow. The willow tree knows the old man approaching has shown up again, in early November with ice packed cheeks and brutal puffy wind whistling with a sting.
PHIL AND BETSY: ILLINOIS FARMERS Illinois writer in the land of Lincoln new harvest without words plenty of sugar plum pie, peach cobbler pie, buried in grandma sugar; factory sweets and low flowing river nearby ~ transports of soy bean, corn, and cattle feed into the wide bass mouth of the Kishwakee River. It is the moment of reunion, when friends and economy come together ~ hot dogs, marshmallows, tents scattered, playing kick ball with that black farm dog. It’s a simple act, a farmer gone blind with the night pink sky, desolate farmer, simple flat land, DeKalb, Illinois. Betsy and Phil, invite us all to the camp and fireside. But Phil is still in the field, pushing sunset to dusk. He is raking dry the farm soil of salvation, moisture has its own religious quirks, dead seed from weed hurls up to the metal lips of the cultivator pitting. The full moon is undressing, pink fluorescent hints of blue, pajamas, turned inward near midnight sky against the moon naked and embarrassed. Hayrides for strangers go down dark squared off roads with lights hanging, dangling, children humming school tunes, long farmhouse lights lost in the near distance. Hums till dawn, Christian songs repeat, over God’s earth, till dead sounds the tractor pulls itself down, down to the dusk, and off the road edge. It is the moment of reunion.
CHEEKS SHINING, MINE SO WET Shining, wet my son’s peachy cheeks have turned to beard and stubbles. The turning of age stings. As a mother I’m not allowed anymore to kiss this now complicated face. His teen years stalked my doors with sticky-eyes and frightening nights the ghostly memories, splinters, tiny bruises, his boastful nature after the last date and conquest, make me ache at my breasts. He dances with twisted metal, reflecting, the slight pause, flashing lights surrounding his room. The room, his room. He searches for a wisp of what was, he holds thoughtless the intruding demons. I wonder and dream, phantasm, partitions all at arm’s length, my son. His cheeks shining, mine so very wet.
I AM OLD FRUSTRATED THOUGHT I am old frustrated thought I look into my once eagle eyes and find them dim before my dead mother, I see through clouded egg whites with days passing by like fog feathers. I trip over old experiences and expressions, try hard to suppress them or revisit them; Iâ€™m a fool in my damn recollections, not knowing what to keep and what to toss out ~ but the dreams flow like white flour and deceive me till they capture the nightmare of the past images in a black blanket wrapped up and wake me before my psychiatrist. I only see this nut once every three months. It is at times like these I know not where I walk or venture. I trip over my piety and spill my coffee cup. I seek sanctuary in the common place of my nowhere life. It is here the days pass and the years slip like ice cubes ~ solid footing is a struggle in the socks of depression. I am old frustrated thought; passing by like fog feathers.
ROSE PETALS IN A DARK ROOM I walk in a mastery of the night and light my money changers walk behind me they are fools like clowns in a shadow of sin, they’re busy as bees as drunken lovers, Sodom and Gomorrah before the salt pillar falls. In a shadow of red rose petals drunken lovers walk changing Greek and Roman currency to Jewish or Tyrian money ~ they are fools, all fools, at what they do. Everyone’s life is a conflict. They are my lovers and my sinners I can’t sleep at night without them by my bed or the sea of Galilee. Fish in cloth nets are my friends and my converts. I pray in my garden alone; while all the rest who love beside me sleep behind their innocence. The rose is a tender thorn compared to my arrest. and soon crucifixion. It is here the morning and the night come together, where the sea and the land part; where the building crumbles and I trust not myself to them. I am but a poet of the ministry, rose petals in a dark room fall. Everyone’s life is a conflict. But mine is mastery of light and night and I walk behind the footsteps of no one.
Art courtesy of Michael Lee Johnson
Iâ€™m a Chicago raindrop baby silhouetted in the night, single-ringed single person minus the 24-carat gold. A harvester of night life, star crystal, seated, well proportioned, a gatherer of sluts in my imagination.
Michael Lee Johnson is a poet and freelance writer from Itasca, Illinois. Johnson has been published in over twenty-three countries. He is also editor/publisher of four poetry sites, which can be found at his Web site: http://poetryman.mysite.com. His published works can also be found there. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. His books are available on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com He now performs on You-Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ih5WJrjqQ18.
MAHDY KHAIYAT “DECORATIVE FIGURE ON AN ORNAMENTAL BACKGROUND,” A PAINTING BY HENRI MATISSE: A CULTURAL FASCINATION OR A PLEA FOR FEMALE MANUMISSION
He exposes An abusive culture where women are Coercively relegated to satisfying the Male’s needs; she trumpets: Oh, World! Oh, Humanity! Come, come, Come to me And deliver me From this savagery.
Henri Matisse. Decorative Figure on an Ornamental Background. 1925-26. Oil on canvas. Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France..
The odalisque adds to the floral rug; she is the Object of curiosity that degenerates into A concupiscent fantasy.
ANIMALS Boa Shark Time The constrictor The crusher The death-watcher My employer My banker My undertaker
SYMPHONY Arise, my love, arise! The songstress has strummed The harp of dawn and the Painter has brushed the Sky red and gold. Place your dreams under the Pillow till the crickets Call us to bed. Wash your face with the Morning scent and glow For its petals will soon Wilt and go. Letâ€™s sip our milk under The lucent sky and listen To the swallows while we May, for we will soon be Squirreled away in the file of Fate. Arise, my Love, arise!
THE POWER OF FIRE A narrow golden flame Shoots into the darkening sky Like a dragon’s fiery breath. Fragments of glowing embers Dance erratically, sculpturing Rainbows and draping the city With a luminous Oriental rug. Firefighters battle their Angry enemy round the clock. But it persists, turning whole Neighborhoods into archaeological sites. Still, it pontificates: “Follow me wherever my flames go ~ and despair!”
WATCHING THEIR HOMES BURN Eyelids swell with flowing tears, Lips chap and quiver, Cheeks stiffen, Hands tremble, legs totter, And bodies of memories Mutate into obsidian mist.
Mahdy Y. Khaiyat has published in Whiskey Island Review, Potomac Review, Apocalypse 1, Oyez Review, and RE Arts and Letters. Khaiyat has a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s in Political Science. Khaiyat lives and writes in Goleta, California.
MARTIN KIMELDORF Railroad Crossing When the dream got too big, When the color over-dazzled, When the vision saw too much, Life seemed small and mean. Living became cramped. Compromise was impossible. So I took a walk and talked a good talk I made a rhyme with forgetful wine, I kicked pity in the ass and hitchhiked away ...
Coming Home: photomontage by Martin Kimeldorf
Lookinâ€™ for the next outbound transport the next railroad crossing
LOVING YOU EACH DAY O’ Woman ... I’m loving you each day. Leave me no time beyond, Leave me no days but you, Having made with me not web-string but man-rope O’ Woman ... I’m loving you each day. Be here, as you are smooth. Be one as we are two! Unlocked first thoughts means nothing enters harmfully. O’ Woman ... I’m loving you each day. Strong for ~ me ... as I for ~ you Our faintest touch roped so tight! Be sailing with me into the long creased smile where pain cannot call us by name ... The other eyes outside see Only the dust image of the moist ones within ... No one can see No fist will intrude Where there is no door! O’ Woman ... I’m loving you each day. Thinking about you all the time
BIRTHDAY-VALENTINES THOUGHTS at the beginning of a New Epoch … 1990s Fist full of prayers gesturing before an army marching on bended knees, tramping to ritualistic cadences Clouds settle gradually onto the horizon as cold air turns bare cheeks and knuckles red, The blue-orange sherbet sky is turning into a darkly gray sunset.
Twisting weather vanes only creak ~ and will say no more. Take me with you into the gathering storm… I’ll hold the umbrella, and you hold fast my arm.
Judy Bug 1976 I was just walkin’ aroun’ doin’ ma-thing not paying no mind to nobody ‘cept m’job m’life m’me. In the middle of this smarmy Oregon infested place, I got bit by a Judy Bug ... I still remember the stinger’s sweetness! Apparently it’s fatal! That is, it was fated. Twenty years with the same virus and all the side-effects known to (happy) men Twenty years I’ve been infected, Loving you …
SOCIOLOGICAL SWEETHEART My thesis: To remain your conjugal companion My model: To remain foot-note-fully yours Please write me into your bibliography and quote my love without speculation, â€œif then....however...and.....thus we seeâ€? My final conclusions: 1 I love thee
always ibid ibid op.cit to wit and smooch
can I come home with you?
Over the last thirty-plus years, Martin Kimeldorf has written approximately thirty nonfiction trade and education books with publishers such as Ten Speed, Petersons, Educational Design, and Free Spirit Press. During that time, he also wrote his wife Judy three poems a year, and this year compiled the labor of love into a collection. He recently began sending out sample poems and with accompanying photo-montage art. The first batch of twelve samples got accepted for publishing online/print within eight weeks. Some of that work appears here. See page 184 for a review of his chapbook entitled Being in Love, Forever and a gift offer.
DINNER AT THE LUCKY DUCK Chopsticks clutched in clumsy hand, Envoys in a far-off land, Honored with a feast superb, Soup to nuts from fattened bird. Countless dishes on us pressed, White man’s manners put to test: Chunks of fat sautéed and sliced, Suspect parts uniquely diced, Bony bits and jellied globs, In a broth the carcass bobs, Lying on a bed of leek Surely that is not the beak. Fighting back reflexive bile, Passed a plate with pasted smile. “Quackers with your soup?” I said. Hubby choked and shook his head. Grand finale served with pride, Honey-coated, deep fat fried, Crunchy center, bittersweet Pastry made from Donald’s feet.
Mary Kipps has been writing poetry off and on since childhood, seriously since 2005. She says, “I am of a generation when meter and rhyme predominated, consequently, this is the type of poetry I most enjoy composing. My traditional pieces, as well as my prose poems and haiku, have recently appeared or are forthcoming in The Lyric, Blackwidows Web of Poetry, Pearl, The Deronda Review, FreeXpresSion (Australia), The David Jones Journal (Wales), and The Eclectic Muse (Canada), among others across the United States and abroad.”
A WRITER’S CHRISTMAS WISH I wish, for Christmas, I could finish my play, or some elf would do it while I’m away. I wish the story I started to write, would disappear or self-ignite. I wish the queries I’ve been sending, some editor would find heartrending. I wish my writer’s workshop friends would tell me how my story ends. I wish my inspiration was much better, right now, I can’t even write a letter. I wish I could move to another location, Better yet, I wish I could find a different vocation!
Charles Kray is a veteran of many years in the editorial chair. He is now retired and writes poetry and short prose for his own enjoyment. Although a native of Cleveland, Ohio, he has lived in Carson, California, for a number of years. Kray has a short-story collection due to come out early this year.
SEEING THROUGH SAND The birches here bite the wind sing back and forth in front of my windows the gold which leafs through sunlight makes you still here with me, I may feel where you have been there you left behind to me scraps of paper and something notebooks I can take in what’s beautiful now all that’s been allowed to pass I’ll view the white silver of the birch barks the color like coins in its leaves blowing.
THE REVERSE OF WHEN WE WERE GIVEN FIRE One night when the sky gods whom I had believed to be benign swam all around the earth as they do permitting the gold of stars to penetrate to our weak eyes. They allowed my only you to escape through their ethers. Now what should be beautiful isn’t there exists flaws in everything I am finding out but due to this catastrophic transgression I didn’t know I didn’t know.
ONCE Does a rifle or pistol sing as when you talk to yourself the bland background behind. Everything seeming deep as when you are thinking you know it is cold in the mountains or in the desert at night. If you read something someone else mayâ€™ve said in a letter folded so many times into squares. There are those for whom you However it turns out there are really no places to hide being balled up.
HOLD THIS SHELL Youâ€™d look like corn starch in a mirror gold I can remember those tufted days silk-lined, playful, light filled. Much has slurried past now grown brown with dust. The mirrors in those colder rooms wishing to keep themselves silent. The sun softens in the late afternoon tells beneath doors a smatter showing itself on rugs and so many of the once held footsteps, quiet.
DUST I canâ€™t wait till I walk off the earth and sleep in the sky. You and I happier then than perhaps ever telling our used-to-be sillies our kooky jokes about everything.
Cloudscape: by Jiho, 2009
Sad that thereâ€™s little to inspire laughter now the gold of the moon and sun my dearest most cherished you.
Peter Layton lives and writes in Lakewood, California
LAMBORGHINI there, slithered thru grey sludge of coming home thru Sunday traffic, this fog hanging over D.C. Suddenly, as if it came in a dream, slithered from Patagonia, extinct, everyone thought, certainly dead as Iâ€™ve been. It could have been you there in the cafĂŠ that does not exist, your leg grown back, the bad cells in a film run backward, not even dysplasia yet. That car was you, flashy, a heart zap. Totally unattainable and of course too expensive for me to consider for anything more than a high-jacked night with hell to pay in the morning.
LIKE A DARK LANTERN I move thru the first floor at 3 a.m., past the cat who is curled in a chair half made of her fur, turning her back on air conditioning, startled to find me prowling in the dark as if I was intruding on stars and moon and the ripple in water that spits back the plum trees. Grass smells grassier. The clock inches slowly toward the light. A creak of wood and the soft scratch on the blue Persian rug the cat claws gently merge with some night bird Iâ€™ve never seen like a poem that goes along and suddenly, at the end, like a banked fire, explodes into the wildest flame that finishes off everything that has come before it perfectly
SEPTEMBER 26, 1996 this morning the pond looks like marble. Rose and charcoal dissolving to dove, to guava, rouge. Only mallards pushing holes in the glass, so unlike the pond, deep in trees, almost camouflaged, startling as coming upon your reflection in a mirror, just there under trees and the wooden bar and the driftwood benches blackly jade with pines dripping into it, shadows close to my hairs. What I didnâ€™t have blinded me so I hardly saw the small birds, blue, pulling out of moss and needles as if reaching into the dark for their color
MID NOVEMBER when the black ducks come, winter opens, a kick pleat in darkness Eyelash fringe of ferns on shore. Late fall thunder after a long Indian summer. Branches creak. Muskrat slither into the pond like a stone the tide covers in the glow of a strangerâ€™s flashlight
LATE NOVEMBER one minute, the sun was out, it was fall. Geraniums under a quilt last night, a blotch of red opening. On the front step what looked like lint has small pink claws and feet. Next the sky was the color of lead. Geraniums under a quilt last night like a child youâ€™ve tucked in or a body wrapped in the earth under leaves. In the swirl of sudden snow, what was left of the headless fur blows west Like a child youâ€™ve tucked in whatever was living, just born squirrel I suppose, hardly a living thing except for feet. In fifteen minutes, the light came back, cars stopped sliding Whatever was living. Or just born must have felt the wild snow was a warning. I thought of the lover wrapped in dark cloth and left in the leaves while, not knowing, I took a ballet class. The geraniums are still under a blue quilt this Tuesday. One minute the sun was out, it was fall
ON THE SHORTEST DAY OF THE YEAR A woman went into darkness, past the black ruby roses and was never heard from again. She moved quietly past bleached grass a December day it moved into sixties near Troy. It was foggy and warm, very much like today. It could have been today. You probably think this woman was me, it seems there are reasons. But listen Iâ€™ve never seen, only imagine those tissue thin roses and that last minute before light collapses. A garnet leaf on the pond is less red than my hair blazing, the lone signal to guide you in
BLUE SLEIGHS December, the water moves dark between the snow dunes in ten thousand hills pulling light around the black stones, a sound to sleep and love by like bells running thru the children’s sleep when they dream of blue sleighs
“Lyn Lifshin has written more than 125 books and edited four anthologies of women writers. Her poems have appeared in most poetry and literary magazines in the United States, and her work has been included in virtually every major anthology of recent writing by women. She has given more than 700 readings across the country and has appeared at Dartmouth and Skidmore colleges, Cornell University, the Shakespeare Library, Whitney Museum, and Huntington Library. Lyn Lifshin has also taught poetry and prose writing for many years at universities, colleges, and high schools, and has been Poet in Residence at the University of Rochester, Antioch, and Colorado Mountain College. Winner of numerous awards including the Jack Kerouac Award for her book Kiss The Skin Off, Lyn is the subject of the documentary film Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. For her absolute dedication to the small presses that first published her, and for managing to survive on her own apart from any major publishing house or academic institution, Lifshin has earned the distinction ‘Queen of the Small Presses.’ She has been praised by Robert Frost, Ken Kesey, and Richard Eberhart, and Ed Sanders has seen her as ‘a modern Emily Dickinson.’” (Quoted from: http://www.lynlifshin.com) Lifshin has published two books about horses, the first one about the beautiful, short-lived racehorse Ruffian, entitled The Licorice Daughter: My Year with Ruffian. She also has a forthcoming book about Barbaro, the courageous and riveting racehorse, titled Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness from Texas Review Press.
WAR Soldiers marching Toop! Toop! Fathers, sons ~ Toop! Toop! Seething earth Gasps for breath Stone groans In burnt-out land. Suffocating smoke Flag all blood Severed limbs ~ Silent screams. GUERNICAâ€™S fist Pounds still On the impenetrable gates Of heaven. Soldiers marching Confronting death. In new uniforms Speckled with red.
DREAMS Do not leave me, friends, not yet ~ you were with me since childhood, days of joy, emptiness, awe Stay, I need you, what is life without DREAMS?
LOVE To and from the nest flies the sparrow love in her beak The chirping of her chicks keeps her flying back and forth tirelessly Each chirp ~ a cry for life Each flight A motherâ€™s love.
DESDEMONA To hear her voice, to be near, consumed my days. Tempestuously she loved, withheld nothing. What good was it all, what good, her vernal allure drew men like bees to flowers. And they came to sip her champagne. Alas, Desdemonaâ€™s soul did not flow in her veins, and she blossomed in the arms of each new embrace. And I sunk helplessly into an abyss.
THE MARCH Eve Weeps. Her bitter tears Rouse all the mothers from their graves. With clenched fists They join the march for peace Hammer at the gates of heaven ~ And the gates are bolted. Shut.
Former school principal Abraham Linik has been published in Pudding, Georgetown Review, Edgz, Midstream, Nimrod International Journal, Art Times, and Black Buzzard Review, among many others. He lives and writes in Newton, Massachusetts.
THE PROPHET Ahoy there, I spy a majestic whale, Fleeing our path aided by great white wings, Do I see wrong? No, my eyes seldom fail, Your greatness shall eclipse those of our kings, Oh Behemoth messenger of my God, Thousands of men and women will praise you, Your wishes will come through divining rods, Temples and monuments will be built too, We will give you a voice to the masses, Our interpretation of you will spread, Faster than the diffusion of gases, Suffocating Science till it is dead. Then we shall sing your praises every day, And burn any heretics who say nay.
Swayamdipto Misra is a sophomore in high school and likes to write poetry. Interested in philosophy, medicine, and politics, Misra has lived in various parts of the United States and travels often.
DECEMBER DAYS Half asleep with a nonchalant air you lean on an open window by indifferent curtains ushering in noondayâ€™s sun; snow rides on absurd rooftops, blue jays move south, ice blooms on chimneys, while a poet hides near a ring of fire, a pure voice is driven indoors, Callas sounds on the radio and time is hardly noticed.
GOODBYE, TWENTIETH Night was always in the shadow stealing a century of forget-me-nots, where in an age of trains on time we were discovered as leafless earth and mountains hid lost neighbors from snow. Only the stop signs turned red blushing into anarchy of a heavenâ€™s forgiveness where ash rose to the stars unlocking a refuge of names driven by bitter storms speaking with a repeated voice of elusive speech the moment we faced the last light.
ARMENIAN DAWN No longer children on sandy light paths of the cities park the earth carried you off to your underground amid signs, omens, dreams by a fieldâ€™s flowers no back is turned from whirlwind moments once carefree, light and airy by empty doorways in old diaries, cookbooks, poems, rings, maps on the fifth hour weeping a century away ashes scatter on eyeglasses, combs, mirrors and shadows move swifter than cats only tombstones remember flashing news, prayers, histories open veins and wounds shiver beyond our own recognition.
CAMBODIA, CAMBODIA Leaves hiding shadows, bodies over spirits, an eye without a face, words covering your reprieve of homeless suffering, silk flowers washed in lukewarm water; not wanting to sing in your absence.
B.Z. Niditch is a poet, playwright, fiction writer, and teacher, as well as founder and artistic director of The Original Theatre in Boston. His work is widely published throughout the world, including: Columbia: A Magazine of Poetry and Art; Hawaii Review; Le Guepard (France); Kadmos (France); Prism International; Jejune (Czech Republic); Leopold Bloom (Budapest); Antioch Review; and Prairie Schooner, among many others.
BUSYBODIES Man is an inquisitive creature, He strives to seek and know All of the present, the future, And long, long ago, Among the animals, a nosy busybody, Who tries to bring to light All of the untidy details, And retain the copyright. Man listens to the universe For beings just like him, Attempts by signal to converse With cherubim and seraphim, Boasts a mighty telescope, Orbiting in space, Is peeking light years back in time, Is seeking stellar origins to trace. Man does not perceive this strange, He scarce would offer to forgo, Or, for one odd minute modify or change his ever-present need to know.
DESERT ROADS The desert road, a thousand eyes Of hawks and eagles plying skies To dive and take their daily catch With purposeful and swift dispatch, The perseverance of the crow At roadside kills as to and fro He picks the highway clean and pure, A beneficial epicure. And dusty devils stalk the roads, Revolving with their sand loads, Disappearing just as soon Behind a rocky hill or dune, The mesa flat against the sky A lake bed, white with alkali, And if you park and walk a bit You well may spy a lizard split, Imprinting tracks across sand As fast as a magicianâ€™s hand. And rugged flora thriving there In the arid desert air, Palo verde and mesquite And creosote withstand the heat As do the cacti, proud and fierce, Armed with spines that prick and pierce. But, still you find another sight, Incongruous and a blight, Empty cans and bottles there, Tossed by souls who do not care, Litter from a fast food meal, A blown-out tire, a rusty wheel, Every other kind of mess, Mainly caused by thoughtlessness. A desert road is all of these, Coyotes downwind in the breeze, Searching for a life to steal, A mouse or rabbit for a meal, A cloudless sky, a sun so bright, a billion stars to light the night, A million scenes and episodes That play along the desert roads.
FULL CIRCLE When I was just a little tot, Good common sense, I had not. I only wanted my own way, My parents dreaded every day. I screamed and howled and cried a lot. When I became an older child, My parents said that I was wild, And when I did not get my way, I made them pay and pay and pay, And never could be reconciled. Then as I grew, I mellowed out, And saw what life was all about, That things came easier with honey, Especially should one need money, And so I never did without. But now I am threescore and ten, Cavorting like a child again, No matter what my children say, I tell them that I want my way ~ And they allow it ~ now and then.
Veteran journalist Don Peyer has published three short-story collections and five poetry books. He writes an occasional column for the Daily Breeze, a South Bay, California, newspaper. For seventeen years he wrote a monthly column for United Amateur Press Association of America with the slug line “Don’s Desk.” Publishing steadily throughout his long career, Peyer has had many poems and stories published in a variety of venues. He is also a visual artist who served as artistic chair of the Carson (California) Art Association for nine years.
MARY L. PORTS
The Lovers’ World: by Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale, 1905, Dover Publishing
She loves to play old love songs Till her record near runs dry, While mellow moon of autumn drifts Above her in the sky. Falling, withered singing leaves Drop slowly from her canopy Crushed beneath her dancing feet ‘Neath overhanging greenery. As she twirls, her loose-knit curls Cascade around her face While gown of blue forget-me-nots Smile sweetly through the lace. Sharp, pungent scent of sycamore Floating in the evening air Speak of love’s endurance, sweet And summer days, more fair. She loves to play old love songs But it’s not her style to cry. She’d rather dance with memories And dream of days gone by.
I TOOK MY SHARE DOWN TO THE SEA INSPIRED BY PABLO NERUDA’S “THE GREAT TABLECLOTH” I took my share from the banquet down to the sea. The palpable feast spread wide and high, offered much for all to take their share. Long, extending lines of eager souls were there, pushing or being pushed. Officiousness was there to serve, decked out with pomp and pride, pretending that her service meant much more to her, than how she looked. Greed was there, with his big, bouncing belly, pushing his weight to the front of the line, piling his platter high with more than his body should hold. Poverty and parvenus were there, pretentious snobs of the nouveau riche, and poor peasants paying praise to the feast. Hungry, needy souls were there; scrawny, raw-boned mothers brought babies with bloated bellies whose constant cries told of mothers’ sagging breasts, long-drained-dry. When I saw the maddened crowd of fat and greedy takers, nudging the needy back, pushing their way to the front, I took my share from the banquet down to the sea, away from the greed, which beset me. Digestion so impaired by what I saw, I left to find a happy place by sand and sea, where sounds of wind and waves and quiet, peaceful clouds, enhanced the flavor and flow of a simple meal. I took my share from the banquet down to the sea.
HEART OF HER CORPSE VILLANELLE
Heart of her corpse will never beat again. Death and the grave have come to claim my love. Though I pursued her light, too fast she ran. When she, the angel, I, the countryman First met, we sang sweet music of the dove. Heart of her corpse will never beat again. Our souls did merge when first our love began. Dear essence of her bloom I’m dreaming of. Though I pursued her light, too fast she ran. In time, we wrought a treasured talisman. Too soon she waved goodbye with garland glove. Heart of her corpse will never beat again. Now, I, a lonely, sad tragedian Write sonnets ‘neath the stars and moon above. Though I pursued her light, too fast she ran. Remembrances of love warm fires fan. Her body’s gone, the reaper’s hand did shove. Heart of her corpse will never beat again. Though I pursued her light, too fast she ran.
Mary L. Ports publishes frequently in Bell’s Letters Poet and has appeared in Rockford Review, Lucidity, Poetry for Thought, and Shadow Poets/Quill Magazine Poets at Work, among many others. Her poetry is also prominent on two Web sites, shadowpoetry.com and email@example.com. Ports published her first book of poetry, Kaleidoscope, through Shadows Ink Publications in 2003. Ports has a new chapbook, Pathways to the Pleiades, by the same publisher, that was released in August 2009. Turn to page 141 for her story “Motor Madness” and to 187 for a review of Pathways to the Pleiades.
THE RAINN Call me reckless, damaged and awry but also know That as much contempt as you may lay in those words I put pride and choice in it Damn right I´m reckless, damaged and awry Did you think strength is a quality handed out by chance? Sure, I can seek understanding and intimacy But I´m sure I´d rather sing and not carry a tune Than to be interpreted by you I´d rather remain hieroglyphs in Braille If you do not even realize that the length of my hair Has very little to do with the length of my patience Or the length of a long lonely night on the kitchen floor We have little to say to each other Just leave me slightly slanted and walk on by I´m fine with slanted, I´ll even confess it´s a preference Coz nothing´s really easy When it boils down to me You may call yourself a loner as much as u want But you don’t seem to know the meaning When you then ask me to open up Strange religion you have to allow hypocrisy When you try to speak of fire and passion You´ve never felt the flames engulf each sober thought When struck by the simplest of matches To this gasoline heart of mine
You talk of pleasure in companionship and intimacy You apparently never did it so intense The room spins like Escher birds And you beg the night to please not end just yet There´s no explaining to the likes of you That accident-prone is not a reckless behavior But more being consumed by a vivid present A sense of now your need for planning never allowed I may be out of date and hideous, but here none-the-less I am here in this now and don’t pretend to phantom Where you are reading this I am finally in a place where I really don´t care
Kit Rainn says, “I am constantly seeking change or ways to find a peace I cannot seem to find within me. I love learning, reading, and most of all — writing. I work to pay the rent as most others do. I do not, however, define myself through whatever work I am currently doing. I love the quote ‘writing is the only thing, that when I do it, I don´t feel I should be doing something else.’”
ARDOR’S NICHE Memories well up from the innermost recesses within, Deep springs of artisian waters flowing beneath the surface, Breaking out from the pores like tears from the Earth’s underbelly, Love reigns in every element of the emotive being, If only there were no daunting Ethereal reminders, love indeed Would be an endless source of exquisite rapport, dwelling Regret free in comforting intimacy, Epic ardor keeps thoughts captivated in a poignant way, ambiguously There’s a grave hunger for all change to remain the same, Tenacity works either way when remnants of loss won’t let go, Eminent forces collide, etched ever in the deft niche of the heart.
LACE IN THE FURNACE Old and torn, handed down through the ages, cloth heirlooms lose their ephemeral spell, nestled within a condemned mansionâ€™s clutter, destined only for a funeral fire, forgotten spoils of dusty old attics, joining the ashes of bygone motifs, like the grotesque masks of past masquerades, the thread-worn smile on an old dirty dollâ€™s face, dissolves in a ghastly muffle leaving ~ one haunted by stifled memories of jeweled buttons and old lace in the furnace.
Insightful sages of wisdom draft design as beautiful as life. Life as beautiful as design draft wisdom of sages. Insightful!
NO INN FOR A ROOM No Inn for a room isn’t the opposite of “No Vacancy” ~ No Room At The Inn ~ too many still see. No Inn for a room, through catastrophe has become the “norm” on a global scale causing homelessness. There is no refuge other than the streets when the Inns fall down, homes are swept away, with one’s livelihood. Why does this happen? TIME & CHANCE TAKE ALL Obliviously. Incidentally. Indescribably. Be very thankful for what needs are met in your daily life of uncertainty changed in an instant.
Activist and poet E.B. Reed says, “I come from generations of carpenters, whose home ultimately became the Reed House & Historic Art Museum Interpretive Center.” Hurricane Katrina did disastrous damage to the Center, but Reed persevered. He says, “after seemingly unsolvable problems called ‘delays in funding’ and without libraries and community centers, someone had to step up. I’ve seen too much illiteracy across the globe in my travels as a Marine. A storm, flooding, and slow recovery process was not going to contribute to a loss of cultural expansion if I could do anything about it.”
LYNN VEACH SADLER
GIVING THE LIE TO OSTRICHITUS In Katikati, New Zealand, the Reverend Katterns, though a vicar (Anglican), was quite, quite poor. The poorness stirred inventiveness. He launched an ostrich farm. The ostriches, in their turn, were stirred to be prolific. From a pair, in three years only, he had fifteen birds, one hen laying thirty eggs in 1898 alone. He sold ostrich feathers for my ladiesâ€™ hats. What he did with the ostrich eggs remains unknown, but I know for a canny fact, he had pounds and shillings for the feather on a hat. The problem was, hats trimmed in ostrich feathers fell from fashion like a plummet. Minor problems also attended the Reverend Katternsâ€™ ostriches. Lice ate right across their feather filaments, could not be contained. And the ostriches of Katikati, unlike most ostrich kith and kin, were smart, simply would not be contained.
They constantly paraded their feathers along Katikati’s Main. At the beginning of World War I, a mean dog chased Katikati’s last ostrich into a local stream, whereupon it drowned. But there’s a mural ~ you can see it even now ~ of Katikati’s ostriches parading down Katikati’s Main. And there’s a moral, I’m sure, too. No Aesop am I, just justly admire the Reverend Katterns and all the Ostriches-of-Katikati-Once. Said ostriches of Katikati ~ to my mind at least ~ have given the lie to ostrichitus in the main. I would go so far as claim: Katikati’s ostriches have given me new zeal for ostrich, if not for all of human, kind.
ELEPHANT MEMORY The Arab traders’ Serendib, Walpole’s Serendip, that Land of Kandy ! The Sacred Tooth Relic of Sidhartha ~ rescued from his funeral pyre, hidden in the hair of a Princess, to reside on a golden lotus blossom in the smallest of seven caskets. Annually, at the Esala Perahera Festival, it rides through Kandy on giant elephant back, midst dancers, processional pachyderms, two by two, each pair painted, robed the same. Each pair proud as if possessed of the secret of the centuries. Though the “Zoological Park” where I witnessed the reenactment was filthy, the elephants danced enchantingly, processed as if kings of the world, not a one at all clumsy. Perhaps they were pleased
to rise above the muck. Perhaps they remembered their part in the Esala Perahera Festival. When I had â€œmorning teaâ€? at the Hotel Mt. Lavinia (where the Raj is still in flower), my coffee tasted of parched peanuts. I smiled in memory of,
in honor to, the Giant Elephant of the Sacred Tooth, the pachyderm pairs.
THE MORETTO OF . . . AUSTRIA I hated the Baroness from Austria. She chucked me under my chin, called me her “little black Dear,” “sweet little slave child.” She named me “Malo” for my small size. The Baroness fed me sweetmeats, dressed me in wild colors, as if I were a common Gypsy. The Baron taught me more. On the ship, the women had told me the best was to be bought by one of the great courtesans of Venice. I could learn her trade, slip away, make my way on my own. Instead, I was brought in a special lot to cold Rijeka, bought by the cold Baroness. When I found how I could work her ~ for the Baroness was barren, had no children ~ I was soft and pliable, let her teach me, let her think all I was I owed to her. The Baron taught me more. But I learned from all, learned everything. When a stone was thrown at a crucifix in St. Vito Church, blood flowed from Christ’s body. The people of Rijeka collected it in an ampulla, placed it in an amphora they worship still. When St. Johanca sweated blood, those of Rijeka believed. Those of Rijeka believed the angels carrying the House of the Annunciation to Italy rested on Rijeka’s Trsat Hill. The people of Rijeka believed in me. So did the Baroness.
At her soirées, I was called for to dance and sing. She (with my help) dressed me as a boy with a turban, which, though of Turkish fashion, became me. Everyone said so. I had Turkish shoes with curling toes. I wore the longest ear ware these tame Austrians had ever seen. I copied it from the pirates, though they wore only one, to bring them luck. I knew I would make my luck. Madame let me keep the coins her guests threw when I performed. I had her private jeweler make earrings for her with my turbaned head. They became so popular, the jeweler set up his son in the shop I named “Moretto” on Ulica Uzarska. I became his mistress, should have been his wife. He was jealous of the Baron. I designed, beyond earrings, necklaces, brooches, rings so jeweled, enameled, rich ~ beyond all those aristocratic Austrians had ever seen. Madame’s following devoured them. I made jewelry for the Baron, too, for all the peacock men. I found the magic formula for the brightest enamel ~ like a peacock’s tail. I could have buried all Rijeka in mountains of my morcic works,
masterpieces with my likeness encrusted in gems. For the poor, I made black and white ceramics. When I passed in the streets with Madame, people whispered more of â€œMalo the Morettoâ€? and her bejeweled wares than of the Baroness. The whispers reached the Baroness. Those of my jewel designs were fine. Not the whispers of the Baron and Malo the Moretto.
Portrait of a Negress. Marie-Guillemine Benoist,1768-1826.
The Baroness sent me to Venice, apprenticed me ~ to nuns.
CARNIVAL IN SALVADOR BAHIA Say Carnival, think “Rio,” but Salvador Bahia danced first. In Salvador Bahia’s Carnival, reggae reigns over samba. In Salvador Bahia, Carnival reigns over time. Carnival cavorts five days, twenty-five hours in each. Like the great elevator between Lower and Upper City, Carnival cants between Voodoo and Catholicism. Voodoo mass lasts twenty-four hours, with animals for the killing, dancers a-frenzy from eight to three a.m. Salvador Bahia’s Carnival is rich, rich, rich. Its voodoo derives from seven African tribes. Nigerians brought Yoruba and Condomblé. Bantus worked the sugar cane. Only the Indians are real Brazilians, but Salvador Bahia’s Carnival mixes all. By Guide Freddy’s lights, Salvador Bahia’s Mulattos mingle Black, Dutch, French into world’s most beautiful people: Negro their race; Black their color; green their eyes, European their face, beautiful their skin; slow their work; fast their dance. But you don’t have to wait for Salvador Bahia’s Carnival (im)proper to see the famous dental floss bikini. In Salvador Bahia, Carnival reigns on every beach. Former college president, Dr. Lynn Veach Sadler, editor, poet, fiction/ nonfiction writer, and playwright, has published widely in academics and creative writing. She and her husband have traveled around the world five times; she was writing all the way. Sadler has a full-length poetry collection and novel forthcoming; has six chapbooks published; and has won The Pittsburgh Quarterly’s Hay Prize, tied for first in Kalliope’s Elkind Contest, was a runner-up for the Spoon River Poetry Review Editor’s Prize Contest, and won the Poetry Society of America’s Hemley Award and Asphodel’s Poetry Contest. See her story “Going the Last Mile” on page 144.
ACROSS THIS GREAT DIVIDE
The Hands of God and Adam, Sistine Chapel: Michelangelo, 1512
If tomorrow is to be more than just a promise ... a bridge built in dreams, but never actually begun, we must each shy away from these safe corners, legs stretching hands reaching, fingers grasping, at last, across this great divide between us.
BIG TWO-FISTED CLIPPER Bent double beneath the weight of his years and the onslaught of cheese; all the Parmesan wheels, Romano, salame-length Provolone. There he goes, fingers clamped tight as talons ‘round prey, one bagged 25-pound lump in each hand, plunged for a moment into the hot tank. Sinewy forearms drop like a piston on the downswing. Water sloshes over his steel-toe rubber boots as he heaves product onto the Cryovac table, nudges the bleed valve forward, watches as air drains from each bag in turn. Much as he feels his days into months quickly mount into years, which likewise seep away. See the sweat roll off him like a samurai sunrise oozes that crimson yolk across an embryowhite morning, not yet fried but soon scrambled. Sometimes you’d swear he was born of the clouds of steam which billow toward the drywall and fluorescent tube ceiling. Often he thinks he’ll vanish in the vapor, rise beyond these man-made constraints into the ether. Then he realizes he’d only condense back into the moisture drizzled down on this hard-asconcrete-floor reality.
PUB CRAWL Don’t come to this watering hole to drink. Just sip the sparkling discourse which bubbles up over the bartop like champagne, spills down around ankles and ears. Bypass mere appetizers; small talk spread out in a veritable, if random feast. Move beyond the main course minutes into the happiest hour; when you’ll quaff wit like the strongest ale, knock back a pint or two, quench, at last, a relentless thirst.
G.A. Scheinoha says, “I work a blue-collar day job as a warehouse laborer and care for an aging parent, but it’s at night when I truly come alive, pursuing the life of the imagination.” His poems, stories, plays, columns, and reviews have been published in blogs, newspapers, magazines, and Web sites in Australia, Canada, England, and all across the United States. Just a few of these are The Coe Review, Color Wheel, Conceit, Fox Cry, Pearl, Ship of Fools, and Wisconsin Poets Calendar.
The Narrow Path When the final darkness passed and light fell I walked the narrow path through a steep woodland that I did not know yet a perfect greenness was there and I breathed in the quickness of fresh air the early October sky so ripe that the world was made more dear when before it was a river of shadows once hidden in mystery. Today I dream of what is here, the tree beside the falling stream and the memory I had that brought me to the woods now hushed by the dawn and I knew right away I could not leave but to stay below the peaceful sun comforted by the silence in this gift of time.
Where The Peach Tree Grows
After all these years I’ve found you again, your little house where the peach tree grows, its boughs mapping their way to heaven always renewed by growth while on your doorstep I wait for the welcome look in your eyes before stepping inside. I still remember the tiny scar on your cheek and the day you cried, your long brown hair tied back in a ponytail, your sweet foolish eyes. I hope you’ll forgive my unannounced visitation yet my hope for our friendship is freely given. Long ago our daily faithfulness to each other was allowed to begin and the old road we followed was too small to be traveled by no more than two though ever since you left me back in 1991 affording me no place to turn I’ve often wondered until now. Did we have children?
The Silent Voice Of Winter When the snow falls on the roses a feather of frost is there on my window the chill glass against my bare palm. The silent voice of winter a tranquil lullaby stirring the pines and horned antelope by the stream, the pale sky above them unfettered by shadows or wind sighing through the trees. I canâ€™t even see the sun before it goes down except for the brown flights of sparrows flying swiftly till they land on the soft ground. In the waning light I watch the moon grow small, aging to white the roundness of it like a wet onyx stone in my hand and patiently I wait for it to brighten the heavens.
Waking Before Dawn In the neglected garden of your backyard a pale rose is all alone standing in its brightness like you do on your own waking before dawn to drink in the day’s sweetness. Let it wrap itself around you and, in the unhurried steps as you rise from your bed, know the many faces of your home and the years since I’ve known you, the revelation of youth setting your soul on fire. My feelings for you won’t ever go. Look past your history of blisters that are lost somewhere in the pages we forgot. Why wait for anything better when the sun slowly appears? Let me find the tiny light inside you, let it shine like a bird in your winged hands.
Bobbi Sinha-Morey is a reviewer for the online magazine Specusphere and a poet. Her poetry has appeared in places such as Poet’s Espresso, Falling Star Magazine, ken*again, Sage Trail, Orbis, Pirene’s Fountain, Oak Bend Review, and Gloom Cupboard, among others. Plus her latest book of poetry, White Tea, being considered for the EPIC Award this year, is available at www.writewordsinc.com.
PAUL SOHAR Hungarian & French Translations
SANTA CLAUS (Télapó) by János Szentmártoni I was waiting for Santa Claus like others for the Messiah, waiting for him to rap the hands of my sins, to bathe me in the snow hidden in his beard, to seat me on top of his reindeer or between the antlers ~ but please don’t let my mother see it, for she’s been crying for days, she wants to elope, to let herself go like the balloons of a birthday party that she and I used to follow with our eyes longer than anyone else. I wake up in my father’s arms, he’s lugging me across the cool porch to my room. I always oversleep redemption. ~ Translated from the Hungarian by Paul Sohar
BURNING LEAVES (Avarégetés) by János Szentmártoni By the ditch running along memory road there’s always a mound of burning leaves. An upside-down meteor shower: sparks take off toward heaven with a wheeze. Bundled up smoke slips off, ready to play the part of a future ghost, or steam rising from a pot of stew put out in the snow to cool at a childhood post. Cracking twigs and brown-boned leaves and homeless trash bags in intimate touch, the wind keeps fumbling with the smoke as if nervously looking for a mislaid watch. I want to send a telegraph into the future with the message the smoke signal weaves, but, evading my punctuating rake, the message burns up with the mound of leaves. ~ Translated from the Hungarian by Paul Sohar
OWLS (Les Hiboux) by Charles Baudelaire On a pine branch owls roost in state, in a solemn row not at all at odds with their somber looks as alien gods, darting their fiery eyes. They meditate. As if their wings have never swirled, they’re waiting for the melancholy sign when the sun’s rays begin to decline and darkness takes over the world. From them the wise will take the cue: in earthly life it’s best not to pursue the masses and their noisy parades; people must accept their punishment for consorting with passing shades instead of staying where they were sent. ~ Translated from the French by Paul Sohar
The talented Paul Sohar was able to pursue his life-long interest in literature when he left his job in a chemistry lab. Published in many venues, he has seven books of translations from Hungarian. His latest work, True Tales of a Fictitious Spy, is creative nonfiction about a Stalinist gulag in Hungary.
DON’T CRY Don’t cry the end of what we are, Or what we seem to be so far; We are the best that we became, But only if we stayed the same. Don’t cry for more of what we need, Find something else of which we feed, But never leave it all behind The other ways that come to mind. Don’t cry that others be like us, Or care they look at us and cuss; Look back at them, but by-and-by Leave them alone and let them die. Don’t cry of why we are too warm, Or ways of which we must conform, But find the ways that we can live With what we’ve got that we forgive. Don’t cry we don’t know what to do, We’ll do it again, that’s how we grew, But when we can’t remember why, Just take the chance that we can try. Don’t cry too many are in our race, Go out and get some other place; That’s just what we’re supposed to do When where we’re at there’s nothing new.
Robert Stomel is retired after spending fifty years in the aerospace and related industries. He lives and writes in Laguna Woods, California. He says, “I read the newspapers and news magazines, watch TV news, and when Murfy and I take our walks we talk to just about everybody we meet.” That’s what inspired him to write the above poem, he says.
KIMBERLY K. THOMPSON
FIVE CINQUAIN POEMS Purple wild violets scattered on grassy lawn, proclaiming Spring is indeed here. ... April. Koi pond lies in quiet, reflective water in Japan, their industry of gold flit by. Ocean ~ Loudly crashes its awesome stark message of supremacy and sprays its warning. The stone lies so smooth as the brookâ€™s rippling current tumbles over its chocolate surface. Tulips rhythmically swaying with the brisk wind, sunshine beats on their vivid colors.
ROMANCE Female. Sweet enough to eat, think the hungry male wolves, as they eye and fight for their young prey.
SCARS Scars on my arms and legs, scars on my heart and soul, don’t compare to the scars on his back.
DISEASE Only ten, but knows the abyss of darkness and knows the pain and torments of her Crohn’s hell.
ANGELS Angels God’s warriors and peace abiding spirits. Messengers, guardians, cherubs, holy
Kimberly K. Thompson resides in Fairmont, West Virginia, with her husband Bill. She has been published in Bell’s Letters Poet, Amaze — The Cinquain Journal, TranscendentVisions, Northern Stars Magazine, Laurels, The West Virginia Poetry Society Magazine, and The Taylor Trust. She has won several awards and certificates for her poetry. A person who loves animals, she says she has three cats and feeds the strays in the neighborhood.
THE WINDS OF CHANGE Fall is the stepping stone to winter Before the harsher winds prevail ~ A time to think about the future And perhaps prepare the Christmas mail. Nature slowly stops her blooming On the hills and valley slopes Anticipating cold and snowing Calling out our dreams and hopes. There is wisdom in the seasons As they quietly seem to merge ~ Just as falling leaves have color Minds can learn to cope and surge!
Wanda Weiskopf has written poetry since her childhood in Missouri, where her “baseball” poems were regularly read over the statewide radio for the St. Louis Cardinals. A retired opera singer and voice coach, she published a memoir of her marriage to conductor Herbert Weiskopf entitled On the Wings of Song: My Life with the Maestro. In addition, she has also published four poetry collections, All Is Not Winter, Listen to the River, The Little Brown Bear and Other Christmas Poems, and My Song. Weiskopf also submits poetry on a regular basis to Views and Bell’s Letters Poet. Although a Missouri native and longtime resident of Portland, Oregon, she now lives and writes in Southern California.
Ars Poetica Symmetrica am not a bottom feeder when writing for common readers: readers who don’t need footnotes to know if a poem emotes academics let’s call obscurist write for whom they consider purest: purest readers who make matters worse don’t know their elbow from bad verse
weathered bench ~ open my palms to the winter sky
OUT, NOT IN A woman long living alone bought a parrot to keep her company. She tried to teach it to talk, but her house remained empty of conversation. She put out a room for rent and a student of philosophy moved in. He left early his first day and returned late. The woman asked where he was when he was out. He answered that he was not in. The next day the student again left early and returned late, bringing a crow hit in traffic. With the crow now in his cage, The parrot spoke its first words, “Where did they find such a hideous creature?” The crow thought, “What misfortune to be paired with this babbling idiot.”
Ching Ming (Grave Sweeping Day) when Nature wakes and azaleas bloom time to visit Ba a year has passed Ching Ming Remember Celebrate clean headstone clear leaves and weeds bow three times. leave a cup of plum wine Ching Ming Respect Commune
my blue tin bucket decorated with shore birds ~ gathering seashells
alone in my bed rain returned without warning ~ morning icicles
Final Act A Friday Matinee in Chicago, November 25, 1977. Side by Side by Sondheim in The Circle Theater. A cast of five: two couples and a narrator. Oh, what a narrator. Captain Hook. Sir Cyril Ritchard in person. Preening, prancing, playful ~ still a pirate. Sitting in the front row, we feel pulled in. Act One is over and the actors exit ~ past us and up the aisle. Intermission is interminable. What’s wrong? A hubbub in the rear and we know something is amiss. Finally, the director, in jeans, takes center stage: “Mr. Ritchard is not feeling well. I shall read his part.” The performance continues without Hook. We hear the ingenue whisper to her partner: “I can’t do this,” as she runs off stage. Other four follow. EMTs create a new performance. Bustle at the top of aisle. Director returns and explains what’s up. “Sir Ritchard has been taken to hospital.” Audience members speak out: “No need to finish the show.” “Hold on,” he tells us. “Let me talk to the cast.” He comes back. “We want to finish. Please let us.” The show goes on, as they say. The encore? “Send in the Clowns,” of course. Performers embrace. We applaud, Then we cry. “Is it really over?” Nearly. Hooked to machines until they let him go on December 18, he, who side-stepped a career in Medicine for entertainment, his contract now terminated, had once said: “I’ve seen so much illness and suffering. Why inflict more? My job is to make people grin a bit and see the joke.”
Why Not? An angry man raised his voice in front of my new wife. “Don’t want to talk about it.” Why not? “What’s the sense of talking about the past? What’s done is done.” I only asked my father to tell me about his father. Only. All I knew told once: “He escaped the czarist draft.” And this: My father was late for school. He told the teacher: “I had to go to court. My folks got divorced today.” My grandfather. I met him. Once. He lived far away. California. The Wonderful World of Disney. I saw it on T.V. My favorite was Frontier Land. Davy Crockett. I had a coonskin cap. My grandfather. He had cancer. He came to us in Boston. He went to the hospital. Then our house. Now one-armed. He showed me Soviet Life. Looked like Life magazine. “A good country,” he said. “Good to workers.” He died in California. Twenty years later, I only asked my father to tell me about his father. “Don’t want to talk about it,” Why not? “What’s the sense of talking about the past?”
Is Not a Moss Lichens are conspicuous and colorful. Green, grey, orange, or yellow lacework. You find them on trees and rocks in forests and along the shore. Lichen is from the Greek for tree moss, but is not a moss. Wolf moss can cover a tree, but is not a moss. It is a lichen. A lichen is not even a single plant. It is two plants ~ fungus and algae combined in one new body no longer resembling either one. Lichens have simple needs ~ minerals from dustfall and dew water from rainfall and fog. Algae use sunlight to produce foodstuffs and find protection within the fungus. Two species benefit: Mutual aid without morality.
Neal Whitman was a teacher in his paid profession, but now his nonpaying profession is poetry. Over the past four years, he has published more than sixty poems in journals such as MacGuffin, Vermont Literary Review, Avocet, Pedestal Magazine, Magnapoets among more than twenty others. He lives in Pacific Grove, California, and in nearby Carmel is a volunteer docent at the Robinson Jeffers Tor House. He has been a guest poet at the Sacramento Poetry Center and next year will be the “Third Thursday” guest poet in Point Arena, California. Neal writes a monthly feature, “Poetry Prof,” for the online journal, Getting Something Read and is an editor for Pulse, a medical humanities journal. He also has published poetry in the International Journal of Healthcare and Humanities. The two haiku that appear on page 134 were awarded honorable mention in the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society 2009 contest judged by two haiku masters in Japan.
MARY L. PORTS MOTOR MADNESS
My motor madness started on a Saturday morning.
As I left the house, intending to go to the library to get books for my class in Teacher Education, I said to my brother, “I’ll see you for dinner.” Five minutes later, I was back in the house: my car battery was dead. With my parents’ car in use, my generous younger brother, George, insisted that I take his red, rebuilt 1960 Corvette. Assuring me that his stick shift was no problem, he sat in the car, demonstrating. “You must remember to ride the clutch to the floor. City driving can be in second gear, but keep it in third on the freeway. When you stop in third, always go to second before starting in first, or you may strip the gears.” He turned, looking at me, earnestly. “If the inside door paneling falls off, just toss it over to the other side of the floor. Also, the handle of the window is off, so if you want the window down, just use the handle and put it back under the floor mat.” “But what about the rearview mirror?” I asked, “The celluloid in your rear window is so yellow I can’t see through the back. And there’s a big blind spot to the left behind me, even when I turn my head to look.” “Oh, just use the left-wing mirror,” he said, confidently. “Everything will be all right.” After giving me all the assurance he could — and as he was very eager to prove the driving ability of his homemade vehicle — to show my appreciation, I crouched down, crawled in, and roared off, the car sounding somewhat like a ten-ton truck. I really didn’t mind the door paneling falling off, although I cut my elbow on the protruding metal, or having to pry open the door and look behind me to be sure it was safe before entering the freeway. It wasn’t too bad attracting all kinds of attention as
I noisily jerked forward from one gear to the other, then backward as the seat slipped. It was only after I took the wrong off-ramp and decided to call my garage from a service station, that I lost my cool. Parking in the nearest space available, I pried myself out of the car and started toward the phone booth. A uniformed service station attendant waved his arms, yelling at me. “Hey! Pull that wreck up to the fence or park it in a stall where it belongs!” Holding onto my dignity as best I could, I re-parked and tried to stay calm, wondering how I could explode and still explain myself. I walked around to the attendant, waiting for him to look up. “Excuse me,” I said, glaring. “Didn’t your mother ever train you how to speak properly to a lady?” As he stood there, his jaw hanging open — I repeated his words and gestures, adding, “There must be a better way of asking a person to move their car other than the way you just demonstrated.” Silently and calmly, I left and made my call. Later, as I rumbled into the parking lot near the library, a neatly dressed, pleasant-looking attendant approached me. “Good afternoon, young lady, how long do you expect to be?” What a pleasurable contrast between the speech and attitude of the library attendant and that of the service station attendant! As I was reluctant to park on an incline because of the brakes, he allowed me to park next to a cliff where the ground was level, assuring me that the car would be safe, since there was no way to lock it. When I returned, the pleasant-looking attendant asked if I needed help carrying my books. “Can I open the door for you?” he asked, politely opening the door a bit. “You sure like to read a lot,” he said, smiling, as I paid him. I liked his smile. On the route home, I decided to put some gas in the car and check on the water and oil. As I drove into a gas station, two attendants were looking at me, laughing. One approached and said, “Where did you get this car? It doesn’t have any license plates.” I told him that the sticker on the window was like a temporary pair of plates and asked him to service the car. After he checked under the hood, we decided on 30-weight Pennzoil, then I noticed that he slickly put in a cheaper oil. It took twenty minutes for three guys to find where the oil stick went. And they almost forgot to put water in the radiator. When I paid, the attendant tried to shortchange me five dollars, but admitted his error when I called it to his attention.
“I almost got you that time,” he joked,” handing me a five dollar bill. “By the way,” I said, “I asked you for Pennzoil and paid for it, but you gave me something else instead. As it was your mistake and not mine, what do you propose to do about it?” “Oh gosh, no kidding?” he said, his face turning red. “Would you consider giving me a can of Penn?” “Yes ma’am, I’ll do that, he said, leaving to service two other cars. Ten minutes later, when he discovered that I was still waiting, he finally returned with the oil and apologized for his mistake, assuring me that the service would be better next time and to “come back again real soon.”
Mary L. Ports publishes frequently in Bell’s Letters Poet and has appeared in Rockford Review, Lucidity, Poetry for Thought, and Shadow Poets/Quill Magazine Poets at Work, among many others. Her poetry is also prominent on two Web sites, shadowpoetry.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Ports published her first book of poetry, Kaleidoscope, through Shadows Ink Publications in 2003. Ports has a new chapbook, Pathways to the Pleiades, by the same publisher, that was released in August 2009. See her poetry on page 102 and a review of her newest chapbook, Pathways to the Pleiades, on page 187.
LYNN VEACH SADLER
GOING THE LAST MILE
Granddaddy Bob says beagles have always been the
“top dogs” in our part of the country, the South (North Carolina, Duplin County, out in the country from Warsaw, in the vicinity of Friendship Church), and that our family sponsored them and kept a “resident dogger” on the family place. He was paid half of the selling price for every beagle he trained to hunt rabbits, foxes, and “coons.” By rights, Granddaddy Bob should be the family sponsor, but after what went on with Jumpy, he turned everything over to Juler Swan, who was some ten years his elder, and modestly credits what’s happened since then to Jumpy and Juler. I know better. He oversaw Juler on the “q.t.” and had a big hand in what transpired. You need to know about Jumpy to understand the why’s and wherefore’s. She was one of an average litter and had the usual markings of a beagle — brownish-black blanket on her back and flanks, black crown on her head, and tan ears. When the approximately three dozen dogs in “our” pack at the time were about six months old, Granddaddy Bob and Juler gave them rabies and distemper shots. With Jumpy, either the vaccine was too strong, or the needle struck a nerve — she was left with a twitch in her hind quarters that gave her the appearance of being about to jump as the flank muscles contracted and relaxed. Hence, “Jumpy.” Juler wanted to put her out of her misery, but Jumpy turned her big seal eyes on Granddaddy Bob, and her fate was “sealed.” When she was about eighteen months old, Granddaddy Bob paired her with an older, well-trained hound so she’d learn the “art of the hunt.” Two dogs hunting together in this manner are called a “brace.” Two or more
braces make a hunting pack. Hunters loose a brace in an area to “seek.” When prey is “flushed,” other braces are released to form a pack in the chase. Jumpy learned fast, was soon hunting extremely well, and became a leader. Still, the first sign that she was exceptional didn’t come until she was about two and a half. One day while they were in a dense area in Goshen Swamp, she disappeared from the group. For a while, her absence caused Granddaddy Bob no concern. Dogs sometimes hit a trail and follow it on their own. But when the time came to call in the pack, Jumpy didn’t head in. Then he heard her distinctive baying deep in the swamp. Worried that Jumpy was tangled in a fence strung along the edges of the swamp to contain a farmer’s hogs, Granddaddy Bob took off to find her. After a long search through the tangles of briars, cockleburs, and beggar’s lice, he hit a slight trail leading to a cleared area, the contents of which — a still — didn’t surprise him. What did was Jumpy among the mash barrels drunk as a skunk. Granddaddy Bob was sure she’d come across that whiskey by chance, but several weeks later, the incident was repeated. So he tested her on the sly — Jumpy really could smell out a still. Granddaddy Bob thought at the time only of the fun and excitement. Plus, Jumpy’s “nosemanship” kept him supplied with liquid spirits that he “spirited” away. Stillsmen didn’t like selling to teenagers, and he could be a hero among his peers. But word soon got out, and he was approached by Sheriff Rinsearer Winstead, who wanted to borrow Jumpy to locate stills. As Granddaddy Bob saw it, “Rinsearer” was doing all right on his own and just wanted to use Jumpy to get publicity and more votes in the election. Destroying a still was always big news. A murder, robbery, or rape seldom rated more than a few paragraphs in the county paper, but destroying a still brought banner headlines. And every politico managed to get pictured wielding a sledge hammer. Granddaddy Bob couldn’t bear to have Jumpy used for grandstanding, so he refused to lend the sheriff his dog. Besides, most of the bootleggers were people he’d known all his life. He went to school with their children. Sheriff Winstead didn’t give up, though Granddaddy Bob refused to sell Jumpy for a hundred dollars, BIG money back then. When he asked for advice, his father said: “Jumpy is your dog. Her taste for liquor was developed in great part by you. You took a minor trait, developed it to a habit, trained it to a skill. You have to live with that. Do what in your own thoughts you believe is best and right. And if you believe in anything strong enough and
make a decision and then stick by your decision, no matter what, then you’re right.” Time passed, and Jumpy’s drinking sprees continued. In all, she found more than thirty stills. Then, while Granddaddy Bob was away visiting his cousin, the sheriff came and asked his mother for permission to use some of Granddaddy Bob’s dogs for a hunting trip. Now he’d remained on friendly terms with Sheriff Winstead, and they had often hunted together, though Granddaddy Bob was always careful not to take Jumpy when the sheriff was in the group. The sheriff had given Granddaddy Bob’s mother, who definitely didn’t know anything about the stills and Jumpy’s bloodhound abilities, the impression that he had “permission” to take the dogs out. It was, of course, just one dog Sheriff Winstead really wanted. When he brought Jumpy back, he was beaming with pride. He and his deputies had used her to find one of the largest stills ever located in Duplin County. He was so wrapped up in his glory that he never noticed Granddaddy Bob’s anger until the noise from the shotgun. Granddaddy Bob killed Jumpy right there in the length of time it took him to push her leaping, licking self off his legs, run in the house, and fetch the gun. For her, it was over in a flash — no pain, no feeling. Granddaddy Bob felt sorrow and remorse over Jumpy but some pride, too. He had vowed she wouldn’t be misused. She helped him know that all things die hard, some harder than others, but that not everything that dies really goes from us. He had “given [his] heart to a dog to tear,” which is from Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “The Power of the Dog.” Granddaddy Bob gathered up Jumpy’s offspring and made a special, secret deal with Juler Swan before he turned them over. They shook hands on it. Juler vowed, by blood oath, that all of the dogs would be trained to turn their inheritance from Jumpy, if any of it happened to be genetic, to good ends and that none of them would be allowed to tree stills. Juler’s children and children-to-come were “sworn to same” by their father’s hand. Juler, with Granddaddy Bob’s aiding and abetting, sold trained cooners, lineaged from Jumpy, to folks all over the state. And there was no taint even of squirrel hunting about them, much less still treeing. They were, to a dog, top-grade, all, in one of Granddaddy Bob’s favorite terms, “pukka” canines. (He took it, he claims, from Kipling, but pukka’s not in “The Power of the Dog,” and I haven’t wanted to question too closely lest it was a “slip.”)
Time passed, and two of Juler’s fourteen sons set up the “Juler Swan Dogs Website” and began selling all over the country. In fact, they’ve gone farther afield and have even sold to Saudi Arabia’s ruling family. That circumstance caused the problem. Soon after September 11, 2001, a flock of Swans came to see Granddaddy Bob to ask him what to do. Juler’s descendants have gone big-time into training “Juler Swan Dogs” to hunt on desert sands and not just for stray camels but for sand cats and other desert creatures and, most important, for underground caves where terrorists hide. That last might be welcome news. Only, it came about because the Bin Ladens wanted to be sure that, when they disowned Osama, he had to take his network elsewhere. “Old Juler Swan’s boys” wanted to know from Granddaddy Bob how to offer their services to our forces in Afghanistan without getting accused by the FBI, CIA, and all America of having aided and abetted the Taliban and al Queda network. Granddaddy Bob was helpful, encouraging the Swans to contact our state senators and lay out the possible adaptations of said accomplishments to any desert warfare that might engage us. Granddaddy Bob “allows as how” it is “right amazing” how the Swan boys took these Ugly Duckling dogs and taught them to follow sand ripples or “pistes”; soothe camels so they won’t run away and will feel better about how they look; and warn of impending simooms, dustdevils, sandstorms, scorpion attacks, etc. Best of all, these “Juler Swan Dogs” survive in that part of the world by drinking camel spit, and probably humans can learn from them how to do so. Granddaddy Bob relished the mileage he got from all this. He opined, for my ears only, that Juler Swan Dogs and Juler Swan Boys had “piste him off,” for, if Juler Swan’s boys have learned to say piste, they ought, at the very least, to go for sputum or expectoration, and who were they trying to phlegm-flam? His biggest score was claiming that “Juler Swan Dogs” deserve credit as the “only ones left in America who’ll still ‘walk a mile for a Camel’.” But the last laugh was on Granddaddy Bob. A mess of good ole boys, which is what some still thought the Juler Swan Boys were, heard about the Julers’ efforts in Saudi Arabia. As the Swans had feared, that pack interpreted what had transpired as the work of “puretee liberals worse than Commies and Reds ever were,” broke up the Swan establishment, hanged every dog they could find, and stapled a swastika branded on dog hide in every left ear. Granddaddy Bob clammed up. He still hasn’t told me why it was the left
ear or considered which dog provided the hide. When I bring up the subject, he just shakes his head and says the world has gone to the dogs worse than the dogs ever did and that he’s glad Jumpy’s not here to see it. As to my inheritance from all of this, my father not being in any way close to his father (or to anyone else in the family, for that matter), I become, at Granddaddy Bob’s demise, the guardian of the Jumpy-Juler legacy and the silent partner in “Juler Swan Dogs, Inc.” Fortunately, some members of the lineage were in the (sale) pipeline and others in training when the “brigands,” as Granddaddy Bob called them, struck, so we have Jumpy dogs still. What’s more, I became so taken with our constant discussions of learned versus genetic traits, of Jumpy’s mating to a sire with still-sniffing as a passive trait, etc., etc, that I’m studying to become a geneticist. Granddaddy Bob and I even questioned whether my own father, with Jumpy, could be a mutation, but we do not want to allow him in the same category with that beloved animal, no matter what, in my studies-to-come, that category should turn out to be.
Former college president, Dr. Lynn Veach Sadler, editor, poet, fiction/ nonfiction writer, and playwright, has published widely in academics and creative writing. She and her husband have traveled around the world five times; she was writing all the way. Sadler has a full-length poetry collection and novel forthcoming; has six chapbooks published; and has won The Pittsburgh Quarterly’s Hay Prize, tied for first in Kalliope’s Elkind Contest, was a runner-up for the Spoon River Poetry Review Editor’s Prize Contest, and won the Poetry Society of America’s Hemley Award and Asphodel’s Poetry Contest. See her poetry beginning on page 110.
Giving. A much-touted theme. A gloomy cold late win-
ter evening. The center of downtown Shanghai. At the close of all the fanfare and celebration of Chinese New Year. A poetry reading party! Nothing in the world could be more appropriate for a most unromantic Shanghainese struggling to keep her face above the muddied waters of the holiday blues. She was going, for the first time in her life, after being nagged by friends hundreds of times. Wrapping herself against the freezing, unpleasant wind, she had nothing on her mind but the aroma of Starbucks surrounding her as she walked up the street and the desired home-style dinner she looked forward to having before going to the reading. With something warm in my belly, she thought, I could later be excused, with little guilt, from doing any hard brain work. As if she were prone to do such a thing anyway. “Spring.” A sweet timid young girl’s voice came from the other end of the table, starting the session. With a tuna sandwich (specialty of the house) in one hand and a poem-paper in the other, a male voice of America commented, “I’ve always wondered why Chinese New Year is also called Spring Festival, being that it’s always in the wintertime.” “He’s not being nice,” whispered her friend Fang Fang sitting next to her. Quietly sitting in the corner, not hearing much of the girl’s reading, she was thinking about the possibility of him not having read “if winter comes …” and numerous other poems with similar themes, poet that he was. Chinese New Year, by its very definition, is a celebration of the coming of a new year, the beginning of new lives, the hope of
spring. Christmas, originally a celebration of the birth of Christ, often turns out to be more like a wrap-up of the past, a summary of the previous year, debriefing what has been or has yet to be done, visiting families, relatives or friends to have dinners, to catch up, to make up for the time of separation. The holiday works as a reward to oneself for the past, a time to look back, rather than forward. Hence a sense of finality. Ending. Conclusion. And sadness. Like Christmas, during the Chinese New Year holiday people chat, buy gifts and gather with family members, relatives and friends. Unlike Christmas, Chinese New Year is the celebration of the new year in a Chinese way, looking more forward to the new than backward to the old — though recollections of the past are part of the new year’s vision or ‘resolution’ — exchanging wishes about the coming year rather than reflections on the past. Compared with somewhatboring “Merry Christmas,” Chinese New Year greetings vary much more, depending on the year of the animals in the twelve-year cycle (in the order of mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar). Year 2009 is the year of ox, or “niu” (牛) in Chinese. With the worldwide economic recession in mind, the severe snowstorm and the devastating earthquake fresh in the memory, people meet and say “niu zhuan qian kun” (a big change of luck in the new year), “niu qi chong tian” (great fortunes with the coming year of ox), “niu nian xing da yun” (good luck in the year of ox), and similar good wishes linguistically related to the ox. Chinese tend to take the holiday as a time to recharge themselves, expect good fortunes, invite spring, and get ready for fresh opportunities and challenges. It makes great sense that Chinese think of the new year as “Spring Festival,” and much more so in terms of “jie qi” (solar terms)1: It is “li chun” (立春 in Chinese, first solar term of the year) today, declaring the beginning of spring. As Andy in Shawshank Redemption, wrongly imprisoned for life, says when given solitary confinement for broadcasting Mozart via the warden’s office radio, “It makes more sense in here.” She did not know if the American had seen the movie, nor did she expect him to understand the idea — after all, America the nation did not suffer as much as China, loaded with “men and women torn with troubles and lost in sorrow, yet living on to love and laugh and play through it all.”2
“I’ve got to go; I have to work tomorrow,” said Fang Fang, starting to pick up her things. Out into the dark, accompanying Fang Fang to the metrostation, she breathed in the thin chilly air, “Blessed is the giver, so ‘give me the splendid silent sun’… and, I don’t mind being the giver,” she thought to herself, yearning for the feel of the warmth of the sun, which had been hiding for days. Notes: 1. jie qi (in Chinese) — a day marking one of the twenty-four divisions of the solar year in the traditional Chinese calendar. 2. From In Reckless Ecstasy, Carl Sandburg’s first book of poems, published in 1904.
Having lived all of her life in one of the world’s most energetic cities, Lily Sun has cherished the opportunities given to her to live for several months at a time in rural locations in the United States, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Still, for this professor of literature, Shanghai remains home, and it is there she is most often to be found.
The blue Camaro with a primer-gray door stopped in
front of the dark library at 2:00 a.m. It had a hole in its muffler and the rumble of its big V-8 engine could be heard blocks away. The driver stepped out letting the music of Joy Division escape into the prairie night. “Love, love will tear us apart again …”* He walked quickly to the book return and dropped in a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone before going back to his muscle car and driving away. Once inside the library, the Harry Potter book hauled himself out of the return bin and began tiptoeing toward the Young Adult section. He hadn’t gone more than three steps when the lights came on. The chairman of the Parents’ Decency Council, a middle-aged man in a starched white shirt buttoned to the collar, stepped out of the shadows behind the circulation desk. “I’ve had about enough of you, mister. First there was the magic and Satanism. And now you violated your curfew. Your due date expired over two hours ago. Where were you?” “I was studying trig with Anne over at Green Gables.” The Potter book turned toward the shelves. “Don’t lie to me!” The chairman grabbed Potter’s cover and spun him around. “I called Anne’s guardians and you weren’t there. You were with that Holden Caulfield. Weren’t you?” “All right! If you gotta know, I was playing video games with Ralph and Piggy. I didn’t tell you because I knew you’d go all paranoid on me.” “Those boys are gonna end up in juvenile hall. Mark my words.” The chairman wagged his finger. “You should spend your time with better role models like …” He looked at the returns. “... The Hardy Boys.” “The Hardy Boys? They’re dweebs! You don’t like any of my friends. Billy Pilgrim is too spacey. Conrad Jarrett’s been in an institution. Huckleberry Finn …”
“I can’t stand that little twerp’s language.” “And you don’t approve of Scout because her father is a lawyer. Or is it because he helps Black people?” “If Atticus Finch would spend a little less time getting his name in the papers and a little more time at home, he’d know that little slut is sleeping around. She’s gonna end up like someone in a Judy Blume book, knocked up at fifteen and with AIDS to boot. You listen to me, mister. Keep your fly zipped until you’re married. Hear me?” “You never let me do anything I want!” “As long as you’re under my roof, you’ll obey my rules. When I say jump, you ask,‘How high?’ Now get your ass to the restricted shelves and stay there until I decide what to do with you!” *** After the chairman shoved Potter on the shelf, a worn paperback in a leather jacket asked, “Hey kid, what are you in for?” “Curfew violation. Who are you?” “Name’s Ponyboy.” “Ponyboy! What kind of name is that?” “It’s a nickname. Haven’t you ever heard of a nickname before?” “Yeah, whatever.” Potter looked the book up and down from its pointy-toed shoes to its gelled hair. “Why are you here?” “Same as you. Some community ‘leader’ decided I was a bad influence.” “Well, you can sit and complain all you want but I’m getting out of here.” The Potter book shimmied and squirmed until he fell from the shelf and landed pages splayed on the carpet. “Geronimo!” Ponyboy jumped and landed beside him. “Ow!” Potter rubbed the corner of his cover that Ponyboy had bumped when landing. Potter walked off trying to keep a few steps ahead of that clumsy Muggle. He replied to Ponyboy’s attempts at conversation with grunts and one-word answers. Around 5:30 a.m. they arrived hungry and in need of sleep at the nonfiction section. “Excuse me,” Potter asked a starlet’s addiction memoir, “Do you know where we could get a …” The memoir turned away. Reasoning that a reference book might be more helpful, Ponyboy tried the encyclopedia with no luck.
“You boys need some help?” a book with a voice like James Mason’s asked. “Yeah.” “I know how lonely it can be being an outsider. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Humbert Humbert and these are my friends, Dr. Hannibal Lecter and the Marquis de Sade.” “Enchanté.” “Why don’t we retire to my humble abode for some fava beans and a nice Chianti?” Lecter gestured toward a dark corner. Potter and Ponyboy followed them to a deserted shelf that smelled like it hadn’t been dusted in years. “Oh dear! It’s so hot in here,” Humbert said. “Why don’t you boys slip out of your book jackets and make yourselves more comfortable?” Potter did as asked even though the way Humbert watched made him uncomfortable. He reached for the straw-covered bottle and poured himself a glass. The wine was just what he needed after a stressful day. The three hosts were nice and all but Potter didn’t feel right staying. He decided to leave in the morning. He’d better take Ponyboy, too. It wouldn’t be good to abandon him. Potter rested his head against a bookend. Why was he so drowsy? He needed to make plans but his thoughts moved slower than the research for a book report on War and Peace. He closed his eyes and slept. *** “Brunch!” Lecter waved a plate under Potter’s nose to wake him. It smelled delicious. Potter reached for his fork and took a big mouthful but the flavor seemed a little off. In fact, it tasted a lot like paper! When Lecter turned away, Potter spit the food into his napkin. “Where’s Ponyboy?” “Ponyboy!” Lecter said. “What kind of a name is that? Oh, you mean your friend. He left. Said he had to get an early start. Now finish your breakfast.” “You’ll need your strength.” The Marquis de Sade glanced at the prongs of the spiral binding machine in the corner. “We have all sorts of games planned for today.” “Thanks for your hospitality and all.” Potter pushed the
plate away. “But I have to get going. I’m late for Quidditch practice.” “What do you want to waste your time with that for?” Humbert leaned close, his breath smelling of moldy paper. “We can practice sports right here. You like wrestling?” “Hey, numbskull! The book said he wanted to leave!” It was Ponyboy. There were teeth marks on his cover and he was holding a zip gun made from a wooden block, antenna aerial, and lots of rubber bands. “You can’t kill all of us.” Lecter stepped forward. “That homemade pistol of yours only fires one shot.” “Yeah!” Ponyboy aimed at the title on Lecter’s cover. “But I can kill you.” He pulled the trigger but the gun exploded in his hand leaving Lecter unharmed. “Run!” Potter and Ponyboy fled. With three pursuers behind them they dodged through the poetry section and the public Internet computers. There’s an old joke about two campers running from an angry bear. The survivor doesn’t have to outrun the bear. He just has to outrun the other camper. In this case Potter and Ponyboy simply had to run past the youngest of the Hardy Boys, Thomas, for their pursuers to stop and focus on more vulnerable prey. “Why don’t we retire to my humble abode for some fava beans and a nice Chianti?” Lecter licked his lips. “Golly!” Thomas hopped off the book cart where he’d been playing jacks. “My parents don’t let me drink wine but them beans sure sound swell.” “Psst.” Ponyboy whispered to get Thomas’s attention and gestured by drawing an index finger across his throat but it was no good. The boy followed Lecter and his accomplices. Thomas Hardy was never heard from again. “Well.” Ponyboy looked around. “What do we do now?” “I don’t know about you,” Potter said, “but I don’t care what the censors say. I’m going back to the YA section where I belong.” “Mind if I tag along?” The two set off. “You know, Ponyboy, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.”
*“Love Will Tear Us Apart Again,” written by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, and Bernard Sumner, 1979.
Books: Photo by LaVonne Taylor, 2010
Much like Woody Allen’s Zelig, Jon Wesick’s face appears in photographs from Zen centers, martial arts dojos, nuclear physics labs, and cities all over the world. He hopes he’s passed on some of what he’s learned in the stories he’s published in journals such as Space and Time, Zahir, Tales of the Talisman, Blazing Adventures, Bracelet Charm, Metal Scratches, CC&D, American Drivel Review, The Aphelion Webzine, Lullaby Hearse, Words of Wisdom, among many others. He’s also published close to two hundred poems in small press journals such as Pearl, Pudding, and Slipstream. One of his poems won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists contest.
RAYMOND JOHN FLORY
THE OLD MAN AND THE FARM
Will Johnson sat on his farmhouse porch. His heavy,
white eyebrows narrowed above his gray eyes. The expression on his weather-beaten face was forlorn, making him look older than his seventy-five years. With a red handkerchief, he mopped the beads of sweat from his forehead. All summer he had waited and waited for rain — still no rain was in sight. This was his life — the farm with its corn crop. It had been good to him. But this year, the land was parched from lack of rain. He’d never made much off the hundred acres he lived on, but it was his land; he was born here. He couldn’t remember a drought as bad as this one. Will frowned as he stared at the small, red barn. His thoughts went out to Anna, his wife who had died here fifty years ago, giving birth to their only child. Their newborn boy died later that same summer. And now for half a century he lived alone. He communicated little with the outside world. Once every two weeks he would go into town with his old pickup truck for the usual supplies he needed — bread, canned goods, breakfast cereal, and a newspaper. The animals on the farm were few, four cows, a dozen hogs, and three dozen chickens. Will stood, stretched his long arms, and walked to the back of the house. In all his years, he had never experienced a drought as bad as this. Never — never had the summer been this hot! He tried to remember when it had last rained. Was it six weeks or seven? He seated himself on the log fence and gazed at the three apple trees behind the dried-up brook. He thought about his long years on the farm and how he’d had to struggle to produce a corn crop. This summer, the work was wasted! When the early evening chores were finished, Will sat down on the farmhouse porch steps. He pulled out the red handkerchief from his pocket and proceeded to dry his sweaty forehead. He looked at the cornfield as the setting sun won another battle with
Wounded sparrow. Charcoal by LaVonne Taylor, 2008.
his crop. Another hot day — with no rain! Will heard the sound of a bird — a suffering bird. He stood, and walked toward the noise. And there, at his feet, was a young sparrow. Its one wing was broken. Carefully, with his big hands, he picked up the bird. He took it inside the house and placed it in a tomato box. He poured some breakfast cereal into the box. He watched the sparrow as it pecked at the food. Outside on the porch, Will leaned against the railing, and he remembered how kind his Anna had been to animals. Once she had quoted something to him about birds. Something from the Bible. It had been a long time since he’d read the bible, or prayed. He went inside the house. And in the bedroom, he opened the bottom dresser drawer. There in the corner of the drawer was Anna’s wedding dress. On the neatly folded dress was the Bible she used to read to him after the evening chores were done. He picked up the Bible and closed the drawer. He walked to the window and opened the Bible. He began to read: Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? (Matthew 6:26). Outside on the porch, Will watched the rising moon. He thought about Anna and her deep faith in God. The rain would come. Of this he was sure.
Raymond John Flory has been writing and contributing inspirational works for many years. His poetry and prose have appeared frequently in The Christian Writer’s Pen, Cottage Connections, Conquistador, and Writer’s Gazette among many others. He has established an award program for fellow poets called The Explorer Award. Formerly a longtime publisher of a poetry and short prose periodical called Explorer Magazine, he lives and writes in South Bend, Indiana. See his poetry on page 52.
BEHIND THE LINES
UNCLE SAM NEEDS YOU – This message was prom-
inently displayed on posters, billboards, and placards throughout New York City. In 1942 our country was at war, and my local draft board lost no time notifying me to appear for preliminary examination and evaluation. I was healthy, twenty-one years of age, and eligible to serve in the United States Army. Arriving at Fort Dix, New Jersey, for processing and indoctrination, I was assigned to the Signal Corp for training as a lineman, climbing telephone poles and splicing heavy-duty cable — not my vision for a pleasant tour of duty in the armed services. The lieutenant in charge became frustrated with my clumsy attempts at trying to perform the duties of a signal corpsman and had me transferred to the 15th Air Force Headquarters, Lakeland, Florida, as a clerk-typist. On my first day of field training, I was called out of formation and instructed to report to base headquarters. The commanding officer needed an assistant with good typing and shorthand skills — I had majored in typing and shorthand in school — I was interviewed and he dictated two or three army memos, which I transcribed to his satisfaction. I was instructed to report daily to the headquarters office. How did I get so lucky? No basic training, no target practice, no long hikes — there must have been a guardian angel watching over my shoulder. Duty at Air Force Headquarters was a lark; I reported at nine in the morning and usually left at five. Within three months I was promoted to PFC (Private First Class) and had one stripe sewn on the sleeve of my uniform. My euphoria was short-lived, however, because our unit was soon selected for overseas deployment — where was my guardian angel now? We were in full alert, all leaves were canceled to make ready for our voyage. My skills were much in demand, typ-
ing directives and orders for the officers in charge of evacuating the campsite. Our ship was crowded, sleeping quarters for enlisted men was below decks, bunk beds were stacked two-high and sea-sickness was rampant throughout. When the Navy commander discovered there was a proficient shorthand-typist on board, my skills were put to good use again, this time typing directives and instructions for debarkation. When we reached our destination â€” Tunisia, North Africa, I was promoted to corporal for my good work aboard the ship and added a second stripe to my uniform. Debarkation was complicated and time consuming. With full gear, we were loaded onto two-and-a-half ton trucks and convoyed to an open field campsite, where we set up our pup tents and tried to establish some semblance of military discipline and semi-comfortable living conditions. Our squadron was kept busy digging slit trenches surrounding their tents for protection against Nazi air raids. We set up facilities for servicing and maintaining the B-17 bombers that flew missions against German strongholds in North Africa. Shortly thereafter, General Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Armed Services, wanted permanent facilities established in this theater of operations and ordered that we move our facilities to an outpost in Oran. Our personnel and equipment was loaded onto some B-17s, and with fighter escorts alongside, we were flown to a new campsite, where we found a complex of office buildings and barracks formerly occupied by Field Marshal Rommel (aka the Desert Fox) and we moved in, prepared for a long stay in that location. My office was supplied with the equipment needed to operate efficiently, along with three assistants, under my supervision. We were designated S-2 (Intelligence) and dealt mainly with enlisted men who violated army regulations; AWOLs, petty thieves, and drunks. One morning at the office, I was asked to take an oath of secrecy. The commanding officer had me type up flight plans for target areas to be bombed by our B-17s. The orders were so urgent and sensitive they had to be hand-delivered â€” by me â€” to General Eisenhower at his headquarters in Algiers. The motor pool provided a Jeep and a detailed road map. My estimated time of arrival in Algiers was three p.m. I departed at ten a.m., allowing myself ample time for the trip. However, due to unpaved roads, my unfamiliarity with the terrain, and an incredibly
poor sense of direction — a lifetime affliction — I reached my destination two hours later than planned. General Eisenhower was on his way to dinner. I interrupted him, managed a proper military salute, and handed him the packet of sealed orders. He invited me to join his staff in their officers’ mess hall. We had what seemed like a gourmet dinner to me after months of army food; roast beef with all the trimmings. By the time I finished the fabulous repast, it was eight p.m. I had been expected back at my squadron at seven. I was already an hour overdue. I got back into my Jeep and roared off in a cloud of dust. It was a pitch black night, the dirt roads were unmarked, only visible in the illumination of the Jeep’s headlights. Driving blindly for about an hour, I reached a crossroad, and peeled onto the roadway I presumed would lead me to my own headquarters in Oran. After awhile I began to realize that what I could see of the landscape in the dark was unfamiliar. Evidently, I reasoned, I had turned left when I should have turned right at the crossroads. Fatigue was setting in, my eyelids began to droop, and I was dozing and waking sporadically while the Jeep seemed to be driving itself. The next thing I was aware of was barbed-wire and a fenced-in area. Fully alert now, my attention was drawn to signs every few yards that shouted ACHTUNG – VERBOTEN! I was trapped in an enclosed Nazi military compound. Frantically looking for an exit, muttering prayers under my breath, I saw an open gate looming in front of me. Just then sirens started screaming and floodlights clicked on all around me. I sped through the gate and found myself outside the compound, jackrabbiting my way across the desert sand faster than I’d ever driven before or since. Thank you, guardian angel! I finally felt safe enough to stop for a few minutes and try to take my bearings. The trail I was on now seemed safe enough, I checked my watch with a flashlight and saw that it was midnight. I drove on a few more miles and soon farmhouses began to sprout up here and there. I stopped at one to ask for directions just to see if I was on the right road. A young native approached the Jeep, shouting in Arabic. He spoke no English and I spoke no Arabic, but with hand gestures and pointing to Oran on my map, he indicated I was traveling north when I should have been heading south. I turned the Jeep around, driving south on the poorly lighted road, trying my best to say awake. I drove for hours, staying with
it and fighting total fatigue all the way. I persevered, however, and finally at three a.m. my campsite came into full view. I had intended to sneak quietly into my barracks and crash, but the guard at the gate stopped me, checked my ID, and notified the commanding officer I had arrived. The whole campsite suddenly lit up bright as day, the commanding officer approached me, smiling broadly, followed by all of the squadron personnel, who had been up most of the night waiting for my return. During roll call next morning, when my name was called, there was applause, the commanding officer announced my promotion to sergeant, which added another stripe to my uniform and a few more bucks to my pay check. We resumed servicing and maintaining the B-17 aircraft, whose bombing missions led to victory in North Africa. Finally, General Eisenhower ordered our squadron moved to active duty in Italy, and our personnel and equipment were once again loaded onto troop ships and we cruised smoothly across the Mediterranean Ocean to a seaport in the city of Naples, army trucks then transported us to Foggia, a peaceful town on the southern tip of Italy, where we occupied a complex of buildings and set up our offices and barracks. The allied ground troops were advancing steadily in Germany; when they occupied Berlin, the Nazi army surrendered â€” the war in Europe was over. It was now 1945, I had served three years overseas and was eligible for deployment back to the United States. In a few days our squadron was packed onto B-17s, now being used as passenger aircraft, and we were flown to Fort Dix for the final processing and discharge. My honorable discharge papers indicate I had participated in the Tunisian, Naples-Foggia, and Rome-Arno campaigns and I was awarded the EAMA ribbon with three bronze stars and a good conduct medal. I never had to fire a rifle, never had any basic military training, and never had to fall out for early-morning formations â€” not too shabby for a young kid from Brooklyn.
History of the Jeep. Web site.
Jaime Pick says, “I was born on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and spent my young childhood growing up through the Depression years. We moved to Coney Island when I was a teenager and I worked on the boardwalk during summer vacations as a “pitch man” and “hawker” until graduation from high school, whereupon I was drafted into the Army and served three years with the 15th Air Force in North Africa and Italy, being honorably discharged at the end of World War II. My young wife and I, looking for new horizons, moved to California and settled in Simi Valley, where we became involved with the local community theater, and I have had major roles in many stage productions, such as Barefoot in the Park, Cabaret, Guys ‘n’ Dolls, Kismet, Plaza Suite, among many others. “I am now eighty-eight years old; have a daughter and two sons, all middle-aged; two granddaughters and a great granddaughter. I have had a lifetime career as a court reporter, and despite some age-related disabilities, can still peck away at the typewriter keys, with help and encouragement from my wife, to get the tales from my past written. “I often think that this story could have ended differently with my swift and premature demise, and I’ve decided that I must have had more than one guardian angel watching over me.”
BACKGROUND for WESTERN READERS
Jayanta Mahapatra, was born on 22 October, 1928, in Cuttack, India. He had his early education at Stewart school, Cuttack. After a first class Master’s Degree in Physics, he became a teacher in 1949. All his working life, he taught physics at different colleges in Orissa. He retired in 1986. Although Mahapatra has authored eighteen books of poems, his tryst with the muse came rather late in life. He started writing poetry at the age of thirty-eight. He published his first poems in his early forties. The publication of his first book of poems, Svayamvara and Other Poems, in 1971 was followed by the publication of Close the Sky, and Ten by Ten. His collections of poems include A Rain of Rites, Life Signs and A Whiteness of Bone. One of Mahapatra’s better remembered works is the long poem Relationship, for which he won the Sahitya Akademi award in 1981. He is the first Indian English Poet to receive this honor. Besides being one of the most popular Indian poets of his generation, Mahapatra was also part of the trio of poets who laid the foundations of modern Indian English Poetry. He shared a special bond with A.K. Ramanujan, one the finest poets in the IEP tradition. Mahapatra also differs from his peers in not being a product of the Bombay school of poets. Over time, he has managed to carve a quiet, tranquil poetic voice of his own — distinctly different from those of his contemporaries. His wordy lyricism combined with authentic Indian themes puts him in a league of his own. His recent poetry volumes include Shadow Space, Bare Face and Random Descent. Besides poetry, he has experimented widely with myriad forms of prose. His lone published book of prose is The Green Gardener, a collection of short stories. A distinguished editor, Jayanta Mahapatra brought out, for many years, a literary magazine, Chandrabhaga, from Cuttack. The magazine was named after Chandrabhaga, a prominent but dried-up river in Orissa. HIS VISION OF POETRY “To Orissa, to this land in which my roots lie and lies my past and in which lies my beginning and my end ...” declared the poet in his award-receiving speech at the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. The clue to understanding Mahapatra’s poetry is given by the poet himself: “My poems deal with the life within myself where the mind tries to find a sort of coherence from the mass of things in the world outside it.”(Quoted in Sunday Observer, May 27th, 1984)
Photo courtesy of the author.
Jayanta Mahapatra (above, right) needs little introduction to readers of Indian English Poetry (IEP). There are many features that make him distinct from his contemporaries: He is a prolific poet, he was born into a poor, middle-class family, he is a scholar with a science background, and he was the first poet to receive the Sahitya Akademi Award in Indian English Poetry. His poems exhibit a profundity of images and symbols and he commands more respect overseas than at home. On the morning of November 15, 2009, I had an opportunity of a lifetime to visit the residence of Jayanta Mahapatra. But Master Mahapatra is in his nineties and he has been suffering from chronic asthma and recurrent migraine headaches. Because of chest heaviness and breathlessness he prefers not to talk in the morning hours. So I left empty-handed in the morning, but was invited to come back in the evening. When I returned, we talked in a cordial atmosphere. Here I would like to share an excerpt of the conversation:
Jha: When I read the book, “Door of Paper: Essays and memoirs,” I got the impression that all the essays and articles written by you are available. Mahapatra: Not all, but most of them are available. Jha: Your poetry theme is oriented on your youth only. Mahapatra: Yah, all my childhood. Jha: You have somewhere talked about the author A.K. Ramanujan. Mahapatra: Yes, he was idealistic and a very good writer. Jha: Is he the author you like most? Mahapatra: Yes. Jha: In the book, History of Indian English Literature, authored by M.K. Naik, he mentions among contemporary Indian poets who made their names in Indian and world English poetry, Ramanujan had his first book published by P. Lal only. Is that true? [Purusottama Lal, born 1929 in the state of Punjab in India, is a poet, essayist, translator, professor and publisher. He is the founder and publisher of Writers Workshop in Calcutta, where he lives presently.] Mahapatra: It is true because all these people were published by P. Lal. He also has done a very good job, very good humanitarian job. We can’t deny it. Giving encouragement to new writers is something not many people have done. The poet Ezekiel … even this man who made a name, Vikram Seth, he was also published by P. Lal. Kamala Das, all these people were published by P. Lal. Jha: Sir, you express your dissatisfaction over the absence of constructive criticism on your poetry, especially in India. They include only ugly aspects of your poetry. What kind of criticism do you want to have on your poetry? Mahapatra: I don’t read criticism. I haven’t seen those books. I don’t want to see criticism because that doesn’t help me much. Unless it is positive criticism … but one writes the way one writes. One doesn’t write because the critics tell him to write a certain way. Jha: The very title of your book of poetry bears significant bleakness and barrenness. Is there vested interest in doing that? Mahapatra: No, the poetry comes on its own. Jha: What are the works you are at present busy with? Mahapatra: At present I am writing my autobiography of my life in Oriya. At least one part I want to publish latest by June, if I am living
(smiling). After I finish it, I will publish a new book of English poems. So let me see what happens. Jha: Have you decided the title of your new book of poetry? Mahapatra: No, no, not yet. Jha: How many poems will there be? Interview continues on page 170
FREEDOM At times, as I watch, it seems as though my country’s body floats down somewhere on the river. Left alone, I grow into a half-disembodied bamboo, its lower part sunk into itself on the bank. Here, old widows and dying men cherish their freedom, bowing time after time in obstinate prayers. While children scream with this desire for freedom to transform the world without even laying hands on it. In my blindness, at times I fear I’d wander back to either of them. In order for me not to lose face, it is necessary for me to be alone. Not to meet the woman and her child in that remote village in the hills who never had even a little rice for their one daily meal these fifty years. And not to see the uncaught, bloodied light of sunsets clinging to the tall white columns of Parliament House. In the new temple man has built nearby, the priest is the one who knows freedom, while God hides in the dark like an alien. And each day I keep looking for the light shadows finding excuses to keep. Trying to find the only freedom I know, the freedom of the body when it’s alone. The freedom of the silent shale, the moonless coal, the beds of streams of the sleeping god. I keep the ashes away, try not to wear them on my forehead.
Mahapatra: I don’t know. I have still not decided. Jha: Your autobiography brings us up to 1989. Are you planning to write or have written about yourself after that? Mahapatra: I have written a small portion of my autobiography because an American Encyclopedia wanted it for living contemporary writers, but now I am writing an autobiography about my life in Oriya. It’s being serialized in a magazine. Jha: That is after 1989? Mahapatra: No, no, no, it’s about my childhood and early days. Jha: Has it been published? Mahapatra: I am just writing it now. Only three installments have come out. The next one will come out soon, one by one in a series. I am trying to write. I don’t know if I will pull it off. I can’t tell of tomorrow (Kal ki baat to ham nahin bol sakate). But I am trying to do whatever I can. The autobiography is all about my childhood, my youth, and my days at Patna. Jha: What would be your advice to budding poets? Mahapatra: Write whatever you feel. Feel from your heart, from your inside. One thing will also help you. Just write from the level, tilt a little higher level. If we can go somewhat toward God in the guise of writing (Thora eshawar ke taraph, thora sa, aagar hamlog ja sakate hain likhake). If we can that should be our goal. Don’t you think so? Conscience and soul searching are good things. And when you go about writing a poem, as a priest offers to God by picking and choosing flowers, so we should do with words. (Jaise Poojari phool chun-chun kar chadhate hain to hamlog Pooja ke tarahshabad ko aik-aik kar ke banana chahiye. Mera to yahin khyal hai.) Jha: To whom do you dedicate your success as a poet. Mahapatra: It’s my wife. She has been very helpful. She gave me freedom. If your wife doesn’t give you freedom how can you write? Somebody should be there to handle all the practicalities of living, household things and all that. So if you have time and then she gives you freedom also to live, and we want to live to help the people. Jha: I would like to know about your reaction on the talk of your being the father of the modern and post-modern Indian English Poetry. Mahapatra: No, no. I write what I can. I don’t think about it. Jha: Can you recall the moment and instant that had inspired you to
compose your maiden verse? Mahapatra: Actually I was writing stories in the beginning, but the stories were not published, they were all rejected. So I didn’t write for a long time. I did research in physics and did still photography. Then later on I began writing poetry. I don’t know when it happened, exactly ... very late in my life it happened. Jha: Is the magazine Chandrabhaga still being published or not? Mahapatra: We are not publishing it now. I don’t have time. I don’t have the money needed for publishing. All these sorts of problems take over. That’s why we stopped it. Jha: In a country of more than one billion people, the magazine Chandrabhaga has come to cease publication. In your view what is the fate and future of Indian English Poetry? Mahapatra: Graphic magazines, fashion magazines, movie magazines, you can get funding. Nobody purchases a literary periodical. This is the case not only in India, I think it is the same everywhere in the world, but especially in India we have too much emphasis on film and fashion. Jha: I have read your various interviews, articles and essays and found that you never mentioned the great names like Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats, T.S. Eliot, and Y.B. Yeats. Do you feel this makes you somewhat unorthodox and unconventional? Mahapatra: I don’t know. I didn’t study them. I studied science you know. English literature I didn’t read. Jha: What has been your main source of inspiration? Mahapatra: My main source of inspiration: my land, my people, my place, what I see, what social injustice I see, and political injustice. I should like to write about the hunger. I think Orissa is one of the very, very, very, very poor states, very poor. You go inside the villages you will see they don’t have a place to live. They don’t have a roof over their heads. They don’t have one meal a day. And politicians can help the people, but during election time they visit the villages once and in the next five years nothing happens. The same poverty continues, people sell their children to feed their own stomachs. Mothers sell their daughters, fathers sell their daughters. Even today it’s happening. Especially in Orissa and the interior of India. Jha: In your autobiography, you talk about a beautiful girl. Mahapatra: Irene! Irene! It happened just in the class. But this is in
Oriya I have talked about other girls also, so that I could enjoy more priority. In English you can’t do that. In your own mother tongue you can talk about those things that you can’t talk about in English. What we have by virtue of our soil and local air that we can’t have any other way. We have with our mother tongue. My one and only religion is that if I couldn’t help anybody why should I do harm. (Apani mitti se, apani hawa se jo hoti hai wo bahar ke raste se nahin. Apani maa ke juwan se hoti hai. Mera to ek hin dharma hai ki kisi ka kuchh harm mat karo. Ham to kisi ke liye kuchh kar nahin pate hai to kisi ko dukh kyon pahuchayen). If you can’t help anybody let us not harm anybody. That should be the religion of us all. Religion has no concern with temple, church or mosque. Jha: Is your wife still alive? Mahapatra: No, she is no more. Jha: In which year she expired? Mahapatra: Last year. Jha: I came to know from your autobiography that you have performed your MS at Patna. Mahapatra: That’s right, from Patna, Patna Science College. Jha: As I am from Bihar, I would like to know about your experience of staying there during the course of postgraduate work at Patna University. What was the positive aspect you found there? Mahapatra: Those days were much better than today. And Patna University was one of the best universities of India. We were about ten students. We rented small rooms from the professor of engineering college, Professor Ojha. The building in which we were staying was near to the Mahendru Ghat and law college. Jha: In which year did you achieve your MS? Mahapatra: It was in the year 1949-50. Jha: For how many years were you in Bihar? Mahapatra: I had been there for three years. Jha: That time P.G. course was of three years! Mahapatra: I didn’t appear in final examination. I came away home. Later I went and appeared for the examination. That time riots were there. I didn’t feel secure. All sorts of things were going on there. Jha: You have talked about some emerging poets from the Northeast region. Mahapatra: There are some good young poets especially from
Meghalay, Mizoram and also in Arunachal Pradesh. Jha: Earlier such talents were not there in that region. How now are such things happening? Mahapatra: See, there is tension there in North-East. If you have no tension you can’t write well. If you have tension you can bring about your feelings well. Unless you have failure, suffering, and sorrows
HUNGER It was hard to believe the flesh was heavy on my back. The fisherman said: Will you have her, carelessly, trailing his nets and his nerves, as though his words sanctified the purpose with which he faced himself. I saw his white bone thrash his eyes. I followed him across the sprawling sands, my mind thumping in the flesh’s sling. Hope lay perhaps in burning the house I lived in. Silence gripped my sleeves; his body clawed at the froth his old nets had only dragged up from the seas. In the flickering dark his lean-to opened like a wound. The wind was I, and the days and nights before. Palm fronds scratched my skin. Inside the shack an oil lamp splayed the hours bunched to those walls. Over and over the sticky soot crossed the space of my mind. I heard him say: My daughter, she’s just turned fifteen ... Feel her. I’ll be back soon, your bus leaves at nine. The sky fell on me, and a father’s exhausted wile. Long and lean, her years were cold as rubber. She opened her wormy legs wide. I felt the hunger there, the other one, the fish slithering, turning inside.
in your life how can you write? If you have enough to eat, enough money, a good house, and a car, why will you write? What will you write about? You have no problems to write about! If you have got problems, maybe racial problems, religious problems, hunger problems, and social problems. Problems will lead you to think, unless
you think you can’t write, ideas will not come in your mind. For ideas you need the images to supplement your ideas. So all things make a certain cycle that is necessary. It begins only when you have certain problems in your life to start writing poetry. Isn’t that right Vivekanand? Jha: You have talked about one poet from Kolkota. Mahapatra: Oh, yes, Rudhra Kinshuk. I like this poet. Young boy and he makes good use of new images. I like when you put new types of images in poems. Jha: What do you mean by new images? Mahapatra: New images mean you try to bring about something that never happened or has been done by some other poets before you. There was a great Urdu poet from Allahabad side, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, he used to write, “I want to drink through eyes not by lips.” (Lavon se nahin. Main peena chahata, main ankhoon se peena chahata hoon.) Something new like this. Jha: Your son is at Ahmadabad. Isn’t he? Mahapatra: No, no. He is in Singapore. He has gone outside the country. Jha: Is writing your main sort of engagement. Mahapatra: I read a lot also. When I can’t read, I write. When I can’t write, I read Jha: What is your source of entertainment? Mahapatra: I like to watch television. Jha: Which program do you like most? Mahapatra: I have no favorites. I put it on and just think of other things. Jha: Do you like news channels? Mahapatra: No, no they are very, very sensationalistic. Even now cricket also I don’t watch. Earlier I used to watch each and every match without fail. Last year I stopped it. Cricket has degraded now after the rising importance of T-twenty Matches. Indian poet and research scholar Vivekanand Jha writes poetry on contemporary and relevant themes. His poems have been published in the following: Pagan Imagination, Danse Macabre, Vox Poetica, Writing Raw, and Literature India, among others. He is also working toward attaining a PhD on the poetry of the noted Indian English Poet Jayanta Mahapatra under the close supervision and guidance of Dr. A.K. Bachchan, Professor of English at Lalit Narayan Mithila University in Darbhanga.
HANDS HEAVE TO HARM AND HAMPER Our hands heave To harm and hamper, Not to help and heal. Not to assist The damsel in distress Instead feel refresh In molesting mistress. Not to weaken The woes of widows But apt to weaken Their only credos. Not to stop The rape But we are top In viewing the naked tape. We have destitution In deleting the prostitution But we are to the fore In bargaining the whore. Not to prohibit The child labour But not hesitate to inhibit Their favour. Not to curb The poverty But ready to disturb The Poorâ€™s liberty.
We use stick To persecute the weak We use flower To adorn the tower. Not to ameliorate Law and order But not fret to generate Chaos and disorder. We have temptation To incur evil reputation But we have palpitation In getting good inspiration. We praise When our hands raise To tarnish and damage The image of sage. We neglect The existing institution But we accept The amendment of constitution. What a relief! If our hands heave To leave Harm and hamper But to help and heal.
~ Vivekanand Jha
LAVONNE TAYLOR POEM IN YOUR POCKET Edited by Elaine Bleakney. Published by The Academy of American Poets in conjunction with Abrams Image, New York, New York. Hardcover. 2009. ISBN 978-0-8109-0636-5. 200+ pages $14.95 This is an interestingly designed little volume, 5.25 by 7.25 inches, in a paper and cardboard hardcover, which is bound at the top, like a flip chart, rather than along the spine. In the interest of economy, perhaps, the introduction written by sixteenth United States Poet Laureate Kay Ryan is pasted onto the inside of the front cover. Poet Elaine Bleakney chose the eclectic selection of 200 poems that appears in the volume. The idea behind the design is to tear off a page each day and carry it with you, thus the title, Poem in Your Pocket. Personally, because of my reverence for books and the written word, I found it quite impossible to tear out pages as I read them. Other interesting innovations: there are no page numbers and no table of contents. I think this is the first time I have ever seen a volume of more than 200 pages without either of these navigation features. The poetry that appears in the work ranges from that of Shakespeare to Emily Dickinson to Ben Jonson to Robert Frost to Richard Wright. A feast of imagery and words, Poem in Your Pocket provides something for everyone. In Ben Jonson’s “His Excuse for Loving,” I found the lines “And it is not always face,/ Clothes, or fortune gives the grace,/ Or the feature, or the youth;/ But the language and the truth,/ With ardor and the passion,/ Gives the lover weight and fashion.” A good thought for men on Valentine’s Day, birthdays, or anniversaries. Write your love a poem from the heart, it’s guaranteed to sweep her off her feet. And the imagery in Robert Frost’s “Desert Places” resonated for me, not only because of the external landscape it represents, but the inner one as well: Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast In a field I looked into going past, And the ground almost covered smooth in snow, But a few weeds and stubble showing last.
The woods around it have it ~ it is theirs. All animals are smothered in their lairs. I am too absent-spirited to count; The loneliness includes me unawares. And lonely as it is that loneliness Will be more lonely ere it will be less ~ A blanket whiteness of benighted snow With no expression, nothing to express. They cannot scare me with their empty spaces Between stars ~ on stars where no human race is. I have it in me so much nearer home To scare myself with my own desert places. The beauty of poetics is to speak of something simple, as simple as “A Glass of Water” and bring it into the self-revealing, yet universal realm of artistry as did May Sarton: Here is a glass of water from my well. It tastes of rock and root and earth and rain; It is the best I have, my only spell, And it is cold, and better than champagne. Perhaps someone will pass this house one day To drink, and be restored, and go his way, Someone in dark confusion as I was When I drank down cold water in a glass, Drank a transparent health to keep me sane, After the bitter mood had gone again. For those who have lost a loved one, the experience documented by Thom Gunn is not that uncommon: The Reassurance About ten days or so After we saw you dead You came back in a dream. I’m all right now you said. And it was you, although You were fleshed out again: You hugged us all round them, And gave your welcoming beam. How like you to be kind, Seeking to reassure. And, yes, how like my mind To make itself secure.
And the philosophical clarity of Poet Laureate Kay Ryan who succinctly compares … Tenderness and Rot Tenderness and rot share a border. And rot is an aggressive neighbor whose iridescence keeps creeping over. No lessons can be drawn from this however. One is not two countries. One is not meat corrupting. It is important to stay sweet and loving. … gives us food for thought (no pun intended). Poem in Your Pocket is for poetry lovers everywhere who want a volume they feel they can devour in one sitting. In spite of the intentions of the creators, i.e., a poem a day to carry in your pocket, I powered through the book, reading until my eyes were raw, not because I had to, but because I couldn’t stop turning the pages.
AROUND THE CORNER Authored & Published by Eve Jeannette Blohm, New York, New York. 2008. Paperback. Chapbook, 42 pages Eve Jeannette Blohm sees the universe in a drop of water. She sees the connectedness of us all, not just human to human, but to the plants, animals, soil, and even the rocks with whom we share the globe, whether we draw breath on the other side of the planet or Around the Corner. In the title poem, “Around the Corner,” Blohm shows her depth of vision with: Long roads twist and wind through the mountains. We travel through life, a never-ending journey of discovery looking around the corner. Clouds hide the sun, mountains and future. We ride in a bus, during a foggy day, never seeing the road, relying on faith and bus driver. The allegory demonstrates the life journey we all must take, from the time we’re born until we die. She lives in New York City, but she still empathizes with creatures of the wild. Here she writes about the squirrels in Central Park who have to work hard for their living: Empty Hands On an early afternoon, A squirrel climbs a tree, Perching on a bare limb, It responds to my husband’s call. Animals recognize love But can be teased too. By the empty hand Which tempts but does not give. So we go through our lives With empty hands and hearts.
In the last two lines the squirrels and humans merge. There the distinction blurs. Are we really so different from one another? Blohmâ€™s poetry touches me deeply, but the verse on page 18 is the one that evokes a great deal of poignancy. The final four lines are so true to the life experience. Fleeting Memories the sky is a clear blue as wandering clouds bring cold the frozen earth waits to melt like the pond in the park skaters move on ice gracefully like dancers on a stage the snowdrifts of winter hide the sadness we feel because we can only be young for a short time on earth time passes too swiftly and our dreams are memories. Around the Corner is a lovely production and I recommend acquiring one if possible. Contact: Eve J. Blohm, 116 Central Park S., Apt. 8F, New York, NY 10019-1528 for more information.
BEING IN LOVE, FOREVER Authored by Martin Kimeldorf. Published by SearchInc Press, Tumwater, Washington. 2010. Digital & Paperback. ISBN: 978-0-9740655-8-8. 27-page chapbook. $6.50 Falling in love is easy — much of the time it happens without our conscious effort or consent. We simply awake one morning to discover somewhere along the time line between being blissfully unaware of the existence of the object of our attention to obsessive full-time fascination, that we have developed an attachment commonly known as Being in Love. But to stay in love — that is another matter entirely. Staying in love over the span of a lifetime with the same romantic intensity that characterized a new relationship is a challenge. It does not happen by chance. In this regard, poets have an advantage over their less artistic peers who practice law, medicine, business, politics and so forth. I’m not saying that one precludes the other. There are lawyers, businessmen, and doctors, for example, who also have the hearts of poets, whether they take the time to express their artistic sides is up to them. The demands of our lives — careers, raising children, caring for elderly parents, keeping a roof over our heads, putting food on the table — often dissolves the passion that accompanied our nascent bond. But if we hold the desire, the poetic sensibility that allows us to examine everyday experience through a lens of objectivity also gives us the tools needed to keep passion alive. Martin Kimeldorf has mastered the art of staying in love. Over thirty years time, he created three poems a year, reaffirming his passion for and devotion to his wife Judy. In the introduction to Being in Love, Forever he says, “The renewed interest in love poems comes at an important time, a period when our society doubts it’s future. It comes as too many in our culture foolishly embrace anger, apocalypse, greed, and selfishness. I’d like to think that love contains a germ to inoculate this moment. Perhaps I believe in this possibility because Judy and I remain optimistic, and blissfully out of sync with the medieval culture that surrounds us.” In “During the Morning After a Bad Week,” he expresses the renewing power of Judy’s love and her words of perspective: When deep waters turn gray And stars shine not so bright,
You become my lantern In the stumbling night. When I sit and stare, And each breath becomes a sigh ~ You are clever enough To simply ask me, “Why?” When my focus is too narrow And I’m seeing only me You open up my horizon And set my spirit free. Your perspective Is always corrective … Like a doctor’s prescription ~ Your words send me in a new direction … And then I can jump start my day! Love can move from the intimate, personal experience to that of universal love. Caring for the world around us, then back again to the singular “I whisper in your ear the breath of life: ‘I Love You’” Love Waits Subdued Foreign policy Strange policy in strange lands Prepares scorched earth And bomb-blasted bodies. (Love waits subdued in a corner of our heart.) Everyone seems crippled by romantic myths Aborted in the rush of time. Love lies subdued Unknown Unfelt A fiction of commercial-land An acne on the empire’s face Love is sought in bottles and needles In small unfit dwellings, Becoming simply moments freed from anger (Love grows subdued, and remains reluctant on our lips).
People in a future age People with embracing arms Will look back in bewilderment, asking: “How did they live such love-less lives?” We were here And not much more … Kept silent by vision-less eyes. I whisper in your ear the breath of life: “I love You” The marriage of the photo montages created by Kimeldorf combined with his love poetry produced over a thirty-year period is a creation to behold. Kimeldorf says, “I came to view these ninety-plus poems as an accomplishment in these cynical and self-centered times. … This chapbook sample is extracted from my larger collection titled How to Be in Love, Forever. Come turn the pages of a true-life love story. Then borrow lines, ideas, or entire poems to share with your special partner.” For a stroll through his art gallery go to: http://www.flickr.com/photos/martinsphotoart/ sets/72157617648000086/
Martin Kimeldorf is offering the chapbook Being In Love, Forever as a gift to readers of The Taylor Trust. To acquire one, you can reach him by e-mail at kimeldorf@ comcast.net
PATHWAYS TO THE PLEIADES Mary L. Ports. Published by Shadows Ink Publications, Excelsior Springs, Missouri. Paperback. August 2009. ISBN: 978-0-9841526-3-6 40 pages. $15.00 The multitalented Mary L. Ports has once again brought forth a very creative work in her new Pathways to the Pleiades. Within the thirty-nine-page chapbook, she has encapsulated the larger-than-life mythological characters that comprise Greek and Roman legends. The volume contains eighty poems in the stylized poetry form known as The Pleiades, named after the seven daughters of Atlas who were turned into a cluster of stars in the constellation Taurus. In this style, devised by Craig Tigerman, each poem contains seven lines of poetry, each line starting with the same letter of the alphabet. As an example, see the following Pleiades written by Tigerman: MYTHING Men who are from Mars perhaps come Masking insecurity by Mything dreams in Midas-power, touching Much in hopes of gold, yet Missing Venus’ point. Then Hortensia Anderson, a poet known for her haiku, added additional challenge by restricting each line to six syllables. This is the style that Ports works with throughout. Ms. Ports says in her preface, “In my first attempt to write a Pleiades poem, I thought it appropriate to do one based on the seven Pleiades sisters.” SISTERS Seven virgin sisters Singing in the heavens. Sterope had fallen, Stark glitter dimmed by shame. She loved a mortal man. Sisyphus won her heart, So now she sings alone. Ports taught for twenty-four years in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Throughout that time, her chief interest was to help children build character by using all teaching media available, especially music, art, stories, and poems while drawing on the inner resources
of the child. Her lifelong interest in philosophy, world religions, and mythology is well in evidence between the covers of Pathways to the Pleiades. â€œAs a child, I was absorbed in fairy tales; now, as an adult, I was suddenly catapulted into a new dimension, into heavenly clusters of stars. I discovered that many of the planets and star clusters were representations. They fell into categories such as gods, goddesses, monsters, and composite beings. I decided to honor the goddess before the gods, since the feminine, creative principle came first, and all gods were born from the goddesses,â€? she says. AURORA Aurora, brilliant light; A herald of the dawn. As borealis or Australis, she flies, Appearing to be as An arc of morning light Across heavenly spheres. Within the chapbook pages also reside thirty-three illustrations in pen and ink by Ports. The art, achieved in the manner of the primitivists such as Grandma Moses, is exactly right for the poetry form and subject matter. The result is a happy melding of the written word with the visual art. Pathways to the Pleiades represents two yearsâ€™ worth of research, writing, and creating the art. It is available from the poet by e-mail: email@example.com.
TOM MIRABILE AN AMERICAN MASTERPIECE
REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, THE EASTER PARADE, ELEVEN KINDS OF LONELINESS. Richard Yates. Published by Everyman’s Library. Hardcover. ISBN 978-0-307-27089-4 (0-307-27089-0). 2009. 696 pages. $26.00 I think it is safe to assume that some of us go through life with an ever increasing and nagging list of books we hope to eventually read, including a few of those massive historical novels from previous eras. For me, a twentieth-century novel on such a list has been Richard Yates’s Revolutionary Road, but the recent release of the movie prompted me to finally get around to reading the book. And how fortunate that I did, as this is nothing less than an exquisite post-World War II novel and, among other things, it is a stunningly accurate portrayal of American suburban culture of the 1950s, an incisive character study, a piercing “love” story and engrossing pageturner, as well as a literary gem of structure, language, dialogue, and precision. Without question Yates is a member of that relatively small club of fiction writers with the skills to include all of these elements in a single work. He’s F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Cheever, Grace Metalious, Alice Munro, Raymond Carver, Iris Murdoch, et al, all rolled into one master craftsman. While gliding through its pages, a number of times I found myself recalling Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which, coincidentally, opened on Broadway in 1962, just a year after the publication of Revolutionary Road. And although there are considerable differences between the two — in addition to the obvious, one being a play, the other, a novel — and as much as I admired Albee’s Woolf, Yates’s Road is not as lofty or quite as cynical, a quality that makes the latter even more compelling. Every major character, including the protagonist Frank Wheeler and his wife April — whom Richard Price (a former student of Yates’ contributes the informative introduction) describes as folks who in the beginning have “eyes as wide as dishes,” but in the end “their longing will be the very knife that runs through them”— their well-
meaning but smugly tolerated neighbors, Shep and Millie Campbell and Helen and Howard Givings, are meticulously rendered fictional figures. Additionally, there is John, the mentally ill, adult son of the Givings, who when permitted to spend his time in the presence of the Wheelers is an absolute delight as he repeatedly injects a curiously sane, cutting, and near hilarious starkness. The semi-precious delusions Frank and April harbor about life, love, and survival are subtle, naïve, and pretentious, and — similar to the vast quantities of daily cigarettes and booze they consume — potentially hazardous. On the surface their strivings appear admirable, that is, to become more rounded and sophisticated, to rise above a bland and sterile middle-class existence, to become what Kerouac’s Sal Paradise in another famous “Road” novel from the same period described as “the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, and desirous of everything at the same time.” (On the Road, Jack Kerouac, Viking, 1959). Sadly, and in the lingo of today, it is masterfully and gradually revealed that the Wheelers have serious issues, among them a haunting, abandoned, and neglected all-American past, and they are the very same issues that stall and ultimately destroy them. Their undoing is a lack of essential underpinning, and the absence of that foundation prevents them from achieving higher and purer pursuits in the future as long as they remain clueless about who they are in the present. A pivotal scene confirms their lingering emotional fragility when April carries out a climactic task in the backyard and hears children on another neighborhood property. She hears “the sounds of bird song and rustling trees … faintly mingled with the faraway cries of children at play … From a distance, all children’s voices sound the same.” The metaphor is a beauty. Richard Yates authored seven novels and three short story collections and during his lifetime and afterward (he died in 1992), he was repeatedly called a writer’s writer; but even if one has no more than a cursory familiarity with his biography and the frustrations he experienced in the world of fiction-writing, one can be reasonably certain he viewed such a tag as a curse and not a blessing. It remains truly mystifying why this novel received limited notoriety and acclaim in the 1960s and why — considering its subject matter (or perhaps because of it) — it took some forty-five years to consider adapting this extraordinary book to the silver screen. Incidentally, this Everyman’s Library Edition, available in handsome
cloth, also includes a chronology of literary events starting with the writerâ€™s birth in 1926, a select bibliography of biographical sources and criticisms of his work, another one of his novels (The Easter Parade), and his first short story collection entitled Eleven Kinds of Loneliness, all further testaments to the excellence of this author,
Tom Mirabile is a writer living in the Boston area. His work has appeared in a variety of publications including First Intensity, The Taylor Trust, and The Middle English Literary Journal.
AND THE WINNER IS ... Many readers have mentioned to me that it is very hard to pick any one favorite poem out of the selections in each issue. I find that comment complimentary to the authors and to me. First, to the authors because a comment such as that shows their work has touched the hearts and minds of the readers. Second, to me because I have chosen to publish the poetry that affects me in some way and I’m pleased when others are also moved. Poetry is a versatile medium that expresses, often in a succinct and artful way, the tragedy, the joy, the comedic, the ironic, and more, that takes place in the human condition every day. Much of our lives are spent encapsulated in the worlds of our own creation. When a brief moment of connection and resonance takes place, it is a joy forever. That is one of the great satisfactions for me — providing the opportunity for us to connect with one another, if only on a brief, transitory basis. — Editor
READERS CHOOSE THEIR FAVORITES FIRST PLACE The Hummingbird page 84 SECOND PLACE Remembering Metranovak page 76 Who Exactly Are You? page 23 Windy Waters page 32 THIRD PLACE Accompanied Hotel Dwellings page 60 Along page 48 An Offer page 55 At Last page 47 Breaking the Silence page 44 Changes page 49 De Profundis Clamavi page 77 Enigma page 12 Forever page 38 Hei Hei page 54 How Stuff Works page 78 Judah Iscariot page 34 Lights Turned Down page 56 Lines in Extremis page 31 Manic Is the Dark Night page 27
Nasal Noes page 57 Origins page 36 Passing page 49 Portrait at Mid-Dance page 30 Progress page 51 Road Map page 41 Soul page 43 Sunbathing page 52 Taps page 81 The Blame Game page 45 The Violin page 22 The Wheeze page 21 Top 10 page 79 Trapped page 26 Wishbone Slingshot page 75
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THE TAYLOR TRUST: POETRY & PROSE WRITERS’ GUIDELINES SUBJECT MATTER
Prose: We will consider for publication all subject matter, except that which contains gratuitous profanity and/or blatantly pornographic material (the determination of which will be made at the discretion of the editorial staff). Word count for fiction or essays can run as long as 2,000 words or be as short as 100 words (“flash fiction”) as long as the story is well-written, makes sense, and contains a denouement. Poetry: All styles considered. All subject matter will be taken under consideration for publication except that which contains profanity and/or pornography (the determination of which will be made at the discretion of the editorial staff).
Spring 2009 issue – Deadline: January 31 – Pub Month May Summer 2009 issue – Deadline: April 30 – Pub Month August Fall 2009 issue – Deadline: July 31 – Pub Month November Winter 2009 issue – Deadline: October 31 – Pub Month February
MANUSCRIPT COVER SHEET
You will find a template on the next page. Each time you are preparing to submit a manuscript to the lead editors, copy and paste at the beginning of your document, then fill in the information specific to each manuscript you submit. Keep this template on your desktop for use with each and every manuscript you work on. Always include an updated professional bio with your manuscript submittals. Reprints: Previously published manuscripts will be considered. The primary rule being that there is an elapsed time of at least a year following the first appearance of the work in a nationally distributed publication and that the author currently holds publication rights to the work. Local and regional publications will be exempt from the year’s gap rule. The preferred method for submitting manuscripts is: Body of email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject line: Manuscript submission. Attachments from unfamiliar sources will not be opened. If you must send via the US Postal Service, address submissions to: The Taylor Trust: Poetry & Prose Attn: LaVonne Taylor PO Box 903456 Palmdale, CA 93590-3456
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Volume 4 contains poetry, short fiction, interview of outstanding Indian poet Jayanta Mahapatra, and book reviews.
Published on Apr 26, 2010
Volume 4 contains poetry, short fiction, interview of outstanding Indian poet Jayanta Mahapatra, and book reviews.