Tag: poetry

From Issue 20: St. Martin Ludgate

Philip St. Clair
The baptismal font, an octagon of marble carved
seven years after the Fire,
bore a palindrome in Greek more clever than reverent –
cleanse my sins,
not only my face, the guidebook said. Then I wanted
to visit the altar,
and as I walked down the left-hand aisle upon the stones
carved with the crests
of the noble and wealthy buried beneath my feet,
I thought of a deck of cards
and the robes and sashes of crimson and gold
on the kings and queens and jacks,
and I remembered a winter evening fifty years ago
at Dover Air Force Base
when I walked into the barracks after an eight-hour shift
loading cargo on the flight line,
and I saw Jim Mayhew at a table with only a desk lamp
to light the dark:
a red poker deck scattered beside him made a pool of fire.
He wore an expression
of deep sadness as he stared at something in his hand,
and for a moment
I thought it was a Dear John letter from his girl back home,
but when he saw me
he silently raised his arm to show me a Queen of Diamonds
he’d cupped in his palm,
and I remembered Kennedy coming on TV in the dayroom,
telling us that the Russians
had sent a fleet of freighters loaded with nuclear missiles
to Fidel Castro in Cuba:
next morning we trudged up ramps through the clamshell doors
of C-124 Globemasters,
piled our duffels on the platform beneath the aft winches,
buckled ourselves into seats
made of canvas webbing, got the word from the loadmaster —
we’d be flying TDY
to a SAC base on Florida’s panhandle, just north of the Gulf.
One of us had been there.
He’d seen big brown pelicans flying like fighter escorts:
sometimes five or six
in V formation, sometimes ten or twelve
in a single ragged line.
He said they could glide so slowly it was a wonder
they never fell to earth,
but when they’d see a fish on the crest of a wave
they’d fold like a jackknife,
hit the water like a bullet out of a thirty-ought-six.
But I never saw any
either time I was there: all those aircraft coming and going
must have driven them away.
Once I saw fifteen transports circle the field and land
in fifteen minutes:
three thousand troops with BARs and fifty-calibers
and mortars and bazookas,
And a year later, not long after Kennedy was shot,
I sat in the back row
of a Gaumont cinema close to Prestwick Airport
and watched the end of the world:
a single B-52 flew like a pale shark through gray clouds
and over gray mountains
on a bombing run to Russia that could never be recalled –
the cowboy captain, some
thick-jawed dipshit caught up in his own private rodeo,
straddled an H-bomb
and rode it down to target with a one-handed hoo-raw,
and during the montage
at movie’s end, when fireballs swelled to the size of cities
in a half-second,
I laughed out loud in astonishment as Vera Lynn sang
“We’ll Meet Again,”
And forty years later, soaking in the chlorinated pool
of the Hilton Hotel
at Daytona Beach, I saw pelicans against the noon sun:
fifteen of them
glided above my head in single file toward the window
of my room:
dark, graceful shapes with great beaks and broad wings
gathering near my balcony,
suspended as if they were made of mist and smoke.
I held my breath
as I watched them hang in sunlight for a long moment
as if they came
out of some other dimension to stop time just for me,
and for seven days after
I carefully watched the sky over chrome-plated diners
and retro-deco towers,
over tee-shirt warehouses and fast food bungalows,
but I never saw one dive.
 
Philip St. Clair has published six collections of poetry.  He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Kentucky Arts Council and was awarded the Bullis Prize by Poetry Northwest. He lives in Ashland, Kentucky. 

From Issue 20: Emily as a Moving Pocket of Blue

Darren Demaree
I have been the half
of a person I’ve needed
to be
to stay sober.
It is true that I am alone
all of the time,
even with Emily,
but I am alone in a way
that will bury me
with a small smile
on my face. I am still
with her. I watch
her small dances the same
way a guitar player
watches orchestras.
It doesn’t make
sense when I sing,
but I always do.
 
Darren C. Demaree is the author of eight poetry collections, most recently “Two Towns Over”, which was selected the winner of the Louise Bogan Award from Trio House Press.  

From Issue 20: Weeping Willow

Joan Colby
A cutting from the willow tree,
Our newborn child sunning
As I rooted it in water. A dozen years later
It wept over the house falling
Into our intemperate climate. Children
Calling in the dusk, catching fireflies
While we argued or didn’t speak.
A rainfall of wishes. The street buckled,
Sewers blocked by eager roots arranging a thirst.
Everyone drinking, smoking pot or sleeping
With someone else’s spouse. The dogs barked
At nothing. The willow tree
Swayed its gentle hula as jackhammers
Tore up the blacktop. We
Moved elsewhere with our books and tools,
The drama of our children. Green braids
sheltered the Immeasurable.
 
Joan Colby’s Selected Poems received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize and Ribcage was awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Her recent books include Carnival from FutureCycle Press and The Seven Heavenly Virtues from Kelsay Books. Her latest book Her Heartstrings was published by Presa Press in 2018.

From Issue 20: Going to Toronto

Mary Jane White
From the countryside
To wait out the term
To delivery. And return.
Quietly. Unremarked.
To go through rehab
And then return. To town.
Going to Toronto —
An old way of speaking
In front of you . . .
Who recall how it was:
In the countryside,
A suicide . . . Gone to
Toronto. No return.
For Michael Andre
November 18, 2017
 
Mary Jane White: MFA Iowa Writers’ Workshop, NEA Fellowships (in poetry and translation). Tsvetaeva translations:  Starry Sky to Starry Sky (1988) New Year’s, an elegy for Rilke (Adastra Press, 2007); Poem of the Hill (The New England Review); Poem of the End (The Hudson Review), reprinted in Poets Translate Poets, (Syracuse 2013).

From Issue 20: There are Bellies in This World

Martin Ott
Who limbo with pool cues in nameless pubs,
who swing in time with jiggle and aplomb,
who sweat and stare with a single eye
and undulate on buffets and hotel beds.
There are bellies in this world who swallow
typing tests on a dare, who lie to mothers
they barely know, who master the art
of escaping the tuck and never seem
to outpace their luck. There are bellies
in this world voted class clown, filled
with knowledge but play the jester’s role,
who master the one thing we cannot live
without. There are bellies in this world
we do not know at all, who look perfect
but there is pain, who gurgle in the night
and dream of unending appetite. There are
bellies in this world we did not know were
out of time, who whisper wild and sundry
secrets, who remind us what we’ve swallowed
is not the same universe we keep inside.
 
Martin Ott has published eight books of poetry and fiction, most recently LESSONS IN CAMOUFLAGE, C&R Press, 2018. His first two poetry collections won the De Novo and Sandeen Prizes. His work has appeared in more than two hundred magazines and fifteen anthologies. 

From Issue 20: A Man Woke

Richard Weaver
to discover himself buried in a forest,
near a tree, not deep enough to never be found,
but within snout range of a truffle hunting pig.
How he came to be where he was,
trapped and in need of olfactory rescue
was never a part of the dream,
and is unimportant to this poem.
The facts are: a man died, or is dying,
has some level of consciousness,
enough to be aware of a tree, its species,
oak, one of several associated with the presence
and proliferation of truffles, and therefore
creates the possibility of a pig discovering him,
his body, alive or not, and uprooting him
in its belief that he, the man, is a giant truffle.
There’s no reason attached to his being
underground. No hint of politics. Or murder.
There’s a sense that the man is happy there
in a spare heaven, replicated many times over,
but with a likelihood, remote and unthreatening,
of a hoof-led snout parting the world below,
and the light above glowering as it darkens
the new life he has come to know as his.
 
Richard Weaver lives in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor where he volunteers with the Maryland Book Bank, and acts as the Archivist-at-large for a Jesuit college. He ‘s the author of The Stars Undone (Duende Press). Publications include conjunctions, Poetry, NAR, crazyhorse,  Pembroke, NER, Southern Quarterly, Adelaide, Barrow Street, Steel Toe, and elsewhere.  

From Issue 18: My Parents' Hands

Ellen Stone
 
I saw the way she pushed them –
flickering like river –
into the mound, turning what
was almost weightless
into substance, flour of air,
pinch of sea, sludge of yeast
she drained, slight foam
from the narrow bowl,
hard plane of her wide palm
pressing on counter, leaning
with her urgent weight, making
something live that was static.
The way her brain flew, fingers
turning dough into baby, white
dusting cabinets, floor, her face
a studied countenance of care.
The manner in which he held a hoe
as if it were a loved thing, what
can be leaned or relied on, his
intention sharp as a pine’s outline
on the ridge over the dark swamp.
Then swung it, swift cuts into dirt,
precise, methodical as a church bell
but sharp enough to kill a helpless
small thing. How he let me help
hammer iron stakes, string line
to make the rows. His hands
that raised the sledge above
our heads & released it over
& over. How I thought life would
always be like this, measured
even in cruelty, even in death.
 
Ellen Stone teaches at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her poems have appeared in Passages North, The Collagist, The Museum of Americana, The Citron Review, and Fifth Wednesday. Ellen’s poetry has been nominated twice for a Pushcart prize, as well as twice for Best of the Net.

From Issue 18: Learning How Not To

Paul Ilechko
The sweet susurration of tires continues
as cars drift ruefully past my house.
It’s a constant stream, day and night,
and by now I no longer hear them.
Except, there are fewer after midnight,
which means that the extra ones in morning
act as a gentle kind of alarm clock,
drawing me out, hauling me up
from the deep, still waters of sleep.

Long ago, I learned to draw. In order to draw
well you need to learn not to think
too much. Afterwards, I learned to paint,
which to my surprise involved forgetting
how to draw. The ability to paint well
is grounded in many small acts of refusal.
If I were to paint the cars on the street
I would probably use very little black.
For some of my teachers, any amount
of black was too much. Use blue,
they said. Or even purple. Look more closely,
peer into darkness and learn to see
the light that escapes from the black.
(There is always light. Even in blackness)

After I was finished with painting, I began
to write. Having already learned how
not to think may have been what led
me into poetry. Nothing is more damaging
to the poet than a sequential mind. The stream
of cars can only exist as fiction. The darkness
in poetry refuses to release the light.
Paul Ilechko is the author of the chapbook “Bartok in Winter” (Flutter Press, 2018). His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Stickman Review, Mocking Heart Review, Oberon, and Dime Show Review. He lives in Lambertville, NJ, with his girlfriend and a cat.

From Issue 18: All of it Returns

Charlene Langfur
This is what I do these days
Watch the geese overhead, how they move
in their perfectly coordinated flight going south.
Watch the four inch green sprouts growing in the garden
in the desert winter. I watch them little as they are.
I have odd dreams with you in them
and we are young again, maybe it is spring time again, and we are
ready to save the world from exactly what has happened
to it anyway, the over heating and earth changes with gardens out
of whack, the poles shifting perilously, madly.
In another dream we return differently, steady, reposed in a way.
Nowadays, I get it all, I know it all makes sense,
how Einstein’s theories are confirmed,
simply, elegantly, the earth, the universe, space,
all of it returning upon itself and
in spite of the black holes and blazing summer days,
nothing actually disappears.
The nasturtium with the heart shaped leaves bloom again, their petals
unique, yellow, exactly the same even though they are different.
Charlene Langfur is an organic gardener, a rescued dog advocate and a Syracuse University Graduate Writing Fellow and her most current publications include a series of poems in POETRY EAST and WEBER-THE CONTEMPORARY WEST ( 2016 and 2018) and poems in GRAVEL, THE CALIFORNIA QUARTERLY and COMMON GROUND REVIEW.

From Issue 18: Echo of Myself

Rebecca Beardsall

Rebecca Beardsall received her BA from DeSales University and her MA in English from Lehigh University. She is in the MFA program at Western Washington University. Her poetry has been published in various literary journals, and she co-edited three books. Originally from Pennsylvania but considers Washington and New Zealand home.