26 poets in this issue: Peter Ewer, Ace Boggess, Emma Lee, Sam Smith, Dotty LeMieux, Rob Schackne, Denise O’Hagan, Philip O’Neil, Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal, Maureen Butler, Alec Solomita, Michael A. Griffith, Francine Witt, Josh Medsker, Lorraine Caputo, Carol Hamilton, Claudia Coutu Radmore, Christine Collins, Robert Wilson, David Dephy, Nicole Horowitz, Anna Teresa Slater, Judith Borenin, Kate LaDew, Kirsty Niven, Xe M. Sánchez 

POETiCA REViEW 2 Summer 2019

 

Peter Ewer 1 poem

 

 

White nectarines

 

They’re good this year:

Not the tasteless cannonballs of flour

Masquerading as fruit

You get too often,

these days.

 

No:

Proper fruit for sure this summer

Sweet and yielding,

Miraculous really

Given the industrial apparatus

Clanking fumes and pesticide

That got them to my table

 

But perhaps it should be said

Not for so much longer

Because they’re dying, you know

The bees on which the trees rely

No-one quite knows why:

Exhausted by mechanical pretence,

I shouldn’t wonder

 

Whatever (an exclamation for the age, if ever one was apposite)

I bought them for your breakfast

The one that never came:

We expired

Not failed

But ran our natural course

Between the retail act,

And the moment in the morning

When I might wash and quarter

A lustrous scarlet globe

And offer it

Votive

On a white china plate

With a cup of tea

Upon the bedside table

 

Strange

The tasteless fruit

A silent hive

Of all the barren years ahead

Might have been more in keeping

With the temper of that day

And the solitude of morning

 

 

Peter Ewer lives in Melbourne, Australia. He has published four books of Australian history, and his articles appear in academic journals in Australia, the UK and the US. He holds a doctorate from RMIT University, Melbourne, and this is his second work of poetry, having previously been published by Outlaw Poetry in February 2018. He thinks we better start taking an interest in the condition of the world, because the planet is dying.

 

 

Ace Boggess 1 poem

 

 

Prison of Memory

 

 

departing anywhere ignites

the oil & pitch that introspection is

 

why want now what I didn’t then?

I go back in time to walls & razor wire

 

I’m haunted by the box of bricks

built to contain inescapable longing

 

I would not go back though I do

that part of me trapped in silence never leaves

 

 

Ace Boggess is author of four books of poetry, most recently I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So (Unsolicited Press, 2018) and Ultra Deep Field (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2017), and the novel A Song Without a Melody (Hyperborea Publishing, 2016). His writing appears in Harvard Review, Notre Dame Review, Rattle, River Styx, and many other journals. He received a fellowship from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and spent five years in a West Virginia prison. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.

 

 

Emma Lee 3 poems

 

 

I'm here, wherever that is

 

It took two years to get here.

I couldn't find it on a map.

It's not London. It's damp.

I was given thirty-five pounds,

and have to skip meals

when I pay for English lessons.

 

I'd sit and stare at walls

until I found the library.

There's no time limit.

I hear foreign tongues

in the next room: neither

English nor my language.

 

I said "Hi" to someone

without averting my eyes today.

She said "How are you?"

I know to say "Fine," now.

The grey lifted, momentarily.

I saw a map. I still don't know

where here is, but I now know

it’s two letters from home.

 

 

Maligne River

 

Windows 10 asked if I liked this picture:

Maligne River, blue against the ubiquitous rocks

and pines with a backdrop of mountains in Alberta.

My fingers clicked yes before my brain registered.

Was it familiarity? I'd been there.

Was it the story of how it got its name?

I close my eyes: the first image is the water.

It forms a line separating mountains, allowing

grasses to grow between rocks, goats to graze

and sun to reach pines watered by the subterranean

seeping of the river that reinforces the boundary.

It would take more than a human lifetime to erode

the grey rock that fails to react to the drama

of weather and nature around it.

The river surface is calm, hiding undercurrents

fed by underground springs. A rider

named the river after his horse was spooked.

Easier to name something malevolent

than consider why. Easier to blame the horse

than think there's something not quite natural

here. Under the grace of a swan, observers

don't see the paddling feet, the push against

competing directions below the surface,

which reflects the sky back, the liquid

giving it a shine, a skim of glitter

to detract from the dark pool below.

This river is a map of my childhood.

The two-dimensional image offers a choice:

focus and understand the hidden third dimension

or look at the pretty gloss and move on.

 

 

The Stigma of being Incomplete

 

Engineers built the best version of a specific human being:

a robotic replica with heart, lungs and face to show

use of robotic limbs, neural implants, hampered only

by the inability to feel the objects they can manipulate.

 

The original subject found the pulley and harness to control a hook,

to replace his left hand which he'd been born without, chafed.

He rejected it in favour of a myoelectric prosthesis, an i-limb

which gives him twenty-four grip patterns controlled

by an iPhone app. He could only dream of things he can now do:

wheel a suitcase whilst talking on his phone or write left-handed.

 

He jerked in shock when he first met his replica.

It could behave like him, it virtually looked like him,

but skin warmed by electronics does not yet compensate

for the absence of blood. Lifelike, but not yet life.

 

 

Emma Lee’s recent collection is “Ghosts in the Desert” (IDP, UK 2015). “The Significance of a Dress” is forthcoming from Arachne (UK). She co-edited “Over Land, Over Sea,” (Five Leaves, UK, 2015), reviews for The Blue Nib, High Window Journal, The Journal, London Grip, Sabotage Reviews and blogs at http://emmalee1.wordpress.com. 

 

 

Sam Smith 2 poems

 

 

Aphorisms for the Unkind

 

 

How to die

 

 

Behold the 5 stages of dying:- Denial (Can’t be: I am too alive. Too now.)

                                                Anger (Why me? Bastards.)

                                                Bargaining (Not just yet. Let me…)

                                                Depression/Suicidal (Might as well be me ends it.)

                                                Acceptance (So be it.)

On the gale-battered hillside are the root starbursts of fallen trees. At the rear of an empty shop, and in the puddled bottom of a dented skip, 5 bald models, arms and legs awkwardly over and under each other as in a Belsen mass grave. Death walks in step with us. We become used to His presence, His offer of finality. We who know this however live among the self-blinded and the made-deaf, have to edge cautiously between those who require the world’s truth in a single phrase.

 

 

How to live

 

 

Not on watershined roads, and in among cars that are sold on their carefree image, anxious people driving before and behind. Nor must you arrive seeking a master. Maybe you will manage to avoid Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy and Sloth. If not you may still, hating yourself, assiduously follow a Four-fold Path. And, if fortunate – and Chance like Death definitely exists – you will possibly – in this world at this time – cultivate the cold unsentimental eye of childhood; and, for a while, you may yet bleakly survive.

 

Sam Smith is editor of The Journal magazine and publisher of Original Plus books. Author of several novels and collections of poetry, he presently lives in Blaengarw, South Wales.  https://sites.google.com/site/samsmiththejournal/

 

 

Dotty LeMieux 3 poems

 

 

Elaine

 

 

No one has to tell her Henry Miller makes better reading

than the Boston Globe

No one has to tell her she was born too late

for beatnik desires

 

These things we learned together

calling it “identity crisis”

Born under the same sign,

we are twenty-two years old

 

Friends

 

When I’m not feeling well

she reads me Ferlinghetti over the phone

buys me coffee without sugar

And sometimes at bus stops in winter

we hug each other like victorious Russians

 

In spring we go to the river

We go there to be disappointed

and disappointed we come home

 

Elaine makes tea and omelets

and we read poetry to jazz records from the library

Sometimes there’s wine

Then we dress up in turtleneck sweaters -

Elaine closes the curtains to shut out the traffic   

 

And we dance

 

There are no calendars in Elaine’s house

and no five o’clock man to stop us.

 

 

For a Poet I Once Loved

 

 

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” T.S. Eliot; The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism, 1920

Sorry that I took your words

for mine; but I did leave  

your silk purse with the rainy day

fund; and I refrained from drinking the new wine

you were saving for inspiration

 

and the coveted red cowboy boots which were tempting

and so much more practical than ruby slippers

 

I could have taken those abstractions of yours

that pay the rent

and keep the lights on

and the gas flowing

 

the common household necessities

that fuel the body and the mind      

and keep the blah blah blah dripping

from your oh-so-ripe-for-the-plucking

tongue.

 

 

Stealing the Souls of Strangers   a Haibun

 

 

We are strangers in this diner, 1971 Alabama, a group of Northern journalists on vacation. With my borrowed camera, I have been charged to “document the trip.”  But maybe those words were not to be taken seriously?  The South is a timeless place of fog and moss and molasses rivers, bathrooms in filling stations reading “white” and “colored.” The journalists try to fit in, smile sweetly, politely praise the canned cherry pie, accept more coffee. Everyone in this place is white, it goes without saying, even us.

The waitress’ name is Crystal, embroidered on her cap. She holds a bottomless pot of coffee. Men she knows, big rig men, ranch hands, hangers on, call out—Hey Crystal”—or —Hey hon!  or just grunt and incline their heads toward their empty cups.

time ticks or is stopped

faces blank and pale gaze within,

feign obedience

 

I ‘m not sure you should—starts one of the journalists, as I click, shoot the dark haired man at the counter under the sign reading “Grade A Everything.” And click, at Crystal, who doesn’t notice or doesn’t care or doesn’t want to antagonize. And click, at the other man I think looks like Woody Guthrie if Woody Guthrie was still alive and out of work, and out of luck. The journalists worry, but no one shows anger or pleasure or even surprise.

alligators with eyes closed  

look like logs, submerged, still,

waiting

 

We leave, not hurrying, as we pile back into the red van. The journalists will take notes tonight in their tent, camped someplace safe, if such a place exists. If not - and how can you possibly know? - they will find a motel or drive through the night to New Orleans, where the streets are crowded and no one is from there. My film waits, safely tucked in its black box, until we reach the Berkeley darkroom where I will unspool and release the souls of all the strangers locked inside.

 

birds like small airplanes

lift from the murk, ascend toward branches

of trees that are not there

 

 

Dotty LeMieux's work has appeared or is forthcoming in in Rise Up Review, Writers Resist, The Poeming Pigeon, Ekphrastic Review, Gyroscope, Solo Novo and the anthology After/Ashes,  among others. I have had three chapbooks published and edited the eclectic the Turkey Buzzard Review, in Bolinas California in the 1970’s and 80’s. I studied with poets Joanne Kyger, Edith Jenkins and Thomas Centolella.  My passion is running political campaigns for progressive candidates, mainly women, and I live in Northern California with my husband and two dogs. 

 

 

Rob Schackne 1 poem

 

 

“Sunlight through”

 

 

Sunlight through 
a white bird's wings
where I am right now 
the sun is setting
the radio has news
torture & indifference 
my heart must shift
to make some pasta
drink the wine alone
the poems in my head
black pepper & salami
are you a little hungry
all switch the station
it's almost ready 

 

 

Rob Schackne was born in New York, Rob lived in many countries until Australia finally took him in. He worked for many years as a Foreign Expert EFL teacher in the People's Republic of China. Recently returned, he is living in country Victoria, Australia, where he enjoys the fresh air and the birds. There were some extreme sports once; now he plays (mostly) respectable chess and pool. He listens to the Grateful Dead. He claims he can read Shakespeare in the original. Some days he thinks there is nothing easy about the Tao.

 

 

Denise O’Hagan 1 poem

 

 

A gift for the taking

 

 

Hunched on the edge of her bed

Fingernail curling into the blanket

She felt the slow wings of panic

Closing in around her

Beating her thoughts out of her

Squeezing her breath thread-thin.

 

                                                                      Life is a gift, my father said

 

She sat there

A husk of her former sixteen-year old self

So light she could blow away

It would be a relief, really.

 

                                                                       It’s a gift I never asked for, I replied

 

But what would it be like

To not be?

 

                                                                       No one asked, he responded

 

Hugging her thin t-shirt tighter

She frowned at the ink stain on her sleeve

And shivered on the edge

Of a perilous moment.

 

                                                                        It’s still a gift for the taking.

 

So she clutched at his words

Mantra-like, embossing them

On the walls of her mind

Shielding herself

From herself

And from what lay outside.

 

 

Denise O’Hagan is an editor by trade. Born in Italy, she lived in the UK before emigrating to Australia. She holds an MA in Bibliography and Textual Criticism and works in publishing. Her poetry is published in various literary journals including New Reader Magazine, Other Terrain Journal, Pink Cover Zine, Literary Yard, Backstory, Other Terrain Journal, Scarlet Leaf Review, Poet’s Corner/InDaily and The Blue Nib. She was commended in the Australian Catholic University Poetry Prize (2018), shortlisted for the Robert Graves Poetry Prize (2018), and received a special mention in the Pangolin Poetry Prize (2018).Website: https://blackquillpress.com/

 

Phillip O’Neil 3 poems

 

IN MEMORIAM

 

(Sarajevo)

 

 

She fades against a sky of stars

a trapeze artist trembling inside her own shadow

on the canvas of a traveling circus

transfigured to the mother of La Pieta

outside the Bislaliko Sepulchri

beside a wall pockmarked by shrapnel

fragments of a war

torn among burned books by live rounds

trembling again the shy girl,

whose war I fear, I loved above

the girl that came before into a life

who shied away the blood

bloodier than the belly of a hit and run

knew death only from a freak accident

a suicide away in the next tower block

Oh! soar to her day and night

Brittled by my own haphazard events

while I enfeebled to inaction when she nears

she breezed into my cracked circle

a train spilling its guts like a dissected worm.

 

 

ROOM FLAW

 

 

Here’s the nightclub of contradiction,

whiskies and wallets by the roulette spin

under a two-legged knot

of a pretzelling major

lap dancing for tuition and sprees.

 

‘Dance for me

Why won’t you dance for me?’

 

These are the hard-graft hours

of the banishing

in our nightclub of the soul,

the lock-in in this odd inn

you stepped in unawares

tickled by fat bouncers’ fingers

 

‘breaking or starting up a fight’.

 

Liked then loved, craved then addicted,

a revolutionary and his bloody flag

you also want to leave

but it’s never quite the right time.

 

‘Dance for me,

please dance for me!’

 

Remember the daily diary entries

hallmarked with apoplexy and mild conceit

too numb armed at drowning the pickaxe of a past?

 

Your baby-stare through fish-eyes

delicate for contacts,

watching the stomach of a brain

churned by sour fairies

in the velvet room’s mirrorball

above the stink of last night’s discotheque,

the butt ‘n’ spirited end

of a long and cheap night out ...

 

my sexless, hexed, anorexic dancers split

over broken brandy glasses

blood and ash tables

dead clients face down

in an inherited rot.

 

‘Dance with me,

Won’t you please dance with me?’

 

 

THE FOUNTAIN OF TEARS

 

(for Gabriel Garcia Lorca)

 

 

The hike leads us to a spring in an olive grove

buzzing trees dry as the chafing cicadas

tiny castanets in the gnarls and branches offering

no shade on the old road cracked as a map.

 

Yet, still, somehow they step out

from no possible hiding-place,

men of leather, torn uniforms and gun metal,

sick, souless eyes with the cataracts of death

spewing keen barbs into every vessel

hooks and claws in every valve

like a hundred fly-fishing accidents

flicking blinding hooks into eyes

We’re whitebait ripped by sharks

that know the common flesh but tear

just the same.

 

My words want to barter

assassin thongs

for the filaments of angels

mindgame a way out

in this place of dead roads

begging and pleading the gangster goons

crying mercy against the gloves

cocking rusting guns.

 

Lined up by a trench

we wait for the captain (who hangs

scalps where others wear medals)

to step from the old man body of the tree

all stubble, tobacco and spit.

 

 The Fountain of Tears

where men lie stacked playing cards,

food for the groves, siesta country

where peasants dose as civil bullets fly

the poet sent to an unmarked grave

by the fathers of children

who’ll build theatres for his words.

 

 

Philip O’Neil is an English writer living in Prague who worked as a journalist for over two decades in various parts of the globe. His poetry has been published in Ygdrasil, Wilderness House Literary Review, Suisun Valley Review, Mad Swirl among others. His first novel ‘Mental Shrapnel' is due to be published later this year.

Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal 2 poems

 

 

Red Apples

 

 

When she tells me

someone is going to kill her,

that she’s sweating in fear,

I ask her to be calm.

 

She said a man offers her apples

laced with something

that would put her to sleep.

She said the man is so cruel

for words because

she cannot resist the red apples

he brings to her door.

 

She said the man is a gentleman,

who has split personalities,

like Jekyll and Hyde.

I ask her if she has been taking her medicine.

She responds, What does that have

to do with anything?

She asks me to leave and remarks,

I would rather have the apple.

 

 

Certain Words

 

 

Certain words have their place.

It is the silence they crave.

The unreliable narrator is not

accounted for sometimes.

He speaks, she speaks and

the words come out of the bottle

as the genie sleeps.  Words are

free to roam, though some rake

up heavy debts and emotion

does not give way to common

sense or reason.  Certain words

will lead you to an early grave.

There they will find silence.

 

 

Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal, born in Mexico, lives in Southern California, and works in the mental health field in Los Angeles. His first book of poems, Raw Materials, was published by Pygmy Forest Press. His other poetry books, broadsides, and chapbooks, have been published by Alternating Current Press, Deadbeat Press, Kendra Steiner Editions, New American Imagist, New Polish Beat, Poet's Democracy, and Ten Pages Press (e-book).

 

 

Maureen Butler 1 poem

 

 

When You Die
 


When you die
You only know part of that day
You won’t feel fingers on the pulse
No longer there
You won’t know that snow fell an hour later
That the temperature plummeted
You won’t hear the crunch of tires on the ice
As a car pulls into your driveway
The thrum of the furnace
The cough in the Hall
The grandfather clock never again
Measuring your time
The click before amber light
Banishes gloom
But not now, not for you
You won’t see the table being laid
For mourners
Your faded gravy stain from last Christmas
That you hid under a serving bowl
Or your husband’s grimace as he
Stays glued together with every shallow breath
Breath that you will never breathe again
Your blouse on the floor
That you will never retrieve
The dishes half done
The unfulfilled apology
The hollow sound of grief
echoing behind you.

 

Maureen Butrler has been a professional actor/director most of her life and currently lives in Maine.  She lived in Galway, Ireland for a year where she studied poetry with Kevin Higgins, and rediscovered her passion for this form of expression.  She is married and lives with her husband and two enormous dogs.

 

Alec Solomita 1 poem

 

 

Neighbors

 

 

I know they think but I don’t know what.

They know I drink but they don’t know why

(neither do I).

A rat lives under their basement sink.

 

 

Alec Solomita has  published fiction in the Southword Journal, The Mississippi Review, Southwest Review, and The Adirondack Review, among other publications. He was shortlisted by the Bridport Prize and Southword Journal, and named a finalist by the Noctua Review. His poetry has appeared in Algebra of Owls, The Galway Review, MockingHeart Review, Driftwood Press, and elsewhere. His poetry chapbook, “Do Not Forsake Me,” was published by Finishing Line Press in 2017. He lives in Massachusetts.

 

 

Michael A. Griffith 1 poem

 

Mitosis

 

 

When nuclear war was the realists’ fear,
before AIDS, Ebola, Ebonics, Ebay...
we split, divided before these things evolved.

 
Live Aid was our Woodstock,
nouveau hippies, pseudo cools,
so in love on smoke-hazed weekends.

Your cells traveled so far,
while mine stayed, comfortable in the

    petri dish gel
as we both expanded apart.                 


I wish we could join together,
form a temporary tissue,
relive our past as cameras can,


if even just for some hours
to feel the haze once more,
smoke leading to fire to see ourselves

once more as we were,
with membranes of what we've become

not mutations of what we might have been.

 

 

Michael A. Griffith began writing g poetry after a disability-causing accident. His chapbooks Bloodline (The Blue Nib Imprint) and Exposed (Soma Publishing and Hidden Constellation Press) were released in fall 2018. Mike was nominated for the Pushcart Prize for poetry in October 2018. He lives near Princeton, NJ and teaches at Raritan Valley Community College. He is Poetry Editor (US/Canada) for The Blue Nib.  

 

 

Francine Witte 1 poem

 

 

When you come back, maybe then I can leave

 

 

  1. A house is a. It is not a verb. If you never heard the word out loud, you’d say it wrong. (See love.) A house is taller than you. It has walls that are thicker than you. At night, it gets darker than you. (See doubt.)

  2. A house is a. It is not a noun. It is a container inside other containers, and it holds containers, too. It holds people with bodies and hearts. (See eggshell.) It’s inside a neighborhood, a town, a world. (See inside and inside and inside.)

  3. A house is a. I thought you were one. I thought love was one. I was going to buy a shelf. I was going to buy a dinner plate. (See trying to plant a dolphin.)

 

 

Francine Witte is the author of four poetry chapbooks, two flash fiction chapbooks, and the full-length poetry collections Café Crazy (Kelsay Books) and the forthcoming The Theory of Flesh (Kelsay Books)  Her play, Love is a Bad Neighborhood, was produced in NYC this past December. She lives in NYC.

 

 

Josh Medsker 2 poems

 

 

Planctus for My Youth


(After Elizabeth Bishop)

 

 

I still think of you, in dark times
and light.

The skins I have shed, bold
and fragile alike, trail behind me

ribbons of memory—

Shorter now, having been hooked on
this pain or that, torn away, leaving

ragged edges, but still there.

 

 

Song

 

Used to be that a song could
set everything right side up

 

with a chord
change or word

 

Oh me
Please let me be that free again.

 

 

Josh Medsker's writing has appeared in many publications, including: Contemporary American Voices, The Brooklyn Rail, The Review Review, Haiku Journal, and Red Savina Review. For a complete list of Mr. Medsker's publications, please visit his website. (www.joshmedsker.com)

 

 

Lorraine Caputo 2 poems

 

 

PALE FRAGRANCE

 

When the sun dips beyond

that western volcano

its rays whitening the sky

gathered  clouds changing

to gilded magenta

 

before fading in the dusk

 

swells the perfume of a lily

I found abandoned

on the stone steps

of an ancient church

one of its pale yellow

petals ripped away …

 

 

& one night

I awaken to this just

eclipsing moon peering

though my window

 

its light shining upon my bed

& whitening the sky, broken

clouds

 

before slipping beyond

that western volcano, eclipsing

eclipsing …

 

& the perfume of that yellow

lily of on torn petal

drifts in this room

 

 

 

CIVILIZED

 

 

(a poem for two voices)

1889—This building is 100 years old—1989

“The civilized peoples are those that show

  respect for the symbols of their past.”

—White marble plaque on the building

at Calle Chacabuco No. 917,

Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

 

& these “civilized” people

celebrated Roca’s campaigns of

the Conquest of the Desert

They celebrated your

extermination

 

Now they must come

face to

your face

Emerging

 

From the polychrome stone

of Humahuaca Canyon

from the burning Chaco

& from the wind-beaten plains

icy bays, snowy mountains

of Patagonia, of Tierra del Fuego

 

Where your peoples

Kolla, Chiriguano, Tapieta, Chano

are arising

Wichi, Toba, Mocori

celebrating the survival

Mapuche & Tehuelche

of your civilization

Ona & Yanamá

 

 

Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 150 journals in Canada, the US, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa; 12 chapbooks of poetry – including Caribbean Nights (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014), Notes from the Patagonia (dancing girl press, 2017) and the upcoming On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019). In March 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada chose her verse as poem of the month. Caputo has done over 200 literary readings, from Alaska to the Patagonia. She travels through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.

 

 

Carol Hamilton 2 poems

 

 

Velazquez

 

 

Though painted in as himself

at the easel in "Las Meninas,"

what artist is so hidden,

so "not there" in his works?

His subjects are somehow revealed,

yet there are many unknowns

behind the artist's eyes,

so sympathetic but with no taste

for flattery. His works fill

the page, the wall, captivate,

some grand and others tiny.

His hand of creation slips

behind the impasto, modest,

but is thus so present

in the impact of the work itself.

The palette, though dark,

is powered by light.

I see no ego there, but assurance.

As I turn the pages or stand

in the museum, his works pull

me in, over and over, asking ….

what? Perhaps just an invitation

to enter and seek who

we are in his dark eyes.

 

 

Manner of Travel to the End of the Trail

"I will fight no more forever."

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Tribe

 

For some, the trail we march

before we reach the dead end,

the boxed-in corner, the last hope,

is hard. For most the way

is lined with glitter, twinkly

led lights in the trees

that line the paths, new purchases,

filled houses, full garages

and packed-tight driveways,

storage buildings needed.

 

The Nez Perce struggled

and hoped for a thousand miles.

They did not have a say

in their fate. Our flinty eyes,

filled with wants, go merrily

along the pathway,

dreaming Nirvana.

We devour the trees

and their fruits as we go,

assured of our rights.

 

A no-exit canyon awaits

us all, the jolly day trippers

and the desperate strugglers,

the one creating, the other suffering

the path leading to the same trap.

 

 

Carol Hamilton has recent and upcoming publications in Pinyon, Sandy River Review, The Big Window, Commonweal, Bluestem, Southwestern American Literature, Pour Vida, Adirondack Review, The Maynard, Sanskrit Literary  Magazine, U.S.1 Worksheet, Broad River Review, Homestead Review, Shot Glass Journal, Poem, I-70 Review, Louisiana Literature, Haight Ashbury Poetry Journal, The Aurorean, Blue Unicorn,  Birmingham Poetry Review, Pigeonholes Review, Oddevill Press and others.  She has published 17 books: children's novels, legends and poetry, most recently, SUCH DEATHS from Virtual Arts Cooperative Press Purple Flag Series. She is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma.

 

Claudia Coutu Radmore 3 poems

 

 

the pebble collector

 

 

his dawns his evenings his delivering mail

over iced roads flooded roads potholes

 

camera ever at the ready despite rain sleet mist snow

he snaps what he sees day and night and almost daily records

 

his lake and invites us into his world invited to join

with him in his enthusiasms and celebrations of his

 

gulls and his shoreline and his ice and snow and grass

as he records it and the pebbles that catch his eye

 

smooth or differently coloured and their striations

lucky finds of smoothed or heart-shaped mineral matter

 

witch stones wish stones hard to resist stones

he worries about their accumulations on shelves

 

in dishes bowls and plant pots on shelves tables

tucked in corners of the room or between book spines

 

the way we are inclined to move material things

put them where they best serve one way or another

 

how their placements are critical though not serious

a pebble’s warmth when held for a while in the palm

 

not warm in itself but which simply on view gives warmth

the Japanese say that the heart thinks and the mind feels

 

as what we think or feel is seldom clear to our own selves

not as clear as the sight of a pebble just brought in from rain

 

 

possibility warehouse

 

 

in the possibility warehouse

 

poetry tiptoes past caged birds

 

here the heart thinks and the mind feels

 

and coffee is the person upon whom one coughs.

 

lymph is to walk with a lisp

 

 

in the possibility warehouse

 

I have become intent on remaking you.

 

have you replace the letter w with t

 

so you will have the answers to what where and when

 

it is cold here

 

 

flocks of birds stretch boundaries

 

turn into shoals of fishes

 

swimming in opposite directions

 

and they are all talking chattering endlessly

 

in this warehouse

 

everything is hitched to everything else

 

and there is more to life than death

 

your future self is watching you right now

 

such a tiny pump, the heart

 

under thin slice of moon

 

the onion blooms

 

when I come into the room

 

you startle me

 

 

as tumbled over rim

 

 

she would have loved

 

the mason bee that pulls nails out of walls

 

and videos of Monty Python’s silly walk

 

she said of course I know the sun doesn’t rise or set

 

and of course the stars and sky are not above us

 

her reasoning not scientific but based on chthonic evidence

 

we had long acknowledged her mind to be simply different

 

close to that darker shade of crazy

 

to put it another way we were used to not paying attention

 

never saw our mother as new type of mineral

 

harder and more valuable than diamond

 

and we thought

 

we thought

 

she would last forever

 

 

as tumbled over rim…from As kingfishers catch fire, Gerard Manley Hopkins

 

 

Claudia Coutu Radmore has published several collections. Accidentals (Apt. 9 Press, Ottawa) won the 2011 bpNichol Chapbook Award. On Fogo, poems short-listed for the 2017 Malahat Long Poem Contest, was published by The Alfred Gustav Press, Vancouver, in 2018.  A poem from the camera obscura (2019, above ground, Ottawa ) is included in The Best Canadian Poetry of 2019. Including three years training teachers in Vanuatu as a CUSO cooperant, Montreal-born writer Claudia Coutu Radmore has lived, taught and created art in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and China. She writes lyric and Japanese-form poetry. Claudia started catkin press in 2012.

 

 

Christine Collins

 

 

THE TRUTH ABOUT LEAVING

 

 

So many have asked

when I knew it was over.

 

They want to know how to

to look for it in their own

near-dead relationships.

 

They want to hear a foolproof

equation as if I can say:

Look to his skin: Look for

the horsehead mole

that sprouts three hairs.

 

They don't want to hear

that the only revelation

was a dozen tiny pebbles

in our shoes each time

we tried to move forward.

 

That we only knew

we couldn't continue.

 

They don't want to hear

that one significant revelation

never came. That I still look for it.

 

That I still wonder

if we did our best.

 

That letting each other go

wasn’t because love had faded

but was instead from loving well –

 

the cut-throat kind of love

that will injure in order to save.

 

 

KINTSUGI

 

 

Now that the us that used to be

is over, over and placed aside

like a pressed flower in a bible,

I’m tempted to ask am I better?

But, just as I think the question,

another seismic shift cracks my skin.

A part of me breaks off onto the floor.

Like a split fruit, I will never be whole

again. An object in motion tends to stay

in motion. The science of my body

actuates the laws of physics. I stay

in motion: breaking, willing

the parts back together, carrying

myself in my own arms as one

carries firewood to a furnace.

I carry myself from one fear

or folly to the next. One pill,

one meditation mantra to the next.

Still, I shouldn't have thought to ask

am I better? That’s what you would

ask, even now.

 

 

Christine Collins moved to Cardiff, Wales, U.K. in 2017 from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where I taught full-time in the English Department at Louisiana State University in addition to working as a remote editorial assistant for Copper Canyon Press. Here in Cardiff, I am a doctorate student in Creative Writing at Cardiff University. As part of my degree program, I also teach creative writing workshops for the university. My critical and creative work has been published or is forthcoming in Kenyon Review Online, Entropy, Cold Mountain Review, Chicago Review of Books, Canyon Voices, Appalachian Heritage, Poetry South, Still: The Journal, Wicked Alice, So to Speak, and Reunion: The Dallas Review. My chapbook titled Along the Diminishing Stretch of Memory was published by Dancing Girl Press in 2014. 

 

Robert Wilson 2 poems

 

 

Robin

 

 

A nest wedged between the lower limbs

of a Chinese maple,

a kind of fruit well within my reach.

Inside the red shade, penny eggs,

pale turquoise, the same color

as that picture from space

of the one remaining earth.

 

I move a safe distance away,

count my breath backwards from three,

and a robin appears, sits cross-kneed

inside her mud and grass porch.

I watch the evening light pass through

her body, her dull orange chest

the color of regret.

 

 

Cancer: A Love Poem

 

 

We waded barefoot along the sandbar,

trespassed up the launch site,

walked the public pier

where we used my fish knife

to carve aliases,

Glow Girl and American Infidel,

in the salt-hardened railing.  

We hid in your parents’ bathroom

where I used your mother’s tweezers

to pull urchin spines out of your foot,

anointed the puncture wounds

with hydrogen peroxide.  

We lay together in the guest bed

where we came up with the perfect alibi:

the sand in the sheets could have belonged

to anyone.

 

And when you spoke in broken

chemo brain English, telling me sea foam

is ocean-scented soap in a hurry,

I kissed your eyelashes that you stopped

cutting to grow out in tiny feral sneers,

and thought of the summer seagrass thick along

the flats, sunlight moving through as easily

as forgiveness is bestowed upon all of God’s

stillborn children

 

 

Robert Wilson is a teacher and poet living in the Mid-west, my poems have most recently appeared in the Lily Poetry Review and the Pinyon Review.

David Dephy 1 poem

 

 

The Interpretation

 

 

I am holding out a handful of water. There are endless

rivers deep within my handful of water. I see my smile there,

I hear the voice from deep within: “You can only interpret

yourself given the state of affairs you were thrown into at birth.

Your birth is your interpretation of your future.”

 

I am holding out a handful of sand. There are the endless

mountains deep within my handful of sand. I see my shadow

on it, I hear the voice from deep within: “You cannot change

the facts, but you can shift the importance of the facts in how

you interpret them.”

 

I am holding out a handful of breath. There are endless

winds deep within my handful of breath. It’s trembling, I see

myself through this breathe and I am hearing the voice:

“The facts of your history and belief, discover the possible

interpretations available to you,

 

while you cannot change the facts of your history and belief,

you can shift your interpretation of those facts. Everything is

intimately connected with your personal interpretations.”

I am holding out a handful of ashes, I burned all my sorrows

with my breath and then

 

this ash became the silence, the silence became

the presentiment of joy and the joy became the

water again on my palms. I am holding out a handful of

words. There is the life-giving force in my handful of words,

these words are endless interpretations

 

of myself, of my spirit, of all my wishes. I try to tell you

through the language of interpretation how strange

the world is, but I hear the voice: “You think your

language was invented to describe and represent

reality, but language,

 

reality and all your wishes are intertwined — language

not only shapes our interpretation of reality, but shapes

how the reality itself unfolds,” Let me unfold you my love,

while the language of silence is covering us, while the language

of your beauty is speaking in me.

 

 

David Dephy – The trilingual Georgian/American poet, novelist, essayist, multimedia artist. An active participant in the American and international poetry and artistic scenes, such as PEN World Voices, 92Y Poetry Center, Voices of Poetry, Long Island Poetry Listings, New York Public Library, Starr Bar Poetry Series, Columbia University – School of the Arts in the City of New York, Bowery Poetry Club which named him a Literature Luminary. His poetry has been published in USA and all over the world by the many literary magazines. He lives and works in New York City.

 

 

Phillip O’Neil

 

 

THE FOUNTAIN OF TEARS

 

(for Federico Garcia Lorca)

 

 

The hike leads us to a spring in an olive grove

buzzing trees dry as the chafing cicadas

tiny castanets in the gnarls and branches offering

no shade on the old road cracked as a map.

 

Yet, still, somehow they step out

from no possible hiding-place,

men of leather, torn uniforms and gun metal,

sick, souless eyes with the cataracts of death

spewing keen barbs into every vessel

hooks and claws in every valve

like a hundred fly-fishing accidents

flicking blinding hooks into eyes

We’re whitebait ripped by sharks

that know the common flesh but tear

just the same.

 

My words want to barter

assassin thongs

for the filaments of angels

mind game a way out

in this place of dead roads

begging and pleading the gangster goons

crying mercy against the gloves

cocking rusting guns.

 

Lined up by a trench

we wait for the captain (who hangs

scalps where others wear medals)

to step from the old man body of the tree

all stubble, tobacco and spit.

 

The Fountain of Tears

where men lie stacked like playing cards,

food for the groves, siesta country

where peasants dose as civil bullets fly

the poet sent to an unmarked grave

by the fathers of children

who’ll build theatres for his words.

 

 

IN MEMORIAM

 

 

She fades against a sky of stars

a trapeze artist trembling inside her own shadow

on the canvas of a traveling circus

transfigured to the mother of La Pieta

outside the Bislaliko Sepulchri

beside a wall pockmarked by shrapnel

fragments of a war

torn among burned books by live rounds

trembling again the shy girl,

whose war I fear, I loved above

the girl that came before into a life

who shied away the blood

bloodier than the belly of a hit and run

knew death only from a freak accident

a suicide away in the next tower block

Soar to her day and night

Brittled by my own haphazard events

while I enfeebled to inaction when she nears

she breezed into my cracked circle

a train spilling its guts like a dissected worm.

 

 

Phillip O’Neil is an English writer living in Prague who worked as a journalist for over two decades in various parts of the globe. His poetry has been published in Ygdrasil, Wilderness House Literary Review, Suisun Valley Review, Mad Swirl among others. His first novel ‘Mental Shrapnel' is due to be published later this year.

 

 

Nicole Horowitz 1 poem

 

 

Apple Pie

 

 

Somewhere deep

In former South Vietnam

I visited some tunnels

Where fleeing villagers used to live

underground.

Where B52s used to explode

cratering the land.

Until it was

A moon made of jungle.

 

What strikes me most today

Is not the pockmarked land

Or the wrecked American tank

Overgrown with wild vines.

But the muffled scream

of my Scottish friend

Upon hearing a gunshot ring

from the nearby shooting range.

 

I didn’t flinch.

Why would I?

I am, after all

American.

 

A gunshot to me

Is like Apple Pie

A thick poison

Of homegrown flavor.

 

Does poison taste the same

In Vietnam? Does it still reek

Of Napalm,

American gunpowder,

And all the

messes we’ve made?

 

 

Nicole Horowitz is a creative writer and graduate currently attending Oregon State University's school of Writing, Literature and Film. She is a founding member of @Teakneezine, and a strong believer that writing should cross boundaries; whether in medium, genre, or politics. 

 

 

Anna Teresa Slater 2 poems

 

 

Secret

 

4 a.m. is my church. A secret kept

until I chanced upon it. Awakened

by a choir of crowing, much like a calling

to open a good book or to breathe in

the coppery silk air. When I am there I live in-between. Alone

and in union with all the citizens of the world

who dream. As coffee brews I sit in communion

with my chair, the open window, my nakedness. A spirit

of stillness --stolen and holy cocooned-- wafts through

this hour, returns me to womb

or to that sacred brink before bud

becomes flower. Silence

the only worship for this space bestowed

upon the chosen few. When I miss God,

the gods, something more, myself

I visit this candle-lit time, where I know I must leave

my shoes at the door, where there is something beyond

yes and no, up and down, birth and death,

this. Even more. Even so

I accept that my watch does not know wait, so before the end

of the hush, before first light creeps in, before rush

of ritual and real, I bow my head then

with reverential high, I whisper goodbye, ready

for new day to begin.

 

 

Collaboration

 

There is an untethered white horse saddled inside my chest

creating by its very presence a kind of art with its upright

crest, cascading mane, its tail waving behind in weaving flight,

its starred muzzle steering forward, guided

by ancient contemplation.

 

When my heart is trampled, spirit stifled and withered

Warmblood gallops in a blaze, unfazed, barreling on ahead

till by my will and its prudence, rest. I rein it in and it tames the flare

in my breast. Then we ride as one in trochaic hum

into unpainted sunsets and further on into bare, unwritten dawns.

 

 

Anna Teresa Slater is a high school literature and drama teacher from a small town in the Philippines.  She is a postgraduate student in Creative Writing at Lancaster University. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Panay News, Poetika Anthology 2018, and Better Than Starbucks. Recurring themes in her writing include feminism, protest, and nature. She lives on a farm with her husband, dog, and cat.

 

 

Judith Borenin 2 poems

 

 

Beneath A Sea Tightly Wrapped

 

 

Bottle green low tide. Kelp

and seaweed curl wide rusty

 

tendrils around shipwrecked

piling stumps. They undulate -

 

impaled in place - arranging

themselves into changing shapes

 

of wild finned fish swimming

beside half buried sarcophagi –

 

cracked sides split – spilling

limbs and loose strands of

 

streaming hair in the singing

current as it gently shifts with

 

little ripples towards the sun.

 

Carapace almost camouflaged –

a crab clings to a barnacle poxed

 

piling – its stained ivory pincer

blindly taps its way an inch

 

above the water line as it climbs

then disappears. In the slight breeze

 

a whiff of sliced watermelon washes

in with the incoming tide. A blue

 

cellophane sheen sheets the glistening

sea obscuring the unravelings below

 

where schools of illusions glide.

 

 

Slow Turns On A Shaft

 

 

How mutely they fly – shrieks

astonished in their throats - silenced

 

by the splayed wind’s hand pressed

over unblinking eyes.

 

Some drift like wet clothes pinned

to wind limbs – wings hinged –

 

hung out to dry.

 

Some - wings opal blades - levitate

and twirl parsing

 

the rind of grey sky.  

 

Veins still whistling with grief -

astonished as I watch –

 

how these slow seamless turnings

sculpted with graceful

 

strokes carve out dimensions of loss.

 

 

Judith Borenin has been published in The Raven Chronicles:Last Call, The Floating Bridge Press Review IV, Ethel Zine 3 among other journals and have a mini-poetry book coming this summer. I have been writing poetry since being thrust upon a convent in Australia when I was in the fourth grade. I survived the Great Alaska Quake of '64. I've moved so many times I have a continual ringing in my ears.

 

 

Kate LaDew 3 poems

 

 

I remind myself you aren't like that

 

 

and it's not your fault you don't understand

but I am so tired of not being understood

existing for a million years, used, killed or accused,

you don't run with one earbud out, a knife in your pocket

mace on your keys, hands ready to claw and gouge,

you don't wonder if the noise is there to rape or murder or both

no one calls you silly when you're scared 

or pats you anywhere they can reach while you freeze

no one says I didn't mean anything by it 

as their eyes rove up and down you like hands

 

good girl is different than good guy but both are lies

 

I remind myself you aren't like that

and it's not your fault you don't understand

but after all the words I've spent telling you, all the breath I've lost, isn't it?

 

 

as the fingers squeeze and

 

 

I feel something crack more than I hear it,

fireworks rope and dance and skitter along the backs of my eyelids

please, I think, if I'm going to die, please let him leave me somewhere I am found

please do not let my mother be left with a great unknowing

I am certain of her in a way I am certain of nothing else

she would look for me till the end of the world

 

 

your mom dies and

 

 

relief flows 

like the settling of snow

after pulling your car 

to the side of a jagged road

but the guilt,

the guilt is electric

 

 

Kate LaDew is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in Studio Arts.  She resides in Graham, NC with her cats Charlie Chaplin and Janis Joplin.

 

 

Kirsty Niven 2 poems

 

 

Swan Maiden

His smile birthed a sort of unearthly glow,
outshining the moon and the streetlight,
radiating a snake-charming power.
Its illumination transformed everything;
a stone wall into a sky high turret,
an ugly duckling girl into a swan princess,
the trees surrounding them a wall of thorns.

The world paused in a rare moment of hush,
silence hung in the chilled night air
before the moon continued its orbit –
castles crumbling, fairytale feelings fucked.
Reality rushed back in, utterly unwanted.
Her ball gown vanished, her tiara gone;
still hypnotised, words caw from her swollen lips

not knowing that the moment was dead.

 

 

A Note From The Difficult One

 

I am ready if you are, to talk that is.
I am sorry that I fail to communicate,
that my words get lost in translation.
Exaggerations cloud what I mean,


turns of phrase tangled up in feeling.

In the past I have found it simple
to write essays, poems or even stories;
but speaking was never my forte,


reciting so far out of my comfort zone,
a mere regurgitation of the dictionary.

I’ve practiced in front of the mirror,
watching my face twist and contort along


as the words pour from my lips.
I’ve drafted and redrafted all night long,
as the rain trickles down the window.

I am ready if you are, to say what I mean.


The semantics are seeping forth,
a storm brewing, ready to be unleashed.
I promise there will be no argument,
and it will always end in I love you.

 

Kirsty A. Niven lives in Dundee, Scotland. Her writing has appeared in anthologies such as Landfall, A Prince Tribute and Of Burgers and Barrooms. She has also featured in several journals and magazines, including The Dawntreader, Cicada Magazine, Dundee Writes and Word Fountain. Kirsty's work can also be found online on sites such as Cultured Vultures, Atrium Poetry and Nine Muses Poetry."

 

 

Xe M. Sánchez 1 poem

 

 

EL PASÁU YE’L FUTURU

 

 

Dellos entá camienten

que nun esisten les pantasmes.

Les pantasmes somos nos

cuandu naguamos

por facer aportar el pasáu

al presente con pallabres.

El pasáu namái ye eso,

pallabres que caltienen

el mesmu soníu

con un significáu estremáu.

El pasáu namai ye’l futuru

de los que nun tienen futuru.

  

 

THE PAST IS THE FUTURE

 

 

Some still think

that ghosts do not exist.

We are the ghosts

when we want to bring

the past to the present

with words.

The past is only that,

words which preserve

the same sound

with a different meaning.

The past is only the future

of those who have no future.

 

Xe M. Sánchez was born in 1970 in Grau (Asturies, Spain). He received his Ph.D in History from the University of Oviedo in 2016, he is anthropologist, and he also studied Tourism and three masters. He has published in Asturian language Escorzobeyos (2002), Les fueyes tresmanaes d’Enol Xivares (2003), Toponimia de la parroquia de Sobrefoz. Ponga (2006), Llue, esi mundu paralelu  (2007), Les Erbíes del Diañu (E-book: 2013, Paperback: 2015), Cróniques de la Gandaya (E-book, 2013), El Cuadernu Prietu (2015), and several publications in journals and reviews in Asturies, USA, Portugal, France, Sweden, Scotland, Australia, South Africa, India, Italy, England, Canada, Reunion Island, China and Belgium.

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