is originally from Richmond, Virginia. He lives and works in Charleston, South Carolina. His work has recently appeared, or is forthcoming, in Spoon River Poetry Review,Yemassee, and The Tulane Review, among other places. He is an MFA candidate at The Bennington Writing Seminars.
The Wind in Our Letters
A glow: an emanation,
an elegance of hunger
that only a pill will fix.
An unconscionable festering.
A black hole of enthusiasm
that refuses to bend to the will
of stability mills.
A bare deciduous forest breathing
a wake-up touch
to the face; then an emergence
from the curtains
to an empty auditorium.
We are the ringleaders of transfer,
polymaths of pain boiling
in the wake of a cargo ship
carrying empty containers.
Grief becomes the floor’s
As the Blank Pages
full of blank names pile
on your doorstep, you
become a satellite in orbit,
turned off forever –
unable to either send
or receive signals. Consider this
a portrait of yourself as city-state.
This is the dreaded call
for you to stop
Be aware of the triumph, though:
the C-4 belt is strapped
to my waist, and I will explode
up into the Malibu marine layer,
where the blimps that lobotomize
Los Angeles will break
and return me as rain.
Longing Charles Herbert
We tied our thoughts
to balloons and urged them
of belief whose messages
were clear: For every silence
there is an equal and opposite
off the cold water, where waves
crashed with the metronome
of breath. The buoy in the bay
held barking sea lions with faces
facsimiles of discontent.
We gazed past them at the parachutes
raining down, and learned
to take the hurt.
is the author of 4 poetry collections and two chapbooks. He has won several European awards for his poetry and he’s nominated for the Pushcart Award and Best of the Net. Translations of his books will be published soon in Italy, Poland and Russia. His poems have appeared in more than 900 literary magazines, such as: Poetry Quarterly, Evergreen Review, Hawaii Review, Cordite Poetry Review, Sheepshead Review, Off the Coast, The Adirondack Review, The Coachella Review, Two Thirds North, Sierra Nevada Review, The Cleveland Review and many others.
Consequence Peycho Kanev
The soldier walks through the field. Dead, but alive, alive, but dead. The medal weighs on his chest as he walks slowly. Oh, he is so thin. So unbelievable skinny. The dry hand of hunger is stuck in his belly. But he continues with his slow walk. Dead, but alive, alive, but dead. And all around him is silence.
Silence Peycho Kanev
The stone is a mirror, but it only reflects dark images.
If the lonely man jumps off the bridge, if the little girl gets gored by a angry bull, if the soldier falls in mud, it says nothing at all.
The stone is a mute witness of the centuries with a diary in his back pocket.
In the night the stone goes through it’s writings and thinks about it, everything that was and will never be again.
The silence inside him is endless, but one still can find in it, some memories of everything, some memories of nothing.
Jessica K. Hylton
writes most of her work while driving. She has wrecked three cars, but she finished her dissertation. Her work can be seen in the Commonline Journal, Buried Letter Press, and Pure Fantasy and Science-Fiction. She also is the head editor of Fermata Publishing and the Southwestern Review.
Birdbrained Emotions (44 Lines)
They say to get over someone
You're supposed to pick up a new hobby
And apparently the most cathartic
Are the hobbies where you make something
So you bring a woodworking bench
Past the film cameras, the roller skates, the bass guitar
And hope that a new birdhouse
Will take away memories
Better than the temporary
Reprieve granted by neon flavored shots
And long legs that walk in directions
You don't really want to go
But one birdhouse only leads to another
A gateway carpentry
And pretty soon the whole living room
Is filled with 353 birdhouses
Then you realize you don't even like birds
Fucking feathered freaks that shit on their own food
Why do they deserve to live in such palaces
While you can barely afford a one bedroom apartment
That smells of burnt out cigarettes and stale new beginnings
In fact you hate birds
You think about taking all the houses
Outside and lighting them on fire
To be rid of the clutter
But while you're looking for matches
You run across a keepsake that you shouldn't still keep
And pretty soon you're staring at a blank text message
Trying to think of the right thing to say to the wrong person
Thinking honesty is the best option
You start typing out "I mis--"
But you can't even stand to look at the words
As if somehow seeing them makes
Them more real and you know honesty
Is only appreciated by hearts that want to beat
Not by those looking for refuge behind walls
You throw the phone across
The birdhouse mountain range
And do the only thing you know
How to do at this point
Start on number 354
Daddy’s Gun (36 Lines)
My butt smacked head sends me
Spinning to the ground
Where the grass paints
My blue jeans green
You present a barrel
Inches from my face
Long and smooth
I clasp my hands
An unwilling disciple
Worshiping its very existence
Mere prayers hardly satisfy
Receive the body of Christ
I will not gag
On your religion
I’ve seen the light
You come for
Buckshot loaded with
I want to go home
My creator will
Once his moment
Of divinity has passed
I touch my face
My hand wet with
But dear Father
Is it me or is it you?
April 16, 2006 (32 Lines—one for each victim)
On April 16, 2007 Seung-Hu Cho killed 32 people in the bloodiest school shooting to date. April 16, 2006, he was just another English major.
He looked at his feet when he walked
As if somehow he could convince
Himself he was going somewhere
Other than the fourth seat in the back
Row of our contemporary fiction course
I’d always try to look uninterested
Shuffling papers as I fed
On his look of absolute disappointment
He finally unglued his eyes
From his shoes to see that tired orange chair
He was weird and he stank
Of ridicule most of the time
He sat quietly inhaling our insults
And exhaling his own insecurities
He tried not to talk but when he did
It came out jumbled
The only English major who couldn’t
Actually speak the language
But we needed him just as much as he needed
No one can stand as tall on their own
As they can when they’ve trampled
I looked to our leader
She sat straight backed in the front of the room
“This is some of the worst writing I have ever seen”
He squirmed his ability to transport himself
Elsewhere thwarted by his sitting position
We all stared
Waiting for him
To make a move.
Jim Davis is a graduate of Knox College and an MFA candidate at Northwestern University. Jim lives, writes, and paints in Chicago, where he edits North Chicago Review. His work has received Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations, and has appeared inWisconsin Review, Seneca Review, Adirondack Review, The Midwest Quarterly, and Columbia College Literary Review, among others. In addition to the arts, Jim is a teacher, coach, and international semi-professional football player.
after James Schuyler
from the Park-Schreck Gallery, North Ave.: Titian
sunset, nudes abstracte
What’s with art anyway, that we give it such
primacy. Sunset. I used to live
in a 2-flat on Seminary, before that a townhouse
in Milford Greens, whose composite walls
could not stop smell, where green omni-
presented itself like a fit of uncontrol
& beer, whisperings of nettle soup we couldn’t
stand, under-seasoned so bad it stung, we settled
for potato boxty. Back now from the Park-
Schreck Gallery, Sushi Nori where I ordered
sweet potato maki to go. There’s a girl waiting for me
under the beige comforter that’s beginning to smell
like her and I fiddle in my pocket
for more meter-quarters, buy time, sit
in the pink-orange light of the world turning over alone.
A lone smudge of light on a face, ending as it began.
A loon goes crazy from boredom, sitting on its eggs
through lifetimes. I decide to pick her a Dog
Rose & wreath it in Ground Ivy, sprinkle little stars
of ash from settled train sparks. By the time I finish
my arrangement, she’ll be gone. In the morning
I’ll be glad to have fresh linen.
Cup holders, invisible cups. Eating baby
carrots reading comic books thinking of cup
holders, invisible cups. Dig an ice pick in
a couplet for every poem is ars
poetic, the way each breath is living.
You can fold anything into a swan.
The cracked ancillary ego of one who says
I am this and you are everything
has the ability to fill your eyeballs
with transmuted versions of the extinct
oceans of our moon. Strife is a band
I never bought into, though black Xs on
an old pair of gloves would disagree.
Anything structured strophically brings me to
cup holders, invisible cups. Staring into abyss where
we open and close like a grab through water.
Brittany Fonte holds an MFA in Creative Writing, Fiction. She has published three books: Buddha in My Belly (poetry collection), Fighting Gravity (YA book) and A.K.A. Charming (fiction). She is also a finalist for the 2014 Lambda Literary Award for her editing work on Flicker and Spark: A Contemporary Queer Anthology of Spoken Word and Poetry. She is currently working on a Middle Grade novel about a young zombie adopted by a single mother.
The thickness of my thighs, exaggerated in your eyes, leads me to lying: “What’s on the inside is what counts,” or “There’s someone for everyone in this world,” unless you’re fat. Or matted in social awkwardness. Or your teeth are minus dental care (braces), or you have unwanted facial hair. Or you are too pale, differently-abled, then not white, but sable, or have asymmetrical breasts. Let’s face it—Our looks are a social test.
My kin had better skin, then, than I do, now. And less of it—stretched over a 5’10” frame coddled for aesthetic fame as a model. Or…a lure for buying hot pants, Pepsi rants and satin under things. But she has since passed—from long-term amnesia, or using plastic in the microwave, or forgetting-all-of-the-things in geriatric anesthesia. She was my first best friend and my heart will not mend from this loss. My cost for life is this: I am under 5’7”. Heaven knows I hold full loaves, not simply muffin tops. But. I remember her, remember how to eat, love. And. I. Am. Enough.
I have to believe this—because my daughter is watching me; she is three. She believes that I know the answers to the ultimate questions. That I am a rock star, the resurrection of all that is wise. I am a loving mommy despite my wide hips. Despite my candy-bowl dips and greedy lips. I am perfect even when I am stressed about three jobs, two kids, a dying cat. She is listening when I say I am fat, order fat-free, refuse to celebrate what God and Buddha have given to me. She is mimicking me: pinching arm debris, turning bedroom lights off so a spouse cannot see, sucking in a naval, hoping for some kind of halo to appear. She is learning my fear.
So I must rewrite, revise, realize that single cells of cellulite do not make “me,” or the “we” that we hope to see. Blubber is not what counts on the inside; and not everyone searches for that which is airbrushed and retouched. Perfection can never be touched. Unless she is three, and her soul has not yet seen what commercials redeem in Botox and appetite-curbing drops, racism and classism, anti-Semitism. I want her to envision self-esteem, for what we think we become.
(Please, let none of her thoughts be that she is less than worthy.)
i am illiterate i admit nothing, and spit rhyme when kneading this: the graffiti on your bikini line that has moved the atoms in my mind i can sign on the…
i need Braille or shrapnel, though, and am shell-shocked by the lot of this: something old, something new-- in you, something borrowed from a past, and haste, and the taste or view of
gates to heaven without you, or glue i am screwed/turned/ hell is what one learns when she is brewed and blue for shame steeped in maimed words
she is ripped because she can’t read Nair, there is my short-sight and finger tips buried (right) in your hair, locks = scared to open or be cracked, trauma is trauma, post, past, or
(this is fire and brimstone phoenix love and smack is just as potent)
Ndaba Sibanda is a Zimbabwean-born writer. He is one of the most prolific poets to emerge from that Southern African country.
A former National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) nominee, Ndaba’s poems, essays and short stories have appeared in numerous journals and magazines across the globe. His anthology, The Dead Must Be Sobbingwas published in March 2013. Ndaba`s debut novel,Timebomb has been accepted for publication in the UK. His latest anthology , Time To Walk The Talk will be published in 2014 by Red Dashboard.
Birthday Cake Catastrophe
They called it diabolic and shocking
A grisly birthday cake made of her detached leg
The cake artist spent several hours crafting that cake
The leg was credible, with red tattoos dotted on a bloody board
A banner adorned on the base screamed: ‘This is a special happy
The invitees came in droves but upon catching sight of the
ghastly cake they quickly
Disappeared. Not even her boyfriend or close relatives wanted to
have anything to do with
That cake, let alone eat it. Some of her relatives disowned her
yet others just condemned her .She felt like an unwanted outcast and cried
hysterically for hours on end without anyone coming to comfort her
The Magic Of Snowflakes And Diamonds
I take a rather slow move toward the magic of the snow
l hear the shrill voices of those
citizens you have been snowed in or indeed snowed under
My fascination - the frozen and crystalline state of water that falls as precipitation
Having no clear idea of a crystal
or crystalline solid
or the process of
crystal growth or crystallization or solidification
However- clearly craving for a sight
of crystal twins! those that are often symmetrically intergrown they just grow on me
l marvel at common crystals like
and table salt It would be cool if l went more into a world inside the flake a new world a place that is essentially warmer than we imagine
Oh what magic!
The Oddity`s Presence
The eyes shone with a measure of baffling shyness Seemingly menacing eyes that rolled in their sockets
The head was human except that it was tiny like A little child`s big rocking and twisting doll`s skull
It sat on a boulder smoking a strange odorless cigar The hill with its trees looked awesome that night
It greeted me by my name in accented Ndebele! Then it smiled childishly and switched on to English
It told me about other peoples and planets far away It said earthly people knew little about extraterrestrial life
When it said it was looking for a wife to capture and marry I simply froze for a while before asking to be quietly excused!
It laughed a long but shrill laugh and said knowledge was power Then while l was still wondering feverishly l saw it fly away on a shiny kite!
Robert S. King, a native Georgian, now lives in the mountains near Hayesville, NC. His poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including California Quarterly, Chariton Review, Hollins Critic, Kenyon Review, Lullwater Review, Main Street Rag, Midwest Quarterly, Negative Capability, Southern Poetry Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. He has published three chapbooks (When Stars Fall Down as Snow, Garland Press 1976; Dream of the Electric Eel, Wolfsong Publications 1982; and The Traveller’s Tale, Whistle Press 1998). His full‐length collections are The Hunted River and The Gravedigger’s Roots, both in 2nd editions from FutureCycle Press, 2012; and One Man's Profit from Sweatshoppe Publications, 2013. Two new collections are forthcoming in 2014 from Sybaritic Press and Glass Lyre Press. Robert’s personal website is www.robertsking.com.
Voices from the Storm
Rain strikes down with a hissing of snakes, splashes up as shards of my mirror, so loud I cannot hear the future breaking. The storm in my head is blowing fragile dancers apart, a universe of pieces expanding.
Even on clear nights, glass stars rain down in shatter. Feathers fall like rocks and old apples full of holes. Doors slam through the hallways of covered ears. A lost wind tears itself into four directions, each whispering a secret to a wormhole.
I piece back a jigsaw image in the glass, facing myself too close for comfort. In the loud storm of my life, I cannot hear my own thoughts or read my lips, but I’ll listen to the end for the greater voice singing in the calm eye of the storm, giving melody and meaning to these serpents of rain, to this puzzle of noise and clumsy dance.
―for Mildred Jones King, d. 1988, age 68
As long as I have a life, you have an afterlife. Your ghost still remembers birthdays― your breath blows out one candle at a time, leaving me enough light for another dream to come true. I still hear those days dawning― you on the creaky floors, eggs sunny side up and bacon popping, coffee pot grumbling, biscuits rising early while the hoarse rooster clears his throat in perfect weather.
Even today, your only hunger begs for more than my black sheep’s heart can give: that I feed my soul with holy light from He who gives more than expected back.
Mother, you’ve earned your rest. Know that I seek communion in all of nature, and my lack of faith is not a lack of virtue. Know that my dark heart is just as true as yours, and my rule is golden too. If there is a God who made the rule, He surely declared Let there be two of everything: To understand the light, one must know the darkness well.
Beneath a winter moon we share a dark coat, each wrapped in a vow to keep the other alive if not warm. The snow beneath our feet drifts in white lies, settles like eggshells to walk on.
Neither of us knows the way home. We only know to keep our hands in our pockets and to ourselves, to stand near but not too close to the campfire.
We both know the way to places we cannot go. As the stars and moon like possibilities hide behind the mountain, we both know the places where regret nags, dreams freeze, and hope crackles down in fire.
Ariana D. Den Bleyker is a Pittsburgh native that currently resides in Upstate New York. She is the author of several chapbooks and collections and the founder of ELJ Publications, LLC and Editor-in-Chief of Emerge Literary Journal and scissors & spackle. She can be found at www.arianaddenbleyker.com
I want to be black in a cluster of stars. I want to know the catastrophes of life. I want to know just where I can’t belong, spilling over waterfalls every moment the god I believe in cries for me. Anger doesn’t cry for me when I have nothing new to say. The sky is a furnace; time my womb. There are planets out there with different names and places to go where silence is all there is—into the ether, into dreams, laying in spaces that can’t change, bright as yellow, wayward. I could never be them, be more than what I am—never—because there is only so many forces of sound wetting my mouth, distant nebulas exploding inside the same universe, regenerating energy, forming black holes, life curled up inside, rolling, elbows searching, waiting.
Even six months after, I still self-consciously found myself laying my hand on my stomach as if you were still resting there like an accidentally swallowed peach pit.
The Photograph Taken with a Disposable Camera in Newport, RI, October 13, 1996
The ocean is loaded, cocked, firing back at us, the white caps eternally rolling in across the sheets. We ride the waves, the breaks, the rocky shoreline. The wind forces open sails in the distance, tiny boats like fingers clawing at us, kidnapping the morning, the sun drifting toward us, our eyes squinting to open. The wind explodes from the glass, away from the wall, looks us in the eyes, mulls over our crow’s feet, laugh lines, tiny white hairs exposed rising, reaching for the gulls in the crystal blue sky, time kissing the rocks, us, spraying memory up into our faces, into the places where you can close your eyes and see what has left you forever and what has remained for years beside you.
David Johnson grew up in Massachusetts and lives in Mississippi. His poems have appeared in several journals, including Stirring, Still, and The Bitter Oleander. He is currently a PhD candidate in creative writing at the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi.
My great grandmother cries under the black trees in the starlight. She screams that the rain won’t end, that all the birds in our town whisper evil languages. There were five gold Buddhas in my sister’s house, she tells me, but dark times are here. I touch her arm, and she trembles.
The First Night of Our Acquaintance
She was nude and singing. Her hair pale, her hands long to touch. She pointed at my eyes. What a time for jumping out of mirrors backwards. I’d do it, you know. The glass can only break. She had no reflection if I held her. Everything laughed. When they guided her away, my room turned green and flickered.
Rosie Garland Born in London, England, Rosie has always been a cuckoo in the nest. She is an eclectic writer and performer and sings in cult gothic bandThe March Violets. She has five solo collections of poetry - the most recent being 'Everything Must Go' (Holland Park Press) - and is winner of the DaDa Award for Performance Artist of the Year and a Poetry Award from the People’s Café, New York.Her debut novel ‘The Palace of Curiosities’ was published in March 2013 by HarperCollins.
The train slips loose of the South: from its huts of knitted straw, tinder-dry, from its crusts of mountains, walls of slapped plaster, from its rumors of a wet season, its promise of rain. We shudder past railway stations with faded names; their paint exhausted by the sun's bombardment. The soldier in the seat opposite leans into his radio, face wide with news of the coup. He sucks his cigarette to a red ember, unwraps a banknote and burns a hole in the face of the President. We head north into a barricade of thunderclouds taking up positions around Khartoum, Omdurman.
The night sky over Darfur overwhelms with stars. It is so burdened, there are plans to cull a quarter. A third. More. They will prune back the constellations to their chief brightnessthe named, the mapped- burn off the stubble of the small, the feeble, the unclear. Torch the unimportant to cinders. They will dam the Milky Way, divert its flow to those who appreciate fine light; leaving the star-field uncluttered for the Lords of the Blackness: Antares, Altair, Arcturus; extending ashy vacancies between these oases in the night's new desert.
Steve Klepetar teaches literature and creative writing at Saint Cloud State University. His work has appeared widely in the U.S. and abroad and has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. His most recent collections are Speaking to the Field Mice, from Sweatshoppe Publications and Blue Season, a chapbook collaboration with Joseph Lisowski, from mgvv2>publishing.
A Long Way Home
We may have walked too long in the salmon pink of dawn. Already small shoots of pain grope along our shins, and
our ankles wobble, small above all this badly balanced weight. What strange bodies we have grown. How light fixes upon our hair, gleams in these shallow-pale wells, mine blue and empty as a small circle of open sky, yours tinged
green and flecked with soft brown of a doe’s sleek back. How our hands tingle, our fingers swell in this heat and sun.
What a long way home. For weeks now, we have touched a new way to feel, opening from inside where these hearts pump and lungs swell and collapse in a rhythm driving upwards toward these dense ears and blurry brains, a musical, muscular thud THUD, thud THUD until the weary sweet surrender pulling us down and inside out into the images of night, white trees and a lantern of moon, long falling into each other’s burning tongues.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and teaches
at Keene State College. His most recent book of poetry is The Suburbs of Atlantis (2013). He has published three critical
studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have
appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts
Review, Atlanta Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Worcester
Review, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, and Natural Bridge
Caretaker of Rooms I Dread
Absorbing the stammer of crows doesn't render me crowlike but alerts me to nouns like roadkill and decay. August days whisper of crickets and downloaded music simpering through earbuds ro addle the adolescent minds I expect to teach the glories of Keats and Yeats. Yet in my recurring dream of rooms sprawling haunted down grave corridors I detect a musty nostalgia not for the dead but for the living.
Caretaker of these rooms I dread, I pause to fumble for a light switch, but the light casts shadows that move. The crows at dawn dare me to follow these creased and greasy shadows, but the people who cast them live far away, unaware they're haunting rooms I dream of sweeping, vacuuming, dusting and mopping once a week.
Emily the senior editor cresting the San Francisco hills, Karl the retired historian fishing sluggish prairie rivers, Ken winding down a career in an elementary school framed by puckered Connecticut hills, Charlotte closing her restaurant in a rich Atlanta suburb after decades of rave reviews.
I recognize their shadows and hope that by switching on the light I'm not disturbing their sleep. The crows have made enough noise so fly off with a few last clucks. Some morning I'll fail to exit those dream-rooms, and maybe then my lost friends will feel a tremor or at least a gust of cold air and realize some creepy place somewhere has shut forever.
Night of the Bat
As I'm talking with Jeff a strange young woman takes my hand. We three cross the plaza as a unit. Rain smuts the flagstones. Maybe this person has mistaken me for her grandfather or maybe her favorite professor, the one who shuts himself in his office with women students and offers to trade good grades for favors.
At the entrance to the union the hand-holder fades away into the crowd. Jeff still talks about the bat in his classroom, the panic that mobilized even the drowsiest students. We slip through the big revolving door and another shivering young woman takes my hand as if compelled to help me through the food court.
Jeff describes opening windows to chase out the bat only to allow a second one in. The small hand is clammy in mine and I glance at a wry blonde face looking up in terror embossed in the smudged but regular features. Jeff has noticed the woman but remains engrossed in his tale. The bats escaped without harm so he assigned his class to write the story of the Night of the Bat.
As Jeff exhales his punch line the hand-holder shies away, but another replaces her and we exit into early dusk and cast a single faint shadow on the sidewalk beside the gym. The hand in mine is too flaccid to belong to a living person -- yet the face, when I turn and face her, wrenches with terror, compelling me to imagine her muffled scream.
Tobi Cogswell is a three-time Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. Credits include or are forthcoming in various journals in the US, UK, Sweden and Australia. In 2012 and 2013 she was short-listed for the Fermoy International Poetry Festival. Her fifth and latest chapbook is “Lit Up”, (Kindred Spirit Press). She is the co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.sprreview.com).
Lapses and Absences
She takes her heart out holds it in her palms she can still draw breath the heart defending her but not defining her she feels like the heron landing on a perfect lake with perfect light, no language to speak of just being.
She looks in wonder at it beating there, palms up in holy supplication she can only see the hint of hands beneath her fragile insides turned and laid bare.
She is loved. She is lost. She has loved and lost. She cannot bear to acknowledge grief, rage with anger or tally up the losses, she merely holds her heart with perfect posture out of curiosity and defense the missing part of her soul holding her close.
And so she flies, her migration on the wind she always threatened to escape. She wears her bruises like beauty marks, does not focus on them, does not acknowledge them. Absence merely means presence somewhere else, and home can be anywhere. (Hot Metal Press, Autumn 2006)
"That was my favorite time", he said "Before the ice of my heart chose a solitary path" I thought we were two branches aching to pull close and canopy our fragile selves like two greedy hands extending toward a common bowl of mussels in Honfleur. The foggy chill, the fire, un peu de creme upon the lip forgotten in the being of it all. surgically precise I carved my heart in the wide barren-moonscape of the emptiness surrounding Mont St. Michel. And the tide washed it away no sound no whisper For me it was not powerful until too late "L'omelette du jour pour moi, s'il vous plait" "C'est tout merci, je suis seule"
How to Vanish
First, stop lookng in mirrors. Make love to men only if they close their eyes. Do not speak with words but analyze between the spaces, articulate with thoughts.
Watch the looks on other people's faces without glasses, leave no fingerprints on textured walls. Remember sign language, speak only to yourself, your hands under the table at busy restaurants.
Do not wear perfume. Alternatively wear your mother's scent. Or your eighth grade French teacher's.
Keep very still. Read the graffiti in the grout of tiled walls. Listen to the arguments outside your window. "I don't need anything" the man shouts, and you don't.
Go to the Coast, have one last adventure. Take his scarf out of your pocket and smell that he loved you. Change your name.
(Spot Literary Magazine, Spring 2008)
The poets that have influenced RICHARD FEIN the most are those of the New York and deep images school. Whatever they do, he does the opposite. Also, those poets recommended by the living white male, general know‑it‑all literary scholars he doesn't read. This leaves him with little to read and few to emulate. Basically he gazes into a mirror and copies down his rantings and ravings. He has been published in many of the finest literary journals, such as: The Southern Review, The Northville Review, Gulf Stream Magazine, 96inc, Mississippi Review, ELF: Eclectic Literary Forum Touchstone, Windsor Review, Maverick, Sonoma Mandala Literary Review , Ellipsis, Roanoke Review, El Dorado Poetry, and many others. The University of Wisconsin's Parallel Press, demonstrated its extraordinary good taste by publishing his chapbook "The Required Accompanying Cover Letter" And let's not forget all those editors who have the perspicacity to recognize that despite the fact that many consider him to be a half wit, that half is one mother of a moiety.
LOVE POEM TO A FONDUE CHEESE DIP
Poem to a dark lady, a mysterious Juliet who would make a Romeo out of me── And yet this gently smiling woman might morph into a dismissive vixen of verse were I to even presume. . .. And so she remains unattainable save in my dreams. There she is, alone, musing to herself, leaning over no balcony but rather o'er the hors d'oeuvre table at this wretched black tie affair. Oh what radiance shines by yonder cheese dip tub as her delicate fingers plow a cracker through yellow molten goo. Some dip drips on her silken blue dress, while twixt her upturned nose and lipstick ruby red lips, a pencil thin moustache of yellow cheese lingers. And so my fair Helen of Troy humanizes into a Zelda of Brooklyn while the walls of fortress Troy crumble allowing this lumber headed horse's ass to dare approach her and presume a hello.
Males must pray for frigid mates, or ones as indifferent as cheap-hotel whores staring at ceilings while watching their watches. Arousal would bring no puckering kiss but rather goose-pimpled flesh with hair standing on end-- modified hair, greasy, glued, keratin sealed, an ultimate bad-hair day, medusa-like bristles with barbs sharp as viper fangs. If hair-raising passionate these romantics would truly get under each other's skin like the toxic hickey of an asp. But for that frigid lady there's an exquisite aphrodisiac. Males oozing urine on her back is to her oh yes! Oh Yes! But there can be no hair-raising climax. And their position is certainly not missionary, for that's reserved for those almost hairless primates. These rodent suitors lie on a bed of limp, slicked-back quills, with her medieval mace-like tail stilled for the tryst. Yet beneath the spikes and lethal tail lies the belly naked, vulnerable, an exposed Achilles' heel. Coyotes, lynxes, wolverines, and wolves, flip them over and devour. And after, mice scurry under the indigestible quilled, hollow skin, then move like hermit crabs under their rodent cousins' scooped out flesh making skin crawl.
THE STONE GATHERER
"Yet grains of sand and the cosmos of stars are finite. Eventually there comes an end to counting, a final sum is reached."
Cold stones on cold marbles, mourners mark headstones with rocks found on the ground. It is the tradition. Strangely every headstone here is crowned with stones, the ones still visited by the grieving and the ancient markers once mourned by mourners who, themselves, were mourned and forgotten, and even the tiny faded, faceless marbles standing over long ago infants are crowned with stones. Someone has gathered all the nearby rocks and placed them as mourners' stones on all surrounding grave markers. Who, a groundskeeper passing time or perhaps Elijah moving under the moon and myriad stars? I have to search for a single rock. I must wander a little before I find one and return to crown my place of private grief with that pebble. But when I finally can walk away and approach the gate, I discover rows of headstones amid overgrown weeds, that are yet bare, so bare of mourners' stones. Before leaving I find myself gathering rocks.
Garrett Rowlan is a retired sub teacher. His story just appeared in Clare with others scheduled to be published. For him, poetry is the God of Small Things, with observations and oddities that can't find a larger context.
SMELL OF CONCRETE
Under the garage fluorescent lights flower, pale colors pressed down by miles of steel and cement, its surface: scrimshaw of skid marks,spoor of dripped oil between fading chevrons of parking lane markers. Underbelly of commerce, yet fresh in its scent, concrete that has never known the corrosion of sunlight or the illusion of fresh air. In a far corner, an electric generator hums white noise, pumping oxygen to high rooms while the empty stripes frame skids of hardened oil here in this Neptune’s grotto of faint sounds and forlorn pipes.
SOUL ON FIRE Dousing a fire, pouring water on coals and embers and small flames that licked the air, I watched red fade to black and its sound change from a crackle to a hiss, angry sibilant in a cauldron of brick and iron. Doused, it smoked, white vapors rose with the scent of fresh burn, I didn’t want the smoke detector to wail, and so I took a small shovel and carried the two coals outside. I dumped them in the driveway.
I hosed them down, and even as the sooty water rolled away, the two blocks still fumed, throwing off exhaust, plumes of a buried flame that I imagined coiled red, veins of heat. The fire had woken a deeper life. Later, I picked up the two pieces, blackened, dried, and light, airy as a soul on a deathbed.