bruegel the elder’s the woman taken in adultery
this bare foot Jesus writes
(in dutch no less)
His sentence for her sin that is really theirs
as she stands among the judges, jury, executioners . . .
please note the lack of two formal witnesses
the Law proscribed
as well as her male counterpart who conveniently disappeared
what will become of her
will she speak again
after her enforced silence
and will some future husband lay with her
to rob her of her sorrow and her public shame
Sister Lou Ella
Sister Lou Ella is a former teacher and librarian. She is a certified spiritual director as well as a poet and writer. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as America, First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and new verse news as well as in four anthologies: The Night’s Magician: Poems about the Moon, edited by Philip Kolin and Sue Brannnan Walker, Down to the Dark River edited by Philip Kolin, Secrets edited by Sue Brannan Walker and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015 (Press 53.)
Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza
These are not days of grace. In the morning
we wake to the half-heard sound of shouting
out in the street. On the pale walls the sunlight
spills careless, caresses from the paint
and blistered window-frames outrageous beauty.
Fixing the low gas stove with a broken lighter
you start to tell me how the girls in EUR charge
twenty-five euros for a hand-job. I
do not believe that you know this, but I can’t
unpick the lies within the lies, and so
we smoke in silence and drink coffee from
last night’s vodka glasses.
When the day is right,
we go to Sant'Ivo, which, of course, is closed
except on Sunday mornings, when we sleep late.
Outside in the Roman street prevaricating
between the traffic and god, we hesitate.
The squared curves of the courtyard beckon and repulse:
o wisdom, wisdom – is this still your world?
A Cambridge native, Sophy lives in Rome, where she teaches archaeology by day, writes by night, and stalks the Romantic poets whenever she can.
With a Name Like That, Melissa Weinman Could Be
some meteorologist foretelling your barometric future on tonight’s late o’clock news or the
middle contestant on a gameshow that’s spewing lucre, lucre, lucre or the five-time-Emmy-
nominated supporting actress who plays the smirking coroner who finds the bullet lodged deep within the brain matter then, ping, drops it into a jar as a lead detective and sidekick crack wise,
but is the artist who covered a 60” x 36” canvas in 1998 with Clare of Assisi, the same Clare
named patron saint of television forty years earlier by Pius XII because she could still picture
Mass on one of her four walls even when she was too ill to be anything but a dying couch potato.
Live-studio-audience applause to you, Melissa Weinman, for the way your Clare cradles a tiny,
rabbit-eared TV in her palms for it shows how sacred Love Boat reruns can be in the right hands.
Live-studio-audience applause to you, Melissa Weinman, for the way the screen behind her
left shoulder depicts a mysterious monkey climbing a transmission tower for it indeed foretells
the coming of an entire cable destination fixated on the hijinks of all creatures great and small.
And, most of all, live-studio-audience applause to you, Melissa Weinman, for the second screen behind your Clare’s right shoulder which bears the image of a firing squad in deep winter
because it reminds us all how a firing squad in deep winter has been the parting gift
for too many unlucky contestants on that show that only airs on The History Channel.
This poem was written in response to Melissa Weinman's painting, Saint Clare, the Patron Saint of Television. Click here to view the painting.
“If you want to know all about Andy Warhol,
just look at my films and paintings and me.
There’s nothing behind it. That’s all there is.”
It is all surface, isn’t it, the thin blue silk of the sky, an oak leaf’s chlorophyll
production line, the unblinking eye of the pond? When I was as shallow
as an undergraduate could possibly be, I peeled off from a field trip
to Soho galleries to visit The Factory; my friend and I
nearly identical in our veneers: ironed hair, wheat jeans, black
sleeveless shells, our unwavering scorn of the outside world . . . .
It was dazzling, every surface painted silver: the walls, ceilings,
tables, chairs, bathroom fixtures, like walking into a roll
of aluminum foil. And Andy—thin, spectral, white blond hair,
black sunglasses, nearly wordless. Mostly, he just was, the zen
of non-being, the art of perfect detachment. And we were mute,
too, inarticulate in our youth. We knew what it was we didn’t
want, but not what we did.
Now, all these years and lives later, the twistings and turnings
of many roads— some macadam, some asphalt, some stone—
I can’t remember her name, just how straight her hair was,
how it hung down her back like a bolt of cloth.
In the untidy closet of my heart, I think about what we put on,
fashion, facade, how many layers we need between our skin
and the rest of the world.
This poem was previously published in Barbara Crooker's book, Line Dance (Word Poetry).
Barbara Crooker is the author of nine books of poetry; Les Fauves is the most recent. Her work has appeared in many anthologies, including The Bedford Introduction to Literature, Commonwealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, The Poetry of Presence and Nasty Women: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse. www.barbaracrooker.com
Girls on the Bridge
Three of them on the bridge.
Given a chance whom would you date?
Her, in a green dress,
watching the fleeting sun?
Or the one in a straw hat,
looking straight ahead?
Or maybe the dirty blond
staring at water?
Flawlessly white houses on the shore.
The girls in bright clothes.
The tall green tree and its reflection.
Will they stand there any longer
waiting for someone who has the courage
to step into the fading picture?
Boris Kokotov was born in Moscow, Russia. Currently he lives in Baltimore. He is the author of several poetry collections. He also translated selected poems of German Romantics and contemporary American poets to Russian language. His original work and translations to English appeared in Adelaide, Chiron Review, Entropy, Shot Glass Journal,and The Lake, among others.
Shoe and Tell
Under the illuminating eye of the Cyclops sky,
Is a spotlight showing a scene from a story untold—a sequel:
She parks her shoes at the bottom of once-barren beanstalk,
now heavy with pareidolic budding branches,
spiraling up and down, like a descending dragon and a scurrying squirrel.
The slippers, satin and not-glass, are now soft and unbreakable
retired vehicles of a tired maid.
Each to her own, one facing East, the other ogling the moon.
no longer working to impress with a perfect fit,
No longer awaiting a foot-seeking prince
And no longer that small. Wear and tear expands the stiffest leather,
and calluses the thinnest skin.
The Sadness of the Stone Lion
The black caves of his eyes echo
picks prying, hands hauling,
wagons jarring, chisels chipping
(among gargoyles and angels),
ropes swinging him,
stern and majestic,
to guard a palace gate.
Then soot poured into his eyes
and smoke-soured rain
eroded his vigilance,
and children’s fingers
polished his nose.
I will pass, but I will outlast you.
Martin Rocek is a string theorist living on Setauket, NY. He teaches physics at Stony Brook University. He was born in Prague and in addition to his own writing, translates songs and poems from Czech into English.
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From the Notes of Dr. Carlos G. J., Psiquiatra
Patient Number: zweizweidreizweisiebenocho
Patient Name: Blackbird, Blackbird
Date of Assessment: 13/13/20XX
Patient missiled through the window sans appointment. Graceful flutters, like chloroformed butterflies. But herky jerky landing. Patient knocked over my coffee then squawk-cried. Seemed overly apologetic. I maintained flat affect. I gestured the patient to take a perch. Patient continued to apologize until she asked “Are you the devil?” (note: transference; patient is difficult). Folded wings over breast, like a casket sleeper. I then asked my secretary for the intake forms.
Patient is birdshaped with a labyrinthine gait. Indiscernible wingspan, Phoenix-like but introverted and shockbrowed. Aquiline attractive, showbird beauty, though plumage disheveled and dirty and missing in scarshaped patches (note: avian trichotillomania?). Eyes and beak perpetually half-open, though eyes otherwise auburn and beady and thousand-yards-away.
What brings you here today?
I don't know. You can't help me.
I'm sorry, that was vulturistic. You seem nice.
But you can't help me. Ever since I hatched the galaxy has imploded. I've been trying to unhatch but the pieces of eggshell are now cold so I had to grow layers of feathers.
(note: attachment issues, possible separation anxiety; mother did not sufficiently regurgitate during formative years?) Tell me more about these layers.
Safety. If someone gets close I peck them away. Even if I want them close. Safety.
Do you get lonely? (note: This is a trick question. Birds don't get lonely. They're birds.)
Yes. Utterly. I sometimes get tempted to go up to the cumulonimbi but every time I've been there everyone's so cumulonimbic. I want them all but don't. Like engorged cocks in lead cotton candy.
Patient squawks apologies for the perceived vulgarity then flies into the corner. Our therapy does not resume for another seven months (note: patient is difficult; Axis II?) Follow up interview reveals patient builds nests out of poetry magazines (note: hoarding/OCD?) and only has sex during somnaviation. She says it would be like floating (note: dissociation) if not for her already being airborne. So instead “it's like being dead” (note: nymphomaniacal Cotard's?)
II. Free association
Test assessment: Failed. (Note: Patient is difficult.)
Please rate your level of physical discomfort:
 Uno/A splinter that has become gangrenous and wannabe-tumorous
 Dos/First epidermal layers abraded; soul completely abraded
 Tres/Shadow aspect complains of stomach pain, begins to fear the ego and thinks it should don a romper
[x] Cuatro/Romper or no, you've reached full tenebrosity [patient handwrites note: “NEVERMORE”]
Rate your attachment to reality:
 Attached and grounded.
 My arms/wings remind me to deny myself.
[x] This body is a cataclysm that I witness from a safe distance.
Rank the following needs by order of importance (from 1 to 7):
0 – Sex
0 – Food
7 – Love
0 – Shelter
7 – Acceptance
7 – Safety
8 – Education
IV. Arche/atypical Assessment
Pick and choose from the following; how many flavour combinations can you unlock?!
Event Figure Motif
la tormenta el chiflado el apocalipsis
la migración la virgen el diluvio
la vida el diablo la mexicanidad
el matrimonio el héroe la autoría
V. Dream analysis
Tell me about the last vivid dream you had.
I'm inside the night's core. It's clear but there's an overvoice made of someone's shadowed backbone, like spinal fluid and oil slick.
I'm flying. Gravity is a bad memory. I'm scared that if I stop flying I'll wake up and waking up means you die.
There's another bird here. I used to love this bird. He's a vulturehawk. He's terrible. I love him. He wants to fly with me and I want to fly with him but I don't know how his wings will fit in this cage.
No. We're not in a cage. What rhymes with 'cage'?
Stage. Yes. Stagestagestagestage. Ohnonono. We weren't flying. We were dancing.
(patient paces about the office corner, rests her head contra the palatable wallpaper collapse)
I don't have wings, do I? What good are these glass candy legs? I can't fly. Why did you make me think I could? You all make me believe things that aren't real. You're all the same.
Please commence your dreamscape. What happened next?
I woke up and I was a character in a book. And so are you. Let me go. (note: more transference; projection; patient is difficult; patient walks out of the office and rubbishes a wayward soul into the rubbish and never comes back)
Ruffled raven is actually a young woman with erisian hair and heartstrings.
Start on SSRI cocktail in bird feeder.
Recommend extended bed rest and high gluten diet.
Take away her keys.
Edwin Alanís-García is the author of the chapbook Galería (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2019). His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Acentos Review, The Kenyon Review, Periphery, and Tupelo Quarterly. He received an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University and is currently a graduate student in Philosophy of Religion at Harvard Divinity School.
Sanitarium on the Wissahickon
There is a stretch on the Wissahickon “with some of the most magnificent forest trees of America, among them which stands conspicuous the liriodendron tulipiferum,” Poe wrote. When I ask a local arborist about a shoreline which might host a dense population of the tulip poplar, I am told this tree is abundant throughout the Wissahickon Valley. Nonetheless, I suspect a profusion of them along the rock out-croppings south of Poe’s entry point. The tulip poplar may exceed 120 feet in height and has been known to live 450 years. I begin to suspect these may be the same trees Poe admired and that I am now in their company just as he was in theirs.
This piece is an excerpt from "Sanitarium on the Wissahickon," an essay originally published in the Edgar Allan Poe Review. It also appeared in the collection, On Location, Essays of Place, (Echo Arcade, 2014).
Michael Gessner has authored 11 books of poetry and prose. His work may be found in The American Journal of Poetry, American Literary Review, The French Literary Review, The Kenyon Review, North American Review, Oxford Magazine, Poetry Quarterly (forthcoming,) rue des Beaux-Arts (Paris,) Verse Daily, The Yale Review of Humanities in Medicine, and others. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/michael-gessner or https://www.michaelgessner.com/
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