1. Woman in Café, Michelle Valois, 2018, Words on screen, 286
An American is talking to three Brits in a museum café. I am not eavesdropping. I am looking down at my copy of the museum’s floor plan and thinking about the masterpieces I have yet to see: portraits, landscapes, interior scenes, still lives.
The Brits get up. Nice to meet you. Enjoy your stay.
When they leave, the American lifts a cell phone, dials. I am still not eavesdropping. Why did you write what you wrote today? Pause. When are you coming back? You asked if I was done, what were you trying to tell me?
On the table in front of the American is her copy of the floor plan, where she has carefully checked off each masterpiece she has seen.
The woman stands, pats down her pretty dress. The way I’d dress if I didn’t dress the way I do: men’s pants, men’s sweater, comfortable shoes. Will she see the all masterpieces on her list? Will I?
London is a busy city, made more crowded by the company I keep: in-laws, my partner, my almost-grown children.
My sister messages me updates on our mother, who roams the halls of the nursing home searching for her son, my brother, dead since two years back. I search the shops for a souvenir for her. Find a tin of short bread cookies with a picture of the Queen. Hope she remembers the Queen.
The American woman in the nice dress has left the café. I want to run after her, take her hand in mine, say, Come. Let us look together. We still have time. Which masterpieces have you yet to see?
But I do not follow. I finish my coffee and head to the temporary exhibits.
2. Hélène Rouart in her Father's Study, Edgar Degas, about 1886, Oil on canvas, 162.5 x 121 cm
My father did not have a study, but he had his own desk. This in a house where people did not have many things of their own. A Conant Ball, which probably doesn’t mean much to most people, made in a town very close to the town where I grew up, towns that once made things like desks and chairs.
Post-WWII American functionalism, walnut, square, seven drawers, three on each side, one in the middle, and it smelled of tobacco and old leather. My sisters and I would take turns hiding under the desk, stow away with orange slices and a book, catch a quiet moment in a house not known for its still life.
Hélène in the painting is dwarfed by her father’s things: an Egyptian coffin, a large desk, a painting by Corot. The chair she stands behind so large it makes her look like a monstrous child. Her face reveals not happiness but not the lack of joy.
My father did not possess the treasures of a 19th century industrialist. In his desk after he died: pipes, a silver metal lighter, a discarded wallet containing an expired license, a gold-plated pocket watch.
I stopped for the girl, not for her father’s treasures.
3. Interior, Vilhelm Hammershøi, 1899, Oil on canvas, 64.5 x 58.1 cm
She stands with her back to us in a small, Northern room. There are two doors, a stove, a table, a chair. The walls are white; there are no windows. The room looks cold but inviting.
I want to climb through the canvas, take the woman by the shoulders, turn her around, say, I am here, looking at you, see me.
She is the artist’s wife, added much later, added after the artist had finished painting the room. The curators know this from close analysis.
Her head is slightly bent, shoulders hunched. Is she reading? Her hair is pulled into a soft bun, I can see the back of her neck, which is white, like the walls. If I kissed the back of her neck… but I wouldn’t. My own wife doesn’t like to be startled in such a manner.
If I painted my wife it would be like this: quiet, domestic, unseen.
4. Saint Sebastian, Gerrit van Honthorst, 1623, Oil on canvas, 101 x 117 cm
I look for him in every museum. The arrows. The stake. The tree. I recognize this one as soon as I walk into Room 25, though it is on the far wall.
The Italians rendered him more ornate, with long flowing hair, a boyish face, flamboyant soft hips. There are some of those here, too – Ortolano and the Pollaiuolo brothers – and I will see them later.
But this one, this one is Dutch. And it’s almost a portrait – no executioners with their bows, no onlookers. He is shown only from the knees up. The tree from which he hangs – in a sitting position, slumped over, head down – is almost unnoticeable. This is northern austerity, like the cancer patient who refuses the crown of decorative henna to cover her bald skull.
But there are the usual leather straps that bind him and the arrows that impale his innocent flesh.
Saint Sebastian. Roman centurion. Secret Christian until he wasn’t. Principal protector against the plague.
Tied to a tree and shot with arrows.
I think radiation, pinpoints of light burning my disease, and the mask that covered my face bolted to the table to keep me still. I think sainthood and martyrdom and remember those who did not survive: my father; my brother; three aunts, two uncles; Hedwig, whom we called Tulla; and Charlotte; and Rose.
5. Vanitas Still Life, Jan Jansz, 1648, Oil on Oak, 90.5 x 78.4 cm
In this, we are reminded of death – vibrant colours notwithstanding, the object label states.
But the scarf is the only colourful object in the painting and it’s really not vibrant at all, a muted salmon pink, like the colours of the houses in a medieval city centre, preserved for the 21st century. In another century, I wandered such an old town. Years later, guiding my children down those same streets, I led them into a café with a cellar from the 15th century. 600 years, I say, impressing upon them the passing of time.
Vanitas – still-life painting, 17th century, Dutch.
The transience of life.
The futility of pleasure.
The certainty of death.
The scarf in the painting, though not vibrant, is brighter than the skull, true, and more colorful than the knight’s visor and even the earthenware pitcher.
Did the pitcher once hold wine?
And what about the book of music? The drawing? The broken flute? Worldly ambitions that come to an end, the hourglass tells us.
In my still life, I would put a baseball with the seams unraveled, a discarded doll whose name I still remember, the worshipful gazes of my children when they were still young, my father’s pocket watch.
The title page of an opened book tucked between the pitcher and a vase tells us, evil is its own reward.
Is it a sin to look back?
Death, ambition, time. Time, how it moves ever forward, even if these images tell us otherwise. Tell us otherwise.
I am listening, I am eavesdropping.
Why did you write what you wrote today? When are you coming back? You asked if I was done, what were you trying to tell me?
I am not done. But I cannot stop looking back.
Is this what I am trying to tell you?
It’s all right if you are eavesdropping.
Michelle Valois lives in Florence, Massachusetts with her partner, their three children, and a cat named Moxie. Her writing has appeared in The Massachusetts Review, The Baltimore Review, Brevity, TriQuarterly, Pank, The Florida Review, among others. She teaches writing and literature at a community college.
One Too Many
Each night I lay awake,
In this moment
I can feel
Your kiss fasten to my lips.
An acquired taste.
I feel a gentle tug of war
When you pull me close.
The sweet ambrosia sinks in.
This weightlessness of desire
The room feels cold.
I reach out for my shawl
To put my flames to sleep.
Jurveen Kaur, from Singapore, loves the company of books more than anything else. An enthusiast for learning, she spends her days teaching elementary students English Language and inculcating the habit of reading to all her pupils. During her free time, she indulges in poetry writing workshops, watches films and bonds over coffee and food with her family and loved ones. Jurveen believes one should lead a life full of zest!
I was reading
on the verandah;
the day was pleasant,
the air warm.
Then the birdsong fell silent
and the sky went dark
as though a squall
were coming in off the sea.
I sensed a shimmering
of gold, a rustling
as of draped silk,
a flutter of wings:
a figure was bending
toward me, words
streaming toward me.
They, too, seemed golden.
I was to bear the child
of the heavenly father,
this figure said unto me,
I heard the words
or felt them or read them
in the air I really
I felt a sharpness
in my temples.
My shoulders carried
some weight beyond bearing.
And as sure as I have ever
known anything, I knew
that this service would cost me
all I had to give.
And then I heard
in a hundred tongues
I didn’t know yet understood.
Ave, ave, ave,
pray for us now
and at the hour of our death.
I remembered how we danced
for my grandmother
beneath the cedars
as the evening cool came in.
And, hands splayed on my chest,
my red dress exposed
within my fallen-open blue robe,
I submitted to the charge.
Hannah Mahoney's work has appeared in a variety of print and online journals, including One Sentence Poems and Modern Haiku, and she was the featured poet for September 2018 at the Mann Library Daily Haiku website. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Along the curving beak of its shadow
the eye of the flame tracks light on the muzzle,
sockets that gleam, mosaic front teeth,
the goat’s skull is rapt, in mesmerised interest;
by the empty tilt of its skull
the skull is akin to the bottle,
both calcified down, like the skin of the wall
nothing is brittle. The bottle, half full or empty,
in the glass of its heart holds a vertical drill,
an ink-blotted pupil, the goat flame.
All things conform to these hinges and horns,
shards of a brain, the empty-headedness of the thing,
this animal sense of a skull, lit by a candle
in a bottle on a table otherwise dark:
still life where there is none at all.
Dominic James lives in SW England with his partner, Helen. He joins poetry meetings along the Thames Valley and is a member of Richmond's Bright Scarf group. His collection Pilgrim Station is available through SPM Publications and his blog has a hungry look at: http://djamespoetic.blogspot.com/
(for my uncle, Bahman Mohassess)
Your mouth was not always song.
It was the living room cracked open
into a tilted ravine,
where you flew and I sat
in the deep and nodded as needed
in our near conversations,
or it was the taxi cab or the museum, twisted
during one of our long visits
into a sudden maze irreparable,
when inspired by a naked sculpture,
you were reminded of the time Poseidon
punished Odysseus and I silently wondered
if they may both drop by
for cardamom tea and sweets in the afternoon
and how nice that would be.
With no points of reference, I created my own.
You planted no solicitous sign posts,
nor painted them pretty for a girl child.
I hung on your every word,
especially the Italian ones
and the French ones,
but you scattered no bread crumbs
for me to collect and arrive
safely at you.
When you soared over our ravine,
you cast no shade and I was old enough
to make you coffee,
old enough for you to buy me my first bra,
old enough to be beautiful,
but when you told me stories,
no, not bedtime stories, I was too old for that,
you omitted the determiners, the demonstrative pronouns
went missing and I rummaged
and rummaged through your words
but without them I could not fit your gorgeous
adjectives and adverbs into my jigsaw puzzle,
and they sat in my inept hands
like wasted opportunities to love.
I wanted to love Poseidon at the fountain,
and Picasso entertaining
the Parisians at Montparnasse.
I was too shy for hyperbole
but before we met
I had already memorized love
and the morning star.
Before we met,
I used to be enough, just a short while ago,
back home where everyone spoke my language
and allowed me to forget my name,
before we met to sit together
in your living room, live together
in museums, taxi cabs, hotel rooms
where fresh-cut flowers never died
and I prayed that no one would ask my name.
But I was in it for the long haul,
I ate at your splendid table,
and adorned it daily with a rose from your garden,
and over the years I memorized
the undulations of your love.
The often whip and the always caress of it
censored and modeled my becoming.
And I was to your liking.
Master sculptor, when you pressed upon me,
I fed you spoonfuls of silence,
the salve for the lacerations in your mouth.
Rooja Mohassessy is an Iranian-American living in California. She is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at Pacific University.
Editor's note: Iranian Artist Bahman Mohasses was a prolific artist working in sculpture, assemblage, and painting, as well as theatre and literary translation. He studied, worked and lived between Italy and Iran. He is known as the "Persian Picasso" and is considered by many to be most prominent Iranian artist of the past century. Many of his works were destroyed by the Iranian authorities during the Islamic Revolution, and the artist later destroyed many works himself. Remaining works are rare and in high demand by collectors. The Iranian-American poet Rooja Mohassessy is his niece.
Not even souvenirs
these scraps and fragments
gathered like the pieces
of a broken plate
saved for a mosaic
you might never make
but can't stop dreaming of.
to tell a story
of memory and loss
a few strands of white hair
not neatly woven
like those Victorian
badges of grief,
but loosely coiled
in a tangle
as though waiting
for a gentle comb,
a few scraps of cloth,
delicate and faded,
once worn close
to your skin-
all fastened with bright
exclamations in red
and yellow tape,
enough to catch and hold
these fragments safe.
Mary McCarthy: "I have always been a writer but spent most of my working life as a Registered Nurse. Ekphrastic writing is relatively new to me, I find the process rich and rewarding, and especially enjoy these challenges. I have had work published in many on line and print journals, and have a digital chapbook, "Things I Was Told Not to Think About" available as a free download from Praxix magazine online."
Message In The Mail Box
Deep inside my mail box
perched proud like a stork on one leg
amongst IRS demands,
reminders from utilities that last quarter remains unpaid,
offers of 5% unsecured bonds,
junk from retailers in premier fall malls and
letters from Mom (she still chastises me each week)
is a package of mystique - unfranked, unstamped
with no return address but
Cat#306 labelled on top of
a montaged overcoat.
Another came last week.
One the week before.
And one before that.
All returned to the mail drop unopened for
I’m dutiful I guess.
But could it be the same package?
Can this be a metaphor …
for the circle of life?
Born in Scotland of Irish lineage, Alun Robert is a prolific creator of lyrical verse achieving success in poetry competitions in Europe and America. He has featured in international literary magazines, anthologies and on the web. His ekphrastic poems have appeared in The Ekphrastic Review and Nine Muses Poetry.
Triangle of Hope
a shred of gauze
exuding a faintly medical smell,
the torn-off stub of an event
that looks like a catalogue #
aimed at posterity,
and a small yellow triangle
all have been carelessly
ripped off their moorings,
and are about to be swept up
by broom and pan
when her hands stall –
the black rectangle could be a base,
faded epaulette stripes call out to her
as does that layer of gauze
covering a quivering mess of string
bending down she picks up
the first piece –
the yellow triangle of hope.
she will call her work:
#7 and date it, 1948.
Barbara Ponomareff has been a child psychotherapist by profession. Since her retirement she has been able to pursue her life-long interest in literature, psychology and art. She has published a novella on the painter J.S. Chardin, and her short stories and poems have appeared in various literary magazines and anthologies.
Weightless, this interior--
this structure of bones,
this old house
a whisper away from falling down--
a feather bed
a quilted sky
a shadow in the air--
Where are the birds
to mend the spirit?
the circle of hands
to untie the knots
the years, the days?
The cold is hungry.
The silence is breaking
The Chariot awaits.
Kerfe Roig: "My daughter and I, wandering lost in the Metropolitan Museum in NYC, turned a corner and chanced upon a room full of tiny exquisite jewels of texture, colour, form, and light. This was my first encounter with Anne Ryan. Her collages reflect my love of the serendipitous juxtaposition of elements. And Number 7 is perfect for my present state of mind--a journey, a transformation--'The Chariot awaits.' You can see my art and poetry on my website http://kerferoig.com/, or on the blog I do with my friend Nina, https://methodtwomadness.wordpress.com/ ."
A fine string attached at centre of the collage
like what could have been used for tatting,
an old word, an old use of hands at night
when settling down after dinner under a lamp
where the glow is only enough for what is in lap,
but this string has the shape of a loose infinity,
so the woman’s world gets bigger.
She packs a trunk big and black with brass hinges,
wooden hangers on a rod, drawers opposite so slim
they fall when pulled as she is afraid she will fall
as she boards a steamer for what is called the continent,
that place across the sea where she wants to walk
down a gangplank and disappear into a pension
on a narrow street, melt into walls that descend at angles
where she leans her head out the window when she hears
the deliveries before dawn and waves to the teamster,
his horses, and does this every morning until he becomes
her friend as do the horses she feeds what she calls
crumpets, the rest of each day hers. She hasn’t gotten lost,
the teamster would come looking if she disappeared
into that infinity, that seven, a prime number.
Kyle Laws is based out of the Arts Alliance Studios Community in Pueblo, CO. Her collections include Faces of Fishing Creek (Middle Creek Publishing), So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press), and Wildwood (Lummox Press). With six nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. She is the editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press.
The Hodge Podge Prayer
I don’t know how to get there. I am always lost. Suite 10. The therapist waiting. I will have to pay, not enough time to cancel effectively. I hurry and my purse catches on the gate. Contents spill, concrete at my feet.
It must’ve been the angle. Or an angel at a precipitous tilt. A message I can see. I can understand.
Follow the steam boat along the river path until I come to the silhouette of the man wearing the detective’s hat - think - what is it called? Fedora! Indented Crown.
Crown Towers. Halfway there.
Cross three streets until I come to the yellow square. Caution. Look. Look.
I see it now, the Cajun Café. Blackened. Stop at the counter on the lower level and trade my library card for two pieces of bacon before I climb to the second floor.
My kind of money is good here.
I am not late.
I did not forget.
I carry gratefulness in my purse at all times.
Thank you. Amen.
A three-time winner of the Wisconsin Regional Writer’s Jade Ring, Eger’s stories appear in Fictive Dream, Flash Fiction for Flash Memory, Runcible Spoon, Fifty Word Stories and the Cadence Poetry Anthology. She is working on an apocalyptic novella under the name Copper Rose. Connect at https://julieceger.wordpress.com/.
Who Put the Sass in S.A.S.E.
It used to be a well-known phrase;
S.A.S.E. in olden days
meant your submission must provide
an envelope, where its outside
is S.elf A.ddressed and must be S.tamped,
the E.nvelope then licked and tamped.
Submitting is committing to your cause.
The stamp is lovely, strong and thick,
and so it’s sure to play the trick,
to carry your submission’s entry
past each doleful, bleary sentry
till it lands upon a page
to carry you, from age to age.
Preserving you, unswerving from your cause.
Then fear sets it, the fading grin
becomes tight-lipped without, within;
the forehead beads, for many needs
depend upon these planted seeds
and yet, there’s hope: the stamp assures
great eminence will soon be yours.
Fortuitous? No—you’ve become your cause.
Then comes the day, so far away
from when the verse began to play
within your head, that fertile bed
where it would grow until it’s read.
But now, S.A.S.E returned,
you fear defeat and want it burned.
Take courage. Don’t give in, but trust your cause.
But the cure is worse--
it not a blessing, but a curse.
You tremble and now fear your muse,
because you hear its voice accuse:
You don’t belong. Your poem’s wrong.
It’s just a jingle, not a song.
Your confidence betrayed. Your cause has flaws.
Imposture Syndrome sets in deep--
submission’s promises won’t keep
your hopes and heart and dreams awake,
for all that’s good, it’s sure to take.
That stamp, so beautiful before,
you wish had never left your door.
And for a while, you’re crying, just because …
Ken Gosse uses simple language, traditional metre, rhyme, whimsy, and humour in much his poetry. Initially published in The First Literary Review–East in November, 2016, his poems are also in The Offbeat, Pure Slush, Parody, Home Planet News, and other publications. Raised in the Chicago suburbs, he and his wife have lived in Arizona over twenty years, always with a herd of cats and dogs underfoot.
Anne Ryan, Poet and Artist, As Seen in "# 7"
At first, it troubled me to find
collage as art of poet's mind
so seeming in such disarray
as if all hope had given way...
...to remnants of evoked despair
as litter scattered here and there
that seemed as though perhaps employed
to camouflage artistic void...
...until I saw her soul released
in layers she together pieced
as pattern random fate could find
befitting space to which confined...
...and I confirmed a poet's heart
was simply drawn to freer art.
Portly Bard: "Old man. Ekphrasis fan."
(for Anne Ryan)
Remove me from representation to a place of pure
geometry, imagined intersection, a hazard of texture,
numbers shaken loose as in baccarat, single letters
limning bark or granite. Burlap scraps and scissors-
snicks jag edges. I’m tired of bodies, their more
of the same. Watch as colours blur,
and fade, as the disposable becomes high art. Sure
my images weren’t made to last. Edges brown and curl,
glue unsticks. Yet the archival photographs endure,
intention preserved, like footsteps in mud-slurry,
like my sonnets with their fourteen lines, their
rhyme-snagged chaos, the fury of their birth--
the world made bigger to contain my pleasure.
Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, OR. She has seven chapbooks and three collections out or forthcoming, among them: We are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), Risk Being/Complicated (A collaboration with Canadian artist Lorette C. Luzajic); Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders); and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). Her individual poems can be found in The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, The Aeolian Harp Folio, The Free State Review, Rattle, and more.
It was summer and the wheat
stood high. The old VW beetle full of gear
and cases, canvas bags; school far away, sign posts
ambling by telling us how slow we’d come.
And I'm reminded of blue to deep blue skies,
occasional clouds threatening
but not unloading. Do you remember skylarks?
The South of France, or Almería, North Africa… how long
is a piece of string? Time stood still. The tent ripped
in a short summer storm, then the sun
baked the earth dry again.
Rose Mary Boehm
A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of ‘Tangents’, a poetry collection published in the UK in 2010/2011, her work has been widely published in US poetry journals (online and print). She was three times winner of the Goodreads monthly competition, a new poetry collection (‘From the Ruhr to Somewhere Near Dresden 1939-1949 : A Child’s Journey’) has been published by Aldrich Press in May 2016, and a new collection (‘Peru Blues or Lady Gaga Won’t Be Back’) has been published (January 2018) by Kelsay Books.
Ode to Collage #7
Paper sings like bow on cello, torn by hands
and scissor skill, adheres where number 10 arises,
where CAT appears in cornered fill. Form and color,
surface rhythm, pieces placed in artful still,
strips of blue touch string in tangle, translucence
floats in softened twill. Black and gray join rust
and yellow, meet where cloud-like mass distills.
Shears of pink cut peaks of texture, edge with cuts
where ravel frills, trim of cloth and burlap added,
a crop of shapes, a drawer, a till.
Jeannie E. Roberts
Jeannie E. Roberts lives in an inspiring setting near Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, where she writes, draws and paints, and often photographs her natural surroundings. She has authored four poetry collections including the most recent The Wingspan of Things(Dancing Girl Press, 2017). She is Poetry Editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs.
I was pleased when they
examined my collage from every angle.
It seemed some of them
were more than willing to stand on their heads
for a better view.
The whispering tipped me off--
“But why seven?” she said
“It’s there if you look hard enough,” he said.
“Ah, now I’ve got it,” they said as one.
If you paint your Uncle Arthur at the shore,
you might well name it Uncle Arthur at the Shore.
Bob Rauschenberg named one of his
“Bruised Knee,” because he hurt himself
carrying it down the stairs--
his knee was purpled for weeks.
A little secret.
I named this seven
because it was after six--
which I tore to shreds just yesterday
and before eight--
a piece I will work on through the teens--
Some have the knack
and have the critics
oooh and aaahing
pontificating over the importance
and perfection of the name.
“It makes the piece,” you’d hear them say
of a blue dab on white background
the artist named “Blue on White.”
I will name one 8 ½
(Perhaps I”ll put 1/2 before the 8).
the first critic to find Fellini
in abstraction will be lauded
with generous spreads in the Times
of London and New York
and l will be declared a modern marvel--
“She merges art and film,”
“See the movie, see the exhibit,”
“Prepare to be blown away.”
In my ingenious plan,
½ 8 will be just after eight,
And just before 9.
I plan to start on Wednesday.
Steve Deutsch in State College, PA. His recent publications have or will appear in Thimble Magazine, The Muddy River Poetry Review, Ghost City Review, Borfski Press, Streetlight Press, Gravel, Literary Heist, Nixes Mate Review, Third Wednesday, Misfit Magazine, Word Fountain, Eclectica Magazine, The Drabble, and The Ekphrastic Review. In 2017, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His chapbook, Perhaps You Can, will be published next year by Kelsay Press.
Owen’s alchemy never produced
the fool’s gold of glory on battlefield
but from the mud-burdened trudge
of men moving beyond exhaustion
as they passed a bare, pock-marked,
death-filled, barbed-wire strung world
he wrenched a pure and shocking gold of truth.
Ancient Persian artisans performed
a different kind of alchemy.
Gone are sièges of noise, blood, death,
broken walls and burning cities,
bodies impaled outside the walls,
boastful Kings commissioning bas-reliefs,
walled cities and palaces,
courts, officials, culture and conquest.
What remains is alchemist’s gold,
exquisite bricks glazed
in brown, bone, ochre and aqua,
depictions of warriors,
archers with coiffed beards,
abundant quivers and resplendent garments
standing erect with their straight spears,
now on display in La Musée du Louvre
millennia after he who commissioned them
has faded to forgotten dust
and everything else he gloried in
has long lain covered
by the relentless detritus of time.
Neil Creighton is an Australian poet with a passion for social justice and a love of the natural world. Recent publications include Poetry Quarterly, Silver Birch Press, Praxis Online, South Florida Poetry Journal, and Verse-Virtual, where he is a contributing editor. His poetry blog is windofflowers.blogspot.com.au.
Leap of Faith
We reach out
in our aloneness
probe with one long
the stuff of our
firmly rooted in
on the edge of
the sky oh the sky
will bless us
if we can but
into other, which is of course
to where we
Robert L. Dean, Jr.
Robert L. Dean, Jr.'s work has appeared in Flint Hills Review, I-70 Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Illya’s Honey, Red River Review, River City Poetry, Heartland!, and the Wichita Broadsides Project. He read at the 13th Annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival in April 2018 at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. His haibun placed first at Poetry Rendezvous 2017. He was a quarter-finalist in the 2018 Nimrod Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry contest. He has been a professional musician and worked at The Dallas Morning News. He lives in Augusta, Kansas.
To An Unknown Woman at the Opera
I want to hold you with an open
hand: a weightless body, like a moth
alighting on my palm, then winging
off again. I do not wish to speak
to you, or close myself around you
(though, I must confess, it would be nice
to be the arm on which you lean, the
ear in which you drop a whispered joke)--
what if you lisp, or smell of garlic,
chatter only about shoes? But veiled
in shadow, you are made perfect, a
powdered pout, a cheekbone angled high,
a riddle of a face. Remain that
way, as I remain a puzzle to
the man who watches me: a creature
of the intermission, framed within
a fickle lens for just a minute,
undeciphered still, and unpossessed.
Born and raised in Singapore, Valerie Ang is a student of LASALLE College of the Arts' MA in Creative Writing programme. She loves queer lit and mythology, and is the proud owner of a three-foot stuffed whale.
A Late Elegy For Wang Hui-Ming
“I don’t believe in culinary celibacy,”
He was telling me, the oil heated to a sizzle
In the wok, the shrimp already shelled.
His second love, this serious kitchen.
I’d watched him peeling broccoli stems
With his small exacting knife, slicing them
On the bias into a pile. He could have been
Working on one of his woodcuts, fluting
The radish of a flower out of the grain,
Or on a page for one of his block books,
Its crowded field of figures and calligraphy.
He’d even carved a poem into the bark
Of one of Robert Francis’s red maples
Where the letters would fatten with time--
FOUR TAO PHILOSOPHERS AS CEDAR WAXWINGS--
The life of the poem the life of the tree.
“Steam over rice,” he was saying with a nod,
“An image of ch’i,” flattening the shrimp
With a thump of the cleaver, tumbling
The stems all at once into the oil.
This was Amherst, winter, an early dark,
His chiseled letters bezeled by the bark.
ROBERT GIBB’s books include After, which won the 2016 Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize and Among Ruins, which won Notre Dame’s Sandeen Prize in Poetry for 2017. Other awards include a National Poetry Series title (The Origins of Evening), two NEA Fellowships, a Best American Poetry and a Pushcart Prize.
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