Man Alone on a Mountain
You stand on a black rock pinnacle with your back toward me
and look out over a rock-strewn valley which is half-hidden in mist.
In your long black coat, knee-boots and walking stick,
you seem a stranger from another century.
Before you the lower mountains, sharp
with black rocks, hover like a flock of petrified sheep,
that has wandered from the shepherd
until they are lost and frozen there.
Wind disturbs your red hair. Your balance seems precarious
and I wonder what brought you there
where the fog obscures so much?
How long did you climb and with what difficulty?
Why are you alone and what are you looking for?
Why does anyone climb to such a place? Once,
in winter, driving by myself after a snowstorm,
I pulled off the road by the trail that led up Avon Mountain.
And, wanting to see if I could do it, I struggled up the slope
which was slick with a foot of snow and ice.
My breath like sleet in my chest, my leg muscles,
unused to such climbing, ached with the strain.
A few clumps of snow fell from the pine branches onto the trail.
To this day, I don’t know what I was thinking.
If I had slipped and fallen no one knew where I was.
But you, I wish you well, stranger with the hidden face.
You seem self-assured as you stand there
sturdy but wholly alone under an uncertain sky–
its diffuse clouds, one taller mountain before you
a gray-blue blur in the distance.
Patricia Fargnoli's fifth book, Hallowed: New & Selected Poems, was published by Tupelo Press in 2017. Her previous books have won awards such at The May Swenson Award and the Sheila Mooton Poetry Book Award. A forme New Hampshire poet laureate, and Macdowell Fellow, she's published individual poems in such journals as: Ploughshares, Praire Schooner, Alaska Quarterly et. al.
The Reason for So Much Love Poetry
Not everything in life should make sense.
Eluard knew it. Magritte did, too.
Sometimes love is a water-filled tumbler
balanced atop an umbrella,
later it’s a train emerging from a fireplace
full of your heart’s smoldering embers.
If the earth is blue like an orange,
love is an invisible cloak embossed
with aubergine apples and ochre hydrangeas,
or whatever else the moment demands.
Karen Head is the author of four books of poetry (Sassing, My Paris Year, Shadow Boxes and On Occasion: Four Poets, One Year), has co-edited the poetry anthology (Teaching as a Human Experience: An Anthology of Poetry), and has exhibited several acclaimed digital poetry projects. In 2010, she won the Oxford International Women’s Festival Poetry Prize. She also creates digital poetry; her project “Monumental” (part of Antony Gormley’s One and Other Project) was detailed in a TIME online mini-documentary. She is an Associate Professor at Georgia Tech, and is the Editor of Atlanta Review.
The Equinox Flower
[For Fumio Ito]
Or, this morning
I think of the division of red
spider lilies in the rice
fields and lips mouthing the Heart
Sutra to match the humming of the bee
hive imitating pottery.
Mathew Weitman is a New York based poet, musician, and freelance writer. Additionally, he has worked and studied extensively with the eminent Japanese potter and zen monk, Fumio Ito. Much of his work is inspired by his travels, volunteer work, and studies.
Paul Klee's Ghost Rider Late in the Evening, 1929
Blackness is his base here,
that pit that our quaking hearts
drive us downward to at night.
A Blue Rider, though,
he’s held out for what colour he could,
a most dark navy blue, that blue
to close one’s eyes and sail off
into its wild yonder. Wild
this guy then who rides in
on a horse breathing runes,
the two of them made of lines
we’d think have been scraped
into the black, the way
Klee scraped signs
into his pale “Pastorale,”
but this is no pastorale.
It’s Dusseldorf, it’s USA,
or anywhere now
or then where
it’s months from a majority
Senate who’d denounce
“a Galician Jew.”
He found the depth
by spattering pigment
on the black, and layering
on top the wiry white
ghost horse and ghost
rider, a skinny guy, his arms
made sinewy with two extra stripes,
who looks backward while
riding forth, who holds a staff
topped by a flag--
not a white flag,
which we could see more easily
and would reflect more, but red:
in this light, barely
visible but clearly rendered
by one who believed in rendering.
Diane Kendig’s poetry collections include Prison Terms. A recipient of Ohio Arts Council Fellowships in Poetry and other awards, she has published poetry and prose in journals such as J Journal, Under the Sun, and Wordgathering. She curates the Cuyahoga County library’s “Read + Write: 30 Days of Poetry” website. http://email@example.com/
poet's note: Read straight across, jumping over white spaces. It can be helpful to place a ruler or a piece of white paper to cover the text below where you are, and then move it down as you read.
This poem first appeared in Delirious: A Poetic Celebration of Prince, edited by Dianne Borsenik (NightBallet Press, 2016), and in the late Inigo Online Magazine.
Vince Gotera is a professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa, where he served as Editor of the North American Review (2000-2016). He is Editor of Star*Line, the print journal of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association. Recent poems appeared in Altered Reality Magazine, Crab Orchard Review, Crooked Teeth Literary Magazine, Eleven Eleven, Voices de la Luna, and Eye to the Telescope. He blogs at The Man with the Blue Guitar <vincegotera.blogspot.com>.
Four Lane Road, 1956
A man sits in a folding chair next to his house,
his shadow against the white wall, his back
to the woman who leans through the window,
lashing out at him. Her hair’s red as the pump
by the road, her face twisted, the dress rosy
and amply filled. The man’s face is set, empty
as the road stretching before him. Will he go
inside to blows and bites and scratches in the way
of the Hoppers or is he resigned to her harangue.
Will the woman accept his withdrawal and leave
him to a landscape beyond, his world within.
Diana Pinckney, Charlotte, NC, has five collections of poetry, including The Beast and The Innocent, 2015, FutureCyclePress. She is the Winner of the 2010 Ekphrasis Prize, Atlanta Review’s 2012 International Prize and Prime Number’s 2018 Award. She admits to being addicted to writing ekphrastic poems and has led a workshop on this form for the Charlotte Center for the Literary Art.
Poet as Fish
Poem as fish.
Turn it one way, iridescent dream glitter.
Tip it the other, blank matte scales.
Hold it out away from you – just a fish,
Silhouette of a fish,
An object in the world
Backlit against the sun.
Concrete outline of abstract idea: fish.
So: Poem as fish
And poet as fish.
Turn me one way, I shine.
Turn the other, dreaming daze.
Backlit against the blaze, an idea
And then the finite presence in the world:
Poet as fish
And I am one, I am that
Poet, I am that
Poet's note: "This poem is dedicated to the painting of a fish on the side of a building, part of an advertisement for a fish store on a kibbutz. The building stands on the side of the Kiryat Shemona - Tiberias road, near the Koach Intersection. Every scale on the fish is separately coloured in, for a total shimmery effect. The painting has been there for at least twenty years, and it is now rather weather-beaten, but it still is an amazing piece of folk art."
After 42 years' residence in Israel, former Brooklynite Ann Bar-Dov can finally say that she writes poetry in both English and Hebrew.
After the Jackson Pollock movie
where Ed Harris won’t stop jabbing
that paintbrush and voice
into my non-cinematic air,
I want to make something big
My friend says I need a wife for that.
My husband agrees, complains he’s one,
but still brings me sandwiches
when I type shut the door,
whispering little words
too small for canvas.
At night, after the children
cry their separation fears,
we watch thrillers on a screen
the size of Pollack’s visions,
high-definition substituted for paint.
What can be super-imposed on this life
I love and flee from to re-create
the concrete, the already-here,
flat and fading on these walls
big enough for the expressionist,
This poem was first published in Marjorie Maddox's book, Local News from Someplace Else (Wipf and Stock Publishing.)
Sage Graduate Fellow of Cornell University (MFA) and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published eleven collections of poetry-including True, False, None of the Above; Wives' Tales; Local News from Someplace Else; Perpendicular As I; Weeknights at the Cathedral; and Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation; the short story collection What She Was Saying; the anthology (co-editor) Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania and four children's books. For more information, please see www.marjoriemaddox.com
ash and smoke
chant the tree
the wood and root
sing the flame
its amber bloom
breathe the scent
of loam and leaf
lick the sweat
of thigh and breast
dance the night
its crimson beat
from the heart
Sharon is a retired college principal, who lives on the Isle of Portland, England. She spends her time cooking, reading and writing poems, some of which have been published or are forthcoming in Ink Sweat and Tears, Atrium, The High Window and previously in The Ekphrastic Review, among others.
Into the World There Came a Soul Called Ida
Ida mourns her ruin, the truth of it rendering her hand-mirror so heavy it tilts away from her. She cranes her neck to keep her face within its circle. Her powder puff is not so different from the daub-cloth used to soothe the dying. There, there, now, she tells her flesh. Go easy.
Her hands upon herself are strong, matter-of-fact. Before moving to the city, her people worked the land. In the meat of her forearms, in her knuckles, we see the arc to the chopping block, the squeeze of teats, the lifting of bales.
Now, she labours for a different kind of bread. The bills and change upon the dresser-top hint at what—waitress, bar girl—someone who must force a smile with those as tired as she and turn the rusty crank of sociability.
[I know Ida’s look from witnessing the ruin of my once-beautiful mother, from watching my own ruin. There was a time when I taught, confident in my body, certain my ass carried as much information as my words. Now, each year reduces this arsenal. Even as I expand, I shrink in the eyes of my watchers. I yield to the mirror, sad, heavier in my bones. My fifties unfold to the scrape of the bulldozer, the old house brought down along with its roses.]
Ida surveys her landscape of cellulite. The bright light lifts moraines—years of forkfuls in diners, of solitary meals. Her breasts droop to meet belly-folds. She tucks time into their shadowy involutions. Skirt, shirt, hair, all waves, ripples spreading from the ground zero of her birth.
She must be heading out, otherwise, her shoes would be off. They are not comfortable, their spindly heel not broad enough to bear her haunches down the long furrows of the day. Something outside herself demands this concession—rent, groceries, the tooth aching in her jaw, her worn underthings, greyed from repeated washing. She must keep those damp pumps on.
[I too would rather spend the day in yoga pants—the same pair silk-soft, split-seamed, drawn about me like tender arms—but we haven’t come to that yet, have we, Ida? Not yet the muttering old lady on the bus, the cautionary tale.]
Each object about her whispers its provenance. Ida mouths their stories like church-creed. The cut glass bowls, not from her own wedding but from a stranger’s, floating up at the Goodwill after an estate sale, or found, just barely chipped, in a box on the curb. The dried flowers from an empty lot from a gone season. The scarf from a long-ago white elephant exchange. To another, all would be trash, garage-sale goods so blown that one dare not look at their owner.
[One day, my children will steel themselves and empty my house. Some objects will speak loudly enough to save. Others will remain mysterious, unable to advocate for themselves from their decay. The rooms will quickly empty. Ida’s wicker chair, her split dresser, mine, will tilt on the landfill, singing mournfully until buried.]
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.
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