Winged Domino Unmasked
Remove these veined delicacies from my lips,
I taste tomorrow about to take flight.
Still wings cling to her silent storm of protest.
She breathes in dust, rust coloured air
and remembers the heat, flesh against flesh
the dry taste of desire, saffron-tongued.
He places a necklace around her neck;
a rose, a twist of thorny stem.
A barbed barricade to snarl her skin.
The birds in her hair bother her;
the lovebird that whispers in her ear,
the blackbird that taps her skull, wings spread.
A grey dove rests, heavy with love.
Head turned, a glance back, a questioning eye.
She feels the weight, the pain of punctured skin.
Listen to the flutterings, these frenzied things
that lie like dying orange flames on lips and eyes.
Yet smooth as silk they slip, a waft of sari
to kiss lids closed; poet-seer, friend.
He wakes as if from a dream; her head a solid
azure sky. He has made her a distant reality.
Marion Oxley lives in the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire with Alice, her three year old boisterous Staffordshire Bull Terrier. She has had poems published in a variety of poetry magazines and anthologies including, Bare Fiction, Three Drops from the Cauldron, Butcher’s Dog, Ink, Sweat and Tears and has had poems listed or placed in several well known competitions such as Fire River Poets, Write Out Loud, and The Plough Poetry Prize. She currently helps out at the local food bank.
Reflections on Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World
All eyes are focused on her
the woman in the foreground of outstretched earth
weakened limbs crawling towards her horizon
I stand among the crowd and see a young girl in that painting
one who longed to be invisible
all those years when she sat shivering at her desk
other eyes locked on the leg braces the orthopedic shoes
In her world a dance resonated within and her feet never stopped moving
so she learned to fill blank sheets of paper with language
small knotted fingers working diligently as she merged herself to each page
her world as wide as she could make it
courage her mantra.
When it was her time to cross the horizon
the wheelchair with all its struggles was cast aside
its spokes radiating a golden brilliance that shattered sunlight
her time now to walk the seven shades of rainbow
and dance in that pair of ballroom shoes
the shoes she had always wished for.
I turn away from the painting knowing it will pull me back as it always does
Some of the crowd move closer to view as much as they can of Christina’s World
I look through this window of humanity, the framed masterpiece
and see someone else’s world
another woman my mother.
Helen Leslie Sokolsky
Helen Leslie Sokolsky's poems have appeared in a number of publications including The California Poetry Quarterly, Poet Lore, The Poetry Review PSA Confrontation, POEM, and The Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry. Forthcoming works will appear in Seven Circle Press and Poetry Quarterly. Her chapbook of poems Two Sides of a Ticket was published by Finishing Line Press in 2014 and she has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice. In 2016 she was a finalist in the Atlanta Review's International Poetry Competition. A retired New York City special education teacher Helen lives with her husband in upper Manhattan near Fort Tryon Park “I am so appreciative of our proximity to the beautiful art and music in the Cloisters and weather permitting I try to walk through the gardens whenever possible, an inspiration for much of my writing.”
I will not see the setting sun
the bloody sky
the lapping tongues
of fire on the fjord
the scream passing through it all
instead I see a son’s relief
his lapping whimpers
and moaning tongue
no longer rationed in uncertainty
I crack the door and step
into the flux, his arms
raise, the mouth gapes to scream
and all his rations concentrate to purge
the comforts of the lonely
Christopher Forrest lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with his wife and two young sons. He earned his MFA from Queens University of Charlotte and currently serves on the editorial staff of Press 53 and Prime Number Magazine. In his free time he enjoys being outside with his family and southern interpretations of poutine.
Sold to a Private Collection
(on seeing Jean-Michel Basquiat's Notary)
you put nothing on but you on canvas—oracle,
SAMO© [same old, same old]--
tagged beat-down warehouses,
scrutiny from rats & bums, night owls, kin.
how is it to be mythic, now, over
one hundred million dollars for clarifying desert dichotomies
with your blood traces, nerve sauce, & sinew?
It’s you in paint, crayon. pundits talk of a fractured
psyche like they know of rags, but your speculations, of words-made-flesh, of PLUTO,
belie their conclusions. You’re a planet, a god of death.
you saw & verbalized LEECHES, FLEAS, & PARASITES
attacking the FLESH of a MALE TORSO,
kafka’s penal-colony machine made visceral.
as you wished, you’re an African presence, a seer
confirming an existence some will pay for but never wash away,
who will pay no mind but surely money.
you, nomad of your own body, finder of self-meaning,
marks & gestures quickening within a caring eye, archaeologist,
lost to most in some private collection.
Darren Lyons is currently an MFA student in the Creative Writing Program of The New School in New York, NY. Recently, his poems were published in Chronogram and The Inquisitive Eater, and a poetry/painting project of his was featured on The Best American Poetry Blog. One of Darren's short stories and another poem were published in the 2016 and 2017 editions, respectively, of Stonesthrow Review.
You painted this studio a radiant scarlet –
a luminous sunset
spreading joy with increasing abandonment.
The glass is empty, not your plate.
Absorbed in your creations I wait,
thinking you will walk in any moment,
start sharing stories of paintings on paintings,
remind me that creativity takes courage.
Uncovering the blue and yellow beneath the red,
I note the walls were white,
you changed the colours until they felt right.
Your signature is everywhere,
the way you fit things to make a whole.
While working you never try to think, only feel
and connect – woman and man, earth and sky,
tree like a human body, human body like a cathedral,
studio like a private universe. Art the only thing
that matters once it stops hurting.
The green blue light of the window
intensifies the interior where memory
is suspended like the grandfather clock
whose face has no hands –
the fathomless mirror reflects no illusions.
An open box of crayons offer paradise
contained in this world within worlds of yours,
teaching me how to lose and find myself in art.
This poem first appeared in Shanta Acharya's book, Imagine: New and Selected Poems (Harper Collins India).
Shanta Acharya is the author of eleven books, her publications range from poetry, literary criticism and fiction to finance. Her poems have appeared in major journals and anthologies. Her latest, Imagine: New and Selected Poems, is published by HarperCollins India, 2017). www.shantaacharya.com
I follow your gaze, you study my flesh
as your paintbrush strokes me onto canvas.
You search every contour of my body
and with an urgent need to capture me
you conjure me up, close enough to touch,
and with the sweeping bristles of your brush
you smudge in my hair with dabs of Lamp Black,
then with your knife you scrape some of it back.
You slap oil paint onto palette and mix
Zinc White with a hint of red to make pink,
then you add yellow and a dot of green;
with colour control you flesh in my skin.
You, with expressive spontaneity,
smear me in paint, mark me your territory.
Helen Heery took up writing six years ago but is relatively new to submitting poems to magazines. However, two of her poems appear in Gazing at Gaia, an anthology published in 2017 by Manchester poets in support of The Manchester Buddhist Centre.
This flower's like floating
on the moon, drifting in and out
of dreams. I am a little afraid
of all this space to be myself.
From behind the petals, I see
draw strings and scaffolds,
the magician's hat. I would have
preferred uninitiated awe.
Nuclear weapons scare me still
even though Reagan is dead, the bombs broken
into pieces we could carry in our pockets.
O'Keeffe said she would make flowers so big
New Yorkers would have to stop and see
what she sees in flowers and we all know
what she sees in flowers, the delicate opening
fold upon fold, the pink blush, the way
the shapes stretch to glory.
Today O'Keeffe would do set designs for Gaga.
I got older, slower, sadder,
came down from the clouds and found
acid rain falling. I have less hope
than I did before. I feel the dark unfold.
O'Keefe might say we are smaller than we know,
the world more gracious.
Deborah Bacharach is the author of After I Stop Lying (Cherry Grove Collections, 2015). Her work has appeared in Pembroke, Arts & Letters, Cimarron Review, and The Texas Review among many others. She is an editor, teacher and tutor in Seattle. Find out more about her at DeborahBacharach.com.
The woman glares down for decades.
Her eyes dare me to look away,
to notice adobe when she will not
be housed in a pale box.
Behind her stands the First Mother,
looking back, beside her a child
with the face of Pan. But she--
she is Eve who needs no Adam.
She is Persephone fresh from Hades.
She is the corn maid from every harvest.
The gold frame means nothing,
it cannot hold her.
This poem previously appeared in Write Denver/AMWA.
Karen Douglass has published short fiction, three novels, Accidental Child, Providence and Invisible Juan, and five books of poetry. Karen is a member of Lighthouse Writers’ Workshop, Academy of American Poets, and Columbine Poets of Colorado. She has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her publication list is available at www.KVDbooks.com.
there's a hole
in the sky
in my side
in my heart
in my brain
a hole raining
black tear drops
a hole fertile
that can't be
planted this season
or the next
devorah major served as San Francisco’s Third Poet Laureate. She has five poetry books, the most recent and then we became, two novels, four chapbooks and a host of short stories, essays, and poems in anthologies and periodicals. Trade Routes, a symphony by Guillermo Galindo with spoken word poetry and song by devorah major premiered at the Oakland East Bay Symphony in 2006. In June 2015 major premiered her poetry play Classic Black: Voices of 19th Century African-Americans in San Francisco at the S.F. International Arts Festival. devorah major performs her work nationally and internationally with and without musicians. http://www.devorahmajor.com
Rhoda used to tell people she was a captive even though anyone with eyes and a nose could see they belonged together. Boyd, red face and all, was her father. There was no hiding that odor of land, that set of blue eyes and gold cap of hair, that love of animal slaughter and the colour red, that bull dog squareness of their shoulders. And Jane could be no one other than her mother, flinty chin, hand on hip, gunslinger style, the trigger temper.
But Rhoda persisted, used to beg rides to the county library (twice on a wagon and once on a tractor). She looked up all the names of all the women who had ever been stolen, tortured, killed, or assimilated into a tribe not of her own choosing. There was Cynthia Ann Parker and Rebecca Kellogg, Mercy Harbison and Fanny Kelly. Mary Draper, the county librarian, refused to help her get Rachel Plummer's Narrative of 21 Months' Servitude as a Prisoner Among the Comanche Indians. She said it wasn't fitting for a young lady.
She told Rhoda's parents, I think that child is unhealthy.
Boyd and Jane had to disagree. They understood a child's needs, the longing for change, for rain and a city. They'd grown up under the poverty of sun, sky, and endless mesas. They knew the limits of brown and gold and brown.
Still there would be no more trips to the library. If Rhoda had to read, let her read Jane's old novels – The Virginian, Riders of the Purple Sage, The Log of a Cowboy. If Rhoda had to dream, let her dream of cattle and hay, quilts and the occasional orchard.
Herman Begay, a man twice her age, a salesman who belonged everywhere and nowhere, who said he'd seen New York and could take her to Denver, offered her escape. She thought him handsome in a dark, foreign way. She loved his trunk full of tractor catalogs, the pictures of bulls for sale, the promise of “fine hogs.”
Boyd said, Don't go.
Jane just shrugged her shoulders.
They never married, never had children, although they did the things married couples did.
Now that's captivity, Mary Draper would tell any patron to the library.
Rhoda didn't care. She loved Herman. He took her to Denver, kept her in red dresses and green Cadillacs. Life was fun. She thought of writing a memoir.
Nan Wigington lives and works in Denver, Colorado. Her flash has appeared in Gravel, Spelk, and Pithead Chapel.
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