The Questions She Makes Me Ask
This is what women have always been for me:
an alluring mystery, a hidden fruit,
a secret not quite revealed, not quite concealed,
a metaphor that calls to me—O! Siren’s
song—and then withdraws within dark folds distant
as death’s far kingdom. See the red hair curled and
massing, the perfect arcing eyebrows, the hooded
eyes and flushing cheeks. Can she think what I am
thinking? Does she know? See the red lips peeping
above the black scarf, the fascinator. Does
she look at me as she recedes—inscrutable--
into desire’s black banks? And if I follow,
if I pursue, if I part her great dark cloak,
if I seek the obscure promise she withholds,
will I ever find the light again?
Cecil Morris retired after 37 years of teaching high school English in California, where he wrote numerous memos, lesson plans, and the occasional poem. He has had a few poems published, mostly in English teacher magazines (English Journal and California English) and small literary magazines (Poem and Hiram Review).
The landscape, continents away from where I stand,
hemispheric change, yet oddly similar.
Rough, layered stone, trees twisted by the bellow
of wind, a few branches in bud, a few branches
heavy in death. Yet among this bleakness, an explosion
of delicate flowers, white tinged with pink. Next to them,
a valiant beam of red petals and green leaves rooted
in rock. If I stare into the flower’s heart, I can see
the past, back and back and back, when the world
was blushed with beginning, the sky held
a young sun in its turquoise hands, the spirits
of the dead twirled in mad joy.
Valerie Bacharach’s poetry has appeared in several publications including Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Pittsburgh City Paper, Pittsburgh Quarterly, US 1 Worksheets, The Tishman Review, Topology Magazine, Poetica, VerseWrights, and Voices from the Attic. She is a member of Carlow University’s Madwomen in the Attic workshops and conducts weekly poetry workshops for the women at Power House and CeCe’s Place, halfway houses for women in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Her first chapbook, Fireweed, will be published in 2018 by Main Street Rag. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
was blue and for a period his favoured means of travel.
When it ceased to be of use it was propped against a fence,
abandoned to the weather.
In the summer of forty-two,
left to entertain his daughter Maya, the artist
organised an afternoon sketching flowers.
But the child wandered off and chancing on the wreck,
she asked her father to take it indoors and make it better.
Whilst Maya ate her biscuits and drank milk,
Pablo set to work and when he said,
Look, I have made you a magnificent bull’s head,
there were tears.
This poem previously appeared in the pamphlet New Lease, Half Moon Books.
Sandra Burnett lives in Otley, West Yorkshire, UK. She has been published in anthologies produced by Half Moon Books and in poetry magazines including Prole, Frogmore Papers, Strix, Coast-to-Coast-to-Coast, and Magma 71: the Film Issue. She enjoys performing her poetry and her pamphlet New Lease is published by Half Moon Books.
I’m still here, waiting
for this phone to ring,
a blast from the past,
though we’ve been
disconnected for so long
the phone company has repossessed the cord and even if
I knew your number now and stuck my index finger in
the holes above those
big black numbers 1-0 and spun
the dial, the handful of receiver
to my ear, you wouldn’t
answer, no signal
can possibly reach you, breach the distance
of the years, let me hear your voice again, I
have to be content with
the yellow of this desk top
reminding me of your hair
on that summer day we spent at—where was it, Jenny,
oh, where was it? Please call, Jenny. I’m up against
that metal thing
that stops the dial from
spinning, spinning, spinning
and I don’t know how long
it’s going to hold--
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.
Reliquary Arm of St. Valentine
Your vessel was split
into too many pieces for one man, but perhaps enough for two.
Conflated with love, you spread to great cities
all wanting a moment alone with your fragments
to kiss them through glass windows with dustless lips.
In Rome is your alleged skull, forehead labeled, crowned with flowers.
in Dublin is a vial tinged with your blood,
in Roquemare is a shred of bone,
another sliver is in Vienna.
Here, in a city you might think was made of hell
we have your alleged arm, silver-shelled, in an alarmed case:
Golden porticullis poised to drop protecting your pocked bone
knobby knuckles to hold your tireless benediction under a sapphire ring
neat buttons climbing to the hinge where your wrist would be
if your hands weren’t somewhere in Savona.
What will become of the encased saints
when the dead are resurrected?
This bone in silver armour
might drop itself into the harbour
to paddle towards its cousins,
and remedy this long disruption.
Honor Vincent is a writer living in New York City, where she dedicates most of her apartment's square footage to cats and books. Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her writing is published or forthcoming in Neologism Poetry Journal, Entropy, and Nowhere.
Winter Landscape with Skaters and Bird Trap
A dazzling scene—why mar it with a bird trap?
About Breugel, Auden was never wrong--
that meaning waits unnoticed in the corner
while winter sunlight floods the snow, blots sky,
turns shapes to figures skating on noonday shadows.
Villagers spread across the glowing ice,
and birds watch, like the many-eyed houses
turned toward the skaters. And, stillest, the heavy boards,
propped on a stick, baited for hungry beaks.
But now I see that the skaters, themselves, are trapped
in a winter dream of freedom and sunlit snow.
And I have been enthralled along with them
by this silent prologue glimpsed through tangled limbs,
this glow flooding ice, blurring a weight's faint shadow--
so caught up that I missed the hole in the ice
and the string on the trap, its unseen hand offstage
(a boy's? the devil's? the painter’s?) waiting for dazzled
souls like mine grown heedless in blissful light.
Memye Curtis Tucker
Memye Curtis Tucker is the author of The Watchers (Hollis Summers Prize, Ohio University Press), the prizewinning chapbooks Admit One and Storm Line, and Holding Patterns; and poems in Poetry Daily, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Georgia Review, Oxford American, Prairie Schooner, Shidae Munhuck [featured in Korean translation], Southern Review, among others. With a Ph.D. in English literature, multiple fellowships from MacDowell, VCCA, and the Georgia Council for the Arts, and numerous awards, she teaches poetry writing and is former Senior Editor of Atlanta Review.
Crater Lake, 1923
I stood before the lake
one summer day
all at once
the souls of children rose up together
over the valley
the lake’s surface
An Oasis in the Badlands, 1905
This land has not saved us.
My horse drinks here
for the last time.
Winter will come, unaware
of how I leaned back in the saddle
as my animal filled herself,
the river emptying
under her hooves;
loss wears away
to black and white
soft like ashes after
a prairie fire.
Canyon de Chelly, 1904
The distance divides itself
and becomes greater,
a covert equation.
Our horses raise their heads,
alert to barometric change.
We look up from the sandy floor
to the top of an island.
What logic put an ocean here
and then took it away
gallon by salty gallon?
The Rush Gatherer, 1910
I go about my work
groping through mud
and living things.
the hardest part
is bundling thick
wet grass, but
it’s watching my hands
that dark water
again and again.
The Vanishing Race, 1904
When you finally saw us
you gave us names
intended to destroy.
We are going
not because we are doomed
but because you are.
You have facts and we
have facts. How differently
the truth accords itself.
how to address the mountain.
No towns will come here
and roads will dwindle to one.
No one else wanted this land:
we, its reluctant
the horses you brought us
straight into the cliff.
Four of these poems were first published as a sequence by Ekphrasis.
Erica Goss served as Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, CA from 2013-2016. She is the author of Night Court, winner of the 2016 Lyrebird Award, Wild Place and Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets. Recent work appears in Lake Effect, Atticus Review, Contrary, Convergence, Spillway, Eclectica, The Tishman Review, Tinderbox, The Red Wheelbarrow, and Main Street Rag, among others. She is editor of Sticks & Stones, a bi-monthly poetry newsletter. Please visit her at www.ericagoss.com.
To see the world in that specific green--
a slim ribbon of lemon river beneath
the landscape dancing against an aqua
violet sky, the cypress a feathered fan,
the scene a spectrum of fractured light
through a veiled prism of pastel vision,
each form a whisper of quintessential
joy, delicately defined by gestured
line, anchored by ionic pillars in time.
To see the world in that specific green--
to leave dusk and mire behind sail
and spire, to find delight in being,
to know kindness and understand
its light—to see.
Pamela Joyce Shapiro
Pamela Joyce Shapiro is a cognitive psychologist intrigued by memory and language. She teaches psychology in Philadelphia and writes poetry to capture thoughts and moments otherwise forgotten. Once upon a time, she studied drawing and printmaking at the Philadelphia College of Art and Tyler School of Art. Her poetry has recently appeared in Poetry Breakfast and Better Than Starbucks.
The Man With Parkinson's Considers David
My wife holds the car door open
and waits for me to extend my hand.
I focus on her feet as she leans back for the pull.
My legs deplore this move, stolid as David
on his pedestal in Florence. We visited, my wife and I,
gazing up as we circled the splendid figure
of the boy who vanquished Goliath with a rock from his sling.
That youthful face, tense and ready for combat.
That broad torso and Herculean span of shoulders.
The muscled arms, bicep-heavy, the voluptuous forearms,
exquisite genitals and expansive chest. Those legs.
No boy, I thought, but god-like man. But I digress.
My legs refuse to assist my progress
from car to house. Stand up! I insist.
Reluctantly, they obey.
Claire Keyes is the author of two collections of poetry: The Question of Rapture (Mayapple Press) and What Diamonds Can Do (WordTech). Professor emerita at Salem State University, she teaches in the SSU life-long learning program and lives in Marblehead, MA. where she conducts a monthly poetry salon.
Since sunrise I've thought of little else
than lying here, under eaves of nesting
swallows in old Burley's barn, above
the welter of the day. Fed the pigs;
butter's churned, wash half-hung,
all before Sunday service and long way
back, just to steal a few moments
of secret stillness, before he beats us
home, chap-cheeked from the fields.
Your voice is warmer when you read;
the words spool out like gold thread.
He thought he could keep learning
corked in some bottle on an impossible-
to-reach shelf, but we hoarded these
stories. You unlocked their mysteries,
like divining strange bird tracks.
He'll never know the closeness
we sneak in this hay-drifting heaven.
Tonight, after he sinks into a dream
of sons we will never have, I will ease
out of bed, tiptoe to your room,
reach between rope pegs and ticking
to pull out our precious cache. By a dying
fire I will bury my face in the wings
of the pages, inhale the ink,
the sweet scent of hay and horses,
and dream my own dream.
A graduate of the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA Poetry Program, David Sloan teaches at Maine Coast Waldorf High School in Freeport. His debut poetry collection—The Irresistible In-Between—was published by Deerbrook Editions in 2013. His poetry has appeared in The Café Review, Chiron Review, Down East, Innisfree, Lascaux Review, Moon City Review, Naugatuck River Review, New Millenium Writings and Passager, among others. He received the 2012 Betsy Sholl Award, Maine Literary awards in 2012 and 2016, The Margaret F. Tripp Poetry Award, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He is currently enjoying life's latest delight—grandfatherhood!
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