Painted Hands, by Michael Gessner
Here is the human touch
without which no thing could be
said to exist.
In the old caves--Chauvet, or say
Cueva de las Manos--hands follow
contours of rock to describe themselves
in stencil and print, with chalk
and charcoal, with polychromatic
ochres, and always with some touch of pink.
The ancients used slick swells of stone
walls and ceilings to give the impression
of moving upward in the flickering light,
often found in recesses absent
of any forms of human life
as if yearning had no body.
The images of open hands, hands held high,
a universal sign we might otherwise find
in the elementary school, or say
out on an open highway,
a conscious act of attention,
a reaching out, trying to touch
something, as if their owners wished
to offer some impression of themselves,
their yearning, or to invite others,
future hands, to join them,
a community, as if they did not wish
to enter the unknown alone.
Michael Gessner has authored 11 books of poetry and prose. His work may be found in American Literary Review, The French Literary Review, The Kenyon Review, North American Review, Oxford Magazine, rue des Beaux-Arts (Paris,) Verse Daily, The Yale Review of Humanities in Medicine, and others. For additional information, please see https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/michael-gessner or https://www.michaelgessner.com/
Windblown, by Kat Lewis
There is a woman in a browning field of summer
wheat and somewhere a radio is playing
her favourite song to a window shutting for the evening.
She is in a pink shirtdress with black dirt
beneath her fingernails. Her hands
are rough, the kind from time spent running
them against every shade of wood grain. The kind of rough
of humming in your sleep with nobody in bed
beside you to hear.
Maybe she is hypnotized by the high noon light
or maybe she is suffocating in the whitecaps of gold.
Or maybe she just wants to be left alone,
and I’m not sure it makes any difference.
The stickers in her hose turn her pale
ankle skin into plowed acreage. Her body
a scarecrow. An exhibit.
Her dark hairs rattlesnake through the wind until
the farm is a dollhouse under a magnifying glass
sky. She accordioned to the ground
at some point, idyllically,
with a haystack at her back,
as if this were a painting, as if this were
something any of us have a name for.
Kat Lewis is a candidate in poetry at the University of Idaho where she has served as managing editor and reader for Fugue Literary Journal. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Meadow, High Desert Journal, The Superstition Review, Santa Clara Review, and elsewhere. She lives and teaches in Moscow, Idaho.
Burn This Beauty, by Lee Chilcote
Burn This Beauty
On a warm March night, I take my kids to the playground. Emily doesn’t want to go at first, complaining that she’d rather stay inside and play on her Kindle, but it’s all I can do to make Jonathan and Nathan put on their boots and jackets before they run out the door. Once we get outside, the moist air pulls at us. We leave our small yard, hemmed in by a rusty chain link fence. The streetlights are coming on.
As Emily and Nathan ride their bikes up the street towards the schoolyard, I feel my neck tense up. There’s a lot of traffic a block away on Detroit Avenue, and ambulances scream by late at night. I remember coming here a few years ago and finding junkies shooting up in the plastic playground tunnel. I made my kids leave immediately, ignoring their pleading cries. Recently, the school fenced the lot, fixed up the playground and added a toddler area, and it’s gotten safer.
Tonight, a full moon hangs in the sky. The patches of ice on the spongy playground surface spider web and snap as we walk. I play “monster” with the kids, running after them as they squeal. As it gets darker, Nathan does a strip tease, first unzipping his jacket, then taking his arms out, and finally throwing it on top of the slide, where it stays. This winter, we’ve had many 50-degree days like this, and even when I tell them not to take their coats off, it’s hard to stop them.
It’s completely dark now, but the kids don’t want to leave. They jump on the snow piles left by the plow. Jonathan falls in a crater and I rescue him. Later, seeing Thomas Cole’s “View of Shroon Mountain, Essex County, New York, After a Storm,” I notice the two Native American men hunting in the foreground, their red headdresses blending in with the autumn New World landscape. The one standing in front holds a musket, the snout poking up through the understory of the forest, and I feel my neck tense up again, at the dangers of a warming planet.
Lee Chilcote: "My poetry has been published in Great Lakes Review, Oyez Review, Steam Ticket, PacificREVIEW, Kaws Mouth and other publications. My essays have been published in Out of Line, Muse, Riverwind, Whiskey Island, Belt and the books Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology, The Cleveland Neighborhood Guidebook, A 2016 Race Anthology and Cleveland in Prose and Poetry. I have also written for Vanity Fair, Next City, Planning, Agence France Press, Belt and other publications. My chapbook, The Shape of Home, was a finalist for two poetry competitions and was published by Finishing Line Press in 2017. I completed an M.A. in English and Creative Nonfiction Writing from Cleveland State University in 2002, where I was awarded the Leonard Trawick Creative Writing Prize for nonfiction writing. I'm cofounder and director of the nonprofit organization Literary Cleveland, whose mission is to create and nurture a vibrant literary arts community in Northeast Ohio."
What We Need, by J. Stephen Rhodes
What We Need
Why shouldn’t flowers look like clam balloons
on strings, like coral fireworks surrounding
blue eyeballs? Why not golden strawberries,
a yellow sickle on a bed of maroon?
They don’t exist, Madame Hohnloser said,
but who died and made her god of all things
growing? They may not yet be discovered,
or evolved. Perhaps we may simply need
them to exist in the face of so much
sorry predictability, so many
machines, so little room to walk freely.
Maybe this is why the Samurai
on the vase is smiling. Surrounded
by colour, he refuses not to dream.
J. Stephen Rhodes
Poems by J. Stephen Rhodes have appeared in over fifty literary journals, including Shenandoah, Tar River Poetry, and Texas Review, as well as several international reviews. Wind Publications has published his two poetry collections, The Time I Didn’t Know What to Do Next (2008) and What Might Not Be (2014). He has won a number of literary awards including two fellowships from the Hambidge Center for the Arts and Sciences, selection as a reader for the Kentucky Great Writers Series. Most recently, he won First Prize in Still: The Journal’s annual poetry contest. He holds an MFA from the University of Southern Maine-Stonecoast and a Ph.D. from Emory University.
Zdenek Tmej, Czech Man Called Up for Work, 1943
Because of you, we won the war.
Communiqués sent to save Kursk Offensive
Go un-dispatched and lie
On the desk whose top covers your lap
Like an afghan. The phone that rings
Breathes with the voice of Goering
Crying with the news of new warplanes. Still
In your 19th-century mustache and cap
Slouched with eagle of the Reich, your head rests
Caught in the stag’s antlers of your hands.
What are you dreaming about?
Girls with wine and baskets, no doubt.
A mother’s voice like a shout of birdsong.
She is calling you, and you are a boy again
Wanting to follow the girls with their wine
Into an apple orchard. Anyway,
You never liked work, or Hitler,
And you are too old to start.
Andrew Miller: "I am a poet, critic and translator with over eighty publications to my name. My poems have appeared in such journals as The Massachussett’s Review, Ekphrasis, Iron Horse,Shenandoah, Spoon River Review, Laurel Review, Hunger Mountain, Rattle and New Orleans Review. In addition, I have had poems appear in such anthologies as How Much Earth, Anthology of Fresno Poets (2001) and The Way We Work: Contemporary Literature from the Workplace (2008). Finally, I am one of the co-editors of The Gazer Within, The Selected Prose of Larry Levis (2001) and the author of Poetry, Photography Ekphrasis: Lyrical Representations of Photography from the 19th Century to the Present (2015). These many publications have come with a number of awards for my poetry. Four of my poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, three by Ekphrasis Magazine and one by Yemassee, and in 2002, David St John chose my poem “Hello My Lovely” as the best poem for Runes’ Magazine’s Mystery Prize. Additionally, in 2004, 2005 and 2006, my manuscript The Flesh of the Parables was short listed by the National Poetry Series and by Tupelo Press. I hold a PhD from Copenhagen University on the subject of ekphrastic poetry and photography."
Abishag, by John Robert Lee
1 Kings 1:1-4
And then there is Abishag
who cherishes the king --
he won’t touch her when she bathes
him with bay leaves, singing
his psalms or teasing
with tent refrains
on the queen and that old affair;
he won’t touch her full breasts
full under the wet blouse
and her hips clinging
to the soaked skirt and one mischievous
bay leaf on the tremulous curve of the world --
he won’t look when he stands in the tub,
shaking with cold in his bones
desiring in his blood
as she towels him with wool from Lebanon --
later, he won’t interfere with her
when they sleep on each other
and she warms him with her hot body
under the quilted Shunammite coverlet —
Abishag, the tender.
John Robert Lee
John Robert Lee is a Saint Lucian writer. His Collected Poems 1975-2015 was published by Peepal Tree Press (2017).
Shallon Fadlien is a Saint Lucian artist who lives in Oshawa, Ontario,Canada.
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This month's promotion is on several series of graphic poetry artworks on paper, by Lorette C. Luzajic, buy one get one free. These are $100 USD plus 15$ shipping, for a total of $115 for your choice of two. These mixed media works on paper come in a black mat. One pair is on its way to Michigan- thank you so much. View the works here, with instructions for purchase on Etsy, or through PayPal to email@example.com.
View selection here: www.mixedupmedia.ca/painted-poetry-series.html
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below: some Etsy selections.
Tomb of the Wrestlers
When I stand undressed in front of you,
you unshame me in that space,
the home you are, every room red
with Magritte's rose. What is mirage?
How minds entwine & race, pull
through walls like the warp of stars--
volume with no end, no containment--
hothouse in the abstract, inside,
one florescent leap for the edge of alive.
Tanya Grae is the author of the forthcoming collection Undoll (YesYes Books), a National Poetry Series finalist. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI, Ploughshares, New Ohio Review, Prairie Schooner, Post Road, The Los Angeles Review, The Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere. Find out more at: tanyagrae.com
After Seeing Chardin’s Still Life with Game (1750s)
She ate once of wild boar,
dark meat cooked to falling off the bone
in red wine, onion and thyme.
Plated on a silver truncheon, bathed in juices,
decorated with sweet cherries, golden currants,
carrots with leafy stems still attached,
the air sang its ripeness.
She ate, tearing pink and tender strips,
brown-red juices staining the rough table,
her hands and mouth coloured boar.
There were no rules here; no white tablecloth,
no silver or fine crystal, no upholstered chairs
or chandelier, so she let the juices run down
her neck, the front of her dress, onto the floor
until undone. Bread became fork and spoon,
she suppressed her desire to lick the plate
and ate without speaking, but laughed
well and loud and long,
eager to shield her dish with her arm,
to claim it, never yield it, keep it secret,
the face in the mirror one she didn’t recognize
as her own, but a wild thing.
Summer Hardinge loves good stories and her Maryland garden. After teaching English for 21 years, she writes for herself and with her writing community. Summer is a certified Amherst Writers and Artists facilitator and gives workshops in the Washington D.C. area. To see her website email@example.com.
In Dürer, by William Greenway
Dürer won a prize
for his hand
which drew a perfect circle.
Now we have the ring,
horizon of fine line, and leaf, and limb,
and faces like the sun
of every morning
for a year,
a caravan of royalty going round to no place
except to the beauty
of its own grace
in going on delicate camel legs
and swaying wise men
satisfied with their slow
etching on the sky and strong
ritual of colour.
to a point
of a pen
to a perfect line
a part of empty spaces
Still the circle goes
about a white ghost
who found the bright corona
and made it light the circle
of the shadow he had been.
William Greenway’s newest collection Selected Poems was the winner of the 2014 FutureCycle Press Poetry Book of the Year Award. Everywhere at Once (2008), won the Ohioana Poetry Book of the Year Award, as did his Ascending Order (2003), both from the University of Akron Press. He has published in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Georgia Review, Southern Review, Poetry Northwest, Shenandoah, and Prairie Schooner, and has won the Helen and Laura Krout Memorial Poetry Award, the Larry Levis Editors' Prize from Missouri Review, the Open Voice Poetry Award from The Writer's Voice, the State Street Press Chapbook Competition, an Ohio Arts Council Grant, and was 1994 Georgia Author of the Year. He’s Professor Emeritus of English at Youngstown State University, but lives now in Ephrata, PA.
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