Intermission


 
My father never sang, he whistled, while
driving, Mother coming out with words he
all but uttered, and I in the back seat
keeping time with my toes until I got
so good at percussion I was silent
and still they never missed a single beat.
They must have carried on like this before
I was ever born--they never needed me
for making music. What were you two like
before you had me?  I ask them during
a break in their repertoire. What indeed,
laughs Father. Mother lights a cigarette
and smiles at the road coming under us.
I'll have a cigarette, too, Father says,
reaching into his shirt pocket, pulling
out his Lucky Strikes as he peers into
the rear view mirror at me. Have one, son,
he asks, passing the pack halfway over
the back of the front seat. But of course he's
only kidding. No, thanks, I say--it's bad
for my health, and besides, I'm too young. 
We
can't smoke and perform at the same time, puffs
Mother. Yes, that's a fact, coughs Father, so
why don't you entertain us?  I recite.
 
"Stopping by Woods," what I can remember
of it--all, I mean, just not in order.
I have to have it down by heart next week.
Not bad,  says Father. That's good, says Mother.
Are we there yet?  I whine. We'll be there in
a song, says Father. But it's miles before..
 
 
                                                        --Gale Acuff
 



The Unsinkable Ship

 
April 14th. The sun rubs its back against
the smooth, white panels of a stooped church.
Inside wedding vows echo in the rafters and
stir up the nocturnal bats. Their shrill shrieks
drift down lazily and act as a kind of warning
like an SOS laced with radio static.
Too easy to ignore.
 
A good captain. This woman. Whose eyes
were swollen red in the dim light that
pressed against the stained glass like
a spray of rain. Maybe just seawater.
 
Finally the moment of the kiss-
their lips pressed like a petal
or curling newspaper clippings
shut up between the pages of
dusty, abandoned photo albums.
Their voices caught in space to
echo down to ten generations to come—
“Not enough lifeboats”
 “The unsinkable ship”
 
She knew.
 
That the moment she felt the
first nip of his teeth like miniature icebergs
against her titanic lip—she thought—
“I am sinking, I am sinking.” 
 
And the nocturnal bats sigh their static warning

high in the stooped, aching spine of the church.

 

Button on a Red Blazer

I think it is a key.
That slips unobtrusively
from the security of its lock
and opens a kind of door.
 
No. No, I’ve got it all wrong.
It must be a stop sign.
The glossed professional finish
clearer than four stoic letters.
 
No, on second thought,
I think it is a dragon.
Guarding the gate to your skin
A perfect little “O” face
Drowning amidst a sea
Of plaids and paisley prints
 
If I press the button—
You will speak, a faceless
baby doll with blonde hair.
blue eyes, of course.
Hitler’s waking obsession.
 
A blinking doll-faced hooker
Standing in the middle of a nowhere street
 
Ah, that little button,
Red—Red as passion.
But, I like its flair
—its style.
 
A beacon in your center
Announcing
Danger, danger.

 


                                       Sara Blevins




               Mulligans of Poolbeg Street

 

 
Reels of film flying over a dusty lens
the hot bulb, the whine
fast images of conspiring men
from McCairns Motors
rolling in a silent quick-step
smiling at the camera in ninteen fifty
their soft hats cocked to show a light approach
over to Mulligan’s golden facade
flickering briefly on the silver screen

This honeyed portal is unique
the two swing doors their friendly squeak
combed in an exaggerated yellow grain
one to a wholesome saloon
the other to a side-bar
an altar to the deity of heavenly drink

It is a cathedral made for a working congregation
it took centuries to construct
this extravagant faith
medieval men’s ambitions
drawn in the smoky air
the neat stack of Afton
the simple chair

There are two back-rooms
one a spacious area filled with a modest light
big broad tables from the kitchens of the kings
the walls shining with pipe-smoker’s paint
a place to drink pints of Guinness
without any time constraint

The other back-room is a place for bishops should they come
their own waiting inner sanctum
its stained-glass doors are locked
some people must have been ordained in there
the table set for a meeting of the hierarchy

The men from the Irish Press
grey in Fred McMurray dress
for years these oily men from printer’s ink
set a discreet tone with knowing nod and willing wink
talking to each other sideways

The window seats in the main bar
a light-filled alcove made for the high art of intimate talk
the sun that finds its way down into the narrow street
is magnified by the pearly glass
warming the back of the neck
like a magic scarf

Two pints of stout
snug into the half-keg with a companion
a holy communion
served by apron'd men the size of horses
they rub the counter-top with a grey wet rag
sweeps of temporary varnish
preparing the dry altar

Mulligan’s of Poolbeg Street
a pro-cathedral for the working man
where generations of altar-boys have learned how to drink porter
to respect a home from home
where prayers and promises are offered to the gods
where decent sinners can extol
dressed protected in the very place itself
a golden navvy-jacket for the soul
 
                                Hay Machine (e)

  

Slow Worm

 

 

 

golden question mark

in a trip of sunlight    

a curl

of broken shoelace

 

I know your secret place

deep inside my slovenly wall

use my car key

to nudge you

 

towards safety

and you ripple

a wave

carving ribs in sand

 

to lie under hart’s tongue

and bramble

brindled back

a fallen twig

 

                     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Grandfather

 

 

April

and already they’re selling sweet peas

small, wickedly expensive bunches

flounce of anaemic petticoats

 

I walk again

into a shadowed hall

shiver of house cool against outside heat

am transfixed

by the fire he’s lit in the gloom

blaze of magenta and maroon

leavening the lesser pastel shades

the sharp-sweet

one note fragrance dancing on wax polish

tobacco, the safe composty smell of him

 

purblind after bright sun

I see his fingers rough from working

gritty Cheshire sandstone soil

the dirt etching their cracks and folds

imagine them cutting wiry stems

patiently settling the blooms to this riot of colour

 

and two skinny girls

nurtured like plants

the three of us playing house

fishing for sticklebacks, flying on swings

 

together tending long avenues of sweet pea

 

                                                                

 

      

 

 

 

 

                           Poppy

 

 

          a harlot

          in a red   crushed-satin dress

         

          eyes   kohl-rimmed

                fringe of false lashes

 

          you send

                          the wrong messages         

          exude

                      seraglio

                            the back room

                                   of some sleazy Soho bar

         

           where 

                gaunt

                     angular

                          men

                          bubble

                                drowsy smoke

                                          through water

 

 

         in my grandfather’s garden

                                                      you were

                           a country girl

          rosy cheeked

                                            open to sunlight

                 the scent of mown grass

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Geometry of Rejection

 

 

Skewered like St Sebastian

by the savage purity

of line and angle

 

his arcing off is clean-cut

as tempered steel, her anger

worn too smooth to bite.

 

Their hearts pinched

to the practised hardness

of a fossil

 

each orbits a void

they both deny,

their trajectories

 

burnished clean

of those small kindnesses

that once defined their love.

 

Yet there is passion

in their symmetry,

a cruel precision

 

complex as any genome,

the circularity

of noughts and crosses

 

implacable as a glacier

scouring tracks

in living rock.

 

                 Marilyn Donovan










Marilyn Monroe’s Autograph

 

A night of turgid dreams leaves me

with Marilyn Monroe’s autograph

written in a ghosted memoir.

The signature bristles and preens

as if writhing with ego.

 

I’m sure it’s authentic although

the memoir appeared years after

she died of excessive marriage.

Suicide was an afterthought.

Her famous marriages bent her

 

backward till her spine warped

and her overexposed breasts popped

like paper bags. She regretted

certain roles, but not the last,

in The Misfits—her co-stars,

 

like her, doomed before the film

earned the audience it deserved.

If I dreamt up this signature

in this book with orange cloth binding

it seems real enough in daylight.

 

Fondling the memoir I detect

the pain of composition raving

still in the unconscious ether

to which she consigned her spirit.

Would an autograph dealer pay

 

full value for a signature

that however authentic occurs

years after the subject’s death?

I’m keeping this to myself.

Without touching I trace a finger

 

over the graceful holography,

certain I couldn’t have forged

this elegant scrawl in my sleep.

Everyone believed her murdered,

perhaps by government thugs.             

 

But the way her autograph fell

from the dark suggests how gently

she entered it—her name, although

not her own, derived from a species

we love all the more when extinct.


 

Half in Your World, Half in Another

 

The cat you found in a dumpster

ran away after two years

of indifference to your play.

 

Somewhere in Oregon forest

that cat has fathered a tribe

of human-hating felines eager

 

to disembowel us in our sleep.

You loved that cat on first sight

but he despised the attention

 

you bestowed on his dusty pelt

and preferred the guts of rodents

to the canned food you offered him.

 

Half in your world, half in another,

he tolerated you long enough

to learn your weak spots, then fled

 

into the high timber country

where the rain falls incessantly,

ripening the landscape to death.

 

Three thousand miles east, the rain

on my roof feels calligraphic,

designing holography graceful

 

enough to deliver messages

from worlds that don’t yet exist.

Later today we’ll meet for tea

 

and discuss our failures with cats.

By then the rain will have stopped

and a cloudy light will polish

 

the downtown storefronts. You’ll sigh

that famous little sigh and I’ll tip

my chair and wonder how deeply

 

rain has scarred its calligraphy

into me, whether I’ll ever learn

to see as acutely as cats do.

 

                                                William Doreski



               La France Profonde  

 


The French place-name – the jokes came too easy –

whose unaccountable consonants were at once transformed –

consumed like faggots in the sudden combustion

of searing vowel sounds that would never be ours: 

 

the man in the rain-cape, unsmiling, intoned it like a priest;

then turned from our encounter, unfocusing his eyes

looking through us in his contempt for the weather, the world. 

We stood in the landscape-wide patter, the grey drift of that hour, 


 

where the loaves were golden and few behind the rusting bars

of the boulangerie defended by the ruins of the chateau;

the tottering war-memorial drip-counted its absences;

pink roses flounced, above iron gates, or high on alarming gables; 


 

and we tried to speak English, our dog to come at sly whistle:

gone, silent, as if underground.  I crammed foreign bread;

you hummed tunelessly, surrounded by roses. Back in England

we are still waiting for our simplest words to come home. 

                                                                                          

 

                                                                             Alan Gleave




 


Vanilla

 

Still in rollers, cigarette clenched between dentures,

Mom sat at the kitchen table

hands like spades darting back and forth

adjusting the wig.

There, she’d say, and release my wriggling brother,

only to  change her mind, bring him back

for another spit pincurl or to even out his rouge.

 

Bob was six or seven those summer mornings.

She’d work on him like a mannequin,

fix him up the way she wanted to do with me.

She’d buckle his feet into my abandoned patent leathers,

roll down the tops of bobby sox,

pouf out the party dress,

spin him away and laugh as he twirled.

Last the lipstick  and then,

needing a witness to their mischief,

Mom would send Bob to the neighbor’s

and he’d go, for tea and cookies

or maybe just because.

 

I wouldn’t go with him, but I’d watch from the apple tree.

Like Miss America he walked slowly, elegantly,

his head straight, purse clutched to his side.

Sometimes, Mom would dig up an old pair of elbow gloves

that went all the way up Bob’s arm and I’d imagine him

slipping them off to take a cookie

revealing the dirt under his little boy nails.

 

The other kids picked on him, called him names,

shoved him in the aisle of the school bus,

and I’d pound them in the street after the bus pulled away.

He was my brother.

But I wouldn’t escort him to the neighbor’s,

wouldn’t nod and agree with my mother:

Isn’t Vanilla pretty, isn’t your sister pretty?

He was nobody’s sister.

 

            



      Ode to Al Bartle

 

I woke to find a baseball cap

perched perfectly on my mailbox.

Surely this is your work.

 

You have slipped me smooth stones,

Crackerjack treasures,

a collection of passport photos.

 

You stand shuffling

in the corner of the café

hands jangling pockets.

 

You take me for breakfast

at three a.m.

 

You don’t have to listen.

I don’t have to talk.

 

I’ve always preferred the mythical

but I wonder, now that I’m gone,

 

about the December morning

the hacksaw, the tree farm.

 

I evened the stump

with my Swiss Army knife

 

after you’d left,

your family waiting

 

with store bought packages,

while you drove

 

drinking vodka

from a coffee cup

 

taking back streets

turning left on red.



                                          Tiff Holland


 

WHY HE GOT DIVORCED AGAIN

Because like the man he saw
in the emergency room

in Seward, Alaska, no bigger

than your average Burger King,
hard against a mountain
that keeps the fog in town,
who had got drunk and macheted
his arm off hacking alders
and was helicoptered away
from waking at three a.m.
the next morning to spend twelve hours
on someone else's boat,
never able to lose
the smell of fish, he knew
the rains were here again
and something had to give.

 

  

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER RAIN

  

A tree frog sleeps

until the spring and his waking dream of starlight,

hunger, lust,

fear.

 

Dark tongue of wet tires.

 

His song will be as mighty as the roar of a motorcycle.

 

His hands, splayed like T.

Monk

or Beethoven.

 

                                        

 

 

IN HER NINETIETH YEAR,

SHE BECOMES A GREAT BLUE HERON

  

Not for the first time,

she steps out of her body

gingerly to wade

into the cool black waters

of the Great Peace.

 

She stands in feathery silence.

 

Judging by the light,

dawn is almost here.

                                                      Mark Jackely




Mansions of Our Own

 

Dust motes and a dial tuner

in a Georgia July

crows feet leather and crumbled piping

tingle nostrils

must and heat pressing heavy, heavy

One, two gasps, you’re free

 

Shimmering floorboards

refuse dust kicked up by

bar fighters with much much much to prove

grappling so near, but never intimate

a stutter

then missing steps and making mistakes

drawing scuffs on the dance floor

their eyes wider than the trophies’ on the wall

One, two shoves, you burst into the night

 

The bed became a kiln

Sliding away from one another

in dreams of lives we could have led

curtains as currents, lapping into the room

suppressing the road noise

sheets and pillows pirouetting

clawing with shaky hands, you

scratched skin, the surface, the veneer

ripped out pages, under faulty lock and key, into the breeze

feelings fall like air raids, then came the warning sirens

One, two pills, you’re in a mansion of your own near the sea



What I Thought About When You Did Stuff With Him Under a Blanket

 

My friend had a dream that his teeth

fell out, sprinkling into his lap

like overgrown dandruff flakes

every time he moved his lips. From then on

he was tender with his girlfriend when they kissed

 

Lately there has been a resurgence of people

finding water stain marks and impressions of

the Virgin Mary in odd places. I wonder why

there aren’t more images of say

Carrot Top or Aunt Jemima,

seems we need to diversify

 

I dreamed I rode slides at a water park

with an African American copy clerk from work,

he is very knowledgeable about toner colors, but once

a box of cartridges fell on him in the store room, knocking

his front teeth out. He wore a hat on every ride, and his

porcelain fixtures, planted like tulips bulbs, fooled even a certified

orthodontist waiting in line.

 

When I come to

I must shake the dust and leaves

from my flannel and jeans,

I wonder if I am the best friend or the stock extra

in this teen slasher sequel

 

 

Sleepyhead, Bring Your Own Party Hat

 
I dream we marry one another; we open a hybrid museum in a dated doctor’s office

 

Wooden tables,

a green glass candy dish

 I display Highlights, you fan out Cosmo,

simple plans for the waiting room

 

Room 1:

A switchboard of severed connections,

the main attraction

Room 2:

The taxidermy animals

become restless,

running frantic circles

scratching the plaster

wearing paths in the carpet

Room 3:

Jealousy bottled

of the attention the men pay

your high school year book,

we’ll have a fight

then I’ll realize I’m being silly

and buy new light fixtures for the waiting area

 

When you purchase Mexican rugs for the front doorway,

they remind me of my grandfather’s RV,

he fought in a war and no one seemed to care

 

We close the office for Shark Week,

you eat Philly cheese steak sandwiches

that are at odds with the cigarettes,

we kiss sloppily

 

I am instituting a No Food, No Drink rule,

this will make null the need for rugs

 

Should we go for split custody? No

you will handle the children like the expense account

I imagine

 

The music here is loud, we’ve barely talked; my mouth tastes of onions

in the morning


                                                                               Jason Joyce

     Tryst.


It was a cloudy, humid night that I found her,
dark with no noted star in the street-
only a streetlamp's glare,
blurring its attention on her,


or perhaps a movement caught my glance.


There, a thickly huddled clump
of slow compacted shadow, many limbed
in the light; blotch-bellied and centred firm.


She'd stopped (with all her legs), sure as shadow.
The surprise of being met perhaps equal to mine,
for there she held, giving nothing away,
remarkable in her concentrated poise.


Her wariness didn't last, as with a sudden urge
she mounted forward, advancing with a rower's ease-
the whole current of her body oozing forward...


Careful though, as she steered to one side,
then checked, as if to slip from near presence:
away from the wall, each leg a careful fluent aim,
caressing air in its angled fall...


Artful in her walk, almost a ballerina.
The lamp showed up her tousled body:
a grossly bobbled thorax bunched with reddish hairs
tart as pollen, delicate as flower filaments. 
     

Finding grass, she assumed anonymity-

conscious, it seemed, of a watchful form;

and there, startled back to myself, I left her.

Stray leaves leered over her shadow.

                                          Michael Lee Rattigan

 



invisible

 

A woman in fact.

We know this

by the shopping in her trolley

and by the way

her bag is held.

 

The rain has been wetting all day

in thin

fast

sheets

slipping the gaps around old railings and the new bricks

 

sharpening the long sight before her with a

stinging grey bloom.

 

She must be old.

She is hiding her lines and roots from the youth

and

her feet

are sensibly shod in the

low heeled boots

which silently signal

avoidance and camouflage

 

 

and the plea

to see the colour and deep warmth

That is not bare is open

But not shared

Amongst the beans and the packets of rice.

 


                                                        Annmarie Lowther
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    Indecision

 

Several extremes of pleasure and pain

(one for the road, two for the show)

 

Hopefully I can see you again?

(three in the park, four in the dark)

 

 Or maybe, you’ve missed the train?

(five odd phone calls, six new curve balls)

 

 Which I think would explain….

(seven old ways, eight great days)

 

....your change of heart.

 

                                                    © Anita McNamee

 




                      DOWNWARD SLOPE

 

A sigh deep in your forearms, your legs, your chest aching a little

You slide back a few feet like your on casters

But they keep on talking

They’re talking about…

Not quite…

Someone said something…

And someone had some sort of…

Sex or something…? Maybe…?

It’s getting further away

 

The cotton closing around your ears creeps into your mouth too

You hear the metronome of your breath

The animal in you has stepped off the tread mill

And stops clutching its knees while the wheel spins of its own volition

 

And she’s still talking

Though the effort of keeping your head straight is distracting

And you’re fidgeting with your shoe

There’s a bug in the dirt and you nudge if off the path

 

And she says something about life

She’s smiling, wisely, kindly

Do you know her?

 

Surely not. You’re sliding further away and it’s getting darker.

You’ll take the long way home

And no one will notice as the lights go out in the houses on your path

Even street lights burn out overhead

And you’ve turned totally gray

 

Your skin buzzing from the inside with the things you might have done

The action that might have taken place if you in fact were…there?

Never mind. That’s a story about somebody else.

 

The creature is asleep now. You don’t want to disturb it.


 
                                                                                Justin Roberti
                                    
       



Slipping into Red
 

In the big tree’s cradling arms
a hammock lulls me to dream
that I don’t give a damn
if coming is going.

I leap into a swarm of flushed pairs
of red-shoed dancing bodies pushing
and shoving ‘round a mirrored floor
and I too wear red shoes—tear across
the glass down spiral stairs
into a bright night

and oncoming rash of fast-paced
pinched-faced madcaps dashing
as blasts of red blitz my head
jolt me awake. 

 

 

New York Style Hungarian Stew

 
It’s nearly dinnertime and I’m in the dark
in my living room, on a white leather couch
(a fresh start, I thought).  A stone’s throw

away my ex lives with his Szĕkely Goulash
wafting its way to my open window, into
my bedroom where he can see his successor

immersed in goose down stuffed into a duvet,
color identical to the one I see just beyond
my window, on the bed on which I’d been fed

“I’ll cherish you always.” Abutting that master
bedroom, the den with surround-sound TV
where the Hungarian charmed the panties off

me during commercials, turning up his volume
so I could grasp each syllable of his
accented endearments, excuses.  I see

the state-of-the art kitchen where the louse still plays
chef.  How I’d wished he’d played spouse
with as much gusto and know-how.  Oh, how

he’d cooked & cooked our goose, served it up
every chance he got, till I got good and fed
up and fled to the brownstone across the way,

where the stench of my ex’s dish cooked to death,
& the redolence from my Crock-Pot stew cooking
up a storm, at this very moment mesh.

 


 

Contemplating Caring for a Porcupine
 

A roof over its head, easily done.
Nurturing, quite another story.

Bathing—only with a long hose.
As for mealtime, the prickly thing

jumping up and down, impatient,
what cover-ups would repel

prick of quill?  What if the rascal
had found those earlier,

ripped them to shreds?  Get angry
and chance an antsy porcupine

turning combative?  Pay dearly
for that, or, if the critter contrite,

savor the moment?  And having fed
the robust rodent, if it yelps for more

but is on a diet, what would distract? 
A game of Hide and Seek might,

though, if the quill ball should turn up
missing, how to know it would

fare well, and what angst to bear
if the poor thing was found

to have been the dinner
of some known predator

when all the porcupine wanted
was more gruel, and caring for

it well was all I ever wanted?

 

 

 Coming in Second
 

 
Body chilled by years of neglect,
my twin lies in a hospital bed

trying to grasp how she’s come
to this. The sum of my fears

she’s the one person I dread
I could be, save for some kink in our link

f genetic fiber—a palpable bond. 
Struggling not to catch her death

of cold, I’ve steered clear of her
view that our life was conceptual

error, yet I find myself more
akin to her than sanity permits.

And though, at times, I fall into that
black hole of her undoing, I manage

to climb back out, into the asylum
of my life. Out, according to my twin,

the same way I exited the womb,
climbing over her in order to be first.

 


Awake in Long Beach


awaiting the perk

from freshly brewed java

the lull in gull squabble over

a tide dredging up debris

blemishing beach

husband and wife

skiffs passing in night

each wake muster

“good morning”

sugar black coffee

crack boiled eggs

never a smile

the chink in their armor

invisible

amour not at all

what it’s cracked up to be

 

 
                                               Ruth Sabath Rosenthal




What I got from a Telephone booth

 

There is a pleasure in using

someone else’s things

 

To find a burning cigarette on the stand of a

public telephone booth and smoke it secretively

to make yourself the continuity of an unknown,

as Kieslowski does in Red*

 

To remember a poem in the deep forest,

that talks about kissing a transformer**

or the unexpected trail marks of a vehicle

instead of the soil

 

With a long handled umbrella in one hand

and a tip of the dhothi held up in the other,

 

To jump across a puddle with the mathematical

precision of an old, high school master in white and white,

while playing the higher level of an

online role playing game

 

Writing is not an act of excuses then,

of things indebted to past or girls or even

a mouse

 

where you could freely imagine a village

where only the saree weavers live and

you go there driving a truck, along with your

mother

 

and on your way, stop by a cemetery

to kneel in front of the grave of a stranger

and pray as intensely as his son or wife

 

Let me tell you that

sometimes when we meet

for a coffee or a cinema or

for peanuts on the park bench,

I am both the second and the third person,

 

where I use a smaller eye to look at you

and the bigger third eye to look at myself

with the excited shyness of a voyeur

 

 

Note:

*- A movie by Krzysztof Kieslowski

** - An image in a poem I read

 


Thinking of my grandmother, Alzheimer’s at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Kodaikkanal

 

Certain months are like birds;

 

In troubled throats,

Voices burning like defeated people,

They sing from the altar of the devil:

 

Every note is a wound then,

every song is a new sin,

every egg hatches a cruel emptiness, frustrating you

like wet clothes on a monsoon day.

 

We scratched on the paper tree for new words and meanings,

Working on diffraction, lenses and solenoids, we

tried to separate from your world.

 

But,

While closing the eyes on top of the wind mill tower,

I am filled with only your memory,

Inseparable like the remains of height on the wings

Your skin, old like that of the earth,

Your love, eternal like your forgetfulness

                                      

                                             Aditya Shankar

 


                       Close to the Ground

There is singing beneath dead clumps
Of Day Lilies.  Round leaves of ground cover
Flower blue in September, as if summer
Were not over, as if a choir—she dares not
Imagine its wings—of insects invisible to her
Stare had turned the volume knob of the radio.
 
The tiniest creatures die beneath her feet.
From task to task, just hurrying by,
She crushes them with impunity.
Screams when she has to kill one that ventures
Into a corner of the bedroom. Its ancient,
Arachnid presence demotes her to victimhood.
 
Inside the house her shadow looms large.
Here, the sun, that amorphous star, rules the choir.
In the yard Japanese Lanterns burn orange.
Orchestral pit buried inches deep—conductor
Onstage readying the troops for the business
Of music. She walks past them on stick legs,
 
Her smile no longer pasted on, thinking
How the bow with the Parisian eye
Has gone wanting to be held for years.
How rusty the instrument grows
In the 21st siècle, wooden inners
Laced with webs and dust.





How Like a Birthing

The common hawk, its feathers spread
As for flight, sits far back in the back yard.
It tears at the jay, talons extended, waiting
For the right instant to take flight.
 
In the trees the high-pitched ribbing sends
Ripples into space like Morse code—
No stop in sight—
Long short short short long.

Cries dribble through the neighborhood,
Hawk splayed atop the victim beneath ticked skirts
Where the garment of death
Shows itself to be feather-soft,
 
Cut from a cloth so ordinary
It might be worn to breakfast.
This is high drama for suburbia,
Soap opera for those who shy away
 
From the midwifery of hospice
That waits around the bend of
time future.
As if community were all
The jays’ collective cries off hawk from Northwest Blue Jay.
 
It squawks off to a tree limb
There to die more slowly, depending
Upon the nature of its injury.  Meanwhile
The cat comes onstage from left wing,
 
Its entrance unsurprising
As Hamlet’s ghosted father.
All that remains is to pick up the pieces
And re-make this puzzle to suit the dilemma—
 
What took the hawk back to plain blue sky?
Where do our dead lie unburied?
Birthed by predation, whether fast or slow,
Their last chapter brought to a close
 
By morphine drip or trigger hand.
The hawk—how deftly it pressed the bluebird
Of happiness to the grounds of the single place
We feel safe in—our port, harbor, haven, and back yard.

 

 


When You Leave

 
            
for Jocelyn
 
Wind plies the poplars,
a skein of yarn
wound tight.
In the cherry and plum
overripe fruits
left by the birds
turn bruise-colored.
 
As, in raisins,
creases deepen, shrunken
by the departure
of water from summer.
 
As if to further ornament
this telltale end of season,
the rope swing—
unswung from—
dangles, its cables knotted
to an empty board.
  
It was meant to be like this.
You cleave to your man
and I to mine.
Mine is your father—
all men imperfect,
forsworn to sin.
 
It is women who unmake
and remake the same bed,
their small hands working
sheets, pillows, covers, shams.
 
And when you leave again
I’ll feel those hollows
carved by the new moon—
            an ivory horn
          left by the unicorn
when it went between
the threads of a tapestry.
 
Like the myth
of Persephone
and Demeter, an earth-myth--
a bloodless symbol.

 

                                     Judith Skillman

 



Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Adirondack Review, Worcester Review, Poem, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, South Dakota Review, Santa Barbara Review, and many other journals. He has have authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2009).
 

     Gale has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.


Sara Blevins is a graduate of Marshall University and is currently obtaining her Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. She is both a feisty writer and a quiet librarian.  Her work has appeared in the literary magazine Ect. She continues to work and learn from Huntington, WV.  You may contact her at blevins19@marshall.edu.
 

Marilyn Donovan has been published in several literary magazines, including Orbis and The Interpreter’s House, and was lucky enough to have a poem in the Cinnamon Press anthology In the Telling (June 2009). She was shortlisted in Second Light Networks's 2007 poetry competition and is currently shortlisted in this year’s Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year competition.
 

Alan Gleave was a secondary school teacher in Liverpool for thirty years. Taking early retirement, he wondered whether it was to late to turn to trying to write poems and short stories of his own. Encouraged by Deal Writers, he has had poems published in The Reader, and the international academic journal, Dante Studies. One of his short stories was shortlisted in the Meridian short story competition of summer 2009.


Mark Jackley is the author of three chapbooks and the full-length collection There Will Be Silence While You Wait (Plain View Press). He lives in Sterling, VA.


Jason Joyce just graduated from the University of Wyoming with a bachelors in Business Administration and a minor in Creative Writing. He is pursuing a career in event promotion and entertainment management. He plays bass for the Cheyenne, WY based band "Save My Hero". Jason is currently working on his first full-length collection of poems. You can find out more about his writing on his blog at jasonrjoyce.blogspot.com


Michael Lee Rattigan's work has appeared online, in magazines (most recently in OtherPoetry) and in book form. Rufus books of Canada published his edition of the first complete translation of Fernando Pessoa's Caeiro poems, along with a chapbook called "Nature Notes".


Annmarie Lowther  writes poems and short stories. She is currently working on a longer piece of fiction. Whilst at the LIverpool University Centre for Continuing Education , she was a founder member of the 'Poised Pen ' writing group. She is a working mum with two children.



Anita McNamee has been writing poetry on and off since she was 14 years old and has had poetry published in various anthologies. She has also had her chap book ‘Buffy and Beyond’ positively reviewed in a couple of poetry magazines namely Splizz and The Seventh Quarry (Swansea Poetry Magazine).
 

Anita is  a bohemian chick (trapped inside the body of a middle aged receptionist!) who loves to write poetry, eat chocolate, chill out with her boyfriend and read crime fiction. Her love of writing has grown over the years as it allows her not only to be creative, but to be honest about her observations on life. If you would like to find out more about Anita or her work, please visit her website http://www.anitamcnamee.com



Aditya Shankar (b.1981, Thrissur ,Kerala  ,India) is a bi-lingual writer and short film-maker.

He writes in English and Malayalam, and  publishes poetry and articles in leading journals, including the The Little Magazine, The Word Plus, Indian Literature, The Literary X Magazine, Munyori, The Pyramid, Mastodon Dentist, The Wild Goose Poetry Review, Bayou Review, Words-Myth, Chandrabhaga among others. His First Book 'After Seeing', a series of poems based on cinema, is currently being translated into a couple of regional Indian languages.

His short films have participated at International Film Festivals and gained nomination for Animation Awards. Currently, he lives and works in Cochin as the Creative Director of D3V Games, a game and animation development studio, after completing his B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering.


Judith Skillman’s eleventh collection of poems is “Prisoner of the Swifts” Ahadada Books (ahadadabooks.com). “The Never” was a finalist for the FIELD/Oberlin Press Award in 2009 and will be out in 2011 from Dream Horse Press. “Heat Lightning: New and Selected Poems 1986 – 2006“ was published by Silverfish Review Press, Eugene, Oregon, 2006.   The recipient of an award from the Academy of American Poets for her book “Storm” (Blue Begonia Press, 1998), Skillman’s work has appeared in Poetry, FIELD, The Southern Review, The Iowa Review, Midwest Quarterly Review, Seneca Review, and numerous other journals and anthologies.  An educator, editor, and translator, she holds an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Maryland, and lives in Kennydale, Washington. Please see www.judithskillman.com http://www.judithskillman.com for more information.

 
Justin Roberti has been writing for over 20 years and has had numerous publications and productions of stories, plays, poems, documentaries, and videos. He has a Master of Fine arts degree in Playwrighting from Rutgers  University and works as a writer and marketer.


Ruth Sabath Rosenthal is a New York Poet, published in various literary journals and poetry anthologies both in the U.S. and internationally; among these: Journals :Birmingham Review, Connecticut Review, Mobius-The Poetry Magazine, Pacific Review, Saravasti, Taj Mahal Review. Anthologies: ''Harvest of the New Millennium,'' '' Songs of Seasoned women,'' ''Voices Israel.'' Also, Ruth's poem ''on yet another birthday'' was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in October 2006. For more about Ruth, visit websites:

http://www.ruthsabathrosenthal.moonfruit.com

http://www.pw.org/content/ruth_sabath_rosenthal

http://www.poetryvlog.com/ruthsabathrosenthal.hmtl