I Can See Peace


There is a place --
I’ll meet you there --
where anger cackles
like spent logs to a fire;
where tribes realign,
birthdays add wisdom,
breezes carry compassion,
and vision dims to mere sunlight.

 

 

Altering Autumn

I hadn't gone to the club for weeks;
the swim season winding down
as teens tired of peeling noses
and unlikely romance.

When the Spiegel catalog appeared --
all sage green, mustard seed, burnt orange --
it gave a plaid-and-pleated purpose
to my long Saturday afternoon.

How coordinated I could look
in those mail-order outfits,
starting a new September                     
the perfect picture of popular 
to a twelve-year old schoolgirl.  

Tearing out glossy images,
tape-measuring my waist,
then totaling costs,
I grew gradually deflated:                                   

How would the pitiful thrust
of a new chestnut-colored sweater
remedy what my royal blue, racerback
Sunday Style-Section swimsuit
had failed all the summer long
to redress?                                                                                 

                                            JoAnne Bauer

 



JoAnne Bauer, Ph.D., an international book co-author, national research presenter, visual artist, and life-long educator has won poetry prizes and publications locally, nationally, and internationally. 

 the quiet room

 
she pours herself out
whilst her other occupants sleep
pours herself out
to a communal grief
better she guesses
than picking up knives
those nagging doubts
better she knows
than unanswered prayers
the silent treatment
 
 
 
the cross
 
i carry the cross
to the top of the hill
i ask for nothing
it is my cross
it was given to me
when i get to the top
i'll carry it down the other side
downhill is always worse
 
 
 
world of adventures
 
there is a method
in the white bear's madness
five paces forward
five paces back
there is a mother
pushing and pulling at her
deadweight soldier
and junked-up kids
there is a man
in a ragged dress
climbing into the lion enclosure
trying to get on the right side of god
there is a train in the sky
going nowhere
every ten minutes

                                               S Black




AN ANNIVERSARY

Famous only for Rousseau's dreamy sojourn, 
Chambéry lay huddled at the foot 
of its calendar landscape, and there it was 
we met, as if compelled 
by a pattern in the lines on a map 
to inhabit that region of mountains. 

I wonder now do you still recall 
our romantic isolation; how we grew familiar
with narrow streets so reticent and formal, 
kept tidy as their own concerns;
cramped shops replete with goods
for a bustling clientele. 

All that legendary summer we spent 
our afternoons on the slopes 
of St. Michel, making love 
in a shimmering absence –
with only the insects adrift in silence,
and the gliders above at a decent height.




BEFORE THE STORM
 
At no age at all you've started to feel
how a life gets mired in memories,
the way each backward glance
is like a noose that tightens.
 
Across flat versts of muddled terrain
your distant city glimmers –
reduced to a few bright rooms
where you were first indulged
 
and then became accomplished.
Working through grammars
and the language of flowers,
your music opened
 
at some tricksy bagatelle.
Each week the house would echo
to the rites of the samovar,
the clack of heels on a floor...
 
But in this straggling barracks town
which you must now endure,
accepting the slavishness
of the overlooked, the weary,
 
you hear at night the cries of wolves
through birches, can sense
their luminous eyes,
their restless, circling hunger.




AN ANNIVERSARY

Famous only for Rousseau's dreamy sojourn, 
Chambéry lay huddled at the foot 
of its calendar landscape, and there it was 
we met, as if compelled 
by a pattern in the lines on a map 
to inhabit that region of mountains. 

I wonder now do you still recall 
our romantic isolation; how we grew familiar
with narrow streets so reticent and formal, 
kept tidy as their own concerns;
cramped shops replete with goods
for a bustling clientele. 

All that legendary summer we spent 
our afternoons on the slopes 
of St. Michel, making love 
in a shimmering absence –
with only the insects adrift in silence,
and the gliders above at a decent height.




                                                             David Cooke


David Cooke won a Gregory Award in 1977 and published his first collection, Brueghel’s Dancers in 1984. His retrospective collection, In the Distance, was published in 2011 by Night Publishing and a collection of more recent pieces, Work Horses, has recently been published by Ward Wood Publishing.  His poems, translations and reviews have appeared widely in journals including Agenda, Ambit, The Bow Wow Shop, The Critical Quarterly, The Irish Press, The London Magazine, Magma, The North, Orbis,  Other Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry London, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Reader, The SHOp and Stand. 


Why the Poet Writes

Loch, to you I say -
I adore.
This isn’t news for you
You have no ear.
You cannot hear.
Why say?
Because I’m not saying,
I’m adoring.

Xanthe, to you I say -
I adore (and more).
This isn’t news to you.
I say it every day
in every way
Why do it then?
Not saying, I’m adoring.

White Page, to you I say -
I love this cluttered life.
This isn't news
for anyone at all.
And you're no post box
red and small.
Why do it then?
Not saying...





Mining Generations

"Limners" are the attaching section between pit pony and tub.

 



Illsleys, miners, 
dig for Yorkshire, dig for Notts,
Staffordshire, Derbyshire, like some secret order.
Where begin? Or end? First day of Silverwood colliery,
last of Darfield Main? Under tubs of Annesley,
pit pony boy remains? Just listen boy, just listen.

To Gallipolli with the Yorks and Lancs, 
the Somme, pit pony poo? 
Great-granddad, fourteen, filler,
under-age and underground, he'll do.

Many wagons of the Illsleys, 
all the rows, pit village grows,
all descending from that couple of the leaning stone.
She made the kids, he made some sanitation pots. 
Don’t ride the limners. Listen boy.... 

Brass bands? Yes, got that. General strike? Bitter enders.
More dead soldiers than pit props of Barnsley.
More Barnsley miners than pit props of Notts.
More pit props than pots of South Derbyshire.
Pots, pits, Gallipolli, spits. Listen boy. Don’t ride the limners.

 

 

Poppy Day at the Quaker Meeting House

Once again
you stand for the silent minutes,
to remember the brave.

Once again
I sit,
to remember the exploited.

At the end
we shake hands,
having covered it all together.


                                                   Seth Crook
 
Seth Crook taught philosophy at various universities before moving to the Hebrides. He does not like cod philosophy in poetry, but he does like cod, philosophy and poetry. He was inspired to write after a long illness; and hasn’t stopped since. His work has recently appeared (or will) in Other Poetry, Message in a Bottle, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Snakeskin, The Journal, Antiphon, The Centrifugal Eye, Poetry Scotland Open Mike and Northwords Now.

 

People build buildings



In the grounds of this concrete

I see you;

the steel morning clean-frost

to the evening, howling -

bends of your past

scarred against the sky

like a crucifix.

 

I can’t wait anymore

for you to fix yourself,

the blades of the cracked

windows still say. I curl my

fingers through the wire

fencing, a little unsteady

with my breath in this open space,

 

mouthing a countdown

to some impossible promise.

Naked; your birth

of exposed hard materials

like trip wires for the tip of my boot

is a place where once your corridors were veins

and as quick as my blood, my knee knows.

 

 

I suppose there are several

ways to hit the floor,

I suppose there are many

earths to fall through

and where you are now,

still falling - the digger’s

claws prising –

 

there are many ways

to be human; 

memories of the moving dust -

small enough

to disappear as if

just a shattering of breeze block.

 

 

 

 

Cleaning Ladies

I should have known

what years have sectioned in the crease of my eye;

the exhausted fall of every tumbling thought here.

Cure her, they said, throwing their washing

into the wind - the bulks of their legs; heavy

custard veins -

 

the fat way they moved, surrounding me.

They never said whether they knew

that rancid grit of an empty bottle

or the dry night of the hospital ward;

I wonder what they keep

 

in their Prole hearts, what secrets

devour their bed?  Something in the way

their tongues cluck heavy in their mouths

reminds me of toffees left in a bag; clots of

sucked fudged fucks.   I hate them.

 

I hate the way they grease my day

with knee dimpled chat, willing my mind

light with nothing; you need the sun, girl,

you need the love of some young chap,

their foreheads clammy

 

with thrifty notions.  I have no answer -

being apple rinsed bad - just a nod

from a faraway place

as every day the lungs of them heave

in the detergent -my own soggy to the brim -

 

and I sit more stupid to their kindness.

(She needs a good night out that one –

she needs to sort herself out.)

My pill drunk smile greets them;

lollipop bruised teeth to the sin

 

of not devouring the whole

of the stars that pierce my chest

dead and they carry on pinning

their philosophies on; the washing

line depressed with dripping sheets -

 

the white, the white of these,

the white, the white

sailing past my eyes;

big blue thumb prints

of the psychiatrist's hands.

 

 

Fish

 

The fish are open mouthed,

staring unkind. If I tilt my ear

over the surf rim of the bucket,

I would be able to hear the slick

clamber of body parts,

 

the excitement of muscle.

These restless beasts -

all impulse and oiled self -

show me their red eyes;

vacant plates, staring clones

 

of want . For fresh air there

is little but the stench here -

the sound of industry, the greed

of hands; men shock-bright

and boots winced on greased floors;

 

slop of scum and  rubber wet,

brushing the sea away.

(My throat feels oyster thick.)

Hearing the heft of the trawls,

the birds come in;

 

hysterical snipers in the heavy pelt

of fish - thousands of fish –

the deck; a carpet of fins

and silver heaving flesh

where gloved hands fumble through

 

the mass, gut mermaids,

and toss their bodies

to one side; a smell of brine

still penetrating

their fingernails underneath.

 

 

                                                                    Marianne L. Daniels
 

 
Marianne L. Daniels is a writer from Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing. She has published a volume of poetry with three other poets entitled Misery Begins at Home and has guest performed at various poetry nights around Manchester. She is currently working on her second novel, Thorn House, and  has previously published articles in the music magazine 4Q. Her poetry can be read at http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/mariannedaniels
 
 
 

Hard Therapy

                                  

"Thank you for sharing that with us,"
in short, shut-up already.
Put a "the end" to your whimpering autobiography,
the standard tale of the abused inner child,
a cold mother, a colder father
or a passing stranger offering candy.
Time for the next ten-minute soap opera
told by another self-pitying voice.
Six whining souls crying in a circle
gathered around a rich, getting richer, psychiatrist,
two hundred-forty dollars an hour richer .
The rest of us each forty bucks poorer.
But I'm different. Yet just as poor,
as I sit among this misbegotten circle of squares.
My turn.
During my less than fifteen minutes of fame,
I do comedy not tragedy.
But my neurotic inner child heckles me and worst of all
gives away all my punch lines.
I'm not thanked for sharing.
I can't wait to go home to be alone with my inner child
and kick the crap out of him.

 

 



A brief reunion

Listed in the alumni Who's Who as address unknown,
and after having thrown away every reunion party invitation,
she finally had a reunion in the emergency room──
had slit her wrists, was bleeding badly.
Upon recognizing her lost sorority sister,
the doctor's bloodshot eyes widened to gentleness.
She dropped her clinically sterile mask.
But her patient's eyes narrowed, her face scowled,
"you never knew me. I never existed."
Then she who wished she never was
turned away from the star of the alumni Who's Who.
Nevertheless, the doctor stitched together the gaping wound,
stitches skillfully sewn,
but a deep chasm remained under the nearly lethal gashes.
The pager summoned the alumna  away,
for the doctor had so many others to cure.
But she promised she'd be back
to close the hospital bed curtains around them both
and talk though the night as they did long ago.
Then that patient, that bleeding sister, lay in bed
and in her wounded wrists felt the first healing itch.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Resolving Power
 

The ability of optical systems to form distinguishable images of very small or very distant objects
which have the dimensions of, or are separated by, small angular differences.


At lowest power eyes peering down a microscope behold false chaos.
The eddies of cytoplasm within a cell reveal turbulence.
Distant eyes scan the whole vista but are blind to the particulars.
The observer beholds a mountain top view
and notes the flow of big rivers but not the rivulets that feed them.
The latticework of cell fibrils that rein in anarchy                                  
and discipline helter‑skelter cellular organelles
into an assembly line of life functions,
are hidden by their wispy thinness.
But turning to a higher power
brings the eyes closer to understanding
the cosmos within a single cell.

                                                           
Eyes gazing upward through a telescope
are awed by the anarchy moving amid majestic darkness.
Moons, planets, stars, dust, and specks of distant galaxies
swirl, twirl, spin, in whirlpools of deceptive disorder.
The cosmic string that binds all remains hidden in its own vastness.
Our nearsighted eyes see like the faceted eyes of bugs in a rug,
perceiving only the frayed fibers and not the total weave.
Close your eyes,
and let a bifocal inner vision resolve the macro with the micro
into a sharp singularity.

 

 

                                                                        Richard Fein                                       




                

Richard Fein was a finalist in The 2004 New York Center for Book Arts Chapbook Competition
A Chapbook of his poems was published by Parallel Press, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
He has been published in many web and print journals such as  Cordite,Reed, Southern Review, Roanoke Review,  Birmingham  Poetry Review, Mississippi Review, Paris/atlantic, 
Canadian Dimension, Black Swan Review, Exquisite Corpse, Foliate Oak,  Morpo Review, Ken*Again  Oregon East, Southern Humanities Review, Morpo, Skyline, Touchstone, Windsor Review,Maverick, Parnassus Literary Review, Small Pond, Kansas Quarterly, Blue Unicorn, Exquisite Corpse,Terrain Aroostook Review, Compass Rose, Whiskey Island Review,
Oregon East, Bad Penny Review and many, many others.

 

The Venetian

 

I traveled to you by air, by land, by water:
the air viscid as honey with expectation,
the land covered to depth with the dust of dreams,
the water that brought us together and kept us apart.

We are separated by hundreds of years
and the sinister habits of Europe,
separated by the distance
between Vilna and Venice,
between ghetto and palazzo,
between my grandfather’s grandfather,
who saw Napoleon’s army, defeated and dying and returning to France,
and yours, who welcomed the hero of Italy -
in the traghetto, the oarsman told me to sit down.

My dream is of you, Venice -
you're thin as this paper and
as serious as happiness, take care!



The Countess

Idiot degrees outside minus
under six o’clock sky.
Let’s do our morning stretch,
says the countess.
Right now I will stay;
What else can nothing do?

She demands attention,
her soothing kindness
soon followed by
burning coals laid on by
her blunt workman hands.

She presents these little deaths
with impressive indifference,
the impulsive bamboozle
remains her signature style.

Static and prophetic,
The taste in my mouth
a bit like blood
a bit like dirt
a bit like gold.


The Right of Return

My heart is a clenched fist
It’s spazzing out and refusing
to uncramp.
I’m not ready to play Bird’s
breakdown take yet but it’s
on the playlist. It’s cued up.

Two words define
a story as two points
define the fence line.
My name is unsecure and
I’m tired of rehearsing
futile arguments.
Unsure, I retreat behind my
fence of thorns.

I make a self-portrait: that’s
a story too. Accusing
and approving, my portrait
stares at me: holy terror, fool.
Only my irresponsible memory
allows me stare back.

Well lots of people are
filled with self-loathing,
They are pale and different
to themselves. Their hair
cow-licks up in absurd rockets.
They are scarred with the pocks
of their ancient families.

When I finally get the
medication that permits my
fist to unclench, yeah, I’ll be
all smiles, I’ll hear the last
words of God and I’ll
win the right to return home.

                                            Jeremy Freedman


Jeremy Freedman is an artist and writer in New York City. His poems have appeared in Otoliths, Wilderness House Literary review and elsewhere. His photographs have been shown in the United States and Europe.



 For Dodie, Danny, Jack and Rachel on my Birthday




I feel like an old Ford Prefect Van today
A pale green one with two doors at the back
Some faded sign-writing on my flanks
Faintly showing through a cheap re-spray

In a past life I must have delivered fish
Or else I was a butcher’s casting couch
After hours he’d take the cashier for a drive
Up to the Furry Glen and then

I feel like a seashell on Sandymount Strand today
One a hungry gull has dive-bombed earlier
Scavenged the snot-soft sea-slug that once called me home
And here I am stranded with wet sand in my pyjamas

God be with days when I was away in the briny blue
Swimming you might say in the mad circus of the sea
Half-pissed on dreams and deep-sea blooms and when
The bloody Sea-Cat whipped a cyclone up, it beached me here and then

Today I am a Sweet Afton cigarette-butt curled up on a yellow saucer
Someone seems to have enjoyed my company once
And just before they got their fingers burned
They stubbed me out in the ring of cold tea around that yellow cup

I tell you, I was a Christmas gift in my heyday
Firm and fit and wrapped in silver foil
Packed into a tight formation so secure until
That index and thumb plucked me from the pack and then

I could have sworn earlier today that I was a bicycle dynamo
A power source needing only the slightest touch of the tyre
To light at night the black road between the ditches ahead
The magic marriage of man and machine long before the Internet

I can still hear the muted whirr of the kissing wheels
The ribbed tit on the top of the miniature generator
Biting the life out of the legs of the peddler
All the way up the slope of those early years and then

I thought I was a grown-up, at five thirty this morning
But that was just a dream, leaking out like in snoring
I’m a young fellow through and through
Nothing thrills me more than an old tin box or a call from you

To say you are happy and safe and well
So I can make plans, plot schemes and not tell
The secrets we share and the dreams that we dare
I am sixty and love you and happy, so there.




                                                        Hay Machine (e)



Marley Hill

 

I

 

Under causes of death,
the verbs are vicious:
“crushed”, “caught” and “wedged”,
a wagon rider’s head made contact
with a low-level bridge, another –
working in the pit that claimed his brother –
broke his back and lived
for six weeks, blessed it was no longer.
A locomotive engine took the life of Lizzie Langdon
as the four-year-old played on the colliery line.

II

At intervals, the churchyard vanishes
behind the side of a passing artic
climbing the Consett road.
Its gravestones are slabs of Neolithic rock.
The terraced houses rise like teeth
from the ridge’s jawline.
Black wooden coal tubs
are filled with flowers.
We have left our forebears,
a shoal of fish,
to their world without light:
this is our bright morning.



To a Murder Victim

 
In thin early morning air,
a dog-walker found you.
Perhaps at first you seemed
no more than a shadow.
Then the numb-shock of your body,
warm and breathing still, but leaking
gently from the head,
insensible.
You’d been there hours.

Darkness ate you,
astronaut dropping
through the infinite space
of your own dying brain.
Or were the lights of your mind
extinguished slowly,
as, one-by-one, the floors
of an office block turn black
at the end of the working day?

As dawn broke, night was falling –
colour forming in the long fields,
as the bomb-cratered landscape
of your battered brain became
monochrome, the world around you
waking, as you were submerged
in sleep, until all that remained
was a grey overcoat, crumpled
and sodden with dew.

A huddle of young reporters
shifts nervously,
unsure of what to do.
A policeman complains of the cold.
Behind the blue-and-white tape,
they rub your blood
from the pavement,
completing the job
of cancelling you.



Crucifixion

 

A fork of light,
mother-of-pearl,
reversed on the retina.

Upsilon
swallowing silence
like seawater.

A stag’s head, a bull’s head
as cold as lunar rock
pulsing with wraith-light.

A brightening
glimpsed across galaxies.

Pearl of his mother,
a son
surrenders to supernova.


                                        James Kilner



James Kilner lives with his wife and two young sons in a small house clinging to the side of a windy hill that overlooks the city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the surrounding countryside and the distant North Sea. He is a poet and freelance journalist. His PhD thesis, 'Hearing the Horizons Endure: Silences in the Poetry of Ted Hughes', was completed in 2009 and can be viewed in the Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds. His own poetry has appeared in Message in a Bottle, The New Writer, Aesthetica, Words-Myth and other publications.


I will always be there


You know me by now,
I don't want anything,
Throw an extra spoon of sugar
in my coffee,
add some cinnamon if you don't mind,
You don't mind and also add vermicelli ,
"You will get sick" you reprimand me
for walking with naked arms,
it is cold indeed but your hands stroking me
is warm beyond my flesh,
Offering a jersey I will never ask for,
I don't need money or favor,
I came to collect you for our afternoon walk,
I don't need a juice or a lunch on our way,
I need to you talk,to laugh and find a connection
between me,the sun and later the moon
when we kiss.
I will always be there.




I am after all human


I shave my own hair.
I cut it and remember
My own private holocaust.

Those things the imagination plays with.
Little toys of horror,
lingering in that skull I clean.

The blade runs close to the flesh
and control of it is mercy.

Anna had a beating heart,
going for a cyanide shower.

Mine is built like a furnace with bricks.
Cold hard brick that can withstand
the heat of hell.

Poetry affords me my temporal descent
into tenderness.

Ah,feelings,vulnerability,flesh,
blood dripping from my scalp.

I am crying tonight over a Rilke poem.
My wife also cries with me.
I am after all human.




Long winter grass


The academy of long winter grass,
an education in the backyard.
I always thought I was better
than the sparrows,
thought nothing
of that black cat
looking for his lucky break
on our porch,
the neighbors’ bastard dog
at the fence playing puppy.
One day our cousins visited us,
all dressed up in percale linen
and sailor suits,
little wealthy angels
gleaming in the sun.
“ Careful for the grass. It is wet,”
I said to them.
My uncle ordered fish and chips.
The cousins fed
the old changer cat
some of their fish,
the dog got some chips
and the sparrows the last crumbs
of Portuguese buns.
How long I lived on liverwurst
and happy bread,
how these stray animals
shared in a take away luxury.
I was no different from them.
I have been instructed on poverty.

                                                        Martin Lochner



Martin Lochner stays in Cape Town, South-Africa. He studies  Literature at the University of South-Africa and recently one the Carpe Noctem prize for Afrikaans poetry.

  A Man with Children


    The way I walk these days the tips
    of my soles and the edge of my heels
    wear out too fast for a man with children.

    So I tell Rocco, cobbler nonpareil,
    "Tack on four steel cleats,
    two in front, two in back"

    so I can walk home between
    two full shopping bags
    and whatever pride I can summon.

    All four blocks of concrete,
    I'll keep those cleats from clicking.
    Decades ago I wore cleats

    as big as doubloons;
    I struck them so hard sparks
    flew from the sidewalk.

    You bet all the girls
    in high school knew 
    a man was walking behind them.


    


    Aura and Essence

     
    Thumping off my eye
    I find the fist to be
    less important
    than the blur
    the fist arrives in.
    Coming toward me now
    that man, his girl.
    But more important is
    the golden halo of the sun
    falling now around them.
     
     
   


    An Eighth of a Lemon

     
    For Martha in the early years
    life was recess, nothing more.
    She knelt on asphalt,
    quartered oranges for kittens
     
    who never lost stringed mittens,
    whose London Bridges
    never fell down.
    For Martha now,
     
    life’s Parkview Manor
    where a woman in white,
    three times a day, bleeds
    an eighth of a lemon into her tea.

     
                                                               Donal Mahoney


    

Donal Mahoney has had poems published in Message in a Bottle and other print and online publications in the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa. 


1) THE NIGHT BEFORE PAYDAY (OR, EXACTLY
FIVE DOLLARS IN QUARTERS TO YOUR NAME)

 


A tin of smoked sardines in hot sauce.
A baguette of day-old French bread,
half a block of white cheddar,
three quarters of a gallon jug
of what the label described, simply, as “Paisano,”
(and I won’t lie, that sturdy, little man
has proved his friendship to me, many a time)
plus a jar full of fat Spanish olives
stuffed with garlic cloves and jalapenos
and one chilled black plum only just slightly
past the point of whatever  this world might
offer up as an example of perfection.
And maybe it was just the warm, sleepy
Buddha glow of the good fortune of finding
something where there could have just as likely
been cabinets and drawers and an ancient, clanking,
moaning refrigerator full of nothing, but, that
was the best damn meal I’d had in weeks.
I’m pretty sure I even managed to wipe up every
last trace of olive oil with the last fistful of bread.
For the rest of the night, as I sipped my wine
on the front porch, rubbing my distended belly,
watching the cars go by, I couldn’t help
but reconsider (at least) some
of my (lesser) grievances
with the world.

 

2) PASSION FLOWERS
AND PUZZLEBOXES

 

Scientists and poets alike

have yet to find whether certain
experimental hybridizations

of radio waves and silver go-go boots

in any way affects

the erratic trajectories of UFOs.

 

Though, they now know

that the geometry of fireflies

may have some influence

over the delicate symbiosis

of communication satellites, train yards

and Blue Turtle migrations.

 

However,

despite recent, controversial reports

there has been no independent confirmation

on whether the random arrangement

of orange blossoms on a city sidewalk,
slick with rain, has any more relation
to the performance of a North Korean featherweight
in the 9th than a performance of Beethoven’s 9th

(by the South Korean Philharmonic) does

to the discovery of designs for a steam-driven engine

written on papyrus.

 

But, one doesn’t need

a steady diet of coral calcium deposits

or subterranean cold-storage

of arcane information

to see that a cracked engine block

is bound, cosmically,

to a crack-baby found

behind a dumpster in an alley

(alive and doing well, we’re told),

 

that beauty-parlor patter is richly infused

with important information

regarding escape artistry,

living in the desert, the number “0” and
stealing household appliances (specifically,

toaster-ovens, it seems)

 

and, most importantly,

that a strangely warm winter-breeze

witnessed stirring a light bulb

hanging on the end of a string

 

will eventually result in a new idea

unfolding like a passionflower or

Chinese puzzle box of infinite digression

 

somewhere down the integer line

of an, as yet,

undetermined

causal chain.



3) CHANCE MEETING, 3AM


Well, here we are again,
wandering around in this strangely cool
tide-pool of 3AM summertime dark:
just me, myself and my jelly-jar
of green tea and gin, a haunted wind
ruffling its feathers in the trees,
a plastic cup rolling along the street,
and me with a skull like a stone cavern
or shell whispering and roaring with voices
from the past, present and,
very possibly, the future, as well.
There is no one out here to share
the cosmic tragic-comical joke with,
no one to compare notes with,
no one to trade places with, maybe
(if just for a day or two and with
promises made that there’ll be no
major crimes committed or persons
fallen in love with); not a solitary neighbor in sight,
not even a front porch light left on
for a flying Dutchman or ancient mariner
lost in the night, not a smoky wisp of a cat
suddenly drifting past or dog with tongue
and tail slappily wagging, not a wayward character
or creature of any kind, not even the chance meeting
of a ghost of some (recently deceased) second cousin
(on my mother’s side).


                                                 Jason Ryberg


Jason Ryberg is the author of seven books of poetry,
six screenplays, a few short stories, several angry
letters to various magazine and newspaper editors,
and a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper
that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel.
He is currently an artist-in-residence at The Prospero
Institute of Disquieted Poetics and an aspiring b-movie actor.
His latest collection of poems is Down, Down and Away
(co-authored with Josh Rizer and released by Spartan Press).
He lives in Kansas City, Missouri with a rooster
named Little Red and a billygoat named Giuseppe.
Feel free to look up his skirt at jasonryberg.blogspot.com

 

Nineteen

 

I started smoking
the same day I stopped noticing
pretty girls going past on buses
and in cars and such.
There’s an answer in there somewhere.

I comfort myself by thinking
I can’t be the only one who gets turned on
seeing girls in tuxedos.

Things are always darker in the distance
which is why I try not to put too much perspective on my life.

When I’m walking along the pavement
the frost glitters underfoot
and tiny stars rearrange themselves
as I lose track of my direction.
It’s not that I hate being alone,

I’m okay with sitting in front of the T.V.
watching some bullshit sitcom or an old game show
but when I get “Baby, Its Cold Outside”
stuck in my head and I can only sing half the song,
that’s when it gets to me.

So I’m making footprints in the wet sand,
the tides only a foot away,
thinking about lying down,
lighting a cigarette
and getting swept away,

or maybe getting away
like in the books and films
and finding myself
if there’s anyone to find that is.

I threw caution to the wind once
and it hit me square on the nose on its return.

I’m too young for all of this anyway.

 

I Think You’d Like it Here

 
Most days
I take the dog out after if gets dark,
after the day has given up the fight
of winning the winter duel once again.

On the steps down to the beach
there is a warning sign attached to a lamppost
and amongst the pleas to not throw Frisbees at the elderly
and to watch out for incoming tides,

it says:
“please leave nothing behind but footprints”
I find this ridiculously profound
and I spend far too much time wondering
if it was intentional or not.

I see the streets in the distance lit up like the aisles of a casino,
the dog gallops through shallow water
like scale model horses in a stop motion war film.
I think you’d like it here.

Yes, you.

Because I know you’re reading this,
sat in the warmth on your swivel chair
flicking through thousands of words,
bigger and better declarations
by bigger and better writers
trying to force big ideas into your mind.

But I don’t want to build a skyscraper in your head.
What’s the point?
I’d much rather plant a seed
and watch it grow beautiful and worthwhile
or get overshadowed by ready made ideals.

At least I can say I tried
because I know I haven’t all that much to offer
but that’s not what I’m about.

So here’s to ideas planted.
Here’s to revelations.

 
Future Pockets

The stars line up like tin cans,
a shooting range of beautiful equations.
They are begging to be released,
so sick of being dreamt upon.

Liquorice blood rushes around my brain,
the frosty windows and sugary walls
are screaming out obsolete obscenities
and regurgitated passions.

I have seen heaven in reflections
of beaten down heroes
and I have been destroyed,
not by madness
but by my willingness
to accept everything as an inevitability.

My future is my release
from this hellish world
of forgotten muses
and retired dreams

                            Jordan Winfield

Jordan Winfield is twenty years old and  currently living in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. 


In the Doghouse
 
 Brown-nosed, eaten off of,
 tented, made fun of, held in contempt,
 disregarded, in disfavor if informally,
 spousal and the neglect of,
 in back of it, in behind there, outlandish,
 in trouble, the object of scorn and slander,
 no longer the best friend of,
 cold-shouldered, not carried
 across the threshold, a hand-spank
 a leather thing, a thing thing,
 nose runny, spittle choked, sleepless over,
 beneath esteem, cut off from, locked out
 on account of indiscriminate
 habit, that forces the fingers in to dig
 till they turn to claws
 against this hardscrabble

 land of earth and moon.


 

Pincushion
 
 I have been wounded by my occupation—
to hold these points, not to complain.
 Verbs are my garden.
 You see an antique, a runner
 sending out the small version,
 you laugh as if it’s a joke to be pregnant
 with meaning.   I have no answer

for the domestic hunger—
for the leaf motif above a muse
 who will turn toward and away from
 you in spring.  If I am anthropomorphic
 with desire for the human, still I tend
 your dresses and curtains. My stuffing
 keeps the barbs of your jokes. 

You slander the other, you lecture
 the husband rocking on his sofa,
 the self growing old inside your breast.

 Tell me how far off the path does it grow,
 the single strawberry, that wild orphan
 of your dream—a fleshy nightmare repeated
 night after night after night.

 

Poke Buttons
 
 
 This is the one I chose from the bin
 marked Poke Buttons, with the sign
 that said One for a Dollar
 or Six for Five Dollars.  I chose
 
 this doll named Moffet
from all the others and she’s agreed
 to live with me—
an old woman in a ramshackle cottage
 
 where sometimes we hear boys playing
 on the grounds and other times

 the wind moans as if in hard labor
 with a breach baby.
 
Moffet and I don’t do much
 more than look at one another,
 and that’s enough for me.
 I’ve become a grandmother to her.
 
 She bleeds curls and ruffles,
 tilts that odd pursed mouth
 in my direction.
 Like the Mona Lisa, there’s nothing
 
 in her empty head to make
 an art critic prize or scorn her.
 She opens her mouth as if there were

 a bit of a crumb left for me to scare.
 
 I don’t love Moffet.
We coexist, she on her
 odalisque, and me
 in my shell of flesh.
 
 White polka dots claim the edge
 and her eyes are doll-blue,
 which is to say, the eyelashes fake,
 the pupils all too real.
 
 She can hold my gaze
 longer than I can hold hers.
 Half of her is blonde curls—big hair,
 we used to call it,

and sometimes, when I get used to her
 maker—the third woman in our homely triangle—
JWB 1991, I think of that loopy woman
 who spent hours worrying
 
 the glue into place, attaching the divot
 that would liken Moffet
to some unholy mother’s idea
 of a finished sweater.
  
 
  
 A smaller piece than M.,
The Sky Chair holds
 a noose that holds
 in turn a rusted red double seater.
 
 Attached to the base of the noose,

 a pole crosses and suspends
 the chair such that it hangs
 exactly in the center
 
 of porcelain sky.
 Gold trim, ceramic white back—
if this were a lecture the sky chair
would be a chariot. Of the gods?
 
 A chair the size of M.’s sulky face,
 and she roosting on the whole
 of her oval planet, an inch
 longer than lonely raindrops
 
 this time of night.  Infinitely
 farther from sleep
 than those lullabies
 the rain is made of.
  

 
  
 The window’s empty
 on this circular button JWB
 decoupaged in 1990,
 signing her exquisitely meaningless initials
 
 on the backside of a button.
 Black inside a room, blue-shuttered,
 a bit of sky—azure,
 there’s a color, along the crown
 
 that borders the frou-frou roofline
 of the button’s endless mis-en-scene…
Stucco walls a shade of peach.
 As if the dessert
 
 were fit to grow
 anything other than infertility.
 A head peers from the window
 to survey comers
 

 from a rectangle
 inside some Mexican drug lord’s
 ruined mansion. There no one sets you free—
not the face, not its facets.

 


 Judith Skillman’s collection, “The Phoenix, New and Selected Poems 2007 – 2013” is forthcoming from Dream Horse Press.  She’s the recipient of awards from Academy of American Poets, Washington State Arts Commission, and other organizations.  Two of her books (“Red Town,” “Prisoner of the Swifts”) have been finalists for the Washington State Book Award.  Skillman currently teaches at Yellow Wood Academy, Mercer Island, Washington.  For more visit www.judithskillman.com <http://www.judithskillman.com>  or see her blog on techno-bling: abricabrac.com