Poetry Summer - 2009
Languid fingers search aimlessly
Each somehow convinced of the other's sincerity
in their collective objective.
They fail to grasp an open hand.
A beautiful smoldering corpse,
The charred remains of some cancerous disfigured romance
not so long ago.
She shuts her eyes tight.
Hide and seek.
Convincing herself that if she can't see him...
Still, within the deepest darkest recesses
of her vacuous abyss,
truth resplendent screams.
She is not blind,
Glen Evan MacLeod was a social worker who specialized in helping troubled adolescents. In addition to writing poems, he was a musician and songwriter. His best-known song is "When Mary Smiles." He led two bands, Slow Children and The Vindicators.
Stiff weeds camouflage
what was the first base line.
The jungle gym sags
like an old man bending over
to retrieve his fallen cane.
Above the faded, cracked blacktop,
the rusty, net-less basketball rim
drooping like a rusty halo
from a retired angel.
Most disturbing of all:
the swimming pool,
now filled with dirt and covered
in crabgrass and cigarette butts.
My legs are unsure, as I stand
where once only mayflies
and Jesus could:
on top of the deep end
It was in this pool
that I learned to swim,
to cheat at Marco Polo,
and to both fear and desire
what is both tanned and bikinied.
I sat down on the hard ground
of that hallowed grave
a few years after that rotten day
when, on lawyers' orders,
a giant yellow scoop
vomited tons of rocky fill dirt.
A vision arose,
bright and slippery:
I'm standing again atop
the high board,
arms straight out,
like the medalists
at the Munich Games.
But after a dramatic
pause, I just jump,
screaming as I cannon-balled
into the water,
to care about dry land
where my mom stood
calling me home
on the table
Steve Kissing's writing credits include a childhood memoir, Running From the Devil (Crossroad Books, 2003); a monthly magazine column, "Odd Man Out" (Cincinnati Magazine); and several published poems. When he's not writing, he is playing with his four daughters.
i have doubts
consider the statement— my name is brad
now let's suppose— maybe that's not
my real name
maybe I can't remember
my real name
maybe my memory
has been cleared
by some gov't or university
study to prove that change
is possible or maybe I saw
i wasn't supposed to
see and instead
of killing me
(because that would be wrong)
or organization zeroed
out my mind
gave me a new version
and a fresh start
with a new past
the idea is sound
because I have no
way of proving that
and if i am right
it would be nice
to know why
i don't feel quite
that would explain
all good things
Thoughts, Ideas, Inspiration
in a second
even a nano-
(ten seconds have just passed)
maybe all the years of
led up to those
Thoughts, Ideas, Inspiration
i don't know
maybe both are
that's my problem
or maybe not
i don't know.
Brad Bisio grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and went to a Jesuit high school. He attended Syracuse University as an engineering student and pursued a BA in English and Creative Writing at Humboldt State University. He has lived in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Miami and in the mountains of Colorado. Currently he lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife, young daughter and their two dogs. He has published fiction and poetry in Toyon, Penumbra, Innisfree, Paradigm, Pequin and has work forthcoming in Word Riot. He won the Advisor's Award for the story, "Still No One, but Returning Different" published in Toyon.
An Apostate Visits the Temple of Buddha
A murmur flowing out into the black bay of night,
where the stars bob, tiny, glittering boats,
When I peer up, through the perfumed smoke,
past the god's rolling belly, smooth as soap,
up into his oblivious face, with its once-painted eyes,
and his indifference to sin,
he seems to exhale, 'good luck,'
not cynically, but as if he really means it.
When I look down at the temple floor,
its stone worn talc-smooth by supplication,
I can see that I've kneeled here
through one too many lives.
I'm about to step into the shower,
when the phone rings.
A call from telemarketing asks for you.
I don't lie, when I say you're not home.
I climb in now, with all the skin
that will ever contain me.
The cool scent of soap, floral chemicals
conjuring a disinfected magic.
The shower fountains down,
it's liquid collapsing from the fall.
You left two weeks ago, and I'm naked here,
standing on the feet with which I'll be buried.
On the window pane, just above the shower,
a Daddy longlegs is splayed in futile escape,
frantic shudder against a transparent opposition.
Amid the sweet smell of clean, there's no hiding, only seeing.
Ungainly creatures, easy to catch, easy to damage.
Once they mate, they die.
Brad Rose is a Boston-area writer. "The Scream," appeared in Tattoo Highway #18, Spring, 2009. "Leaving Camarillo State Hospital" was published in FutureCycle Poetry April, 2009. The poem "Clown Car," appeared in the Spring/Summer 2007, Up and Under/QND Review. "Pink Crab Spider Eats Bee," appeared in Getting Something Read, in April, 2008. Recent flash fictions pieces include, "The Tourist" "Seven Husbands Later," and "Albert Failed," all published by Six Sentences. "She Loves Richard," "E-mail Lovers," "Battle of Statistics," and other flash fiction pieces have been published by Espresso Stories.
From a guide book
radiating the stunning heat,
we connect words with caved cliff-dwellings
slit by knife-edge shadows;
the air like breathing a void.
Oversize baseball cap clamped down,
our ten year old daughter
flips the long hair off her shoulders,
proposes in dramatic voice, to be
our tour-guide for this culture.
Like the stick-figure pictograph beside her,
she extends an arm and casts a spell:
"As you can see, they liked doing art."
Pointing to piled sandstone shelters
with entrances she ducks beneath,
she teaches, "They were small and peaceful,
building with rocks and clay,
safe from danger on this cliff. "
With native grace she escorts us,
"As you can see, they slept in rooms,
around the kiva...like this."
Dropping to her knees, she smoothes the sand,
traces her own pictograph,
"this was where they prayed
and learned things."
Emerging from a kiva, her teenage brother,
inspecting a piece of copper wire, heckles,
"what they learned looks pretty advanced."
Rolling her eyes, she returns to her tour.
"They abandoned their houses,
taking nothing; maybe afraid
something they did
wasn't supposed to happen,"
her eyes wide, playful,
"but we really don't know, they just vanished!"
New to recent growth,
she bumps her head
and suggests another story,
"maybe their kids are the Hopi."
Stooping to hug her,
I feel immediacy in her thin embrace.
An isolated storm boils above our horizon,
lavender-white clouds trail gray curtains,
shoot lightning at empty hoodoo land,
slickrock domes, pillars, gargoyles,
rivers deep in dusky, blue-black trenches.
Her looming changes seem distant,
but she'll soon know answers,
forgetting the spell of the unexplainable.
For a dwindling time she inhabits a world
of sagebrush incense, empowering totems,
sky and sunlit surfaces.
Sometimes I can see,
in the clear-eyed glance of a Hopi host,
a youthful Anasazi in disguise.
In luminous twilight, she brings
the magic of my long-ago world,
as the echo of her child voice diminishes
in the disappearing space of the desert.
Stephen Maurer has practiced and written about psychoanalysis for over 20 years. Reading and writing poetry were essential to his practice. A desire to immerse himself in poetry prompted early retirement from Seattle to a small college town (with an excellent English Dept.). He is a father and grandfather, has a lifelong discipline as a classical clarinetist and enjoys climbing, kayaking, and backpacking. Six months ago he sent out his first poem for submission; Anasazi is his fifth one accepted for publication. He lives with his wife Elizabeth (Chief Muse and Critic) and their dog Sombra. Stephen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
a medical poem
Arrival at eight
Undress, chat with Bill Murphy
Who is so Irish.
I take pills, water,
Wait for Doctor Weinsier
Who is so handsome.
Wheeled into the room
I roll onto the hard slab
Victim number one.
Arrayed like killer monster
From planet mongo
I've become wooden
A doll waiting for needles
Weinsier has them.
Now I'm numb, watch screen
Arteries—mine, not kinky
Madame Curie's show.
"Don't turn your head, says
voice. Can't I see my own veins?
Pressure on my thigh
Someone playing cards? Doodling?
I'm still wooden. Stiff.
Show's over. Back home
In my cubicle I wait
Till Doctor tells all.
No blockage. You're fine
Don't fold, bend, or mutilate.
Arteries could burst.
Lunch is good. Turkey
Mashed potatoes cranberry.
I sit halfway up.
Then I sleep. Sweet dreams.
Waking, I'm allowed to walk.
"Don't jump the fence please."
I'm wheeled to the car.
Traffic is good. No blockage.
We go for coffee.
Driving Ms. Nora
Nora's molars are coming in
She's twelve; her hair escapes the ribbon.
She likes instant mashed potatoes
While watching teen girl shows.
As I'm driving I turn and say
You're ten minutes late for ballet.
You're going twenty-five she says
This is forty—zoned for business.
Nadine Gallo's latest pub is an essay on spinning wool: "Spinning Your Own" in Wolf Moon Journal (print-fall issue '08) and next will be W.M.J. an article on Chuck Close, the artist (winter issue). She's in the fall issue of greensilkjournal.com and writerseyemagazine. She lives in Hadley, Mass. where she leads a writers' workshop.
Nightly walking miles up and down the aisles
Of Campbell—pretty from Google high,
But slightly ghastly late at night when
There's nothing but shades of anger, sweat, and love
Escaping from every three bedroom's pores.
But my dogs pull me along. Penny sniffing at every crack;
Jeff watching for any neighborhood cat
That might steal a cold glimpse our way.
Then through the shopping center Palm trees spiraled
With Christmas lights, children drawn to my Shelties,
"Mini-Lassies!" they whisper in wonder, eyes animé wide.
Children gravitate to the pets like buzzards to a dying elk.
You see I often think while I walk those dogs
That they will die, and I imagine life without.
It will happen, and I will go on,
But for now, as they struggle toward smashed French fries on the sidewalk,
I think of them as gone already.
It must not be easy to know that if you care
I will visualize you dust and bones in a casket.
When I was thirteen, the phone calls from Guatemala came
First one, my father told me his father, Poppy,
Had a heart attack. Second, extremely critical. Third, dead.
And then the planning began.
It was a long wait, fraught with misfortunes, triumphs,
And losses, but I stuck it out, teeth gritted for the most of it.
Every time I saw him, I waited extra hard.
And then he died.
Now I wait for everyone, every little goddamn living thing.
Alan Solis was born and raised in Fayetteville, Arkansas. After attending the University of Arkansas, he moved to Campbell, California and worked as a software engineer for twenty some-odd years, all the while pursuing his main interests of writing and the study of literature. He recently completed his MFA at San Jose State University. He lives with his wife, Cheryl, and their two dogs, Penny and Jeff.
For many, camping is a religious experience,
A way of communing with God's handiwork.
And at the center of this liturgy, the faithful
Find marshmallow, graham cracker and chocolate
The Blessed Trinity of the campground.
Steven Kissing's writing credits include poems published (or upcoming) in Boston Literary Magazine, as well as Thick with Conviction, Best Poem, Poetry Friends, and Paterson Literary Review. He's written a childhood memoir, Running from the Devil (Crossroad Books, 2003), that Publishers Weekly called "hilarious, sad and fully absorbing," and that the Library Journal said was "truly riveting." He also writes a monthly column, Odd Man Out, for Cincinnati Magazine, for which he has won multiple awards.
The hotel room is sassy, decidedly and surely French,
and the bellboy looks at her shyly. He is demurely French.
Shirt sleeves rolled up, a man chops zucchini for coriander
soup. No woman over? Perhaps he is prematurely French.
Her boyfriend plugs his ears when she mentions the m word:
no rented tux, no boutonnière. Those are for the girly French.
In Brush Grove, Kentucky, fried potatoes are served in paper
sleeves stamped freedom. They don't like those surly French.
I change minute by minute. My hair gets longer while freckles collect
on my arms. Translation: Growing up (English), C'est la vie (French).
Heather Cadenhead is a recent graduate of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Prick of the Spindle, The Ampersand Review, Illuminations, Up the Staircase, READ THIS, and others. She lives in Memphis, Tennessee, with her husband Tyson.
At the cul-de-sac of Rosemary and Spaulding, Forest Hills, Jamaica Plain…
You can distant rumble floorboard dance hear orange and purple trains make final calls to empty platforms under starry nights
You can fetal pose trowel pray behold sun hat woman try to late september breath life into mums in a public garden
You can broad shoulder square jaw watch a full sleeve tattoo lesbian walk a labradoodle bump your simian bulk off the sidewalk
You can saggy pants frozen eye brush past cobra hood toxic blood teens who tongue flick you back to salvation on your own porch
You can stick whip shriek mother listen to townie kid hoarse yell through the park for brother to quit it
You can red eye crook mouth catch a smile from two elbow lean young cats saying yo that's the real shit about white label moet in a bullet proof liquor store
You can passion drunk flippity-flop contradict yourself on a summer night picnic bench driveway conversation under street lights while bandit mask raccoons samba in your trash cans
You can dry tongue faint heart witness a dozen braided boys who get the wind with goddess green square off on cement court over a chinga tu madre and a fistful of scrotum.
You can doze and fade and hum to a young couple with trembling hands who can't wait to hear from a broker with an offer to guide them out of rental lymphoma and into subprime inferno
You can paper bag burgundy faced deal with homeless urban monks who confess and purge to your daughter then mary jane amble down a bike path into the abyss
You can curb stomp fist in the sky watch irish frankie jig and blaspheme the cops the trash guys the mayor saying don't be taking my garbage cans out of my parking space
You can raw faced frozen finger do the crimson and bronze autumn dance a rake as your partner down your driveway just to watch the leaves swirl under your chin
You can curtain peek veil envy see shut in turn djfreshlove strut his jailhouse art heroin sheik bones with dead drop honey blonde in the crook of his arm
You can kitchen window back porch plunge into a moment with tank top buzz cut joe about toys for tots motorcycle rides bouncing betties and elephant grass goddamn liberal bitches who jingle keys to jailhouse doors
You can bleary eye pray for rain choke down burning tar inside a heat wave mirage as a flotsam breeze swings down the road like old broken jazz band
You can sidewalk shuffle yes to death reminisce with blue hair mary from the emerald isle brogues to how the neighborhood used to speak to her
You can arms spread palms up gape at new neighbor ululate kneel at the alter of his candy red truck on a sunday morning the back window a spray of shark's teeth
You can shoulder faith kick the dirt listen to the twenty somethings on the hill defend the honor of dogs between conversations about obama and netflix
You can jump the curb, round the corner south street shuffle down to the fernandez L hearing that tooth rattle fomp diddly omp reggaeton dreaming of a pilsner six dangling from your fingertips
You can grin sheep ceiling eye take the pain when your wife responds to your shakespeare condescension with a yeah you just got your shit together five minutes ago save the pseudo intellect for the teens on Monday hombre
You can scarlett sunrise stand in a window gaze at the fat spill of the grass corridor with a pink jelly bean angel in your arms watch her face grow over the earth's rim
You can soul drift futon love reach for desiderata while the hymnal song of urban tempest drones under the russet chalice of trees.
You can chain link beer bottle hang your arms over a fence near a charcoal grill three sixty the park smile and say feel this suburbanites I ain't going no place.
Nick Rothstein lives in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts with his wife Jen, and daughters Faith and Scarlett. He teaches English in the Opportunity For Change Program at Brookine High School. He is also a boxing instructor at the Ring Boxing Club in Boston. He has Bachelor's Degree from The American University in Washington, DC, a Master's from Simmons College in Boston, and he is almost finished with another Master's from the Extension School at Harvard University.
Burnt Coffee Hot,
Burnt Coffee Cold.
Served Up At The X-tra Mart
Tasted Nine Days Old.
Dislike It Hot.
Dislike it Cold.
Matters Not To X-tra Mart,
'Cuz It's Sold Sold Sold
In Seidels Eye
you protest it is ludicrous, being our age
after so many years together that
I find you intensely alluring
utterly fascinating and
so passionately desirable
"but I'm old" you protest,
dropping your china blue satin robe
in our candle lit hotel room, glaring your challenge
"look at me damn it, just look!"
I do, and take you in my ropey old arms,
gently stroking your lovely grey hair,
being so grateful that such a beauty as you
would love an old train wreck like me.
Doug Mathewson lives on the Connecticut shoreline. He writes very short fiction that occasionally changes of its own volition into poetry or essay forms. He has been published here and there online, most recently at The Boston Literary Magazine, Doorknobs & Body Paint, and Six Sentences. His current project, True Stories from Imaginary Lives, can be found at www.little2say.org.
Not at a poker table I thought,
As those lips caressed a
Gentle puff, curling around a
delicately rounded O;
Her square mulling
Jaws gliding over
Her pampered gum,
As she fondled the
Decision to call
My all in;
Drumming on her cards,
A deliberate wallow;
While the table full of
Gawking eyes waited,
I call she said
And revealed a pair of tens,
My enchanted heart,
Pain that even my winning
Pair of Kings couldn't endure.
The author turns to writing when faced with failures in his HIV research, which means he writes very often. Ajay Vishwanathan's work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Times of India, Bartleby Snopes, The Houston Literary Review, Cantaraville, Mid-Day, Counterexample Poetics, Bewildering Stories, Khabar, The Afternoon Despatch & Courier, Six Sentences, Static Movement, Short Humour Site, and Little India.
Alexis Czencz Belluzzi
Because Venus rotates clockwise
Because all clocks in Pulp Fiction read 4:20
Because there are no clocks in Vegas casinos
Because my mother was torn open without anesthesia
the day she birthed me
Because I killed the potential for siblings
Because I'm missing two muscles and three fingers
Because I was whispered about
on school playgrounds
Because the Mona Lisa has no eyebrows
Because a jockey can bet on himself
Because I had five operations by age sixteen
Because I have five locks on each door
Because no one can lick their own elbow
Because glue on Israeli postage
is certified Kosher
Because there are 1000 chemicals
in a cup of coffee
Because Al Capone's business card
named him a used furniture dealer
Because there are too many Mafia jokes
Because I'm tired of being mistaken
for Cherokee or Hispanic
Because the place that feels most like home
is a twelve hour plane ride away
Because I cry and clench my jaw in sleep
Because Hitler's favorite movie
was King Kong
Because mailmen in Russia carry revolvers
Because my father couldn't save
a dying swan
Because he sets cans on the fence
behind our house and shoots them with a 9mm
Because house plants poison more
children than household chemicals
Because cat piss glows under black light
Because my grandmother had a brain hemorrhage
Because my grandfather strokes her hair
and calls her baby and makes her eat
Because the seasons blend together
Because love stretches boundaries
Because I do not know my own yet
Alexis Czencz Belluzzi holds an M.F.A from Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. Her work has appeared in the SU Review, Hollins Critic, Ghoti, and Muse. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, dog, and two cats.
Driving Through Florence, SC
Danny P. Barbare
My friend points
at the sea
of green plants.
He takes a puff
of a cigarette,
struggles to breathe.
He flicks the ashes.
Danny P. Barbare lives and grew up in Greenville SC. His poetry has won the Jim Gitting's award at Greenville Technical College. He has been published locally, nationally, and abroad.
Only days into the new world,
and she was already raising
her head, looking around the room,
eyes wide open, casting spells,
this first child, this changeling,
who appeared to him each day
in different form.
And when she was eight,
she announced without any reservation
who she intended to marry
someday when she was grown,
a choice that pleased him,
but one she simply couldn't make.
And now he imagines her
sitting in her white coat
prescribing potions and casting spells
and humoring old men like him,
who come to her with their notions
of magic and immortality.
They are my cutest patients,
she says with a grin
that takes in the whole room.
This girl, this changeling,
and he remembers the day
her told her he knew.
Her eyes met his wide open,
and then she sighed almost,
relieved she wouldn't have to tell him.
Brady Peterson is grudgingly growing older in Belton, Texas, where he once built houses but now teaches rhetoric. He has five grown daughters.
Several times last summer
after my father died,
I woke in the middle of the night
to coyote symphonies.
One evening the moonlight
was so bright
I could see luminous, rangy shapes
moving down the upper meadow.
The group assembled
near the big barn,
scarcely twenty feet
from my window.
Yips, barks and wails
in the deep woods
between our hill
and Hurricane Hill
on the other side
of the dirt road.
The music grew so loud
within miles joining)
that both dogs rose
from their sleep
next to my bed,
jumped up next to me,
As the coyotes came closer,
my dogs joined them
in full-throated harmony.
My father would have liked it.
After a hiatus of three decades spent as an environmental and renewable energy lawyer and raising two children, Jeff Bernstein resumed writing poetry seriously several years ago. A lifelong New Englander, he divides his time between Boston and Central Vermont. These days, he finds back roads increasingly preferable except on summer days when he has Red Sox tickets. Recent work has appeared in The Aurorean, bear creek haiku, The Burlington Poetry Journal, Oak Bend Review and Avocet. His writer's blog is www.hurricanelodge.com.
God, Key West, Cold Beer, and Rocky Burnette
I could see you all the way across the smoky bar,
sitting there not far from where Papa Hemingway
used to sit on his barstool, dreaming of his lions all
the way through 1929.
What was it that I saw in your bright green eyes?—something
in me that made me forget that I was a broken man.
Through the hazy smoke and bad Jimmy Buffet
playing on stage, we smiled and told each other
where we were from.
You said: Boston, Massachusetts
I said: Providence, Rhode Island
Right then I had this feeling:
we should dance to some Rocky Burnette rockabilly;
go running naked through the Secret Garden out behind the Marquesa Hotel;
maybe hitch a ride back in time atop Apollo 14: yeah, baby, you better
only wear your cowboy hat!
And when we sat down and talked to each other for the rest of
the night—wow! you made me forget about everything bad in
this made up chaotic world:
that idiot George W. Bush, and the price I paid for oil yesterday;
all those red and orange and yellow terror alerts putting me on
Global Warming, Al Gore, and death; and, oh, yeah: John Grisham
writing another novel: oh, no, not that again please!
And out of the blue right then you said to me: "That's why God
made Key West, Cold Beer, and Rocky Burnette!"
Wow! What could I say? I couldn't say anything. I only knew
that I would be forever falling in love with you; and you
just nodded your head like you already knew this too.
Your Young Daughters Laughing
All poets want to impress each other,
our young daughters frolicking in the ocean
at Misquamicut Beach,
body surfing on the south shore waves,
their wet, blond hair sticking to their wintry faces,
white, cut belly buttons at lunch as they eat
anything that they want,
their thin, tanning arms;
the tightening ball in their biceps
as they reach up for all the world.
A 6-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Jéanpaul Ferro's work has appeared in Contemporary American Voices, Columbia Review, Emerson Review, Connecticut Review, Sierra Nevada Review, Long Island Quarterly, Bryant Literary Review, Portland Monthly, The Providence Journal, Arts & Understanding Magazine, Oregon Literary Review, Cortland Review, Hawaii Review, Identity Theory, and others. His work has been featured on NPR's This I Believe series, WBAR radio in NYC, and The Plaza's Masterpiece series. He is the author of All The Good Promises (1994, Plowman Press), The Driver (1994, Thunder Mountain Press), Becoming X (2008, BlazeVox Books), You Know Too Much About Flying Saucers (2009, Thumbscrew Press) and the forthcoming Hemispheres (2009, Maverick Duck Press). He is also a 3-time storySouth Million Writers Award nominee and a 2-time Best of the Net nominee. He currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island. E-mail at: email@example.com.