Tag Archives: poem

Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

Jennifer Schomburg Kanke’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Pleiades, and Nimrod. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, she currently lives in Tallahassee, Florida where she is a visiting faculty member at Florida State University teaching critical theory and creative writing.

 

 

Summer Sonnet for a Sears House

Welcome to a place where everything grows
and comfort comes from the smell of mold,

the sound of light rain on tin.
Take peppermints as communion,

this sugar be your body, these wrappers
be your soul to crinkle and toss away.

Here you are born anew in the blood
of a stubbed toe and a not quite dismissive

“Don’t look that bad now.” Here you rise
in the tea kettle steam and the yeast

of thick wheat bread. Here you sleep
in a house so still, the music of a Saturday night

floats in from a mile away and the creek beds promise
sanctuary, sanctuary, sanctuary.

Gerry LaFemina

Gerry LaFemina is the author of several books of poems including 2011’s Vanishing Horizon, and three books of prose poems, In 2014 Stephen F. Austin University Press released his newest poetry collection, Little Heretic, and a book of his essays on prosody, Palpable Magic. New work has recently appeared in The Sun, APR, Gettysburg Review and other journals. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, he is an associate professor of English at Frostburg State University and serves as a poetry mentor in the MFA program at Carlow University.

 

Pocket Watch

Its is the face I hate looking at, the mirror in which I constantly appear older in increments, more cynical, more sallow. Yet, is there anything about this now I’d hold eternal?

Perfect anthology of 43,200 lyric moments, each one of them oscillating between breathtaking and forgettable, between mendacious and mundane, I open its cover, close it again return to the narrative of today in our year of the Lord.

At night, the rings on its jeweled fingers glow green to steer me toward some untoward destination,

and still not a compass, for there’s no true north, not even at midnight, not even at noon, not even in the hour in between, dawn lighting the east.  Each morning I tighten the spring the way I was taught, so taut it might catapult the sun across the sky.

Monique Zamir

Monique Zamir is a recent graduate from Oklahoma State University where she completed her MFA in poetry, and has received an honorable mention from the Academy of American Poets Scholarship for her poem, “Even the Stone Will Keep” and an honorable mention from the Marye Lynn Cummings Endowed Scholarship for a collection of poems. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Calliope, Crack The Spine, The Virginia Normal, Mikrokosmos, Lunch Ticket, Gravel Magazine, Josephine Quarterly, and others. From New York, Monique lives in Austin, Texas where she works for a startup.

 

On Television II

The cat follows the mouse into the dynamite
and the cornflakes. The child dons a hat and toy pistol
turns the knob, steps away from the screen
and screams. His mother
laughing all the while. Here, a smile in pill form,
a cake whipped
with butter, the razor blades piled
in your bathroom closet. The child watches people dance,
watches them swim with frogs, dapper in the reeds.

He can never situate himself accordingly.
He always moves to the tune of the blue driftwood
sailing abrasively along the carpet.

A composite of singer and dancer finesses syllables
of a love song, a heartbreak. A dolphin sleeps
with one eye open,
fighter pilots replay their final battles,
a bicycle meets its owner; his mother
wants to look away.
The mother watches
her neighbor get in the car.
The child looks at the carpet,

to be its fibers,

to be the dust, piling

in absent space.  

Marlo Starr

Marlo Starr is a writer and English PhD student living in Atlanta. She is the author of Vanishing Point, a chapbook forthcoming from dancing girl press, and her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from Threepenny Review, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, The Atlas Review, Monkeybicycle, and elsewhere.

 

Speech

what name to give this grief
this weight of stillborn sound
words pressed, throat like a coil,
crouched, immense, beneath the ground

the weight of stillborn sound
this animal, arched muscle
crouched, immense, beneath the ground
mouth tongue teeth mouth tongue teeth

this animal, arched muscle
backed into a corner, still,
mouth tongue teeth mouth tongue teeth
shaping the words, gathering breath

what name to give this grief
words pressed, throat like a coil,
shaping the words, gathering breath
do not make a sound

Zoe Hitzel

Zoe Hitzel earned her MA in Creative Writing studying poetry at Northern Arizona University, and nabbed her MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Oregon State University. When not writing, she drums, tinkers with bicycles, plays online video games, and keeps a blog of her transgender experience, zenoted.wordpress.com. Her work has appeared in entropy, pacificREVIEW, The Chariton Review, and elsewhere.

 

Gender Dysphoria versus the February Skyline

You’ve noticed breath can pass unnoticed
if the time’s that good. Some hearts get to
eat time. Your heart forgets to forget it’s still waiting
for a better bridge or twelfth story
to present itself and invite you
to sway and mean it. You weigh less
when you fall though your mass hasn’t changed.

For years you weathered the accusations
of your body at and against your body
for being your body and not the other body
that just didn’t happen, dead channel static
swelling to envelop the sensate.

You think of your cells—are they not your cells?
Your molecules, what is their problem.

You consider death like a pill, one more
panacea or poultice to smear
until ailments evaporate, leave you
relieved, nevermind your dwindling electric.

It’s not that you can’t leave bed, it’s whether
you leave bed or not, nothing changes.
You’re just less disgusted than usual in sleep.
Waking kills everyone eventually.

What a catclaw is despair.
A hook in the heart, helmet of barnacles
calcified. Some wicked bulb
sprouts through the temples and grasps.

There’s nothing you haven’t considered
until a dream where the grayscale city wakes
and crushes people you love in its concrete
teeth. It takes.

A heartbeat to go from perch to flight,
a breath to go from flight to fall,
a surface from soar and splat.
What a wrist, gripped and latticed.
What a spine, to wish for wings.

Annie Stenzel

Annie Stenzel’s poems have most recently appeared in the print journals Kestrel, Ambit, Catamaran Literary Reader, and Quiddity, Lunch Ticket, and Unsplendid. Her work has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and once for a Best of the Net. She received a B.A. in English Literature and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, both from Mills College. Stenzel is also a letterpress printer, never happier than when her hands are covered in ink. She pays the bills by working at a mid-sized law firm in San Francisco.

 

Posture [im]Perfect

Bearing in mind the long hall of the tract home
you walked up and down with your sisters while Ma

watched gimlet-eyed and you three held your breaths
and stared raptly before you, heads fixed firmly

beneath whatever book you had chosen to balance—
two things are now sad, or three, on a good day:

what book did you carry? why can you no longer
walk with your head held high? and especially, why,

why did you never forgive your big sister before
her untimely death and actually not quite even then?

Mischelle Anthony

Mischelle Anthony is Associate Professor of English at Wilkes University specializing in poetry and eighteenth-century literature. Her poetry has appeared in Slush Pile, Mudfish, Watershed, and her collection, [Line], is available from Foothills Press.

 

Blackjack

my father wrangling 200 million
in assets and driving
a Cadillac so many decades after
it means something.  Wading
through moneyed clouds,
the 13th green, and Dr. Seuss
trees, the glut of couch pillows,
carpet of such luxury we whisper.
Every Sunday drive, my father,
past sanded-down alfalfa
fields, acres of memory and
church, that squat brick altar
of primary shapes.  Triangle,
square, circle of trays.
The pale wood witness
to your wide-eyed wedding
asks why you return
to this place.

Look, there’s a blackjack
tree gnarling its way
up the sky.  You don’t know
why they call them that.
I do. 

Rachel Bunting

Rachel Bunting lives and writes near the Pine Barrens of South Jersey. Her poems have been included in both Best of the Net (Sundress) and Best of the Web (Dzanc Books) anthologies, and her work can be found in print and online journals including Muzzle Magazine, Tuesday: An Art Journal, PANK, Toad, Linebreak, and Weave Magazine.

 

One Who Is Typically Accompanied by Unease

You are the vibrating air between the alarm
bell’s hammer and body or the gentle rustle

of the split-flaps announcing another departure
too soon. When the sun shines through windows

you are the glass it passes through; the alternating
expansion and contraction that moves a clock’s

brass hands across its face. A constant body thrum,
the tension of metal against metal as a train slows

its approach. You move inward as the earth asserts
its elliptical path through the universe and explain

that infinity is a comfort: there is intention, after all,
to the way your bones come together, but the watchful

eye of the painted sky is not focused entirely on you.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Translator’s Note:

I was as surprised as many readers of poetry to find that Rainer Maria Rilke had written a large body of poems in French.  It was 1994; an earthquake in southern California had just dumped my books onto the floor and I sat down among them, hoping to find some comfort in their pages.  At random, I opened Rilke’s French poetry in translation, with the original on the left-hand page.  I knew French well; I had just returned from living in France and Morocco for four years.  So when I compared the English with the original, I was not satisfied.  I wanted poems I could chew on, learn by heart, poems I could love and use as a mirror for my life.  I especially wanted poems that didn’t sound like translations.

Gingerly I began replacing a word here, a phrase there, until re-translating these poems became the project of my life.  Why did Rilke write in French?  A partial answer may lie in Rilke’s particular love for a handful of French words he considered untranslatable, at least in sound, rhythm and spirit.  One of them was verger, orchard.  The title poem of the series called “Orchards” begins thus:

Perhaps, dear borrowed language, I’ve been
so bold as to write you because
of the rustic name whose unique domain
has taunted me forever: Verger.

He was fluent in French, having learned it as a child.  Still, it was his second language, which may explain the fact that the French oeuvre is syntactically simpler and more straightforward than the German.  That’s not to say they are easy to translate.  They simply present a less ornate doorway into the same complex, paradoxical ideas as those in Rilke’s German poems.

It is important to note that Rilke wrote the 325 French poems during the last four years of his life.  His health was deteriorating and the French poems, especially “Orchards,” serve as a farewell letter to his beloved world and the audience that had become so loyal to him.  Because of his fear of doctors and hospitals, he sought medical help only when it was too late.  A rare form of leukemia was diagnosed only days before his death on December 27, 1926.  He was just 51 years old.  Many of the French poems were found among his papers and published posthumously.  “My Body,” a poem from “Orchards,” was published by Gallimard in 1926.

 

Rainer Maria Rilke (poet), born in 1875 to a German-speaking family in Prague, was a prolific poet, essayist, critic and correspondent who never did anything but write.  Well-known for his restlessness, he often became dissatisfied with his current “home” sometimes only days after moving there with his custom-made standing desk.  Among many other places, he lived in Paris, most notably in 1902-03 when he worked for Auguste Rodin.  Inspired by the great sculptor, he began to look with an artist’s eye at objects, developing a new lyrical style in his so-called Dinggedichte, “thing poems.”  During the last years of his life he lived mostly in Muzot, Switzerland where he wrote over 325 poems in French.  Rilke died of leukemia in December, 1926.

 

Susanne Petermann (translator) graduated with a B.A. in German and French from Macalester College in 1979.  She spent almost a decade traveling in Europe and teaching English in Morocco before returning to the USA.   After discovering Rainer Maria Rilke’s French poems in 1994, she began to re-translate them, while also writing original poetry and essays on the relationship between healing and writing.  Her translations have appeared in Transference, Agni, Epiphany, Solstice, Jung Journal of Culture and Psyche, Inventory, and Rhino, among others.  Her forthcoming book When I Go (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR) is a selection of 125 translations of Rilke’s French poems.  She works as a personal organizer in southern Oregon.

 

My Body

How sweet sometimes to agree with you,
O my body, my elder brother,
how sweet to be strong
with your strength,
to feel you, leaf, branch and bark
and all that you are still becoming,
you, so close to the spirit,

so free, so at one
with the obvious joy
of being this tree of gestures.
You slow heaven down
for a moment, and give it
a place to call home.

 

 

27

Qu’il est doux parfois d’être de ton avis,
frère aîné, ô mon corps,
qu’il est doux d’être fort
de ta force,
de te sentir feuille, tige, écorce
et tout ce que tu peux devenir encor,
toi, si près de l’esprit.

Toi, si franc, si uni
dans ta joie manifeste
d’être cet arbre de gestes
qui, un instant, ralentit
les allures célestes
pour y placer sa vie.

Donna Vorreyer

Donna Vorreyer is the author of Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (Sundress Publications, 2016) and A House of Many Windows (Sundress Publications, 2013) as well as seven chapbooks, most recently Encantado, a collaboration with artist Matt Kish from Redbird Chapbooks. She serves as the reviews editor for Stirring: A Literary Collection and teaches middle school in the Chicago suburbs

 

Like Tree Rings, We Count the Years

We hike the forest after fires, trunks
and brush blackened, consider
the cobbled streets we left behind,
their curves cold and confusing.
We embrace instead this chaos, ash
against the rusted undergrowth,
a darkness that coaxes us to wander,
branches hovering close but out
of reach. We swing our arms, unleash
our caged tongues to share a laugh.

I recall the casual courtship of us
clasped ragged, dirty with days
of dust, our hands threaded, a bag
of down to cover us, sweat stiffening
our clothes. Our smooth-skinned
bodies in the morning cold among
the trees. But I cannot conceive
of this cool youth any longer, can
only dream it under these clouds
that threaten but bring no rain.

We stack and restack rocks,
uncover what is hidden from the eye,
barnacled geodes whose insides dazzle
only when the crust is breeched. Words
unsaid simmer beneath fleece, stoke
our private refineries. We make camp
and, in the chill, the tinder catches.
We bank the flame, careful to contain it.
Warming, we peel each other open,
astonished that we still shine.

Anna Akhmatova

Anna Akhmatova (poet) was a leading Acmeist whose poems were sensationally popular during the early twentieth century. After the Bolshevik revolution, her personal life and public career went from crisis to crisis. She was effectively barred from publishing. She continued to write “for the bottom of her chest” as she said. Her third husband and adult son were imprisoned and sent to Siberia during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s. Her great poem “Requiem” reflects this experience. It circulated among friends and later in samizdat, but was not published in the Soviet Union until the “thaw” of the 1950s. In 1942 she began her long masterpiece Poem Without a Hero, which occupied her for much of the rest of her life. After Stalin’s death, she was gradually rehabilitated and her work was again widely published in the Soviet Union.

 

Domenic Scopa (translator) is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the 2014 recipient of the Robert K. Johnson Poetry Prize and Garvin Tate Merit Scholarship. He holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. His poetry and translations have been featured in Poetry Quarterly, Reed Magazine, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Belleville Park Pages, and many others. He is currently an adjunct professor for the Changing Lives Through Literature program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and at New Hampshire Technical Institute. His first book, Walk-in Closet (Yellow Chair Press), is forthcoming in 2017. He currently reads manuscripts for Hunger Mountain and Ink Brush Publications.

 

The Heart’s Memory of Sun…

The heart’s memory of sun fades.
Grass yellows.
Some snowflakes blow in the wind,
Faintly, gently.

The narrow stream no longer flow?
They’re frozen over.
Nothing ever happens here?
Nothing…

In the empty sky a willow spreads
Its bare-boned fan.
Maybe it’s better that I’m not
your wife.

The heart’s memory of sun fades.
What’s that??Darkness?
I don’t know. This night unravels
Winter.

Jessica Cuello

Jessica Cuello is the author of Pricking (Tiger Bark Press, 2016) and Hunt, winner of The 2016 Washington Prize from the Word Works. She was the winner of The 2013 New Letters Poetry Prize, a winner of LUMINA’s poetry contest (selected by Carolyn Forché), the recipient of a 2015 Saltonstall Writing Fellowship and the recipient of the 2014 Decker Award from Hollins University for outstanding teaching.

 

The Whale Looks at Painted Depictions of Herself: Moby Dick Chapter 55

I opened to a page and saw my face
my legs, my backside
My skin was paper, two-dimensional

I recognized the printed torso first,
before my own, which was underwater,
a room unlit, a room I never entered

Mirrors in the sea are iridescent
mirrors in the sea are other creatures
waving back silk arms, beckoning

They have pictures of me,
none of them right
I am the brain with two eyes

I am not a brain to stop burning
It formed inside my mother
and burst out, my cells multiplied

To dive is to capture light, paint me
down there on the ocean floor,
or paint my nursing eyes, retracted

What is a face? My eyes have focal length
They see your trajectory at sea, dotted lines
that crisscross like a lie

I never wore that color or lifted my teeth wide
I never went back and tore that rope
I never swallowed those men

They drew me bursting out of waves,
they watched me from the sidelines
I left my body and entered their eyes

and looked back at my flank
and looked back at the places
where the tools would probe,

the outline, the nipples for feeding,
the endometrium absorbed
I thought it was another just like me

circling in the water
pounding her tail for home
I didn’t burn their papers,

I looked for her, my lost mother
What is reflection?
I cannot live outside of water

Ian Randall Wilson

Ian Randall Wilson’s fiction and poetry have appeared in a number of literary journals including the North American Review, The Gettysburg Review and Alaska Quarterly Review. A short story collection, Hunger and Other Stories, was published by Hollyridge Press (2000). He has an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College, and is on the fiction faculty at the UCLA Extension.

 

Anniversary

The hours toss off the words’ imprint
easy as rain.

No boy.
No everything.

All the useful data has been collected.
Now plastic rules the night.

The newest statues in the square
are artificial.

Budget constraints in the new millennium.  We will be
separated and catalogued.  Replaced.

Tomorrow prefaces its arrival with fire.
In the final quarter minute spirit turns weightless.

Out there in the park all the voices have stopped
and the citizens are milling aimlessly.

The blackbirds who nest in the trees
are scolding them.

We have reached
the threshold of repetition.

Words toss off
the rain’s impressions.

Who knows what to do
or when to do it?

Some of us will deliberate.
Some will act

At sea level far too long
a few men look backward toward the heights.

I have opened the drawers
and cannot find what I am looking for.

I have examined the foundations
and they are cracked.

Any man would be a fool
to buy this place.

Any man would be a fool
to stay.

The elevator drops without reservations.
The doors refuse to lock.

The lights providing order
are flashing in distress.

When I was a boy I imagined
buildings of great size.

Seen from the recesses of outer space
they are quite small.

The earth no more than a marble
in a terrifying beautiful spin.

Marilyn Kallet

Marilyn Kallet has published 17 books, including The Love That Moves Me, poetry from Black Widow Press. She has translated Paul Eluard’s Last Love Poems, Péret’s The Big Game, and co-edited and co-translated Chantal Bizzini’s Disenchanted City (with J. Bradford Anderson and Darren Jackson.) Dr. Kallet is Nancy Moore Goslee Professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Each spring she leads poetry workshops for VCCA-France in Auvillar. She has performed her poems on campuses and in theaters across the United States as well as in France and Poland, as a guest of the U.S. Embassy’s “America Presents” program; recently she performed with Ivy Writers Paris bilingual poets series, and with Plume at Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris.

 

Paris Elegy

On Rue Bichat
on the shattered street
you want a poem

for Friday.
I have only
words

that hang heavy
in the air
like church bells.

129.
129.
129.

Notre Dame
stays locked
until Thursday.

A precaution,
you understand.
Words?

I have Sunday
blue sky above
the Seine,

police boats
and foot patrols,
grumpy tourists

who “came all this way”
and can’t enter
la Chapelle.

I have one family
at home
in Tennessee,

another here,
in Paris,
smaller now,

reduced to long echoes,
130
low sounds.

 

 

Ode to a Lost Poet

You abandoned me
during the worst violence
Paris has known

since World War II.
You are no
friend,

no human.
True, humans
do this.

And worse.
Worse.
You are no longer

a poet.
Poets must have heart.
True, some

manage words
without love
or courage.

The moment you
were not center
stage, you backed

out.
No word.
I sat alone in

Hotel Quartier Latin
watching the loop
of butchery on TV.

You created
a black hood of
silence for yourself.

“You can read
if you want to,” you emailed, at last.
“But my poetry must wait

for a more tranquil time.”
I was strapped into the plane
at LaGuardia on

9/11, waiting
to take off.
Sorry, the pilot said.

Now I’m here,
in our beloved Paris.
Writers and friends do not wait.

Delaville Café
stays well-lit, open for poetry, camaraderie.
The amps have been plugged in.

The audience wants words: comfort, rage,
anything. Attendre? They attend.
“We need to laugh!” someone says.

Down the road, Place de la République
is packed, despite warnings.
Almost midnight: friends and strangers

raise candles, compose notes.
Wait for peace?
Yours will be long, Madame.

Your poems can
rest, tranquil as dust,
as a drug.

You lost me
in the dark night
of treachery

and self-love.

Nancy Chen Long

nancychenlongNancy Chen Long is the author of Light into Bodies, winner of the 2016 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry (forthcoming, University of Tampa Press, 2017) and the chapbook Clouds as Inkblots for the War Prone (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2013). You’ll find her recent and forthcoming work in Crab Orchard Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Pleiades, Bat City Review, the Anthology of Contemporary Indiana Writers, and elsewhere. Nancy received a BS in Electrical Engineering Technology and an MBA, worked as an electrical engineer, software consultant, and project manager, and more recently earned an MFA. She lives in south-central Indiana and works at Indiana University. www.nancychenlong.com

 

nancy-chen-long-poem

Barbara Sabol

barbara-sabolBarbara Sabol is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Original Ruse (Accents Publishing) and The Distance between Blues (Finishing Line Press). Her work has most recently appeared in The Examined Life, San Pedro River Review, Ekphrasis, Common Ground Review, Pentimento, Chrysanthemum, Modern Haiku, and Pudding Magazine, as well as in a handful of anthologies. Barbara holds an MFA from Spalding University. She won the Jean Irion Prize in poetry in 2014. Barbara reviews poetry books for the blog, Poetry Matters. She is a speech therapist who lives and works in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio with her husband and wonder dogs.

 

Echolocation

Sound prevails under the ice small light in the depths—where
the beluga travels, north to Cook Inlet. Apart from mating, breath
her strongest instinct; Eskimo, spear, an afterthought. The burden of ice
is relieved by the echoes of her twitter-clicks, telling her here is a sliver
of open water, here is your breathing. The ice-bound ocean her intimate
aquaria, the white whale navigates the margins of air and water.

Above the ice the polar bear waits, waits for the streak of white to pass
beneath his paws, for the first pulse of water between the floes. He is learning
to decipher her song, learning exactly where to stop, when to scoop his great
foreleg against her heft. But this one, ah, she has tuned her voice not only
to the air above, but to what it shapes itself around, and with that knowledge
she swims backwards, holding her breath.

Sarah Nix

sarah-nixSarah Nix is a writer and artist living in Cincinnati, Ohio. She received a BFA in 2006 from Herron School of Art and Design. Her poetry has appeared in CALYX Journal, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and Sugared Water. Her blog is sarahonpaper.blogspot.com.

 

 

The Easel

Where paint
dripped
where his brush
missed the canvas
or color
rubbed off the edges
where each
of his pictures
left its mark

 

 

Museum Pieces

Cup, Sasanian Period

When he brought its lip
to his lips, he closed his eyes.

He could not see
thousands would come to look

into the void of its mouth.

 

Egyptian Cuff

For how many years
did it clasp
her wrist like a hand?
Come here.

Don’t leave us with this
emptiness.

 

Dutch Timepiece, 17th Century

pinned open like a specimen.

 

Bowl, Song Dynasty

White pedestal,
glass case.

The way we imagine
it held by hands.

The way
it will never be again.

 

 

Seascape

This is the dark butterfly of the mountain,
its image rippled in the water.

The rocky coastline softened
by fog.

The instance we knew iridescence:
close-up of the beach, fragments of shells.

And this—taken just before
my hat flew into the wind

and was lost to the ocean.
Let it go. Forget

the rust-bitten signs,
tangles of power lines.
How we framed out the crowds,
the traffic and trash, our quarreling.

This is the mountain. Fog.
My dress in full bloom. Our wind-

posed hair. These are clouds,
trees. This is the sea.

Triin Paja

Triin Paja is an Estonian, living in a small village in rural Estonia. Her poetry has appeared in The Moth, BOAAT, Otis Nebula, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Gloom Cupboard, The Missing Slate, and elsewhere.

 

Murmuration

you say its kindness, the way dusk gathers 
its skirt-hems, walks to the wheat field, 
leaves. how a cat leaves an old woman’s lap,
ribbons of light fluttering in the wind.
kindness, you say, as the sun disappears in
your throat, leaving me beneath the grey belly
of the whale-sky. I hear spring shatter its
perfume bottle, the clouds clinging to tin roofs
with soft hands. I have kissed your hands.
when we cannot speak, we press our bare skin
against silence’s bare skin—I want to say
when you die they will not find blood but birds 
in the body. how kindness is always forgiveness,
the thrushes covering us with the insect netting
of their song. how somewhere we pearl into
a bone-white memory, rising, collapsing,
like a lover’s breathing after a vodka-darkened
night, after the ghost of the orgasm leaves us.
how somewhere the stones are writing us,
the dandelions flickering in a kind of light.

 

Thanatos

we hear the conversation between the wind,
the reeds. we hear the church bells where
there is no church. we’ve come here to be
forgotten, here, where the deer touches
the mildewed stones. the linen of fog
dresses the river—the river Lethe
running through our bodies
when we touch. this light of bodies,
flickering, climbing into the night
of another’s limbs, the moss of skin.
you say the world has become Lethe.
you say, and the bird of your voice grows old,
the wings spread slowly. you enter me
as one enters a river, your warmth on my skin
like paint. you say the speed of forgetting is a river,
your wheat-bruised hands in a mustard field of light.
when I touch you in the river, I do not know
if it is you I touch or the water.
are you a river? are you a dream?
your pulse in the river

like a blue stone, like a song.

 

Senescence

the wine begins to glow like a gas lamp inside us
because in this city no one has hands. we saw the boy
with the purple scarf. his silhouette was a monolithic statue. 
the vegetables begin to rot. we forget the nightmares
of the oiled seagulls. how our mothers waited for hours
for the sugar, the flour, beneath the moth-flickering factory light.
there are nights when the lilium becomes the moon.
the hair of the wheat swells in the snow and we become
what the crows didn’t take with them. someone cries
in the tractor shed but here I am washing your back.
I gather up the yarn, the mandarin peels. moon-soaked, desperate,
our memories begin to disappear like elephants from ancient china.
to be this feral with emptiness. to come to you as to a body
tied to an oak tree. the paint of your name peeling from the walls.
the moon clinging to a branch like a luminous owl. the river
where I gave names to your bones. a polaroid of Rome.
a boy, a man. a hand, trembling, and trembling.

Sherry Chandler

Sherry Chandler has published four collections of poetry, most recently The Woodcarver’s Wife. Her work has received three nominations for a Pushcart Prize. Individual poems have been published in the Louisville Review, the Cortland Review, The William and Mary Review, and other periodicals and anthologies. Her website is http://www.sherrychandler.com.

 

 

 

Annie Hinkle

annie-hinkleAnnie Hinkle‘s poetry is published in Ascent, Mid-American Review, Best of Ohio 2014, Express Cincinnati, and Southern Poetry Review. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Miami University and a PhD from University of Kent, Canterbury, England. When she is not writing poetry or fiction, she is teaching high school language arts and directing The Writing Center at Ursuline Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her poetry chapbook, Composition Studies, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

 

annie-hinkle-poem

Bruce Bond

bruce-bondBruce Bond is the author of sixteen books including, most recently, For the Lost Cathedral (LSU Press, 2015), The Other Sky (Etruscan Press, 2015), Immanent Distance: Poetry and the Metaphysics of the Near at Hand (University of Michigan Press, 2015), Black Anthem (Tampa Review Prize, University of Tampa Press, 2016), and Gold Bee (Crab Orchard Open Competition Award, Southern Illinois University Press, 2016), Three of his books are forthcoming:  Blackout Starlight: New and Selected Poems 1997-2015 (E. Phillabaum Award, LSU Press), Sacrum (Four Way Books), and Dear Reader (Free Verse Editions, Parlor Press).  Presently he is Regents Professor at University of North Texas.

 

New Moon

Then my teacher told me to close my eyes
and observe the observer of the observer

and so on, down the long path of seeing,
the chiaroscuro of thought in the distance

like a field of starlight when the power goes.
See the seer, she said, and as I breathed

in waves against the dark, I saw my teacher.
I saw her porch lit with prayer flags

from Tibet: a light wind in the word flag,
a lighter word in the wind departing.

How it all fit in there, I will never know:
the flags, the words, the black canvas starred

in needles.  And her, or my idea of her,
descending the stairs on her mechanical

chair devised for those who suffer daily
steps and thresholds beyond my understanding.

She told me once, you hear a note a suffering
in the higher resonance of laughter.

I confess.  I do not hear the better half
of what I hear, though I feel the pull there

of missing things, of earth and its burden
beneath the pale lamentation of waves.

She is gone now.  And shows up every time
I see a chair like this.  I hear her curse

her feet of stone, not knowing I am there.
God, she says softly to herself.

They say the new moon can be traced in
the faint deflected sunrays of the planet.

That the sky we see is always bigger
than how we see it.  Stars and mirrors.

Stars and dead stars.  Tell me, teacher
in your field on fire.  What else is there.

Anastasia Afanasieva

Translators’ Note:

Context is helpful in reading the poem. This poem refer to the war currently taking place in the Donbass region of Ukraine. Thousands of people have been killed, displaced and otherwise traumatized by the armed conflict, as Russia prefers to call it, between pro-Russian separatists, who are backed by Russian troops and the Ukrainian armed forces. Russia denies its involvement in the war.

 

Born in 1982, Anastasia Afanasieva (author) lives in Kharkiv, Ukraine, and writes poetry and prose in Russian. She is the author of six books and the winner of numerous major literary awards and prizes, including the Debut Prize and the Russian Award. Her poetry has been translated into English, German, Italian, Ukrainian and Belarusian. In the US, her poems in translation have appeared in Cimarron Review, Jacket Magazine and Blue Lyra Review. She is the translator of Ilya Kaminsky’s book Music of the Wind (Ayluros, 2012). Afanasieva’s poem “Untitled,” in English translation by Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky, won First Place in the 2014 Joseph Brodsky / Stephen Spender Prize Competition.

 

Olga Livshin (co-translator) holds a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literature and taught Russian at the University of Alaska Anchorage and Boston University. Her poetry and translations are published in Mad Hatters’ Review, Jacket Magazine and Breakwater Review, among other journals. They are included in Contemporary Russian Poetry: An Anthology, The Anthology of Chicago and the Persian World Anthology of Poetry (in Persian translation). She lives in Philadelphia.

 

Andrew Janco (co-translator) is a Digital Scholarship Librarian at Haverford College. He holds a PhD in History from the University of Chicago. With Olga Livshin, he has translated a number of Russian poets. His translations are published in Contemporary Russian Poetry: An Anthology and several journals.

 

She Speaks

1.

I’m fed up with my own fear
Tired of living in a pigsty
Garbage trucks don’t come anymore
They fear gunfire
So much trash
It’s just not right
Rusty cans
Brown rusty cans on white
Snow

Who will take them away if not us?
Are we supposed to live in a landfill?
We walk across the field like living targets
Picking up cans,
Putting them in trash bags,
Rusty cans
Wedding bands
Vests
Boxes
The crows’ black bodies
These bodies our own
Scattered remains

Fed up with my own fear
Fear also reaches some kind of limit
After which something begins
It’s something else
Dances with rusty cans in a white field
Housecleaning
Laundry
Snuggling in our sleep
Up to a certain moment
When time flares up like paper
Then crumbles into bits of ash
But there’s no more fear
Never again will there be
Fear

 

2.

She speaks, lit by winter sunshine,
The picture smears, disappears
Now only static remains,
Her words peck me like crows,
Peck at my heart, fed up with my own fear
Fed up with my own fear
Fed up with my own fear,

In a field
Half-eaten
By shell craters
As if by smallpox

She stands
With a shovel
And a bag
Full of trash

An interview
A blue microphone

Fed up with my own fear

Life beyond fear
Fearlessness on the verge of death

 

 

“I Used to Like…”

I used to like
the way time holds a note,
the way leaves play adagio,
the tired way a man unbuttons his shirt,
his hands seem to plod through the sluggish air.

I used to like
imaginary camel caravans trekking sleepily,
yellow like sand, endless,
like the desert.

I used to like
how gradually morning develops,
how new light, seemingly a new chance,
rises above the horizon,
I used to think,

next time
I’ll be adagio too
I’ll be holding a note

next time I, too,
will be without error
like the perfect mechanisms
of sand and leaves
and everything else

next time,
next
new
chance

Will Wells

Will Well‘s most recent book of poetry, Unsettled Accounts won the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize and was published by Ohio University/Swallow Press in 2010. He continues to publish widely, often on Jewish themes and was pleased to discover Blue Lyra Review at session of AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs). He recently has been a Fellow at Sewanee Writers’ Conference and West Chester Poetry Conference and won a 2016 Individual Artist Excellence award in poetry from the Ohio Arts Council.  

                                   

Beneath the Seal, Ferrara

Plaster tablets in Ferrara’s Jewish
Archive once served as seals for Jewish tombs.
If medical students scavenged for fresh
corpses to dissect, families would assume
no remedy from the Catholic courts,
but could haggle with doctors for the scraps.
A broken seal meant go, collect the parts.
For any absent bits, God must mend the lapse

at the end of days, or so the second seal
implores.  Still missing, unabated grief,
suspended by the haste to strike a deal.
These exchanges compounded as beliefs –
to spurn the lesser offer; to hold fast
to whatever they could; to make things last.

 

 

Under an Amulet, Venice Ghetto

for Dr. Leonard Rothman

The midwife’s assistant stood across the room
and raised a Torah scroll.  It gave devout
focus through labor, a hedge against doom.
The air was suffused with scents of stewed fruit
from the pan beneath the bed, bait set to
distract demon Lilith from causing harm.
Adam’s first wife, she haunted the Ghetto,
seeking vengeance, though subject to the charm,

like her sister, Eve, of forbidden fruit.
On the mounded belly, the midwife placed
a scrap from a worn-out scroll, believing it
would leach good luck into the womb.  She faced
the wall for modesty, but used frank hands
to part the waters to a promised land.

Tim Mayo

Tim Mayo Tim Mayo’s poems and reviews have appeared in Narrative Magazine, Poetry International, Poet Lore, River Styx, Salamander, San Pedro River Review, Tar River Poetry, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verse Daily, Web Del Sol Review of Books, and The Writer’s Almanac. His first full-length collection, The Kingdom of Possibilities, was published by Mayapple Press in 2009. His second volume of poems, Thesaurus of Separation, is forthcoming from Phoenicia Publishing in July 2016. A five-time Pushcart Prize Nominee, and a top finalist for the Paumanok Award, Mayo lives in Brattleboro, Vermont.

 

The Mussel Pickers

Out of the belch and foam of whales,
the slap and splash of the big fin,
out of the ambergris depths
of the great leviathans, comes the moment
they have waited for.

Out of the pop and dip of harbor seals,
their bobbing heads’ glistening black sheen,
out of the chop and lurch of the big waves,
they see the sea’s slow, slate-colored ebb,
its weakening recession at dusk or dawn,
and the impoverished bounty of brown
appear.

Out of the feather-green of the bayside grasses,
out of the spiked bastions of fir and spruce,
they come descending the granite-gray cliffs
down to the jagged depths of rock and water,
and there . . . amid the foam-lathered and steepled stone,

they cut free the salt-raw tangles of filaments,
their thongy, ragged lengths from the bastioned boulders,
and tugging the barnacled-white and steel-blue shells
by the rough tendrils of their anchors, they raise
the dangling clusters: skyward, blue-ward and to the clouds,
then, from the salt-grit and slick of this unearthing,
they, once again, trumpet and proclaim:

Blessed are the animals of the sea
the fast fin and leap of those that swim,
the slime and squeeze of the slow ones,
and the calcified castles of the immovable.

Blessed are the pluck and harvest,
the brine-becoming-beauty and taste of them.
Blessed, blessed, are we, the mollusk-eaters,
our slurp and drool––even the lip-smackers among us,
for they, too, have touched the beards of mussels.

Lori Desrosiers

Lori Desrosiers’ poetry books are The Philosopher’s Daughter, (Salmon Poetry, 2013), a chapbook, Inner Sky (Glass Lyre Press), and a new full-length book of poems, Sometimes I Hear the Clock Speak (Salmon Poetry, 2016). Her poems have appeared in New Millenium Review, Contemporary American Voices, Best Indie Lit New England, Blue Fifth Review, Pirene’s Fountain, The Mom Egg, The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish-American Poetry and many other journals and anthologies. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She edits Naugatuck River Review, a journal of narrative poetry. She teaches Literature and Composition at Westfield State University and Holyoke Community College, and Poetry in the Interdisciplinary Studies program for the Lesley University MFA graduate program.

 

Salt

Nobody puts their children on a boat unless the water is safer than the land

Warsan Shire

We have forgotten how
our mothers left their fathers’ lands
crossed uneven planking
onto vessels of doubt.

Suffered salt water, heat
and loneliness
in bruised pursuit
of promises

stored like seeds beneath
sore, weathered feet
calloused on that long walk
from shore to shore.

They believed the sea
would heal them
from ravages of war
or deluge of hunger.

We their children
ignore the documents
forged in congresses
argued in assemblies

call new immigrants
criminals and job-stealers
make them flee to other lands
despite their families waiting

like our mothers’ mothers
waited to take their daughters
in their arms
to hold them again.

Instead, children’s bodies
wash up on a Turkish beach
a family rejected
by mounds of Canadian red tape.

Patrick Venturella

(Patrick Venturella needs bio)

The Geologist

watches fog
slide across the lake
phantom tectonic

plates congeal into continents
then dissipate     mountains
thrust skyward then evaporate

a gust of wind
a species of ghost
goes extinct

he feels orogenies     erosions
decay laced November
air lithifies his bones

and time peels
back layers of skin

 

 

The Lake Is Ink

spilled on ice
and Tom tells funny
stories with his hands

the camp fire
throws his shadow
against the limestone

cliff and his silhouette
hunts mammoths
and builds pyramids

his silhouette illuminates
scripture and starts
its own blog

and I’m not sure
if the heat
is coming from the fire

or your body
but our laughter

entwines     moves
through the blackness

Kate Fadick

14045884_10207144681075297_5929168136342785178_nKate Fadick began working seriously as a poet in 2009.  Prior to then, she worked with rural and urban Appalachian communities on issues of environmental and economic justice. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Still: The Journal, Indianola Review, Kudzu, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, Wind ’97, Blue Lyra Review and other journals. Slipstream, her first chapbook, was released by Finishing Line Press in March, 2013.  She lives in Cincinnati, OH with her partner of 25 years.

 

When Hildegard cannot sleep

she stays up
all night       hidden in the branches
only she can see

and when
she tires of darkness

color spills from her eyes
into the wind

the sky fills
with blue flame

gentle as breath

her words
once empty shells
begin to sing

and the sweet ache
rises in my throat

 

 

In my dream of Hildegard

we turn to face the worst
our kind can do

our bodies the spinning
death of stars

woven with all that lives

a fragile weft of green
runs dull through her fingers

the yes of her eyes
enough of  a prayer

 

 

When Hildegard drops
a blue sapphire into her wine…

strobes and circles
fill her mind’s eye

she sings her unresolved
modes        breathless

sketches visions on wax
as she sits

on the slash
between either / or

Elhanan Nir

elhanan-nirElhanan Nir (author) has published three books of poetry: Begging for Intimacy (2008), The Ordinary Fire (2011) and He Who is under the Rubble (2014). He has been awarded a number of international and Israeli literary honors including: the Wertheim Prize (2008), the Ramat Gan Poetry Prize (2010), the Prime Minister’s Prize (2011), Isaac Leib and Rachel Goldberg Prize from the Jewish National Fund (2014), the Posen Prize (2014), and the Haim Kugel Prize (2016). He is a Rabbi and teacher at Yeshivat Yitzhak Siach and Machanaim, and editor at M’kor Rishon. Elhanan lives in Jerusalem with his wife and four children.

 

ross-weissmanRoss Weissman (translator) recently completed a master’s degree from Harvard University, where he now works as a Teaching Fellow. His poetry and its translation are published and forthcoming in the Caliban Magazine, Ezra, and Lunch Ticket. Ross was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA.

 

This Winter

This winter I need a mom

and there are many reasons why,

I only understand a few.

This winter I shiver like every winter

and I really must have a mom on days

the whole orphan in me shakes

and I have no prayer-walls

to shield me from the downpour of loneliness

 

 

 

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