Tag Archives: poetry

Shatha Abu Hnaish

Translator’s Note:

Noor and I were interested in translating this particular book of poems for a few reasons. The first, of course, is that we genuinely admire the poems and feel they have important things to say about love, and relationships, and the hard work of being human. We were also interested in what these poems from this young poet could contribute to the portrait being offered to the world of Arabs in general, and of Arab women in particular. We were looking for poems that went beyond the political to the personal, poems that allow a reader to see a whole, complex person rather than a sort of paper doll.  

 

Shatha Abu Hnaish (poet) was born in 1987 in Nablus, Palestine and earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Al-Najah National Universtiy. She has written poetry since childhood, and her work has been widely published in journals throughout the Arab World.

 

Francesca Bell (co-translator) poems appear in many journals, including B O D Y, New Ohio Review, North American Review, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, Spillway, Tar River Poetry and Zone 3. Her work has been nominated eight times for the Pushcart Prize, and she won the 2014 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor from Rattle. Her translations appear in Berkeley Poetry Review, Circumference | Poetry in Translation, The Global Journal of Literary Studies, and Laghoo. She is the Marin Poetry Center’s Events Coordinator and the Poetry Editor of River Styx.

 

Noor Nader Al Abed (co-translator) is Jordanian. He teaches English to 11th and 12th grade boys at a secondary school outside Amman. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from Zarqa Private University and his master’s degree in English Literature from Arab Open University. His translations appear in Berkeley Poetry Review, Circumference | Poetry in Translation, The Global Journal of Literary Studies, and Laghoo.

 

Alienation

This lonely wooden bench
is a branch
severed
from a tree

 

 

Shatha Abu Hnaish Poem

 

Rasool Yoonan

Rasool Yoonan (poet) was born in 1969 in Urmia, Iran. His first poetry collection, Good Day My Dear, was published in 1998. Other collections include Concert in HellI Was a Bad BoyCarrying the Piano Down the Stairs of an Icy Hotel, and Be CarefulAnts Are Coming. With his poetry drenched in minimalism, suspense and wit, Yoonan is currently the most widely read living poet inside Iran. Good Day My Dear, was published in 1998. Other collections include Concert in HellI Was a Bad BoyCarrying the Piano Down the Stairs of an Icy Hotel, and Be CarefulAnts Are Coming. With his poetry drenched in minimalism, suspense and wit, Yoonan is currently the most widely read living poet inside Iran.

 

Born and raised in Iran, Siavash Saadlou (translator) is a writer, literary translator, editor, and interpreter. He is the authorized translator of the minimalist Iranian poet Rasool Yoonan, and his translations have been published or are forthcoming in Washington Square Review, Indian Review, Visions International, and Asymptote. Saadlou is currently an MFA Creative Writing candidate and a teaching fellow at Saint Mary’s College of California.

 

Fire and human
is an incongruous collocation.

I, for one,
from this flaming fire,
amidst dreams and affections,
won’t make it back in one piece.
My return
is going to be melancholic.

I wish I were like naan.
How gloriously it returns
from the journey of fire.

 

Footnote: Bakeries in Iran have a big, round oven in which there is a flaming fire. After the dough is flattened and prepared, it is put inside the oven for one or two minutes, and the result that comes out is a freshly-baked naan.

 

Try

to come to terms with everything.
Don’t run away.
The earth
is stupidly round.

Jóanes Nielsen

Jóanes Nielsen (poet) is a former dockworker turned political activist and writer. He is one of the leading figures in contemporary Faroese* literature. Nielsen has published seventeen books including the novel Brahmadellarnir that was nominated for the 2013 Nordic Counsel’s Literary Prize and is forthcoming in English from Open Letter.

 

Matthew Landrum (translator) is the translation editor of Structo Magazine. His translations have recently appeared in The Michigan Quarterly Review, RHINO, and The Notre Dame Review. Landrum lives in Detroit.

 

Burnt Out Light

Moths flit around burnt out lightbulbs.
In the same way
We, ourselves, are searching.

 

 

SLØKT PERA

Flugan leitar eftir sløktu peruni
Nakað soleiðis
Leita vit sjálvi

 

*Faroese is a North Germanic language spoken as a native language by about 66,000 people, 45,000 of whom reside on the Faroe Islands and 21,000 in other areas, mainly Denmark. The language is descended from Old West Norse spoken in the Middle Ages.

Leonard Neufeldt

Leonard Neufeldt, son a refugee parents, is the author of seven books of poetry.  His latest collection, Painting Over Sketches of Anatolia, appeared last year.  He hails from British Columbia and now resides in Gig Harbor, WA.

 

Letters from the Ghetto

Words, only a few,
penciled in the cramped left margin
of the page, and of the next letter,
the characters minuscule,
half-formed, almost horizontal
and gathered like hurried ellipses,
the indecipherable interrupting
an off-white quiet
with a disordered feeling of time,
here and there the start of a flourish
to distract you from finding out
how much graphite has vanished,
how many the spaces where the pencil
tip left a scar

Even if you could make out the names
as you hold the page to the light,
what difference would that make?
but you’ve let them change
everything else on the page
with a pain much older
than you, a pain that breathes prayers
like unaccountable gaps waiting
for something to follow, no matter
the lost words

M. L. Brown

M. L. BrownM. L. Brown is the author of Drought, winner of the Claudia Emerson Poetry Chapbook Award, forthcoming from jmww in 2016. Her poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies including Blackbird, PMS PoemMemoirStory, Gertrude, Calyx, and Not Somewhere Else, But Here: a Contemporary Anthology of Women and Place. Formerly a grassroots organizer, M. L. Brown devotes her time, when not working to her poetry and raising funds for a nonprofit health care clinic.

 

M. L. Brown (When Girls Swim)

Laurie Macfee

Laurie Macfee currently lives and writes in Vermont, and works at the Vermont Studio Center. She received her MFA Creative Writing in poetry from Sierra Nevada College in 2015. She is a guest poetry co-editor at Green Mountains Review and a past poetry editor of the Sierra Nevada Review. Her publications include Forklift, Ohio; Big Bell; Brushfire; and the anthology Change in the American West.

 

Bone Music

If you’re the man I think you are
we’ll press our ashes in vinyl.
Make bone music, sound labyrinths
etched like ribs around transparent lungs,
manicured by scissors used for cutting
cuticles to the quick. Central burn
a slow cigarette after the scratched rhythm
of blues in a hidden kitchen bubbling
with vodka, stew, your skeleton a bootleg:
metatarsals, scapula and clavicle,
sacrum nestled to a beat boy thrum.
I’ll stand on your feet as we dance
in the library. No police to forbid
an Underwood, Royals free to miter and clack
under phalanges blown pinwheel
and sideways. One couch. Two lamps,
pound cats, a mutt with brown eyes,
the golden dog walked daily. Journey’s End.
If you’re the man, I’ll trace uncensored circles
on your back, dissident x-rays.
You’ll take illegal notes, vowels howling,
our tongues a record, another tattoo.
My coat. Your mandible. Song.

Gopika Jadeja

Gopika Jadeja publishes and edits a print journal and a series of pamphlets for a performance-publishing project called Five Issues. A recipient of the Charles Wallace Scholarship for Creative Writing, Gopika is also a translator. Her poetry and translations have been published in journals and magazines like Indian Literature, The Wolf, The Four Quarters Magazine, Asymptote, Vahi, etc. She writes in Gujarati as well, and is currently working on a project of English translations of poetry from Gujarat.

 

Newsprint in the dark

And I beside you am
stripped and stripped and stripped to luxuriant bone…
Agha Shahid Ali

Waking too late in the morning or not
having slept at all, you insist on reading
all the newspapers before going to bed.

I can hear the sound of the crashing train
bomb blast in your head. I smell the prison
sentence, custody death in your breath.

On your skin, I feel the water closing over
swathes of villages, big dams sinking dreams
I drown with you, surface again, float 

I taste the newsprint on your fingers
that too late trace my body almost asleep.
I sink with you into our shared darkness.

I clutch at you, we clutch at each other
emerge into the night singing
our darkness.

Stephanie Roberts

stephanie_roberts_poetstephanie roberts is an interdisciplinary artist whose poetry has been featured or is forthcoming in issues of Contemporary Verse 2 and A Literation Magazine. Originally from Brooklyn, she lives in a wee town just outside of Montréal.

 

 

People Believing Badly

those of us who’ve seen miracles know how to ask.
if you’ve asked, do you love me, i almost certainly
do not love you. and if,
in a flu-ish bout of poor judgement,
i’ve asked likewise then,
like death and taxes, by now you’ve retired
with fire, to your silent
battle station. be that as it is.

we agree, without asking, to say nothing about all this strident
confused unbelief, keeping our conversations
to the whether [sic] and that guy who can swallow
a rubik’s cube, through his mustard-colored disaster of teeth,
solving the puzzle of it (via revolting convolutions in gut)
before regurgitation. i bet that guy believes in i love you.
i bet that guy asks for anything he wants.

Ivonne Gordon Carrera

Translator’s Note:

A translator is like a mirror. The translator reflects the strengths and weakness of a poem, as well as the light within the poem. When I translate, I first read the poems out loud in Spanish to get the tone and the sound. I read the rough English translation Ivonne provides. Then I research the topic she is writing about and explore the English language to bring her words to life. I write the poem in English. Then I return to the Spanish and her English renditions to make sure I am saying what she meant. I have had to cut some lines because they are not what she is saying. It’s a dance between meaning, sound, and mood. Ivonne’s voice is different from my own poetic voice. I enjoy getting into her head and exploring her world. The perspective is fresh for me. She is an amazing poet. It’s a challenge and fun to bring her work to life in a new language. It’s fun to get together to hear her read the poem in Spanish and then I read the translation for the first time.

 

Ivonne GordonIvonne Gordon Carrera (poet) creates art and writes in San Bernardino, CA. She brings myth to life in contemporary context. Cindy is the author of Quiet Lantern (Turning Point), spider with wings (Jamii Publishing), Breathe in Daisy, Breathe out Stones is forthcoming (FutureCycle Press), and she co-authored Speaking Through Sediment with Michael Cooper (ELJ Publications). Her poem, “Mapping” was nominated for the Liakoura Award by Pirene’s Fountain. She is a translator. Cindy is a founding member of PoetrIE, an Inland Empire based literary community. Her poetry appeared or is forthcoming in Driftwood Press, The Honest Ulsterman (Ireland), Naugatuck River Review, The Whirlwind Review, Birds Piled Loosely, and others. www.fiberverse.com

 

Cindy RinneCindy Rinne (translator) creates art and writes in San Bernardino, CA. She co-authored with Michael Cooper Speaking Through Sediment (ELJ Publications). Cindy’s book, Quiet Lantern, is forthcoming (Turning Point) and spider with wings is forthcoming (Jamii Publishing). Her poem, “Mapping” was nominated for the Liakoura Award by Pirene’s Fountain. Cindy is a founding member of PoetrIE, an Inland Empire based literary community. Cindy is an editor for “Tin Cannon” by PoetrIE. She is a translator. Her fiber art has appeared in Ghost Town Literary Magazine. Her poetry appeared or is forthcoming in Naugatuck River Review, Zoomoozophone, Indiana Voice Journal, Young Ravens Literary Review, Eternal Haunted Summer, Cactus Heart Press, The Wayfarer, Dual Coast Magazine, Artemis Journal, Meat for Tea, The Valley Review, and others. www.fiberverse.com

 

Tiger

The tiger owned all the letters of the primordial
alphabet. The tiger placed his lips on top of mine.
An unexplainable grammar sprung up. I entered a world
of sleeping mirrors. I hesitated between dangerous curves,
I saw myself without looking, I entered the tiger through my eyes.
I felt his heart roar the bellowing of all prophets.
The rain has no body, nor face. All is peeled off
leaving silence, hidden from nothingness. The tiger did not roar,
no drums nor quaking. My cupped hands savant omens and trances
as I caressed his face. An alphabet of circular signs seared
my senses. I was born from the tiger’s eye and my own.
I swallowed the rain of primordial letters. And in the center of the arcane,
I return without pausing to germínate in the midnight hours.

 

 

Tigre

El tigre posee todas las letras del alfabeto
primordial. El tigre posó sus labios sobre los míos.
Una gramática inexplicable surgió. Entrar en un mundo
de espejos dormidos. Vacilar en curvas peligrosas,
mirarme sin mirarme, entrar por mis ojos al tigre.
Sentir su corazón rugir el bramido de los profetas.
La lluvia no tuvo cuerpo, ni cara. Todo se volvió
silencio oculto de la nada. El tigre no rugió,
tambores, ni temblores. Con mis manos llenas
de augurios y huellas acaricié su rostro. Un abecedario
de signos circulares mugieron mis sentidos. Nací
de mi ojo, del ojo del tigre. Bebo lluvia de las letras
primordiales. Y en medio de lo arcano vuelvo
a germinar sin cesar en el centro de la noche.

Two of Cups Press

Spotlight on Two of Cups Press
 
Two of Cups Press

 

From Leigh Anne Hornfeldt:

“The idea of Two of Cups Press was something I had been toying with for several months in 2012. I’m a poet too and I know trying to find a home for manuscripts can be frustrating. I really wanted to create a space that felt welcoming and inclusive. My dream was for the poet to have lots of input in the publishing process – I want my poets to be in love with their books from cover to cover! I also wanted a platform to work with other presses and artists. It felt like a press of my own was the best way to do that. The final push came in late 2012 when my best friend (and amazing poet) Teneice Durrant and I decided we wanted to publish an anthology of bourbon poetry. (A subject near and dear to both our hearts.) That was really the birth of the press. Ever since it has been an absolute joy and privilege to work with so many amazing poets and artists.”

 

“Magic on Paper”: Two of Cups Press

Reviewed by Nettie Farris

Two of Cups Press takes its name from the eponymous Tarot Card, which signals union, or reconciliation. The press was founded in 2013 when Leigh Ann Hornfeldt and Teneice Durrant partnered in publishing the anthology Small Batch: An Anthology of Bourbon Poetry. This anthology consists of 62 poems by 53 poets. Approximately half of the authors are from Kentucky and half are from outside of Kentucky. The most moving poem in the collection is “The Housesitter’s Note,” by  Juliana Gray, a poem written in the form of a note from a house sitter who (in the process) has become part of the family. Upon hearing the news that the father of the owner of the house has died, the speaker of the poem responds:

I took the car, your good Kentucky bourbon
and drove out to the lake. I wept and drank
that warm bitterness, and when I smashed
the bottle on the rocks, the bits of glass
arced across the headlights’ yellow beam
like far-off shooting stars.

The Press is currently working on its second anthology, and plans to publish an anthology about every other year. Hornfeldt sees an anthology as “a sort of museum of poetry.” She appreciates a variety of “voices and approaches” and tries “to be a good curator of poetry when editing.”

Two of Cups holds an annual chapbook contest (between mid April and mid June). Hornfeldt, the press’s editor, likes the brevity of the chapbook form. She appreciates the way she can ”sit down and devour an entire collection and feel satiated yet also wanting more.” The Press has now held two annual chapbook contests. Things Hornfeldt looks for in a manuscript include: “fresh language, solid images, emotional honesty.” She also looks for “poems that take risks, poems that rattle around in [her] head long after reading them.” According to Gary Leising, finalist in the inaugural contest, Hornfeldt is “fantastic” to work with. She worked side-by-side throughout the entire publishing process with Leising, who concludes: “The press clearly cares deeply about its poets’ work.” This care shows in the product: beautiful flat-spine editions with exquisite cover art. Not only are these chapbooks aesthetically pleasing visually, they are quality collections of verbal art. Though diverse in theme and style, each chapbook promises a magical adventure through language.

This adventure is made possible through the partnership of poet and editor. Poet Christopher McCurry pronounces Leigh Anne Hornfeldt as committed to his book as he was. Leigh Ann Hornfeldt is herself a poet. She is the author of The Intimacy Archive and East Main Aviary and has received a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. A Kentucky native, she (and her press) now resides in North Carolina. She confesses that she has recently let her own poetry go by the wayside, but she has not neglected promoting the voices of other poets. Her press is a small operation. She responds to all correspondence herself, and personally attends to  every poem and manuscript submitted. In the words of Megan Hudgins, author of Crixa, she is “a true advocate of the word and the poet.” 

CrixaCrixa, by Megan Hudgins, won the inaugural chapbook contest in 2014. It is a small collection of poems that addresses big subjects. These poems are about life and death. These poems are primal. How fitting that the collection centers on the image of rabbits, which we associate with fecundity. The collection’s title is borrowed from the novel Watership Down by Richard Adams. The word crixa, a lapine word from this novel, refers to “the center of the Efrafa warren” the warren from which females are recruited in order to ensure survival at the new warren Watership Down. In effect, the title refers to a sort of spring, or well, of fertility (or at least the possibility of fertility).

“Cumbersome” is the poem in which the title of the collection appears. It begins: “I press the tiny rabbit against my ear / to listen for its bean-sized heart.” It continues: This is the heart-thump / I hear, the rhythm of fear.” Yes. The tension between life and death expresses itself as anxiety: “I peek / into my cupped hands and see only an eye, / all pupil, an obsidian bead like pure glass panic.” The poem ends:

It fits in just one hand,
but I use two. Create a crixa of fingers

and think what a poor human equivalent
this is—I could never be a burrow.

The most interesting poems of the collection are the Rabbit Fetus Reabsorption poems. There are three of them. This is an actual biological process, which occurs when conditions are not optimal for birth, as indicated in the Notes at the end the collection. “Rabbit Fetus Reabsorption (1)” ends: “a baby doesn’t break like a tear; this womb sips it slowly. / Slowly, the resemblance of a paw, the curve of a spine, the Y of a nose.” “Rabbit Fetus Reabsorption (2)” ends a bit more comfortingly:

What has happened, what is wrong? he moves
close to her and rests his head against hers,
feeling her shiver in their warm room.

The antidote to this anxiety is compassion. However, “Rabbit Fetus Reabsorption (3)” seems not comforting at all (with its film like directions of zooming in, zooming out, and cutting to) but theatrical: “Inside BUNNY’S womb, BABY opens its bulging eyes. It sits still, head cocked to the side as if listening . . . BABY curls itself into a ball, smaller and smaller. Then—POP—BABY is replaced by a sprig of glitter.”

Human loss is suggested obliquely, in titles and images, as in  “Colposcopy”: “If you stare at something long enough—a cloud of smoke, / a knot in the wood grain, a carpet stain—you will find a human face.”

My favorite poem is “Why I’d Live in a Terrarium”:

Terrarium_Hudgins

This “enormous” “speck of love” is the antidote to “our pure glass panic.”

The Girl with the Jake TattooThe Girl with the Jake Tattoo, by Gary Leising (2015), is a collection of loose narrative poems (you never know how they will end, or how they will turn in getting there). These poems, set against a backdrop of figures from history and popular culture play with the looseness of identity. These poems are about transformation. These poems are about fluidity. As we hear in “Pentimenti”: “If it wasn’t / for the frames, I wouldn’t know where art / ends and where life begins.”

Largely constructed of long lines within long blocks of text, one poem of this collection gently flows into the next because of fluidity both within and across poems. A poem about a tattoo is followed by a poem about cosmetic surgery. A poem about the death of a wife is followed by a poem about the death of a marriage. A poem about an illuminated manuscript is followed by a poem about typeface. Although about is an inadequate word, as these concrete nouns: tattoo, surgery, illuminated manuscript, are really merely points of departure.

The title poem, “The Girl with the JAKE Tattoo,” ironically, is one of the tightest poems in the collection. Though the poem identifies two possibilities about the story of this tattooed girl, it really only explores one: that the Jake of said tattoo is now gone, but the girl is now happy with some other guy, with some other name, who’ll want her to “change her body / for him the way . . . she did for Jake.”

The speaker (“just a man tired of seeing his own face in every mirror”) of the prose poem, “A Face Like Kate Winslet’s,” has his face surgically transformed into the face of—yes, you guessed it—Kate Winslet. His surgeon saves the nose for last; because, he says, Winslet has already had her nose done and might again. In an unexpected turn, the speaker, surgery complete, laments to his own (Kate’s) face in the mirror: “No one sees the real me. I hear their whispers. Finding Neverland. Revolutionary Road. They don’t know which you I’m with!”

All these metamorphoses makes one wonder why we bother to express ourselves (which are constantly in flux) in any permanent sort of way. Though it does make interesting reading.

An Animal I Can't NameWinner of the 2015 chapbook contest, An Animal I Can’t Name, by Raegen Pietrucha, is, a collection that explores naming. In contrast to feminist theorists, who have historically argued about the power of naming (and the subject who names), these poems suggest its difficulty as well as its futility.  The collection’s title comes from “The Ranch in California,” which appears toward the end of the book. The speaker of this poem lies beneath a man, while “clouds above unravel / sky like hides ripped, revealing red / tissue of an animal I can’t name.” This is a poem (this is a collection) about secrets.

The secrets in this collection are domestic. They are secrets about events that occur within the home. We learn in “Neighborhood Watch”: it’s not the neighborhood that is feared, but the household: “unless it’s what I feared, / which was inside this house.” In “5,” we hear about the unfortunate situation:

The family
is traveling
cross-country
in an RV . . .

he pulls me
over a bench seat
where the glass is shady
& no one can see
& puts his slimy
tongue in my
mouth.

Next, in “Collector,” we learn about the speaker’s “stained underwear” hidden, and then found by her mother. She claims to “[get] smarter” about hiding secrets:

I scribbled his name
on a notebook cover, then taped
magazine clippings over it,
decorated like other girls did.

She arrives at a conclusion: “The best place for anything to hide, / of course is in plain sight,” for the speaker has “put the shiny rock he gave me, / a gift for keeping his secret, / on top of the dresser by my bed, / Mom and Dad haven’t asked where / it came from.” Why not pronounce his name? Perhaps the speaker feels it useless. As proclaimed in “Sex Ed”: “naming things / commands nothing.” “Seeing Stars” cautions against the danger in speaking: “I couldn’t speak what I feared most” “believed speaking made real.”  She sees strength in the stars and resolves to be one: “stars are always quiet.” Similarly, in “Pray,” she resolves to “trust no one now or at any hour” and, in “Cheer,” she relies on ritual: “certain the right, / words paired with the right actions will someday / help me become too mighty to be vincible.” These are her tactics for survival.

The artistry of this collection goes well beyond theme. The control of the voice of these poems about childhood recollected in adulthood is remarkable. Most remarkable is Pietrucha’s gift for repetition, which is showcased in the villanelle “Mumfish.”

Nearly Perfect PhotographyChristopher McCurry’s  Nearly Perfect Photograph: Marriage Sonnets is a collection unified in both form and theme. It consists of 18 contemporary non rhyming sonnets, a sequence of unsentimental realist lyrics.  These are no Sonnets from the Portuguese. Their tone might be described as hard-boiled. Imagine Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, married, and with children. However, the crimes he investigates occur in his own home. The settings in these poems are most often bedroom, bathroom, kitchen. Dominant images are of sex and domesticity. The speaker clearly prioritizes sex rather than domesticity.

Sonnet # 1 sets the tone for the sequence. The poem begins: “With every wet towel left to soak into / the depths of my pillow, I love you / less.” Domesticity is taking its toll: “Gone is the romance shaving with a razor / dulled from the daily grind of your legs. / Get your own.” The speaker ends the poem by reinventing household life into a vision more tolerable:

If I ask you to bring home something
tasty, just once, come through the door
breathless, naked, flushed red with haste.

Traditionally, the sonnet is a form that hinges on counting, and the title poem, Sonnet # 4, a poem about the counting of grievances, is one of the strongest in the collection. Interestingly, the grievances being counted are against the speaker.   This is a poem about math: “ I don’t care if you / subtract the loads of laundry I’ve done / from your vindictive abacus of dusty / shelves.” And the math is against the speaker until the end of the poem, when he plays a rather dirty emotional trick:

Sonnet1_McCurry

Yet the speaker of these poems remains slightly, though quietly, vulnerable. Sonnet # 2 promotes the speaker as “a floundering coward by the end.” And, At least on occasion, the speaker considers himself “a gigantic / asshole of a husband.”

The marriage these sonnets explore appears much more solid when it comes to a shared daughter. In # 11, The couple act perfectly in sync at an “excruciating” “dinner” with a seemingly opposite couple who are “disturbingly / perfect together”: “we smile and eat while / we smile.” They remain in sync when the topic of discussion shifts:

But when the conversation
turns and they say, We’re not ready for kids,
we still want to live a little
, we both reach for the knife.

These are poems best read as a collection rather than individually. Their power, as well as their beauty, is cumulative.

Two of Cups Press regularly attends the AWP (Associated Writing Program) Conference & Bookfair (“the nation’s largest marketplace for independent literary presses”). It’s established a presence on Facebook and Twitter. The aesthetics of its website persuaded Nandini Dhar, author of Lullabies Are Barbed Wire Nations (Two of Cups Press, 2014) to publish with Two of Cups, despite an offer from a more experienced press. The adjective Dhar uses to describe her experience with the press is patient. “Everything turned out for the best,” says Dhar. As the website of Two of Cups professes: “We want to partner with poets, artists, other small presses. We want to capture magic on paper.”

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Reviewed by Nettie Farris who is the author of Communion (Accents Publishing, 2013) and Fat Crayons (Finishing Line Press, 2015). Her chapbook The Wendy Bird Poems is forthcoming from dancing girl press. She has received the Kudzu Poetry Prize and a Distinguished Teaching Award from the College of Arts and Sciences University of Louisville. She lives in Floyds Knobs, Indiana.

Patrick McCarthy

Patrick M.Patrick McCarthy is currently the English department Chair at Central High School in Woodstock, Virginia, where he teaches English and creative writing. He is also a co-director for Project Write Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing young writers. Patrick enjoys convincing students that poetry can play a significant role in their lives. He admits that there is nothing more rewarding than watching a teenager discover the power of poetry.

 

Suspicion

The kids
Are entirely
Too quiet

Something is definitely
Broken

Someone is dead

They’ve found the liquor cabinet

They are reading

Lynn Marie Houston

LMH_0936-7Lynn Marie Houston’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Painted Bride Quarterly, Poydras Review, Melancholy Hyperbole, and others, as well as in her first collection, The Clever Dream of Man (Aldrich Press). Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Award and two Best of the Net Awards and has received distinction in contests sponsored by Prime Number Magazine, Whispering Prairie Press, The National Federation of Poetry Societies, and Broad River Review. She is currently pursuing an MFA at Southern Connecticut State University and serves as editor of Five Oaks Press.

 

Jealousy

I am thinking of the pictures
of his new wife when I strip

the old camper’s interior walls, tear out
the couch from its rounded alcove, and rip

up layer after layer of flooring: laminate, linoleum,
then plywood squares so rotten they give

way with a half-hearted blow from my hammer.
It’s then I notice the detritus clinging to the steel frame:

an uninflated red balloon, a paper hat with an elastic string,
three green plastic army men, a batman figurine,

and a sun-bleached calendar from 1969, the remains
of a child’s birthday party from over forty years ago.

I wonder what month of summer it was,
and where the family was camping,

what it was like to be loved
in the space I had destroyed.

 

 

With Love to California, Now that I No Longer Live There

A rose of Sharon grew in the yard, a cutting I’d brought
from my grandmother’s, trucked three thousand miles
to plant, hungering as I was for East Coast home.

At my new job, English department meetings—
profanities, rolled eyes, chairs raised in anger.
In six years, I never taught the same class twice.

At night, I would walk past neighbor’s houses,
the low-slump and orange tile of the Spanish style
so different from East Coast architecture.

Lit windows daisy chained the dark block, linking everyone
except me. From where I stood alone in the fog, their porch lights
formed fluorescent roses planted in welcome for someone else.

Strangers own the rose of Sharon now.
It might still flower pink, despite the California drought
and the lolling tongues of faculty, desperate like caterpillars.

Cesarco Eglin

Translator’s Note:

Sastrería (Tailor Shop) revolves around memory. In these three poems that I am submitting, Cesarco Eglin delves into the negotiations that pertain to being the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors–negotiations that have to do with languages, generations, as well as remembering and forgetting. Translating these poems and working closely with Cesarco Eglin, I came to understand what it means to be a Holocaust survivor, a third generation Holocaust survivor.

 

Cesarco Eglin (poet) is one of the most unique voices in contemporary Uruguayan poetry. She is the author of three collections of poetry, Llamar al agua por su nombre (Mouthfeel Press, 2010), Sastrería (Yaugurú, 2011), and Los brazos del saguaro (Yaugurú 2015), as well as of a chapbook of poems, Tailor Shop: Threads (Finishing Line Press, 2013), co-translated into English by Teresa Williams and the author. Eglin’s work has been published in the US, UK, Mexico, Spain, and Uruguay, including such journals as Puerto del Sol, The Acentos Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Timber, Tupelo Quarterly, Coal City Review, Periódico de Poesía, and Metrópolis. Her poems are also featured in the Uruguayan women’s section of Palabras Errantes, Plusamérica: Latin American Literature in Translation. Eglin’s poetry will aslo appear in América invertida: An Anthology of Younger Uruguayan Poets (University of New Mexico Press, 2016). Eglin’s work has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

 

Scott Spanbauer (translator) is an editor and translator and teaches Spanish at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His translations of Laura Cesarco Eglin’s poems appeared in Coconut Magazine, Boundless (the anthology of the seventh annual Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival), Pilgrimage, Hiedra Magazine, and LuNaMoPoLiS.

 

Connotations

When someone says campo
I don’t automatically think of a meadow
where I can rest my head, forget
about the city and have a picnic

When someone says campo
the images are held back, nothing
comes.     The wind
sweeps me head-on into silence

A pause like the one I impose on myself
so I make sure when faced with
Symbol for Spanbauer

to pronounce it with more than just my mouth

Campo is wrapped up in the black
and white of your voice testifying
to memories that haunt me in photos
videos in my viscera

If I say campo now, I might see
green pastures, gray this time around
and disturbing amidst life unraveled
the image, in the highway car window

cows grazing, green all the way to the border and more
uniforms covering bones, with no more name
than the number on the arm
like an eternal lottery of postponed prizes

Those campos now choked with grass
brush up against Uruguayan meadows
they coexist in a dictionary that insists
upon separating them with numbers

 

 

Connotaciones

Cuando se habla del campo
no tomo por sentado una pradera
donde descansar la cabeza y olvidarme
de la ciudad en un picnic

Cuando se habla del campo
se frenan las imágenes, no viene
nada.     Al silencio
me arrasa el viento de frente

Una pausa parecida a la que me obligo
para tomar impulso ante la Symbol for Spanbauer

pronunciarla con más que sólo la boca

Campo se envuelve en un blanco
y negro de tu voz testimoniando
recuerdos que me persiguen en fotos
videos en mis vísceras

Si ahora digo campo, puede ser que vengan
los pastizales verdes, esta vuelta grises
inquietantes entre la vida deshilachada
la imagen, en la ventana del auto en carretera

vacas pastando, verde hasta la frontera y más
uniformes sobre huesos, sin más nombre
que el número en el brazo
como una lotería eterna de premios pospuestos

Esos campos ahora atracados de hierba
rozan los campos de praderas uruguayas
conviven en un diccionario que insiste
en separarlos con números

Hillary Kobernick

Hillary Kobernick NPS 2015Hillary Kobernick writes poetry for both performance and page. With her spoken word, she has competed at the National Poetry Slam five times, representing Atlanta three times and Chicago twice. She also holds a Master’s of Divinity, meaning she has, in fact, mastered the divine. She currently pastors a small church outside Chicago. Her poetry has appeared in literary magazines in the U.S. and Canada, and is published or forthcoming from Bellevue Literary Review, Barely South, decomP, and Cider Press Review.

 

Springing

There will be peas. For the first time
I am declaring things that will be

coming inside with dirt under fingernails
empty seed packets impersonating wind.

There will be peas.

Here is the other truth:

If I had bigger hands, I would not love more.
I would seed squashes until they grew soft

in my palms, then tuck them like infants
into the arms of friends. And be so angry

when someone reached
over the fence for a tomato.

Kendall Pakula

Kendall PakulaKendall Pakula is currently living in Prague, Czech Republic where she teaches English to children and writes poetry. She studied English at Coastal Carolina University. She plans to pursue an MFA degree in 2016. She enjoys traveling and exploring.

 

The Good Guest

I am the guest, who returns
and returns for the tea. I am tidy,
though not by nature. I help to clean
the dishes, and I ask you polite
questions. I am the good guest,
who comes when you call—who doesn’t
frown or mourn when you lend
your home to poets who aren’t me.
Sometimes, I see your invitation
in the garden of a friend, and I wonder
where you’ve been or where I’ve gone.
I want to tell you the pretty sentence
I made about the soft sound of a girl
putting up her hair.

Guest Poetry Editor: Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow

Cynthia Schwartzberg EdlowCynthia Schwartzberg Edlow is a poet and author of The Day Judge Spencer Learned the Power of Metaphor (Salmon Poetry) and a chapbook called Old School Superhero Loves a Good Wristwatch (Dancing Girl Press). Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow’s poetry has appeared widely, including American Poetry Review, Cimarron Review, Gulf Coast, American Literary Review, Barrow Street, Folio, Smartish Pace, Georgetown Review, The Main Street Rag, Tahoma Literary Review, Fjords Review, Iodine Poetry Review and Fourteen Hills.  She is the recipient of the Willow Review Prize for Poetry, the Tusculum Review Poetry Prize, the Beullah Rose Poetry Prize and two Pushcart Prize nominations, one of which was a nomination by the Board of Contributing Editors for the Pushcart Prize Fellowships. Poems have been featured in the anthologies Not a Muse, Dogs Singing: A Tribute Anthology, The Emily Dickinson Awards Anthology and Drawn to Marvel: Poems from the Comic Books. New poems forthcoming in Fulcrum and Plume. Her next full-length verse collection, Horn Section All Day Every Day, is forthcoming in 2017.   

Blog: http://cschwartzbergedlow.blogspot.com/

Lynn Levin

Lynn LevinLynn Levin is the author of six books; most recently, Miss Plastique (Ragged Sky), a Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist in poetry; as co-author Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets (Texture), a Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist in education/academic books; and a translation from the Spanish, Birds on the Kiswar Tree (2Leaf) by Peruvian poet Odi Gonzales. Levin is the recipient of two grants from the Leeway Foundation and twelve Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work appears in The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry, Ploughshares, Boulevard, Michigan Quarterly Review, Rattle, The Hopkins Review, and Verse Daily. Garrison Keillor has read her work on The Writer’s Almanac. She teaches at Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania. Her website is www.lynnlevinpoet.com.

 

Spending Small Change

I praise the spenders of small change
for they give the humblest their due.
They hold themselves not above pennies
but love thrift and exactitude.
On their bureaus one finds no
Abes, Toms, Georges, or FDRs
sequestered in jars, calling out:
Are we not worthy? Do we not amount to much?
And when at the checkout those spenders
place coins in the palm of a clerk
hands might touch
the human gain purchase.

 

 

On Knowing One’s Goblet at the Banquet Table

Glum the lady to your left
whose goblet you grab
at the company banquet.
When she summons the waiter
for another water glass,
you grin like an ass
and tell her how much you
hate the pettiness of etiquette.
Now she is as chilly to you
as the shrimp cocktail.
Mister, if eat left, drink right is
such a small thing, why not
learn the small thing?
It’s not like this is about forks.
No one can solve the cipher of forks.

Issue 5.1 Spring 2016

Click on a title to read an author’s work(s) and bio. Let us know what you think on our Facebook page and on Twitter using #BlueLyra. Also, consider leaving a comment for everyone to read.

"The Man Who Fell to Earth" by Carla Ciuffo
“The Man Who Fell to Earth” by Carla Ciuffo

The Artist At Work by Carla Ciuffo
The Artist At Work by Carla Ciuffo

"Pandoras Jar" by Carla Ciuffo
“Pandoras Jar” by Carla Ciuffo

Poetry: (Guest Edited by Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow)

Matthew James Babcock | The Fall Olympics | Sexual Limbo
Roy Bentley | Sugar Ray Robinson Leaning against His 1950 Pink Cadillac
Lynn Marie Houston | Jealousy | With Love to California, Now that I No Longer Live There
Lynn Levin | Spending Small Change | On Knowing One’s Goblet at the Banquet Table
Hillary Kobernick | Springing
Patrick McCarthy | Suspicion
Kendall Pakula | The Good Guest
Erin Redfern | Graduate School
Rakhshan Rizwan | Partition
stephanie roberts | People Believing Badly
Gerard Sarnat | 67% Hopperized Bathos

Fiction:

Michelle Elvy | Black and White and Grey
Mercedes Lawry | Sooner or Later
Heather Dewar | ID 

Nonfiction:

Susan Bloch | The Mumbai Massacre
Lisbeth Davidow | You Have to Get over the Color Green
Steven Wineman | Tear-Water Tea

Translations:

Ivonne Gordon Carrera | Tiger | **Cindy Rinne
Cesarco Eglin | Connotations | **Scott Spanbauer
Pablo Neruda | Past | **Domenic James Scopa

Book Reviews:

Paul David Adkins | Stick Up | Review by A.J. Huffman
Margaret Lazarus Dean | Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight | Review by Carla Sarett
Matthew Lippman | Salami Jew | Review by Neil Silberblatt

Spotlight on a Press:

Two of Cups Press | Review by Nettie Farris

**Indicates Translators

Erin Redfern

RedfernErin Redfern served in 2015 as poetry judge for the San Francisco Unified School District’s Arts Festival and as associate editor of Poetry Center San Jose’s print publication, Caesura. She works as a writing mentor and spends far too much of her time opening and closing the patio door for her changeable cat, Juniper. www.erinredfern.net

 

Graduate School

I wish I could say I walked into that ring cocksure
and pummeled the compromised guts of the heavyweights.

I landed more like a stray feather, a little soft-focus, a little
surprised by gravity. Have you ever seen an animal so young

it doesn’t know whether to charge or run, so stands splay-legged,
eye-whites flashing? While holding a hissing brand, ask a foal

if it would rather be marked with Semiotica or Renaissance Studies,
and you’ll see what I mean. In the intro seminar

the French turtleneck expounded until comp lit students
took off their shoes and knocked worn heels on the table top

in a fervid cerebral display. The incomprehensible syllabus blurred.
I’d stowed away on a transport hauling language like freight and hurtling

at high speed toward the wrong planet. And the library towers
were shaped like Catherine wheels, radial stacks expanding,

diminishing like panic attacks. I snuffed the dead air, listened for tenured steps
in stairwells, watched other people’s notebooks tell their faces what to say. 

(At least I knew enough not to be a red cape wagging in front of a bull.
Remember the terminal master’s student who wanted to add Leviathan

to the syllabus? At Nevin’s that night there was talk of stringing him up
in the alley behind the free trade coffee shop.) So I learned “Americanist,”

but specialized in Fight-or-Flight-or-Freeze. Even now say “informal meet-and-greet”
to see the backs of my hooves flashing over a distant fence. All the same,

I don’t startle so easily these days. I’ve learned how to value herds, corrals,
open land. I’m not so quick to stand a tight girth or a weight I wasn’t meant to bear.

I know what it’s like to wake in a cramped chute, throat clutching the sweat-sharp dark,
hide twitching at each floorboard’s dull thud, and I know I wasn’t alone

in there. (Remember Elizabeth, who bit her nails to the quick?)
It’s not stupid to run toward air, toward the gate swinging open.

I stand on the other side, now–a crisp fall apple, sugar lumps in my pockets–
and sometimes I spot them–the ones with blinders, burred manes, split hooves.

They’ll be branded, too, but to those who come trembling close I offer a far fence,
a lesson in jumping, and, from my full pockets, these small boons.

Rakhshan Rizwan

Rakhshan Rizwan was born in Lahore, Pakistan and moved to Germany where she studied Literature and New Media. She is currently a PhD candidate at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Papercuts, Cerebration, Muse India, The Missing Slate, Postcolonial Text, Yellow Chair Review and The Ofi Press. She is the winner of the Judith Khan Memorial Poetry Prize.

 

Partition

Her mother’s letters arrive on yellowing papyrus from Lucknow and mimic the way she speaks: using the formal address app instead of tum, She lifts her affections, admonishments from the page and holds them close, smelling the black India ink and the jasmine scent of her mother’s hand, she sees the breaks in her train of thought, marked by blots of stray ink when she held the pen stationary in her hand. She washes down her mother’s words of sandalwood and melancholy, with warm tea. Her unborn child kicks the quaint figures of speech and sucks the cloying Urdu with its small, webbed hands. Honeyed phrases of an exiled language like savoury sweetmeats that a traveller brings back with them, wrapped in an oily newspaper, a little cold but still fragrant with a hint of saffron, a caress of cardamom, from across the border, from busy markets in Delhi, in Amritsar, in Ludhiana. Names, so familiar, of cities now invisible. 

Gerard Sarnat

Gerard Sarnat established and staffed clinics for the disenfranchised and has taught at Stanford Medical School. His work has been published in many magazines. Sarnat is author of three critically acclaimed collections: Homeless Chronicles: from Abraham to Burning Man (2010), Disputes (2012), and 17s (2014).  In 2015, he was featured in Songs of Eretz Poetry Review, Avocet, A Journal of Nature Poems, LEVELER and tNY. For more information, visit GerardSarnat.com.

 

67% Hopperized Bathos

“…so when we look at the painting…we say it’s a Hopper.
We don’t say it’s a gas station …”
— from Mark Strand’s notebook, found after he died in 2014.

Freshboy eye candy larva, after Latin class in the Harvard Yard, this puerile grub
put out 2/3’s the hard yards required to acquire Life Magazine’s worn mustachioed
thrift-shop-Brooks Brothers-tweed-jacket-torn-leather-elbow-patches + pipe persona.

Self-consciously square, I bathed alone in the shadows of Waldorf Cafeteria
cigar circles whose prodigies fueled my undergraduate doom, Disregard the fools
you come from, kiddo;
that’s what this pale rube from the other side of the Rockies

did while the damaged men’s room mirror futilely attempted to dispense PEZ.
Five decades later, Nordstrom said, Color the hairs left. Whiten dentures. Switch
out glasses for contacts
— which prepared for an inevitably less than gala college reunion.

Matthew James Babcock

Matthew BabcockMatthew James Babcock’s debut poetry collection, Points of Reference, is forthcoming from Folded Word (March 2016).  His debut fiction collection, Future Perfect, is due out from Queen’s Ferry Press (October 2016).  He has been thrice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, twice listed as “notable” in Best American Essays, and once awarded the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Award.

 

The Fall Olympics

MatthewBabcock_FallOlympics

 

 

Sexual Limbo

MatthewBabcock_SexualLimbo

Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda (poet) was a Nobel Prize winning Chilean poet who led a politically and poetically charged life. He served as a diplomat and as a honorary consultant for many countries. After he joined the Communist Party, he began writing poems contrary to the contemporaneous political climate and had to go into hiding. He died in 1973, just twelve days after the fall of Chile’s democratic regime.

 

Domenic James Scopa (translator) is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and 2014 recipient of the Robert K. Johnson Poetry Prize and Garvin Tate Merit Scholarship. His work was selected in a contest hosted by Missouri State University Press to be included in their anthology Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, volume 3. He is a student of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Program, where he studies poetry and translation. He is also a staff writer for the literary journal Verse-Virtual, a book reviewer for Misfit Magazine, and a professor of literature at Changing Lives Through Literature. His poetry and translations have been featured in Reunion: the Dallas Review, The Bayou Review, The Más Tequila Review, Boston Thought, Poetry Pacific, Stone Highway Review, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Malpais Review, and Empty Sink Publishing.

 

Past

We must tear down the past
and as one builds
floor by floor, window by window,
and the building rises,
so do we go throwing down
first broken tiles,
then pompous doors,
until from the past
dust rises
as if to ram
against the floor,
smoke rises
as if to catch fire,
and each new day
shines
like an empty
plate:
there is nothing, there was nothing:
it should be filled
with new nutritious space,
then downward
plunges yesterday
as in a well
falls yesterday’s water,
into the cistern
without a voice or fire.
It’s difficult
to teach bones
how to fade away,
to teach eyes
how to close
but
we do it
without knowing
everything was all alive,
alive, alive, alive
like a scarlet fish
but time
passed by in rags and darkness
and the heartbeat of the fish
was drowned:
water, water, water
the past continues falling
although it’s gripping
onto thorns
and roots;
it has been, it has been, and now
memories mean nothing:
and now the heavy eyelid
covers the light of the eye
and that which lived
no longer lives:
what we were we are not.
And words, although the letters have
the same transparencies and sounds,
now change, and the mouth changes:
the same mouth is another mouth now:
they changed, lips, skin, circulation,
another being has occupied my skeleton:
what was once in us is no longer:
it has gone, but if they call, we answer
“I’m here” knowing we are not,
that what once was, was and is lost,
was lost in the past and does not return.

Rosie Prohías Driscoll

Rosie Prohías Driscoll is the proud daughter of Cuban exiles. Raised in Miami, she earned a BA in English from Georgetown University and an MA in English and Comparative Literature from Emory University. She taught high school English in Miami and in Dedham, Massachusetts, and now directs the Teen Faith Formation program at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Alexandria, Virginia, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and two greyhounds. Her poems have been published in The Acentos Review, The Mas Tequila Review, and Pilgrimage Magazine, and she received an Honorable Mention in the 2013 Bethesda Poetry Contest.

 

Colando Café                      

It is 4:00pm
and Mami prepares
the afternoon ritual.

She reaches for the cuchara
that has taken up residence in
the red and yellow Bustelo can,
and scoops the warm, dark grounds.

She grasps the rubber-tipped cucharita
living with its kin in
the top drawer de la cocina

(utensils, like people, need a home
Todo tiene su lugar)

and packs the granules
tightly
into the upper chamber of la cafetera.

She turns on the flame.

Standing sentinel
she awaits the alchemy
scrutinizing
lest the liquid overflow the spout,
or explode.

Sliding hot metal to cool coil
she pours,
evenly,
into mismatched cups
and passes each one,
a poem,
to eager hands that receive the gift
with gracias
Grace.

Issue 4.3 Fall 2015

Click on a title to read an author’s work(s) and bio. Let us know what you think on our Facebook page and on Twitter using #BlueLyra. Also, consider leaving a comment for everyone to read.

"Bus in Pieces" by Dean West
“Bus in Pieces” by Dean West

"Ballerina Legs" by Caroline Allen
“Ballerina Legs” by Caroline Allen

"Blue on Green" by Kellie Talbot
“Blue on Green” by Kellie Talbot

Poetry: (Guest Edited by W.F. Lantry )

Gail C. DiMaggio | Girls in Pictures
Rosie Prohías Driscoll | Colando Café
Jeff Hardin | A Short Distance from Mountains
Ed Shacklee | Elephant Ear Plant
Mary Ann Sullivan | St. Catherine of Siena
Tammy Ho Lai-Ming | The Space Between The Rain
Lonnie Monka | my mistake
Ashley Parker Owens | Itch
Sophia Pandeya | Mona Lisa Postcard
Jane Wayne | His Shirt

Fiction:

Neil Carpathios | The Man with No Future
Katie Cortese | Quitting Time
Sherrie Flick | Now
Philip Kobylarz | What’s On The Other Side Of Doors 

Nonfiction:

Melissa Grunow | White Spirit
Rick Kempa | Honing the Edge
Sandell Morse | The Crossing

Translations:

Kurt Drawert | Personal Pronoun | **Paul-Henri Campbell
Louise Dupré | Stone Hands of the Tomb Figures | **Karen McPherson
Gili Haimovich | Signing a Place | What Lights Up the Sky | **Dara Barnat
Moyshe Kulbak | from Songs of a Poor Man | **Allison Davis

 

Book Reviews:

Sue Eisenfeld | Shenandoah: A Story of Conservation and Betrayal | Review by Donna M. Crow
Jeff Klima | L.A. Rotten | Review by Ginger Beck
Sandra Marchetti | Confluence | Review by Danielle Susi

 

**Indicates Translators

Ashley Parker Owens

Ashley Parker Owens lives in the hills of Kentucky, where the gnomes are. She has lived in San Francisco in an ashram, and in Chicago where she helped with the Second Underground Press Conference and was the creator and editor of Global Mail. After the successful publication of Gnome Harvest by Double Dragon Publishing, Ashley is writing the next novels in the Gnome Stories Series. She has a MFA in Creative Writing at Eastern Kentucky University and an MFA from Rutgers University in Visual Arts.

Ashley is the owner of the indie press KY Story, proud publisher of fifteen anthologies celebrating the Kentucky, Appalachian, and Southern voice. Her work has recently appeared in Hogglepot, Rose Red, Egg Poetry, Boston Poetry Magazine, Quail Bell, Imaginarium, Tinderbox Magazine, The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society, Lorelei Signal and Mystic Signals.

Reach her at parker.owens@gmail.com or kystory.net.

 

Itch

a never ending gnaw on the arch of your foot when wearing dress shoes or maybe old tennis shoes grind your foot into the ground & grit your teeth or something is in your shoe a tiny rock after taking it off & shaking it nothing ever falls out or an identical itch in the small of your back you can’t quite reach & if you scratch it with a pencil it disappears but returns unsatisfied & raw or the feeling of something crawling up your leg even though nothing’s there or a long single hair from your head ends up stuck in your underwear tugging between your legs when you walk but you can’t pull it out because you’re in public or can’t quite locate it or a lost sneeze hiccups spittle on your cheek an orgasm that won’t light or a mosquito bite in the crease under your knee or a secret whispered with humid breath like a dry wet willy & then the absence of feeling when you least expect it

Sophia Pandeya

Bia 8_0003 copySophia Pandeya is an Asian-American poet. Her writing dwells in the liminal, engaging with borders that are linguistic, cultural, religious, temporal, personal, geographical, and metaphysical. Her poetry has been published in the print anthologies, Cactus Heart, Askew Poetry, Bank Heavy Press, Spilled Ink, Poetry International, The Adirondack Review, The Daily OLantern Journal, Convergence Journal AntiSerious and Full Of CrowPeripheries, her debut collection of poems, is being published by Cyberhex Press in September.  

 

Mona Lisa Postcard

Twilight’s Muse, each day you banished
afternoon as if it was a fiction born

from closed lips of velvet curtains, fanning
dusks embers until finally, they flared

flame’s bruise spreading wide upon a sky
turning her other cheek where hawks

carved carousels of arcs, pilgrims and sharks
all in one, while below, raking in the warm

first-shorn of summer lawns stung millions
of minions, humming droves of drones

that took and took their tithes and these
daily maws of man and beast you tried

to fend off or feed with manna descended
from heavens of once-hennaed hands

fine fluid that could fill any china except
your own country, dark continent endless

spoonfuls of sugar could not sweeten
the omens unread as tea leaves dried

gloss of salt on your face leaving only
faint navigations for the lost at sea

to decipher true north among the blind
nuptial stars buried in bolts of cloth

embroidered graves, yards
where you had played, girl

who would be bird, now brood, still
your antics jangled occasionally, keys

to doors of drowned cities, licit, listless
demure, taboo legs in *shalwar webs

now no longer mosquito bitten
the itch, an urge quite forgotten

your face, a jigsaw puzzle but
no matter which way you cued

the Mona Lisa postcard, her smile
was a vanished magic. Just like you

 

*shalwar: Baggy pants worn in South Asia

Gili Haimovich

Translator’s Note:

Gili Haimovich and I are fortunate to have developed a creative collaboration in which I translate her poetry to English and she translates mine to Hebrew. The process is engaging and dynamic. Part of the pleasure of translating Gili’s poetry from Hebrew is discovering the complexity within its simplicity. One of the challenges is to capture the emotional impact and musicality of her straightforward language and often short lines (“Something has to break”). I attempt to convey the “voice” of her poems – a voice that is at once observational, confessional, conversational, and witty. These poems, from the 2014 book Tinoket (Baby Girl), explore the dual roles of wife and mother. The poems offer a satisfying confrontation with shades of life experience – from the light (the baby girl is a “small sun”), to the dark (“I show you in pantomime I’m hurting”), and all that’s in between.

 

Gili-HaimovichGili Haimovich (author) is an internationally published poet. She has five volumes of poetry in Hebrew and a collection of poems in English titled Living on a Blank Page (Blue Angel Press, 2008). Her work appears or is forthcoming in journals and anthologies such as Poetry International, International Poetry Review, LRC – Literary Review of Canada, Asymptote, Recours au Poème (with translations to French), Poetry Repair, Bakery, TOK1: Writing the New Toronto, Ezra Magazine, Deep Water, Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal, Women in Judaism, Lilith, and other journals. Gili works as a translator as well as an interdisciplinary arts therapist and educator.

 

BarnatDara Barnat (translator) is a poet with poetry, translations, and essays appearing in The Cortland Review, Poet Lore, Ha’aretz, Lilith, Los Angeles Review of Books, Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. Her collection of poetry In the Absence is forthcoming from Turning Point in 2016. Dara holds a PhD from Tel Aviv University where she is currently teaching. darabarnat.com

 

Signing a Place

Something has to break,
we just don’t know what.
The house,
the country,
me,
you,
the child?
No, just not the child.
So then what?

All that’s left between us are gestures.
I massage you
in pantomime,
you sign it’s pleasant.
Sometimes I don’t see your signs,
you’re with your back to me.

I show you in pantomime I’m hurting.
You assign that to be phantom pain.

 

GiliHaimovich_SigningAPlace

 

 

What Lights Up the Sky

I am solar powered,
but now I have you and our baby girl.
I have to pull you all
outside, on my back,
just to be charged.
And our baby girl, she is a small sun,
I am a slightly larger sun,
and you are the moon.
These alone light up the sky.
None other than them but darkness?

I need to carve my way outside,
through the dark corners of the house,
labyrinths of laundry,
waterfalls of milk and tears,
to be charged by solar power
that will go through me
to our baby girl,
but not scorch you.
These alone light up the sky,
none other than us but darkness.

 

GiliHaimovich_What Lights Up the Sky

Lonnie Monka

A native of the United States, Lonnie Monka has lived in Israel for some years now. He loves contemplating life, walking around, reading and writing poetry, and experimenting in the kitchen. He is actively developing Jerusalism, a series of literary events and activities in and around Jerusalem.

 

my mistake

in New Jersey: a dead bird in my mother’s hands
it flew through a balcony door & smashed into a window
“I’ll put it back outside” she said
“maybe–it’ll wake up”
her puffy red face–still moist
she cried over that dead bird–dead bird–a bird
Alle-Faye–my sister’s name
Tziporah–my grandmother’s name
their name–meaning bird

*          *          *

in Jerusalem: pigeons enter my apartment through the balcony door
discharging watery poop & feathers before leaving
once I returned to witness one
smacking itself–beak first–into the window
again & again until submission–ruffled & unwilling to move
I clamped hands around its wings
carried it to the balcony & let go
fortified by watching its flight–just as my mother didn’t
with that bird of hers I thought was dead