Archive for January 2014

Before and Onwards

Before I hide myself away
for another night awake,
I'll look up between letterbox gaps in the broken blind
to see the moon shift six degrees southeasterly and think that
in the next seven hours soft eleven light will leak through as
an alarm-clock-call no one asked for.

Before I walk out the door
for another day of yesterday,
I'll look for the wind coming down the road
to ask it if it's bringing me something new on its coattails.
Ikebana dalliance?
A chance blur with her?
Or something old and the same as before?

Red Wine Cancer

Creased lines in your cancer bed sheets
and red wine spills still remain
from that time you celebrated
your chemotherapy success.

Drug-blue cocktails were swapped
for beers from cans,
needles for straws and hospital-stock-
comfortable-armchairs for the advertised sofa in your part furnished floor.

Friends came with warm welcomes prepared
in the back of taxis coming from the city,
they came in wide eyed staring,
holding wine bottles remembering your once real wig of hair.

The Lighter House - Jyothsna Phanija

Counting the matchsticks for each day,
Was burnt consuming the fume, melted in magical memories,
Red, yellow, orange, death and love,
Each day a new sprout,
Dying in the fall,
Building castles with matchboxes,
With the fume,
With   sailing light,
With the noise of the wind,
A papery  nest  perhaps in a faraway  civilization,
In somewhere hidden,
In some other  microcosm,
Will live like two rotten mangoes
Of summer in hands,
Living in the time of a mystic poet,
Fixing tamarind seeds,
Blades on fingers,
Rustic grass,
From colder to cold,
To stare at  the disappearance of matchsticks.
- - -

Jyothsna Phanija is a PhD research scholar in English from India. Her poetry has appeared in Muddy River Poetry Review, Tajmahal Review, Kritya, Coldnoon and others.

Healing Properties - JD DeHart

Remnants of Appalachia:
I know a man who purchases
Magnets to bathe on his skin
Various compounds and powders
An assortment of fragrant teas
Homespun medicinal cure alls
He spends days in his lean-to
Grills animals, collects turkey beards
Avoiding all the doctors
He believes they are the bringers
               Of death and disease.

- - -

JD DeHart is an English teacher, and completing his Education Specialist degree. JD's work has been published most recently in Wilderness House Literary Review and Starline. He has been writing and publishing for almost two decades now.

Remember Smiling? - Linda M. Crate

everyone wants
to be found
yet not everyone
is discovered
too long i've laid
here an angel buried
beneath the ice
my heart
beating blue black
melodies of
winter
blanketing the world with
a whiteness that
wasn't mine,
i just wanted someone to
remember my
entropy,
but maybe that's not what's
needed, maybe the
world needs to remember
my smile
burning through all the snow
and ice that cuts us
in it's apathy;
maybe i'm meant to be the star
that lights all the candles
on fire,
and be the sage to save
the world from
every note of darkness pouring
in it's sweet poison
lute
when eyes can scarce
remember to shove it away.

- - -


Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville. Her poetry, short stories, reviews, articles, and short stories have been published in a myriad of magazines. Her novel Amethyst Epiphany is forthcoming from Assent Publishing.

Huddersfield

The car showroom warehouse unit has turned into a gym overnight. 
Low lit lights
highlight the out-of-work-early
joggers and the two step, bought-a-new-ipod-for-this-run, sweaty runners.

Framed central in the glass,
they bounce on mountain passes
over Swiss clear rivers and 
around back through
obscure European cities,
all whilst on the spot listening
to Radio 4 podcasts from the week before.

Low cut tops offer no support for the weary
and the lifting gloves of the man 
at the back are fingerless and ripped,
unlike his overweight torso, though
his BMW makes him believe that
this warehouse unit on the outskirts of
Huddersfield is the Venice beach of the North.

Not Notting Hill

another midnight I've seen this week:
bed times have gone from books and milk
and slightly ajar doors,
to long slogs far into the early morning hours-

-did I, did I try too hard to hold your hand?
If so I didn't mean to,
maybe the excitement of being held again
made my squeeze a little too much.

-

another morning afternoon I've seen this week:
primary education routines of get dressed
and ready for school
 have been lost to
fading light showers and foaming shampoos-

-did I, did I not follow the Curtis rules?
Should I run a bookshop? Be late time and time again?
Runaway to the continent and write a novel no one wants?
Lose a wife and fall for a model?

if so, I'm sorry I'm not that.

We Met In Mexico

we met in Mexico,
slept rough in the back;
the seats folded down levelled out
and tacked down with two springs

we went by cities
not knowing their names;
stopped at payphone kiosks
shamed our pasts with left messages on answering machines

we stopped at toll booths,
paid for more road to play on,
to drive over smooth,
to cross another border before the noon

we deciphered restaurant menus,
ate with fingers crossed and hoped
the chicken was just that,
left a tip lost in another used ash tray

we wore sun cream
to screen us against the rays
and the glare reflecting
off the mineral water, natural bays

we walked up to bars
asked for drinks in cold bottles,
sipped and supped until kisses rolled out,
left holding hands like mannequin models

we kept the trip a secret,
kept it secure between you and me
and the folds in the bed sheets,
we only exist in hotel cheap suites.

Mademoiselle

Venus sits below a contrail necklace
whilst the moon above sighs,
a ring around its lips guiding
shoreline ships back home again
to be met by merry wives.

Walking with the swell in their socks
the sailors tread on land,
trembling souls and uneasy hearts
make for nervous hands.

Their faces have greyed under
a stubble mist, grown out of a
no-mirror-broken-razor rage;
to kiss is to make red,
to be back home is to sleep in a bed.

Tight canyon cheeks are stretched-
flat canvas peaks, tanned bronze
by a sun that runs among
northern hemisphere, north-east sheets.

Chipped lips miss the taste of salt
so drink up the malt and take a rest,
not long from now he'll want
his mistress back, the woman
of the swell, this ocean's mademoiselle.

Waiting For The Same Thing - Donal Mahoney

We're all waiting 
for the same thing, 
the old monk told me 
on a tour of the abbey 
the day after the monks 
buried my brother  
in the cemetery down 
by the creek.

At some abbeys, he said, 
monks make fruit cakes, 
cheese, jams or fudge. 
Every abbey, he said,   
has to sell something  
while we're waiting 
for the same thing.

I know you and your brother 
weren't close but he probably 
told you we've been making 
pine caskets for 70 years. 
He was an artist with a chisel. 
Never a word out of him. 
Just shavings of wood 
flying around him like moths. 
We have no one to replace him. 

And business is improving.
I don't know how we'll keep up. 
It's no longer just monks 
at the other abbeys 
buying our caskets. 
Suddenly civilians  
like the simple design, 
the plain box made out of pine, 
no puffery, nothing fancy.  
One man drove down here, 
bought two and fit both 
in the trunk of his Lexus.
Imagine that: our caskets
in the trunk of a Lexus.

The monks who make fruit cakes 
and other good food buy caskets 
from us and we buy what they make  
but we don't need fruit cakes 
the way they need our caskets.
Monks are getting older. 
The jams and fudge, however,
and the sharp cheddar cheese 
are a pleasant distraction 
while we're waiting 
for the same thing.

- - -

Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had poetry and fiction published in print and electronic publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his earliest work can be found at http://booksonblog12.blogspot.com/

Oliver & Anna

for Beginners

imagine a disposable razor
on the oldest face you know,
deteriorated and dropped,
the sun's shadow in the cropped crowd

               we forget he's there sometimes, they'll say.
               he always shaves on a Sunday, they'll pray.
               the dog died not long back, some'll whisper.

imagine a week's worth of beard
down a plug hole, some bits black
some bits gray,
some bits there 'cos he pressed a little hard that day

                              we forgot he was there, they'll say.
                              he always shaved on a Sunday, they'll pray.
                              only a week ago he went, some'll whisper.

imagine no one holding your hand
down the stairs, across the road, into
cheap 24 hour corner shops,
imagine no one holding your hand when it matters,

                                               or mattered.

July 4th, 2013 - Ron Singer

My wife and I subway-ed up to Ninety-Sixth
to avoid the midtown crush.
Our ride was smooth --the tracks had been fixed--
so the plan panned out, when shove came to push.
Up on the street, we joined a moving crowd
that had a certain edge, a buzz or hum.
But there were no fireworks yet: no fistfights,
not even bad language, vulgar or loud.
Instead, we shared a quiet sense of fun,
hundreds of us lit by Cobra Head lights.

West toward the river, an amoeboid mass,
we flowed. “The People,” so-called,
and others from the so-called “middle class”
--New Yorkers, celebrated for our cool,
though Tea Party types who saw us on the news
might have scoffed, “Lukewarm patriots, go home!”
Well, we might have been wilder, crazier,
if not for all the gizmos soothing us:
the chattering classes, on smart or dumb phones,
captured by the cell-phone paparazzi.

Our uptown epicenter was a fence
at the river-edge of the park.
Arriving, we waited for dark, intense,
but still in control, gathered for a lark,
not a rave. Things must have been hotter
at Thirty-Fourth Street, where the barges stood
ready to shoot their wads into the sky,
poised for the big pyrotechnic riot.
Police cars dashed by, as if they were on cue,
wailing, careening down Riverside Drive.

Along the high fence stood half our number.
The rest --couples, families--
sprawled on blankets, sat on umbrella chairs,
with a sprinkling of elders, including me,
all the way up the sloping lawn that ends
at the Drive. We were the leisurely class,
a statistically significant group.
Too lazy, perhaps, to wait at the fence,
some of us turned as the police cars sped past,
and a hurrying ambulance or two.

Between the nodes of our group, in empty
space, I lay on the grass, myself,
blanket-less, up near the top, my head resting
on a cruller-like cushion, my head shelf.
In the midst of lavish picnics, I sighed.
But no one was cooking, so I could endure
the mounds of salad, chicken and fruit.
Mostly soda, juice were being imbibed,
for alcohol was not permitted here.
But some folks had slipped in beer, wine or booze. 

As in the old Elizabethan Age,
the choice vantages were those
up here where we were, farthest from the stage.
Back in those days, if you stood too close,
you might have been accosted by thugs, whores
and cutpurses. At last, full darkness fell,
and, like a firecracker string, from midtown
all the way up the river, a mighty roar
heralded the show. The excitement swelled.
Even the moon seemed to tremble, unbound.

As the picnickers on the lawn stumbled
to their feet, from the fence
my wife gestured to me, and I tumbled
down the slope. To my surprise, the crowd, denser
now than before, politely let me pass.
The view at the river was excellent,
unimpeded by the bends in the shore.
There I was, reunited with my spouse,
our noses, like hundreds', pressed to the fence.
In the crowd behind us stood three or four

young women, African-Americans,
all on high alert After ten
minutes, one whined, “There aren’t any blue ones.
Why aren’t there any blue ones?”  “Listen
to (So-and-So)! She’s never satisfied!”
chanted her sisters. Satisfied, myself,
with the usual display filling the sky
--crossettes, willows, chrysanthemums, spring shells,
diadems, star bursts, peonies, round shells--
I wondered if the whiner saw the blue lights

on the careening police cars. Honestly,
though, most people on the Fourth of July
don’t watch the lights on police cars --except me.
Was I the only one who saw them go by?
And then, without warning, the show was done.
“Is that it? No climax, no grand finale?”
complained a local, well-dressed white lady
who was, perhaps, a supporter of some
worthy causes. The cause of her sally
was overkill: in fact, the whole display

had been the climax, like one of those bad
productions of King Lear, when he starts
to rant at the opening curtain and
never lightens up, turning the great part
into a one-liner. But to opine,
myself, looking back, anti-climactic
though the July Fourth, 2013
show was, it could have been so by design,
the overkill, a strategic tactic
in reaction to recent history.

Had not the Boston Marathon bombers,
two months before, killed three, maimed
hundreds more? So was it any wonder
that, like the spectators, this show seemed lame?
And I’m sure I am not the only one
to think of that. Still, on this July Fourth,
2013, the dispersing crowd
went home feeling we’d had the usual fun.
As we caught our trains, heading south or north,
we had no real complaint. Yet a gray cloud

of smoke from the spectacle was blowing
--although it blew away from us--
directly toward our daughter’s Brooklyn home,
where, hopefully, she had the windows shut.
Simultaneously, we thought of her,
so (joining the ranks of the chattering
classes, after all) I took out my cell
and speed-dialed her number: no answer.
We hoped she was out drinking, or nattering
away with a friend. We hoped she was well.

- - -

Poems by Ron Singer (www.ronsinger.net) have appeared in many e-zines, newspapers, and journals. His published books are A Voice for My Grandmother, The Second Kingdom, The Rented Pet, and Look to Mountains, Look to Sea. He recently completed three trips to Africa for Uhuru Revisited: Interviews with Pro-Democracy Leaders (Africa World Press/Red Sea Press, forthcoming). His serial thriller, Geistmann, is available at jukepopserials.com, and both his fiction and poetry have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes.