Two Poems by Lowell Jaeger

under car

Everyone Does Something Well

                                                            for Clayton

1.)
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He stutters, reading aloud: Write
five paragraphs describing something you do well.
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He rubs and rubs the pencil eraser across his stubbled chin.
His husky war-veteran’s shoulders hunched
over the blank page.  Needs the entire hour
to carve out six lines of hieroglyphics, one scrawling
run-on,
              something concerning his tour of duty
as a helicopter mechanic.  Okay, I say.
That’s a start.
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2.)
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He’s flat on his back beneath my car,
having run one tire up an icy snowbank,
clearance enough for him to worm under.
He’s opened a dented toolbox and set it nearby,
asking me to hand over the tools he calls for.
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He wants a 19mm wrench.  A cold, difficult wind
spits snow in my face.  I can’t read
the tiny numbers etched in the battered steel.
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No, he says quietly to the wrong tool.
He reaches, groping blindly.
Selects the right one.
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3.)
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I’m shuffling an awkward jitterbug to keep warm.
I’m watching his hands.
The old starter out, a new one installed
in about as much time as I’d need
to write my own five paragraphs.  Maybe less.
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Who’s That? 
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She’s posed like a tabloid starlet, one foot
lifted to the running board of a lustrous black Pontiac,
lips spiced with a flirty smile, an outlaw Bonnie
stepping toward the edge of infamy
as Clyde exits the bank in a firestorm
with sacks of cash, and the couple dash
into the deliciously dangerous and romantic yonder.
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Instead, she marries our father, a soldier
home from combat, settles into what must have seemed
a monotonous routine — diaper bags, spit rags, heaps
of laundry, floors to sweep, never ending
cycles of meals to concoct and sinks full of pots and pans.
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Who’s that? my siblings and I ask, paging
through a moldering family album
of black and white scalloped-edge
box camera snapshots.
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She’s just past teenage in the photo,
showing off for the lens.  A puzzling contrast
to the woman we knew who stood back
and looked downcast when the flashbulb flashed.
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Lowell Jaeger (Montana Poet Laureate 2017-2019) is author of eight collection of poems, most recently Earth-blood & Star-shine (Shabda Press in 2016).  He is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Montana Arts Council and winner of the Grolier Poetry Peace Prize. Most recently Jaeger was awarded the Montana Governor’s Humanities Award for his work in promoting thoughtful civic discourse.
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Two Poems by Lynette G. Esposito

tree
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If
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The trees are the earth’s legs
Where are they walking to?
The sky won’t have them
The sun burns their leaves
One legged they stand at attention
Unmoving
Afraid to fall,
leaning into the wind.
.
If
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The tall grass is the earth’s hair
Filtering the dark dirt
Waving in untilled fields
Rising up and away
From its many anchors
Why is it trying to flee
And where does it want to go?
When cut, it comes back in the same place.
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If
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We are earth’s indigenous
species, why don’t we all look alike?
Why is some skin burnt and others copper
And still others like coconut milk?
Where are our two legs always moving
uprooted
unlike our green cousins?
Where are we trying to plant ourselves to be safe?
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If
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We are blades
slicing life’s water with our razor tongues,
drinking in the vapors to douse the fire within,
why do our souls combine with earth and become
one when our open mouths can no longer speak?
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Miracle of Birth
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Deep in the dark womb
where God’s face is clear,
we know the other side of life.
Dark there is not the dark here.
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We flourish attached to the ancient vine
that winds back to the original garden.
We are seed from an apple long forgotten.
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In the silt of our mothers,
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the different kind of dark
is the miracle of light.
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Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University,  Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.  Her articles have appeared in the national publication, Teaching for Success; regionally in South Jersey Magazine, SJ Magazine. Delaware Valley Magazine, and her essays have appeared in Reader’s Digest and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her poetry has appeared in US1, SRN Review, The Fox Chase Review, Bindweed Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, That Literary Review, The Remembered Arts Journal, and other literary magazines. She has critiqued poetry for local and regional writer’s conferences and served as a panelist and speaker at local and national writer’s conferences.  She lives with her husband, Attilio, in Mount Laurel, NJ.

Why Whimper by Suchoon Mo

Why Whimper?
.
war is unjust
life is unfair
why whimper?
.
good soldiers are gone
cowards parade in triumph
do not weep
.
hoist the faded memory
upon the flag pole
I shall salute
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such
Suchoon Mo lives in the semiarid part of Colorado.  He has a Ph.D. in Psychology from University of Pennsylvania.   His recent poems appear in Aji Magazine, Jonah Magazine, Blue Lake Review, Armarolla, Transnational, Scarlet Leaf Review, Modern Literature, Modern Poets Magazine, All The Sins, Runcible Spoon, Literary Yard.

09.07.16 by Adrian Manning

bullets
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09.07.16
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the name of the state
or city may be different
the year or decade may
not be the same
the size or caliber
of the gun is irrelevant
.
but it’s the same bullet
ricocheting
through time, flesh
and bone
over and over
and it’s name is hate
and written on it could
be any bodies name
.
isn’t it time it
hit the dirt and finally
buried itself
instead of burying bodies
.
isn’t it about time
its course was altered
once and for all
.
isn’t it?
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adrian

Adrian Manning lives and writes in Leicester, England. He is also the editor of Concrete Meat Press. https://adrianmanning.wixsite.com/concretemeatpress

Contributor Profile – Byron Beynon

bryon

Byron Beynon is a regular contributor of poetry, essays and reviews to North of Oxford. He lives in West Wales. He has lived in London, Norway, France and Australia. His work has appeared in several publications including Agenda, London Magazine, Plainsongs, Chiron Review, Poetry Wales, Cyphers and the human rights anthology In Protest (University of London and Keats House Poets).  Collections include Cuffs (Rack Press), The Echoing Coastline (Agenda Editions). His selected poems appeared in 2018 (Bilingual: English/Romanian – published by Bibliotecha Universalis/Collectiile/ Revistei “Orizont Literar Contemporan”, translations by Dr Monica Manolachi, University of Bucharest).

At North of Oxford: https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/tag/byron-beynon/

 Poetry on the Net

Nine Muses https://ninemusespoetry.com/2019/06/03/three-poems-by-byron-beynon-2/

Militant Thistles http://militantthistles.moonfruit.com/byron-beynon-poems/4590630827

MockingHeart Review https://mockingheartreview.com/archives/volume-2-issue-2/byron-beynon/

Foxglove Journal https://foxglovejournal.wordpress.com/2017/12/02/watching-waves-byron-beynon/

The Galway Review https://thegalwayreview.com/2014/12/05/byron-beynon-six-poems-2/

Softblow http://www.softblow.org/byronbeynon.html

The London Magazine https://www.thelondonmagazine.org/art-and-poetry-by-byron-beynon/

Poppy Road Review https://poppyroadreview.blogspot.com/2014/10/two-poems-by-byron-beynon.html

Books 

At Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Byron-Beynon/e/B003ZOA9LI/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

At Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/author/Byron-Beynon

Nobody Move by Philip Elliott

nobody

By Charles Rammelkamp

Philip Elliott’s prizewinning 2018 flash fiction chapbook, Hunger and Hallelujahs, features a junkie mendicant in search of her soul; the sequence ends up in Los Angeles, the city of so many broken dreams. As if picking up where he left off, in his new noir novel, the main character, Eddie Vegas who, as his name suggests, is a small time criminal, is likewise influenced by a hazy idealism that, in his case, leads to his undoing. Criminals need to be ruthless, as Eddie’s buddies, Floyd and Sawyer, remind him, but Eddie is moved by “love” – his love for Dakota, a woman he meets at a strip club.  She’s come to LA to find her long-lost sister.

There’s an almost Sophoclean dynamic at work here, too, because halfway through the novel, we learn that Dakota, the object of Eddie’s devotion is the sister of a woman he murdered in cold blood at the start of the story, a witness who had to be removed, simply for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Remember how Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother but doesn’t realize it? Eddie is no King Oedipus, but when he understands what has happened he, too, realizes his irredeemable mistake with that agony of self-awareness. All he can do is hope Dakota doesn’t find out, but of course she does.

At the novel’s end, when Eddie is in San Quentin serving a thirty-year sentence for his crimes, we find him in the prison theater group playing the role of Casca in Julius Caesar.  “…those that understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads; but, for mine own part, it was Greek to me….”  In a noir novel featuring unequivocally bad characters all over the place, Eddie’s ambiguity makes this tale more than crime fiction. Of course he’s responsible for all the horrible things he does, but we want to forgive him, if only because his devotion to Dakota seems so pure.

Likewise, where the noir genre never features “good guys” – Nobody Move is full of sketchy, scary, contemptible characters, from Eddie’s small time partners, Floyd and Sawyer, to their sadistic boss, Saul Benedict, the mysterious killer Diego (aka, The Puerto Rican), Gay Larry, a shady porn mogul who owes Saul big time, Mandy and the other “dancers” at The Pink Room strip club, and the over-the-top serial killer Rufus Kane, brother of the original murder victim, Bill Kane, whose death gets the whole drama rolling – this novel features a heroine, Alison Lockley, LAPD detective, a force for justice. If we feel ambivalent about Eddie, there’s no mistaking our positive reactions to Alison. She stands up for women in the face of sexism. But even “justice” has its limits when she puts her job ahead of her son.

The genius of Nobody Move, though, is in its relentless action. If the term “page-turner” ever applied to a novel, this is it. Elliott juggles the different stories focusing on Eddie, Alison, Rufus and other characters to reach a breathtaking climax. Like something out of a Coen Brothers movie, the novel begins with the grisly murders and the slapdash burial of  Bill Kane, one of Saul Benedict’s “clients” who is late on a drug-business payment, and Dakota’s sister Kaya White. The bloodbath continues throughout, with a huge shootout during a bank robbery and a bloody car chase that makes the one in Bullitt look like kiddie cars.  “Nobody move, nobody get hurt,” Floyd advises the customers in the bank at the start of the robbery, which is  where the novel gets its title; it doesn’t work that way, of course. Certainly not as slick as Robert De Niro in Heat, to which Floyd aspires.

One of the potent themes of Nobody Move, indeed, is the movies. This is LA, after all. Indeed, one of the novels epigraphs comes from Quentin Tarantino: I steal from every single movie ever made.  From the murders to the car chases to the robberies and more, so many of the scenes feel “cinematic.” When Eddie is the airport stashing a duffel bag full of cash into a locker – also a film noir cliché – he cons a young model who is at LAX to catch a flight to Prague. Eddie lies and says that’s where he is going too. When asked why he is going there, he says he spun the globe and pointed with closed eyes and his finger landed on Prague.

“You Americans,” the girl exclaims, “you are all so dramatic. Everything is like a movie to you.”

“You know,” Eddie replies, “that’s probably the truest statement I’ve ever heard.”

Dakota is similarly a movie buff and has modeled her accent from the voices she’s heard on the big screen.

Elliott places the action in the real world of Donald Trump’s America, in which violence is always bubbling just under the surface all the time.  At the makeshift graves in Angeles National Forest where Eddie and his cohorts have dumped the bodies of Bill Kane and  Kaya White, Alison speaks with Mike, one of the cops at the scene. “Criminals are getting dumber these days,” Alison notes when he describes the sloppy work Eddie and Floyd and Sawyer did in hiding the bodies.

“Dumber or bolder,” Mike says.

“Both,” Alison says. “Like our dipshit president and his bullshit wall.”

You go, Alison!

You can find the book here: https://intothevoidmagazine.com/product/nobody-move-by-philip-elliott-print/

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Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for Brick House Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. A chapbook of poems, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts, is available from Main Street Rag Publishing. Another poetry chapbook, Me and Sal Paradise, was recently published by Future Cycle Press. An e-chapbook has also recently been published online Time Is on My Side (yes it is) http://poetscoop.org/manuscrip/Time%20Is%20on%20My%20Side%20FREE.pdf

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