Temple of Jupiter by Jeffrey Cyphers Wright

sibyl 2
.
Hello, Sybil. Old fortune teller.
Dusk in its blue taxi
weeps at your endless agony.
Poetry should be grief, not grievances.
I come to hear your prophecy—
how the world is shrinking
like your cage of immortality.
.
Show me how to convert the useless.
The graceless and wasteful.
The northern half of a southern laugh.
Reveal to us how to yearn so purely
we turn into hollow light.
“Please ask for assistance.”
Let me chew on your fat dreams.
.
jcwportrait_May_13+
Jeffrey Cyphers Wright is a publisher, critic, eco-activist, and artist.He is best known as a poet and the author of 15 books of verse, including most recently Blue Lyre from Dos Madres Press. He has an MFA in Poetry from Brooklyn College where he studied with Allen Ginsberg and also taught. Recent poetry is included in New American Writing, 2017. For many years, Wright ran Cover Magazine, The Underground National. Currently, Wright stages events showcasing artists and writers at KGB Lit Bar and La MaMa ETC in NYC, in conjunction with his art and poetry journal, Live Mag! He regularly contributes to American Book Review. Wright is a Kathy Acker Award recipient for 2018.
.
.
Advertisements

2 Poems by Louis Gallo

elpenor1

Marc Chagall The Soul of Elpenor (L’ame d’Elpenor)

.
Getting Wasted With Elpenor
.
Pretty bored last night so I decided
to descend to the underworld
hoping to meet the great Achilles
or Agamemnon or, you know, one
of them, even that mad Ajax would do.
Instead I ran into Elpenor sulking
on a lonely, miasmal crossroad.
Seems no one had buried him yet—
remember he’s the dopey kid
who got drunk atop Circe’s roof
and fell off and broke his neck
(one or two lines in The Odyssey).
He’d talk to anybody who drank
the blood, begging, pleading for burial
so his soul could cease its wandering.
Well, I wasn’t much help
so back up on a roof (Circe’s again?),
we wound up getting cheap drunk
on Gallo wine–
and once more Elpenor slid off
to still another death, another
broken neck.  He looked so sad
as he peered at me from the ground
though I had already explained
that I lacked the power to salvage
either his body or soul.  I sang
from my vantage–Ray Charles’
rendition of “Born to Lose,”
never quite deciding who ranks
as the greater losers:
hopeless, broken blokes like Elpenor
or those of us who can’t restore them.
.

Dream

I tried to tell her she did not smell
like mosquito repellant
but I could tell by her frown
and the way she flicked her hair
that she didn’t believe me.
She kept sniffing at her arms
in a kind of minor horror.
I took her hand and tried to
pull her into the house
but she resisted:  “How can I
come in when I smell like poison?”
she whimpered.
“Smell me,” she demanded,
“all over,” as she proceeded
to remove her clothing.
What a dilemma.
If I told her she smelled
like champagne or the attar
of roses, she would accuse
me of lying;
if I told her she did indeed
smell like mosquito repellant
she would go berserk–
for this was one clean woman.
In the end I offered to rub her down
with denatured alcohol
(which smells horrible)
to remove every trace of repellant.
She liked the idea
and followed me into the house,
the screen door banging behind us.
I smeared the wretched alcohol
all over her flesh and rubbed it in.
Then I carried her to the tub
and washed it off with Ivory.
Now I’m boiling water for
sassafras tea as she lies back
on the sofa, smiling, purified,
ablated, redeemed.
And I tell you, I’m smiling too.
.
Louis Gallo
Louis Gallo’s work has appeared or will shortly appear in Wide Awake in the Pelican State (LSU anthology), Southern Literary Review, Fiction Fix, Glimmer Train, Hollins Critic,, Rattle, Southern Quarterly, Litro, New Orleans Review, Xavier Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, Texas Review, Baltimore Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Ledge, storySouth,  Houston Literary Review, Tampa Review, Raving Dove, The Journal (Ohio), Greensboro Review,and many others.  Chapbooks include The Truth Change, The Abomination of Fascination, Status Updates and The Ten Most Important Questions. He is the founding editor of the now defunct journals, The Barataria Review and Books:  A New Orleans Review.  He teaches at Radford University in Radford, Virginia.
.
.

The Greeting by John D. Robinson

vet
.
The Greeting
.
Outside the city railway
station, he greeted the
incoming and outgoing
travellers with a strange
barrage of hostile
noises and sounds of
anger, no intelligible
words and his
presence loomed
large in filthy army-
clothing, long unkempt
beard and hair, shoes
falling away from
his feet, he moved
slowly as people,
without time to spare,
moved quickly by
ignoring him, maybe
glancing back,
grinning
and even if he were
spewing intelligible
words, the reaction
would be the same, I
smoked a cigarette and
watched him and his
determination to
interact, to provoke a
response, to
communicate in vain
to a world rushing-by
and not giving a
fuck about his
anguished cries or
what they meant
they had more
important things on
their minds, like
getting to work
on time.
.

 

John D Robinson

John D Robinson is a UK poet: his latest publications are ‘The Pursuit Of Shadows’ (Analog Submission Press 2018) ‘Hitting Home’ (Iron Lung Press 2018)

Baptism of Sorts by Cliff Saunders

sunset

.

Baptism of Sorts

.
All day, one question buzzed:
Why did the glass slipper
of pain take so long to correct?
It took too long but only
.
in the physical sense
of passing secrets. When
rain did come, it sounded
like Mozart and felt
.
like a war zone about
to become a baptism of sorts.
What went wrong with the facts?
‘Twas the instant roosters were
.
stunned by late-season snow,
and the Ferris wheel by the sea
got harder to find. From treehouses
ants wept, employees were
.
told to destroy their wallets.
Assertive but untested, I had
to protect the magic form
of a literary triceratops
.
from Gilded Age cuisine.
I leaked nothing but light
and a flake of sweetgrass.
I was a man without
.
a turtle ambulance or a cloud
losing its lust. Seduced
and betrayed by dark thoughts,
I made a mist descend
.
upon the beach like a losing streak.
It was a great day for trying
to sneak into a fortress of love,
it was also the day the music
.
in a roller rink sounded just
like a nervous breakdown.
I started talking to cars!
It was a summer of negotiations
between opposing hummingbirds
and windshields. I tried to sound
like a great sea, but the power
of love broke my heart, shattering
.
expectations. The cameras died;
only one of them melted.
I got off easy when the luggage
of choirboys swamped me
.
with grief. Healed and flying
high, my pain vanished
into the sunset like a late friend’s
shadow, difficult to escape.

.

clifford-saunders-photo

Cliff Saunders has an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Arizona. His poems have appeared recently in West Trade Review, Pinyon, Serving House Journal, CURA, Rumble Fish Quarterly, SurVision, and Snow Jewel. He lives in Myrtle Beach, where he serves as co-coordinator of The Litchfield Tea & Poetry Series

Thieves in the Family by Maria Lisella

thieves
.
By Lynette G. Esposito
.
Thieves in the Family by Maria Lisella published by New York Quarterly Books is a good end of summer read for lovers of poetry. The broad range of themes presented in everyday language gives a sense of deep understanding of relationships between nature, humans and the overall the culture we live in.
.
An example of nature and how one reacts is the last poem of this soft cover volume, My Rain, which creates an ending to the lushness of the warmer months and how one can interpret something as common as rain in an individual way.
.
My Rain
                                          does not whip the ground
                                          from under me.
.
                                          Falls straight
                                                    As a sheet.
.
                                          Ends at dawn
                                             in a mist that lingers
                                             over blades of grass.
.
I like the technique of using the title in a dual function of being the title as well as the first line of the poem.  Although the poem has a lyrical sense to it, its directness and clarity expands the image of how perspective on even drops of rain can change a person. The uneven lines contribute to the visualization of the unevenness of rain drops.
.
This direct and clear approach is all through the book when the narrator remembers her relationship with her father on page 27, Father, fix it, please. The poem opens with The dark befriends me here in the basement.  Lisella has given the reader a place that is usually unfriendly and often scary and makes it into the safe and wonderful memory of her father’s workshop where anything can be repaired.
.
The relationship to our culture is shown on page 57 when she reveals some issues with being short in her poem Lethal.   Lisella’s last line draws the poem to a close on the subject of being short: lethal, small and ready to spring.  The poem gives images of what it means to be small but gives power to the petite of the world using the common denominator of ballet and turning that suggestion and perhaps negative of being diminutive into power.
.
In another cultural reference, she speaks of war in her poem Just Boys on page 79 by showing three tombstones of boys who fought the other boys.  The opening line is so strong, The sun is about to slip below the grass, that one can feel a graveyard shiver.  She speaks of taking pictures as if they could record silence. In the space she has led the reader to, we stand in a dead and quiet war zone of the past but in the present.
.
The volume is divided into four parts headed by Roman numerals.  The 100 page tome covers a wide range of themes drawn from everyday life and presented in both long and short poems.  Although the poems are direct and clear, many of them I wanted to read again and again because of the way they made me feel.
.
Maria Lisella is the Poet Laureate of Queens for 2015 to 2018. Her work has appeared in Amore on Hope Street, Two Naked Feet and many literary journals including Fox Chase Review and New Verse News.  She holds an MA in specialized Journalism from NYU-Polytechnic University. She is also a travel writer and editor and has had her work recognized in South Africa, Italy and France.
.
The book is available from www.nyq.org
.
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 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.
.
.

A Bright and Pleading Dagger by Nicole Rivas

Daggerfrontcoverhigh-res-730x1097 (1)

By Charles Rammelkamp

“In those years I still believed in magic,” the schoolgirl narrator of the story “Bulldog” tells us after she has been informed by the boys in the schoolyard “no girls allowed” when she tries to participate in a game of handball. That night she dreams about her transformative powers. The stories in Nicole Rivas’ collection, A Bright and Pleading Dagger, winner of the 2018 Rose Metal Press flash fiction chapbook contest, brim with magic as young women cope with their powerlessness in the face of the abracadabra of love and ambition. So often, the magic lies in the contradictory pull of toughness and tenderness, as if the collision of the opposites creates a spell all its own. Emblematic of these opposing impulses is the image that concludes the story, “The Butcher,” in which the girl protagonist takes on her father’s butcher job. She routinely brings scraps of meat to the feral cats in her neighborhood. “…the cats slip and turn around her calves like warm and eager lovers, ready to strip the butcher of everything she has to offer them.” There is so much violence implicit in this image, yet so much affection.

Or again, take the conclusion of the story, “The Comedienne” (note that Rivas uses the obsolete term to identify a female comic), a story in which a young woman is effectively ostracized from a party after she makes a crude joke; she accidentally breaks her mimosa glass on the handrail going out, getting shards of glass stuck in her palm. Rivas writes about the pieces of glass that Sam, the protagonist, has removed from her hand, “If she arranged them one way, they looked like a dagger. If she arranged them another way, they looked like a halo.” Murderer or angel, sinner or saint?

And yet another example of this DNA-coiling of the yin and the yang, comes at the end of the story, “The Woman on the Bus,” when the narrator observes, “Though you know it’s unwise, you will continue to love and hate him until you can no longer tell the difference between the two.” In this story, the protagonist, “you,” is a young woman on a date with a man who clearly annoys her. Yet when he gets food caught in his throat and she has to perform the Heimlich maneuver to save his life, she speaks to him “in the soothing voice of a mother.” The woman is taken by surprise to hear herself, “the way it leaps out of your throat like a warm blanket.”

In all twelve of the stories that make up A Bright and Pleading Dagger these same contradictions are at play (or war), and the result is magic. “Gretel’s Escape,” which plays on the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale, may be the most magical of all. In this version of the story, the brother and sister are – surprise! – lost in a deep dark forest and they come upon a ruin. Sound familiar? Only, Gretel discovers a charred hardback (it’s apparently Grimm’s Fairy Tales) in which she reads about her brother and her being duped by a witch in a candy house. The witch tries to eat them, they get away, a lesson is learned, blah blah blah. Gretel’s reaction? “She was tired of being simultaneously lost and bound to fate.”  She tries to ditch her brother, but she’s ultimately resigned to her fate. The story ends: “Gretel exhaled sadly, knowing Hansel would find her again, once upon a time.”  Once upon a time. The love and the resentment are both so nakedly apparent.

Indeed, the fairy tale, with its implicit magic and its didactic moral message is the perfect genre by which to understand Rivas’ flash fictions, except that she turns it on its head: there is no moral; there is no bright distinction between “right” and “wrong” and “good” and “bad.” There is savage and there is compassionate, there is violent and there is kind, but they are never separate, only barely distinguishable.

These are all stories about girls navigating through some bizarre #Metoo world, at once victims and agents of their own fate. The teenage girls in the title story are picked up by some older hillbillies in a truck near Savannah. We don’t know what happens to one of the girls, Jada, who wanders off with one of the men when they park in a field miles from town, except that she’s apparently uninjured, but the unnamed narrator is sitting in the truck with her guy who masturbates while talking to her about scifi thrillers. Gross. Jada meanwhile quits her job and the narrator never sees her again. In the story, “Death of an Ortolan,” the young narrator is drawn into a relationship with Penny, her gynecologist, a woman more than twice her age.  How can this not be exploitative?  But the narrator seems to know what she’s doing.

The magic and the just plain weird aspects of these stories (In “The Staring Contest” a young woman speed dates – and falls in love with – “the oldest man in the world,” who dies sitting across from her) add up to a dark humor that takes the edge off the savage undercurrents, but the sheer menace just around the corner makes these stories extremely potent.  This is a collection you will read straight through.

You can find the book here:

https://rosemetalpress.com/books/a-bright-and-pleading-dagger/

Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore, where he lives, and Reviews Editor for Adirondack Review. His most recent books include American Zeitgeist(Apprentice House) and a chapbook, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts ( Main Street Rag Press). Another poetry chapbook, Me and Sal Paradise, is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press.

Gathering View by Jack C. Buck

gathering-view-31

By Stephen Page

A couple of years ago I traveled with my wife to my home state Michigan, north of the city of Detroit. We were to stay there during the last week of March and the first week of April. The last few times I went to Michigan it was either in June, August, or October. And even though I grew up in Michigan, I had not been to Michigan in March or April in quite some time. I packed a couple of cotton sweaters and a rad waxed-cotton motorcycle-style jacket with a picture of Steve McQueen imprinted on the lining. It had no snap-in wool lining and I thought that I would not need it.  After all, March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Right? As the plane carrying me and my wife was descending for a landing in Detroit Metropolitan Airport, we looked out the fuselage window and saw what looked like at least three inches of snow on the ground. The pilot came on the air and announced that the wind chill was 5 degrees Fahrenheit. I looked at my wife.

The shuttle bus drove us to a car rental and we chose to pay for a mid-size car.  The cashier told us we would get a Ventura.  We stood outside shivering, clenching our teeth, hugging each other while we waited for the valet to arrive with the car.  The valet drove up in front of us in a brand new Charger. He said he took one look at my cool jacket, and new I would need a sporty ride. I thanked him and gave him tip.  We leaped in the vehicle, drove to the first shopping mall we saw alongside I-94, ran inside, and bought wool sweaters, down jackets, Detroit Lions beanies, and gloves.  Sorry McQueen, you would have looked very cool in that new Charger.

Driving to my sister’s house, I remembered that when I was a kid I walked one mile every day to school and one mile back. Sometimes during January or February, no matter how many layers of clothing I wore, the cold bit all the way down to the marrow of the bones.  The cheeks on my face felt like they had been scorched with ice.  And then the cold would grip my lungs and heart and I thought I was going into cardiac arrest.

Reading Jack C. Buck’s “Gathering View” harked back those times.  I had again forgotten that winter in Michigan can last well into May.  Mr. Buck has kindly reminded me. I wish I had read this book before that expedition with my wife.  Winter in Michigan is either chilly, cold, freezing, polar, bone-chilling, face-peeling, or heart-stopping. There is no warm, cuddly, soft-fleeced March lamb. Mr. Buck encapsulates this face-blistering phenomenon in his vivid collection of short poems. In his book, warmth comes only in human contact, literally and lovingly. His succinct poems paint the grandeur of Michigan in all its beauty—rivers, lakes, forests, flora and fauna.  He also alludes to the Michiganders penchant for football.  The book is divided into three sections: one is the late autumn and first few months of winter (including references to football); two, the long bitter middle of winter; and three, the ending of winter and the beginning of spring (which can still be quite nippy).  In this book, Buck has produced empathetic poems about loneliness, solitude, and those ever-saving Persophonic graces, acts of humanity.

You can find the book here:

https://www.amazon.com/Gathering-View-Jack-Buck/dp/0998890235/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1533473293&sr=1-9

Stephen Page is the Author of The Timbre of Sand, Still Dandelions, and A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. He holds two AA’s from Palomar College, a BA from Columbia University, and an MFA from Bennington College. He also attended Broward College. He is the recipient of The Jess Cloud Memorial Prize, a Writer-in-Residence from the Montana Artists Refuge, a Full Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, an Imagination Grant from Cleveland State University, and an Arvon Foundation Ltd. Grant. He loves his wife, reading, travel, family, and friends.