Author: North of Oxford

A journal of book reviews, commentary, essays and poetry.

Stargrass, Violets by Barbara Daniels

star vio
Stargrass, Violets
.
My sister finds a blue
high-heeled shoe
and a red one, both
for a small left foot.
.
Weeds overwintered
in faded rosettes. Stalks
begin to rise from them.
.
Daffodils thrive,
a yellow religion.
.
New buds proffer
themselves like eyes.
.
We sit down in stargrass
and violets, our shadows
obscured by greater shadows.
.
A ragged
cloud, small
as a hand, slips
toward the east.
.
The doctor says my sister’s not
dying. Not now. Not yet.
.
Blown newspapers
soar like wings.
.
One pond gleams turquoise.
Another gives back the scarlet sunset.
.
In the darkness a throne
of stars slides
to the far horizon
moving toward
God’s wide-open eye.
.
barbara-daniels-2018-mh-full-size-color
Barbara Daniels’s Talk to the Lioness was published by Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press in 2020. Her poetry has appeared in Lake Effect, Cleaver, Faultline, Small Orange, Meridian, and elsewhere. Barbara Daniels received a 2020 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
.
.

.

Petco Parking Lot by Nancy Byrne Iannucci

petco
.
Petco Parking Lot
.
Petco barked when she drove in,
rolled back before she pulled on the brake.
Her hair was a cold gray day.
Her body struggled straight.
Buddy Holly’s Rave On
bounced off her bent back.
Uh oh! Is she coming
to tell me to turn it down?
She stood with a fist in my face,
pumped it in the air,
GREAT SONG! she said.
One of the best.  I said.
A jolt in her crooked step,
kicked off saddle shoes
she wasn’t wearing
to this sock hop
in a Petco parking lot.
.
Nancy Byrne Iannucci - field photo
Nancy Byrne Iannucci is the author of Temptation of Wood (Nixes Mate Review 2018). Her poems have appeared in several publications, some include Allegro Poetry Magazine, The Mantle, Gargoyle, Clementine Unbound, Bending Genres, 8 Poems, Glass: A Journal of Poetry (Poets Resist),Red Eft Review and Typehouse Literary Magazine. Nancy is a Long Island, NY native who now resides in Troy, NY where she teaches history at the Emma Willard School. (https://www.instagram.com/
.
.

Three Poems by Peycho Kanev

pk
.
The Sea Inside Me
.
Its salty tongue gently licks
women’s toes, heels, calves, ankles;
in the shallows under the moon – the slimy moons
of jellyfish,
in the distance dolphins teach small dolphins
how to be themselves and nothing else,
as we failed to do so.
Happy boyish shouts everywhere,
and the metallic screams of seagulls
embroider the ink-blue upholstery of the sky.
The horizon is a knife cutting in half the wet photos
of the memories.
Under the sunrise – sand, shore, a whole world;
and mine, and yours; where you were, where I was.
I died there.
.
Garbage Song
.
The music lifted my sheet, and the fingertips
of the sun brought me scraps of the soul
of Sibelius. The next question is: Why do you
love your loneliness so much? I just grinned
to the body lost inside the notes next to me.
Saliva and staves are meant for each other.
And while the sounds choke, we sink back
into sleep. Outside the garbage truck hums.
Inside the room is empty.
.
This Life
.
I put my heart into my mother’s coffin
and now it throbs under the ground.
All the letters I sent to my first love
returned unread in my mailbox
and my unborn child, which I wanted
to create on paper, committed suicide
in the first paragraph of my unwritten book.
My cat has rejected her nine lives, my dog
refuses to bark and I look how the sky
shatters slowly in the broken mirror –
I am beautiful at last.
.
pk
Peycho Kanev is the author of 8 poetry collections and three chapbooks, published in the USA and Europe. His poems have appeared in many literary magazines, such as: Rattle, Poetry Quarterly, Evergreen Review, Front Porch Review, Hawaii Review, Barrow Street, Sheepshead Review, Off the Coast, The Adirondack Review, Sierra Nevada Review, The Cleveland Review and many others. His new chapbook titled Under Half-Empty Heaven was published in 2019 by Grey Book Press.
.
.

Sh-Boom, Sh-Boom by Howie Good

shboom
.
Sh-Boom, Sh-Boom
.
Mother awakened me in the morning. There was now a lake of ash where there had never been one and behind it a pair of wrinkled mountains like a giant’s cracked, dusty boots. Birds on a fence idiotically chanted, “Sh-boom, sh-boom.” I picked up a stone and threw it without taking careful aim. Some people who were passing would later say the expression on my face made everything worse. I hadn’t even realized I was smiling.
&
Life there felt a lot like life elsewhere – steel bars on windows and suicide nets on roofs. Hatchet-faced men in leather trench coats would grab people right off the street. The last words of a prisoner were eerily prophetic. “Ah,” he said, “the cows. . .” Work parties threw the corpses in ovens or down wells, often slaving at rifle point through the night.
&
The angels were dry-mouthed and sweaty and feeling like they hadn’t slept for days. A rogue herd of cows in gas masks had stampeded. I stared out at the sign by the church when I should have been watching the road. Love Like Jesus, it said. Nice sentiment, I thought, as the sun sank in a profusion of toxic colors, a ship full of chemicals burning intently at the edge of the world.
.

Howie Good is the author of more than a dozen poetry collections, including most recently Gunmetal Sky (Thirty West Publishing).

.

.

Birthday by Rustin Larson

birthday
.
Birthday
.
Starts with the basement guy arriving
to look it over: cement
flooring in new states of upheaval,
a mysterious moon-glow vine sprouting
from a crack in the floor’s center,
auras of many disturbed
bodiless entities, walls leaking
and crumbling, mausoleum
of disinterred gloom, the basement does
not pass.
.
So the next thing I do is hide.
I’m taking a week off from work
and all they do is send whiny
emails about how hard it is to be
understaffed. The guy next door
is petulant because I won’t hire him
to trim my bushes. He sits shirtless,
condor wings tattooed on his chest
and arms, his breath reeking
of whiskey and vomit and cigarettes
and mumbled threats about shooting holes
in my roof.
.
“Tighter than a drum” is the country song
I write, strumming on my cheap electric.
Friends send me photographs
of fictional moon settlers
and their dangerous robots. Wrens flicker
innocently under the rain spout.
.
Rustin Larson’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Iowa Review, and North American Review. He won 1st Editor’s Prize from Rhino and was a prize winner in The National Poet Hunt and The Chester H. Jones Foundation contests. A graduate of the Vermont College MFA in Writing, Larson was an Iowa Poet at The Des Moines National Poetry Festival, and a featured poet at the Poetry at Round Top Festival.
.
.

Sahms-Guarnieri and reutter live at Fergies Pub 10-13-21

New-Chapbooks-from-Moonstone-Press-300x300

Live and on Zoom

Poets Diane Sahms-Guarnieri and g emil reutter will perform their first reading since 2019. The poets will read on 10-13-21, (7pm) at Fergie’s Pub, 1214 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, Pa. Sahms-Guarnieri will read from Covid 19 2020 – A Poetic Journal. reutter will read from Poems of the Pennypack. Poets FX Baird, RuNett Nia Ebo, and Nina Gadson will read from newly released chapbooks. The reading is sponsored by Moonstone Arts Center and admission is free. You can also watch on zoom at this link:   https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84308329737?pwd=RjJUdCtJVXRySjlvMHdXakJRRzVmUT09

More: https://moonstoneartscenter.org/event/live-poetry-reading-new-chapbooks-from-moonstone-press/

.

.

Thunder, Lightning and Urban Cowboys by g emil reutter

thunder cover

Thunder, Lightning and Urban Cowboys has just been released by Alien Buddha Press. The book is the final volume in a quadrilogy written over 13 years.

You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09HFXSD2F/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&qid=1633437563&refinements=p_27%3AG+Emil+Reutter&s=books&sr=1-1&text=G+Emil+Reutter

What others have said about Thunder, Lightning and Urban Cowboys:

In Thunder, Lightning, and Urban Cowboys, wilderness is never far from the urban setting, a wilderness in its own right. The Urban Cowboy is surrounded by nature:  “…a tree of warped candelabra branches…”; “…a conspiracy of sooty ravens…”; “sound of leaves kissed by wind…”  Nature pauses and waits for us to pass through in our moment of struggle and triumph and defeat.  The machinery of the city: “…diesel engine revving and revving, as if a struggle to stay alive…” g. emil reutter takes us from youth when “unbridled hope leaked from our pores…” to the far end of life “… the waiting, the heaviness of what is to come…”

The poet paints a landscape haunted by the tragedies of others and the tragedies of ourselves. Haunted by the fallen gravestones “sinking into the earth…” Haunted by spirits lingering in the trees because “heaven and hell are full and purgatory is closed…” In this poetic juxta positioning of humanity and nature, the poet puts us in our place in an unkind, uncruel universe and leaves us somehow grateful.

-Mike Cohen

Poet

 

Throughout, the poems are very well crafted, precise and insightful. reutter is most certainly an engaging poet, whether he is writing of train journeys, of love and friendship and loss, of nature, of time passing: each poem sustains a reflective beauty that refreshes like walking into a cold mountain spring: they permeate and linger with a rare clarity and a sense of humour that will ensnare and take you by surprise. The book takes you on a journey of wonderful variations and consistently offers imagery that transport the reader into the poem and this is something that is not easy to achieve. Thunder, Lightning and Urban Cowboys is stark evidence that reutter is a master craftsman of his art form: cool: crisp: clear: quality.

-John D Robinson

Poet and Publisher: (Holy&intoxicated Publications)

A sampling from the book: https://alienbuddhapress.wordpress.com/2021/10/05/spotlight-thunder-lightning-and-urban-cowboys-by-g-emil-reutter/

 

You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09HFXSD2F/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&qid=1633437563&refinements=p_27%3AG+Emil+Reutter&s=books&sr=1-1&text=G+Emil+Reutter

Moonstone Remembers Louis McKee

lou

Remembering Louis McKee

Louis McKee (07/31/1951 – 11/21/2011) was an American poet and a fixture of the Philadelphia poetry scene from the early 1970s. He was the author of Schuylkill County, The True Speed of Things, and fourteen other collections. More recently, he published River Architecture: Poems from Here & There 1973-1993, Loose Change, and a volume in the Pudding House Greatest Hits series. Gerald Stern called his work “heart-breaking” and “necessary,” while William Stafford has written, “Louis McKee makes me think of how much fun it was to put your hand out a car window and make the air carry you into quick adventures and curlicues. He is so adept at turning all kinds of sudden glimpses into good patterns.” Naomi Shihab Nye says, “Louis McKee is one of the truest hearts and voices in poetry we will ever be lucky to know.”

Send us a poem

Deadline for submissions: November 12, 2021

Program: November 21, 2021

Submission Requirements

Anthology Submissions: Please submit a poem pertaining to the Remembering Louis McKee anthology/reading.

Please limit your submission to one poem. Please keep this poem limited to 35 lines total. When determining the total line length for each poem, include spaces between stanzas (ex: a poem of 5 couplets would equal 14 lines). Numbers or section breaks should also be included as lines when calculating the total line length. Count an epigraph as 3 extra lines. A line that has more than 60 characters (including spaces and punctuation) should be counted as two lines of your total line count. If lines are staggered like a Ferlinghetti poem, estimate the width of the line and remember that the final book will be printed in 11 point Times New Roman font on pages that are 4 inches wide.

If you have a problem contact Larry Robin @ larry@moonstoneartscenter.org or 215-735-9600.

Deadline for submissions: November 12, 2021 – Submit @

https://moonstoneartscenter.submittable.com/submit/194147/remembering-louis-mckee

.

.

.

.

Etching the Ghost by Cathleen Cohen

etch
.
By Lynette G. Esposito
.
Etching the Ghost by Cathleen Cohen, published by Atmosphere Press, is an interesting collection of poems about the art of painting and other subjects.  The voice in the poems Is honest and direct and the poetry illustrates skillfully how closely related the literary and visual arts are.
.
The tome is divided into four sections:  If Released, Magnificent, The Weight of the Press, No Mistakes in Art, and As Witness, As Echo. Each section has a particular focus.  The volume spans sixty-five pages and covers topics relating to relationships, art, landscapes and personal experiences.
.
In the first section, If Released, Magnificent, the poem Possibly wind on page nine uses visual metaphors to show situation and place in dealing with a daughter’s relationship to her parents.
.
            fans us out past dark.
           Fathers shout our names from doorways.
.
            In hedges we crouch,
           plan forays and small rebellions.
.
           I tear my yellow dress
          in a dirt fight, then lie
.
          to my mother’s shocked face.
.
The way the poem is set up suggests the fragmented steps a young person would take when doing something they know they shouldn’t do.  It is clear the parents care but children will be children.  The closure is direct and clear as the daughter faces her mother with a lie.  The poem is effective in presenting a common situation between parents and their kids.  It is interesting that the narrator is wearing the color yellow and a dress.  Her mother would not expect her daughter to be in a dirt fight let alone wearing a dress or, perhaps, lie.   The suggested conflict is clear and the poem works well.
.
The poem, No Mistakes in Art on page thirty-nine, has some of the same rebellious traits as Possibly wind.  The school tries to restrain and control the children but they are so of full life, they jostle and proclaim.
.
                 A quince breaks into bloom
                 outside the school
.
                where I sketch
               (between classes)
.
               trying to capture the tangle of citrus
               in rooted stance
.
               against brick walls
               that can’t contain children
.
                from chanting, jostling
               down stairwells, proclaiming
.
              poems,
                       vivid and delicious.
.
Cohen cleverly inserts her artistic self into the observation of school children as if they are not only visual art but semi out of control poems that are not only vivid—a sight—but delicious poems connecting the literary to the visual art form.  The poem is strong in its setting and situation.  It makes the readers feel as if they are observing along with the narrator just to the corner of the poem’s edge.  I also like the way the stanzas are set up as if implying the stair steps the children are coming down.
.
Some of the poems in this book seem almost interactive like the poem No Mistakes in Art.  This volume has many strengths but I find it is uneven in tone and perhaps tries too hard to link art forms.  I wonder if the book had sketches next to the poems how this would affect the reader.  I bet it would be a positive.
.
You can find the book here: Etching the Ghost

.
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.
.
.
.