Crows at Dawn
The bald man walks briskly; shoulder bag and freshly cleaned suit coat; smart phone; smart boots, thoughts of Manhattan, and a long day. It must have taken an hour to shave his head; press his Brooks Brothers’ shirt.
Spring has left her adolescence. Crows converse rapidly; aggressively beneath the remains of a full moon. Robins and Sparrows wander nearby.
The man rules his stride, and with no thoughts of his sleeping wife; no cars on the avenue to distract him, he does not look at the namesake of the street to determine the crows on Maple Avenue.
Their calls are crucial to the dawn. This glory at sunrise—a religious invocation, celebrating the last cool morning before Summer enters her kitchen. The bald chap does not look up as he enters his Volkswagen, and shuts the door.
He speeds up the street— Roses and Honeysuckle chase his dream, while visions of office meetings wander his tired mind, past the Robins, past the Sparrows; beneath the gathering Crows, laughing at him at dawn.
Robert Milby, of Florida, NY, has been reading his poems, public since March, 1995, and hosts four Hudson Valley poetry readings; including the popular series at Mudd Puddle Café in New Paltz. He has published several books of poetry, and two cds. Since October, 2003, Milby and Performance Artist, Carl Welden perform as Theremin Ghosts! Milby reads original ghost and gothic poems, as Welden accompanies on the Moog Theremin. Milby is the Poet Laureate of Orange County, NY 2017- 2019.
posing a conditional?
You can view more photographs by Bryan Rogers here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bryan1720/
By Lynette G. Esposito
Lauren Clark’s Music for a Wedding published by the University of Pittsburgh Press presents 82 pages of reminiscent poetry with visual images and interpretations of every day occurrences and locations..
Vijay Seshardi, Judge says Clark’s poems take the reader into “a relationship with the invisible and the ineffable, bringing image and language (as if by magic) to the page and to the reader.” Take for example on page one in an untitled poem:
This generalization brings this sorrow to the heart my naming a place, the kitchen, in the next stanza and the bedroom thereafter where the narrator measures her lover with the palm of her hand so that when he is gone, she can remake him. He does not awaken.
In Aubade on page 32, she takes the reader to the bathroom and we all know what goes on in there. Yet, she graphically shows the act of recreation with our panties down and in the washing of hands…reproducing the life it has known. She visualizes a common act with judgment and appraisal about how life works.
On page 63, the narrator takes us into the bathroom again in the poem Afterfeast.
It is not the bathroom but the commonness of the room where there should be privacy for all things and where one should be alone. As presented, the reader finds the illumination of the white bathroom light and the realization about interpreting absolute aloneness.
She ends this poetry tome with Illinois in Spring, outside and thinking of endings.
The natural elements of air and water and reaching a conclusion for this narrator is panic. A reader cannot help but react to this image because it happens so often and to so many beside lake, and rivers and oceans.
Clark is an effective writer juxtaposing the common with the uncommon and twisting the images to fit a fluid form. She leaves the window open for the lace curtains to fiddle in the breeze to form a shadowed pattern on the mind of the reader. This is a good read for lovers of poetry.
Lauren Clark holds a B.A. in classics from Oberlin College and an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan. Music for a Wedding is the winner of the 2016 Donald Hall Prize for Poetry.
It is available at www.upress.pitt.edu
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.
By Larissa Shmailo
Like a Chinese-Polish American cross between Rod Serling and Emily Dickinson, Thaddeus Rutkowski invites you to the portals of mind and matter in Border Crossings. In this first collection of poems, the fiction writer and performance artist presents carefully sculpted, deceptively simple verses of immediate interest to the reader, typically with an understated but potent twist.
Whether at the boundaries between cultures, the edges of human interiority, or the trespasses of racism, trapdoors usually closed shut are pried open in Border Crossings. “Light and Shadow,” among the poems opening the book, describes the poet’s initial conflict moving in and out of hidden places:
My father opens a trapdoor
and leads me down concrete stairs
. . .
I don’t want to stay.
Spiders scrunch in the corners,
and pieces of copper tubing—
. . .
litter the floor
. . .
Spiders notwithstanding, the poet finds himself liking the smell of horsehair cement in the cellar and wanting to stay there. The rest of the volume’s poems proceed to traverse borders to the secret and unknown.
As Rutkowski comes to love cellars, so he comes to love spiders. The collection reveals the rurally reared poet’s childlike fascination with spiders, bees, flies, rodents, raptors, tree frogs, and other animalia of crevices and corners. There is both a love for the honest presence of nature’s smallest and a vampire’s interest in “little lives”:
I can see and hear it now,
the crazy path of flight at blinding speed,
the inevitable, the unavoidable, hitting,
when the crazy fly comes into contact
with the eye, with the bed,
buzzing around upside down,
for the crazy fly has no great sense of equilibrium.
. . .
I stand back
while a hyper bird perches on a jumbo stalk
so another can feed on the multi seeds
next to the mad mud hole.
Perhaps these innocent animals offer a kind of escape from other, more malevolent creatures. From “Party Animals”:
I throw a party
. . .
Another guest says
he killed people
who looked like me
when he was in Vietnam.
The kindness of nature juxtaposes vividly with the descriptions of rednecks and racists literally at the poet’s door; the conjunction is reminiscent of Viktor Frankl seeing hope and life in a sparrow perched outside his Auschwitz barracks window. The violent racists cross borders in threatening trespass and are held back spiritually by the poet’s integrity and wit, with the help of small loving lives.
As a veteran performance poet and ranter, Rutkowski routinely crosses audience boundaries with épater-le-bourgeoisie material. A common edgy theme is sex, delivered with deadpan. From “Nine Rules for No Sex”:
No kissing with a cold sore.
No kissing with a sore throat.
No thoughtless pressing, rubbing or brushing.
No fingering with long nails.
No fingering with hangnails.
No foolish fingering . . . .
The motion is sometimes toward stand-up comedy, as in “Anarchist Manifesto” ( “I believe in anarchy, / but not if everybody goes wild.”) The same wry humor obtains as the poet finds his Asian roots in food and found poems; “Found Poem, Hong Kong Museum”:
When you are finished tilling the soil,
spading seedlings, weeding, winnowing,
hulling, grinding and pounding,
you may enjoy
the silky yellow rice,
the dry sticky rice,
the rat’s tooth rice,
the little flowery waist rice,
and the yellow husk full brow rice.
The poet encourages forays into the unknown, but with realism and caveats. Despite the “disappointing” toilet facilities of foreign places, and the shock of strange invertebrate foods, Rutkowski reminds us in the poem, “Border Crossing,” that “it’s the people we want to see.” And cautions his reader:
So let’s think twice before we cross
the twenty yards of no-man’s-land.
I know you want to get there
as fast as we can.
You can find the book here: https://sensitiveskinmagazine.com/books/border-crossings/
Larissa Shmailo is an American poet, novelist, translator, and critic. Her poetry collections are Medusa’s Country, #specialcharacters, In Paran, the chapbook A Cure for Suicide, and the e-book Fib Sequence; her latest novel is Patient Women. Shmailo’s work has appeared in Plume, the Brooklyn Rail, Fulcrum, the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, the Journal of Poetics Research, Drunken Boat, Barrow Street, and the anthologies Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters, Words for the Wedding, Contemporary Russian Poetry, Resist Much/Obey Little: Poems for the Inaugural, and many others. Shmailo is the original English-language translator of the world’s first performance piece, Victory over the Sun by Alexei Kruchenych. Shmailo also edited the anthology Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry and has been a translator on the Russian Bible for the American Bible Society. Please see more about Shmailo at her website at http://www.larissashmailo.com and Wikipedia athttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larissa_Shmailo.
By g emil reutter
Cherry is a narrative poet in this slim collection of poems. Within its pages she captures turbulence, calm, defines the seasons. Cherry captures the wind in the poem, Birds on the Patio Feeders, No. 1:
The big wind scours the sky as if the sky is a giant kitchen sink/ Trees bend, hanging their heads, sorrowful/ Such drama. Yet we are captivated to see.
Yet the collection is just not about weather, it is about much more such as these lines from the poem, This Should be Winter, reflecting what the future may hold:
Thrity or forty years from now, we may be heading north in search of water, in search of air that can be breathed, in search of food that’s not been wrecked before it’s harvested.
Cherry captures the essence of a storm in both its quietness and violence in the poem, Rain:
In the poem, The Start of Spring, she writes of the young in comparison to the old:
Spring is for the young, and the young/ put smiles on the old. Maybe rueful smiles. maybe sagacious smiles, maybe fond smiles/ as the old remember their checkered youth…The young are always foolish/ the old, always reminiscent.
She writes of a beach party and the aftermath in the poem, The Fourth of July:
…men and woman burn logs on a beach and hope to get lucky/ Sex is such a driving force, and then?/ Its not. It leaves us high and dry/ as if our bodies were nothing but old clothes/ hanging on a weathered, worn-out laundry line.
The poet writes of an elderly woman who keeps bits of the season in Autumn Leaves: The deaths of the living, even leaves/ sadden an elderly woman once a child/ dragging her feet through fallen leaves or pressing/ the pretty leaves into a scrapbook.
Cherry is a forecaster as she writes in the poem, Mayday:
It strikes terror in our hearts/ like a fire alarm…Is it the end of our world?/ Of course it is. Earth’s dying./ Our world is ill, regurgitating/ its insides.
Weather by Kelly Cherry is not for those who enjoy the disconnect. This collection of narrative poems connects with the reader through plain speaking combined with excellent imagery. Cherry writes of the seasons but also utilizes weather as a metaphor for lives lived and more directly the condition of the earth.
You can buy the book here: https://www.spdbooks.org/Products/9780998187204/weather.aspx
g emil reutter is a writer of stories and poems: