The Wreckage of Eden by Norman Lock

By Lynette G. Esposito
The Wreckage of Eden by Norman Lock has a storyline that includes literary giants such as Emily Dickenson, Thoreau and Emerson. Written in the first person narrative, the reader becomes deeply involved in this semi-confessional fiction
The pre-chapter introduction uses a love letter to Emily (Dickenson) written to her before she secluded herself.  When the writer (Robert) asks Do You Blush?  He states he hoped for intimacy and speaks of only being welcome in her ante room where the lights are dim.  When the first chapter opens:  After Chapultepec, I succumbed to vainglorious fantasies unworthy of a man of the cloth, Lock has set a complex scene of introspection and observation, pleasure and regret, understanding and confusion into motion.
Lock uses literary convention and technique to reveal the human side of a man who both admires and loves Emily, the poet and the woman.  For such a legendary seclusionist as Emily, the fiction here is very believable and realistic.  Presented in plain language, the suggestions pop as do questions of how far did this love affair go outside the conjectures of the narrator’s mind.
Mixed in are references of historical events discussed in letters between the narrator and Emily and in the narration of the story.  The literary convention of letters to and from each other is used throughout the  278 page novel.  The characters of both are revealed as politics and conflicts of the day are discussed with conversations included about Abraham Lincoln, the Mexican War and the Mormon Rebellion.  Lock is excellent at giving detail of time, place and situation. Even though this is fiction, it is artistically presented as real.  Lock uses references that work historically. For example,  he quotes “The day of compromise is past…  There is no peace for the South in the Union?”  decried the Charleston Mercury. He references events in history throughout the book as an  effective tool for place and time.
In traditional literary technique he uses the “letter” convention.  The novel begins with a letter and it ends with a (post script) letter written, of course, to  Emily.
             I have wronged you in this effusion as often a I have shamed
             myself. To my mind, one cancels out the other, and by the
             arithmetic of compensation, we are acquitted—you by me
             and I by you.
It is as if Lock has framed the story with book ends  This novel is both interesting in technique and storytelling. Lock quotes Emily Dickenson::: She dealt her  pretty words like blades– .  Lock does much the same in this novel.
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.

Intersection on Neptune by Donna J. Gelagotis Lee

By g emil reutter
In this time when many in the United States have forgotten their lineage, of how they came to be in the United States, along comes Donna J. Gelagotis Lee to remind everyone of the immigrant experience, of native born children who have lived lives that those who came here hoped for. Intersection on Neptune brings us into the urban layering of Brooklyn, of family, of Coney Island, to family life and as she writes in the title poem, the country’ pivot point. In the second section the reader is transported New Jersey, the burbs, farms, and shore, of Seaside, of pastures, horses and trails even of a man making deliveries of eggs. Gelagotis Lee brings us into the rest stops, ballgames, writes of the pay phone and a homage to Trenton. She has had a lifelong love affair with Brooklyn and New Jersey. Her poems are blunt and truthful such as this in the second stanza of From a Rooftop in Brooklyn:
Today, a sea of brick
buildings combs
the grey air,
green parks pushing them
aside, schools still
straining to meet
the goals of a touchdown
democracy. Silver birds
cluster like butterfilies
as they eagle-sweep over the
land they know, past faceless
windows, a country
So in the midst of grey air, brick, faceless windows she gives us hope, Silver birds cluster like butterflies.
These poems by Gelagotis Lee read as a documentary of the American experience with love, family, of the difficult times, the good times. She captures the urban, suburban and rural experience in poems that will stay with you long after the read. Intersection on Neptune reminds us of from where we came, that the United States is a place that new arrivals can accomplish much, it is not an easy ride here, but you can make it.
I end with the title poem that captures so much.
Intersection on Neptune
               –Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn
The sea smell rushes
in on a sudden breeze, like
that vehicle that veers into the space
just as someone pulls out. Older
couples, hearty Jamaicans,
Yiddish accents: land of Immigrants;
watch them claim it—
Chinese, Russians, ladies with thick
jewelry, men with yarmulkes;
the elderly line up at the strip
mall to trade stories, their props
canes and old-world hats. Yellow
lights let you cross only to the island.
Sirens interrupt talk. The sea breeze inter-
venes. The walk to the boardwalk is short.
But here, at this intersection, we
Have gathered, where the city turns.
And we find a parking space,
Crowded, a little tight, but afterwards
it’s enough; we all fit.
We smell the sea, the kosher bakery.
Our house is a high-rise
Our horizon, the Verrazano and the Empire
State. We’re on the finger
of New York City –the end
of the subway line, or the beginning—
the city starts and ends here,
on the country’s pivot point.

Sleep By Peter Warzel

blue throat
4:00 AM rising. My sleep is ravaged by hummingbirds. I hear the buzz first, the whirr. I know it is a dream but it is a call also to wake to industriousness. I fight it. I am pissed at being awake and my bed becomes a battlefield. I reach to touch the dog in the dark knowing D. is not there but find that Padmé is missing too. Three books are in their place, always three at a time.
Books as literal bed partners began in Europe years ago, in Budapest. I could not sleep so kept CNN International turned on the television at low volume hoping white noise and flickering light would mesmerize me. They did not help so I read one of the twenty or so books I would read on these two-week trips. I placed the book on the bed next to me to fill the space and slept, eventually. I have been married thirty-nine years total with two wives and most likely have slept alone thirteen of that count. Bedded alone maybe better said as sleep is elusive and increasingly so.
When awake at two or three AM you begin to inventory the night. Santa Fe is a peculiarly quiet city, the continual hum of the grand cities absent. Silence is startling at any time so even the whirr of wings will wake you.
I will not make coffee until four AM on the chance that I will grow tired and find sleep again. “I have lost too much sleep/I’m gonna find it…” Shawn Colvin’s song on a maddening loop. Crepuscular music.
This morning I was set to rise early to fish in the Valles Caldera with my fellow exile Michael Brown. Not this early. My task was set for 6:00 AM when I would drive to the Burrito Spot for two breakfast burritos for our hour drive, Michael meeting me back at the apartment at 6:45. The Spot’s two shops on Cerrillos Road were the only ones offering breakfast burritos that early according to their web site and no, they were not open as advertised, though the neon sign in the window of the closest said open.
Sometimes I wake simply because sleep is completed, sometimes because of the Clangs. A long gone friend described the Clangs as the panic of that cold ball of shit working its way slowly towards your heart. The Clangs get me more often these days before dawn.
Then what? I leave the lights out and maneuver in the dark so not to disturb Alex and Svenja across our courtyard. I usually do not turn on the radio either until about six-thirty not wanting to disrupt the remedial properties of silence. I never read due to my black-out but sometimes write by the clean light of the Mac screen, notebook laid across the keyboard in my lap. I do read newspapers online and trip across the world lightly through the NYT, The London Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, sometimes The Santa Fe New Mexican, though that is a hometown paper, a comfort and nuisance like weekly papers in small town America, though daily. The Taos News is a weekly and locals there subscribe to it for fire starter.
Rarely do I start a fire this early and certainly not until November but when the cold creeps in beneath the doors the hiss and pop is comforting as I plan the day already started.
Suddenly the day is deep on. Sometimes three, four hours into it before I need to ready for work and decide if it is a formal day – starched shirt and jeans – or informal – washed shirt, jeans, white Chuck Taylors. I adjust my calendar for things I can and cannot do, jot meandering thoughts like these in my notebook, knock off emails to staff and Board Directors, and think about the Denver house not yet rising and perhaps think about the conversation with D. last evening and whether I should be concerned about her or not today. At times there is a decided instability in her words, each one not connecting to the next, edgy, ready to run away on a frenzied walk-about. I wonder whether the voice and the reality are the same or if this distance is the cause and concern, the catalyst of my disquiet. She is in charge of her own kingdom and I can only listen to dispatches from the chancellor.
When I walk out into the yard for air the night sky is ripe with stars, we turning beneath at a fast clip, and then later a linear line of orange-fired clouds outline the mountains up Canyon Road. Coyotes talk some mornings before the sun, most likely near the School for Advanced Research due east of here or in the river bed, the trickle that halves downtown from the Barrio de Analco.
This morning my hummingbird is feeding voraciously as if autumn is coming on hard. I rarely see it, he, singular, en route from north to south through the neighborhood feeders and flowers mapped by instinctual energy efficiency. 5:00 AM, it feeds while I watch, flits up into a seeping pine tree and hovers then sits a limb, waiting for me to leave and go inside. When I do it goes to the feeder again, juicy with Perky-Pet Instant Nectar and I see the white bars on its fanned-out tail as it hovers. This is a real look at my visitor and I pull the bird book from the window shelf – blue throated hummingbird, male. There is one green dot on the map in the book over Santa Fe. That is my boy.
A gift for not sleeping today. A naming. The words complete this live thing at my kitchen window – language has defined the morning. “And to imagine a language means to imagine a form of life.”*
     * Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein, translated by G. E. M. Anscombe.
Peter Warzel has published poetry, fiction, essays, and non-fiction articles in newspapers, literary journals, and national magazines including Pilgrimage, Zone3, the Roanoke Review, Grays Sporting Journal, Cowboys and Indians Magazine, and New Mexico Magazine. I live in Denver and the place of exile – Santa Fe – and everywhere in-between.

Birnam Wood/ El Bosque De Birnam by Jose Manuel Cardona – Translated by Hélène Cardona


By Mark Eisner

This book is a forest of love, the richness grown from the shared familiar roots in the fertile Spanish soil of poetry, then spread around the world.

This remarkable forest is a trove of love, grown from shared roots, originating in the fertile Spanish tierra de poesia. The love of a daughter translating her father’s words for all eternity, published just at his death. A renaissance man, and his daughter, a renaissance woman, all of their wonders, all of their life, all of their art now fused together even more through the act of translation. Both have placed their lives in the service of poetry, and it shows. José Manuel’s poetry is informed by the generation in Spain just before him –– Lorca, Machado, it’s evident in the flavors he evokes –– but he takes the baton to create his own voice, inspiring and insightful voice, propelling yet grounding, salted by his experience in political exile.

Above all, “Ode to a Young Mariner” moved me the most, its qualities emblematic of what makes this book work so well. The poem dedicated to the poet’s brother, who at the same time is the translator’s uncle –– movingly and convincingly so that it rowed my heart with warm, resonating, lingering strokes: the endearment and respect for a sibling, the duty as a mariner like the duty as a poet, the reverence that roots this family, the love that lights the words, the woods of this book.

And what a treat for those who don’t read Spanish to be able to have this collection of this truly special poet’s work finally available, accessible for their easy enrichment.

You can find the book here: https://amzn.to/2w8e5kV

Mark Eisner has spent most of the past two decades working on creative works related to Pablo Neruda. They include Neruda: The Biography of a Poet (Ecco, 2018), a finalist for the PEN/Bograd Weld Prize for Biography. He also edited and was one of the principal translators for The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems (City Lights, 2004) and is currently producing a documentary film on the poet. A bilingual anthology of Latin American Poetry in Resistance Eisner co-edited is forthcoming  in 2020. More info at www.markeisner.net.

Submissions Open

North of Oxford wordpress

North of Oxford, a journal of poetry, reviews and essays is always open for submissions. For consideration of publication please follow our guidelines: https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/about/

Contributor Profile : Charles Rammelkamp


Charles Rammelkamp is a regular contributor to North of Oxford. Charles lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his wife Abby. He is the 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

His photographs, poetry and fiction have appeared in many literary journals. Poems most recently in Leaping Clear, Broadkill Review, Outlaw Poetry Network, Off Course, Foliate Oak, The Literary Nest and Oddball Magazine.

Reviews/Poems by Charles Rammelkamp at North of Oxford



Poems On Line by Charles Rammelkamp

Leaping Clear:  https://www.leapingclear.org/charles-rammelkamp-poetry

Broadkill Review:   https://www.broadkillreview.com/single-post/2018/03/23/Charles-Rammelkamp-one-poem

Outlaw Poetry Network: https://outlawpoetry.com/2018/five-poems-by-charles-rammelkamp/

Off Course: https://www.albany.edu/offcourse/issue72/rammelkamp_jc.html

Foliate Oak: https://www.foliateoak.com/charles-rammelkamp2.html

Oddball Magazine: https://oddballmagazine.com/poem-by-charles-rammelkamp/

The Literary Nest: https://theliterarynest.com/issues/vol-4-issue-1/poetry/charles-rammelkamp/

Books by Charles Rammelkamp

At Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Charles+Rammelkamp&ref=nb_sb_noss