Hysteria by Kim Yideum

hys

By Greg Bem

Contemporary translations of South Korean poetry reveal a world of many layers and many breakthroughs. The quasi-recent collection Anxiety of Words, which features Seattle-based poet Don Mee Choi’s translations of three late 20th Century female poets serves as a cornerstone for feminist voices coming out of South Korea. Ch’oe Sung-Ja, Kim Hyesoon, and Yi Yon-ju are featured in that text, and their distinct styles are brought together in a text both compelling and informative. As Choi wrote early in the book’s introduction, it’s important to remember that there was “an emergence of a feminist consciousness in [South Korean] women’s poetry beginning in the 1970s.” But that emergence is not limited to one time or place. As with any understanding of feminism, its development is fluid and across generations.

Around 50 years ago, the poets listed above started bringing the world to their works and vice versa, and yet Anxiety of Words was released in 2006. The translations are utterly present within the 21st Century, and feel exciting and exacting, inciting and insightful. In one moment, rage and compassion and a visceral coming-to-terms are thrown into the blender of the poems. In many ways and from many angles the poems carry more energy and inertia than the dominant voices of the Americas and Europe. In many ways, these are the voices of liberation and independence. They reflect the art of breaking free from bondage and abuse. I have written of Hyesoon’s works of body and horror at length in multiple reviews and could write about her and Sung-Ja and Yon-ju extensively. Their works are symbolic and deserve space, and yet what I am curious about today is the next generation of work from South Korea. Let us turn our attention to contemporary South Korean poet and feminist successor Kim Yideum.

The 2010s and 2020s will be generations marked as a shuffling along, a rounding the corner, and a subduing of life amidst infinite crises. Information overload challenging the global populace at every moment is impetus for achieving both satisfaction and numbness. Kim Yideum is a poet whose words reflect this sense of paralysis and challenge. In Hysteria, poets and translators Jake Levine, Soeun Seo, and Hedgie Choi bring a fresh and immediate presentation of Kim’s works through vigorous translations that are as harmonious and consistent as they are defiant and excruciating.

Hysteria is, as one might guess from the title, a book that finds balance between the mundane and the extreme. A throwback to the concept of hysterics and reactionary moods as defined by male doctors in the 19th and 20th Centuries, the book investigates, through a feminist lens, the way the poet and world collide today. It is often harsh, unpleasant, and at odds with truth and beauty. And yet Kim’s poems, poems of hysteria, are, in their trials, puzzles and conversations.

I have this hobby where I go to the back of the bus
and lean on the window and stare out
until I fall into a sleep so deep I don’t breathe.

(from “Aori More Than Aura” on page 2)

The book goes far in exploring the relationship between self and world in the long format. The poetry is divided into three sections: the first feels utterly nihilistic and opiated; the second reflects the anger and fury constantly under the surface; and the third extends to the pettier qualities of the everyday filled with humdrum and melodrama. The arc across the book is exquisite because on the surface there is a sense of failure; however, the arc challenges how neat and polished collections of poetry serve only to reinforce structures and historical power. Kim’s work explores each poem’s interconnectedness and these threads are exposures into an authentic and versatile every day. That truth and that beauty that is covered up is actual and gritty. It is noisy and full of disjunction.

Finding a middle ground is reaching a point of absurdity. It feels, through a quagmire of emotions, impossible to be at one with the atrocities of everyday life and the rhythm and unstoppable reverberations of that life. Kim writes in “Correction” that she is “Writing like someone suffering / something they haven’t lived through / winners of million-dollar prizes, whatever” (page 19). The attitude toward this space is sardonic and demeaning, but also Kim is consistent in elevating an understanding of what it means to be authentic, and how right and wrong that is. This sense of absurdity feels like the works of American poet Rauan Klassnik, who challenges the machine while riding the machine all along.

Kim’s speaker is in no way doing one thing or another; there is never a clear position or stance within the voices of these poems. When taken side-by-side, the poetry as a collection often feels disconnected and, as such, incorrect. And this is where Kim is so profound. Hyesoon poetry, contrasted, is wild and filled with awe-and-wretch-inducing moments, and there is a fantastic sense of the whole as one consistent, blasting chorus across poem-time and poem-space. And for Kim? Kim’s answer is to throw the sense of the fantastic into the gutter.

Even if you cover me with a wrinkled blanket
you’ve got to understand that a buttercup’s character is so fiery
it can’t be buried. Not even by a snowstorm.
I’ll never be weak.

(from “The Flood” on page 58)

In 2019 and 2020, this sensibility, as captured within these poems, feels relevant and insistent. There is enough destruction in the sentiment to feel like Dada feels, or like Grunge feels. To feel as though the world we’re facing, with screen addictions and a fallow/hollow sense of relationship and commitment, is a world to reject. And in the process of rejection there are poems, and what those poems are, as padding or as output, is fascinating and inspiring. But as it feels unsettled, it begs the question: what next? Does there need to be a next? The emotion of rage and wrath Kim elegantly includes suggests that there may be something more loving, more accepting, more inclusive. But that is not in Hysteria. It is not the point of Hysteria. Making space for positivity is something Kim’s future works may consider, or not. I suppose it all depends on how much of the world weighs down upon us, and how trapped or numb we feel about it.

You don’t have anything else?
a woman shopper asks me and
I become a different person
who wonders what it would be like to be someone else.

(from “You Are Suddenly Green” on page 76)

You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Hysteria-Kim-Yideum/dp/0900575824

Greg Bem is a poet and librarian living on unceded Duwamish territory, specifically Seattle, Washington. He writes book reviews for Rain Taxi, Yellow Rabbits, and more. His current literary efforts mostly concern water and often include elements of video. Learn more at gregbem.com.

Max Turns Yellow by Martha King

maxturnsyellow_cover.indd

By Jim Feast

Although Martha King’s Max Turns Yellow is a standalone murder mystery, a reader familiar with her last book, Max Sees Red, will be able to see how, taken together, the two books serve as an interesting commentary on the course of gentrification and the place artists play in the process. Let me say a little something about that before I get to this book’s special charm.

Red is set in the Soho of the mid-1970s, which is turning from what, in the time of the Abstract Expressionists in the 1940s and ‘50s, was an industrial neighborhood of small factories with a few artists’ loft scattered among them, into an attraction where New Jerseyites and other tourists come to gawk at the Bohemians. At that time, Max Birtwhistle is still making a name for himself as a painter and is living in this area where he can keep his finger on the art market’s pulse.  At the same time, more successful artists are colonizing the Hudson Valley, much to the chagrin of the locals who resent the intrusion of Manhattanites who are buying up all the old family manses. Jump ahead ten years to 1986, and Max has become successful. However, instead of lighting out for the sticks, he helps to start the latest hip trend and moves to the Brooklyn waterfront, taking a place in Dumbo. There he can get cheaper space (in an old pickle factory!!) and quiet. Although the district has few inhabitants, the locals who are in residence are disturbed by this growing incursion. This is especially the case for those in the Mafia-connected restaurant, who would prefer fewer peering eyes.

The change of geographic focus can be tied to formal differences in the novels. Where Red, in keeping with a story that takes place partly in Soho and partly in a rural enclave upstate, is a sprawling work, filled with varied subplots, shifting milieus and a diverse cast of rambunctious characters; Yellow, set in an under-populated neighborhood, is more focused in plot and delves more deeply into the psyches of its fewer characters. It is a more intense read. But it is also Max’s own status that changes the tones of the book. In Red, as an up-and-comer, he has to be out circulating at the Soho bars – one is lovingly described in a delightful thumbnail – and gallery openings. The book is chock full of incident. In Yellow, Max is established and doesn’t have to gad about so much. He can stay home and concentrate on art making, up to a point.

The point is murder. But the killing is different than in the last book. There, in keeping with the book’s picaresque quality, Max gets involved because an oddball writer of his acquaintance has entangled himself in the murder of his editor. Often, though, since he is only peripherally involved, Max watches from the sidelines.

This time it’s personal. Max is living with his girlfriend Britz. She goes out one night when he is asleep and doesn’t come back. Soon enough, her body is found floating in the river. Max is devastated. His sadness throughout the book gives the text a somber complexion, new to King’s writing. Moreover, another new element, as he gets involved in investigating what happened, Max uncovers a mystery in triplicate. Not only is there Britz’s death but, as it turns out, her brother Theo is facing the possibility of being sued for plagiarizing from his writing teacher, even accused of killing him. Moreover, Britz’s earlier life, which she had been cagey about revealing to Max, is itself filled with shocking secrets.

While Red was an engaging read, it was not put together along the lines of a traditional murder mystery in the way Yellow is. In line with generic conventions, this new book begins with a shocker, is filled with unexpected but plausible twists that keep piling up, has moments of real menace (especially in relation to the Mafia’s hangout), and there are times when suspense is ratcheted up to exquisite heights.

And yet, for all these similarities, Yellow is not a typical mysteries. First, there is a depth of characterization in the portrayal of Max that is unusual. As already noted, Max is broken-hearted and much of the book is pervaded by a carefully rendered sadness, quite different from the equitable tone of other crime novels. Max’s circumstances after the disappearance change in a paradoxical way. From living a quiet life with Britz, he now becomes entangled with her brother and with her now-separated parents, whom Britz hadn’t seen for decades. Hadn’t seen for good reason as they were cultists who, when they were growing up, had taken her brother and her from one wacko organization to another. Moreover, to suggest some of the complications, Max is disoriented by Britz’s mother. When he first meets her, “Max’s mouth went dry. The slender woman with silver-gray hair walking toward the glass bus terminal door could have been Britz perhaps twenty years older.”

This can be disconcerting, especially as he is putting her up in his space until the funeral. Meanwhile, the father, who hasn’t been in New York for many years and who from all reports was a burned-out hippie, turns out to know some of the big corporate players connected to the large cancer research institution where Britz worked. Max is forced to contend with these complex and semi-antagonistic personalities as well as with the police, the Mafia (who may be involved), the researchers from Britz’s company, and others who come out of the woodwork. All this happens as he is beset with a grief and misery that is little alleviated by his hunt for the killer.

Second, the book further differentiates itself due to the already suggested, serious thematic substructure which makes location crucial to the story. King shows how people’s lives, their plots as it were, are intimately shaped by their surroundings. With uncanny precision, she evokes the ambience of the area, which is so attractive to artists. She describes Max’s morning walk, “Whatever the weather, it was bracing to trot through the waterfront streets at dawn. Harbor water scented the air even though access to the river itself was for the most part blocked. The variation in light and weather fascinated Max every day. The rhythms primed him for his work.”

Dumbo is edging from being a dilapidated manufacturing zone to being a classy, pricey neighborhood, so it is ambiguous territory. At this point in time the residents find both the joys of solitude, as in our hero’s morning wanderings through deserted streets, and the dangers of the evening. This last is illustrated by the night Britz disappears. Someone from work asks to meet her in her neighborhood at 10 pm. In most parts of the city, the streets would still be busy, but in this area to get to her rendezvous she must walk past the cavernous warehouses and shutdown factories.  It is with an observant eye that King paints her unforgettable portrait of a neighborhood shedding its skin.

While her first murder mystery was a well-structured, lively tale, the purist mystery reader might have found that book too full, with many cross-currents that were not part of the central crime. With this book, King has supplied all the prerequisites of a crime novel, including a taut story, which goes twisting and turning without losing its tight focus, and other elements already enumerated, that are so pleasing to the mystery buff. She does this while offering a profundity of theme and character that goes beyond generic expectations.

You can find the book here: http://www.spuytenduyvil.net/max-turns-yellow.html

Jim Feast is the author of two poetry books, the latest being A Strange Awakening of Light that Takes the Place of Dawn (2020).

Poems from Argentina by David Francis

Poems from Argentina by David Francis
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By Patricia Carragon
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We travel by train, boat, plane, car, or on foot. In Poems from Argentina, David Francis shows us another way—by poetry, in four segments—Tucumán, Buenos Aires, Mar del Plata and Honeymoon Hitchhike. But this is not an ordinary travelogue that details superficial expectations and experiences of tourists from the United States. This is an independent traveler’s journal; a modern-day troubadour traveling deeper into the daily throes of a country at war with the United Kingdom back in the early 80’s. Mr. Francis, a poet and singer-songwriter, writes about the tensions he saw and sensed in the Argentinean people, even while doing the most mundane tasks. Being a poet, he has empathy. His poems are conduits for a nation’s sorrow. Yet at the same time, his personal life experiences discord, making it difficult to balance the pressure, giving credence and flavor to his work.
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In his first poem “A Window in front of the Mountain,” Mr. Francis picks up on foreboding karma in the atmosphere.
.
A window in front of the mountain
but from that window you cannot see
the mountain . . . Clouds themselves like
towels fray and mildew, are impure
because the air is not a vacuum.
Even the cypresses will not last but
turn to sticks, a slight discolored
stain on the grass.
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He sets the metaphoric tone for his stories to unravel. War is waging, and Argentina is dealing with a military dictatorship. You can’t see the mountain in front of you. Clouds aren’t pure, and the cypresses will die. Nature in pain like its inhabitants.
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In “A Rainy Night,” fear is everywhere and grips the people of Tucumán.
.
but the wires are black
but then forms start to emerge
sharing no umbrella they hurry across
the street to one of their houses
leaving behind a house with no lights
then – the shadow of the inside of a kitchen
on a neighboring house – a face in silhouette –
in the darkness a horrible white face –
then nothing – back to bed
.
We move on to the section called Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires, famous for the tango and its European architecture and culture, has its dark side. In “Apology for the Seamen,” we read about how sailors react to the city.
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There is a logical reason
seamen are so gray and bored and
redundant and their endless card
games have the insensitive traveler’s
flipping-through-postcards flatness.
There are certain calls they won’t
answer and ports they wouldn’t
go to if you gave them a million
dollars.  They are tired of
meeting begging children on the
first land they see.
.
And in “Drops Falling after a Downpour,” the author is miserable in his hotel room. He writes:
.
Stick my head
                       out the window
from our hotel room
                                 into the alley
so dark
            with a bad smell
and feel
             the drops falling
catch one
               in my hand
one on
           my eyelid
am I
       catching
the present
.
The author, like the sailors, impoverished children, and nature itself, lives in the ever-present gloom encompassing the city and nation. As you read on, the balconies get darker, rain becomes incessant currents, and the author goes deeper into battle with himself. An old man nods to something Mr. Francis fears.
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Mr. Francis takes us to Mar del Plata, a section where he writes his truth behind a pretty postcard seaside resort. He is lonely and sees that he is not alone as we learn in “Mirror of Loneliness.”
.
The loneliest rooms facing the sea
the opposite of what people say
the sea is a mirror of loneliness . . .
. . .  and an old man walks his dog
runs him across the street
then takes off the leash
and sets him free
                           on the beach
and the man picks up the bread
for the birds and throws it
and the little dog ignores him
                           for a sand castle
The ocean in “The Sea Is Peaceful” tends to be calming but to the author, its rhythmic tides synchronize with the flow of soldiers marching off to the Falklands War.
.
oh we say the sea
is violent
but it’s just an expression
the sea is peaceful
but always, always
old waves rolling
young men marching,
young men.
.
Lastly, in Honeymoon Hitchhike, Mr. Francis and his bride travel through a myriad of landscapes, ranging from hills, pampas, deserts, to the southernmost tip of Argentina. This final chapter does end on a more hopeful note.
.
We feel the iciness of “A Wall in Río Gallegos.”
 .
Woman in black walking along the white wall,
holding her purse tightly as though in a stall,
ignoring the signs advertising the city
as though they were so much graffiti,
huddling in the chill of the South . . .
. . . I had seen her before proudly enter the café
as the men froze their dice and glowered her way:
what made her move to this cold town
like a black rose by a sudden snow weighed down?
And his final poem “Ushuaia” almost sums up Mr. Francis’ Argentinean adventure.
.
the shadow of the stovepipe
on the snow is like a toadstool
but neither the frozen wires
nor the frozen antenna
that balances like a cat
have shadows or reflections
and the reason is
buried things have no reflection
and the snow buries
even the clouds
sometimes even the stars
However, there are reasons for hope, since the chill and bleakness of snow and sorrow are temporary in the last stanza.
.
A twisted tree
on the side of a hill
and behind a yellow falling torrent
and bushes with orange thorns
stranded on streaked snow
sea gulls congregate on an isthmus
and cows listen
strange buds start reddening
one ahead of the others
in the distance
ready
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To summarize, Poems from Argentina is a traveler’s journal set to poetry. With his troubadour poet wisdom and vision, David Francis delves into the depths of situations, going beyond his world to understand nature and the Argentinean people, while watching history take another ugly step into the future.
.

.

Patricia Carragon’s debut novel, Angel Fire, is from Alien Buddha Press and her latest book from Poets Wear Prada is Meowku. Patricia hosts Brownstone Poets and is the editor-in-chief of its annual anthology. She is an executive editor for Home Planet News Online.  She lives in Brooklyn, NY. For more information about Ms. Carragon and her reading series, www.brownstonepoets.blogspot.com  and at patriciacarragon8.wordpress.com  

Most Read Poets 2020

232 1

This year has offered many challenges to all of us. There has been great change, great loss, a fight against an invisible assailant. As with all things in 2020 the pandemic has dominated. This year’s most read poets includes the six pandemic issues we published. The list begins with Wesley Scott McMasters followed by The Pandemic Issues and rounded out by Ezra Solway, Robbi Nester and Akshaya Pawaskar.

Gypsy Blood by Wesley Scott McMasters

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/03/14/gypsy-blood-by-wesley-scott-mcmasters/

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #2

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/25/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue-2/

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #5

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/08/11/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue/

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #6

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/08/11/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue-6/

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #1

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/19/__trashed-2/

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue # 3

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/25/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue-3/

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #4

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/27/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue-4/

Philadelphia Pulp by Ezra Solway

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/10/14/philadelphia-pulp-by-ezra-solway/

Perspective by Robbi Nester

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/01/15/perspective-by-robbi-nester/

War of Elements by Akshaya Pawaskar

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/01/15/war-of-elements-by-akshaya-pawaskar/

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Two Poems by Guinotte Wise

horse_hooves-resized-600
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Poet Lariat
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I’m not a Poet Laureate
of even a one-horse Kansas town
But. I’m a Poet Lariat
which is a poet with some dusty duct-taped boots
who drew some bulls at the here and there
jackpot rodeos in towns you never drove through.
I was committed to my horses, you can say that
about me if nothing else.
They lived their lives at Wise Acres,
good lives, too. They liked me fine,
and I was so fond of them. Good feed,
pasture, shots and care and ten thousand
mile checkups, no harsh words.
They came to me and dipped their heads
into their halters, stood for the farrier,
stood while I put my foot in the stirrup,
and I cried when they died. And I was
there. They knew that, cold and rain and
storms. I owed them that and more. They
talked to me, and I, to them, if you know
what I mean. A poet lariat would know.
.
The Spoon Lady
.
Time honored spoon play is what she
orchestrates with washboard, tin cups,
a bell or two sometimes, but her spoons
are magic and her hands dip and fly as
her instruments of choice create a cadence
I wish I could make my words snap and
clack and emulate, the click, the tang, the
perfect flow and flourish, but also the
birdlike hands that follow through and dive
along the jingle and the arabesque of ring
and ping and flick of metal bowls caressing
her sleeve, the back of her balletic hand and
chattering clattering with decisive pops on
the backbeat continuous flashing magick of
an Appalachian family playing to survive
another winter another coal mine cave-in
head of household rises flatfoots slowly
at first, his arms seem to float for balance
and his heel and toe match the spoons as
he gains speed no expression on his face
he is propelled by spoons and centuries
and the eerie harmony of an entire family
escaping through Wildwood Flower and
a boy on banjo as big as himself. The
spoons sound like lovely skeletons.
Dancing.
.
GWBARN3
Guinotte Wise writes and welds steel sculpture on a farm in Resume Speed, Kansas. His short story collection (Night Train, Cold Beer) won publication by a university press and enough money to fix the soffits. Five more books since. His fiction, essays and poetry have been published in numerous literary journals including Atticus, The MacGuffin, Southern Humanities Review,  Rattle and The American Journal of Poetry. His wife has an honest job in the city and drives 100 miles a day to keep it. (Until shelter in place order) Some work is at http://www.wisesculpture.com

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& Peacocks in Trees by Susana H. Case

peacocks
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& Peacocks in Trees
.
& fog at night lingering
& a black bear with rope
strung through his snout
.
& a boy pulling it
who offers to pose for photos
& what first seems
.
to be furniture in a chai shop
but is a man
in rags asleep upright
.
& a radio that plays only static
& everyone coughing coughing
& a tourist who brags in broken
.
English of the fifty grams
of dope he smokes each day
& a night watchman
.
who takes a bribe to unlock
a tower with a marble casket
& the Taj Mahal in moonlight
.
before the workers shout
to open the massive doors
& the ghosts of suicides
.
who jumped from the stairs
near the gateway
& the beggar who offers
.
to leap into a well for rupees
who when I say no looks down
in disappointment
.
photo--Susana H Case
SUSANA H. CASE is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Dead Shark on the N Train in 2020 from Broadstone Books. Drugstore Blue (Five Oaks Press) won an IPPY Award in 2019. She is also the author of five chapbooks, two of which won poetry prizes. Her first collection, The Scottish Café, from Slapering Hol Press, was re-released in a dual-language English-Polish version, Kawiarnia Szkocka by Opole University Press. Poems by Case have appeared in Calyx, Catamaran, The Cortland Review, Portland Review, Potomac Review, Rattle, RHINO and many other journals. Case is a Professor and Program Coordinator at the New York Institute of Technology in New York City.

Two Poems by Don Riggs

petals
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Archaic
.
Yesterday when I was walking home
from making those essential purchases
that justify my walking out in the world,
and was listening to the trees seethe
with breath anticipating rain, I passed
a blossoming tree–after all, it’s spring–
suddenly caught up in a whirling wind
and I found myself surrounded by pink
.
petals in a sudden dense flurry,
an unaccustomed sweet delicacy,
a fragrance meant ordinarily
for bees, to attract them to the nectar
that is the refined drink of the Greek gods
but the Greek gods are extinct now, so I
may as well get drunk on archaic fragrance.
.
Last Wishes
.
Back when he was my father-in-law, he
told my then-wife that if he ever lost
the use of his legs, he wanted to die.
Fortunately, or un-, he lost his mind
and saw strange spirits walking through the house
before that part of the brain that controls
the motor functions disintegrated.
When I last talked to Marta over the phone,
she and her mother were both exhausted
from packing all the furniture, dishes,
books, the machinery in Papa’s shop,
to be moved to the nursing home or sold.
That, and from caring for a sentient
metabolism without self control.
.
  Don Riggs has been writing verses, if not poetry, since 1964, when he published some in The Pine Cone, newspaper of Pinecrest Elementary School. He has gone through periods of influence from Edward Lear to Longfellow to Dylan Thomas to James Wright to Emily Dickinson till now he writes ten syllables per line for fourteen lines. Count them! He writes each morning in the bath.
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Two Poems by William Taylor

sun-beneath-blanket-of-clouds-meghna

MEGHNA Meghna Art

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Blinking Beneath the Sun
.
A little while back when they opened me up
to replace my faulty heart valve
and something went a little wrong, I don’t know.
.
They installed the valve okay, but the two
chambers of my heart stopped talking
to each other and they had to give me
a temporary, and then a permanent pacemaker.
.
I was semi-conscious when they installed the thing
and it was like listening to two guys at a discount
garage putting in a car battery:
.
“Why you doing it that way? That’s not the way
I was taught to do it.”
.
“That’s not how those wires go.”
.
“O, fuck.”
.
Anyway, I survived and I stand in front of the mirror
studying my scars. I don’t mind them as much
as I imagined I might.
.
There’s, of course, the vertical one
from where they split apart my sternum,
.
there’s a diagonal one on my upper chest
just below my left shoulder
where they put in the pacemaker
.
and there are three little horizontal slits
where tubes protruded from my stomach.
.
Most of the time I don’t think about it
but sometimes I remember that I am being kept alive
by some thing in my chest the size of an iPhone
that runs on batteries and wires
.
and I freak out a bit.
.
I feel like a Frankenstein
or a cyborg,
I feel like I’m already dead.
.
I get nervous the same way
I get nervous when I fly
.
because I think of how my life depends
upon some damnable contraption
.
invented and slapped together by some random assholes.
Who’s to say they weren’t drunk or vengeful
or hungover when they tightened those screws?
.
But then I get over it mostly because while I don’t
trust humans I trust god even less, so I figure
I’m as good as the next guy blinking beneath the sun
.
waiting for his wires to snap or his
doohickey to sputter out for good
with all the warranties expired.
.
Song
.
We wait in the dark outside
the glow of trainwrecks
and the burning cities
we always knew
these things would find us
it’s just the broken sky
it’s just the fire singing
the only songs it knows
its just dust and bone
and the ghosts of the lonely
and forgotten swimming
through our blood
trying to make their way
back home
there’s nothing needs saving
that will be saved
it’s nothing worth mentioning
it’s just the way it was written
in sand and stone
and the last look on her face
things will be quiet again
like before we were born
that beautiful silence
darling you can cry
for as long as you wish
the weeping is just a moment
a moment is just forever
cling to me in the pretty rain
until the ancient sorrow
of everything finally
finds and reclaims us
as its own.
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newest bill2.5
William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco.  He is the author of numerous books of poetry, and a volume of fiction. His work has been published widely in journals across the globe, including Rattle, The New York Quarterly, and The American Journal of Poetry. He is a five time Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award. Pretty Words to Say, (Six Ft. Swells Press, 2020) is his latest collection of poetry.
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Three Poems by Mary Shanley

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Blown Away
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Little leaf
you were blown away
so easily.
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In the end, you were so beaten down,
there wasn’t much of the earth element
remaining in you; glistening, you were
mostly spirit.
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With your last breath,
you exhaled and arose
into the arms of the golden
beings of light, who awaited
your arrival and greeted you
with songs of celebration and joy.
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I can no longer hug you
or hear your voice
but, believe you are safely
in the company of loved ones
who have already floated
out of their bodies, into pure
spirit.
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You no longer need to bear
the loneliness of the nursing home.
No longer captured by schizophrenia
and a wheelchair.
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Now, you fly free, with the Blakean
angels and guardian spirits who
accompany you through the spheres
to your
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place on the bardo thodol,
to your place in heaven,
to your place next to Mom.
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Beyond
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She travels beyond the narrows
of time and destination.
Bravely invoking the uncalculated
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journey, she watches it unroll before her,
like a Turkish rug.
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She is wearing a Dada t-shirt,
as she revolves around the earth.
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She doesn’t stop to consider the content
of her days. In the moment, boundless
possibilities
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form the trail she follows, unaided by compass
or companion.
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Watch, as her amazed eyes peer into
her deepest place.
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She calls each day forever.
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Her hands worship the immensity
of the deepest blue sky, a portal
into eternity.
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She counts blessings and adjusts
to reverses, allowing for support,
when needed.
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Along her enchanted road, when organic
connections are made, the presence of these
kindred spirits send a quiver of shimmering
energy down her spine.
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Posture of Defeat
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She was hunched over
like a woman with advanced
osteo of the spine – but that’s
not it. Her posture indicated
her psychological state. After
forty years of battling schizophrenia,
institutionalizations, shock treatments
and toxic medication, her delusions
finally won out; exercising
an erratic control over her personality
and her body..
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She has been entirely captured
by this vicious disease, allowed few
decisions. Her dyed black hair hangs lifeless,
her tongue droops over her lower lip, drooling;
her fingernails overgrown.
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It is a deep jungle; she is in there.
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Mary Shanley is a poet/storyteller, living in New York City with her wife.
She began publishing poetry at the behest of Allen Ginsberg and Lucien Carr
in 1984. She first published in Long Shot Magazine, co-founded by Allen
Ginsberg and Danny Shot. Since that time, she had had three books of poetry
published and one book of short stories.
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