09.07.16 by Adrian Manning

bullets
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09.07.16
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the name of the state
or city may be different
the year or decade may
not be the same
the size or caliber
of the gun is irrelevant
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but it’s the same bullet
ricocheting
through time, flesh
and bone
over and over
and it’s name is hate
and written on it could
be any bodies name
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isn’t it time it
hit the dirt and finally
buried itself
instead of burying bodies
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isn’t it about time
its course was altered
once and for all
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isn’t it?
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adrian

Adrian Manning lives and writes in Leicester, England. He is also the editor of Concrete Meat Press. https://adrianmanning.wixsite.com/concretemeatpress

Contributor Profile – Byron Beynon

bryon

Byron Beynon is a regular contributor of poetry, essays and reviews to North of Oxford. He lives in West Wales. He has lived in London, Norway, France and Australia. His work has appeared in several publications including Agenda, London Magazine, Plainsongs, Chiron Review, Poetry Wales, Cyphers and the human rights anthology In Protest (University of London and Keats House Poets).  Collections include Cuffs (Rack Press), The Echoing Coastline (Agenda Editions). His selected poems appeared in 2018 (Bilingual: English/Romanian – published by Bibliotecha Universalis/Collectiile/ Revistei “Orizont Literar Contemporan”, translations by Dr Monica Manolachi, University of Bucharest).

At North of Oxford: https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/tag/byron-beynon/

 Poetry on the Net

Nine Muses https://ninemusespoetry.com/2019/06/03/three-poems-by-byron-beynon-2/

Militant Thistles http://militantthistles.moonfruit.com/byron-beynon-poems/4590630827

MockingHeart Review https://mockingheartreview.com/archives/volume-2-issue-2/byron-beynon/

Foxglove Journal https://foxglovejournal.wordpress.com/2017/12/02/watching-waves-byron-beynon/

The Galway Review https://thegalwayreview.com/2014/12/05/byron-beynon-six-poems-2/

Softblow http://www.softblow.org/byronbeynon.html

The London Magazine https://www.thelondonmagazine.org/art-and-poetry-by-byron-beynon/

Poppy Road Review https://poppyroadreview.blogspot.com/2014/10/two-poems-by-byron-beynon.html

Books 

At Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Byron-Beynon/e/B003ZOA9LI/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

At Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/author/Byron-Beynon

Nobody Move by Philip Elliott

nobody

By Charles Rammelkamp

Philip Elliott’s prizewinning 2018 flash fiction chapbook, Hunger and Hallelujahs, features a junkie mendicant in search of her soul; the sequence ends up in Los Angeles, the city of so many broken dreams. As if picking up where he left off, in his new noir novel, the main character, Eddie Vegas who, as his name suggests, is a small time criminal, is likewise influenced by a hazy idealism that, in his case, leads to his undoing. Criminals need to be ruthless, as Eddie’s buddies, Floyd and Sawyer, remind him, but Eddie is moved by “love” – his love for Dakota, a woman he meets at a strip club.  She’s come to LA to find her long-lost sister.

There’s an almost Sophoclean dynamic at work here, too, because halfway through the novel, we learn that Dakota, the object of Eddie’s devotion is the sister of a woman he murdered in cold blood at the start of the story, a witness who had to be removed, simply for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Remember how Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother but doesn’t realize it? Eddie is no King Oedipus, but when he understands what has happened he, too, realizes his irredeemable mistake with that agony of self-awareness. All he can do is hope Dakota doesn’t find out, but of course she does.

At the novel’s end, when Eddie is in San Quentin serving a thirty-year sentence for his crimes, we find him in the prison theater group playing the role of Casca in Julius Caesar.  “…those that understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads; but, for mine own part, it was Greek to me….”  In a noir novel featuring unequivocally bad characters all over the place, Eddie’s ambiguity makes this tale more than crime fiction. Of course he’s responsible for all the horrible things he does, but we want to forgive him, if only because his devotion to Dakota seems so pure.

Likewise, where the noir genre never features “good guys” – Nobody Move is full of sketchy, scary, contemptible characters, from Eddie’s small time partners, Floyd and Sawyer, to their sadistic boss, Saul Benedict, the mysterious killer Diego (aka, The Puerto Rican), Gay Larry, a shady porn mogul who owes Saul big time, Mandy and the other “dancers” at The Pink Room strip club, and the over-the-top serial killer Rufus Kane, brother of the original murder victim, Bill Kane, whose death gets the whole drama rolling – this novel features a heroine, Alison Lockley, LAPD detective, a force for justice. If we feel ambivalent about Eddie, there’s no mistaking our positive reactions to Alison. She stands up for women in the face of sexism. But even “justice” has its limits when she puts her job ahead of her son.

The genius of Nobody Move, though, is in its relentless action. If the term “page-turner” ever applied to a novel, this is it. Elliott juggles the different stories focusing on Eddie, Alison, Rufus and other characters to reach a breathtaking climax. Like something out of a Coen Brothers movie, the novel begins with the grisly murders and the slapdash burial of  Bill Kane, one of Saul Benedict’s “clients” who is late on a drug-business payment, and Dakota’s sister Kaya White. The bloodbath continues throughout, with a huge shootout during a bank robbery and a bloody car chase that makes the one in Bullitt look like kiddie cars.  “Nobody move, nobody get hurt,” Floyd advises the customers in the bank at the start of the robbery, which is  where the novel gets its title; it doesn’t work that way, of course. Certainly not as slick as Robert De Niro in Heat, to which Floyd aspires.

One of the potent themes of Nobody Move, indeed, is the movies. This is LA, after all. Indeed, one of the novels epigraphs comes from Quentin Tarantino: I steal from every single movie ever made.  From the murders to the car chases to the robberies and more, so many of the scenes feel “cinematic.” When Eddie is the airport stashing a duffel bag full of cash into a locker – also a film noir cliché – he cons a young model who is at LAX to catch a flight to Prague. Eddie lies and says that’s where he is going too. When asked why he is going there, he says he spun the globe and pointed with closed eyes and his finger landed on Prague.

“You Americans,” the girl exclaims, “you are all so dramatic. Everything is like a movie to you.”

“You know,” Eddie replies, “that’s probably the truest statement I’ve ever heard.”

Dakota is similarly a movie buff and has modeled her accent from the voices she’s heard on the big screen.

Elliott places the action in the real world of Donald Trump’s America, in which violence is always bubbling just under the surface all the time.  At the makeshift graves in Angeles National Forest where Eddie and his cohorts have dumped the bodies of Bill Kane and  Kaya White, Alison speaks with Mike, one of the cops at the scene. “Criminals are getting dumber these days,” Alison notes when he describes the sloppy work Eddie and Floyd and Sawyer did in hiding the bodies.

“Dumber or bolder,” Mike says.

“Both,” Alison says. “Like our dipshit president and his bullshit wall.”

You go, Alison!

You can find the book here: https://intothevoidmagazine.com/product/nobody-move-by-philip-elliott-print/

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Charles Rammelkamp is 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

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The Pink House of Purple Yam Preserves & Other Poems by Aileen I. Cassinetto

pink

By Lynette G. Esposito

The poems in The Pink House of Purple Yam Preserves & Other Poems by Aileen I. Cassinetto published by Little Dove Books are skillfully presented in a plain language that suggests complex visuals and contexts.

For example, in the poem from “The Enormous River Encircling the World” on page 15, the reader is drawn into visual language that not only makes the ocean smaller but the concept larger
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                          In ocean- speak
                          learn the art of camouflage
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The title changes the concept of ocean to river, from big to small to encircling the world. The visual is massive.  The reader looks and looks again to see the context of water linguistically defined. What a marvelous poetic skill Cassinetto has in this 102 page soft cover tome.
In The Promise on page 34, Cassinetto (dedicated to Carol and Erik) speaks in clear terms of the beginning pledge on one’s wedding day in two-line stanzas and well-placed punctuation.  The form and punctuation control the poem.
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                           Take these symbols of love.
                           to be perfect and unbroken,
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                           all ends joining
                           and curved, as though
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                            yielding, for love
                           is unconditional, and marriage.
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                           a compromise:
                           Golden-spun rings
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                           to wear from this day forward,
                          morsels of cake
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The two- line form is suggestive of the marriage coupling and of vows taken.

Included in this collection is a section of unfinished prose and a section of selected essays.  Cassinetto brings her amazing control of language to both theses sections..

In the unfinished prose section, there is just one article and it is full of description as the narrator travels to a wedding. Many suggestions are made about the quality of a woman’s life. After describing the lavish wedding and the sacrifices of both rich and poor, Cassinetto comments.
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                                This is also a country where one in every 400 women
                                worked as a prostitute. Most will never live to be a bride.
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Cassinetto has used her skill to draw both large and small experiences with referential contexts successfully.  The rich have weddings; the poor sell their blood.
In the selected essays section, Cassinetto provides several essays intermixed with poetry.   In the essay, The Color of Kalamunding, she starts with THERE IS NO GENTLENESS in the way I pick a fruit. The discussion becomes of lemonade, grandmothers and perfection. The essay is interesting and makes a strong point at the end of how we judge ourselves as she addresses the reader.
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                               You must have surmised who I am by now. Not quite
                                lime, not quite orange.  In the world of fruits, and flowers,
                                I am excessively flawed.  Such is my myth.
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I ask myself do I like this mixture of poetry, prose and essays in one book.  I find it a little unfocused and fragmented while at the same time enjoying the high quality of the writing.
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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.
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MEOWKU Poems and Photographs by Patricia Carragon

meow

By Aaron Fischer

Patricia Carragon has done something notable, writing and assembling some 30 pages of haiku about cats (hence, meowku) that are neither cute nor cloying. What they are is smart, funny, and satisfyingly complex — quite an accomplishment in seventeen syllables.

Consider these two meowku that occur early in the book:

(for Tama)
            the goddess meows
                        Kishigawa’s good fortune
                                   calico’s blessing
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We have to do a little digging for this meowku to surrender its secrets. Tama was a female calico who was actually appointed station master at Kishi Station on Japan’s Kishiwaga line.

In lieu of an annual salary, the railway provided Tama with a year’s worth of cat food and a gold nametag.

A few minutes with Wikipedia reveals another layer of meaning: Tama is often cited as part of a phenomenon known in Japan as nekonomics (literally, “cat economy”), which describes the positive economic impact of having a cat mascot.

We’ve got Tama, Kishigawa, and at least one calico. But what about the goddess?

The answer comes in the next meowku and involves another calico.

the maneki-neko
                waves her calico paw
                           “meowzel tov”
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According to Wikipedia, maneki-neko (literally, “beckoning cat”) is a common Japanese figurine (typically calico) that’s supposed to bring good luck to its owner. This may sound esoteric, but you’re almost undoubtedly familiar with these beckoning cats if you’ve ever eaten in a Japanese restaurant or shopped in a Japanese market. They’re the cat figurines sitting on their haunches and beckoning with one raised paw.  Some maneki-neko are actually battery powered and wave their paw, though it’s not clear if this attracts more luck.

Of course, in our multicultural society, it makes perfect sense that this beckoning cat spreads good fortune in a feline version of Yiddish.

Just to close the loop, by juxtaposing these two meowku on the same page, Carragon allows them to resonate: two calicos celebrating good fortune in three (maybe two-and-half) languages: English, Japanese, and near-Yiddish.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the photographs that accompany these meowku. They have the feeling of snapshots, which seems just right for the feel of this book. Also, we’re spared cuddly closeups. Many of these shots are taken outdoors and feature cats on the sidewalks or brick stairs or checking out the action on the street.

The photographs are particularly apt, since these are decidedly urban cats.

 

tails of tomcats
             territorial showdown
                        Brooklyn howl

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Cheshire Cat
            curls up … disappears up close
                        trash bag in disguise
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Carragon does an admirable job of refusing sentimentality, offering, at times, a cold appraisal of feline life on the streets
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newborn kittens killed
            blood on tomcat’s mouth
                         love is not for everyone
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At the risk of making a pun not worthy of this work: I think these meowku are for everyone — regardless of their feelings about felines. They’re sharply observed and reflect city life. And as I hope I’ve demonstrated, at times they’re both complex and rewarding.

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You can find the book here: http://www.poetswearprada.com/

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Aaron Fischer is an award-winning poet. His chapbook Black Stars of Blood: The Weegee Poems (Main Street Rag Press) was published this past summer.

The Trajectory of Sharon Olds – a look at five poems

Sharon-Olds-PortraitcBret-768x511
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By Ray Greenblatt
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         Leafing through the most popular poems by Sharon Olds, I discerned the development of a mid-twentieth century woman. I am not interested in whether this is the poet’s actual life revealed; what I did see was the representative life of many American women, vivified by these highly emotional and uniquely rendered poems.

 

          The poems I will be investigating are: her parents in The Victims; dating in After Making Love in Winter; marriage in The Wedding Vow; her daughter in The Month of June: 13 ½; and finally divorce in Unspeakable.

                                                               I – THE VICTIMS

          This poem opens with rather prosaic lines explaining how the mother and her children battled against what must have been the abusive treatment perpetrated by the alcoholic father.

          We don’t begin to know the essence of the father until we encounter striking imagery. His suits were “those dark carcasses hung in your closet.” “Carcasses” were once living things that the father no longer is figuratively, having lost his living as well as being kicked out of his home.

          Likewise, that image is intensified by “the black noses of your shoes with their large pores.” Even the shoes were alive, if leather, especially if they had “noses.” “Their large pores” added a distasteful element to the human comparison that will be touched on later with the use of several other images.

          It seems as though the mother, with her own limitations, had to teach the children to hate, because love for parents can be a powerful, instinctive quality without the leaven of reason. So “we pricked with her for your annihilation” employs a strange verb in that context; the children had to be pushed. The excessive word “annihilation” underscores how their hate had reached extremes.

          Then the poem serves to view down-and-out street people. They are strongly described in ugly terms: “The white slugs of their bodies gleaming through slits in their suits of compressed silt” and “stained flippers of their hands.” It is as if these people inhabit an aqueous lower world.

          The final telling image continues the sea reference: “The underwater fire of their eyes, ships gone down with the lanterns lit.” These people are still alive—“fire of their eyes” and “lanterns lit” and we are led to wonder if the woman who has spoken throughout this poem has come to feel pity for people who have lost everything– including her father.

                                        II – AFTER MAKING LOVE IN WINTER

          This is a very sensual, passionate poem. After making love the woman feels “a plate of iron laid down on my nerves” and “our bodies touch like blooms of fire.”

          This experience has intensified all of her senses so that she sees “the light from the hall burns in straight lines and casts up narrow beams on the ceiling, a figure throwing up its arms for joy.” “The angle itself is blessed, and the dark globes of the chandeliers.”

          A very unique comparison is “the silvery bulbs” cause her to “feel my ovaries deep in my body.” The intensity of this sexual experience reverberates throughout her body to its very core.

          For her, intercourse has made her a complete human being; before, she was a child. “Like God putting the finishing touches on, before sending me down to be born.”

          And with the line “we have come to the end of questions” the woman and man no longer wonder if they can relate fully; they now feel that they have formed a deep indissoluble union.

                                                     III – THE WEDDING VOW

          The couple legalizes their relationship in a simple church, not an ornate high church. Although they have already made a laypersons’ pact between them, they desire a religious benediction.

          And religious imagery is significantly used. “God’s stable perfectly cleaned” while outside is “a moat of mud.” This stresses the plainness of the church, even employing a reference to where Jesus was born.
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          The poet uses what I may call a unique “delay technique.” For instance:
          In truth, we had married
          that first night, in bed, we had been
          married by our bodies, but now we stood
          in history—what our bodies had said,
          mouth to mouth, we now said publicly,
          gathered together, death.
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The word “death” holds considerable power coming at the very end of the sentence. It sums up a total relationship between two people that inevitably ends in old age and death.
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          Again: “We stood
          holding each other by the hand, yet I also
          stood as if alone, for a moment,
          just before the vow, though taken
          years before, took.
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“Took” shows that it involved a long time to develop a relationship before the woman personally could feel secure in it.
          Finally, early in the poem “flies” are wiped off the Bible the minister holds. Later in the poem they appear again to refer to the woman’s parents in a comparison of the two marriages:
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           I felt
           the silent, dry, crying ghost of my
           parents’ marriage there, somewhere
          in the bright space—perhaps one of the
          plummeting flies, bouncing silently
          as it hit forsaking all others
          then was brushed away.
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                                                  IV – THE MONTH OF JUNE: 13 ½

          Years later the couple now has a teenage daughter. They love her very much and applaud each of her growing stages. The poet capsulizes each stage by using school years. Kindergarten is defined as “a strip of thumb-suck blanket.” 1st grade is “a dim cocoon . . . back there somewhere on the path.” 4th grade was a “hard jacket . . . when she had so much pain.”  This reference is cleverly slurred over, as many youngsters encounter difficult times for myriad reasons. “Magenta rind of 5th grade” could mean the daughter graduated from one school, shedding one for another.

          And now 8th grade is “a chrysalis cracking”; she is outgrowing another school, but also as a person she is growing up. “The whole school is coming off her shoulders like a cloak unclasped.” “Her jerky sexy child joke dance is self, self.”  She can “jazz out her hands” and “chant I’m great! I’m great!”  She is not conceited, only realizing her worth.
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          The parents are watching:
          Like a good mother and a
          good father who looked down and
          love everything their baby does, the way she
          lives their love.
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The parents take joy in their daughter maturing into a feeling, expressive adult; so far they have succeeded in raising their child.

                                                           V – UNSPEAKABLE

          After thirty years of marriage the wife is involved in divorce. It is “unspeakable” because it is a tragedy to her; it might also be that she has not come to terms with it using reason. Her mate is “my almost-no-longer husband.”
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          She is still full of questions:  “What was it like, to love me—when you looked at me, what did you see?”
         She muses sadly: “When he loved me, I looked out at the world as if from inside a profound dwelling.”
          She thought:
          We were joined not just for breath’s time,
          but for the long continuance,
          the hard candies of femur and stone,
          the fastnesses.
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          She tries to show no anger, sometimes employs even humor. “All is courtesy and horror.”

          We don’t know the complete story. Is someone to blame? We don’t know his side—except hints of another woman—and never will. In life we often don’t learn all sides of a situation. A poem can explore just so much.  The ending is an enigma: “When I say, is this about her, and he says, No, it’s about you, we do not speak of her.”

I see these five poems as a five-act play about a woman’s life. A woman lives through a difficult childhood. She falls in love. She marries. She and her husband have a child who fulfills them. However, after considerable time their marriage bonds do not hold. The woman cannot say she is reliving her parents’ marriage; hers is different. Also, her child has received a firm foundation to live a healthy life. As all adults, the woman must meet new challenges and continue her life. With power, humanity, and keen poetic skills, Sharon Olds allows us to view all of these vicissitudes in life.
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Ray Greenblatt is an editor on the Schuylkill Valley Journal. His book reviews have been published by a variety of periodicals: BookMark Quarterly, Joseph Conrad Today, English Journal, the Dylan Thomas Society, and the John Updike Society. His new book of poetry, Nocturne & Aubades, is newly available from Parnilis Press, 2018.
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