g emil reutter

Thank Your Lucky Stars by Sherrie Flick

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By g emil reutter

In this collection of short stories and flash fiction, Flick, displays her unique ability for seamless transition from urban to rural to suburban, often in the same story. Her use of metaphor and stunning imagery draws the reader into each story and unlike many collections of short fiction and flash fiction. This collection is like a fine quilt layered in a complex weave of unpredictable outcomes and character development.

She brings us Lenny the Suit Man who sells to millennials out of van, yet they are fine suits and his customers seek advice from the suit man. Flick tells us of the nickname, Sweetie Pie, in a flash fiction piece about infidelity that a woman bestows on her man when he finds an unknown sock in the his bed.

Flick writes in Birds in Relation to Other Things:

I remain in this small room. Her, it’s always dusty twilight. Our window pane is loose and cracked. It rattles with the breeze.

I talk softly into a coal-black phone after it has run twice. I listen to my voice. Reassuring. Reassuring. I put down the receiver.

You’ve gotten into an old car, a car in which you’re comfortable. You glance in the rearview mirror and drink juice from a bottle.

The birds have come to know me well. They trust me. They perch on my lamp, chair and ashtray. They are small and move quietly around my soiled clothes and hair, my dirty fingernails.

She writes of the polyester and plastic women of Las Vegas. And this from Pittsburgh Women:

When it’s dark, the women walk outside. They hear the clank of machines, the rattle of trains, the breeze tapping its way through every single tree. The women inhale with their hands on hips: they strike wooden matches to hold the flame to the fuses of fireworks, which pop and sizzle as they dart up into the night sky.

The story, Open and Shut, is about a young woman who moves from San Francisco to Nebraska. Flick in this defining story of the collection transitions from the urban to rural, from man to man, hipster to cowboy in such a seamless manner that the story flows like an uninterrupted breeze just above the stormy, gritty realism.

In this relationship driven collection she writes in the story, Snowed In:

So when he calls, leaving a message about forgotten coffee, he is already a thing of the past. The coffee is in the past—our morning, our voices, our life, it is back there in a different time. This time, on the other side, has little room for details.

In the story, Ashes, Flick displays her attention to detail and avoidance of cliché as in this passage from the story:

Up ahead, she sees red-black-and-flannel, someone in jeans walking along. Uncommon this early. Jocelyn has been studying the mosses and has strayed from the trail to climb a large rock with frilly, lacy green lining its top and side. Like carpet. She daydream about moving into the forest. Building a house that has trees soaring up through it and real moss carpet to dig her toes into.

These images as in all of Flick’s stories are fresh and relatable to the reader.

You can find the book here: https://www.autumnhouse.org/books/thank-your-lucky-stars/

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g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. He can be found at: https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/

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In the Shadow of King Saul by Jerome Charyn

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By g emil reutter

Charyn opens this collection of essays, written 1978 through 2005, with an introduction that flows like a fast moving stream. He writes about the sadness that consumes Saul, a king without a song. David is a singer of songs and admired by many much as Charyn’s father was a silent man without a song and Charyn himself a singer of words. He tells us at the end of In the Shadow of King Saul:

“If David is history’s darling, then we, all the modern fools—liars, jugglers, wizards without song—still have Saul.”

In Ellis: An Autobiography, Charyn writes of the hard knock neighborhood he grew up in, of the gangs and peacemakers of the scars left upon families that were processed through Ellis Island into America. He visits Ellis on a tour and tells us:

“She took us step by step through an immigrant’s day, and for me it was like going through the Stations of the cross, rituals of suffering every five or ten feet.”

Charyn writes of the discrimination of not only Jews but of other groups gaining entry:

“The Irish came here and discovered another ruling class: politicians, bankers and grocers. The natives clamored to send them back to Ireland, organizing into secret societies like the Order of the Star-Spangled Banner and other Know-Nothings, who were a kind of northern Klan.”

He tells us of the arrival of Italians and Jews from Eastern Europe after 1880. “..they were no more dirty than the Irish had been. Other nativists opposed this “eastern horde.”

I find this essay timely for today’s world for many of the descendants of those who entered Ellis Island and suffered great discrimination are now in the role of the natives who opposed their forefathers entry into this country and now oppose others coming to America.

Charyn writes two essays on the writer Isaac Babel who wrote in Stalinist Soviet Union and had a love for all things French. Charyn explores Babel, his public and private lives, the great conflicts and Babel’s own influence on Charyn’s writing.

In Haunch Paunch and Jowl he writes of those who were for a time forgotten. Herman Melville, Scott Joplin and Henry Roth all who were discovered later and now have influenced generations of writers and musicians. He tells us of the author of Haunch Paunch and Jowl, Samuel Ornitz and how the novel was condemned by critics:

“…published in 1923 as “An Anonymous Autobiography” has more to tell about the relationship between Jews, politics, and crime than any other work of fiction or nonfiction. The novel reads like a sociological song.”

He enlightens us to the past and our current events once again writing:

“The nativists had finally won. The National Origins Act of 1924 put an absolute quota on the number of Italians, Slavs, and Jews that could enter the United States…stopped the flow of immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe.”

In the ten essays in this collection Charyn writes of literary figures, Saul Bellow, Lionel Trilling, and Anzia Yezierska. He writes of the great baseball player, Josh Gibson, recounts his visits to the movies and his fascination with Rita Hayworth and Errol Flynn and even the comics and the character Krazy Kat. He is a writer of great passion, lyric and empathy. Charyn tells of the fleeting fame that comes from pop culture and the literary world. Of the pain of immigration and its lasting effects on families, of bigotry and the battle of all to become one with America. My own father once told me you have to know where you come from. It was advice I have always carried with me. A son of the Bronx he grew up during the great depression and he would have enjoyed these essays that flow from the page with realism and from an author who knows the truth.

 

You can find the book here: https://blpress.org/books/shadow-king-saul/

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g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. He can be found at: https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/

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Welcome Distractions- Accessible Poems for Time Strapped Humans by Carol Wierzbicki

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By g emil reutter
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The first time I read a poem by Carol Wierzbicki was in the Outlaw Bible of American Poetry.  Wierzbicki was part of the Unbearables with Thad Rutkowski, Hal Sirowitz and many other poets, who at the time were were active in challenging the established literary elites and elites in general. Unlike many movements, the Unbearables continue. In the case of Wierzbicki, she has released an excellent collection of poetry. Welcome Distractions – Accessible Poems for Time-Strapped Humans. Fittingly the book is part of the Unbearable Series published by Autonomedia. In these unadorned beautifully written poems Wierzbicki writes of poets, politics, her beloved Brooklyn and much more. In the second stanza of Ode to Brooklyn she captures pre-millennial Brooklyn.
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You, with your rusting smokestacks,
your vigilante block associations,
chain-smoking beauty salon owners and patrons,
over the top Christmas displays crowding your
postage stamp-sized front lawns,
marketing slogans that breed like flies
your brass-knuckle childhoods,
your forsythia stubbornly flourishing
beside the grimiest warehouses,
your incongruously ultramodern gas stations
your overpasses and viaducts,
a thousand negative spaces for neighborhood kids
to unfurl their evil games,
lawnmowers, awnings your thwarted attempts
at upscale suburbia.
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These images stay with the reader as a photograph in words, intense realism.

In the poem Champion Cat Breeder, Wierzbicki shows her humorous side in reflecting on poets.

“So you’re big in the poetry world/Who Cares?/ It’s like being a champion cat breeder/ You move in weird, fussy/ little circles/ where ego’s erupt like cat-spit …”

Wierzbicki takes on the elites in the poem, My Apology to Saks 5th Ave. In the second stanza she writes:

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I don’t deserve to be here
I feel out of place
wandering among your white walls
and shiny black shelves
and unforgiving light
and angular salespeople.
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And again in the fourth stanza:
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…My guilt at being here cuts both ways:
I don’t earn enough money to shop here,
but I can still browse the sale racks
to comfortable anonymity;
no security personnel
will suddenly appear alongside me,
grabbing my thin, lily-white wrist.
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She ends the poem, Unincorporated Township, in beautifully unadorned verse with images that once again stay with the reader.
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The town hall stands unfinished
over earth that is brown and cracked
to match radon-soaked brick
of the hastily knocked-up dwellings
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The snow that falls here
turns beige on contact
and the people that die here
do so in midsentence.
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Wierzbicki writes poems of love, family, neighborhood, injustice. She reflects about the times we live in the poem Age:
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We’re living in a disposable age, a polemical age, a laughable
age, a tragical age, a changeable age. An age of individuality that
curls back toward conformity like a snake eating its tail. A digital
age of tweets and posts and texts and yet an age where we crave
face-to-face contact. It’s an age of excess and yet not having
enough. An age of hate and yet of radical love cradling the hated ones.
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It’s an age of extreme weather: fires, floods, tornados,
hurricanes and intensely beautiful days. An age of jealously
guarded privacy and unprecedented surveillance. An age of
space travel and deep drilling. Of discovery and discovering
how little we actually know. Of unstoppable development and
naturally reclaimed land, flowers blooming above sludge.
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A paradoxical age of rural lifestyle movements within cities:
beehives and tomato plants on rooftops, crops of corn and herbs
in parking lots – where we’re both locavore and globally
connected. An age where the city has no future and IS the future.
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Where we all speak different languages and yet push the same
buttons.
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If you are a lover of poetry, of realism, of intense rhythmic poetry you should pick up a copy of Welcome Distractions- Accessible Poems for Time Strapped Humans.

You can find the book here:

https://bookstore.autonomedia.org/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=75_71_22&products_id=779

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g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. He can be found here: https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/ 

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Journey to the Beloved by nur alima schieBeare

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By g emil reutter
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nur alima schieBeare is a poet who is spiritual, reflective, a true believer with a dash of radical thought. schieBear has studied meditation and religions most of her life, a seeker of the answer. Journey to the Beloved is a weave of religion, music, love, nature, politics and jazz. These poems are not naïve as schieBeare has been around the block a few times as they say. An activist her plate is always full. Yet this poet brings us poems such as the first two stanzas of Birth Place:
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how beautiful to live beyond the earth
to stream through darkest reach of space
a trail of luminous particles
a comet of sweeping light
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to dance with planets
and whirl with suns
pausing to turn in the pulsing orbit
of sonorous elder beings
singing their harmonies for eons
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These outstanding images bring the reader into the poem and at some points you can actually see schieBeare dancing with the planets above. Her musicality comes through in the first stanza of Autumn Sounds:
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today the warmth of summer’s in the air
insects singing, dancing
in the golden mist
but quietly in the background
the voice autumn
sounds its warning
whispering ending…ending
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It is evident again in the two stanzas of Poem of Life:
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an interactive interweaving tapestry
of movement voices
cacophony of existence
we sing our heart songs
to one another
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we soar
our wings brush the stars
the winds from our sky dance
an ocean of movement
a cloud cradle
in which the earth spins
turning on it’s axis
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In the poem, To Genius Lost and Found, schieBeare jazzes things up- sounds of wholeness/soulness/descend into soulless/ half realms/of white powder dreams/glimpses of bliss/ warm love at blood speed. There is a rawness in her political poems such as this from Occupy- …I remember how much rage/I used to feel. but I’m not feeling that now,/just a desire to love and create beauty/bring light into the world/
where I feel a curtain descending,/a curtain of darkness,/ and it feels like the veil/ that descended across Europe in the  1930’s…
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Deeply spiritual, the first three stanzas of the poem Bhakti Yoga defines her commitment to belief:
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what can I say
I looked up at the crescent moon tonight
and I fell in love
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I was driving home
after sitting with the lord of light
the lord’s fountain of living water
flowing from my heart
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I looked up at that sliver of moon
and I fell
             and I fell
                          and I fell
                                       into love
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nur alima schieBeare brings us on a journey through her life, her faith, her activism, her love for life always seeking the truth. nur alima schieBeare is a true believer in love and peace.

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g emil reutter can be found at: https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/

 

A Fire Without Light by Darren Demaree Demaree

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By g emil reutter
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Darren Demaree is a singer of poems. His latest collection, A Fire Without Light, is a series of polemic poems aggressively written, contentious in nature, written in the present. Demaree walks into the fire without fear. The fire he writes about is the Trump Presidency.
 
He opens the book with a dedication.
 
This book is dedicated to every person that believes empathy is our most important strength, and that those that believe it to be a weakness are the weakest among us. Those people that rally against love and acceptance we will remember, but we will never raise their names in song without the anger
they forced into our hearts.
 
Demaree tells us in #3, I like song. I will get used to these short songs. I will learn what I need to do. I won’t waste a single breath. I will sing as often as I can.
 
Sing he does and often throughout this collection not in fear but in his view of the reality of the Trump Presidency. Such singing as this:
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A Fire Without Light #12
New sorrow, old accuracy, we all arrived outside the
community center to say his name without teeth, to
let bounce it around our mouths, to have it be chewed
up while it left that cave, to see it injured in the world
before it was ever heard by another soul. Such a chaotic
thing, his name, such a weight, a violence in image and
repetition, and now we’re forced to taste it. Nobody
wants to taste his name, but we must if we’re going to
mangle it properly
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In #30 he tells us … We know all of his moves. We know he waited for the darkness, so that he may be the light. We know he is not the light… We offered him the world. We know he means to consume the world. We offered him the world. We know he means to consume the world. We offered him the world. We offered him the world.
 
Demaree tells us that we are all responsible and in this no one is blameless. He continues throughout to yawp.
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A Fire Without Light #41
I didn’t have it in me, to seal my mouth like Berryman
suggested, keeping the air of my anger inside, and
dancing so little that I might be mistaken for a fearful
American. I am not afraid. I’m quiet. There is no list
making in my heart. I’m writing these poems all of the
time, and I’m smiling while I pile them behind every
Ohioan that voted for Trump. I won’t have to push
them over this horse-high collection. They will turn
naturally, and have to swim through the thousands of
pages. Most of them will give up, and turn back to my
stillness. They will hold me. We will never talk about
why. We will know, but we’ll never have to talk about it.
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In #76 he sings, The sweat of hate makes us all think we need to be
rewritten into elegy… Humanity for all. Humanity for Donald J. Trump.
May he find humanity before we are forced to rest against the zero.
 
Demaree is not one of those folks who talk of leaving, there is a strength to him to speak out no matter the strength of the wind, no matter the damage. He has his doubts but is holding onto his country.
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A Fire Without Light #655
How lucky I am to be greeted with the wind as I
smack back against the ribs of America. This is the
era of bruising. Those of us that survive will look like
survivors. Those of us that are buried will be buried in
numerous plots. This is the shredding of the tendons of
the American hopefuls. I have no intention of leaving. I
have no idea if I can hold on to my country.
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These poems are daring, dusky and intense. Demaree reveals a moral strength standing not wallowing in despair; writing of the ongoing fires lit by Trump over 2017 desiring to document and extinguish as many as he can. He boldly walks through the storm under the dark clouds that dwell above America telling us in these poems that there is hope, we can survive, and freedom of speech is the most powerful weapon we have.
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You can find the book here: A Fire Without Light
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g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. You can find him here:About g emil reutter
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The Conduit and other Visionary Tales of Morphing Whimsy by Richard Gessner

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By g emil reutter
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Welcome to the strange world of Richard Gessner where words and images matter. Gessner provides the reader with fresh images, use of words and stories that may or may not be about what they appear to be. Surreal? Maybe. Or they may just be reality in disguise. 
 
The Zoo-Bray is located in the basement of a library. Those kept in the basement, (dark?), are writers of every kind. Parking-ticket scribblers face classical versifiers—Subpoena makers face street poets to produce spontaneous legal writs–… The forgotten face the immortal–. All of them are kept under the watchful eye of the zoo-breeder who wanders through the maze of hallways listening to the congress of burgeoning tete-a-tetes caught up in an infectious meld of snowballing ideas. He tells us at the center is an incubator where the pairs of the most promising writers chosen by the zoo-breeder are placed to mate and give birth. Gessner tells us the zoo-breeder decides what books make it to the upper shelves and what ones do not. Now the story could be viewed a surreal or a thinly masked critique of cookie cutter MFA programs.
 
Gessner gives us a wide ranging group of stories such as Excerpts From the Diary of a Neanderthal Dilettante. The Conduit a tale of a man stabbed in the heart seeking refuge in a pipe:
Moving down the windy concrete tunnel, listening for his arteries drain, he leaves a red carpet for the assailant’s knife. Millennial scorpion stinging itself drowning in cesspools of regeneration. Hug, wide, longer than all seeing memory. The pipe sparkles with light, twinkling with blood hitting the cold air. The strangeness of the travel of the man in the pipe with dance callers, ancestors, wedding rings looping, ego dust and random chaos. Weird images carefully crafted by a writer who has earned his chops. 
 
    He gives us hermits, a unicyclist, arbitrators, a man in a couch and so much more wrapped in unnatural situations. Gessner looks at the world through distorted glasses and yet as the reader moves through this work all comes into view. Such as in this flash fiction piece, The Pelican’s Tonsils: 
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    A psychiatrist stands in the ocean, wearing his patient’s galoshes, waiting for barnacles to adhere to them.
    His framed doctor’s degree has escaped from his office wall and taken up residence inside the pouch of a pelican sitting on a far off rock jutting from the ocean.
    In the stark wetness of the pouch, the lettering from the degree wears off getting stuck to the pelican’s tonsils. When the pelican dives for fish its tonsils wiggle, rearranging the lettering from the doctors degree.
    In order to restore his official identity and career, the psychiatrist affects a man of action stance, preparing to swim out into the ocean and give the pelican a tonsillectomy—but the barnacles clustering on his patient’s galoshes keep him anchored to the shore as he attempts to swim—the crustaceous ball and chain keeping him forever split!
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Gessner is a master of imagery, metaphor, of the unnatural setting and has produced a fantastic collection of bizarre stories that are equally disturbing and fantastic.
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g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. You can find him here:About g emil reutter
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Albatross by Dore Kiesselbach

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By g emil reutter
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On the surface there is a cool detachment by this poet, yet as one reads through the collection there is a strong undercurrent of emotion, of trauma, heartbreak and reality. Kiesselbach has given us a collection of poetry that requires more than one read, not for the ability to understand, but to explore the many layers, to explore the intensity of Kiesselbach’s poetry.
In the poem, Bob, Kiesselbach writes of a time when he hung out in a 7-11 where Bob would let him work from time to time. He sets the tone in the opening.
 
Bob
was what his 7-11 nametag said. Part of his head
was missing. Tumor or crash, they excised
skull and left a steel plate, thinner than bone,
behind. It made a dent where, if his
head were a hand, the fist would be.
When he couldn’t find the right word,
he’d make a tapping motion there.
 
Although he writes of events at the store, working the register, of going home to a grim family, of never stealing a cent, although he did take a Hustler, Bob had become his family and as you read the poem you continue to go to the opening and see Bob tapping the steel plate watching the boy work in the store.
 
In the section titled, Worn, Kiesselbach revisits 9-11 as an eyewitness to events. In the poem, PlumeHe writes:
 
Close upon a long hiccup in the light comes
clockwise torsion incident to the sound
of a huge cupped hand slapping water.
Concussion’s shiver shuffles your guts
On its way to Tim’s office and parts
northeast.
 
And at the end:
 
In a turbulent flow of faces
you recognize one, late to work,
not among the early birds lying
uncharacteristically down on the
job three blocks away. What’s going
on? It’s never been so hard to say.
 
From the poem, Blood:
 
Many thousands
headed to Manhattan
hadn’t gone, like
a colony of seabirds
on a cliff in a gale
were simply
staying put,
thoughts of
feeding eclipsed
for the day.
 
An equally intense section of the collection is, Cut Short. An excellent example is the poem Crucifixion.
 
One minute he’s looking at you, full-size, in anguish.
and the next he’s a stricken Harryhausen figurine.
Someone with cooler blood would be wishing
for a compendium of diseases but you’re
pressed too personally into the event
to separate symptoms from suffering.
If it can be thought to do so, horror
flows like gas from an unlit oven,
well past the point where it makes
any sense at all to strike a match.
When he says there’s this awful
pounding in my head no one has
the heart to tell him it’s not in your head.
 
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g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. You can find him here:About g emil reutter