poem

2 Poems by Dongho Cha

door

Photograph by Diane Sahms-Guarnieri

.
The Girl
.
Bar the door! However, when he was hollering these
words, hurrying himself from pillar to post here, the
door was being opened half-widely. The girl moved
forward, inching towards the door, wondering why
she was looking outside, instead of inside, through
the door from here the place where she had been kept
all day long. It was like going through a damp and
dark cave, similar to the old underground chamber,
which had once been a shelter for her and her little
brother during the war. And in time, the girl’s oval
shaped fingertips, feeling the fresh air from outside,
almost arrived at the door. The door was yet unclosed,
but right before it there was a cement-block barrier,
half white and half yellow, touched and tapped by the
girl’s hands, bumped and sweated. The girl, at this
precise moment, was beginning to be dragged and
pulled backward, and her belly was banded and her
whole body was contracted when he irritated her on
the back of her neck with his stun gun. Why all this
happen to me now?, hollered the girl over the door.
.
 
The Refugee
.
Forced from home,
he was sent
to a rangy, narrow chamber.
On the very day
he was brought
here, the gas leaked
out of a crack
between hard yellowed brick
and soft dark red carpet.
No sound was
to be heard from within
the room, but
he heard really
a burring sound
that frightened and
repelled him. And
at that moment,
his head was blown off,
and arched into
the rear of the room, but
not high enough
to touch the ceiling.
It was going
deep into the corner,
while in fact
it was flying
out of the room.
What can I do
when this happens,
so frustrated
he said to himself.
The empty chamber
waits for the next person
who will take this
as his new home. You’d
never, never ever,
wish this to happen
to anyone, right?
.
Dongho Cha Head Shot
Dongho Cha, a PhD candidate in English at the University of Illinois, Chicago, is completing a dissertation entitled “The Useful Koreans: Labor and Ethnicity in Contemporary South Korean and Korean-American Literature.” He has written about Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Se-hui Cho, race & class dialectics, global capitalism, modernist poetics, world literature discourses, and other subjects for Modern Language Note, Philosophy and Literature and CLC: Dongho Cha | University of Illinois at Chicago – Academia.edu
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2 Poems by John Timpane

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hobos frieght hopping - library of congress

Photograph courtesy of Library of Congress

Elizabeth and the Tramps
.
The dandelions always grew, even in 1930;
They ran the fields to the fence where all the boards had fallen,
And if, arrayed in clothes and dirt, they cut across the grass lot
The tramps could beat the watchful men who lay for them with rifles.
If they could make her back door, they could beg for dimes and nickels,
A chicken wing, or three square yards on Grandma’s floor for sleeping.
Her yeses earned her word among the sons of the Depression
Who traipsed to her in random flocks and seldom lost her mercy,
Found succor for their freight car mouths, bandages for the broken,
A shoe that almost fit a foot, and small talk if they wanted.
Night, train time, called the tramps away. A couple stayed on longer
Then struck out aimless through the dandelions that grew always.

.

Bach’s Great Theme

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is God arising from trouble. Beginnings welcome
you; a folk song you know
or wish you knew gives way
to hurdles, threats, twinges, changes wrung
out of memory (watery light box);
you climb walls of thorns to
reach the wasteland, sun in your
eyes; valleys fill with mist, milk,
carillons; lighthouses necklace the coast; the
drunken river of song urges backward;
bass and melody leapfrog; branches whip
across your face; mainspring time relaxes.
Does the Orchestral Suite No. 3
in D Major, second movement, move, or
do you? Moving to be living,
to know, to hear, bear this
chord, those scraps of theme around
corners like spies of the spirit?
Haunts, rehaunts. New fields render alien
the childhood path. Have you been
led? Or is being here, the end, wrung,reset
remapped, equal to hearing what you already
hear?

.

photograph by Jessica Griffin

John Timpane is the Books and Fine Arts Editor/Writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philly.com. His work has appeared in Sequoia, The Fox Chase Review, Apiary, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Philadelphia Review of Books, The Rathalla Review, Per Contra, Vocabula Review, and elsewhere. Among his books is a chapbook, Burning Bush (Judith Fitzgerald/Cranberry Tree, 2010).

 

 

 

Bikini Wax, an Inquiry Into Heteronormativity by Jeremy Freedman

j image

Image by Jeremy Freedman

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 Bikini Wax, an Inquiry Into Heteronormativity
.
I got a hot bikini wax and on the first day I got fired
I marked myself safe and then I got fired
I made myself good and pretty for you but me
and my bikini wax were made redundant
I held up my end of the manly bargain
but now I’m off the end of the bed
and now I’m waxing off my remaining meds
I was a longtime pistolero but now I’m pissing up a rope
my wax was extracted and the rope was burned
.
either extracting and burning is a binary
either I do or I don’t or it’s not
either way I made myself pretty for you
I made myself pretty sore for you
and now I’m pretty sure I’m sore or I’m not
either I’m sore at you or I’m not
either I’m a native here or I’m foreign to these shores
maybe I’m a member of that lost tribe or I’m not
either I decide what I want or not want
either creating is deciding or procrastinating
or maybe it’s false to be in its thrall at all
either I do what I can or I can’t
either I’m on fire for you or I’m not
either you fired me or you didn’t
either wax burns or it doesn’t
either your skin when sleeping
has the texture of wax or it doesn’t
either I’m sleeping right now or I’m not
either my waning meds work or they won’t
either you think I’m pretty or I’m not
either I’m pretty in pink or I’m not in the pink
these are either bad decisions or useful habits
these either are beautiful facts or brutal fiction
.
fiction is just a lie that tells the truth
or it’s just a lie that lies there burning
this is either fiction or it’s not
either it’s a capital idea or it’s too much honest labor
either I’m an honest worker or I’m as honest as a liar
I’m the artist here so I won’t defend myself to you
maybe I like a good ass-whipping or maybe I don’t
maybe you’re the one to give it to me or maybe you won’t
either this date will stink in my calendar like rotten fish
in the refrigerator or else it will smell like your rose tattoo
either I’m a teenage fascist or I’m just skipping past the truth
maybe you like one fascist finger inside you or two at most
but not my whole fist please small though it is
I’m either horny as a frog or oily as an otter
maybe you’ll find me grease-streaked
and yellow like the cheese whiz
on top of a cheese steak on the griddle
or maybe I just forgot to sizzle
or maybe I’m as pretty as the dribble
coming from the corner of your mouth while you’re sleeping
I hear your voice either declaiming or complaining
either the burning bush is on fire or that’s not the voice
of the hostess with the mostess I hear
coming from the holiest of holies
calling me madman or calling me madam
.
telling me either I’m free at last at home free
and independent or else I’m undependable
or else I’m a dog in a dog-shaped doghouse
either I’m the belle of the ball or the beast with the least
maybe that’s the song I’m singing in high tenor
maybe if I were a bell I’d go ding dong dinging in terror
maybe I’m wearing a dress for success or maybe I’m not
either it’s my birthday suit or it’s not my dress
either I’ll grow into it or I’ll hide my ass in the hedges
either I’m hiding in the hedges or I’ll take a hiding
.
maybe the arc of the moral universe bends toward an ass-whipping
maybe the arc of the moral universe has the shape of my schlong
maybe life is bright and brief as the night is dark and long
maybe the Sicilian defense is no longer worth the candle
maybe Mt. Etna is on fire for you alone and blew
its top again too hot to handle without a glove
maybe there’s comfort in fear and comfort in love
either you’ll drink in the smoke or you’ll run for the hills
either your cities are buried in ash or they’re not
either it’s the ash of Ash Wednesday or it’s not
who can say why your forehead is dirty
I’m pretty sure that’s not a fingerprint I saw imprinted
I’m pretty sure it’s not Easter Monday or Maundy Thursday
either it will stay dirty or I’ll have to clean it up
either this a fork in the road and I’ll take it both ways
or maybe I’m unsighted that direction
or maybe the fat lady lost her tenor and forgot to sing
and this is the end of the bed
.
maybe I’ll wish upon my lucky star
either we’re lucky or we aren’t
either we stand on something evanescent as heaven
or we stand crotch deep in muck
if we’re lucky this is only the first circle of hell
and either we’re fucked or we’re not it’s too dark to tell
.
Jeremy
Jeremy Freedman is a writer and artist living in New York City. His poems have been published in 2 Bridges Review, Pioneertown, Queen Mob’s, Cleaver, The Missing Slate, and elsewhere. His chapbook “Apophenia” is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. His photographs have been exhibited in Europe and the United States and have been featured in numerous journals. More work can be seen at jfreenyc.com

Revelstoke Mountain, 5am by Julia Wakefield

sunset-from-one-of-the
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Revelstoke Mountain, 5am
.
The valley holds its breath
no birdsong cuts the deep indigo
of conifer forests
 
one peak’s snow patches begin to blush
its neighbour waits, a grey silhouette
for its gilding
.
at last the harsh crow’s croak
breaks the spell
heralds the rumble and screeching of the 5.30 train
as it rattles the bridge and snakes over
the valley floor
.
in the cherry tree
the banshee twitter of a squirrel
hurls bold threats
at tiny birds
.
pine scent mingles with new-mown grass
pearls from last night’s rain
cling to every grass blade
.
beyond the tree line, bald eagles climb thermals
as the sun marches over
the mountain’s edge
.
clouds muster and retreat from the lowland hollows
linger in packs, throwing shadows to trap
woodlands and rock faces
.
the mountain is a moving picture
its flanks morph from cliffs to chasms;
where there was one peak
now there are two
here a clear track;
now there is none.
.
The day grows old
mountains flood the valley with shadows
swallow the sun
spray stars across the sky
toss the moon from peak to peak.
 
 .
Julia

Photograph by Martin Christmas

Julia Wakefield has spent most of her life working as a visual artist, specialising in illustration and printmaking.  Since arriving in Adelaide in 2001 Julia has focused on poetry and spoken word, and her poems have been published in several Friendly Street Poets anthologies as well as in poetry journals Page Seventeen and Rabbit Poetry. She won second prize in WA’s Trudy Graham Literary Award for Poetry in 2010, and was highly commended in Friendly Street Poets’ Satura Prize in 2016.  She has a special interest in Japanese forms and she is an active member of the Adelaide-based Bindii Japanese Poetry Forms group.  Julia Wakefield

Submissions are Open

Submissions to North of Oxford are open on a rolling basis. We accept submissions of poetry, reviews, essays and commentary. Our complete guidelines are here: https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/about/

2 Poems by Annie Blake

taMe by arr hart

taMe by Arr Hart

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THE BODY IS AN EPIPHENOMENON
This man says I feel warm and deep.
He tells me my body is soft. When we sleep he wants
the part that carried our children. I wish
I had pale turquoise eyes. I’ve always loved transparent
eyes the most. The thinnest—devoid
of all humanness and connection.
.
There is a way to empty corruption through your eyes. This world
stands upright like a giant machine that has special hands
that operate me. Eyes can at least shed delicate things like skin.
The rest stays in the pit which revolves
like the skinny whining of a child
who is begging for something different to the money you give.
.
The man doesn’t look at it that way. He doesn’t know
what passes through my mind and out of my eyes.
He doesn’t sink into another world
during incubation sleep. He sees fire in me sometimes.
He says the light in my eyes is the strongest
when I sit in his lap and smile. He sits down behind me and strokes
.
my hair. He doesn’t know
I’m thinking of something else.
Of which point exactly did I die. At which point did I realize
I wasn’t really here. He tells me
my hair is so long and glossy. He wants to brush it.
I don’t understand how a man can value my body.
.
I tell him to stop calling me Mom.
He says our kids call me Mom.
He doesn’t know we are both a product of our mothers’
renunciation of intimacy.
My olive skin tans so well. I think white skin; colorless—
like a double-bricked hospital wall, would suit me better.
.
THINKING OF YOU
for F.S.
.
I think of you. There are many people I am thinking
about. The world you die in is not the same one you are born in.
The gristles in the city are feeling like roads.
I was wrong about so many things. The dingy
terraces with their bikes with their baskets tied to the front—
the moon as wide and yellow as a sun-lit lake—
watch how I paste it to the skyline.
Lamps are shining over their doors.
I’m older than I thought I would be.
.
There is no physical space for anything. But the mind
is bigger than that. There is a lot we can carry—
even that we don’t see. Of what you did.
Of me. Our one body was an attempt.
When the last tide gives in,
watch how your matching accoutrements fall through
your hands. You still don’t know
I was thinking of you. You will never know
about these pieces, these vines that keep stretching
.
and arching their tongues back in the dark. Sometimes it is better not to know.
Whenever I walk without you, I feel
for your letter in my pocket. It is hardly discernible now.
What you have killed.
How much of your water I have drunk.
When I saw your cold face—your wrist bent the wrong way—
your fingers flicked back like arrows pointing to strange lands.
Death makes us see things. White thin sheets for skin—eyes
as wet as sinking boats. The flesh around them the color of cut meat.
.
Can you see me now under this blanket—this heavy sea,
this dark water? Did you know there is a new sun?
It is bigger than the one that shines here.
More people should look at dead bodies. It should be mandatory.
We both disbelieved in God. We agreed it was speculation. The sea is carrying us in.
Bodies are the softest when they lie whole in death’s light-filled mouth.
I will let no other color permeate your skin. My hand is visible
even under the water. More people should view this sweeping
of the earth—this rapid shifting of the grains.
.
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annie blake photo headshot (2)
Annie Blake is an Australian writer who has work published or forthcoming in Mascara Literary Review, Red Savina Review, Antipodes, Uneven Floor, The Voices Project, Into the Void, Southerly, Hello Horror, Verity La, GFT Press, About Place Journal, Gravel, Australian Poetry Journal, Cordite Poetry Review and more. Her poem ‘These Grey Streets’ was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize by Vine Leaves Literary Journal. She is excited about the process of self-actualization, research in psychoanalysis, philosophy and cosmogony. She holds a Bachelor of Teaching, a Graduate Diploma in Education and is a member of the C G Jung Society of Melbourne. Annie Blake (The Gatherer)
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Arr Hart is an artist and photographer. Her photographs can be found here: Arr Hart
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LATE, ALMOST MORNING by Lucas Carpenter

sky 2

Photograph by g emil reutter

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    LATE, ALMOST MORNING       
.
Even to be ready to be ready
Before the sky caves in,
Before the rats overrun the trenches,
I need more information.
And I want it neat,
Not soft and mushy,
Given to polysemy and tropes,
But one-to-one correspondences
Between word and thing, idea or action.
.

       Where are you in the space between thoughts?
       Folded over maybe in many layers,
       Launched out from being
       But for a time erased.

I’ve listened too long to frowning fathers,
Feckless in their broken glass blandishments,
Their orders about the order of things.
It’s time to get real, mash out memes,
quantify the qualia, put ‘em up for bid.
Circumstance dictates itself,
But everything (all except anything)
Will shed dark on time’s history,
Leaving the best for last.

       What we know as now
       Is based on a true story
      Told with toil and trouble,
      A feast of false dreams recurring.

See the differences crawl out first,
Take note of their notices,
The abrupt abandonment of rule
By those involved, quiet statements
To the contrary impaled on iron spikes
Where they rot unattended,
Never allowed to happen again.
What is life? What is death?
And who am I to want either?

       Here at the center of time,
       Deep-mindedly engaged
      With self-organizing systems
      You are indifferent to the fate of the world.

I awaken to melancholy in the blankness
Of a hotel room, admitting the obscurity of dusk,
Searching for a cosmological constant
In the symbolic contents of my mind
Where mathematics can be imagined
Only as a form of grammatical mutation
Illuminated by imaginary light flexed
By victims of unjustified euphoria
Hanging limp as strange fruit outside.

       Dusty strangers speak their songs,
      Offering them outright for a chance to stay
      Safe within the borders of creation
      Where they’re warned to stay outside.

Hate traps abide like land mines around us
Inviting us in to the dark pleasure of being alike
So we can huddle together to build the heat we need
To annihilate our desire for the others who claim
To belong on the same ride through existence
Without buying the same ticket. We have plans
But they aren’t included, only measured
For the size of space they occupy and the time
They consume in the unnamed future.

       Qualifiers tell us what to do
       So as not to miss the climax
       They say is our due,
       Our holy remnant to hope for.

I want to be out on the wildest edges,
Frolicking with fingers flexed,
Ready for animal homilies to dissolve
Into the waiting, leaden gasses
Where beastly priests breathe
And toys fly off the shelf. Problem is,
There’s no here or there without murder.
Black-lacquered faces prepare themselves.
Recycled armies are headed for the front.

      I exist too much. I
     Don’t exist enough.
     Who will be seated
     When the music stops?

.
 
carpenter_cover
Lucas Carpenter’s stories have appeared in Berkeley Fiction Review, Short Story, The Crescent Review, Nassau Review, The Chattahoochee Review, and South Carolina Review. He is also the author of three collections of poetry, one book of literary criticism, and many poems, essays, and reviews published in more than twenty-five periodicals, including Prairie Schooner, The Minnesota Review, College Literature, Beloit Poetry Journal, Kansas Quarterly, Carolina Quarterly, Concerning Poetry, Poetry (Australia), Southern Humanities Review, College English, Art Papers, San Francisco Review of Books, Callaloo, Southern History Journal, and New York Newsday. He is Charles Howard Candler Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Emory University.