As if he is holding a sparrow
you would write me these long letters
after you first moved back home
when we had only been together
a month or so
and they’d arrive, pages and yellow pages
looped in tiny hand writing
that spun little circles all along the paper
containing in them these tiny lovely parcels of your mind.
and when we would visit each other
I remember your eyes, big and drunken looking up at me
like something reaching out
and taking my heart in its fingertips.
they were so blue and round and lovely,
as if you were going to start crying
later on, but your mouth then
would be smiling at me.
and now, almost two years from when it started
I see the photographs of you
with this new guy, and your hand is on his shoulder
and his carefully around your waist
as if he is holding a sparrow
and afraid of crushing the bones.
and you look happy with him.
happier than I remember seeing you
for a long time.
it makes me want to knock the radio
onto the floor to see you looking like that.
but you were happy with me too, when it started.
DS Maolalai recently returned to Ireland after four years away, now spending his days working maintenance dispatch for a bank and his nights looking out the window and wishing he had a view. His first collection, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden, was published in 2016 by the Encircle Press
The Clock Marriage
I watched my husband build clocks his whole life.
Cleaning the centre wheel, connecting the grips
of the escape wheel and third wheel.
He wore a leather apron with a pencil in his mouth,
rested a pivot reaching tool behind an ear.
Sometimes he touched my hand when we sat
on a bus. I never knew why. The pendulum bob
swung between us, and our tongues sometimes
went with the tick tock. I saw his crow foot tool
on the bench. I felt like using it on his chest
to see if his heart had my face on it. He turned
the winding mechanism, set the time for himself,
and I sat in front of the T.V unaware of the hour
hand sinking by. His hands flicked a five prong
clock key. I lay next to him in hope he winds
my parts. But he snored away, lost in the clocks
he had known. I lay with the streetlight haze,
listened to cars thinning with the darkness,
smelt staleness, let my eyelids decide on
when to sleep.
Gareth Culshaw lives in Wales. He is an aspiring writer who has his first collection by futurecycle in 2018.
Loose and Fast Sentences
A loose sentence begins with subject and verb and then drifts off
into a potentially endless series of modifiers and clauses. Take,
for example, that sentence of Thomas Hardy’s that Monty Python
made such sport of, the one that begins on Saturday afternoon
and doesn’t end, presumably, until Sunday: “A Saturday afternoon
in November was approaching the time of twilight, and the vast
tract of land known as Egdon Heath embrowned itself moment
by moment.” Subject? “afternoon”; verb? “was approaching.”
But does anyone remember what we were approaching? Anyone?
While this mystery was playing out in England, a new poetry written
in America by Whitman was reviving the periodic sentence: “Of Life
immense in passion, pulse, and power,/ Cheerful, for freest action
form’d under the laws divine,/ the Modern Man I sing.” Hear that?
We build up to verb and subject. And Whitman is always the subject.
Christ is calling everyone here and I am standing alone in rebellion.
That was the complaint of sixteen-year-old Emily Dickinson during
her year at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, where she decided
to be done for good with Puritanism. She found the atmosphere
of religion thoroughly oppressive — roofed New England churches
that let in little light, Calvinist ministers who uncharitably presumed
the number of the “elect” in their congregations to be very few, and
parishioners who built elaborate mausoleums in the mistaken view
that they were reserving spaces in Heaven. Even the tonalities of
organ music, Dickinson observed, held some mysterious power to
make sinners feel a “Heavenly Hurt” when they’d done nothing wrong.
And so she retreated to Amherst to write her own therapeutic verses.
She would skewer the Resurrectionists, gentrify sin and death until
they’d lost their terror, and reject predestination in favor of possibility.
Greek sculpture is a highly mimetic art, fashioning its gods in
humankind’s image. Unlike a two-dimensional painting or
characters on the page, it reminds us directly of our divinity.
You must not walk away from it before your fledgling self
has had a chance to recognize its own like. Likewise, you must
not walk away if you’ve never heard a work of art speak to you
personally and urgently, and therefore you continue to labor
under a false dichotomy of body and spirit. Or likewise, mistake
the eyes in the mirror and all of your physical infirmities for
the whole and fail to see the divine essence emergent in yourself,
that same emergence that gives birth to new stars and souls.
Now feel that inner sun burst into flame: Apollo has decreed it.
He was the Almighty God of Poetry, and never to appreciate his
potentiality and power would be to go through life a broken ruin.
Asking the imagination to summon a forest unassisted is no easy task,
but here’s a little conjuring trick that may help. Take this Mason jar.
It’s nothing but a prop, a mnemonic — clear and colorless, perhaps a
little grey in the morning light. But feel its smoothness on all sides.
Contrast that with the unhewn wilds one envisions in Tennessee.
The jar is like nothing else there, man-made, and because it’s empty
it’s a powerful vacuum that sucks in every live thing you can imagine,
from fireflies and frogs to fresh pickled preserves. Take a minute to
collect unruly specimens. Then play an association game with sound:
round, around, surround. Observe how the added letters send ripples
through the imagination until the wilderness shoots up on all sides.
The jar also supplies the necessary topography: to experience this,
turn it face-down on your writing table and press. Feel the hills rise.
Press down harder, and those hills press back, asserting their dominion.
M.V. Montgomery is an Atlanta professor who writes poetry, fiction, and screenplays. His website is mvmontgomery.wordpress.com.
Waiting for the Big Blue Bus on Grand and Ninth
Fall’s leer dissolves into winter’s grimace and
soon will come my spring, my sweet, favorite child.
Los Angeles’ sidewalks and freeways gallop
impatiently down to the ocean to catch
the first redolence of meaning hidden there.
New bright Virgins of Guadalupe show up
on outside walls of liquor stores, mercados.
Other walls on other places are sanded
and whitewashed to be new canvas for gang signs and
huge, black anime eyes. There is no such thing
as solitary in March as it lunges,
parries with the sun until speed—then tempo—
patinados usher in lemon-lit air
and long days. I am not sad in spring. I am
commonplace and nothing more than the keeper
of myself, the mother who always loves her
cheeky, consequential spring-child best of all.
Martina Reisz Newberry is a poet and writer. She is the author of Never Completely Awake from Deerbrook Editions in addition to Where it Goes, Learning by Rote, Not Untrue and Not Unkind, Running Like a Woman With Her Hair On Fire, An Apparent Approachable Light and Memoirs of the Open Hearth—a memoir of my father. She can be found at: http://www.martinanewberry.com/
voice caught in the skirts and tendrils
of far too physical
posing a conditional?
when the humming/buzzing might cease
would you sue for peace
so late in warfare
sucking up poisoned sap
false flowerings in a last ditch
I am snake and emu
echidna and feral pig
under earth and foliage
I am simmering
expectant of ultimate gush
howl bark whimper hiss
click thrum clash
crouch and spring
gobble crunch slither and give soul cry
at your wrought fire’s containment
its sputtering fringe tips
where ash eats flesh
I grumble hiccough grunt
slough off the sheaths
will witness all contingencies
until the last fraught cell
gives it up
Let us discover our differences
human as animal
skins touching perimeter
parallel organs pulsating until they fail
the rapid heart songs diminishing
Thou the difference?
a claim of higher faith?
it’s an old idea
as enlightenment spills.
setting aside complexities
slipping a soul into silicon
it may flourish
embracing all elements
formal hierarchies fall away in fact
are stored in unified mind
hear your voice
the breath of your listening
appealing to hope
Linda Stevenson is an Australian poet, with some work currently included in anthologies, and poems published recently in online and print literary magazines, such as “Blue Pepper” (Australia) and “Aspect Aspirations” (Canada). Her most recent collection is a Chapbook titled The Tipping Point; published in Melbourne in 2015, the book’s ecopoems speak to her concern for the world’s environment and our future within it.
endpaper epigrams (graffiti from a cultural nervous breakdown)
the shadow hold-
ing the key?
logic: the steps
all that’s left
of the temple?
Sean Howard is author of three collections of poetry: Local Calls (CBU Press, 2009), Incitements (Gaspereau Press, 2011) and The Photographer’s Last Picture (Gaspereau Press, 2016). His poetry has been widely published in Canada, the US, UK and elsewhere, and eatured in The Best of the Best Canadian Poetry in English (Tightrope Books, 2017.
You can view more photographs by Bryan Rogers here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bryan1720/
JOSEPHINE BAKER SWIMMING POOL
My wife and the others plunge in,
sluice the water like the most elegant of porpoises.
Even my land–lubber heart feels the charm,
the elemental power of water, wishing
I had the ability to join the swimmers,
if only to scissor back and forth once.
Through the ceiling dome, a Paris rain,
a band of crows circle in the dart-blue sky,
Josephine Baker’s spirit among them—I believe
in such things, despite the world’s admonishment
and every evidence to the contrary.
My wife is out of the pool, toweling herself off,
slowly swaying her hips, her own Banana Dance
. cool among the marble and the immortality.
ON THE HORIZON
Along the shore,
still in love with the terra firma,
I set my sights on the future.
The array of lights in the distance
gives me a sense of calm, of promise,
a journey one can take with pride.
That boat floating like a blossom—
I think I’m on it, blowing kisses
to the past, where I stood to receive them.
Tim Suermondt is the author of four full-length collections of poems: Trying To Help The Elephant Man Dance (The Backwaters Press, 2007), Just Beautiful (New York Quarterly Books, 2010), Election Night And The Five Satins (Glass Lyre Press, 2016) and The World Doesn’t Know You published by Pinyon Publishing in late 2017. His fifth book Josephine Baker Swimming Pool will be released in 2018 by MadHat Press. He has poems published in Poetry, The Georgia Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Blackbird, Bellevue Literary Review, North Dakota Quarterly, december magazine, Plume Poetry Journal, Poetry East and Stand Magazine (England), among others. He is a book reviewer for Cervena Barva Press and a poetry reviewer for Bellevue Literary Review. He lives in Cambridge (MA) with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.