poems

2 poems by Foy Timms

hole in house
.
In Parcels of Dusk
.
A sack of children elbowed their life chances
into semicircles of existence.
Emerging from concrete at birth,
the boys grew into gaps
beyond tenderness and direction.
And the holes in their houses were unforgiving,
tipping them into a mean thankless bowl of deracinated living.
.
Hurrying along the banks of their lives,
joined up seasons of boy men
hang over stolen trolley futures and abandoned fairgrounds.
In tuneless, toothless margins of night,
they observe the inner linings of others, fidgeting in parcels of dusk.
The oldest trunk of a boy leans against tall scaffolding,
ungifting himself to the world.
.
In Mourning Boots
.
Slinking badger-like onto trains at barely lit stations,
I am holding onto your name,
holding onto your house
and the scattered belongings within,
before plunging them into hostile sky chapters
and then removing them again
with the forbearing patience of ventriloquist hands.
.
Sinking into the valley of a peopleless carriage,
I earn an intangible survival
which nods at street lights from afar.
And now I am rubbing eloquence onto rudderless blunders
and midnight regrets which hide and seek their way
around forgiveness.
.
And the overnight train abruptly jolts and then stops
as hours crease and cease to ache in evolving blue.
I walk out into piercing sunlight, emptied onto the lungs
of an undiscerning town.
Walking until I,
Walking still,
In mourning boots.
.
foy
Foy Timms is a poet/writer based in Reading, Berkshire, U.K. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Glove, Hypnopomp, Peeking Cat Poetry and Pulp Poets Press, among others. She is preoccupied with themes/subjects such as fleeting ‘connections’, departure, solitude, British towns and villages, social exclusion and the sociopolitical dimensions of living spaces. Twitter: @FoyTimms
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Coming on August 15th

gwilhollyfoy

john 3douggg

Poetry by Gwil James Thomas, Holly Day, Foy Timms, John D. Robinson and Doug Holder

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Soft Targets by Deborah Landau

soft
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By Charles Rammelkamp
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Deborah Landau’s new collection continues themes from her previous book, Uses of the Body, which explores the inevitable decline of our physical selves, the body’s vulnerability, its exposure to pain, while celebrating the creative aspects of our beings, the intimate intertwining of pleasure and death. Like that collection, too, there are only eight titles (seven in Uses of the Body), with many of these poems composed of parts which build upon themselves.
.
Unlike the previous collection, these poems add an urgency of political turmoil on top of the individual defenselessness/helplessness, the existential equation. The metaphor of the “soft target” recurs throughout. The first title, “when it comes to this fleshed neck,” begins:
.
When it comes to this fleshed neck
even a finger could do it
.
even a sharp stick,
a blunt blow, a fall –
.
my jugular
there’s a soft target
.
What an image, the soft exposed throat; you can see the vein throbbing under the thin skin, practically begging for violation. This poem ends with the vision of a suicide bomber on a subway train.  Everybody is vulnerable.
.
The next three poems, multi-part suites, focus on Paris (“there were real officers in the streets”), site of so many terrorist attacks; Frankfurt, Germany, as the Holocaust goes into full swing (“those Nazis, they knew what to do with a soft”), and America (“America wants it soft”).  “Existence is killing us,” she writes in the first, with bitter irony.  Paris, the city of love, romance, Eros. “…in Paris we stayed all night / in a seraphic cocktail haze,” she writes, when one may be at her most exposed, least vigilant, not to say at the same time triumphant in her possibilities.
.
Tonight we’re the most tender of soft targets,
pulpy with alcohol and all asloth.
Monsieur, can we get a few more?
.
A few pages later:
.
I’m a soft target, you’re a soft target,
and the city has a hundred hundred thousand softs;
.
the pervious skin, the softness of the face,
the wrist inners, the hips, the lips, the tongue,
.
the global body,
its infinite permutable softnesses…
.
And indeed, this section of the poem likewise ends with a vision of a terrorist’s arsenal: “The bad news is Kalashnikov assault rifles / submachine guns, pistols, ammunition….”
.
Later in this poem come the lines:
.
I rolled over and tried to sleep
thinking mostly of self-preservation,
how it makes everything else irrelevant….
.
Keep your wits about you! The next poem is exactly about self-preservation, the author’s Jewish grandmother escaping Nazi Germany at the end of the 1930’s.  The poem begins:
.
I don’t know
what’s so neo
about neo-nazis
.
they seem a lot
like the old
nazis to me
.
“Those Nazis, they knew / what to do with a soft” – those lines that make up the title of the piece – “an adagio of soft”: a slow, orchestrated movement, deliberate. Yet she escapes, “when, how, when would she / get to New York, St. Louis, Detroit?
.
(the swiftest bike to bike
a frantic Frankfurt, her wits
.
the manifold papers
certified stamped correct)

 .

And then we come to America wants it soft, which is again the current political moment, when “To be female on coronation night was a difficulty. / Her skin under his thumb was a sickhouse was too much.” This sounds so familiar in the Donald Trump era, doesn’t it? Even before the Alabama and Georgia abortion laws. And again, keep your wits about you! Note the escape routes, be familiar with the exit strategy:

.

Keep your passport handy, keep cash

keep water and batteries, collect your meds

and loved ones, just in case,

and silence your phone.

.
This poem ends with a sort of elegy for our dying democracy:
.

The end of America, no one knew how to manage it

but we tried the typical ways of numbing pain –

my daughter painted tiny flowers on her toenails,

I mixed honey and vodka, squeezing in a lime,

and we carried on with our breathing –

my father was still alive, my body kept aging,

the pills helped a little, not a lot.
.
The final poems are no less powerful, contemplating the responsibility of giving birth to a child in these times, a daughter no less, while celebrating the creative act (“Such a reckless act, to pop out a human, / with the jaws of the world set to kill.”); and contemplating, too, the sheer inevitability of death, no matter how we try to forestall or circumvent it.
.
I’ll antioxidize as best I can
bat away death with berries and flax
but there’s no surviving
this slick merciless world
a bucket of guts we’ll be
full-blown dead
.
Deborah Landau’s subtle, mordant wit is evident throughout these passages, as is her lyrical skill with words and sounds (“alcohol and all asloth”; “wrist inners, the hips, the lips”; “the swiftest bike to bike / a frantic Frankfurt, her wits” to cite a few examples).  Soft Targets is relevant and gorgeous at the same time.
.
.
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

Intersection on Neptune by Donna J. Gelagotis Lee

inter
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By g emil reutter
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In this time when many in the United States have forgotten their lineage, of how they came to be in the United States, along comes Donna J. Gelagotis Lee to remind everyone of the immigrant experience, of native born children who have lived lives that those who came here hoped for. Intersection on Neptune brings us into the urban layering of Brooklyn, of family, of Coney Island, to family life and as she writes in the title poem, the country’ pivot point. In the second section the reader is transported New Jersey, the burbs, farms, and shore, of Seaside, of pastures, horses and trails even of a man making deliveries of eggs. Gelagotis Lee brings us into the rest stops, ballgames, writes of the pay phone and a homage to Trenton. She has had a lifelong love affair with Brooklyn and New Jersey. Her poems are blunt and truthful such as this in the second stanza of From a Rooftop in Brooklyn:
.
Today, a sea of brick
buildings combs
the grey air,
green parks pushing them
aside, schools still
straining to meet
the goals of a touchdown
democracy. Silver birds
cluster like butterfilies
as they eagle-sweep over the
land they know, past faceless
windows, a country
below.
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So in the midst of grey air, brick, faceless windows she gives us hope, Silver birds cluster like butterflies.
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These poems by Gelagotis Lee read as a documentary of the American experience with love, family, of the difficult times, the good times. She captures the urban, suburban and rural experience in poems that will stay with you long after the read. Intersection on Neptune reminds us of from where we came, that the United States is a place that new arrivals can accomplish much, it is not an easy ride here, but you can make it.
.
I end with the title poem that captures so much.
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Intersection on Neptune
               –Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn
.
The sea smell rushes
in on a sudden breeze, like
that vehicle that veers into the space
just as someone pulls out. Older
couples, hearty Jamaicans,
Yiddish accents: land of Immigrants;
watch them claim it—
Chinese, Russians, ladies with thick
jewelry, men with yarmulkes;
the elderly line up at the strip
mall to trade stories, their props
canes and old-world hats. Yellow
lights let you cross only to the island.
Sirens interrupt talk. The sea breeze inter-
venes. The walk to the boardwalk is short.
But here, at this intersection, we
Have gathered, where the city turns.
And we find a parking space,
Crowded, a little tight, but afterwards
it’s enough; we all fit.
We smell the sea, the kosher bakery.
Our house is a high-rise
Our horizon, the Verrazano and the Empire
State. We’re on the finger
of New York City –the end
of the subway line, or the beginning—
the city starts and ends here,
on the country’s pivot point.

Birnam Wood/ El Bosque De Birnam by Jose Manuel Cardona – Translated by Hélène Cardona

bir

By Mark Eisner

This book is a forest of love, the richness grown from the shared familiar roots in the fertile Spanish soil of poetry, then spread around the world.

This remarkable forest is a trove of love, grown from shared roots, originating in the fertile Spanish tierra de poesia. The love of a daughter translating her father’s words for all eternity, published just at his death. A renaissance man, and his daughter, a renaissance woman, all of their wonders, all of their life, all of their art now fused together even more through the act of translation. Both have placed their lives in the service of poetry, and it shows. José Manuel’s poetry is informed by the generation in Spain just before him –– Lorca, Machado, it’s evident in the flavors he evokes –– but he takes the baton to create his own voice, inspiring and insightful voice, propelling yet grounding, salted by his experience in political exile.

Above all, “Ode to a Young Mariner” moved me the most, its qualities emblematic of what makes this book work so well. The poem dedicated to the poet’s brother, who at the same time is the translator’s uncle –– movingly and convincingly so that it rowed my heart with warm, resonating, lingering strokes: the endearment and respect for a sibling, the duty as a mariner like the duty as a poet, the reverence that roots this family, the love that lights the words, the woods of this book.

And what a treat for those who don’t read Spanish to be able to have this collection of this truly special poet’s work finally available, accessible for their easy enrichment.

You can find the book here: https://amzn.to/2w8e5kV

Mark Eisner has spent most of the past two decades working on creative works related to Pablo Neruda. They include Neruda: The Biography of a Poet (Ecco, 2018), a finalist for the PEN/Bograd Weld Prize for Biography. He also edited and was one of the principal translators for The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems (City Lights, 2004) and is currently producing a documentary film on the poet. A bilingual anthology of Latin American Poetry in Resistance Eisner co-edited is forthcoming  in 2020. More info at www.markeisner.net.

3 Poems by Mark B. Hamilton

great mia
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In City
.
Massive piers vibrate with the cars
on Covington Bridge, commuting over natural stone
as soothing as a tomb lingering from the night.
.
I skim the shadows
near floating cafes where an occasional cook gazes out,
elbows on the railing, flipping a cigarette.
We pass with the slightest of nods.
.
Sun-lit glitter thrums along a rusted railroad trestle,
hums above imagined dinners neither of us could afford,
while Cincinnati vanishes into the rough corrugations
zoned commercial downstream.
.
The earth begins to heap into scattered clumps,
into mounds of materials, sand and aggregates, tanks
of petroleum from Ashland and Chevron, the conveyor belt
feeding dust into a cloud above a single, pickup truck.
.
Down City
 .
Silt and grit
simmer in the pools speckled with flecks
of metal and globs of oil.
.
Water churns in a commerce of sunlight,
channeling earth organs, filtering wastes
through kidneys of spongy mud.
.
The city settles into sediments, layers into diluted
liquid dumps devoid of what I need or want,
so I row and row to win it back.
.
I make a seat.
I set a table below the swing of my arms,
my hands touching her hands.
.
Trees become glimpses, and then whispers.
.
Out City
.
A cluster of factories hidden in the haze,
the white-walled asphalt plants camouflaged in vapor.
.
At a confluence, I’m surrounded by rainbows of oil
swirling on the chocolate waters of the Great Miami River
.
yawning with its brown and dirty yellow tongue,
exhaling the fumes from a city’s sewage overflow, a storm
of purulent songs that even insects cannot hum.
.
The dark caverns of webbed branches are bent limp,
drooping into the murk of soggy roots sprung and wrung
above a long stretch of mud stench.
.
Unnamed things scatter on the surface
near a bloated carcass—a cow floating in the refuse,
rocking in blotches and humps.
.
And except for a mosquito
revving its wings past my ear, I hesitate to touch
any of it.

.

Mark B Hamilton 2

Mark B. Hamilton’s chapbook, 100 Miles of Heat, is available from Finishing Line Press (2017). Recent poems have appeared in AlbatrossFrogpondsaltfront The Listening Eye, About Place JournalSlipstreamPlainsongsThe Wayfarer, and abroad in Salzburg Poetry Review, Austria, and Oxford Poetry, UK. Others are forthcoming in Third Wednesday: a literary & arts journalComstock Review, and  Weber: The Contemporary Westwww.MarkBHamilton.WordPress.com