poems

The Ballad of Morbid and Putrid By Sawyer Lovett

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The Ballad of Morbid and Putrid
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How many times
Did she tell me I’d be
p e r f e c t
if I were a boy,
further pulverizing my
tender lesbian heart.
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& here I am
all these years later;
relocations & relationships,
addiction & recovery,
all these miles & memories later.
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They say you never forget
your first
            crush
            love
            heartbreak
& I am certain, having outlived mine
remembering is memorial.
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I will always wonder
what she would think
of the boy I became;
of the man in progress
of the person she knew
but never really met.
Would I be perfect now
in this same skin, differently shaped?
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I will always miss her
will always wonder
if knowing myself earlier
could have saved us both.
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Sawyer Lovett is a writer, bookseller, and professor. He is a pretty good person, but he is always trying to be better.
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A Feeling Called Heaven by Joey Yearous-Algozin

a feeling

By Greg Bem 

I wanted to show you something

that would give you pleasure

before the end of the world

(page 3)

Climate change. Ecological disaster on a global scale. The coming and going of empire, civilization, the human imprint. The collapse. The Anthropocene. It is all very present and very intangible and, no matter how we spin it, the end of the world (as we know it and have known it) is nigh. And so, what are we going to do about it? There are many who believe that the only two responses are complacency and response, where response is solution oriented. But there is a third, humble option: acceptance.

The embracing of finality is a core concept in Joey Yearous-Algozin’s A Feeling Called Heaven, a book surging with as much pause as activity. Within this remarkable collection, Yearous-Algozin takes the poet’s approach to disaster and hopelessness by finding a contemplative, curious, and stable position of observation. Not without difficulty, the poet’s form is as much didactic as it is conceptual: the poet is one of instruction and of a simpler positing within the calm reality that the horrific exists and it probably really is too large for us to manage.

I want you to focus your mind

on denouncing the hope

embedded in the idea

of our momentum as a species

the belief that we will somehow continue

even after we’ve gone

(page 40)

The book is composed of two poems: a first that lasts most of the book, and a second that serves as a coda to close out what is, overall, a sequence of meditations, mantras, prayers, and cathartic rest. The poems total just over 60 pages in length, and I felt them gently urging me on from the moment I opened the book. I felt the poet’s breath, the angles through which the dismal was approached, and reconciled, and I read on and on until the last line. There are natural pauses throughout the book’s first poem, “for the second to last time,” but they feel more like the space between the pulse than any full rest. It is an active book, after all, one that accounts for stillness but radically approaches stillness with full energy and availability. Even the title indicates that the fullness of acknowledgment and existent may sit within a single second, which for readers of poetry may be further elaborated as a single poem, a single book, a single read.

A Feeling Called Heaven is calm, and much of the calmness, despite the terror that surrounds us, can be connected to the simple and uncomplicated language Yearous-Algozin has filled within the pages. I attribute the plainness of the poet’s speech as a method of contrast to the failings of the human world’s complexities: what we, as a society, have created across time and space have led us to this point, this point that will soon be gone. Is it the poet’s job to continue the damned lineage, or offer relief and radical shift? The speaker here follows the latter path, though not without calling forth several examples of our burning world:

and the sun glints off pools of irradiated water

outside a freeway on-ramp

or hospital parking lot

in which a few discarded syringes

and fragments of plastic tubing

bob in the light breeze

(pages 12-13)

Like other post-apocalyptic descriptions as we’ve come to know them in recent decades, the imagery within A Feeling Called Heaven is as bleak and valueless as it is slightly exaggerated as relic and memento. It feels human while lacking the humanity, feels moving while utterly still in the confines of the poem. The poet, on the other hand, is not completely still. The speaker murmurs their way through the lines that scatter like dust across anonymous landscapes and situations that are grayed, sitting beyond the realm of truth and beauty. These moments that float through the page are as much liminal as they are in the center: the blind spot that is within each of us as we exist in an ever-fading moment.

Yearous-Algozin calls out this ever-fading moment as beyond-verbal. It may be hard to imagine a situation, a system, a reality that is outside of the confines of language, but that is yet one more radically-shifted premises of this book, and it is not just a premise but a truth that is absolute:

a non-verbal certainty

that a time will come

when the residue of the human

will have disappeared

almost entirely

(page 16)

When Yearous-Algozin writes “almost entirely,” it is the crucial piece of this recipe: we are not quite gone yet, and this is a moment we can refer to as the “feeling” of “heaven.” The last stretch before the end is one that is reconciliation, catharsis, and embrace. It is fullness. Finality. Totality. It is utter loss and the resounding silence we can feel at the end of our collective existence and knowing that it has come from us and will exist after us.

In Social Text Journal, Barrett White writes of Yearous-Algozin’s book, “Through its radical acceptance, A Feeling Called Heaven teaches an important lesson about pausing, being present, and deeply listening, both inside and outside ourselves.” While in agreement, I also believe that the book offers an additional lesson on our capacity as creators. Yearous-Algozin has written a book that offers a nullification of the creative process, an anti-inspiration to take the pause and escape the creative act; unlike any other book I have read, A Feeling Called Heaven positions itself as a rational counterpoint to tangible production and artistry. In the book’s second and final poem, “a closing meditation,” the poet writes:

my speaking to you now

produces an image like the reflection of the sun

or more accurately

a space for your thoughts to inhabit

(page 55)

Indeed, this book causes process to cease, time to fold, and the mind to warp beyond thought. For that feeling alone, I can’t recommend it more highly during this Winter, this season, this precipice we have found ourselves upon.

You can find the book here: https://nightboat.org/book/a-feeling-called-heaven/

Greg Bem is a poet and librarian living on unceded Duwamish territory, specifically Seattle, Washington. He writes book reviews for Rain Taxi, Yellow Rabbits, and more. His current literary efforts mostly concern water and often include elements of video. Learn more at gregbem.com.

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Confession:  a Song of Love to the Artist, Modigliani by Maria Keane

Modigliani (1)
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Confession:  a Song of Love to the Artist, Modigliani
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Do I dare tell you of my love?
Your self-portrait looks pained, tired, bored, out of touch.
Perhaps my presence will lighten the shade of paint,
your choice for desire in your eyes.
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I want you to carelessly smear your paints on
the swan like neck of your model, Jeanne.
She tilts her head toward you and
makes promises she will never keep.
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I want her to leave.
You hardly wait to dab the auburn of her tight braid.
It curls and winds upon the bare of her shoulder, a snake
ready to seduce the presence of her lover. She writhes beneath your touch.
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Please allow her dismissal so that I may yield to your charm.
I beg your indulgence and strive to satisfy your whims.
 I wish to please. I will gladly succumb to your desire and
elongate my body to your caress.
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Maria Keane, published poet and visual artist, served as Professor of Fine Arts Wilmington University, New Castle Delaware from 1984-2009.   Her volume, Heroines and Housewives: Themes of Inspiration in Selected Art was published in1994, by the University of Delaware. Her visual art was awarded a Professional Fellowship in Works on Paper in 1997 by the DDOA and the NEA. Keane’s poetry, has been the recipient of several residency awards by the Delaware Division of Arts.  Her poetry received national honors by the National League of American Pen Women. A book of poetry, Being There (includes illustrations by the author) was published in October, 2018.  It was awarded a First in the Creative verse/ book award by the Delaware Press Organization.  A second book of poetry, Being Present: Personal Spaces published in May 2020 was also a recipient of a First in Creative verse/book award.
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Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners by Sarah Mangold

Her Wilderness Cover

By Greg Bem

They put our body
into the text

and there we are
made to wonder

(from Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners, page 1)

Back in 2016, I was made aware of Sarah Mangold’s extensive catalog by way of the publication of her latest book at the time, Giraffes of Devotion. I ended up reviewing four of her works altogether, and occasionally came across her readings and engagements in the Seattle literary community between then and now. Giraffes in particular stuck with me as a book filled with the engagements of ghosts. A powerful feminist exploration of historical found text and the channeling of voices from eras past, Mangold’s work created a sort of time traveling choir that (at the time) left my gawking and to this moment has made me think about poets’ enduring capacity as archivists and historians.

Now we’re into 2021, and I have come across Mangold’s latest volume, Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners, winner of the Poets Out Loud Prize from Fordham University Press, and “out loud” only begins to describe this exquisite return to the form of ghosts, near and far, lost and found. In this book, generally speaking, Mangold’s aim is to bring attention to taxidermist Martha Maxwell and “the wife of the father of modern taxidermy,” Dalia Akeley, and their realities, otherwise faded or ignored. Mangold approaches natural history texts and other sources, funneling their words into a repurposing. This is a project of presence and one in which Mangold responds to the problem of absence. In fields dominated by men, Mangold provides an investigation into the possibility of, and the reality of, women in those spaces.

What interested me was
the way ladies survive
as acknowledgments
in other people’s prefaces

(from Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners, page 14)

There are several types of poems that fill the book’s pages. From elegantly aged lyric to blocks of prose poetry to lists to spacey and less formal additions, the book includes a lot of range, and a single reading will definitely not uncover the many patterns and constructions Mangold has included. Despite the collage effect of the found texts, the poems are undeniably easy and enjoyable to read, their subject matter intellectually challenging and emotionally dynamic. As I read, I felt like Mangold is offering certain forms of accessibility to the reader: the layers may run deep, but the surface of these poems is inviting and contains enjoyable qualities at the onset.

As the book unwinds and the poems continue, challenges are offered and afforded. Mangold has provided an extensive (to say the least) bibliography of the source and inspiration of the text as a whole, a field of portals waiting to be entered. The archivist, the historian, the poet: the forms converge and coalesce into a document that feels incredibly alive. This is “the choir” that Mangold has championed and led in past works, reconstructed. Or, unusually and amazingly, the taxidermy construct crafted by Martha Maxwell, or an alter-ego, a benefactor, a promoter. The representation is a cluster formed of erasure and assemblage, a polyvocal reality from history to the present. And at its forefront? Sarah Mangold, who spent years conducting the research that would feed the poems of Her Wilderness.

My own chosen world
of intellectual development

and feminist action
might indeed unstring

unnerve
and unfit me

(from Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners, page 23)

There is an exquisite conceptual balance between the found and the authored, where Mangold herself becomes the subject in some of the investigations. Indeed, Mangold’s presence within the works continues what I last investigated in 2016: a commitment to not only be for the research but to be of it, to have a stake in it, and to embed. Mangold has created collages of images that explore taxidermist Martha Maxwell’s collections. Metaphorically and literally, Mangold has offered an abrupt and present dualism: she has applied a collage method to create stereographic images. It is worth looking at the images through the flow of the book’s poetry, but I found myself paging back through the book time and time again to revisit these images as moments of process and result; they are, as much as the text, reflective of Mangold’s process of work.

In Her Wilderness, Mangold is providing images and text derivative of the past. The poet wants to fill the masculine void with a feminist revisiting, crafting a life out of a static, oppressive history. There is much that should (and will) be said about this project, and for me I found Mangold’s presence in the work to be the most fascinating. The poems flit and jump between the pulling at the strings of found text, but Mangold’s voice is undeniable. It creeps in, manages to find a place, and is defiantly present. Most found poems lose the author’s voice and tone, but not here, not within Her Wilderness, and as I read the book cover to cover, I kept thinking: perhaps the book’s truths are just as much rooted in Mangold’s reality as the goal of the restructure and positioned text.

she braced against the inequalities of the bark and drew

herself up among branches

(from Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners, page 41)

You can find the book here: https://www.fordhampress.com/9780823297702/her-wilderness-will-be-her-manners/

Greg Bem is a poet and librarian living on unceded Duwamish territory, specifically Seattle, Washington. He writes book reviews for Rain Taxi, Yellow Rabbits, and more. His current literary efforts mostly concern water and often include elements of video. Learn more at www.gregbem.com

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The Blue Divide  by Linda Nemec Foster

blue
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By Charles Rammelkamp
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Late in this lovely collection, referring to her immigrant mother in her Cleveland childhood, Linda Nemec Foster writes in the poem called “Blue”:
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A paradise where she flies, dusts clouds,
and polishes haloes. Washing the blue
of heaven until it shines like a word
that has yet to be invented.
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But the poem begins with a misheard word. The narrator is listening to an Egyptian poet and hears “blue heaven” when the poet is really saying “blue heron.” “Blue heron” morphs into “blue Helen,” the mother’s name, and the poem takes off on its own, heaven, haloes, invented words. So many themes, allusions and leitmotifs in the The Blue Divide are suggested by this single verse. Color – blue and gray – is a metaphor throughout. Poems about immigrants, war, her parents, the upper Midwest (Michigan and Ohio), Poland, dreams and art, religious themes, recur again and again.
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The book opens on the Balkan War of the 1990’s – “The Cypress Trees in Croatia,” “Report from Bosnia: ‘Hair’ Performed in Sarajevo.” “Love in the Midst of War,” the very first poem, contains the image, “the gray / of shrapnel and transparent clouds.” Color symbolism is tricky, of course. Green, for instance, can represent jealousy or hope, spring; red, the color of blood, can be lust and longing, courage or violence. But the blue and the gray in Foster’s poems seem consistent, if hard to define (a word that has yet to be invented).  Gray is consistently bleak.
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Immediately following the harrowing Balkan War poems (“They perform only / when there’s electricity,” she notes in the Sarajevo poem, reminding us of the dreary conditions of wartime) come Cold War poems set in 1950’s Poland, the country from which her grandparents emigrated.  Writing about the Hel Peninsula, she observes

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            …it was here that Stalin conducted his land grab, his politics of duplicity,
            his transformation of the blue sky crowning Kraków’s Royal Castle
            to the gray clouds belching from Nowa Huta’s factories…
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Blue so often signifies limitlessness – the sky, the ocean. Indeed, the collection’s title comes from the poem “Water”: “The ocean between them so vast,” she writes about her parents when her father joins the Navy in World War II, “not even two daughters could bridge / the blue divide.” As she succinctly puts it in the poem aptly called “All That We Cannot Name”: “Shape disappears into weightless blue.”
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But gray? Always bleak. The Cold War Eastern Europe poems give way to New York City, on the eve of 9/11, a man in a rowboat around Manhattan Island, before everything changed, “The man in his boat becoming / as forgettable as an ordinary / day when they still existed.”  Then “NYC to Poughkeepsie: The Man on the Train” spells it out: “If gray had a face

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            you’d see my blank stare right next
            to the word in the dictionary.
           Grapple, grasp, grating, then me –
           gray – my whole existence
           stuffed into four letters.
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The poem is narrated by a man who rides the commuter train each day and finds his life utterly meaningless.
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“Inside the Crater” is another poem that depicts a bleak world. The narrator finds herself staring into the Diamond Head volcano in Hawaii and finding it uninspiring, not the picturesque vision she’d imagined, but a dud.

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            And how many duds have we sustained in our collective
            lifetimes? Ex-husbands and former lovers. Small towns
            and dying cities. Our old neighborhoods in Detroit might
            as well be the streets of Dresden, circa 1945: houses
            bombed out, abandoned, torn down. Even the crazy
            people are gone. No more bag lady screaming at strangers
            on Cass Ave. and bathing in the sink of a public restroom.
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Dreams are a potent, recurring theme. “The Dream of Maine” is a poem about an imagined paradise, “The Far Country” about being on a train in a foreign country. It occurs the week after the death of someone close to the poet, and again it’s kind of bleak, like limbo. “The far country / where the border lies hidden and the guards / look distracted, asking for nothing but your name.”
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The final section of this book contains personal poems about Foster’s family and is again saturated in dreams. The section opens with “The Immigrants in Slavic Village: Cleveland, 1955,” Poles, Czechs, Russians, Lithuanians and Ukrainians assimilating, a theme that “Family Tree” continues, people losing their language, “underneath the orange sky / above the steel mills of Cleveland.” The immigrant’s granddaughter “has never / known the language of the Old / and wants to be nothing / but American.”
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Among the most charming poems here are “A Kiss Is Just a Kiss” about her mother’s obsession with movie stars (“My mother loved the back-stabbing of it, / the kiss and tell of it, the guilty pleasure of it.”) and “At 68, My Mother Sees Her first Foreign Film,” in which her husband – the poet’s father – is “afraid this is just the beginning.

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Next week she’ll give up cold cuts
and blood sausage; start eating bean sprouts
and tofu. She’ll begin to lose weight…
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“On her 90th birthday, my mother dreams / of her dead husband” begins the poem, “Gravity and God.” The penultimate poem is called “On the First Anniversary of His Death, I Dream of My Father.” I am in Kraków, your mother’s city, she tells him.
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The collection ends with “The Dream That Is Forgotten” and concludes with the perfect metaphor for the writing of poems:

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            In the dream that is forgotten, you learn
            to speak the language of sounds, not words.
            Language of bark, leaves, stones, mud;
            of fog sleeping in the marshes and sun caught
            in tangled branches. Language of amber
            sinking into its inclusions and rain falling
            from its clouds. You try to remember each sound
            as it leaves your lips, before you open your eyes
            on the blank page.
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The Blue Divide is a thought-provoking collection by a truly skilled poet.

.You can find the book here: The Blue Divide: Poems

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Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for Brick House Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. His most recent releases are Sparring Partners from Mooonstone Press, Ugler Lee from Kelsay Books and Catastroika from Apprentice House.
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Left Over Distances by Mike James

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By Lynette G. Esposito
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Left Over Distances by Mike James published by Luchador Press is an interesting mix of long and short poems divided into five sections covering eighty- two pages.  In the mix are poems about dreams, locations and loneliness.
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For example, on page twenty-six, James addresses time and space in his one-stanza poem Every Summer was Always the Same.
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          He’d eat butter sandwiches three times a day.
          On Sunday, he’d check his blood pressure with a garden hose.
          A Zen witch taught him that trick for a pack of smokes.
          Afterwards, he’d turn the garden hose into a Sunday lasso.
          He would climb to the moon when he could find it.
          He liked it there.
         He liked the moon quiet.
         It was up beyond dark clouds and among white stars.
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While James has not identified the he in the poem, he has focused on a special day of the week in the summer and what repeatedly happened on that day.  It is almost dream like in the memory of that day as the action went from observable activities to an imaginary trip to the safety of the moon where inactivity gave rest.  It is a skillful poem of images that both relate to summer experience and the distance one gains when one can see someone mentally disappear into another zone.
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He also accomplishes this sense of the present and the ethereal in his poem The Refugees on page forty-three.
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            Each carries two suitcases.
           One for belongings.
           One for ghosts.
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In this tiny poem, James has drawn a picture of people fleeing what they had but also carrying the memories of the past with them. The poem is lean, controlled and effective. Here he sets an unknown place where the refugees have gone with their surreal packing of spirits that can both haunt and comfort, and at the same time, suggest the loneliness of the journey.
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The poems throughout the five sections vary in form and length and from one stanza to many. James, however, seems to favor the one stanza free verse form.  On page sixty-five his poem,  Acceptance Jubilee  is a good example of this.
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            Once, I mistook my scars for stars and made my own
            little universe. I was a big boy with my own place. That
            night was dark. The moon nothing other than far away.
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Ths self-reflection poem uses images to detail the process of accepting one’s self with all the baggage that comes with it.  He turns his scars into something beautiful that helps with this acceptance.  The title guides the reader to the idea it is a Jubilee when it happens.  This is a skillful poem with empirical images and a clear message.
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This tome is not a quick read. The poems are the kind you come back to for a second look and maybe a third read.   I liked the variety of subjects and the clarity of poetic message.
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You can find the book here: Leftover Distances
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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.
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Red Truck Bear by Richard Nester

red truck

By Mary C McCarthy

In “Red Truck Bear” Richard Nester asks the most necessary of questions: what, like the moon, is in plain sight, yet unfathomable? The moon hides nothing, thinks nothing of us, looks back at us “with no discovery on its mind at all/ and even less concealment.” The moon, like the world we inhabit, is opaque in its stubborn “thingness,” cares nothing for us as we weave our webs of choice and action in its reflected light. In the wickedly funny “Wild”, forsythia, that early flowering plant often welcomed as harbinger of the new season, becomes a devouring nightmare, product “from a mating of kudzu with barbed wire.” Here nature is neither benign nor indifferent but actively malevolent. We are counseled to “Forget its pastoral sham,” beauty disguising the fact that “Forsythia hates you,” intends only its own good, and will gleefully overrun all your hopes and plans, punish you with slashes, poke out your eyes, finally even “devour houses and spit out the bricks.” Completely unsympathetic to us and our cherished sensitivities “It will eat your dog.”

All a hilarious exaggeration, yet the kernel of truth it proclaims can’t be denied. Empathy is only possible in the human world, not inherent in nature, and when it exists at all it is an “itty-bitty seed,” rare and hard, small and yet essential for any dream of the future. The job of the poet and storyteller is to make something out of the “Indecipherable,” to “convince you of your own indecipherable worth.”–”so you can go on and not give up.” Poetry may be like prayer, holy and essential, a saving grace.

Humanity, empathy, justice, love, all the hard things these poems strive to find and define, while illuminating their complexity and challenge. What we know is that “broke things stay broken,” and the enormous task of healing is an arduous process, where the damaged “have to be cleaned one breathing bird at a time” The theme of restoration occurs again and again in the idea of cleaning, of making things clean, even though “Clean” is an invitation to dirt, and “Too much cleaning up and one starts to see dirt everywhere.” To clean something becomes an act of faith and love, an insistence on hope. It is interesting that the principal character in the poems who does this restorative act is the poet’s “Dementia Stricken Mother, “who could make already clean things sparkle, and “shine like gospel in a new revelation.” Maybe we should all aspire to the kind of saintly “industrious joy” that loves the world so well “everything can be restored.”

In the series of shorter pieces under “Grudge” Nester demonstrates the power of inertia,

The stubborn resistance to change that keeps broken things broken. In stories about his father he explores the result of remaining mired in old and ungenerous assumptions. Stuck, his father cannot change, and the generations remain strangers unable to meet, share or collaborate on a future. The result is “nothing coming of nothing” unhealed, persistent isolation.

How can we escape this separation, plumb the indescribable space between the self and the world? That challenge comes from a cultural habit, the “Science Method.” To the Cherokee shaman that space doesn’t exist, he is never alone, but continuous with the natural world. For Western man, the existentialist, that space is an unbridgeable chasm, “our gift, only the gray form of a penetrating ignorance we were proud of.” Habit and theory are prisons, “not the key, but the lock.” Freedom is threatened by the familiar, though that familiar may be terrible, it is what we’re used to, what imagination chokes on.

As we live always hungry, always “at the starving end of something” we may only have a choice of addictions, where “Everything that lives is addicted to something.” The best we can do may be to choose our addiction purposefully, eyes wide open. Love something, “bite hard on the hook of something you love that loves you back and doesn’t lie.” We are like the praying mantis who chewed a frame for his head from a leaf, always seeing the world as frame for our image. Can we do more than preen, are we the universe reflecting on itself while “munching our green hopes”?

Perhaps our place is not in death and distance, but in love, which “keeps no calendar.”

Love can be our mirror, and the stories we share, even reluctantly, the fires to warm us. Stories are powerful acts, and shouldn’t be told “with your back turned.” A good novel carries us off and returns the world to us new, remade, and reimagined. In “Reckoning” singing birds teach us to reckon as they do, to see ourselves as “of little consequence beside important song, as by a great river.” Ultimately what we have and what persists is there always outside the window, “the exquisite world,” a wonder we are also part of, that might even “for the smallest instant” have depended on us being there, seeing, reflecting, loving and creating. There lies true restoration.

You can get the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Red-Truck-Bear-Richard-Nester/dp/1950462749/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&qid=1635534873&qsid=140-5063485-5152802&refinements=p_27%3ARichard+Nester&s=books&sr=1-3&sres=B096TN7H7W%2C1909916315%2C1950462749%2C1949229319%2C1909916110%2C0615951864%2C0692743626%2CB0006QVHPK%2CB001GTABCQ%2C1718192878&text=Richard+Nester

Mary McCarthy is a writer and artist whose work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Third Wednesday, Verse Virtual, Earth’s Daughters and The Ekphrastic Review.

Pandemic of Violence – Call for Submissions

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Deadline for submissions – 11:59 pm December 1st

Violence across the globe continues to tear at social fabric and government. There are many causes such as ego of the governing class, false propaganda, bigotry, misogyny, autocrats, dictators and cowards who fail to stand up. The pandemic of violence needs to be addressed by poets. In 2019 g emil reutter released a chapbook,   Violence – In My City  , addressing the systemic violence in Philadelphia. North of Oxford will now publish an issue dedicated to ending systemic violence. Please submit up to five poems for consideration, a brief bio, photo in jpeg. Submissions are to be sent to: sahmsguarnieriandreutter@gmail.com no later than December 1st. Join with us to call attention to the violence that grips the globe. We look forward to reading your work.

Two Poems by Jonel Abellanosa

human
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Lucid Dream
                  After “Human Condition” by Rene Magritte
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Seeing the black ball
enlarged on the floor,
I remember the rubber ball
I use to lower my blood pressure,
making my hand useful,
deflating and deflating
when I’m resting
after doing nothing.
With that image of the ball
I know I’m in my dream,
participating.
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I decide to do nothing,
just sit feet from the canvass,
to let the sea participate,
so I could see it
paint itself
into my waking
memory, bring
myself to calm.
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Constellation
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Past lives like Leo’s nine stars.
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I remember what I knew
before I was born, arrow-arced night
sky, lyric deja vu. Nonlinear time
pulls me like bowstring, the future
a hide of bronze, ancient past reflecting,
mythic as the mane in the mirror.
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Temujin was a Nemean lion.
I see Mongolian Steppes, clear as grasslands
of my youth. Standing in Cebu City,
I hear hordes, behold horses sending dusts
skyward. I stand before pyramids of skulls,
captives impaled, bloodthirsty desire.
At peace with myself, I let myself
be Karma’s child, agreeing to pay
for my sins centuries ago. I look
at my homeless friend wagging his tail.
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I say his new name – Genghis Khan.
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Jonel Abellanosa lives in Cebu City, The Philippines. His poetry and fiction have appeared in hundreds of magazines including, North of Oxford, Fox Chase Review, Thin Air, The Lyric, Poetry Kanto and The Anglican Theological Review. His poetry collections include, “Songs from My Mind’s Tree” and “Multiverse” (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, New York), “50 Acrostic Poems,” (Cyberwit, India), “In the Donald’s Time” (Poetic Justice Books and Art, Florida), and “Pan’s Saxophone” (Weasel Press, Texas).
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