poems

2 Poems by Akshaya Pawaskar

pan

Credit@Beryl Peters Collection/Alamy

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Pandora’s Box
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Summer burns like brain fever,
autumn the cold sweat drenching
the sheets and winter dead as an epoch,
with its mammoths and Sabre toothed tigers.
We are treading over them, have built
Edifices which tower like their tusks
and smell like this Holocene too is at
the cusp of its nihilism.
Fires are flogging without weight of a
Whip but dwelling blows as red as the welts
on tender skin. The winds have blown
the hymens of the sacred places and waters
let in and out of dams of abundance.
We are swimming like fishes till we evolve
Into gilled piranhas striking each other dead,
drifting ruthless for survival of the fittest.
Then we remember the lady made out of clay,
bestowed with beauty and forked tongue and
eschew from equating her to women though
some do for her curiosity and guile.
And from the box, a gift of god she was told
to open not, they say, she set all these demons
free, epidemics and calamities and there
she locked it just in time.
So hope still held captive. As we continue to
hold it so it clings back, symbiotic, a prisoner
of the pyrrhic war and we go to sleep in
all the pandemonium of a shrinking globe
and yet resurrect and
Hold the morning paper to our face shielding
the sun with its unfiltered rays, slowly eating us,
we take chunky bites of news and savor the flavor
on our inured tongues, pretending they are stories
from a parallel universe.
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To the Avian Dreams
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Cronus is eating his sons, down here in America to be invincible.
So all the children of this land are flying upwards, defying gravity.
Dreamers are born. They are obsessed with Icarus and
his wax wings
will not be the undoing of the modern day avian art of Daedalus.
We have better appendages now. Like poets we are rising
above the grime
to sublimity to other world of pagan gods where there
is of course a lyre
to wake the trees and stones from their slumber. Like Orpheus, we enchant
with guitar instead such that the third eye is opened to possibilities in midst
of barrenness and dryads come out to shock and dance on
the Florida sands.
Yet some still try to walk away instead of fly, trekking with their backpacks
filled with hopes if there be any left, oblivious to death approaching them
with headlights and fumes. They wave a good bye to dreams,
strawberries and distant memory of golden sunset filled
lands.
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Akshaya
Akshaya Pawaskar is a doctor practicing in India and poetry is her passion. Her poems have been published in Tipton Poetry journal, Writer’s Ezine, Efiction India, Ink drift, The blue nib, the punch magazine, Awake in the world anthology by Riverfeet press and few anthologies by lost tower publications. She had been chosen as ‘Poet of the week’ on Poetry superhighway in 2016, featured writer in Wordweavers poetry contest and second place winner of Blue nib chapbook contest.
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2 Poems by Nasim Basiri

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photo by Hengameh Golestan , 1979.

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Can’t Talk
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searching for clues and glimpses
of paradoxical nature of reality
in tales of captivity of streets and valleys
empty of souls
empty of voices
Alas
these maimed and tortured bodies
 can’t
talk
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Silver Colored Road
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unable to run
with her shaking legs
and a whole melting sea
in her eyes
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and the smell of tobacco
is burning her frozen toes
drying off wounds of a frightened mind
thinking of a silver colored road
through her visible skirt
smelling like dust and blood
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nasim
Nasim Basiri is an Iranian poet and activist from Borazjan in the south of Iran. She currently lives in the United States where she works and studies at Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Oregon State University. Nasim’s poetry and other literary works depict the suffering of humans, political and gendered violence and address the injustices associated with marginalization and global apartheid experienced by people in the third world and the Middle East in particular.
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A Brief Biography of My Name by Yalie Kamara

brief

By Michaiah Samples

A Brief Biography of My Name, Yalie Kamara, a Sierra Leonean American, explores the theme of self-discovery through a series of reflective poems by drawing from her past, her family’s experiences, and her cultural heritage.  Her words capture the joy and loneliness of trying to find one’s true self.  On the chapbook’s cover is a metal statue of a bare-chested, African woman, with a lifted chin and a proud stance.  This cover image reflects the determination needed to find one’s identity and the hard-won pride of its discovery.

She devotes her title poem to an exploration of her names, Yalie Saweda Kamara.  She uses beautiful imagery to capture not only the significance of her names but also the significance they have for her identity: “I wouldn’t have sought the sound of whiteness, / if I’d known I was a song strained from indigo. / a note wrapped in lapis lazuli.”  She even reclaims a lost name, Masuba, a name her grandmother took from her, and imbues it with her own meaning to complete the picture of herself.

In “Space” she writes about a time when she left off the “i” in her name on school assignments and no one noticed.  By the poem’s end, Kamara writes, “Nobody else played the game, so there’s no / record of the joyful sound that was made when / the long-lost me, found the small, brown, I.”  This clever twist at the end emphasizes the close connection between a name and an identity.  When she restores her name, she also restores her perception of herself with new significance.

In “Pest Control,” Kamara reveals the nature of liars and flatterers by comparing them to the long mot arata, a kind of rat that munches on the heels of sleeping people.  The story of the long mot arata teaches her “to doubt the admiration of anyone / who loves me without good enough reason / to look for punctured heels following any / explosion of praise leaving a familiar mouth.”  Kamara describes the pain of falling under their spell, “seeing a bit of myself hanging / from your smiling lips,” and also the triumph of moving past its pain to see that deceivers destroy themselves when they destroy others.

Yalie Kamara also draws from the words of her family.  “Mother’s Rules” is a tribute to her mother’s instructions on how to live.  Her instructions alternate between a sarcastic playfulness, (“Never order me a meal that is spelled with silent letters.  I came to eat, not / to explore”) and a hardness that reflects reality (“You laugh at me now.  Like I laughed at my mother”).  “I Ask My Brother Jonathan to Describe Oakland, And He Describes His Room” is a tribute to her brother.  The poem shows her brother “creating a new town” in his imagination, “where his body is unfettered by the terror of others’ imagination.”  Each of these glimpses into her family provide a place for Kamara to reflect on the lives closest to her, yet she does not directly connect them to her own search.  She allows the reader a clear view into her family, and she lets those poems stand alone because her family is part of her identity.

Through her poems, Yalie Kamara provides the reader glances into her journey of self-discovery.  Her beautiful imagery and her unflinching stance towards the pain of reality make this chapbook a necessary addition for anyone searching for their own selves.

You can find the book here:

https://www.yaylala.com/new-page/

Michaiah Samples is an undergraduate student at Lee University, where she is pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in English.  She has a forthcoming interview with Yalie Kamara on the website, Speaking of Marvels.  She likes to crochet scarves and study Hebrew in her spare time.

 

The Love Poems of Kenneth Rexroth

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By Ray Greenblatt

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          Kenneth Rexroth was considered the senior member of the Beats. He was writing experimental free verse and lengthy exhortations to the world as early as the 1920’s, a generation before Ginsberg, Kerouac, and the West Coast poets.

          But I think he has been overlooked for his exquisite love lyrics. These poems are often set in the wildest of the back country. Let’s insinuate ourselves into these scenes of love to observe how Rexroth illuminates them:
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         You beside me
          Like a colt swimming slowly in kelp
          In the nude sea
          Where ten thousand birds
          Move like a waved scarf
          On the long surge of sleep. (“Camargue”)
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Rexroth loves to look minutely at his lover. Indeed she becomes part of nature:
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          Eater of moonlight, drinker
          Of brightness, feet of jewels
          On the mountain, velvet feet
          In the meadow grass, darkness
          Braided with wild roses, wild
          Mare of the horizons.
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          It’s enough that the green glow
          Runs through the down on your arms
          Like a grass fire and your eyes
          Are fogs of the same endless light.
          Let the folds and divisions
          Of your anatomy envelop
          All horizons. (“Air and Angels”)
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The following poem opens with imagery that Rexroth remolds in his conclusion:
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          Lean back. Give me your mouth.
          Your grace is as beautiful as sleep.
          You move against me like a wave
          That moves in sleep.
          Your body spreads across my brain
          Like a bird filled summer.
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          My eyelids sink toward sleep in the hot
          Autumn of your uncoiled hair.
          Your body moves in my arms
          On the verge of sleep;
          And it is as though I held
          In my arms the bird filled
          Evening sky of summer. (“When We with Sappho”)
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          Sometimes the locale shifts to a foreign city, but the intense sensuality remains:
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          Your face topples into dark
          And the wind sounds like an army
          Breaking through dry reeds.
          We spread our aching bodies in the window
          And I can smell the odor of hay
          In the female smell of Venice. (“Sottoportico San Zaccaria”)
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          At times Rexroth removes all censure so that our faces redden at the intimacy, as in “Floating”:
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          Take me slowly while our gnawing lips
          Fumble against the humming blood in our throats.
          Move softly, do not move at all, but hold me,
          Deep, still, deep within you, while time slides away,
          As this river slides beyond this lily bed,
          And the thieving moments fuse and disappear
          In our mortal, timeless flesh.
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The poet is also able to capture moments of a lover’s personality:
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          Suddenly you laugh, like a pure
          Exulting flute, spring to your feet
          And plunge into the water.
          A white bird breaks from the rushes
          And flies away, and the boat rocks
          Drunkenly in the billows
          Of your nude jubilation. (“Still on Water”)
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So many of his poems are like scenes caught by a painter—nuanced details, striking movements often in open air held fast in bright colors:
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          A fervor parches you sometimes,
          And you hunch over it, silent,
          Cruel, and timid; and sometimes
          You are frightened with wantonness,
        And give me your desperation. (“Between Myself and Death”)
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          As Kenneth Rexroth’s art matured, his view toward love developed deeper feelings and interpretations. In “Incarnation” after a day of climbing, the narrator returns to camp and glimpses his love in the distance:
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          The crinkled iris petal,
          The gold hairs powdered with pollen,
          And the obscure cantata
          Of the tangled water, and the
          Burning, impassive snow peaks,
          Are knotted together here.
          This moment of fact and vision
          Seizes immortality,
          Becomes the person of this place.
          The responsibility
          Of love realized and beauty
          Seen burns in a burning angel
          Real beyond flower or stone.
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The lover remembers all his past loves, the highs and lows:
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          Under this tree for a moment,
          We have escaped the bitterness
          Of love, and love lost, and love
          Betrayed. And what might have been,
          And what might be, fall equally
          Away with what is, and leave
          Only these ideograms
          Printed on the immortal
          Hydrocarbons of flesh and stone. (“Lyell’s Hypothesis Again”)
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Sometimes we must apologize for mistakes to let the relationship heal and continue to grow:
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          Now my heart
          Turns towards you, awake at last,
          Penitent, lost in the last
          Loneliness. Speak to me. Talk
          To me. Break the black silence.
          Speak of a tree full of leaves,
          Of a flying bird, the new
          Moon in the sunset, a poem,
          A book, a person. (“Loneliness”)
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An outer and inner peace can be achieved eventually as seen in “Quietly”:
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          So quiet, our bodies, worn with the
          Times and the penances of love, our
          Brains curled, quiet in their shells, dormant,
          Our hearts slow, quiet, reliable
          In their interlocked rhythms, the pulse
          In your thigh caressing my cheek. Quiet.
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          At times Rexroth infused a religious tone into his poems of love:
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          Let us bring to each other
          The gifts brought once west through deserts—
          The precious metal of our mingled hair,
          The frankincense of enraptured arms and legs,
          The myrrh of desperate, invincible kisses—
          Let us celebrate the daily
          Recurrent nativity of love,
          The endless epiphany of our fluent selves.  (“Lute Music”)
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          “She Is Away” is from a more mature poet’s point of view:
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 O love,
          I who am lost and damned with words,
          Whose words are a business and an art,
          I have no words. These word, this poem, this
          Is all confusion and ignorance.
          But I know that coached by your sweet heart,
          My heart beat one free beat and sent
          Through all my flesh the blood of truth.
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          Kenneth Rexroth lived from 1905 until 1982. His first wife Andree died in 1940, and he always revered her memory in several lyrics over the years. A very touching one simply titled “Andree Rexroth” concludes:
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          Bright trout poised in the current—
          The raccoon’s track at the water’s edge—
          A bittern booming in the distance—
          Your ashes scattered on this mountain—
          Moving seaward on this stream.
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          In the realm of poetry there is almost nothing more difficult to write than an original love lyric. We have looked at a number of passages. To conclude I would like to quote in full a short but very effective poem #X by Rexroth out of a series of linked poems titled “The Thin Edge of Your Pride”:
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          Out of the westborne now shall come a memory
          Floated upon it by my hands,
          By my lips that remember your kisses.
          It shall caress your hands, your lips,
          Your breasts, your thighs, with kisses,
          As real as flesh, as real as memory of flesh.
          I shall come to you with the spring,
          Spring’s flesh in the world,
          Translucent narcissus, dogwood like a vision,
          And phallic crocus,
          Spring’s flesh in my hands.
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All poems are taken from: The Complete Poems of Kenneth Rexroth, (Copper Canyon Press, 2004)
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You can find the book here:

https://www.coppercanyonpress.org/pages/browse/book.asp?bg=%7BD2AA026E-B2F1-46AF-9735-90395CFBBCD6%7D

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Ray Greenblatt is an editor on the Schuylkill Valley Journal. His book reviews have been published by a variety of periodicals: BookMark Quarterly, Joseph Conrad Today, English Journal, the Dylan Thomas Society, and the John Updike Society. His new book of poetry, Nocturne & Aubades, is newly available from Parnilis Press, 2018.

The Seas Are Dolphins’ Tears By Djelloul Marbrook.

Book Cover_Seas Are Dolphins Tears_
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Michael T. Young
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The latest collection by poet Djelloul Marbrook, The Seas Are Dolphins’ Tears, follows the arc of a trajectory one can trace back to perhaps his fourth collection, Brash Ice, one following an ever-deepening engagement with the mysteries of spiritual awakening. It is signaled by the opening quote from Ibn al ‘Arabi, a Muslim mystic of the early 13th century. From there we enter a poetry that is spare and startling. No capitalization or punctuation delimits the explorations we set out on. We are instead invited to question everything from grammatical nuance to identity. It is a language that is simultaneously direct and absurd, a kind of magic that reveals truth beyond logic and where paradox jars the senses.
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in the heart of such familiarity
i cannot find my way
one must be one’s own light
in cracks between ordinariness
and exquisite punishments
— “lost in the midst of finding
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Marbrook’s poetry turns inward and walks the path between polarities as the language of ecstatic poetry does. External realities manifest themselves as turmoil in the internal spiritual terrain. Boundaries of self and other breakdown not into illusions but mutually affirming realities, the interdependence of all things. Following Marbrook’s poetry from his first to latest collection, one sees a poet who refuses to divorce physical necessity from spiritual subtlety. Unlike many who assert the dominance of one of these realms over the other, Marbrook remains devoted to the truth of their balance and a poetics that reveals the connection of spirit and body in all its diverse facets.
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I notice that the best of us
counterclockwise bear
sea rains to refresh
the brittleness of drought
that ravages our innards
— “panic”
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As so much of this book does, these lines recall mystical texts, as here, we confront the aridity of the soul or “innards” as St. John the Divine did in Dark Night of the Soul. That “brittleness of drought” is soothed by a return to primal sources, those “sea rains,” for the sea often, in poetic tradition, is an image of creative potential or, in other words, the unconscious. That counterclockwise motion is the return and it echoes in various other contraries of place and time, self and other throughout the collection, for instance, as “’there’ is the most elusive word,” or “he is a woman,” or “we are most of all/what we think we’ve lost.” While this journey leads us to elvish tables and faerie parties, such fantastic encounters do not abandon compassion for our very real fellow living beings. That would not be in keeping with the humanity that pervades Marbrook’s poetry.
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            remember that
tortured beasts
      thrash beneath
            every sorrow
                  & imprisoned thing
— “leviathan”
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Or again,
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if methane did not leak
from political endeavor
if we could die assured
of so much loveliness after us
i could simply shut my mouth
—“words flee”
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Much of Marbrooks’ earlier poetry overtly confronts social issues and artistic needs while allowing spiritual underpinnings to surface within that framework. He has, in this new collection, reversed that order and we now see the worldly problems from a spiritual perspective, a perspective that does not include silence before political folly or ecological disaster. In this sense, these poems partake of the surreal tradition by which given boundaries are tested or broken down and which inherently dissents with established politics and norms. However, the trajectory of Marbrook’s project reaches further back and forward than the present collection, a trajectory that reveals a marvelous balance and beauty in his poetry, a great breadth of poetic vision, something too large for a single collection. Marbrook is a poet of great scope who packs an epic power into poems of incredible lyrical compression. This may be one way of seeing the journey of a spiritual awakening itself, that is as a narrative traveled inside a lyrical moment.
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parts no one has touched
since i was an astonished boy
parts god and women for all their wiles
have not found    they have gone ahead of me
to find you whom i was forced to leave behind.
— “questions the parts”
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Astonishment is a variety of the sublime, that experience of the transcendent often too profound for our crude sensibilities to bear. So, this racing on ahead to find what was left behind is not merely past is prologue, but how that spiritual awakening is a remembrance, the recovery of a fundamental insight as if we all are born with our lips still glistening from the waters of Lethe.
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One may, at times, be baffled by these poems, but that is in the way a Zen koan can be baffling, which is by a language meant to break us free of the torpor of routine logic, that prison nearly invisible to us because its bars are made of our daily thoughts. These poems, however, are written in that language which is a prelude to enlightenment. The Seas Are Dolphins’ Tears makes an incredible addition to the growing oeuvre of this versatile and gifted poet.
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You can find the book here:

 https://www.amazon.com/Seas-Are-Dolphins-Tears/dp/190984960X

 Michael T. Young’s third full-length collection, The Infinite Doctrine of Water, was published by Terrapin Books. HIs other collections include The Beautiful Moment of Being Lost and Transcriptions of Daylight. His chapbook, Living in the Counterpoint, received the Jean Pedrick Award. Young also received a Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. His poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous journals including Cimarron Review, The Cortland Review, The Los Angeles Review, Shrew, The Smart Set, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. Young lives with his wife, children, and cats in Jersey City, New Jersey.