poetry

Into the Lives of Other Folk by Catherine Chandler

Laundry

Photograph by g emil reutter

Into the Lives of Other Folk  
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You could be anyone or anywhere—
the checkout lady at the A&P,
the Uber driver sporting purple hair,
the full-sleeve-tattooed ER orderly,
the Denny’s waitress on the graveyard shift,
the Walmart greeter with his hammy grin,
the single mom, the bellboy who’s been stiffed,
the sergeants notifying next of kin.
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No matter who you are, I presuppose
a motivation, blessing or regret,
inventing possible scenarios;
but I don’t judge. Each fanciful vignette
seeks some humanity in humankind,
a commonality of heart or mind.
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Of course, this works both ways. It’s only fair
to wonder what you might concoct for me,
whose buoyancy can often mask despair,
who craves the saving grace of poetry.
I claim your offhand gift of shortest shrift—
it’s tough to see beyond the crepe-like skin,
the balding crown, the thoughts that tend to drift,
the turkey wattle underneath the chin.
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Still, as we sort our gunnysack of clothes,
then watch them spin at Betty’s Launderette,
your story piercing ears & tongue & nose,
we joke about a lost sock, and forget
man’s inhumanity to humankind,
and let the heart begin to cloud the mind.
 
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chandler
Catherine Chandler, born in New York City and raised in Wilkes-Barre, PA, is the author of The Frangible Hour, winner of the 2016 Richard Wilbur Award (University of Evansville Press); Lines of Flight (Able Muse Press), shortlisted for the Poets’ Prize, Glad and Sorry Seasons (Biblioasis), and This Sweet Order (White Violet Press). Her complete bio, a sample of podcasts, a list of awards, reviews and other information are available on her poetry blog, The Wonderful Boat, at www.cathychandler.blogspot.com . She lives in Saint-Lazare-de-Vaudreuil, Québec and Punta del Este , Uruguay .

Holocaust by Ray Greenblatt

courtesy of emaze

Courtesy of Emaze

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HOLOCAUST
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I carry it
like a wen on the forehead,
like a tumor in the gut.
I was born in 1940,
where would I have been in Europe?
dead.
My father was Jewish,
my mother gentile—
what would she have done?
she would have gone with us,
no matter what.
          Even down to one/eighth,
so many would have forgotten
their watered down ancestry,
but the creaking Nazi boots
would have eventually
marched up your stairs
down your hallway
hammered on your door
until your life splintered
burned
dissolved.
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Ray Greenblatt has recently been published in: Abbey, Apiary, Boston Literary Magazine, Comstock Review, Clarion, and Painters & Poets.  His experimental novel TWENTY YEARS ON GRAYSHEEP BAY, half poetry and half prose, is being republished by Sunstone Press.  

Demons by Ed Krizek

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Courtesy The Morning News

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Demons
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            After “Subway” by George Tooker
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Flash like a bomb
on the dark hell. Unconscious
revelations.  Ambush. Fear rises
when I see my shadow.
I try hiding, ignoring, running.
All paths block, barred.
I am a prisoner
of  neuroses which cage me,
concrete and metal.
Where is the exit?
It seems there is only one way
out and Lucifer leans
at the foot of its stairs
holding a red carnation..
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Ed in Red cropped
Ed Krizek was born in New York City and now runs a sales and marketing business in Swarthmore , PA , a suburb of Philadelphia .  He holds a BA and MS from University of Pennsylvania , and an MBA and MPH from Columbia University .  He is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Delaware County, has published over seventy articles, poems and short stories in various publications, and won prizes in several poetry and short story competitions.  You can see more of his work at www.edkrizekwriting.com.

The Last Train by Grace Andreacchi

desert train
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THE LAST TRAIN
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dressed in old gold it lingers
at the very last station on earth
under a desert sky the air is cold
the stars pinpricks under your skin
on board forgotten faces glow
pale but bravely smiling
you hope they won’t recognise you
and they don’t
so you sink with a sigh into your
green velvet seat
sip a glass of champagne
as the train pulls out
wailing its desert song into the night
you were not expecting this
and yet you are here
this first class seat has your name on it
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grace-andreacchi-jan-2010
Grace Andreacchi writes novels, plays, short stories and poetry. Her work has been published by Serpent’s Tail, Harpur Collins and Oxford University Press as well as her own imprint, Andromache Books.

Magnesium

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Reviewed by Frank Wilson
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John Stuart Mill drew a shrewd distinction between eloquence and poetry. The former, he said, is heard. The latter is overheard.
The best of the poems in Ray Buckley’s Magnesium demonstrate the soundness of Mill’s observation. Take this one, for instance:
I was mistaken when I said
those things to you.
I’m apologizing now.
For being wrong and for
being very sure I wasn’t.
This sounds exactly like something you might hear in the booth next to yours in a restaurant, and it reminds one of how poetic the fragments of ordinary discourse can often sound — and be. Like many of the poems in this collection, this one’s first line serves as its title. None of the poems is titled “Magnesium,” though many of them and many of the lines that compose them bring to mind that experiment one did in high school chemistry class, when you set alight a thin strip of magnesium wire and watched it sizzle. “Who will reveal us to what we are thinking?” has just that sort of sparkle.
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Poems are not the only things here. There are prose interludes, and what are best described as playlets, fragmentary dialogues. One of these, “Piccadilly Circus,” has two guys in a phone booth at the London landmark trying to reach a girl to tell her where to meet them. It would make for an effectively absurd skit a la Samuel Beckett (who is referenced from time to time in the book). There is a sort of narrative at work here, defined largely by a sense of disaffection and the need for apology. This can be wryly self-deprecating, as in the conclusion to “One Too Many Things”:
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I work very hard to be considered significant.
I have intentions of having a very elevating photograph taken of me
at some point so it can accompany the paragraphs I’ve written
dedicated to my abiding attention to my own immortality.
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It does seem that the speaker in these poems has much to be apologetic about. There are the references to drugs: “I’d be in better shape to say something to you/if I had something other than 2631 in my system.” Cyclobenzaprine hydrochloride, known by the number 2631 on the pill, is a muscle relaxant, which would seem no big deal. But a later, one-line poem announces “I ran out of narcotics. But I have this bottle of muscle relaxers.” And the very next poem, also a one-liner, notes that “It’s very good for one’s career to affect a drug problem.” So we may well be dealing with a less than reliable narrator, which might be a problem were it not that the speaker himself sometimes doubts his reliability:
I’m sorry I made you believe I was a liar. The strangeness of my honesty was a red herring. … I don’t know how to properly explain to you how false everything you believe is.
The recurring sense of unfulfillment grows trying at times, but one never doubts its authenticity. It would appear to be a common mode of being these days. And every now and then there is the exultation of “Be Grace”:
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Tell us how you started it all.
Grow roots in us which we’ll
Wish ourselves the prisoners of
Reach in like all there is is reaching.
Be grace, and tell us your secret.
Like eternity, shine like eternity.
Go into us, contain us.
And be grace. 
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Ray Buckley is worth keeping an eye on.
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Frank Wilson is a retired Inquirer book editor. Visit his blog Books, Inq. — The Epilogue. Email him at PresterFrank@gmail.com.
 
 
 

Shoot the Messenger

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Review by g emil reutter
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The evolution of the poet John Dorsey continues in this, his 50th book of poetry. Dorsey writes of the heartland of America and the forgotten characters. In this collection there are no small ponds/just forgotten rivers of intention/just stolen kisses/captured in the night. He writes of The Prettiest Girl in Moscow, Kansas, pumps gas with a farmer’s bicep/and sells off-brand energy drinks 2 for $4/ tallying the state tax/to determine her own worth. In the poem, Don’t Flip the Boat he writes of a Hell’s Angel looking for an insurance claim. the fire of youth/an old tire/left hanging from a tree/that has been burning/ since he was a boy. he says there’s wisdom/ in these hills. he just can’t remember where he buried it.
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A poet who writes for the disenfranchised, Dorsey gives us, The Years We Remained Anonymous
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waiting for history to moan our names
to carve our initials into a tree
that we can no longer find
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the moonlight is no longer happy
just touching the skin of generations
& the road back home
is muddy with blood
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there is very little peace
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in any of it.
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Dorsey remains at the heart of the modern Meat Poetry scene also known as the Outlaw Poetry Movement. He writes of smoking joints outside a convenience store, of a town with no roosters, of an addict and his needle, of old men wrestling with their youth, of learning to shoot, of rabid dogs and of family. And of Sadie – she has never danced backward/in the mouth of oceans/while piecing together the remains/ of her tattered heart. her stars still shine through cheap beer/and well whisky/the highway feels limitless/and the music in her heart seems free. He writes of his grandmother in Home Cooking and a problem with food poisoning- and my grandfather would ask without fail/”what’s the matter, don’t you like your grandmother’s cooking?”/i guess it was a fair question/after all, she left a lot of sweat/ on that counter.
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In this collection he put his mark on Meat Poetry, an evolved style of raw and imagery such as this from Poem for My Parents- i remind her/that we are running out of time/that every moment of silence/is another wrinkle on our face/another memory/to hang our bones on. There is a rawness such as this from The Rainbow Family Would Never Have You – just before sundown/we wandered through the side streets/of your heart/ in search of adam’s rib/ our lips smacking/ as we wiped our sticky fingers/on the marrow of dusk.
 
County Route 705
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is full of ghost stories
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faded yearbook photos
of dreams that died
on loose gravel
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the sun shining
on our failures
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just hanging there
like a rusty hubcap
nailed to the cross
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Dorsey has given us a collection of poems, of characters of the heartland who live the hard life, who dream, who take the hits and keep getting up. The bonus in this collection are the beautiful images provided by the artist by Greg Edmondson. In his very Dorsey way, Shoot the Messenger, opens the window for others to understand and feel the struggle in the heartland.
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You can find the book here: Shoot the Messenger – John Dorsey
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g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. You can find him here:About g emil reutter

The Philosopher Savant

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Review by Stephen Page

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In the first poem of the book the narrator, as a young boy, skips church and wanders the countryside, discovering new truths, learning he is able to think for himself, coming to his own conclusions about himself and the world, and finding out he is not bound by non-secular dogma. This is where the Philosopher Savant comes into being.

The book follows the remembrances, dreams, fears, evaluation, assessments, and vision of the Philosopher Savant. He is an average person, a father, a householder with a job—but he has a vagrant soul and the fugue vision of a shaman.

Larson writes in the veins of Whitman and Shakespeare. Some of his poems read as contemporized sonnets, and they have as much genius entwined as Shakespeare’s.  While reading the poems, I had a feeling of transcending my self, a oneness with the “all”. The thesis of the book parallels and paraphrases the consciousness of the diffused identity, an identity much like Whitman’s—putting that in other words, “If you want to find me again, look for me in the silence between your thoughts.”

Larson’s intention with the book is to hold the consciousness of the reader, and never let it go, completely—as the images and stories of the poem remain in the minds of the reader after the book is read. Larson wants to say to the reader that everyone and everything share the same consciousness, they always have, and there is only one being in the universe.

What works wonderfully in this book, aside from the brilliant poetics, is that the reader becomes aware that linear time is insignificant. Similar to how memory works. The Philosopher savant is allowed to say what he wants, when he wants, the way he wants, wherever he wants. He remembers things in an anti-chronological manner. He remembers between lifetimes, previous lifetimes, the present, the past, and he forecasts the absurdity of the future.

A while back, I read an earlier book written by Larson, “The Wine-Dark House,” and I was mesmerized. Each poem in “Philosopher Savant” is packed with as much detail as a short story.  Larson’s writing style is multifarious.  In the great library of the universe, this book would be there on the top shelf. If the great library of Alexandria still stood, this book would also be there.

I look forward to reading Larson’s next book, “Pavement”.

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Rustin Larson’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Iowa Review, North American Review, Poetry East, and The American Entomologist Poet’s Guide to the Orders of Insects. He is the author of The Wine-Dark House (Blue Light Press, 2009), Crazy Star (selected for the Loess Hills Book’s Poetry Series in 2005), Bum Cantos, Winter Jazz, & The Collected Discography of Morning, winner of the 2013 Blue Light Book Award (Blue Light Press, San Francisco), and The Philosopher Savant (Glass Lyre Press, 2015). His website is: https://rustinlarson.wordpress.com/

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Stephen Page is the  author of “A Ranch Bordering the Salt River.”. He can be found at

https://smpages.wordpress.com/