poetry

Erik Moore Variations by Michael Paul Hogan

baobab (3)[6]

a storm in the city

and the world is fine

one day we’ll touch

(the) girl in blue

(and) journey to the upside down tree
.

sunny by a lake

save me from myself

petrified

and the clouds just keep on rolling

*

a storm in the city

petrified /

         (the) girl in blue
.

& jour/

      ney) upsid/

               own

.

e) t
r
ee
.

the clouds they jus keep rollin

rollin/

and the world
is fin (is
       fine)

*

under a lamp-post

          Wardour Street

a cigarette /
                                 a match

.

k-k-k-k-k-k-shh FLARE
.
a plume of smoke
.
the girl in blue) sings –
.

In Soho Square in Soho Town 

A boy will touch me silently 

Under the tree the upside down 

In Soho from myself save me.

 I am the girl, the girl in blue

One day we’ll touch in Soho Town. 

The streets are paved with cigarettes 

And the clouds keep rolling down.

*

save me from my/self!

(petrified)

a storm in the city /

                 city blue

& the clouds ) a cigarette

a telephone kiosk Soho Square

and the clouds the clouds keep

rolling

       rolling

rolling ) to the

             upside down tree

*

a storm in the city

and the world is fine

one day we’ll touch

(the) girl in blue

(and) journey to the upside down tree

sunny by a lake

save me from myself

(petrified!)

and the clouds just keep on rolling

                             rolling!

rolling to the upside down tree
.

FIN

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Born in the countryside west of London, Erik Moore is a multi-instrumentalist whose life-long curiosity with music, sound, and the human condition has led him to the conclusion that the most important thing in life is to be content. His vinyl album Journey to the Upside Down Tree, in collaboration with Annabella Maneljuk, hopefully describes his view of the world.
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hogan
Born in London, Michael Paul Hogan is a poet, journalist and fiction writer whose work has appeared extensively in the USA, UK, India and China. He is the author of six collections of poetry, the most recent of which, Chinese Bolero, with illustrations by the great contemporary painter Li Bin, was published in 2015.
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Strings by Caleb Coy Guard

strings
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Strings
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I so love the look and sound of a banjo. Vibrant,
On its feet, like a flatfooter, perfect and resonant.
The guitar has the aspect of an echo.
This song has the aspect of an echo.
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The banjo is daylight, more than the absence
Of dark, different from the restlessness of night.
The strings of evening are the guitar.
The guitar is restless, like a dream.
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And between them, the gift of dawn and dusk,
The ukulele strings jump like madrigals in the
Foam between wave and shoreline. A modest
Lute, the ukulele, aspect of crying, of laughing.

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coy

Currently a freelance editor, Caleb Coy Guard has a Masters in English from Virginia Tech. His work has appeared in The Common, Streetlight, and Stonecoast Review.

2 Poems by Elizabeth Jane Timms

trunk
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A Trunk of Old Letters
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In the attic lay the black leather trunk, like a casket
For the letters that lay forgotten.
And opening it, I heard a crowd of mingled voices,
Young and old – ladies and gentlemen, children and grandmothers
All talking at once in voices of joy, sorrow and hope.
All reading aloud their long ago written words,
Alive in a world when the ink was still wet,
When the seal was not yet dry,
When the quill was just set down upon the desk.
They belonged to that world, they leapt over the puddles of candle wax
Upon the pages – chattered on about the births of children,
The advent of the new century, the last Christmas and the new carriage.
They were owned by the world of letters.
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On Rome
 .
I did fly like a gray dove over the immortal roofs of Rome,
As my imagination leapt from chapels to churches,
Across streets and squares to roost upon an ancient pillar –
The Roman sunlight touched me in the red mist of morning,
And I became instantly old –
Looking at the city then, I turned to stone.
Into a statue to stand forever with my eyes fixed on this place.
I shall leap then across Rome from pillar to pillar,
From dome to dome.
Night filled the ancient sites then,
And the shadows of your centurions
Marched victorious under your arches in the moonlight,
And the Forum’s scattered pillars
Lay like the abandoned bones of its Caesars.
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timms
Elizabeth Jane Timms is a royal historian, freelance writer, research professional and poet, based in Oxford. She is a member of the Oxford Writers’ Circle and the University of Oxford Poetry Society. She writes for journals, magazines, newsletters and the web. She divides her time between Oxford and London.

leather jacket in the sun by Tohm Bakelas

slump
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leather jacket in the sun
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he was hunched over his steering wheel
when they pulled his body from the car
it was about 9am
on the last saturday
in october heat
rigor mortis had set in
they attempted to conceal his body
with a white sheet
but they couldn’t seem to get it right
his body was contorted
like a dog begging for scraps
somehow they failed to cover him
what i remember most
was the look on his face
a dull yellow drained pink
empty and unbroken
his hair was a mess
greased and blown back
and his black leather jacket
shined in the sun
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tohmoutside

Tohm Bakelas is a social worker in a psychiatric hospital. He was born in New Jersey, resides there, and will die there. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, zines, and online publications. He has published four chapbooks “Orphan Crows” (Analog Submission Press, July 2018), “Destroy My Wound” (Budget Press, August 2018), “In Living Rooms” (Iron Lung Press, November 2018), “Decaying Sun Under Noontime Rain” (Analog Submission Press, February 2019) and a microchapbook “We All Arrive” (Origami Poems Project, October 2018). https://tohmbakelaspoetry.wordpress.com

A Man Like Her Father By David Boski

whisky

A Man Like Her Father 

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“I want you to stop drinking whiskey;
it changes you, you turn into a monster,
and I don’t want to date a man like my father”
she said as her eyes began to water.
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“Ok” I said, “I’ll keep it under control.”
.
“No David, you won’t keep it under control;
that’s the point, you lose control; do you know
all the awful things you said to me last night?
do you know what my father would think?
my brother? my sister? or my mother?
if I told them? — they wouldn’t let me date you!”
she continued assertively.
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“I’m sure your mother’s heard much worse
from your father” I replied defensively,
yet speaking truthfully.
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“Well, that’s the thing, I don’t want to hear it” she said.
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A few short months later our relationship ended:
she moved on and married a man who
cheated on her: a man like her father.
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boski
.
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David Boski lives in Toronto. His poems have appeared in The Dope Fiend Daily, Under The Bleachers, Mad Swirl, The Rye Whiskey Review and elsewhere. His forthcoming chapbook “Fist Fight and Fornication” is being released by John D. Robinson’s Holy&intoxicated Publications in June.

The Damages of Morning by J.C. Todd

damage

By Diane Sahms-Guarnieri

J.C. Todd’s chapbook, The Damages of Morning, has been written to remind us of the horrors of the World Wars. You can’t escape it! Page after page, poem after poem, you are reminded of the terror; of the desolation; of the lost lives; of the inhumanity of war. Hell on earth.

Todd steps in (as time traveler) with her meditative, yet explosive poems about these silent horrors; perhaps her eleven poems (one of which is five parts) more like snapshots, each a poetic narrative of a frame-frozen moment captured in the history of wartime. She has gathered these poems (as photos) for you, through the lens of research and discussions with her students, and ultimately in her own silent musings of war and its fall-out.

These tragedies appearing understated on the silent page are nothing of the sort. For instance, in the poem “Pylimo Gatvė, Vilnius” (Gatvė: street in Lithuanian) we have the seemingly silent, giving fruits of nature, “the chestnuts” that “no one stoops now to gather.” So, at once you may think of starving women wanting to pick up a few chestnuts to eat later, but to do so, they would be taking a chance. But what kind of chance or risk, might they be taking?

“…In the midst of this history / imprinted in stone, along a street that bordered / Ghetto 2, the chestnuts fan their boughs / and bloom, the leaves brown and droop, the nuts / fall and no one stoops now to gather them / as women did then, slack shouldered and starved / to the pith of their bones, returning under / guard from the fields or factories, passing / through the gate into the ghetto each night, / the burning question, did Shulamith / or Menke make it through the day.  They risked / the boot, the rifle butt, the bullet, to scoop up / a few russet shells. Horse chestnuts… Eat, it’s food.

Raw horse chestnuts are toxic, that is, the fresh, unprocessed seeds contain esculin.  Therein lies the rub. These desperate and starved women risked death every day.  Chestnuts are healthy for the body, but not horse chestnuts, as they may cause death, if eaten raw. So, the question the poem presents to these women and to the reader as well, would be: Is it worth staying alive “to work one more day for the Germans” and “to want to outlive the war?” Knowing that physically outliving a war doesn’t necessarily mean that you can ever “outlive your sorrow or your death.” Here, “your death” as in a kind of living death, meaning that you live through each and every day physically starving, but worse than that you are already dead on the inside (inside your mind) living inside this captive life. Maybe, this is what Todd is saying, yet not saying at the start of her poem by cleverly using “chestnuts” and ending with the deliberate “horse chestnuts;” and the eerie lines that lead the reader to the end, “An act of will to chew and swallow, / to say to yourself, Eat, it’s food.” Food, no doubt to escape. As in the burning question: “Did Shulamith or Menke make it through the day?”

Dismal / dark.  Horrific times.  Even in “Country Living” there is:

“…the man-plowed fields of one-cow farms, /holdings that yield enough to keep the body / Alive, not more… Here, winter last for twelve months, / the rest of the year is summer.”

Another poem “Flayed,” metaphorically hints at the flaying of the speaker’s “my Oskar” and his “flapped open” vest and that of the flaying of a spring hare:

“…the night they took him into the forest. / Sternum cracked, yanked out with ribs attached, lifted into a cast iron / pot, laid on a bed of early greens and sorrel for a sour stock tomorrow.”

Subtle, the metaphor of Oskar, as the “flayed,” or not so subtle. On first read the poem leans more imagistically toward the preparation of “this one a spring hare. Not fat enough” with all of its crude culinary skinning and butchery, “the meal for today.”  Yet, on a closer second read, here, is where Todd’s craft is perfected. With no explanation, Oskar, no doubt, the hunted game for the death pot, cast iron, no less. Hunted and killed by the Germans as predators, upon the helpless prey. What really struck me was Todd’s choosing of the German name “Oskar” and how closely it resembles the word, “hare,” and also (intentionally or not) how ironically Oskar as in Schindler, the German industrialist (from the movie Schindler’s List), credited with saving the lives of over a thousand Jews. Deliberate or not? I think Todd’s choice.

There’s so much more to “Flayed,” but for the sake of space, I will return to Oskar and touch on the wonderfully crafted, double (quiet) meaning of the line (quoted above, yet worth repeating): “laid on a bed of early greens and sorrel for a sour stock tomorrow.” Yes, our Oskar and hare laid out (in death) on natural “greens and sorrel” and the sourness of it all, when death is felt more on the morrow.   And a line from the last stanza:

“…They took the chickens, eggs, the cow, the pretty girls, the men.”

Those living day to day, working for the Germans, lived in their own trenches of fear, starvation, and daily despair. Also, apparent in Todd’s succinct, poetic accounts of war’s abuse: “Daughter,” “Mother,” women, men, unborn, and children, all of the preyed upon and their predators (Doktor and “Commander”). This cast of characters caught in the ugliness of hellish war, as it tore apart basic fibers, scourged human-essence, and demeaned dignity of those whom should have been spared, yet made to endure the crippling torments of bare bone survival:  cruel, non-sacred war.

Every page a reminder of “Not our lives, but lives / of the dead, escaped / into us. Grave, / we open to them.”  J.C. Todd makes your gut wrench, brands you mind with horrific images—lest we grow too comfortable; lest we forget that freedom comes at an extremely high cost; lest we stop listening to the voices of all whom suffered cruel injustices, the brutalities of wartime. Beware: some of these same atrocities happening, even now, on “Earth.”

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You can find the book here: https://squareup.com/store/moonstone-arts-center/

Diane Sahms-Guarnieri is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently The Handheld Mirror of the Mind (Kelsay Press, July 2018) and Images of BeingLight’s Battered Edge; and Night Sweat. She has been published in The Philadelphia Inquirer Many Mountains Moving, Indiana Journal, among others, with poems forthcoming from Sequestrum Journal of Literature and Arts. She is poetry editor at North of Oxford, an online literary journal. Visit her at http://www.dianesahms-guarnieri.com/

Masterplan by Eric Greinke and Alison Stone

master
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By Lynette G. Esposito
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The collaborative poetic voices of Eric Greinke and Alison Stone compliment each other in their co-authored 72 page tome, Masterplan published by Presa Press of Rockford, Michigan.
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The poems do not credit either Greinke or Stone but both throughout the four sections entitled Emergency, Little Novels, Q & A and Tarps. The poems successfully vary in theme, form, and subject matter.
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In the first section entitled Emergency, the eighteen poems cover emotive themes and situations that inspire unease and fear.  In the poem Bad Actor on page 22, the narrator puts the reader in a public place watching a live theater presentation. The twelve-line one-stanza poem visualizes a benign situation which characterizes the audience as innocent or totally oblivious depending on perception
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                                           The gunman surprised us
                                           when he leapt on the stage.
                                           His eye were cold as he took aim
                                           at the man in the front
                                           row loudly unwrapping
                                           caramels, instead of at the actor
                                           pretending to menace
                                           the tied-up mayor and his wife.
                                           The other actors froze
                                           And the audience thought it
                                           part of the show, even after
                                           the real blood began to flow.
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The contemporary and subtle commentary on seemingly both real and staged theater inter mix and confuse, not the reader, but an audience that was watching pretend evil  When the audience is confronted with real life evil, it has trouble recognizing and processing what is happening.  The poets have a light touch as those on the stage realize what is playing out in front of them while those who came to watch are now the ones being watched in a skillful switch.
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In the section, Little Novels, the poems are each numbered (from 1 to 31) and are presented as poetic vignettes each telling an almost full story.  Poem 29 entitled The Beaten on page 40 is a good example.
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                                          The sad marching band ran from the field, their
                                          plumed hats drooping, out-of-tune instruments
                                          held to their chests.  They’d practiced for weeks
                                         but their routine had been derailed by
                                         serial love affairs in the rhythm section.
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The story line is almost complete but suggestive enough for the reader to imagine more
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In Q & A, the third section, the first line of each poem begins with a question.  Of the six poems in this section, I favor two equally: Animals as well as Monkey Time.. IAnimals the question is: What don’t dogs tell us?  The answer is:  That we don’t deserve them.  In Monkey Time, the question is: What time is it?  The answer in the second line is:  Time for regret to give way to desire.  This technique of question and answer throughout the poems in this section is consistent and interesting with many twists on old adages sprinkled with touches of surprise irony.
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In the final section, Tarps, The End? begins with the Double Rainbow was the first sign, and ends with: Atheists learned to pray, just in case.  My favorite line in the poem is The dogs meowed.  If the world were to end, wouldn’t there be signs and interpretations?  This poem presents contemporary images and uses a question mark in the title symbolically negating the suggested signs as a maybe.
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The tome is full of both short and long poems of various forms that give clear images of modern life and relatable outcomes to how people react to and interpret situations.  I liked the seamless mixing of two voices in a clearly successful collaborative endeavor.
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You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0996502688/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

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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.  Her articles have appeared in the national publication, Teaching for Success; regionally in South Jersey Magazine, SJ Magazine. Delaware Valley Magazine, and her essays have appeared in Reader’s Digest and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her poetry has appeared in US1, SRN Review, The Fox Chase Review and other literary magazines. She has critiqued poetry for local and regional writer’s conferences and served as a panelist and speaker at local and national writer’s conferences.  She lives with her husband, Attilio, in Mount Laurel, NJ.