stanley galloway

From the Poetry Editor

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During National Poetry Month and the COVID 19 scare, we start April’s issue with poems from Eastern Europe by Aura Christi (born in Chișinău, Republic of Moldova, now living in Romania) translated by Petru Iamandi & Adam Sorkin. Chosen many months ago, these two poems now appear as if they were somewhat of an artistic foreshadowing of events stirring in the air; even their titles, “Spell” and “Elegy,” have a certain heaviness surrounding them.
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With a dark circling wand, the last stanza of “Spell” casts foreboding sounds and a lasting image of a bird:
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What rumble swirls,
roars, grows, struggles
like a bird caught
between life and death.
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And her poem “Elegy” has the speaker “I” in a dreamlike state questioning existence:
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(Lines 3-5)
You look at yourself in the mirror and listen to your humming:
I no longer am, I, I no longer am,
Everything’s strange, lost and distant.
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In an atmosphere where:
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(Lines 9-13)
No one’s around, you keep saying, no one at all.
But then why is the air filling
with something impossible and heavy?
The darkness grows bewilderingly;
soon it will fall over everywhere…
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Moving onward in April’s issue, poets Nicole Yurcaba (Ukrainian-American) & Stanley Galloway collaborate on the poem, “Dnipro Duet,” which takes an angsty look at exes, monogamy, & life in a city (Dnipro) located on the Dneiper River in central Ukraine, ending at the sea of Azov. With the exception of the first and last lines, this poem is ironically written in 13 couplets, with a few here to entice you:
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Couplet #2
eyes stinging clear covering all the distance that feet won’t cross
exes and the oh’s they bring to numb lips…
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Couplet #9
tongue sweet as caramel on sausage and nails
driven through palms and feet             into wood
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Couplet #12
as Narcissus contemplated the nature of singularity
and a woman contemplates the silliness of monogamy
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This duo continues with a powerful poem entitled, “Liturgy for Ukraine” with captivating lines like:
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…where a gleam of sunlight betrays
the ship’s bow displacing what we cannot walk on
gliding over shades of Scythian, Mongol, Nazi, Soviet
borders redrawn
             redetermined
             remapped…
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…a faith brought by Cyril and Methodius
screened through scarves and centuries
carved on box lids and church doors
                clothes and egg shells
wooden spoons and forks painted
with berries, blood, pride…
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This poem ends with a resounding, “amen.”
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Our next poem,  Kevin Ridgeway’s, “There Comes a Time” may or may not emulate Neil Young’s “Comes A Time,” but both have a “coming of age” feel. The last five lines are where the speaker of the poem sums it all up:
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the meaning of life. We are
the anti-heroes who fell in love
with our own delusions of grandeur,
and we failed to save the world
from people like ourselves.
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Luanne Castle’s poem, “Medusa’s #Metoo” mixes the classical wonder of our snake headed Gorgon in a fresh new “Metoo” way.
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a coverup through tweet and text
a smear campaign of slut and sext
Poseidon in Athena’s studio apt
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In texting the word “apt” in “studio apt” means “apartment” and not the dictionary definition of the actual word “apt” (having a tendency to do something). Here, Castle is clearly keeping with the modern-day texting language versus the classical meaning of look-alike words. A modern twist on an old myth indeed.
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Lastly, we have Tim Suermondt’s poem, “Gulls Flying Over the Construction Site.” Tim’s poems are always filled with wonderful similes, images, and quiet contemplation.
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In his opening line’s simile: “Like stealth bombers that are suddenly upon you—” and then the subtle but pronounced: “there they are.”
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He has a seeable list of junkyard images. Then another simile for the workers at the site.
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workers going at it with fervor / like the Egyptians of old.
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With the gulls flying & his unique close comparisons to humans, this last poem is definitely worth a close read. Further, Tim’s poem also had a bit of eeriness, as stated in the last line of the poem, where the speaker turns “from the window” and goes:

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into another room, my shadow flapping on the white walls.
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But alas, it’s April and spring is everywhere, so please stay safe and know that all of you are in my thoughts & prayers.
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In keeping with King Solomon or a Sufi poet or a Jewish folklore’s line (no definitive knowledge of its actual origin): “this, too, shall pass.” The sooner the better, I hope.
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Peace & much love,
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Diane Sahms
Poetry Editor – North of Oxford
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Two Poems by Nicole Yurcaba and Stanley Galloway

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Dnipro Duet
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It’s difficult to write after three glasses of wine
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not the fingers finding keys but the left lobe latching to the right
glimpsing skewed chance in a blurry mirror
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eyes stinging clear covering all the distance that feet won’t cross
exes and the oh’s they bring to numb lips
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while other exes are banished from thoughts and conversation
and new ones emerge from minute-long fantasies
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where the rusalka commands gymnastic sexual feats with strangers
at the dock where a walkway crumbles into a river beyond the rapids
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lack of fun(d)s         lack of confidence
culmination of romance desired          reality’s disappointment
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idyllic river scum-spotted by pop music bastardization
the sound of music drifiting through kalyna and eidleweiss
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zither of melody calling gulls like ducks to the hull
and a lone sailor smoking as he lowers ropes along the side
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where the naiad takes a new disguise in full-length red skirt
her hair tied in a ponytail         waist cinched with a belt
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tongue sweet as caramel on sausage and nails
driven through palms and feet             into wood
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planks of weathered decking cracked and brittle
paint peeling                white   blue
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horizontal green-gray, lapping but not tipsy – don’t accuse –
let her stare into the mirror
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as Narcissus contemplated the nature of singularity
and a woman contemplates the silliness of monogamy
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each a sterile end lonely in ways that the white of a lemur’s tail stands alone
hard at the tip
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soft in the hair as a hot wind over the Sea of Azov.
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Liturgy for Ukraine
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Cycle of vibration hour after hour
because modern day offers batteries
instead of coal or steam to be stoked
solar panels pane towards the clouds
taking in       putting out        taking in        putting out
like cranes swooping to catch fish from the river
where a gleam of sunlight betrays
the ship’s bow displacing what we cannot walk on
gliding over shades of Scythian, Mongol, Nazi, Soviet
borders redrawn
             redetermined
             remapped
overlaid palimpsest of people on people
an embroidery of red on black
                        on red on gold
                        on blue on green
                        on red
a bank where swimmers dive half-nude
half-covered with history and heritage
and a language imposed by an empire long fallen
letters rattled from Latin, Hebrew, Greek
a faith brought by Cyril and Methodius
screened through scarves and centuries
carved on box lids and church doors
                clothes and egg shells
wooden spoons and forks painted
with berries, blood, pride
the kozak and Halya
carrying water by city and generation
bandura strings and folk songs
             stringing life from two hundred colored threads
             stringing painted glass beads around a neck
fences keeping in             keeping out
a young girl with her face buried in her arms
her officer smoking, smiling, looking away
both knowing it’s not long until he rides to war
or to another lover in another city under fire
half a league    half a league    or across the Dunay
borders blurred and people first their own
for all eternity                                     all eternity                              amen
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nic

Nicole Yurcaba is a Ukrainian-American poet and essayist, who teaches at Bridgewater College and serves as the Assistant Director to the Bridgewater International Poetry Festival. Her poems and essays have appeared in The Atlanta Review, The Lindenwood Review, Whiskey Island, Raven Chronicles, and many other online and print journals.
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galloway_stan
Stanley Galloway, nominated Best of the Net in 2011 and 2012, teaches English at Bridgewater College in Virginia. His chapbook Abraham is available from Sierra Delta Press. His full collection Just Married is forthcoming from unbound CONTENT. He has also written a book of literary criticism, The Teenage Tarzan (McFarland, 2010).
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