Amy Riddell, Two Poems
( Florida )Yun WangLamentHope bites the tongue like the pomegranate's seed, sweet pulp, bitter core. Desire, that round and hairy kiwi, rots in the crisper drawer. Poets wring their hands. The elements forget; wind drowses, water sleeps; no fire speaks from the beggar's ashcan. No birth from any blood.In Celebration of Fifteen YearsJon, the preacher says in God’s eyes marriage joins two souls into one. You don’t believe in any preacher’s God, but I am part of you. I am part of you. The blue ocean beats waves upon the shore, beats the eternal give and take. Can you see that you are the continent on which I have built my life, from which I unearth the deepest mysteries and the richest ore? You have given me mountains. They rise up like a fortress. With you, I go into the shelter of dark caves. I find shelter. We know the breathing of the other in bed and we know our voices whispering in the dark. We know the distance between us. When I am the faintest star in the night sky, you are the restful meadow, and when I am the meadow, you are the star. Love holds us in its tight cocoon, a cosmos for butterfly wings.( Norman, Oklahoma )Russell RagsdaleBlack RosesPeriodicity of the universe is converted into electronic music resounding in the marble ballroom. Cosmologists gape at black dots on the screen, each dot the shrunken shadow of a galaxy. Echoing static in the white room: repetitive great walls of galaxies. Periodicity of the universe. * * * Cold flames of fragrance singe my senses. My life evaporates when I gaze into these roses. I make love to them with my nose. * * * The man I admire has been dead for years, could not unmake what he made or revoke the labels he invented for poets without their knowledge. An affair with a genius can go a long way. If one turns around soon enough to bite the hand. There must be God somewhere. Maneuvers all that mess into stars. The case-worker leans back in his chair crossing his fingers with authority. * * * "When you go for interviews, you have to be tough, and lie if have to. Assure them that you are a very dedicated cosmologist, so even if a child happens, it would not affect your research." * * * Beneath these stars: many astrologers. Two of them confronted her. The man said listening to her voice was almost as good as making love. (the poison worked because she was serious) The woman astrologer is fair as a TV witch. (sans the long black gown) * * * "I dislike the violence in this poem. It's not like you -- the rape and the plunge of dagger into someone's throat. But I like this stanza -- I love the vultures. When I die I want to be fed to the vultures." * * * "You know, it's the flower which victimizes the insect," says the sexy aging nurse. She reveals that "Happy Prince" (by Oscar Wilde) was written by Hans Christian Anderson, who "hated children," "wrote the fairy tales to scare the little monsters." Somewhere church bells peal, interrupting a ring of ardent poets. Down the ebony street, an old lady pulls up her car. Three towers topped by shining crosses behind the ebony street.( Almaty, Kazakhstan )Felicia Mitchelldreammaking a half-dream from reality rather than a whole one watching a graveyard full of doctors throwing dirt on all my lids this is approximately sad apparently too late and I keep waltzing waltzing into your touch when the dark shadow descends in a happy glance a shadow that is within you and comes to the surface not as the absence of light but because of its presence a half-dream of exact magnitude and it is mine( Emory, Virginia )Laura Sobbott RossAlmost EasterShaking bone meal from my bare hands into the rose bed where only one bush grows, I feel as if I’m scattering my father’s ashes all over again. This month marks the seventh year my father has lain in my garden, his ashes in my hands still as palpable as bone meal or thorns. Easter Sunday, I will hide an egg behind his ear. Jesus will call down to him to get up and play. He won’t. But the rose bush that is turning green, this rose will sink its roots a little deeper in the earth and in a few months drop its petals like so many red tears.( Sorrento, Florida )C. E. ChaffinTrains, ButterfliesWhen our father became ill, my brother, the oldest at nine, held to butterflies. Dead wings splayed beneath his fingerprints on glass. Each pair, the ideal specimen of solace in a meadow on a summer morning, or an unexpected spiral in the honeysuckle. Something would always remain elusive – a certain Checkered Skipper Pearl Crescent Clouded Sulfur Buckeye beyond the reach of his hands, the startled mouth of his net. The random tide of wind would bring the occasional recompense – a slowed fluttering in a jar without perforations in the lid. We discovered beauty could be sorrowful – a perplexity of conquest and release. After our father died, my brother took up model trains, built elaborate hills and tunnels, spray-painted sawdust in shades of sprout green. He lined roads with buildings and streetlights, glued town folk and grazing cows in place. The small trees kept their spongy leaves, were seeded in orange and apple colored beads that never bruised or fell. With just his hands, he scattered the houses between blue ponds and train tracks winding in familiar patterns of his own domain. Circuitous destinations slow moving enough for him to switch a paralleling line of cars at the curve, or to reach out last minute and catch a bit of wayward momentum by the tail.( California )Karen Head, Two PoemsTo His MuseWith the grace of a cat you perched on my shoulder. I felt your fur stiffen when I failed to see the blue-faced turkey with the crimson wattle or the pink algae spread like a dirty blanket on the brown stream. If I saw what you see it would be surfeit as in a Van Gogh painting. There can be too much light – a man can only take so much. That last song, do you know it? A meadowlark, thanks. I never tire of his song, but I tire of mine. Come back at a propitious time.
( Georgia )Scott OwensObjet du désirA 28,000-square-foot lingerie shop is an appropriate metaphor for unfulfilled passion – the Galeries Lafayette, despite being in Paris, just an empty space, full of lacy enticements, accoutrements, amuse-bouches, if you will, the main course beyond what I am willing to reveal. This March evening, alone at Perraudin soaking bread in parsnip soup, or this afternoon beside Pont Neuf sleet bending my umbrella, or near midnight under the full moon lucent above the Panthéon, I came here to make peace with poetry – trying to accept all this will forever be about longing.The muse says,come to Chartres when the half-moon rises wind your way up the tertres from the Eure, pause only to pluck a peony for the Sancta Camisia. Meet me on the sinners’ bench, last row on the left, where cobalt light falls in shadows. I’ll prop open the door beneath the archivolt with the Seven Liberal Arts, Pisces, and Gemini. Slip inside, shake loose your shoes, glide across the labyrinth in your stockings. And I ask, isn’t it dangerous, this kind of devotion? I know my feet will burn, no matter how cold the ancient stone beneath us. I know too, because I trust everything you tell me, that the beauty will surpass my capacity to describe it, which is why you will embrace me, press your open lips to mine, ardent breath inspiring in me an approach – the rapture so soon upon us.( Hickory, North Carolina )Elizabeth H. BarbatoTumblersCassie taught me handstands and cartwheels, the willingness to be head over heels, out of control. Early on we learned to fall together, to roll on our shoulders forward or backward, our bodies hugging the earth, riding the rocking chairs of our backs. From there we moved to our feet, to cartwheels perfectly named, each arm and leg a spoke held stiff against the ground. Next we tried handstands and somersaults, our clothes falling to our waists and necks, limbs bent, giving in to the air’s enormous hands. Then we found the danger of flips, turning on invisible hinges, relying on the idea of support, our arms kept in from the ground. We learned to tame our bodies’ wild flailings against imbalance, to turn them to our own use. We learned to never mind the falling, to name it trying, transition, moving on to something else. Even now, when Cassie is a constellation I can hardly pronounce, when my body no longer bends toward falling, I let my voice rise, spin towards what it might not reach, fall, brush itself off, try again.( New Jersey )The Linking Verbs– for AlexandraWe will have been. We might have are. We are seems, it appears it is. The first time I heard, it smelled like Yeats left out too long in the sun: and I shall have some meet there, for meet comes dropping slow, dropping like the veils of mourning before the cricket stings. There halflight’s what’s for dinner, and spoons are purple snow, and lifelines filled with the spinet’s strings I love you like a pinhole camera, like the emulsion loves the light. It smells funny in here. It seems sunny in where. I smell the rose, sniff. I modify myself, alone in my room. I look good. I look hard for a lost button, one fair glove. Suddenly, we appear on stage, more robust than a troupe of three-legged dogs. We appear to be friends. This is the test of seams: how tightly sown, our hands enantiomorphs in blue chalk.
II - This Bend of Quiet
III - Silhouette of a Plume
IV - The Loose Connections
Review: Desi Di Nardo
Featured Poet - Melissa Buckheit
Current Issue - Fall 2008