Poetry

A Lost Face and then Some & other poems

by Tom Sheehan

 

 

A Lost Face and then Some

 

When asked to read to celebrate my new book of memoirs,

I let the audience enter the cubicle from where the work came.

I told them: I’ll celebrate with you by telling you what I know,

how it is with me, what I am, what has made me this way;

a public posture of a private life near nine decades deep.

 

Just behind the retina, a small way back, is a little room.

with secret doors, passageways, key words beside Sesame.

If you’re lucky enough to get inside that room, at the right time,

there’s ignition, a flare, now and then pure incandescence,

a white phosphorous shell detonating ideas and imagery.

 

It’s the core room of memories, holding everything

I’ve ever known, seen, felt, spurting with energy.

Shadowy, intermittent presences we usually know

are microscope-beset, become most immediate.

For glorious moments, splendid people rush back

 

into our lives with their baggage, Silver Streak unloaded,

Boston’s old South Station alive, bursting seams.

At times I’ve been lucky, white phosphorescently lucky;

when I apprehend all, quadrangle of Camp Drake in Japan

in February of 1951, the touch and temperature of the breeze

 

on the back of my neck; I know a rifle’s weight on a web

strap on my shoulder, awed knowledge of a ponderous

steel helmet, tight lace on a boot, watch band on one wrist.

Behind me, John Salazer is a comrade with two brothers

not yet home from World War II, who the captain calls

 

and says, “You go home tomorrow. Be off the hill before dark.”

“No, sir, I’ll spend the night with Jack down in the listening post.”

At darkness a Chinese infiltrator hurls a grenade into their bunker.

The count begins again, eternal count, odds maker at work,

clash of destinies. On the ship heading home, on a troop train

 

rushing across America, in all rooms of sleep since then,

are spaces around me. Memory, fragile, becomes tenacious,

but honors me as a voice, and my will to spread their tenacity.

My book says, ‘For those who passed through Saugus, all towns,

comrades bravely walked away from home to fall elsewhere,

 

and the frailest one of all, frightened, glassy-eyed, knowing

he is hapless, one foot onto D-Day soil or South Pacific beach

and going down, but not to be forgotten, not ever here.”

I had their attention. We shared: The shells were cannonading

as one died in my arms, blood setting sun down. In darkness now

 

I cannot find his face again. I search for it, stumble, lose my way.

November’s rich again, exploding. Sixty-four Novembers burst

the air. I inhale anew, leaves bomb me, sap is still, muttering

of the Earth is mute. I remember all the Novembers; one tears

about me now, but his face is lost. How can I find his face again?

 

 

Burial for Horsemen

(For my father, blind too early.)

 

The night we listened to an Oglala life

on records, and shadows remembered

their routes up the railed stairway like

a prairie presence, I stood at your bed

 

counting the days you had conquered.

The bottlecap moon clattered into your

room in vagrant pieces…jagged blades

needing a strop or wheel for stabbing,

 

great spearhead chips pale in falling,

necks of smashed jars rasbora bright,

thin flaked edges tossing off the sun.

Under burden of the dread collection,

 

you sighed and turned in quilted repose

and rolled your hand in mine, searching

for lighting only found in your memory.

In moon’s toss I saw the network of your

 

brain struggling for my face the way you

last saw it, a piece of light falling under

the hooves of a thousand horse ponies,

night campsites riding upward in flames,

 

the skyline coming legendary.

 

 

 

Gandy Dancer of the Phoebe Snow

 

You began right in front of me today.

I don’t know where you came from,

patient muscles hanging loose in your

soil-painted, dark-blue suit coat,

one pocket ripped to a triangle,

one pocket stuffed oh so properly

with a coffee-filled paper-wrapped

pint bottle, your thin legs nailed down

into a pair of the saddest brown pants,

a long-handle spade extending your arms,

eyes folded over reaching for noon.

 

Off behind you, faded to gray,

jetted the rip of animate steam,

coal gases; railroad track arrowing

onto a lake top that still does not exist.

 

You said, “Manja,” and laughed at me,

your big teeth ripe of red meat and bread,

voice as loud as your hands slapping with music.

 

You untied the red bandanna at your neck,

a sun-bothered sail of red bandanna,

wiped the brow under a felt hat, sucked

at the papered bottle until I tasted iodine

at the bend of my throat, smelled coal dust

coming a talc over us, like a dry fog.

 

It was the same yesterday when I made

a v-grooved pole to hold the clothesline up,

and over the fence a visitor from the Maritimes

said, “You go back a long way. I haven’t seen

a pole like that in years and years.”

 

So I guess you came the way the pole did,

out of the roads I’ve traveled, down lanes

stuffed like chairs, past yard geographies,

a long view over trees, out of some

thing I was, an organic of memory,

celluloid flashing of wide spaces

I passed through, the odors I thought

I wore or was, cannons at the edge

of a distant war, colors banging

their permanence tightly against

the back of my eyes,

 

pieces of the circle I find myself on,

where you were a moment ago, just

out the window of my mind, bearing

the riddle of a melancholy whistle

from hollows among the Rockies.

 

 

Face of an Old Western Barn

 

The motley barn, like an old stain

gone haywire, is a dread easel.

Knots, carved into walls like old

promises, wait for campfires

or late hearths, warmth from Earth’s

beginning.

 

Only the darkness is inconclusive where

night points its finger. In the deep aches

knots have fallen from, stars fall in, fields

of them, with the evening leader digging

deepest, digging first after yesterday’s carcass

linking still in the eyes’ behavior.

 

Shadows, upstaging any moon, argue on

its surfaces laterally. I have seen more mandates

than dreams in the dim recesses where wood

envies time, chases after it a whole age of

transparent death; just sunken cedars

in the swamp, drowned black, live on longer,

scaled at new livelihood.

 

Against a thousand storms this barn has stood,

never folding inward, only down by faint degrees

of ant strokes, termite mandibles, the odd carpenter;

its shoulders going sideways, knees turning softly,

its breath slow and halting.

 

 

* * * * * * * * * *

 

Tom Sheehan served in the 31st Infantry, Korea 1951-52, and graduated Boston College in 1956. His books are Epic Cures; Brief Cases, Short Spans; Collection of Friends; From the Quickening; The Saugus Book; Ah, Devon Unbowed; Reflections from Vinegar Hill; This Rare Earth & Other Flights, and Vigilantes East.  eBooks include Korean Echoes (nominated for a Distinguished Military Award), The Westering, (nominated for National Book Award); from Danse Macabre are Murder at the Forum (NHL mystery), Death of a Lottery Foe, Death by Punishment, and An Accountable Death. Co-editor of A Gathering of Memories, and Of Time and the River, two collections about our home town of Saugus, Massachusetts, both 400+ pages, 4500 copies sold, all proceeds from $40.00 each cost destined for a memorial scholarship for my co-editor, John Burns, in the Saugus School system as director of the English Department at the High School for 45 years. After conception of the idea for the books, and John putting out the word for material to be included by former students, and with a proposal of actions and schedules I prepared for a local bank, ten of his former students signed a loan from the bank for $60,000 to print two books not yet written!!!!

And paid it off!!!!

 

* * * * * * * * * *

jane30

painting by Jane Gilday

Standard
Fiction

The Taints

by Jane Gilday

 

Heidi listens with mischief in her heart. She listened like that as I described the strange sense of having a whole new sex growing–or blossoming–between my balls and my ass. She said “Janey, that’s the Taints Region cause it tain’t one nor the other.”

Wise guy alpine cowgirl.

But I don’t know how any of it works. Not one minute, grain or word of it. Maybe you do so I’ll pass along some selected moments, like a Hallmark Kodak cavalcade, only honest, meaning this: how real can any love be that’s been sold for all occasions at $1.99 a pop fourteen-and-one half-billion times a day forever? This is love for taints and tin ears, you damn civilians.

The first time I listened deep to Horses I lay flatback on an indian bedspread in a Manchester attic. Above me the sheetrock ceiling vanished, giving way to a vault of deep blue that was heard not seen, and children began to sing those hymns you knew before some man put the fear of god in you. I smelled seawater, bird dung, and henna and knew it was all temple stuff, like playing the outfield forever. I was completely sexually aroused without any sense of body or mind, all motionless. It was taint sex, as has been rumored of the Texas that was Truly Texas, before being replaced with a body double. It was part of an Egyptian Mexico.

The wolves were everywhere. They all had the last name of Wolf, guns in glove compartments or purses, vans full of serious stolen military technology. They were beyond arrest. If I made up a song in the afternoon, they would be singing it that night as I heeled into the drag bar. Any curiosity I exhibited toward any subject, no matter how far-fetched, would be answered with wonderful onion-layered jokes.

One day I thought “Does anyone in the phone book have the last name of Queen?” Picking up the Hartford directory, I located one–and only one–such listing:

Queen, Cleo ……………………….321 Niles Street. 297-6666

I dialed. A voice of indeterminate age, race or gender answered. “Janey Janey Janey, won’t ya come along with me?…Janey Janey Whoo!, Janey Janey.” I swear on the bible this really happened.

I left town the next week, moving to a telephone booth on an unmarked industrial access road near the refinery district of Maytree. They called me as soon as I was all settled in. I gave up trying to hide, and went to a midtown Manhattan address, as they instructed. I expected to be found floating in the Hudson. Instead they told me to learn how to dance and gave me a blouse and a little book called ‘it ain’t what you think’. I began to feel like a beautician or just look like one.

Walking back to The Port Authority Terminal, I passed Andy Warhol, just leaning in a doorway. Amazed, I shouted “hi Andy.” He just pointed to a nameplate on his denim jacket, the kind of nameplate that people wear at those business-card-swap networking power breakfasts they hold for the damned. Moving closer, I could make out a name on the badge. It read ‘Theresa’.

Feeling foolish and hick, I mumbled “sorry, Theresa.” She said “just call me Sis” and said I seemed kinda tainty for a boy but not to worry about it.

So.

I went down to the Upland Empire, the totally-liberated zone in the high appalachians that neither Confederacy nor Union could ever invade, defeat or even engage in combat. Any army that managed to reach the entrance gaps was met with sudden typhoon-force winds and grapefruit-sized hail, although the skies far above the mountain tops kept on shining blue and clear.

The only way in, then and now, is through those gaps, and to enter you gotta wear a nametag. Uniforms are forbidden.

Winding high and higher above Kingsport, I ended up at the Carter Family Reunion, playing mandolin behind two fiddlers–both named Charlie–along with Edith Gilliam on guitar, her 78-year-old fingers nimble as a catamount on highground. All night folks danced barefoot on the lawn, right in front of us as we played. The powers-that-be don’t publicize any of this cause it terrifies them and the locals just figure that anyone who does show up is some sort of kin. We played until the only light was the milky way above the dark mountains and high lonesome wind.

The next day, self-consciousness overtook me. I dressed so different than anyone else there. My hair was so long and my clothes so ragged. My small boobs showed through my ‘felix the cat’ t-shirt. My cheeks reddened furiously, as I thought “they probably all think i’m crazy–and what would they think if they’d seen me last night in the motel room, wearing my long black gauzy nightgown?”

At that exact, precise, moment Dewanna leaned over towards me, winked, and whispered conspiratorially. “Person’lly, I tain’t never met anyone who tain’t a little crazy, have you? Ya know what my favorite song is? It’s that ol’ Long Black Veil–it’s really purty. And didn’t that ol’ Milky Way shine sooooo purty last night?”

It sure had, but you had to look up to see it, and the lowlanders rarely look up, being so grounded and wary of taints.

All these are true, really true, events in my life, and I still don’t understand any of it or try to.

I’m still feeling like a flower, like a taint–and I’m still singing and Heidi still teases about my lower regions.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Jane Gilday is an artist, poet and musician who lives in Pennsylvania. Her artist statement: “jane gilday is 8 years old and likes to color”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Jane 29Painting by Jane Gilday

Standard
Poetry

exactly like & literary whores

by Peter Bracking

 

exactly like

 

 

dawn ripples orange

chosen cherry blossoms explode imperious white

proclaim

perfect balance physics buried in chemistry

light rain

succulent spring soil earth’s awakening yawn

and soju drunks pissing on trunks

the cherries have arrived

and for that instant

your entire world smells exactly like continuance

 

 

literary whores

 

 

a pair of impoverished poets plastering posters around town

hawking hawking

wobbling shopping cart shuffle stuffed full of words

self agrrandized mumbled jumble

context bouncing off blind behind

grabbing snagging snatching tickling cajoling verbs

licking residuals from cat king lips

corporate poets squeak echo in the canyons of the city

 

 

  • * * * * * * * * * * * *

Peter Bracking tells tall tales. Earth point: tropical beach.

Words have been published from ocean to ocean to ocean by some really great literary mags in a growing number of countries on half the inhabited continents.

  • * * * * * * * * * * * *

jane19art by Jane Gilday

Standard
Poetry

Speed Dating and other poems

by Julia Ciesielska

 

Speed Dating

he tried to be cool
the best football coach we ever had
always there to listen
I can’t remember him trying to change subject
when conversation grew strained
unlike most adults
he was awesome
our scores made us visible nationwide
we were young enough to fall for his lies
one yes to many no’s was all he needed
if our parents on their fixed incomes
were not so damned exhausted
I reckon they would have noticed
statutory rapes on minors
nobody gave us power over our destiny
we just sat still
posture: hands together in front
listening to the head master who reminded us
about the championship starting next month
the pressure school puts on us
we felt like ex-dates who traded
scholarships for keeping things quiet
behind school building walls

 

Daddy

were you there
when I was born to mother concrete
somersaulted across ugly backyards ?
I don’t remember seeing you
padding around the kitchen in slippers
the toaster full of finger prints
does not remember you either
you were probably gone
so I clung to a feeling
that you might watch me closely

fists tightened white to the bone
exchanged school for curfew
you were probably at work
when my knives collection gradually grew
sharper than anxiety
these demonic weapons
notched scars on many backs

you were in the same room
when I had to sign a charge sheet
your face shrank to a dry cloth
almost gone into shame
I might just as well ask
who are you to be ashamed of me ?

 

Against

it is a tenth time
since I have overcooked pasta
to achieve a delicacy of own skin
in Masterchef they would not appreciate it –
aldente rules
imposed reality
thin as an ice during a thaw
makes me question the purpose of obedience
an odd move
and you are drowned in insipid

in the bathroom hairdryer switched on
in the kitchen blender
I might consider a kiss with a socket
to resurface

 

P. O. Box

his P.O. Box was
a perfect rectangle
for hiding
convenient to reach
he was dreaming
it is a silky uptown hotel
he can scarce afford
checked in often
arriving from a world
of fags and booze for petrol
smoke-screened spaghetti junctions
junk food coating his spirit
with a rejection film
each check-in was marked
by a repetitive desire to enter
the alternative
own keeper
free to design
his insulation absorbed sounds
glad to let go:
a newspaper’s bang each morning
tension condensing between lovers
silent language filling to the brim
midday check-out
used to betray
where the inner world ends
and the other begins
he paid with cash
as no one lives anywhere for free

 

Klepto

did I see it or only want to
something inside me lacked courage to die
my weakness filters adjectives
with particular emphasis on ‘un-‘
for instance untight

weakness forms a denial
a denial forms into an outbreak
where to become a rebel you can
by doing absolutely nothing
above what is needful
use by date bargains, reductions
take my fancy at just wrong moment
– floor staff
passing I raise one hand in greeting
two raised in surrender

 

Count to Three & Be Awake

our times are not as hard
as in previous generation
fighting for cause
yet more tough
have to acknowledge caring less
be exposed to what they sense

our times should stash complaints
inside phone booths
if people still use them to communicate
but nowadays booths could do
only as exhibits
easy on the eye tour attraction
otherwise you enter
to bury anger beneath other people’s song
alternatively to sew lips shut
each time feeling urged to say inappropriate things

 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Julia Ciesielska since 2006 lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where she works as a Translator and a Business Support in Recruitment organization known for Oil & Gas world wide. She has studied English Literature at Master degree and made certificate in Practice Personnel/HR at Queens University, Belfast. Apart from various literary magazines publications, she appeared in Shalom Anthology (Crescent Writing Group in Belfast) published in March 2015. Julia’s interests, echoed in her poetry, include the feminist revision of life or naturalistic perception of daily routines. After attending workshops of creative writing, organized by Lyric Theatre in Belfast, she also got interest in writing plays. Inspired by pieces of Martin Lynch she is working on a project that is presenting with the eyes of polish minorities their observations of living abroad.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

jane12

Long Dream

(acrylic on panel)

Jane Gilday

Standard
Poetry

Ten Poems for the End of Time

by Grace Andreacchi

 
UNDOING

a smear of blood
a section of fine lace dendrites
cut crosswise
a leaf caught under a turning wheel
a chair without arms
a single palm leaf folded
to make a cross
you are no longer
these things
lie down upon your bed and fold your arms
to make a cross

*
INVITATION TO THE AFTERLIFE

once you were
tormented in 3D

now you’re called
saved from everything

eyes washed clean
as the sky after rain

they say there’s
love in the afterlife

beautiful garments
a blue glazed heaven

your tears in a jar
pickled and precious

a long long table
with seats for everyone

the rings of saturn
are jasper and onyx

the wings of mercury
grow from your shoulders

the Pleiades sit
beside you and chatter

your name’s on the poster
you are the guest here

you may even be
the bride at the wedding

*
HEADSHOT

a lamb with a great white head
and seven black stars for eyes
comes to the table
opens wide his mouth
inside are beasts with many horns
the lamb lies down upon the table
waves his legs in the air
as if he were dancing
just as we’re about to
plunge the knife in
vanishes

*
THE FOREST WHERE EVERYTHING VANISHES

the tree trunks bleed when you touch them
in the underbrush small mammals scurry for cover
each bears the face of someone you loved once
this is my mother
this my brother, my sister
the branches reach for you
the birds are crying but you
don’t know why
you have forgotten your name
and why you have come here
hopping on one leg
(the other is broken)
is that your hand lying alone
among the crumpled leaves
is that your head
speaking from inside the badger
a polluted stream thick with
the blood of corpses
now try to cross it
from stone to stone is just a step
you slip and the forest vanishes
falling towards a lake of fire

*
DEPARTURE LOUNGE

into an airport lounge
an invisible gamelan orchestra plays
the dance of the foolish virgins
skycaps in purple livery
bring rice cakes perfumed oranges
lotus seeds in cellophane doré
massage your feet with spikenard
draw concentric circles into
the palms of your hands
blue-winged songbirds scavenge crumbs
twittering softly their incantations
klauhi Zis…
Thautouri andirahho…
soon they will call your flight
prepare for take off

*
SIDEREUS NUNCIUS

dots begin to appear
tiny light-encrusted bits
saw-toothed seven times
it is the dots that connect the lines:
this is a werewolf, this a mermaid
this a lady’s beautiful hair
an artist should be seen
as well as heard
space is what happens
between the stars

*
BURNT OFFERINGS

at the graveside the ghosts are gathering
they set out your favourite meals
your photograph in red ribbons
your missing teeth your childhood doll
a rose coloured parasol a wad of cash
then set fire to it all
feeding the flames with rum
your brother swigs from the bottle
stumbles laughing over your grave
your little sister is crying
your children no longer grown but
small once again look on in silence
wondering where has mommy gone
they are about to cry so you sing to them
hush a bye my baby don’t you cry
your voice rises from the fire
they are comforted and pile more
fine bright things on the flames
your portrait in pastels drawn when
you were only ten
the shoes you wore to your first dance
the ones with the chrysoprase heels
your journal from the winter of starvation
and then whole bags of paper money
toys and animals
a house with swimming pool
and armed guards even a Porsche
everything burns
everything is consumed utterly
everybody’s drunk and everybody’s crying
what a send off
good-bye good bye good bye
see you in the afterlife
see you soon

*
CELESTIAL GEOGRAPHY

this is the key to the city
a large smooth golden key
like those in old flemish paintings
it opens the gate where the bright things
go in and out
this is the street where you live now
it’s paved with jasper and chrysoprase
most of the inhabitants appear to be dead
most appear to be happy
(but nobody speaks to you)
jewel bright salamanders cling to the
boughs of the trees (these too are of gold)
their ruby tongues go in and out
in and out their red eyes wink at you
the sky too is glass or gold
it hurts to look at it
you’d like to go home
but you are home now there is
no place but this one
time has been rolled up
into a great scroll kept in a secret library
you don’t have the key to that one
they said there would be love
they promised you love
so you wander the golden streets
distraught and confused in search of it
this is familiar perhaps
you are where you started
in the beginning was the word
the romance of Jesus
and the space between the stars
twelve gates to the city
some day he’ll find you

*
CLOUD WRITING

dark shapes spill on a field of milk
slowly the serpent’s head emerges
slowly the moon and sun
celestial bodies seven times pointed
your mother is standing in the air
under her feet a moon
the colour of blood
the serpent has bitten her heel
wounded her
see how her head droops to one side
she’s crying now
a dark cloud is under her feet
a white cloud is over her
she says your name softly
and her breath is a cloud
on which you are written
and all your deeds
and all your empty promises

*
INVITATION TO THE DANCE

break open the burial urn
glass shards blue glazed
ice flowers
seven-pointed stars

somewhere the leaf is trapped
beneath the wheel
all this has been a distraction
you are not that

break open
the urn
a flurry of light
opus 133

the sky is falling
the stars are falling
the heart is breaking open
this is the music

slip on your dancing shoes
the ones with the chrysoprase heels
it’s time for the dance
the world is over

nobody’s crying
nobody’s missing
everyone’s singing
and everyone’s dancing

and the Angel of Death says, Come
and the Lamb that was slain says, Come
and the Burning Bush says, Come
the Lord of the Dance says, Come

*

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Grace Andreacchi is a novelist, poet and playwright. Works include the novels Scarabocchio and Poetry and Fear, Music for Glass Orchestra (Serpent’s Tail), Give My Heart Ease (New American Writing Award) and the chapbook Berlin Elegies. Her work appears in Horizon Review, The Literateur, Cabinet des Fées and many other fine places. Grace is also managing editor at Andromache Books and writes the literary blog AMAZING GRACE. She lives in London.

graceandreacchi.com

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jane26art by Jane Gilday

detail from Crucifixion of Kathleen

(watercolor and crayon on paper)

Standard
Poetry

Colour Collection: Black and other poems

by Julia Ciesielska

 

Colour Collection: Black

 
he postponed his own funeral
to shag a random girl
hired a double
who rested for an hour or more
tricked everyone
when came back on his place
corpse remained silent
it is true to say
death is for free yet he paid for it with his own life
what is the point asking him any more questions
black bands mark
guests’ arms with the acknowledgement
of life well – lived
or life lived
they could not tell which one he led

 
Color Collection: Grey

 
girls heels must love
gravel’s talk
its dust
workman is carrying in the skin
in every furrow and crevice
he washes it off after 5 pm
as if it was a shame
that flows away from him
dirt questions its being
always like a grey irregular god
borrows words from the night’s vocabulary
smokes and coughs
cradling fatigue in one hand
and iPhone 6 in the other

 
Knock Out Game

 
I want to see
that crucifix of blank pupils
feels pain
craving your pardon
followed by a moment of your time
would be catching skyline
which stalks behind a breath
with chapped intentions
as though exhaling gospel code
I walk my fists on either side of your head
walk through you as a clear air
invincible
hearing footsteps rainstorm
gives few more seconds
to adjust prosthesis of a prayer on the shoulder
and run

The “knockout game” is one of many names given by American news media to assaults in which, purportedly, one or more assailants attempt to knock out an unsuspecting victim, often with a single sucker punch, all for the amusement of the attacker(s) and their accomplice(s). Serious injuries and even deaths have been attributed to the “knockout game”. Some news sources report that there has been an escalation of such attacks in late 2013, and in some cases the attacker has been charged with a hate crime, while some politicians have been seeking new targeted legislation specifically against it. Liberal analysts claim that their conservative counterparts falsely promote a view that the “knockout game” trend is real and conservative analysts claim that the liberal media does not report on it due to the racial implications it may have.

 

Don’t Let Your Fear Become a Profession

nowadays demands
being spread out like butter
go around so openly
machines of talk we are
beaten trolleys
squealing for proper conversation
park us outside the supermarket
for brands
to consume shallow personalities
and to fold over body as a plastic bag
with palpable precision they inform
there is a global insufficiency
is it just me spending overlong on what to save ?

 

Personality

 
that’s obvious I’m not after your looks
what you have inside
matters more
fascinating lungs shape
stomach filled with gastric acids
irregular heart beat in delicate ventricles

how could you say I am superficial?
repeat again
tinted gray livers look good on you
kidneys make you super curvy
so roll over and talk to me at last
this is not just a one – night stand

 

Pushing a Bill Worked Hard Across the Counter

 
people do not mock wherever I pass through
do not sneer at eastern european accent
with flattened vowels
hard pronouced ‘th’

yet I didn’t know they contribute
to their community
by committing the equivalent of a social rape
until heard them chant on a street
go back home Poles
I loath not where I’m from
do they try to make me?
their blessed crime
venial, mortal, original
goes around alive and well
in theory everyone is equal
here the code of conduct is a public bar
with men pissing out the good
for the bad outweighs all
especially after a sixth pint

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-32686955
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32816454
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32823133

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Julia

Julia Ciesielska since 2006 lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where she works as a Translator and a Business Support in Recruitment organization known for Oil & Gas world wide. She has studied English Literature at Master degree and made certificate in Practice Personnel/HR at Queens University, Belfast. Apart from various literary magazines publications, she appeared in Shalom Anthology (Crescent Writing Group in Belfast) published in March 2015. Julia’s interests, echoed in her poetry, include the feminist revision of life or naturalistic perception of daily routines. After attending workshops of creative writing, organized by Lyric Theatre in Belfast, she also got interest in writing plays. Inspired by pieces of Martin Lynch she is working on a project that is presenting with the eyes of polish minorities their observations of living abroad.

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jane17

art by Jane Gilday

Standard
Poetry

Body & String Beans

by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

 

Body

The body of the Yucatecan woman
is blue
and like a wheelbarrow
or a table

I embrace her body
Her womb is the source
of multiplication and astronomy
I embrace the trunk that supports
the tree

The maize of the tortillas she is kneading
turns her fingers yellow-tan
her wrists
her forearms

but her upper arms stay blue
like the sky lighting the morning
when birds come to drink from the pool
and iguanas quickly nod their heads
in prayer to the god of sex—

They are so lonely
so stoic
they have forgotten their stoicism

They are unconscious of their morality
as the Yucatecan woman
is unconscious of hers

She is short
she is broad
she is blunt

Blue is peace
maize is peace
her fingers shape the tortillas

Her ankles are thick
her shoulders rounded
The twinkle is so deep in her eye
it cannot be seen by others
or herself
There is no mirror

She doesn’t worry about love anymore
All her loved ones were
crucified on the swords of the henequen plant
that were woven into rope

but for every loved one enslaved
and murdered by a hacienda owner
and the American capitalist
investing his enterprise
seven more spring into being
immaculately conceived
sons of God
free of hate
or desire for vengeance

Their bodies are like wheelbarrows
or tables
They roll down paths
support simple feasts

.
String Beans

Her breasts are small
her belly flat
Birds flutter around her
as she plays her wooden flute

Her multi-colored clothes are flags
that flutter in the breeze

Her sister pities her
Her sister wants everything
She doesn’t want everything
Everything would be too much to bear

She plays her flute
Birds flutter around her
She sells string beans in the farmers’ market
They are long and green and bumpy
and when she’s not playing her flute
she examines them
She wants to learn them thoroughly
Customers are drawn by her flute’s melodies

She refuses to sell her sister any string beans
If her sister had some of her string beans
her sister would have everything
and her life would collapse under the weight

so even though her sister is angry at her
and thinks she is infantile and bitter
the truth is the opposite:
she is saving her sister’s life

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over seven hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for work published in 2012, 2013, and 2014. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. He lives in Denver.

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jane9

painting by Jane Gilday

Arbor Birds

(acrylic on panel)

Standard
Poetry

Experiment in Destiny and other poems

by Jane Gilday

.
Experiment in Destiny
Today is a turning point. I pledge–to no one in particular–to never again
lie or tamper with stone-cold fact or with reality. Fiction will henceforth
not be on my palette, because i don’t have a genuine artist’s palette–
i mix my colors in black plastic tubs left over from microwave entrees.
Staring at old frozen food dishes tends to kill the romantic soft-focus allure
of fiction, and fiction, make no mistake, is good for business.

Actually the business of business is fiction.

But back to mixing colors–often I’m too lazy to mix them, so
i’ll use those pre-fab polyvinyl acrylic craft paints that
come in little bottles, marketed under brandnames like “Kozy Kottage
Krafters Kolors.” This approach has little of the tortured aesthetic
zeitgeist paradigm-probe aura to it none of the arcane
atelier vibe of ‘le studio de beaux arts’ but it sure is cheaper and
more convenient.

I might as well go all the way and forswear language abuse. Willfully
inventing words or deliberately using inappropriate words without offering
the reader a key to the mis-map may help one produce stunning
crypto-symbolist wordplay, but also paves the way to stitches and legal
problems. I’ve been abusing language for so long it’s become second-nature,
so this new clearheaded approach will probably require some
resolve, but i’m gonna be strong. “Steely-jawed” is my new middle name.

See? I failed already. “Steely-jawed” is a perfect example of all that
I’ve just decided to abhor. I’m not even sure if abhorence isn’t
just another example of language abuse. In reality someone who is
“steely-jawed” would probably be some form of an invalid–it summons forth
images of braces and neck restraints; colostomy bags and the residue of
terrible events. “Shhhh, he hates to be pitied! Though his lower jaw is now
mostly cor-10 steel, he wants to be treated like any other normal lad. He
didn’t chose to be hit by flying construction debris, it was just a
misfortune, a horrible destiny.”

SEE? You’ve fallen right into my losing struggle, haven’t you?
‘Steely-jawed’ summons forth images of comic book heroes, but i just began
to convince you otherwise. Thirty seconds ago you were rolling my statement around
in your head, thinking “darn it, Jane is RIGHT, I HAVE been fooled by that ‘steely-jawed’
turn-of-phrase for far too long. Oh that poor kid. It must suck to be steely jawed.”

Actually it doesn’t suck to be steely-jawed because nobody is steely jawed,
except for cartoon heroes. Apparently I’m not the only one who’s been indulging in
language abuse, and it makes me so glad to be able to say–in all good
conscience–that, while guilty of abusing language, i have avoided
the lures and perils of graven imagery. Walt Disney surely had a lot to
answer for when he faced his final judgement. Walt was Graven Image Wizard #1.

He left behind a world littered with phantasmic animations which created
great anxiety in the minds of defenseless humans both young and old. Why
doesn’t Donald Duck wear any pants? Is Mommy gonna get me those blobby
rubber shoes that Mickey and Minnie wear? It looks like they’d have to
remove half your foot to get it into those things. It would be like having
twin upside-down teapots for shoes. I have to pee and i can’t hold it in any
more and all those birds just exploded when the bat demons flew out of the
volcano of doom. I want some Jello.

One of my first definite sexual arousals happened when i saw Disney’s “The
Shaggy Dog.” Being able to turn into another creature at will was the
sexiest idea I’d ever encountered. For months afterward I’d mentally
pleasure myself every night, tucked-in and drifting off to sleep, by
imagining suddenly becoming a shaggy dog. It was all mental, no rubbing or
frottage and certainly no bodily fluids or spasms were involved. The
pleasure was unbearable, just lying there tingling all over, imagining
adventures in dogdom.

Prior to this I’d had similar experiences from two other Disney0esque
releases: “Pollyanna” and “Tammy.” One look at Hayley Mills and I
sensed ‘kindred spirit.’ Tammy (who was played by quite-adult
messy-divorcee-with-rat-pack-martini-hangovers Debby Reynolds was obviously exactly
who I would someday grow up to be–a perky teen with scarf-tied ponytail,
everything about me shouting “zesty” to the world, portrayed by
a figure of some ruination in actuality.

To this day I perfectly recall–and can sing–the theme song from “Tammy”.

Nobody in my family thought bit unusual that I’d been invaded by a
walk-in spirit who came from a teen exploitation movie. I was a mere 6 or
7! Need you any more proof of the dangers of graven images? This sadly
overlooked evil plagues our society to this day. I have met so many Joni
Mitchells and Kurt Cobains! More arrive every day, and not one
of them isn’t who they aren’t.

I’m certain that this form of decadence comprises much of what Islamic Terrorists
seek to obliterate in their onslaughts against The Great Satan of The West.
Can’t you see them now, cross-legged, be-robed, in caves and tents, discussing this?

“I know nothing of essential worth but my olive grove, my goats and my
eventual happy death, yet these young people everywhere kneel at the altar
of Pink and Justin and Snooki, desirous of getting this party started. Just last week
I beheaded my youngest to teach her this lesson.” Assembled turbaned heads bob sagely
in agreement and return to discussing the yield factor of putty bombs, their energies kept up
with sips from the tribal samovar and tastes of yat yogurt.

Those who experienced helpless erections at the thought of western she-demons
dervishing like The Great Whore pledge to themselves to undergo the cleansing ritual
of flagellation come the next holy day. If that fails, they’ll smash their satellite dish and
cut off their left thumb. It is only proper. Foulness demands cleansing.

Though they attack Our Way Of Life, one can almost agree with them, can’t one?

Well, if one delights in the dubious game of playing Devil’s Advocate one
can almost agree with them. Maybe. But doing so completely overlooks the Tammy
Question. You know and I know that Tammy’s in love.
Try as we may to deny it, it is fact. How did this come to be? What can be
done about it? SHOULD anything be done about it?

Tony, Liz and Eddie all thought they held the answer and look where it got
them! Crumbling pages in forgotten tabloids with lurid headlines, smear
campaigns and near-universal wrong-headedness in every piece written about
them. Resistance brings mis-quotes. Life can be SO cruel.

Face it, world–Tammy is here to stay. We may seek to control the
consequences through legislation or preventive education of our young, but
there’s no going back. We must confront Tamnation and deal with it. It
will require sacrifice, tears and steel-jawed vigilance–and these things
we WILL have. We MUST develop and utilize our valor, otherwise ruin awaits
us.

Opposing Tammy-ism is Hitler. Hitler is everywhere. He was here before young
Adolph was born and he’ll be here when we set foot again on Mars. I smell him in
every flag that ever waved; in each crisp salute from eager fresh
conscripts. I can’t help but imagine him naked with a boner every time I
hear a woman say she “loves a man in uniform,” but that’s just the
Tammy in me gone apeshit with jealousy. He resides in the pixels of Driver’s License
photographs and within the shoddy punctuation of Playboy articles on
state-of-the-art Audiophile Gear for Sophisticates. Hitler is everywhere.

What’s with all those “Home Entertainment Centers”? Aren’t they actually just
“Very Large Staring Devices”?

But back to Adolf and Tammy–sophisticated perhaps, but also ‘Father knows best’
at such a cost, and we got there only to leave a cheap flag and disturbance in the dust.

Were Hitler and Tammy to wed it would be total disaster. I needn’t
prove this. It’s not a postulate or theorum. They ARE wed. It is
fact and actuality and we’re all paying the price. We pay for the catering and
the oom-pah bands. They call it taxation but it’s really a wedding-guest
fee. Ban-Lon, Graphite fishing rods, miracle fibers and antibiotics were all
first-conceived as tributary wedding presents for the newlyweds,
commissioned by canny merchants who hoped to ensure a place
at The Wedding Feast Table. The exact details can still be found in the Library at Alexandria,
or what’s left of it.

Oh sure, there’s been resistance. Sporadic at best. Far-off rumbles in the
hills and a renewed thirst for Rum at those outposts where journalists
gather to compose trade whoppers.

The suspects range from Sandy Botticelli to Miss Muriel Lindenwald
(1873-1934). Muriel taught home economics to both Amelia Earhart and Charles
A. Lindbergh. What such rebels have in common is
better than 20-20 vision and metabolisms unlike those of ‘normal’ humans.
They have rarely operated in concert because most of them have no idea what
they are. “What they are” is simply Not Human, as ‘human’ is commonly
construed. Therefore, their activism tends to be carried out without
conscious intent. This makes their activities both inefficient and
near-impossible to trace, prevent, combat or define.

Were you to ask most of these malcontents what they thought of the
powers-that-be, their answers would arouse no suspicions. “Tammy and Hitler?
Oh I ADORE them. Where would we be without them?”

Such statements are so innocuous! So, what made such folks dangerous?
Was it was simply that they didn’t believe in Destiny-with-a-capital-D and
spent their lives dismantling Destiny in ways so effectively simple that,
before anyone knew, large chunks of destiny had gone missing?
Many folks believe that Tammy and Hitler are fine and
dandy, that all of it is somehow made holy by destiny’s blessing. Maybe
they’re right. Who knows? The whole idea of dismantling destiny seems akin
to language abuse, and even though I may go on about it, I can’t prove to
anyone I’m guilty of it, even when caught in the act.

No matter, I’m a language abuser of long-standing. I also plead guilty to
Image Abuse. Image abuse is easy. Not only easy to carry out, but so
insidious a strategy that nobody even realizes it’s being done. All they
know is the kids are getting harder to reach with each passing day–all they
want to do is save the environment or document their left-handed nihilism in
gel-pen scrapbooks, or text their friends about texting. Throwing their lives
away without a thought for good health & burial plans.
Their concerned parents haven’t a clue why this is happening.

“Justin Bieber” my patootie. It’s more like “Justin Weener”. He’ll deface your
Barbie lunchbox and eat his boogers with relish, even if you’re his number
one fan. Then he’ll expect YOU to eat his boogers.”

So why the mayhem? Where have the Elders of Destiny gone wrong?

The answer is right on their walls–in the ‘art’ which hangs there, in those
official-looking pieces of art in gilded frames Ma & Pa bought as requisite
proof of good breeding, good taste and success. Forget TV and Hollywood as sources of
brainwashing. Those media just make people stupid, make them MORE vulnerable
to destiny’s intoxication. Painted Image abuse leaves people immune to
destiny. Tammy and Hitler end up as virtual dolls, to be played with, pulled
apart, tossed away and forgotten. Things not important. Let Image Abuse sink
in deep enough and you get entire generations, and soon whole populations,
driven by deep non-verbal forces which motivate much of their life-long
activities.

“Someday my prince will come” and “We are the champions” are thus deemed silly
mindless jingles instead of the brilliant and effective programming devices
they actually are. People who weren’t shaped by such jingles find themselves
entranced by mockingbirds, paying no attention whatsoever to the talk show guests
who’re Concerned About The Economy or Family Values Under Attack. Others collect images of
people with halos. I have a friend who convinced various Human Services agencies that
she’s completely, helplessly crazy–crazy enough to qualify for Food Stamps,
rent subsidies, free medical care and a monthly cash stipend besides.
Crazy money to blow on whatever she wishes.

Among those who know of this person’s situation there’s much
disapproval. “What would happen if we all lived like that”

I haven’t any answer for them, although I think my
‘crazy-in-the-eyes-of-the-government’ friend to be the most successful and
honest person I know. I’ve tried debating this, but it only angers them. “Oh
she’s just irresponsible and lazy, she’s trash.” Meanwhile they give away
most of their lives in the service of both Tammy AND Hitler, certain that
doing so will earn them Destiny’s Favor. They know which side their bread is
buttered on. They are certain of this even as their anxious treadmill
lives spin in wobbly circles ever more anxious.

Meanwhile my rentless crazy friend lives a life free of fetters or care.

Are you tired of having your language abused yet? Blame me. I’m beyond
redemption.

Tammy and Hitler are NOT hovering over humanity like twinned engines of rot.
If you’ve been pondering them, assuring yourself that yes, there ARE so
many instances of ‘tammyesque” and “hitlerian” in all you see, then you have
been deceived by my abuses of the language. This is what happens when they
let someone like me own a computer.

STOP! do not ponder that last sentence. Toss it out. There is no ‘they’ who
have ‘let’ me own a computer. And I have no idea whatsoever what ‘someone
like me’ designates or means, so I’m darn remorseful that there IS someone
like me. When they take me before the tribunal the only words of defense I
will be able to muster will be “Tammy made me do it–Because she was in
love.” If they’re Disney-ites things should be fine. If they’re from the
Fatherland, doom awaits. My next life will be as a translucent-winged creature beyond
gravity.

 

.
True

.
True, I’m luna’d, moonish thensome,
cloudy of a shell in daylight
true I orbit deep and furlonged
ride the crossing meadows starhung
keep with veils, halos, aurant
vines gestating broken soil
pauper ragged in a twining
veined in ochre, mended mining
true all this and more octavish
eights of clover, radish cabbage
pumpkin nines with downs of lace
but satisfied with slow my pace.

Never working ever sloe eyed
spinning rubies from a hive
cider wasps with rosin bags
singing summer’s elder glide
strewn before and passage bound
Luna’d yes and not so wound
of wounds or buckshot urges mad
free unbound pastoral glad.

.

Masked

Masked like comedia d’arte
gone to cowpunched judea garland shows,
where minstrels met monsters on capital plains
of endless fortune, fate or scaramouche bleeders
with coins for blood eyes, lines of network stealthing.

Three unknown players with lute fish
the undevined mockery from drape-back
goat carts rolling theatre abroad,
in the lightning ward, con limón, la acidez en el ojo

Meanwhile, back at the palace
the king’s outhouse gang is counting money
seaping honey, whistling up the old wazoo
mid tent show receipts of the brothel
shows and advertising agents

What moral in a laudanum poultice,
in cockfights swearing camouflaged quarters
for news of strategic corsetry,
corsairs, frigates, brigands and retail?

Everyone is drunk save three
a faithful maiden, one faithful friend
and fated man from the bard depths
illegally loosed for rounds of jesting
jack shit bus rides of endless confusion

If you know the hour it’s late enough,
your clock watch needs heavier code,
navaho gaze or buffalo trace, pyx’d
in frosted Natchez under looming bluffs,
oh the merriment and pickpock larks

Pilots in outposts of wheeled command,
marking twain, entrained of a banked course,
pulling in to try town for an eve of flesh
barreled anew come morn on churned sheeting waves.

The merrymakers in chains
speed to every chasm and swindle
all the better to slice the magpie
hectoring duly of worthless prophets
ridden high atop a shifting chart

Cinema arts of meaning void
in ages of reality or other ages
come and gone pursuing knowledge
of misbegotten silkweed Vireo bowers.

Such pleasures may kill you.
Popularity clings to Feel Good.
Feel Good clings to weathered vain,
pointing to a cardinal glass spun
over a mirrored false bottom.

Am Anonymous, Nona The Gone,
they ask you now: what didja get?
a good price and then some more
galled and bittered seeds gone bare?

Rivers coarse and fine,
adjustments within an ultra sailor,
called and calling long for Persephone’s
answering murmur and quenching naught
but chaste of thirst or bullion.

Come to the square for auctions,
skin bay on nets of captive lapdancers,
haulers of some old sin washed in rushes
among found mercies while rodeo bathing.

This very moment, this one here,
in range of any ear unbound by eye
or tongue, a marionette rolls townward,
strings unlatching denizened pride,
bass and carp in wolf canals.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jane Gilday is an artist, poet and musician who lives in Pennsylvania. Her artist statement: “jane gilday is 8 years old and likes to color”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Jane27

painting by Jane Gilday

Standard
Poetry

Blind and other poems

by Jonathan Harrington

 

Blind
Old man, your eyes
the color of spoiled milk,
every evening we saw you
on the corner under the streetlight,
your hand outstretched, a few coins
sparkling in your upturned palm.
You must have known
the sound of our footsteps,
for one evening as we approached
you reached out and softly
put your hand on my shoulder
and whispered in my ear:
Pity the blind.
It’s beautiful to
be touched so lightly.
But we turned and walked
away—happy, in love.
When we got back
to our apartment I
could still feel your
fingers perched on my
collar-bone like a bird.
Much later, after
she left me for good
I’d go back each night
to the corner where you stood.
I could hear the elevated train rattling, clattering
and the bang of doors
as the shop-keepers locked up for
the night. But you were
never there. Every time
I pass that corner
I wonder where you are now,
old man, your eyes
the color of spoiled milk.
Wherever you are
have pity on me.

 

The Woman Below

A woman lives
in the apartment below me,
but I’ve never seen her.
I hear her at odd hours
stacking boxes or banging pans
and listening to JS Bach
and sometimes
the Fifth Dimension.

She makes beautiful noise downstairs.
I can tell by the way the china clicks
when she’s setting her table
that she has delicate hands
and is graceful.
We might be lovers
if I only had an opportunity
to meet her.

Once I left a note
on her door saying:
If you ever need anything…
Of course, she never called.
I can hear her downstairs now
watching reruns of “Seinfeld.”
I have a TV dinner
in the oven.

We have a nice life together.

 
Applicants

One by one
I watch them go in
and file out again.
I overhear their stories—
as if Mr. Stevens could care
about their lives
as much as their typing speeds
and the way they wear their hair.
Their dreams are all so similar
(and so similar to mine)
that even after thirty years
it’s like I’m walking in
with each one of them
each time
and walking out again
drained
of all we held inside.
No wonder they look so empty
when they take
Mr. Steven’s hand
and lie
that it was a pleasure
meeting him.
Then heave a sigh
and disappear
behind the elevator doors
like shells
of what they were before
they made this trip up here.
And they go
down, down, down,
to face the blinding light
of noon in Midtown:
the breathless air,
the strangled sky,
the next, and next, and next guy
with whom
they interview.
It’s how the world’s always been.
At least, thank god,
just one unlucky girl
will have to make this trip upstairs
again.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Jonathan Harrington lives in an 18th century hacienda which he restored himself in rural Yucatan, Mexico where he writes and translates poetry. He was an invited reader at the International Poetry Festival in Havana, Cuba in 2012. A graduate of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, his poems have appeared in Poetry East, The Texas Review,Poetry Ireland Review and many other publications worldwide. He has published four chapbooks: The Traffic of Our Lives (winner of the :Ledge Press, 19th annual chapbook award), Handcuffed to the Jukebox, Aqui/Here (bilingual) and Yesterday, A Long Time Ago. His translation of the Maya poet Feliciano Sánchez Chan´s book, Seven Dreams, appeared this year from New Native Press. In addition to poetry, he has edited an anthology of short stories, authored a collection of essays, and has published five novels.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Jane7

detail of Pastoral Hours

acrylic, polyvinyl acrylic, rhoplex & interference, pearlescent & metallic medium on canvas

by Jane Gilday

Standard
Poetry

Boz and A Song for Everything

by Jane Gilday

BOZ

sunday morning feels like home warm in bed beloved gospel truth sings boz the lovely
emptiness of winter sun through time-spun window glass and fragrance of fresh-sliced apples
in an old chipped dish mom gave ya years ago, dish & apples on a pine kitchen table top,
bells ring down the lane somewheres, a cat pads thru the room, everybody purrs like family

.

.
A SONG FOR EVERYTHING

i sing a song for everything
oh i love who i hate
and i abstain from what i ate
late last night and just this morning
as the gloaming was returning
to the frolic for abstainers
where the servants boss retainers
and do i look like an explainer?
well i’m not but know a major
who’s a miner on the side
when not shopping for the glamour
tho it’s tough because she stammers
with a diction so precise
it’s understood by mice and men
men who wonder where it came from
tho it’s marked ‘not all american’
like songs for everything
where freedom sometimes cringes
by amazon’s red glare
oh gee i really love your hair
did you have it done by sally
grandpa snuck her thru the alley
as the cats played trumpet riddles
where the dogs like moons a little
birds like bees and honey
and too soon someday the planters
start to tango in pajamas
’cause the orbits got all mangled
in the hospital of wealth
as the nurses practice stealth
on account of all the clerics
and most of them named yorick
due to wandering the steppes,
yes all twelve, but i repent
and return anew to singing
endless songs of endless sings
and if i lisped i’d thing of things.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Jane Gilday is an artist, poet and musician who lives in Pennsylvania. Her artist statement: “jane gilday is 8 years old and likes to color”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Jjane27

Queen of Hearts/Dog King

(acrylic and interference – pearlescent – metallic – irridescent – rhoplex mediums on canvas

by Jane Gilday

Standard