Two Poems

Poetry
David Polochanin


ciezarówka
Photo Credit: K. Yasuhara

Perspective

In the middle of an afternoon
I walked past my son who was digging
again into the earth of our backyard and he
said to me that he was going to take all
of the dirt in the world and put it in a pile
beside him but before I could say
this was an impossible task he showed me
the small mound that he had already made by digging
with his yellow plastic shovel and to him this
seemed like a lot of dirt. I understood then
that his entire world was right there
in the backyard, and mine was,
regrettably, a world away.

 

Love Poem

I have written so many words to you;
so many strewn across the floor
in every room of my house, some trapped
beneath a paw of the dog under the kitchen table,
others blowing against the walls of the garage
like wind stirring up a plastic bag
in an alley. Sometimes I feel that I have lost you
to the adrenaline that keeps us all going.
I see you, briefly, in a yellow car,
and you smile when you pass by,
and this makes me hopeful,
but then I remember you
are probably writing in your journal
about the mysteries of life. It is not you.
There is a seriousness about your days,
a feeling that I can’t seem to penetrate.
Now I am the one stuck being thoughtful,
and if you leave, it will only get worse.
If you leave, I will never be able to write
another paragraph, or even a sentence.
If you leave, you will take away my love.
All my life, I thought it could not be true.
One minute, you hear a soft piano
playing in the corner of an otherwise vacant room,
and you think it’s only mood music. You never believe
that the music could actually be telling you something.
I’ve wanted to listen to you, but there was never
a right time. Now, seasons change and I barely notice.
We all prepare for death in our own ways.
Dust collects on the table day after day,
and before you know it, there is a mess that you
never saw coming. You’ll press on, as you’ve always have,
and I’ll watch time pass because I’ll finally be aware of it.
I hope to make this up to you in our next life. I promise
to do all of the little things, like clean the bathroom
and come home with Chinese food, without being
asked. I think you will like that. I think
that will make a difference.

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David Polochanin is a teacher, former journalist and poet in Connecticut. His journalism has been published in The Boston Globe, Providence Journal, Hartford Courant, and Christian Science Monitor. His poetry has been published by Native West Press and will appear in the journals Sentence and Negative Suck. He is currently on a yearlong sabbatical to write poetry and fiction, and he was recently awarded the James Marshall Fellowship at the University of Connecticut, his alma mater. He is married and the proud father of a son and daughter. He enjoys basketball, watches excessive hours of it, and right now is consumed with trying to stop a squirrel from invading his birdfeeder. Email: dpolo22[at]comcast.net

Two Poems

Poetry
Jiawen P.


72:365 – In Our Hands
Photo Credit: charamelody

atlas

there, he said, lifting the orb—
green giants turning under
sheets of cerulean, sleep
existing only in spilt milk
swirling; spiraling like its
astronomical namesake.

please let me remember
that night my friends and i stood
alone in the dust of the silence,
putting names to the night—
pretending everything could be
ours

in that moment

a blue hand swept across the pale
shores, carrying little crabs and coral
home; then we were back under our duvets
without milk, dreaming of green grass,

and with a howl, everything was the same again.

 

the man who sold the world

the man who sold the world
started out auction-style on eBay
“limited edition, don’t miss out”
he promised the world in mint condition—
cardboard box and bubble wrap all on him
i found it tucked in “toys and hobbies”
between retired melamine toys
and last Christmas’s Hot Wheels box sets.
the man who sold the world
kept it cheap—four dollars for a fast deal.
boys with trucker hats who thought they had the whole world in their hands,
middle class workers who promised the world to their kids as heirlooms,
old men who worked all their lives for the world
sniped it with hate, with rage, with a vengeance,
trash-talking each other about who deserved what.
the man who sold the world
met the lucky buyer on first avenue
out of necessity, without interest, she asked
why did you sell the world?
i am tired, the man replied,
and my back is straining
and my arms are aching
and my knees are giving way
from bearing the world on my shoulders.
shrugging as he collected the four dollars,
the man who sold the world
doesn’t know what he’ll sell next
but at least he’s made some profit,
this time from outlasting responsibility.
four dollars can get him his coffee.

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Jiawen P. is a 16-year-old photographer, student, and occasional writer currently based in Singapore. Email: chickenbolus[at]gmail.com

Three Poems

Poetry
Karolina Manko


Milestone
Photo Credit: Blek/Black_Claw

Re-Memory

Last summer
Montauk taught me
how loudly the ocean
claps after it’s heard
a good story, seen
enough nakedness.
The mouth-bite
on my inner left thigh,
the bruise from assembling
my own bed. Reminders
that storytelling is a quiet art.
It’s a lot of crashing, foaming,
waiting for the evidence to surface.
The buzzing in the backseat
during a family road-trip.
The sinking heart
of a failed chemistry exam.

In bruised pride, out of habit
we pull the blankets
back over our heads, and sleep
while the world waits
to be told what to do next.

Cursing and blubbering.
At some point, we are all the Emperor
on the day he looked down
to find the one truth
that refused to be fooled.

Remembrance is a culture
of vulnerability. Re-memory,
a lineage.

 

Love, A Procedural Analysis Of

My mouth is flooded with a fine powder
as my tongue settles to the floor
and begins breaking down piece by cracked piece.

The body is an error in the crest line,
a promise to break down at the mouth
of something bigger and harder than it.

I know of only one way to say “I love you”
but three syllables seem like a pitiful attempt
at a haunting. I long for the cavernous abyss

of you. Voluminous enough to carry an echo.
You have always fascinated me with your depth.
I often wonder if love is a plastic-bag-suicide—

—an erasure of all but breath balanced on tongue.
The presence of nothing
but raw human soul and rotting body.

 

Water, Pooling in the Dark
An homage to William Burroughs, who accidentally shot his wife.

The aquamarine sky ripples in windows.
Between South Campus and North Campus I sit
with Sarah and talk about blue paint
and iambic pentameter. “Is this the face
that launched a thousand ships?

Bill crosses the quad
slinks towards Shepard Hall.
Maybe he is high again. Smoke trails
him like air bubbles encircling a stone
freshly dropped into water. He watches me
with ashtray eyes. Between us, electric ice.

We share a Mexican memory,
bread broken between two past-lives.
There is no peace in the wake
of a thousand ships. There is nothing
but the blue of her eyes and the red of her.

 

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Karolina Manko is a 22-year-old Polish-born immigrant with a B.A. in English Literature. She recently moved from New York City to a small town in Alabama and has since been working on adding “y’all” to her vocabulary. Karolina has been awarded the Esther Unger Poetry Prize as well as the David Markowitz Poetry Award. Last April she read with 2012 U.S. Poet Laureate, Philip Levine, and 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winner, Tracy K. Smith, at the Housing Works Bookstore in NYC. More of her work can be found on her website: Primordial I. Email: karol.manko[at]gmail.com

Three Poems

Poetry
Gail Hosking


Interlocking
Photo Credit: Tom/tjgiordano

Buddha Montage

In the photograph you stare back
from your years in a jungle,
all that time pushed into
black and white on a retrospective
canvas so clear I can finally feel
the heat of your far away obligation.

I study the other men in the picture,
the accumulation of sweat and grins,
imagine the heaviness of those guns,
the routine of quick decisions.
There’s never a moon, never
any color in this study
of continuity, this tapestry of uniforms,
just your face on the edge of memory, alive
in that way the dead walk among us.

I write this in a room with Buddhas
on the wall, prayers stacked by the desk.
And I recall the times you visited
monks in orange robes and spoke
their language, studied their creeds,
then sent me carved ivory
to wear around my neck.
For your protection.

I think of east meeting west,
the needs of a country beating
out the needs of a teenage girl,
something still trapped inside
the one you forgot to leave
a contingency plan, the one
writing what will never reach you.

 

After the War

Panzer and Maximus, two dogs
on the job of repatriating remains,
still can’t find all the missing.

And there is a reason the old CBS
correspondent cries when sons and daughters
return to find what must be accounted for,
or why the one-armed clerk in Hanoi
will not accept American money.

Ho Chi Minh, pastry chef turned
revolutionist, now statue in the park,
knew that the tiger would eventually beat
the elephant, but the French believed
otherwise up to Dien Bien Phu, up to the
moment they took out their last batch of
rubber from the colony. And we in turn
believed we’d win in spite of Father John’s leg
buried at Hamburger Hill or Agent Orange
left on top of Black Virgin Mountain.

The landscape returns to orchids and color,
tourists in the Map Room where telephones
once connected to the White House,
and five red dragons circle with double-luck
on the palace wall. The mythical unicorn
speaking of intelligence, the phoenix of beauty,
the tortoise of longevity, while the ghosts
of Ming and Diem surrender like a dust speck
on a thirteenth-century painting of Mongolian invaders.
Helicopter pads pointed out after lunch
at the Indochina Restaurant where Norma from Idaho
tells her dream about being lifted through
a window with a long line of children
behind her, silent uniformed men
inside working on airplanes turning to stare.
Just as she passes the rice, she leans over
to say: They know we’re here.

 

Anatomy of Time

It took months before he told the truth—
a foreign language swinging back
and forth between them—and she curled
right then in a ball like a lost puppy. It took
weeks before she beat his chest
and ran away breathless, nearly tripping
over her feet, her body finally resting
behind a church, her back up against a stone wall.
When he finally left, it took days to make
the three AM call when she unleashed obscenities
down still-connected wires, days and more days
to scream against his silence. It took hours
to empty drawers, to rip up photographs,
to stack shared books into boxes. Minutes
to burn letters, to erase phone messages, to change
sheets. Seconds to fall to her knees. Years—
long years—to make space between before
and after, to take apart their interlocked cells.

 

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Gail Hosking is the author of Snake’s Daughter: The Roads in and out of War. Her poetry and essays have appeared in such places as The Florida Review, Nimrod, The South Dakota Review and Fourth Genre. She holds an MFA from Bennington College and teaches at Rochester Institute of Technology. Email: r.gail.hosking[at]gmail.com

Three Poems

Poetry
Alison Eastley


A wing at night
Photo Credit: (Alex)

Watching the moon from different places

Rise and fall,
rise and fall. Leonard walks down the steep track
that leads to the sea. It is as warm as it is secure. It is
a sensation
I watch it rise and fall, rise
and fall. It’s not like when Harry phoned and asked me to go

outside and together we watched the swollen moon, he from his place,
and me from mine and there we were, outside and watching
the soft velvet moon and it’s not
like Peter delivering an egg-and-bacon pie.
The pie is warm, the pastry rich and buttery, crisp and soft and it’s not
like listening, really listening.

There is only my breathing. Rise
and fall,
rise and fall I recognise this is my right to choose
without your reflection shattering
the moon into absence,
another day at the mercy of love and other blindness.

 

Apotheosis

Past the villa of mysteries, past the hero-temple on the highway,
there is a number on a letter-box. Up the softly curving
gravel road there is no ancient history. The nighttime rites
bury the sacrifice of morning light. I could be reading Homer
but I’m not. Communication shouldn’t be a translation
although I must admit I enjoy the twists and turns of any journey
even if you forget to mention it ended on some island where ghosts
and immortality cling. Do you think you’re the only one who
chooses silence over unkindness? I can bite my lips till they bleed
into the video of you and me. It was beautiful then. It is beautiful
now as I circle your palm with a kiss. Keep your hand open
for I have nothing to hold but the memory of night.

 

Barely blue, tingling

I noticed how much light there still is in the darkness
for there is no tapestry as magnificent as that deep brown
red in the glow of autumn evening sun, tempered by the trees
a skirt catches the light, a shadow falls, a dark silhouette
of a man appears above the undergrowth of sleepless dreams.

In my personal hell I woke this morning
half-asleep in that strange I’m-still-waking stage and thought of you
and at the moment
of thinking and not really aware what I was thinking
I had this strong sense of wanting you. The color, dear Vincent
is hostage-held delusional blue.

A woman’s breast molds itself against the sky…
in the half-light of the deep shadow tone they look like terracotta
figures being modeled in a studio. Often,
I think of you tied to every cloud a ribbon my fingers
stretch in the morning I lie on my back, warm from the earth.

I’m left with this lingering sense of oh, I know what this is.
It’s all part of the process; I’m aware
of it and let it go,
then rationalize my thoughts the color, dear
Vincent, is the prisoner can’t escape dark violent blue.

Sometimes there is a mild melancholy
in the falling leaves,
in the muted light
in the haziness
of things …are you getting any sleep?

You can’t always say what it is that shuts
you up, what walls
you in, what seems to bury you alive,
but you still feel some kind
of bar, some kind of cage,
some kind of wall. Do you
know what makes the prison disappear?
It is every deep affection the color, dear
Vincent, is the mirror in the ceiling over the bed
3AM blue.

People don’t mean badly,
they just don’t understand it all and probably
think I am mad
when they see me draw in large lines
and scratches
that don’t mean anything to them.

Nothing has changed over one hundred years.
Often it starts when the desire to be understood
changes into the desire to take sides.
I keep reminding
myself to be gentle as the color, dear
Vincent is it’s all over now baby blue.

Yesterday I heard someone behind me say, “Now,
what kind of painter is that, he draws
the horse’s behind instead of his front.”
I was rather amused by that. I enjoy
making sketches in the street. On a more serious
note, I wonder how you are going
with it all. Have you thought of other things here
that you left? I can drop them off anytime
I am so covered in paint that some has even
got onto this letter.

In the night
the light casts a heart
felt arterial shudder in the dark I’m all kinds of woman
you forgot it didn’t have to end
this way. As for my belongings, they can stay on the shelf
but I’d like you to return my hope and fear I want you
barely blue, tingling dear
Vincent, there is more elegance in those slender trees
closer than the dogged memory mongrels
always walk away.

(Extracts of Vincent van Gogh’s Letters #133, #228, #229 and #230 are included in this poem.)

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Alison Eastley lives in Tasmania, Australia where she dreams she is Vincent van Gogh’s undiscovered, secret wife reading one of his hand-written letters, heavy from the blast from the sun dune it topples her books, his wet canvases and this is better than the truth of being the ex-girlfriend of a cross-dresser who has more shoes than she does. Email: alison_eastley[at]yahoo.com.au