Five Poems

Poetry
DS Maolalai


Photo Credit: Paul Downey/Flickr (CC-by)

My Grandfather

heavy the tread
like a box
with flowerpots.

his fingers
dust brown
and warm soda
bread. a man
is a knuckle. made hard
with antique.

with simple food,
with hot tea,
with sunlight,
with cigarettes.

watering a plant.
watering a plant.
watering a plant.

 

On the Apartment Balcony

faces; flashing flowerpots
from someone else’s garden. light
beaming, the river
for once blue
and not grey. people on the quays,
smoking cigarettes
or walking. enjoying the heat
in general
like cats amongst activity
which prowl about a garden
playful in their chasing
of butter-
and mayflies.

I stretch my arms southward
and slouch on the apartment
balcony. in the kitchen
chrys makes cocktails
out of gin and crushed mint
leaves.

 

Alberta

I liked it a lot.
this was Calgary,
and our rented house
took the top of a hill, lurching
on a view
which went rolling down
past mountains and downward
into the river.

all around the edges
wood hung
like the dribbles
of enormous candles. swamps
with pine needles;
rain
settling on rain.

once
I woke up at 5 a.m.,
filled a glass of water
and went to the garden
and smoke
was stalking the street
in wisps.

we were fine,
the neighbours told me,
out early
gathering apples.
the wildfires
were 200
miles off;
we were only seeing it now
because they were bad
in particular this year.

 

Smoking

3 a.m. bar
closing. mr
and dame cigarette

outside. her back
on the wall,
his hand
braced against it. cold

damp stone
such as might be found
in caves
or the quiet moisture
of subway platforms.

his head
is half dangled. hers
tilted back. elbow
cupped, very
stylish. she blows

her smoke. it mingles,
goes up.
becomes stars.

 

The Fish Tank

after two years
he pulled out the suitcase
that had been sitting at the bottom
of his wardrobe
and discovered it had only ever
been half-unpacked
when he moved in.
those old shirts went in the trash
along with most of the things
he had saved that time—

bunches of letters
and movie-ticket stubs
kept in a drawer to decay after first dates,
a secondhand radio
and some pictures bought from street vendors
and all the empty bottles
bunched beneath the sink.

the rest he threw in,
not bothering to fold things,
and found there wasn’t enough there
to completely fill it up.
he fished out some of the old letters
and threw them in on top.

then he put on his coat
and placed a note in front of the fish tank
asking his landlady
to give the fish to her daughters
or at least
to not flush them away,
left the keys on top of the fridge
and opened the door.

the room looked much as it had when he arrived,
no plaque up with his name on it,
no new paint on the walls.
the goldfish were his only addition
and a bedside locker
he had found on the street
with the door hanging loose
and repaired.

everything else
was white walls,
cheap pine,
and a stain on the toilet.

he picked up his suitcase
and the plane ticket from the stripped mattress
and was very careful to shut the door
properly behind him.

pencil

DS Maolalai has been nominated four times for Best of the Net and three times for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press, 2016) and Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press, 2019) Email: diarmo90[at]live.ie

Four Poems

Poetry
Mark Hammerschick


Photo Credit: Srikanth Jandhyala/Flickr (CC-by)

In Arizona Distance Long by Wide

Moon rocks beckon
in an Arizona distance
deep with desert
long by width wide with height.

Heat
Sand
Snakes
Saguaro

Lizards leap in tangled underbrush
bright greens, yellow, crimson
flowers thorny
spikes, thistle, cutting.

Silence, complete, suffocating
dances alone as
ghosts of Navajo
hunt death’s valley.

Women weep
in caverns dark
while waters flow upward
into time’s steep ascent.

They chase shadows
of forgotten ancestors
who once roamed
these lands wide below trenches

of misery and pain,
not knowing the knowledge
of death’s refrain.
And so they weep…

 

Out of the Boardroom (Boredroom)

Looking upward through a skylight
at clouds slowly moving north
destination unknown on a summer day
late in a July afternoon.
Shadows from a whiteboard in a conference room
fingers of shadow for each phase
of past jobs lived lifelessly
among targets and profits meetings and marketing
how those charts no longer matter
and probably never did.
Goals and objectives, appraisals and reviews forgotten
when a life is lived with trousers rolled
and shirts untucked, ties a distant demise.

 

Corner Office

It is dark.
A boy shovels snow.
With each neat pile
he shovels his future
in the moonlight of this present past.

Saturday is weeding day.
First Mrs. Wilson’s garden
dodging the pesky schnauzers
then Cora Anderson’s place
under the cool Catalpa canopies.

On some nights he helps his mom
at the Lions Bar and Grill
as the general kitchen helper,
scraping, cleaning, boiling and frying
chickens for the Friday night regulars.

After fifth grade classes at St. Andrews
he scurries home to outrun
the Gaylords gang hanging out
under the El on Roscoe Street.
They don’t like the Catholic boys.

It is night.
In a small room
enclosed with books
he counts his money.
Careful, methodical piles
take shape, penny mountains,
quarter valleys and nickel canyons.

Seasons pass, winds move.
The boy scrapes pots and pans,
scrubs floors, shines silverware
at Martha Washington Hospital
as the dietary aide after high school classes.
On Sundays he’s the cook’s assistant
learning the mystery of hospital cuisine.

He is not one to complain.
He has a plan, he has a vision.
Work is work, an end to a means of approach.
Forever winning, near the goal…

Years pass, seasons come and go
like the women in that room
speaking of Michelangelo.
The boy now a man sits
enclosed in an Italian leather chair
high in the corner office
of a glass and steel tower.

So many Saturdays
and so many Sundays
early and late
in the small hours
and in the large hours
in the wide valley of youth
and now in the narrow crevice of age.

The sign on the door says
Executive Vice President.

No one knows how
the shovels of youth
can form the mountains of age,
how pulling weeds
and frying chickens
and scrubbing floors
can lead to the corner office.

The boy-man knows this
and is proud.
A life lived long,
lean, focused and charted
like some square rigger on the high seas.

So, they give him the gold watch
inscriptions and pats on the back.
What a run they say, you deserve it
they chatter, drinks raised, toasts made.

The man now sits in this yard
sipping a dry Martini
yearning to start shoveling again,
pulling weeds and frying chickens…

 

Mai Tais on the Bay

It started in the dirt
weeding the rose bush beds
for five dollars per hour
big cash for those days
lived on the Bernard
in a fractured yard
of splintered dreams
not yet imagined

it grows
it moves
it learns
it grooves

then onward and upwards
to the grill
at the minimum wage
but heated to the maximum
macs large in an oiled purgatory
of fries laced with Lazarus stench
oozed into blue aprons
impaled on tender breasts
not yet pierced
by the pernicious propensity
of ambition

it roils and rolls
into bewildered adolescence
based on black beauties
Hawaiian expansion
dazed and confused
broken on the bottle
shaved inner thighs beckon
and then
the descent
into Shantih
beyond the brutality of breath
the longing of Tantalus
so near so close
yet so far from
the warm cloak of Pompeii
where the womb one
floated into free fall
waiting

paths
move
mountains shift
rivers do what they do
it gathers itself
as it descends into steel towers
doing what needs to be done
moving up
into quantum cubes
infected with fantasy
dreams not only deferred
but only dried raisins
on that road to
Selma, Bataan, Auschwitz

In the inner
you fight to live
you pray to flee
but memory
can make you free

it grows old
moldy, moody, mottled
and then the day
when it leaves the corner office
out of the blue and into the black
certainty of Groundhog Day
another severed brain
lost in the labyrinth
of what could have been
of what was wasted
which is now
the here and now
of trousers rolled
belts slung high
and flesh fleeing itself
as it ascends
into Mai Tais on the Bay

pencil

Mark’s poetry will be appearing in The Metaworker and Breadcrumbs Magazine. He writes fiction and poetry and has been published sporadically. He holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and a BS and MBA. He is a lifelong resident of the Chicago area and currently lives on the north shore, most of his professional career has been focused on digital strategy and online consulting as a digital architect and transformation strategist. Email: hawthorn2414[at]att.net

complexity on my way home

Baker’s Pick
Johann van der Walt


Photo credit: Chris (a.k.a. MoiVous)/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

wait a minute
if you speak only to hear your own voice
you waste time
you told me this back when we shared fluids
you said that we are endless seconds that end up ticking in space
a finger pointed down to our separate shadows
showing our depart seeped out onto concrete
ushering our ultimate defeat
I was all the mistakes that left your mouths unmade
and after you I’d only continue to breathe
half of me reading the signs from back to front
I wonder if we have been fooled?
is this it? lovers until thunder? strangers exchanging fallen glances?
obviously my spine bends backwards
as I collect memories to piece myself back together
how did you move forward while my thoughts drown
cast in a stranger’s image?
we are disconnected but I can’t seem to feel it
lights blur on the way home like broken shackles
always light everywhere to elucidate heavy breathing
behind the steering wheel of every moving particle
I repeat like a familiar song
a worn out duplicated complexity
unwillingly yielded to multiple worlds
but after every journey how many of us really have any heart left to spare?
how many experiences can be purchased and built upon?
every day I convict myself
I ask nobody how small we all have become

pencil

Johann van der Walt has published his debut poetry collection in Afrikaans in South Africa (his country of birth) titled Parlement van uile (translated: parliament of owls) and also his first chapbook in the States—This Road Doesn’t Lead Home—over at Red Mare Press. Email: jlw.vanderwalt[at]gmail.com

Three poems

Poetry
Tiffany Washington


Photo credit: Sheila Sund/Flickr (CC-by)

Confession

Last Easter,
wedged between my brother (alcoholic)
and my mother-in-law (tyrant)
my grandmother decided to tell us a story—
to seek redemption in the retelling

Denouncing her past claims
that ink runs through our veins
(writing’s in the blood)
she admits Biology, not English
was her best subject

until the day
the young farm-girl version of my grandmother
maternally carried to school, a frog (extra credit)
“I didn’t know, I didn’t know,” she repeated

finally, my grandfather finished her words
concluding this story
between courses of the holiday meal

60 years later, her mind cemented
on that moment
(the scalpel and the still-beating heart)

 

Upon Remembering a College Trip to Ukraine

Babushka—hand over your face
do you worry about me now?
All American
All grown-up.
I do not make borscht like you

taught me—Saturday afternoons
for Sunday dinner.
Hot tea does not sit in a front
window-cooling as we pray.
My alphabet of tripled TTTs
and harsh straight lines lay
forgotten
folded between subway
schedules and sheet music.
I remember Katia
playing her accordion
while Ana banged the drum
and “little professor” practiced
English with us after every
performance.

Babushka—do you still ride
in the side-car of the motorcycle
down dirt roads outside the city?
How many groceries can
you fit besides you on your travels?
That summer when Sara got sick,
we did not know she would leave
her husband after only 10 years.
American aspirin and antibiotics
saved our lives—years of immunities
stored to prevent
death that too quickly came
—brought in our suitcases and on our clothes
from an airport halfway around the world

Babushka—do they still Baptize
people in the brown river,
downstream from Chernobyl?
You would not let us swim there
on hot days, fearful cancer
would seep into our skin—
But Baptisms were protected
“By God,” you told us.
Safe in the salvation
of full immersion, not that Holy
water sprinkle in an air conditioned church.

Babushka—do you stand taller
now after Dr. David straightened
spines all afternoon, while I checked
charts with names and ages?
Are your arms strong enough
to hug me like the prodigal
daughter when I return to the
country of my almost home?

Babushka—hand over your face
I do not worry for you
All Ukrainian.
Always grown-up.

 

On an Aging Mother-in-Law

Before dinner you told us
about the internship so close to death—
a summer between wills and beneficiaries,
of the “no presents” rule to protect neglectful children.

And I thought of your mother,
in the front seat,
who already declined the invite
to share our home (just in case),
disapproval trumping loneliness.

But when she made that comment,
the one removing me from all familial obligation,
I stopped feeling sorry.
And I started to understand:
her one son’s yearly Mother’s Day amnesia,
and the other’s long distance job, never a moment to call.

What I do not understand:
your eagerness to love her
and my savage desire for her approval.

pencil

Tiffany Washington is an 8th grade English teacher, mother of four, and sometimes poet. Her works have appeared in a number of print and on-line publications including Caduceus, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Artis Magazine and Long River Run. Email: tmwashington[at]yahoo.com

Vagina Bowl Making Workshop

Poetry
Salvatore Marici


Photo credit: bluebus/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

Vagina Bowl Making Workshop

Photos of Tigerlily’s vagina guide
women’s fingers press,
curve beige clay,
cast intentions to the earth
cuddle in their hands.
Bear babies if they want.
Lubricate after menopause.

Like priests with chalices
I raise arms
hold vessels of life.
Hail to vaginas’ miracles,
women’s marvels.
Tilt, drink.

pencil

Salvatore Marici’s poetry has appeared or forthcoming in Toasted Cheese, Spillway, Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland, Of Burgers & Barrooms a Main Street Rag anthology and more. In 2010, Marici was the Midwest Writing Center Collins Poet-in-Residence. He has three books: Mortals, Nature and their Spirits (chapbook), Swish Swirl & Sniff, and Fermentations (all Ice Cube Press). Marici served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and he is a civil servant retiree as an agronomist. He is learning to maneuver a 17-foot ten-inch kayak in mangroves and the Gulf. Email: redwineandgarlic[at]yahoo.com

Three Poems

Poetry
Marchell Dyon


Photo credit: Neil Moralee/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

Black Women Sing Too Of Cages

We too howl against the rattle of time
We too rage our tattered wings against the bars
We see the length of years stretch before you
We see the gray math twinkling in
Only inches of sun

We too have spilled tears of rage
Until the tears that burned us cools our sweat
We know of thoughts of suicide, a rainbow engulfed
We live a life of high potential wasted

Yes!
We know the choices of no choice
We understand the self-pity and self-denial
We wish for the magic to rise out
From under despair

You tell us to wait with our chins up
You tell us you’ll be home soon
You tell us stories, and you spin your yarn
You ask us to hold on to air

We let you fill our heads with dreams
Still, we work
Alone we raise your children
We stand on blisters

Waiting… waiting… waiting…

In anger, you say women have it easy
You say girls don’t struggle, growing up isn’t hard
Remember now, whose left with the responsibility

When you decide to slang or pick up the gun
Try being women raising
Our children on a minimum wage

Try being blamed for everything as the day is long
Try having to explain your prison term to our son

 

A Black Woman’s Thunder Song

I am the red bird striking
The sky with lightning
My wings bellow like tornadoes

My words are powerful
My words can blow down your house
From my words there’s no shelter

That can prevent me entry
Boom, boom, boom,
I rock your complacency

Re-cord me
My words have a different meaning
Played backwards

My words are never at peace
There is always another war
Another march to rally for

Even if you pretend you don’t have ears
You hear me
You see me

I paint myself red
Even if you count to ten
The flash bomb of my words will blind your eyes

As thunder split the heavens
Rest assured my voice will make its mark
So, shut yourself in and pretend

With your heads in the clouds
Till the storm rolls and awake you
With the sounds

I will not sit silently at society’s
Fruitless table
I will shout my right to order

To make myself heard,
Never will my voice be disabled
Never will I be the dark girl seated but, in the corner,

My stride with lightning will light places
My electric footprints will fill the air
Like thunderstorms my voice leaves traces

My echoes you will remember
I was there and I shook the bars
I was a contender

 

Black Woman, Cool Down

When my anger flares
Is it my blood pressure you wish to ensnare?
See the ice defrost from my lips

See it hone my vocabulary to something sweet
I claim each new moment like a pearl
Found and dived for under an ocean of pain

I hold my breath, I swim
Through the muck like I have gills
I refresh myself by sheer will

I often smooth the conversation
With nothing more to say I leave the room
In the air is the scent of flowers

I remain cool for a few hours
Not that I’m always a hot head
Brimstone
A flint attitude of fire

I just like to sleep well
When I retire
Not that I have joined your point of view
Being that angry black woman all the time
Babe, I have better things to do

pencil

Marchell Dyon is a poetry enthusiast. She enjoys reading poetry wherever she can find it. Once she was nominated for the Best of the Net prize for her poem “As I Stand by My Window Dreaming of Falling.” Her most recent publications are Toasted Cheese and Medusa’s Kitchen. She has taken many poetry workshops; her education and thirst to improve her craft have constantly developed, despite having both schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. She continues to live and write in Chicago. Email: marchelldyon[at]yahoo.com

Five Poems

Poetry
Richard Dinges, Jr.


Photo credit: 5chw4r7z/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

Loss

What can you know
of a woman who
mourns a tooth pulled
to decay, her mind
already in slow
dissolve, her diaries
read in absentia
spread into tight
spidery webs, words
lost in all that white
space hidden beneath
black unreadable
ink, that what you
remember last
is her brief spoken
grief for a tooth.

 

Garage

This small enclave
wrapped in tin nailed
to dead trees’ souls
smells of oil, gas,
and sweat, where I
toil to repair
what no longer
works, where I scrape
fingernails, skin,
calloused palms on
cold hard iron,
wrap myself in
their mysteries,
bring them to life,
to roar and belch
smoke, an exhaust
cloud that drifts in
trees and dead leaves,
air too fresh to breathe
mixed into my
hard day’s reward.

 

Friday Fish Fry

White paper plates,
styrofoam cups, dull
stainless steel forks
hold us together
across a multitude
of mouths. From food
queue to rows
of metal chairs
that fold open with
hollow finality, then
shoved against tables
hidden under white
cloths, we bend our heads
over mounds that steam
and shovel another
bite into our gaping
unsated appetites.

 

Trees’ Lives

Trees return in small hints of life,
dot gray skies at the end of each
twig, scatter into wind’s cold breath,
then settle again to calm growth.
Each compact bud contains a map
of the distant past, promises
of extraordinary bursts
into a verdant bright new life.

 

Windy

Wind is busy
wiping clean all
surfaces, dust from
leaves, gray from sky,
clouds, even those
that resemble
cotton stuffing
from plush toy bears,
images from
my eyes, printed
on memories
stuffed behind my
ears, where wind blows
what is left of my
hair in tiny
ripples of gray
around my head
wiped clean as the day
I drew my first
breath of this wind.

pencil

Richard Dinges, Jr. has an MA in literary studies from University of Iowa, and no longer manages information systems at an insurance company. Home Planet News, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Westview, Pinyon, and Writers Bloc most recently accepted my poems for their publications. Email: rdinges[at]outlook.com

Five Poems

Poetry
Chris Abbate


Photo credit: darwin Bell/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

Before You Were Here
For Beth

Dad points out the unicorn
in the empty lot along Jordan Lane.
He does this every Saturday night
on the way to my grandparents’ house.
Everyone pretends to see it except me.

When we arrive, Grandma pulls
our wrists into the kitchen,
a bowl of Chex mix and a deck of Bicycle cards
on the table, a Benson and Hedges
dangling between her lips.
Downstairs at Grandpa’s bar,
Ro pours air martinis for me and Steven.
She tops them off with invisible olives.
We toast and drink them down in one gulp.

When Dad calls for us, we stumble upstairs,
tripping over each other like we’re drunk.
He stands behind Mom,
his hands on her shoulders,
and announces we are having a baby.

Grandpa goes to the liquor cabinet
for a bottle of champagne.
His twelfth grandchild—
they are cheaper by the dozen, he says.
We feel Mom’s stomach for a bump.
Grandma calls into it,
promises to spoil you rotten.
Steven and Ro make a bet
about whether you’re a boy or girl.
They tell me I will have to burp you
and change your dirty diapers.

The moon follows our car
on the way home.
As we pass the lot again,
Dad asks if I can see the unicorn.
I tried to draw a picture of God once,
but drew a sunflower instead.
Now, I squint into the dark
and imagine you—
a shimmering body and legs,
a long head, nodding.

 

Drawing the Tree

The picture
she drew
of her childhood
was the maple
she climbed;
a respite
from the turmoil
on the ground—
the broken machines
of the day
and the father
who beat
a path
to the garage
searching
for the tools
to fix them.

He took the tree
down one day
without warning,
or explanation.
The earthen heart
of its upturned stump
and dismembered
limbs were strewn
across the yard
like dead soldiers.

As she aged,
the tree became
one more thing
she was deprived of;
an object
of her father’s
combustion.
How little
he knew about her;
all the climbing
she still had to do—
to look down
from above her house
wearing a crown
of leaves,
depths of sky
to fathom.

 

Invisible Roots

Let’s talk in marigolds, mother,
like the orange and yellow blooms
you planted along the stone wall back home
where I sat and posed
on my first day of grade school—
my crisp Oxford you ironed, and clip-on tie,
a White Owl cigar box of school supplies
in my lap, and Buster Browns on my feet.

You knew to capture the moment
before the school bus came—
standing over me in the driveway,
a halo of sun above your head
while I squinted in the light;
head cocked, legs crossed.

I wonder what you thought that day
in the mother’s clothes you wore.
Was it how to fill the fresh silence of a house?
Or finding a name for something you lost?

When the bus, as imminent as any bloom,
turned onto our street
and I stood up to leave
did you sense too,
the invisible roots between us
stretching thin through the lens?

 

Day Care Report
for Ella, December 21, 2013

You won’t remember crying at naptime yesterday,
or soaking your sleeves while washing your hands,
or how apple juice leaked from your bottle
and dripped into your boots.

When I sat at my desk this morning
and read your day care report
the sun peeked into my eyes
beneath the porch awning.

I have always anticipated daylight’s
rise from the ashes of December,
like ancient tombs in Ireland
whose entrances were positioned
so that light might pierce
their inner chamber
for a few fleeting minutes
each winter solstice.

What if all we have of a day
is the sunlight captured in stone?
The recounting of a day care report?
If so, I wish you ones
with no more weight
than you can bear—
with restful sleep,
a clean, dry shirt
and a well-sealed bottle—
knowing that tomorrow will be
a little longer,
a little brighter.

 

Station of the Cross

It was the closest I would ever get to Maggie,
the eighth-grade beauty playing Mary to my Jesus
in our school’s presentation of the fourth Station of the Cross:
a freeze frame of Jesus meeting his mother.

Maggie is kneeling before me in a sky blue robe
and white mantle, a look of compassion on her face,
which I would like to interpret as infatuation
rather than fabricated sympathy for my impending crucifixion.

During rehearsal, Sister Grace instructed me to rest my hand on her head.
But my palm wasn’t sweating then, or quivering like it is now,
because I can’t help but think that I am touching her
when I should be focused instead on saving humanity.

I wanted put down my cardboard cross and confess
to my classmates and their families my feelings for Maggie
despite how she regarded me that day no more than she did the day before.
I would have told them how I was beginning to appreciate Jesus more,

because love isn’t reciprocal, and saviors and boys are mostly misunderstood.
I was sacrificing a piece of my boyhood on that altar;
I had given myself over to an emotion I didn’t understand, and tomorrow
would have no choice but to pick up my cross, spread my arms, and die.

pencil

Chris Abbate’s poems have appeared in Connecticut River Review, Chagrin River Review, and Comstock Review. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net award. His first book of poetry, Talk About God, was published in 2017 by Main Street Rag. Chris resides in Holly Springs, NC. Email: chrisabbate[at]yahoo.com

Three Poems

Poetry
Diane Webster


Photo Credit: Tim Ereneta/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

Log and Fire

Log expands grains
so fire breathes
through veins
emblazoned with gold
aliveness, molten glass
blobbing before
form-fitting mold
cools exterior
like ash fragment
remembering burn
flutters skyward
until extinguished.

Fire pries fingernails
into oxygen-rich cracks,
snaps and smacks
merrily as it grasps
concentric rings
blazing smaller
like log’s life
twinkling embers,
lifting last ashy eyelash
before sleeping, merging
dreams surrounded
into charred midnight.

 

Bedroom Sounds

Sounds not belonging
creep into bedroom.
Sounds like cat,
claws ticking on floor,
but not.
Sounds of stealthy searching
ruffle papers, finger loose change
on dresser, brush gloved
hand over painted wall.
Sounds not right for my bedroom;
too light for a man,
I hope. Bravely, stupidly
I rise and don’t
knock anyone down
as I switch on the light.

Moth dive bombs my hair.
“Damn moth!” as I stab a grab.
It races into lamp shade
to beat itself against bulb,
bumper cars
with shade’s design.
I am a crazed badminton player
with fly swatter as moth
careens the room, disappears.

Sounds silent. Moth invisible.
I give up to my bed.
Moth attempts, attempts, attempts
entry to computer lights;
wishes to fly a giant avatar
in cyberland.

 

Fellow Travelers

After eight hours driving
it’s time for lunch.
We park among the row
of cars, SUVs, campers, RVs
and choose a picnic table
out in the weeds away
from weary, fellow travelers.

Table is splattered
with dry mud from previous
inconsiderate family members
tossing Idaho soil for next
picnicker to snarl at
which we do. We stand
and eat glad we don’t
have to sit again.

Pair of swallows swoop
under roof, dart out
startled by us intruders
who spy mud construction
of nest against wall
and forgive our previous tenant’s
inexcusable mess now okay
as we abandon picnic alcove
to honeymoon suite swallows.

pencil

Diane Webster’s goal is to remain open to poetry ideas in everyday life or nature or an overheard phrase. Many nights she falls asleep juggling images to fit into a poem. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia Poets, The Aurorean, Better Than Starbucks and other literary magazines. Email: diaweb[at]hotmail.com

Four Poems

Poetry
Melissa Evans


Photo Credit: Steve Schroeder/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

What is Poetry Anyway?

I stood in the doorway
At 6 am and saw you.
It was the sound that woke me;
The crash…
There you were in kitchen,
Holding the pieces
of a small teacup,
Embellished with sheaths of wheat,
Now dismembered,

Coffee dripping from the tabletop.

The cup was the last piece
From a set your grandmother
Gave you on your wedding day.

You turned the pieces in your hand,
The overhead light casting shadows
On your face.
It seemed like a lifetime
You stood there.
I watched as you wiped
a small tear from your cheek
and tossed the china pieces
in the waste bin,
You turned—
and mopped the coffee from the table,
Getting on with breakfast.

People ask me all the time, what is poetry anyway?

My answer is always the same;
It is the music of broken pieces
of a single teacup,
at 6 am in my mother’s house.

 

The Other Woman

Summer’s dying
has left a fire in the trees.
Fall burns against my skin
as leaves plunge
like flaming fists
against the window,
Threatening to end us.

I am freed now only
Through touches
And moments when you
Mount me life a madness.
Our bodies fusing,
a single flying shadow
On the bedroom wall.

Oh, how I loathe—
the keeping of myself,
The waiting for a glance.
In dreams, I find your hands
Tucked in my pockets;
Just hands and nothing.
In dreams, they take from me
A shirt, a shoe, perhaps panties
In public places—
And caress me as you would.

Somewhere right now, you are with strangers.
Somewhere strangers are filling you like water;
Unfamiliar faces spilling
From your cracked cup hands.
Oh, how cruel you have become.
I have no disguise.
I am more than a kept creature,
A bauble, a fat gold coin.
I am skin, old bones, and feeling,
Caged in a wild form.
I am a coursing force—
Tethered to you by bonds of pain’.
A revelation of years wrinkle-eyed,
wide-hipped, and losing,
Always losing you
To her,
A memory,
An enigma,
Her ravenous heart—
eating you from the grave.

 

Chop Wood, Carry Water

It was easy in the beginning to believe—
that you could do anything.
To be a person of action,
to take the sphere by force.
The trick is to keep moving, always doing,
Climbing the mountain to scream your name into the wind.
This is how you learn to chop wood and carry water.

The stories always seem astonishing,
The ones who manage to create
something beautiful seemly out of nothing.
Like the sound of Fall blowing across the front yard,
The wind tossing leaves like Chinese throwing stars,
The beauty cuts us with its quickness taking us by surprise.
We say isn’t that amazing?
Then where does the time go?
Meanwhile, we chop wood and carry water.

Somewhere there is a first cry, a breath,
a new thought coming through,
a vessel of being, born new.
It happens over and over again…
I think about that moment incessantly.
What will they teach you?
To scream your name into the wind?
To chop wood and carry water?

I am reaching for something intangible here,
The smell of lilac and broken stems spill
from the vase in the window,
Reminding me of something final and delicate.
The window effervesces with drops of rain
An eyelet pattern reaching through the glass,
Thin as skin,
short as breath,
and gone before breakfast.
But It doesn’t matter, really, it doesn’t matter at all.
They will dismiss this without a glance,
Busy counting breaths like pebbles dropped into a jar,
We have important things to do.
Let’s think about it all tomorrow,
today we chop wood and carry water.

 

Baby Doll

Cracked like an egg
And oozing air,
musked in
Behind the ears.
Blood red lips
Speaking
Through cracked teeth,
Pinned down in
the inclement earth
Packed in like chum,
Tight as sardines,
Languishing in a vernacular
the delicate message,
I am pretty,
See everyone said so.
Here the body is abandoned,
Stripped and run clean through.
Look but do not touch,
Touch but do not come close.
The delicate skin
Is cold at contact.
Let us put a fine point
On the situation.
It requires restraint.
Draw back the obverse to see
Clockworks Bursting
from one glass eye.
Pull the cord
She has nothing to say,
Spiritless victim of childhood,
Crying mommy, mommy
over and over again.
pencil

Born in Texas, Melissa Evans received a degree in Literature from the University of North Texas, she is also working on a children’s book series. She resides in Prosper, Texas where she lives with her husband, Joel and her 4 dogs, Hershey, Maxie, Butch and Sundance. Email: hershey1pointer[at]gmail.com