ROBERT BEVERIDGE – Le Chaudron Infernale

LE CHAUDRON INFERNALE

Shattered barrier a mile
and a half back, road now
little more than weed-
encrusted dirt. Shift
the eyepatch, clear blood
from the gearshift. The quarry
must be close. Time to stop,
kill the engine, put boots
on the ground. Spoor
is ephemeral, more so
in this rain. The night vision
goggles fit just right over
your hijab; pursuit begins. 

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JOHN GREY – 2 POEMS

THE EDGE

So there I was

standing at the edge of the cliff with Angela

and we made this vow,

like a wedding vow almost

but with the land dropping away at our feet

and bitter sea-wind blowing in our faces.

It was a pledge to be faithful until death.

I’d known Angela since childhood.

She read books, even difficult ones.

She loved to listen to music.

Her taste extended to jazz.

And she was drawn to the sea.

Not so much to be splashing around in it.

But to observe from a distance,

to feel its power not its playfulness.

The vow was more her idea than mine.

In fact, I was a little uneasy

standing in such a precarious position

on a chilly Fall day.

But she had grown into such a cute teenage girl.

And I loved the touch of her fingers.

And, oh yes, her breath on the back of my neck.

But, after we had repeated our affection so solemnly,

I could detect a certain sadness in her eyes.

It was as if she was saying, “Now what.”

As if dreams end by coming true.

Or a cliff, like the one we peered down from,

offered no opportunities to go any higher.

Or the sea was so vast, so deep,

it could only be indifferent

to two fifteen-year-olds trying to act older.

It was a week later, and in a less perilous setting,

when, with a tear or two, she released me from that vow.

I would have done the same but she beat me to it.

We were not a couple bonded for all time.

But we’d been exposed to the perils of such bondage…

not only bone-shaking and blustery

but at the very edge.

~

A HOUSEFLY REVISITS SYLVIA PLATH

I press against

the curve of glass,

peer out at my world

of linoleum, formica

and stainless steel.

Will I never sip

on the sugar crumbs again

or trot across the good china.

nibbling food-scraps

as I go?

I’m in this bell-jar –

yes, that’s right,

just like Sylvia Plath,

beating my wings,

buzzing loudly.

Well we know

what good that did

for her.

Soon enough,

the oxygen in here

will dissipate

until there’s not enough

to support the likes of me.

Sylvia, I know how

it was for you.

Someone trapped

you in their grip,

popped you into a container,

screwed the lid tight,

left you to choke

on your own imprisonment.

Just like you,

I’ll fall to the bottom eventually.

And yet I’m curious to see

what you have written there.

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PHIL HUFFY – LOCAL NEWS

Local News

A green screened weather gal,

curves sharply defined,

stands before a colorful map

silhouetting her money makers.

Then, a honking horn obtrudes

and a cartoon school bus drives

into the frame as she proclaims

the next morning to be a rainy one.

 

(Ringo may have been wrong, then.

Tomorrow’s bus stop weather has

been announced with certainty.)

 

Segment over, now to local sports

and brief updates as to what high

school teams will be bashing into each other

the following afternoon and evening.

Also, a video of new uniforms to be

worn by the Fairfield Muck Hounds, a

short season minor league squad inhabiting

an outdated local stadium.

 

(So how many Muck Hounds did it take to

lob the old horse hide through a stained glass

window of the church abutting the ball field?)

 

The news, however, continues

after a message concering the planned

availability of wood fired pizza on High Street.

 

No injuries were reported Saturday

when a storm collapsed a wedding canopy

in use on the grounds of the Hilton Inn.

Fortunately, the accident occurred prior to

the dancing part of the reception.

 

(Having excused himself prior to the incident,

Father Flynn had been pondering a plywood cover

at the former site of St. Sebastian’s pain.)

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TERRY HERTZLER – NAPALM

NAPALM

The boy wears only a pale green shirt,
no pants or shorts or shoes–a six-year-old,
fat stick in hand, squatting in the dirt.

He glances up as our convoy passes,
eyes dark and blank, and shifts his weight
to favor his left leg, ridges of scar
from ankle to hip twisted and shiny as plastic.

Yellow dust, kicked up by our truck
hangs in the air, thick and choking.
But the boy, face calm as a cat, just stares,
only his eyelids moving, up and down
up and down. Finally, he looks away and
raising his club, resumes his task,
pounding ants.

~

This poem was originally published in Second Skin by Terry Hertzler (Caernarvon Press, 2003)

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