CAROL CASEY – 2 POEMS

Navigating the Ocean

I crave you like oxygen sometimes,
as if I couldn’t breathe without you and
this terrifies me, makes me want to
push you away, prove something,
find the key that unlocks this tether, set
you free, to go away but come back, choose
as if there was a choice,
as if I could become amphibious, grow
some gills, maybe a tail to navigate
the oceans of the loss of setting you free and not
drown; or possibly build a raft, to float above,
but not so far that I’ll miss your hand reaching
up out of the water to come aboard, in case
I can save you, as humans rarely do;
or maybe there will be a sunset and a night
when the ocean grows moon and stars
while a gentle current transports me to
somewhere my love for you is not so full
of need, will be refined of dross, capable
of anything.

The phone is ringing.
Maybe it’s you.

 

~

Spoiler Alert

There’s no escaping the constant whirs,
hums, chugs and buzzes of summer,
like birdsong, in variety and nuance,
but less conversation, more dictation,
as if to an old fashioned stenographer-
get this down, condense the languorous
signals of summer to shorthand,

We shorten grass, shrink hedges,
embarrass pieces of wood with hammers,
(to drown out the woodpeckers)
interrupt the lifespan of recalcitrant
weeds, till them under, nip and tuck.
Each hum, buzz, whir, chug
a jigsaw piece of putting nature

in her place, a pissing upon,
a tiny fist raised in defiance of ice-
storms, blizzards, microbes, death.
We oil and tighten, plug in and refuel
until the entropy of it catches up
in the end while the birds have
their say during the intermission.

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John Anthony Fingleton – Moorlands

Moorlands

A soft wind blew across the moor,
And the heather danced in tune,
Some grouse flew up to test the air,

Then snuck back, into its sweet perfume.
A sparrow hawk circled low,
In anticipation of its prey,
Then attracted by some other thing;
It quickly flew away.

A beauty haunts this desolate place,
With its contours shaped by ice,
Where beasts can still roam wild and free –
A small touch of paradise.
Bracken on the moor-edge slopes,
Mixed flora in the glens,
All produce their radiant colours,
Without the help or seed of men.

The walkers-path is overgrown,
Not many came this year,
The changes in the weather,
Have brought many summer storms to Clare.
There are some patches now of topsoil,
I hadn’t noticed at first glance,
Just a small sign – like so many others –
That we are on our final chance.

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Julia Gerhardt – The Invisible Stranger

The Invisible Stranger

I love lying,

in my own bed,

with my hands

stretched above my head

and my fingers barely touch one another—

as if they are unfamiliar,

as if they are unknown to the rest of me.

And now it’s not just a touch, but a graze,

an affectionate line drawn onto one finger

by the other.

I wait.

The line ends

and becomes a hook,

an unwillingness to part;

a stage to go through,

a grief.

I don’t want to let go

of the unfamiliar hand,

lying next to mine

The invisible stranger,

I hope to see again.

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Alexus Erin – MAKING SANDWICHES

Making Sandwiches

Me & my brain are making sandwiches for the first time in years
& I remember
I like sourdough. I wonder
whose hands made the bread & if this cooking,

this creation, is a kind of holiness. My brain laughs.
We’re having a sleepover on a school night
& I wonder
whose mother authorized it

By the grace of God
I am with my brain
& by the grace of God,
this brain’s a scrappy one

Which is to say, she is still sprinting: I’m impressed-
she did a lot of math this month. I joke that
she looks like she’s here
to eff the party up.

Brain tells Body (my body’s here too)
The first rule
of any effective love practice
is to synthesize its thoughtwork

with its bodywork: “Classic
substance-presence query, honeybee,” she sighs
& I know
that sigh was for me

I tell them, “First rule
of the big city
is to mind ya own damn business.” My body sets up
a cot at the foot of my bed

Gingerly removes her stockings, that they won’t rip
& I know
mishandling must be a violence
in which the body keeps score. She, of all people,

must be keeping score- I could stand
to learn a thing or two from this inclination
of tenderness, alone
My mouth, every morning,

famously reaching,
rooting ‘round any regional iteration of the daylight
To inhale a verbose evidence
& then exhale, like

my photosynthesis must be scheduled
to kick in any day now
As though this were the only thing
I knew how to do

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Douglas Collura – Her Third Date After a Twenty-Five Year Marriage

Her Third Date After a Twenty-Five Year Marriage

 

 

She says, “Look. The rain’s harder now.”

I say, “Yes, but the theater’s close.”

She thumbs a path across

her melting glass.

 

Her daughter in third-year law.

Her granddaughter a swan.

When did I say I believed

in anyone’s tomorrow?

 

Her cupped hands; lines

connect, curve, cross,

predict nothing. She stares

into the passing moment.

 

“I never thought I’d be this person,”

she says, “never this alone.

I’m afraid sometimes, though

it’s nice not to be second guessed.”

 

My bedroom a chaos of shadows.

She’s unsure what comes next.

Then her legs clamp my hips,

and her mouth finds my neck.

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HOLLY DAY – BLUE CAR

Blue Car

The car appeared outside the house, as if by magic

dropped from the sky into a pile of snow, tire tracks obliterated by fresh snow.

A sleeping bag blocked the back window completely, candy wrappers

could be seen on the front seat.

After a couple of days, my neighbor came over and asked me if it was my car

if I wouldn’t mind moving it so that her nephew could park there. I told her

how the car had just appeared in that spot, and that I didn’t think anyone

had come back for it since its arrival, although

I thought I saw a couple of people sitting in the front seat very late the night before

hands frantically moving in the dim overhead light

but it may have been a dream.

A week or so later, a tow truck came and got the car, probably called by my neighbor

the one who came over or perhaps a different one entirely

the spot where the car had been parked was black and green with oil and antifreeze

dirty snow and a couple of smashed beer cans. I watched the car get pulled

backwards down the street, waited for a door to fling open angrily

in the car or in a neighboring house, but no one came out after the car

no one chased the truck frantically down the street.

 

 

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John C. Krieg – The Bells of the Mission Santa Ysabel

The Bells of the Mission Santa Ysabel

The bells of

The Mission Santa Ysabel

Ring no more

To most parishioners still living

They never have rang in their lifetimes

Being stolen in 1925

The whereabouts of the bells are unknown

Yet it’s expected

That this was an inside job

And that the bells are holed up

Not very far away

Forgotten about in some old shed or barn

The parishioners pray

That this is true

That God will work a mid-level miracle

And see to the safe return of the bells

In 1700 Peter the Great

Of Russia

Melted down all of his homelands’

Church bells

To make cannons for warfare

They fired church bell cannon balls

Which killed people

Did they suffer a holy death

That granted them immediate entrance

Into the kingdom of Heaven

Was this the fate of the bells

Of the Mission Santa Ysabel

The bells

Of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Have remained silent

As to their whereabouts

And to what they may be mixed-up in

The hostage syndrome

They identify with their captors

And don’t try to escape

Who would steal church bells

What kind of a low-life would do such a thing

You would think that they would feel guilty

Every time they heard a church bell ring

Wracked with inconsolable guilt

And with every ding-dong

That ever reached their ears

For the rest of their lives

Cringing on Sundays

At the noon day

At quitting time

The bells

Of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Ring no more

For us

But for their captors

They ring all the time

Clanging out “Thief, thief, thief!”

It must be tough to hold up

Under that kind of condemnation

God must have a hand in this

He keeps the thieves names on His black list

Nothing good could ever come of this

Those bells are surely missed

There’s only one way to escape eternal damnation

Bring back the bells

Of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Buy your way out of hell

God’s not buying what you have to sell

And one can never tell

When things will no longer go so well

Someday the bells

Of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Will chime in joyous rapture

Across the Santa Ysabel Valley

Summoning parishioners to appear

And perhaps shed some tears

Over the long-awaited return of the bells

God being in his Heaven

And all being right with the world

The bells

Of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Don’t ring currently

But even a blind man can see

That God will put an end to this travesty

He will solve the mystery

The bells of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Will once again clang loudly

Ding, dong

No longer gone

The bells of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Will clang loudly

Over the Santa Ysabel Valley

God being in His Heaven

And all being right with the world

Ding

Dong

Ding

Dong

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TIM STALEY – A POEM FOR LANCE

DOOMSDAY JOGGING
(for Lance Leonard Gambrell)

Imagine a book
open to the black
depth of the universe.

Death is a wave of sound
you can’t wave off.

Sometimes instead of Lance dying
I imagine the tracks of a train
Vaselined and lit from behind
like an X-ray.

Sometimes instead of him dying
I imagine a steel-blue deity with 18 arms.
I guess 18 arms is how many arms it takes
to headlock something wrong.

I’m likely to round up a common stain
into a regional one or worse: a personal one.

The catch of crying is crying
kills bacteria, releases toxins,
improves vision.

Every white, elastomeric rooftop
in this desert town is haunted
by the dusty fingerprint of rain.
So much dust and blood work
between each papillary ridge.
The desert takes its time
showing us things die.

I was walking the acequia with my daughter
when she told me polar bears
have clear hair.

I was walking the acequia with my daughter
when a jellyfish of photons
came smearing across the tracks,
softening the steel.

I had a vision I went to see him
near the end in a hospital bed.
The walls were smoking
and we were playing dominoes
on a swiveling tray. It was horrifying,
I was still trying to win.

Lance writes poems on pizza boxes.
He gets to stay alive
a little while longer.

Last night tight ropes of light
crossed behind his eyes.
I wasn’t there. I was at home
looking for a dollar.

Last night in the pocket
of a yellow pillow, the tooth fairy
found my daughter’s 11th tooth.
The fairy came with a dollar,
dressed in mirage
except for his flip flops.
I heard in Mexico it’s a rat that comes;
it’s a rat that trades your tooth for cash.

I was walking the acequia with my daughter
when I told her polar bears have clear hair
because the air around those hairs
scatters light of every color
in every direction.
You could tell by her face,
the laws of light
were a let down.

Imagine a book
open on a table
only instead of pages
the black depth of the universe.
Now imagine
sunlight all spread out
on that same table.

Can you see him on a Tuesday in February?
Can you see him leaning
into the needles of wind like a vein?
Can you see him?
He’s walking there with me down Boutz
toward Avenida de Mesilla.
His curls so blond
they mirage.

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