Winter 2012

  • Winter Issue

     

    TO OUR READERS: as I'm sure you're all aware, it's about time for the spring issue. However, due to technical issues with this website, we're are going to have to rebuild entirely from the ground up. This will happen in May. With the new website will come the Spring issue. And it will happen at this URL, so please be patient with us.

    Welcome to our Winter 2012 Issue. This is my first issue in the wake of the passing of Lee, but I will honor his tradition and begin with a tribute to a formal poet from the past of surpassing virtue. I would like to introduce our readers to a little-known Welsh poet, Huw Menai. "Huw", for those of you who are not Welsh speakers, is pronounced like the English "Hugh". "Menai" was his pen name. His real name was Huw Menai Williams. He was a Welsh miner through the early Twentieth Century. Despite this life lived underground, he produced a large volume of poetry, much of it on spare bits of mining company paper. At the rate he was producing, of course it wasn't all going to be stellar. But he did produce some real gems. His four volumes of poetry sold modestly through the mid fifties into the early sixties and then went out of print. I think my collection of his work is perhaps the only complete one in the United States. I will give you my favorite below.

     

  • The Spider in the Doorway of my Working Place


    The spider's wonder angle I take care

    Not to disturb, but reverently bend my head

    When passing through the doorway to earn my bread,

    A fellow-worker for a simple fare,

    There hanging like some steeple-jack in the air

    Midst cunning loops and joints, a marvel spread,

    And woe! the moth or fly encountered

    For Nature hath her many lives to spare;


    And through the struggle all doth beauty shine,

    Each thread a rainbow glistening in the sun

    Which placed on lens of telescopes help on

    The worlds to keep their order in the line;

    And what a blunderer is love divine

    If there's no meaning for the carrion!

  • And now to this issue's poets . . .
  • Michael O'Connor 

    Michael was born in Hartford, CT and graduated from the University of Connecticut. After spending some time in Ireland and Prince Edward Island, he returned to New York City to pursue screenwriting. After several successes in the film industry as a writer and independent film producer, Michael turned his writing to non-fiction historical works on the Second World War, publishing articles for the Centre de Recherches et d’Informations sur la Bataille des Ardennes. He has maintained deep interest for poetry, being influenced by Robert Frost, William Butler Yeats, and James Joyce. Michael was most recently published in the Irish Examiner. He currently resides in the Boston area.

  • A Fallen Tree


    In walking into an autumn wood as

    Under the rise of dawn, my morning eyes

    fell swift upon a slow shadow breaking

    Earth’s soft curve, hulking in its demise .

    A tree fallen, setting on its greatest branch

    In deep sodden tracks of crusted snow,

    As an aged man taking rest on a fence

    From a midsummer sun’s blistering glow.

    Creaking under intensity of the night

    And singed all about by bitter cold,

    Struggling as a wounded soldier on

    A muddled field of battle, less he fold

    And expire, becoming as close with

    Earth in life as is possible in death.

    Yet under the silver mist and lunar

    Blush of the night the last breath

    Of the mighty tree remains unbroken,

    Fixed as Cerberus to guard a world

    Below the frozen crust of the earth,

    Black shadow in its eyes impearled.

     Weather and time will ensure it succumbs 

    To the warmth of natural decay,

    And the remarkable spirit that holds the

    Tree up, will wither with occasion away.


  • Strings of a Harp

     

    Oh pluck me a string

    Sweet resonate sound,

    And play to the fancy

    Of those gathered round.

    Collect up our minds,

    From dark wistful knolls,

    Awaken our hearts,

    Sow peace in our souls.

    Caress golden clarsach

    And bow to enthuse,

    Call forth the heavens

    To bring up his muse

    From a body at rest

    Under the moss,

    In green rolling valleys

    Of Carrickmacross.


  • Ralph Dillon

    Ralph is a retired Pharmacist whose first career was as an English teacher and Blake scholar. His few publications include: a scholarly article, a poem, a newspaper column, a winning entry in a "Writer's Digest" contest, and a very clever letter to the editor.

     


    THREE TRIOLETS

  • I. Triolet on a Snail

    a snail is neat,
    its shell quite tidy.
    it has no feet,
    a snail is neat.
    it needs no seat,
    hardly a body.
    a snail is neat,
    its shell quite tidy.

  • II.  Triolet on my Infant Granddaughter

    Tender beauty in her face,
    Please God, no harm befall.
    A tear would seem out of place,
    Tender beauty in her face.
    May all her life have grace,
    Never a care appall.
    Tender beauty in her face,
    Please God, no harm befall.

  • III.  A Goodnight Triolet

    Sweet dreams,
    Sleep well.
    Moon beams,
    Sweet dreams.
    Failed schemes,
    Oh well,
    Sweet dreams,
    Sleep well.

  • Regina Brault

    Regina Murray Brault's poetry has appeared in numerous publications such as:  Bloodroot Literary Magazine, Poet Magazine, The Hartford Courant,  Cradle Songs -- An Anthology on Motherhood, The Mennonite, The Great American Poetry Show, Ancient Paths, Karamu, Grandmother Earth, Earth's Daughters, Inkwell Magazine, Mamas and Papas Parenthood Anthology,Midwest Poetry Review and Random House Anthology: Mothers and Daughters among others.

  • Removing The Tatoo


    Your frayed sleeve brings to mind the blacksmith who

    removes his apron but cannot remove

    its stenciled shape etched like a fine tattoo

    upon his chest. What do you hope to prove

    by ripping off your used heart’s public sign?

    In haste you leave the broken blind-stitched thread

    around a dark and empty valentine.

    Deception says, It never even bled.

    One spurned plays masquerade before the glass,

    denies the evidence he’s doomed to wear,

    pretends the tattoos of his life will pass

    and when they don’t, pretends he doesn’t care.

    But, unmasked hearts lay heavy in the weave

    when worn excessively upon the sleeve.

  • The Promise of Butterflies


    When winter spins, its silvery cocoon

    and resurrection’s promises seem lost

    somewhere beneath a stretch of crystal dune,

    my fingers reach to etch a poem in frost.

    From deep inside, a fluttering new wing

    is fanning sparks of inspiration’s glow.

    I close my eyes to wish the warmth of spring

    but butterflies lie silent in the snow

    like empty pages on my writing desk.

    I trace small wings across a barren page

    and as I shape and fold, a sculpturesque

    creation forms inside my finger-cage.

    The brush of wings unfolding signifies

    my poem of origami butterflies.

  • From Hand to Hand


    From Africa, on south, the weaver’s skill

    was dragged; a steerage-chained and chatteled thing.

    The strong black hands that bound the warp and twill

    would winnow rice and pass remembering.


    The scent of sweet-grass rises from a field

    where fragile blades bend to the weaver’s feet.

    A freeborn woman gathers golden yield,

    and breaths the scent of baskets; bittersweet.

    She twists the sweet-grass with a raven hand

    then binds it with a split palmetto frond,

    surveys the wood-ribs of her roadside-stand

    where fanner-baskets ply the ancient bond.


    From hand to hand, sweet-grasses twist and twine

    to weave the baskets, warped with man’s design.

  • Et Tu, Rorschach


    Two grackles, mesmerized, brood back to back

    beneath the bend of April’s sap-snow bough.

    They leave no trace of entrance, not one track

    of wing-tip nor drawn pinion’s tapered plow,

    but wait for me to conjure up, then find

    their huddled blackness. Then perhaps, I’ll pleat,

    or crimp, or smear, or leave them undefined

    and wrap the white around as winding sheet.


    I crease the folds, the grackles take to flight

    on ink stained wings that blot the April sun.

    They fly as ashes, black to burning white

    and phoenix-like, escape oblivion.

    Two grackles are reduced to one small dot

    that falls to bough, to bend, to card, to blot.

  • The Abdication


    Great Uncle Edward makes a handsome corpse;

    white-skinned against whit-satined overlay

    that lines his box and cushions ingrained warps.

    He would have liked his eyebrows raised that way,

    Edwardian superiority.

    So like him to bequeath the family jewels,

    these ancient chains and chokers, unto me

    along with stick-pins honed by ridicules.


    All through my life I’ve fingered crusted gems

    and felt their tarnish taint my Anglo throat.

    I’ve pulled paste diamonds from the diadems.


    . . . I leave to you . . . Great Uncle Edward wrote.


    Their weight is lead, so I must be discreet

    as I entomb these jewels beneath his feet.

John Grey 

Has been published recently in the Talking River, South Carolina Review and Karamu with work upcoming in Prism International, Poem and the Evansville Review

  • Winter's End

     

    As March winds sear through field and town,

    Snow cedes itself to gravity,

    Collapses from both roof and tree,

    Sheds all of its white heavy gown,

    Ice daggers snap and tumble down,

    And with each rise of a degree,

    The winter’s grip releases me

    A little more, resigns its crown.

     

    Another winter at the end,

    Is but a shadow of its worst,

    Mother outlook on the mend

    That once thought itself doomed, accursed,

    This stage of life, I see the trend,

    Depressions mount, depressions burst.

Anissa Gage

Anissa Gage is an artist in the Oil City Arts Revitalization * Artist Relocation Program. She’s third generation American, of Russian heritage. She was raised in the Midwest, outside Chicago. Her verse is often an accompaniment to her realist paintings and drawings. A portrait in rhyme is written along with a fine art work as a total expression. She’s also a third generation fine artist. She was born in 1956. She's been doing poetry readings in the Oil City area, and has her art studio in the Transit Building in Oil City. She has poetry published in the October edition of Snakeskin Review and the Autumn 2010, Spring and Summer 2011

 

Song for the Lost Bard

 

Your love is like a sable swan that flies

In silence through the hours of midnight pain,

And just the moon, in her mysterious reign,

At times will bless the wings that she espies;

The zephyr, with its fragrance, softly sighs

In sweet caresses redolent of rain;

Our swan flies all alone. The soft complain

Of singing night things raise their lonely cries.

 

Alas! For love and all it's courtliness

Has languished in these years of change and chance!

The bard that lifts a beauteous song of dreams

Is left unheard, without the hearts to bless

These songs, eternal songs, of old romance,

And sings alone in tears in moonlight's beams.

 


 

 

Aquamarine

 

The color of the sea is what it means,

   A hue of such sweet beauty it can sweep

   Away all pain: a soul will cease to weep

Who's bathed in this: a bright blue cooled with greens.

These are the waves that all of those with means

   Have funds to wade in: those where we, asleep

   In dreams, delirious, delightful, deep,

All dive into -- light turquoise -- kings and queens!

 

As gorgeous as the Gods' Aegean waves,

All aquamarines are Poseidon's jewels.

Who owns one has a gift from mermaids: cure

For grief and gossip, so serene it saves

All mariners from harm; blue like the pools

Of Aphrodite's eyes, with clear allure.




All the Colors Blue

 

Hypnotic, soothing, all the colors blue

Enchant me with their depth and with their peace.
I've known blue waters where all horrors cease
And death itself becomes a thing more true
Than all the havoc I've endured. This hue
Surrounds and heals, entrances me. Release
Me to this color Father God! The fleece
Of clouds has no serenity. The dew

Upon the lawn at dawn is none so sweet.
O turquoise--lapis lazuli--sapphire--
This round blue opal of the planet earth--
Spring bluebells--squills--delphiniums that greet
Our eyes with glory--and the small blue fire--
And those hues all cats eyes are at their birth!

  • Indian Summer

     

    As if in sorrow for these months of storms,
    Her strewing leaves and boughs upon the ground,
    Her burning languor with those sighs profound,
    Our Summer finally leaves. Mosquito swarms
    Have vanished. All the trees rank ravaged forms
    Are softened as the woods become unbound.
    Our goldenrod is with soft amber crowned
    As Northern air the torrid land transforms.

    As if in gladness from the fresh'ning breeze
    The forest's filled with brimming songs of birds
    As flocks fly Southward from the cooling North.
    Now crimson sunset's roosting in the trees
    With flaming plumes too beautiful for words
    As Autumn calls her harvest grandeur forth.

     


     

    Thanksgiving

    The bounty of the earth has graced us all--
    The laughing vintage of the summer vines
    Has mellowed into jeweled autumn wines;
    The acorns and the orchard nuts enthrall
    The squirrels and all pelt down in each squall.
    O now's the hour that the Lord designs
    For thankfulness, when every family dines
    With fine abundance on the gifts of fall.

    These are the blessings in a land of peace:
    Where fruitfulness is shared in hours of joy,
    When all the patient tending of the soil
    Results in all this plenty, though the geese
    Are fleeing winter in the clouds, we toy
    With jests and have warm respite from our toil.

  • Michael Fraley
    Michael Fraley has had poems published recently in
    Jones Av., Pegasus, and Light. M.A.F. Press published his chapbook First-Born. Tamafyhr Mountain Press published his e-chapbook Howler Monkey Serenade. Michael's poems have appeared internationally in five countries. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute, and a Master of Arts in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Michael lives with my wife and daughter, and four cats, within walking distance of the San Francisco Zoo. Besides reading, he also enjoys photography and vintage cameras.

  • A Choice to Be Made


    Let down the walls of your estate
         And walk among the wild,
    Where children learn both love and hate
         And nature is not mild.

    Too long have you been gazing far
         And nothing reconciled,
    Transfixed upon a bloodless star--
         And nature is not mild.

    How can you turn your back on me
         As if I were defiled,
    When my bright songs could set you free?
         And nature is not mild.

    The one you worship in my stead
         Considers you a child.
    I offer you my hand and bed;
         Your nature is not mild.

  • Summer Swallows


    I take great satisfaction in the flight
    Of summer swallows, swerving as they go,
    Rising and falling like a string-bound kite,
    Ascending to the clouds then skimming low
    To kiss the lake where pleasure-boaters row.
    Like thoughts that will not settle, ranging free,
    They are constant in their inconstancy.

    When beauty is made visible to eye
    It runs the risk inherent in all things
    Whose form we cherish, knowing they will die.
    And so the swallows touch me with their wings
    That are not merely ordinary wings,
    But serve to lift my circumscribed plain sight
    While also lifting swallows in their flight.

  • George Good



    The Gunfighter

     

    His draw was quick and deadly was his eye.

    Spurs echoing on a deserted street,

    he walked tall till a bullet made him lie

    down in the dust, where fate and hubris meet.

     

    The reputation he had coveted

    pursued him in saloons night after night.

    There always seemed to be some cocky kid

    with whiskey courage spoiling for a fight.

     

    One sobered up enough to get the drop

    on him and rode off as the fastest gun.

    While Boot Hill adds a legend to its crop,

    the paths of glory lead his killer on.

  • Friday's Advent

     

    A man with not another soul

    to keep him company

    in essence is an animal

    philosophers agree.

     

    God and a parrot, Poll by name,

    are my two sounding boards.

    One's silent and the other's game

    is echoing my words.

     

    Poor Robin Crusoe are the groans

    I pray the Lord to heed;

    a wretch who worships stocks and stones

    would even tend my need.

     

    Yet on discovering one day

    a footprint in the sand,

    my mind and heart could not gainsay

    the trembling of my hand.

     

    For what it is we most desire

    through solitude's despair

    will in reality inspire

    feelings of dread and terror.

     

    Was Satan here or some brute blown

    by crosswinds to this ground,

    or could the shadow be my own

    whose token I had found?

     

    With caution from concealment

    I went out to explore

    and ended measuring my print

    against the one on shore.

     

    I might take courage if the mark

    proved smaller next to mine;

    its greater size, though, seemed so stark

    the source must be malign.

     

    I fortified my naked cave

    with weapons and a wall--

    no Englishman will be a slave

    who's handy with a tool.

     

    As years passed by these savages

    would leave much more than tracks;

    unseen, I viewed the ravages

    of their uncivil acts.

     

    A dark companion haunts my dreams,

    whose true significance

    will be revealed when Master names

    that lowly eminence.

  • Roy Mash

    Roy Mash is an electronics technician living in Marin County, California. His poems have appeared in: AGNI Online, Atlanta Review, Barrow Street, The Evansville Review, Nimrod, Poetry East, and RHINO, among others.

  • Love of Slapstick


    Come, spritz of seltzer in the face,

    implacable banana peel.

    Come, brickbats, pratfalls, amazing grace-

    lessness, the yowl of the schlemiel.


    Away with wit, you clever flights

    of phrase it takes a Ph.D.

    to explicate. One good food fight’s

    worth fifty Oscar Wildes to me.


    A can of paint on Keaton's head,

    another on his foot: what bliss,

    God bless the doofuses who spread

    the net he manages to miss.


    Come, whoopee cushions, slamming doors.

    Come, bops and jabs and spit-takes sprayed

    on brides by grooms with falling drawers,

    O heaven of the seventh grade!


    No sadism this, no black desire,

    just Larry, Moe, and Curly's woes,

    the thousand gouges that conspire

    to make the milk come out my nose.


    Come, O pie-faced end: my feet glued

    to the floor, my tie caught in the gears,

    the audience in stitches who

    can’t help but laugh themselves to tears

  • Backache

    1.

    Waltzing in the wonder of why we're here.

    What with the ice pack, the pillow under

    my knees, the bathroom door like Everest

    beckoning—far, near, far, near—the lyric

    recurs consolingly. On the TV

    of memory Fred is meandering

    across the ceiling, and I am Ginger

    full of grace, twirling backwards and in heels.


    Though one budge and it's like a tennis ball

    has been driven into a chain link fence,

    a lumbar bulge that focuses my mind

    (as the saying goes) wonderfully. Why

    are we here? What keeps these voluptuous

    W's dancing in the dark of my head?


    2.

    These days it no longer takes a couch lugged

    upstairs, bullied through a doorway, nor sacks

    of dry cement, nor an overhead smash,

    nor Sundays sold into the servitude

    of weeding. These days the teensiest twist

    of the neck is enough. Seeing someone

    one thought one knew, but didn't. The certain

    belief in a non-existent stair. Once

     

    I was actually tearing off a bit

    of scotch tape (I swear!) when the voodoo stuck

    its white surprise into the small of me,

    and the universe collapsed to the head

    of an angelic pin, and the pain spilled

    out, and the floor became my only friend.


    3.

    That there was once a time I was able

    to put on my own socks, it hurts to think.

    Now every movement is a punishment.

    Surely, I think, this must be how it is

    with the gods, plastered to their mattresses

    of hard cloud, ambulatory no more,

    pumped up on anti-inflammatories,

    so unsupple, so helpless to help us.


    The ceiling, now Fredless, has relinquished

    its fascination to the window drips,

    which tango down the ballroom of the pane

    sexily, their twining thighs streamed beneath

    a mirrored globe. Look: there are two that bend

    to kiss 'til the tune ends. And it soon ends.

 

Don Thackrey
Don Thackrey spent his early years on farms and ranches in the Nebraska Sandhills before the time of modern conveniences. He still considers the prairie as home, although he now lives in Dexter, Michigan, where he is retired from the University of Michigan. One of his chief enjoyments during the retirement years is studying formal verse and trying to learn how to write it.

Trip to Town

Some Saturdays, the family goes to town
To sell our garden things and buy supplies.
When we’re all in, the truck plumb loaded down,
We children have fresh sparkle in our eyes.
We do our business first, then drive to Main
And park to watch the people walking by.
We older boys lope down to see the train;
The girls flit round as tireless as houseflies;
There’s dairy ice-cream cones for everyone
And browsing in the Red Front clothing store.
By five, we’re ready for more urban fun,
A dozen areas we should explore,
But Pa says we must head for home, it’s late,
There’s work to do, and evening chores can’t wait.

 

Prodigal Son

Pa took it hard when young Joe ran away
At harvest time to find a job where he
(So said a note he left behind) would be
Able to send home part of his first pay.
We boys had known that Joe had gone astray
And wondered that our parents couldn’t see
Joe’s needs, which led him to debauchery
With men, not women. He was what’s now called gay.
Months later Joe came home, drunk, filthy, ill,
No money left of what he stole from Pa.
When I got in from fixing fence, Joe was
Sleeping in my bed, Ma’s healing skill
At work, Pa sitting close, his heart rubbed raw.
I knew he’d take Joe back; it’s what Pa does.

 

 

Ed Shacklee

Ed Shacklee is a public defender who represents children in the District of Columbia.


The White Rose


Inviolately pure of all stains

and evocative of a ghost,

only the whitest rose remains

when vision wants color most.


Just as passion cannot abide

what the intellect may pardon,

white glows while other hues hide

when evening tends the garden.



The Fortunate Isles


I will never have the dark

to cast my days in stark relief;

they pass and fade without remark,

becalmed within the circling reef.


For here the eagle cannot soar,

the peacock does not strut and cry.

The lion gives a muted roar,

the doves return a muted sigh –


and the curse, if I had only known,

will like a cut flower unfold,

till all I see has turned to stone

and all I touch has turned to gold.







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