Poetry: “Uncle Rudi” by Michael Salcman

UNCLE RUDI

after Gerhard Richter, 1965

Based on a family snap the artist’s uncle stands a warrior posed in grand regalia, facing the camera head on, two columns of buttons front his winter coat with smeared eagles and almost invisible lightning bolts on the collar and epaulets, a swastika perched on his cap. Smiling like an aristocrat, Rudi casually holds a glove in his left hand. Good posture: he’s as stiff as a chimney or lighthouse, his face a smirking beacon lit in the gray fog. Behind him a wall of stacked stone and beyond that his hat edges into a tree blurred like smoke and a government ministry, windows arrayed in Bauhaus rows. A few months after this photo’s taken Rudi’s dead at the front, a true believer to the end, as was Richter’s father and some other members of the family, their war-time artifacts retired to a box the artist discovers by accident. He might have destroyed the evidence—especially that black and white resemblance he bears in the nose and mouth—but pins their features to the canvas as precisely as he can before loading a brush with turpentine, smearing his almost photographic copy in violation or a personal twist on history or the power of a lens to lose the focus of everything but his uncle’s fatal smile.


MICHAEL SALCMAN, poet, physician and art historian, served as chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland and president of the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore. He lectures widely about art and the brain. Poems appear in Alaska Quarterly ReviewHopkins ReviewThe Hudson Review, New LettersNotre Dame ReviewPoet Lore and Ontario Review. Featured on Poetry DailyVerse Daily and All Things Considered, his work has received six nominations for a Pushcart Prize. Salcman is the author of four chapbooks and two prior collections, The Clock Made of Confetti, nominated for The Poets’ Prize, and The Enemy of Good Is Better (Orchises, 2011); Poetry in Medicine, his anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors, patients, illness and recovery was published in 2015 (Persea Books). Special Lecturer in the Osher Institute at Towson University, Salcman is a poetry editor at The Baltimore Review and art editor for The Little Patuxent Review. His forthcoming book, A Prague Spring, Before & After, includes “Uncle Rudi” and won the 2015 Sinclair Poetry Prize from Evening Street Press.

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Poetry: “Gitmo Orange” by Christopher Barnes

Day 1: Kurt Cobain’s bore held with essence-snarling potion.

Day 2: Funnel-tubed by diagnosticians,

Bound-to- happen morgue rattle an inexhaustible threat.

Day 3: Overhanging suffocation in firm plastic hood.

Day 4: In sea thirst

Guerrilla dogs racket.

Day 5: Oblivion dithers, clocks refuse to tick.


Christopher Barnes’ first collection LOVEBITES is published by Chanticleer.  Each year he reads at Poetry Scotland’s Callender Poetry Weekend.  He also writes art criticism which has been published in Peel and Combustus magazines.

Poetry: “The World Until Yesterday” by Will Walker

For my father

 

You keep him alive with longing and regret,

memory a patient spider lashing someone

once living to that yesterday when his story stopped

 

and you became one of those spirits divorced

from morning sun, riding an iceberg

calved from the land, looking shoreward at dusk.

 

But all the metaphors are pretty, though sad,

and all the cells of your aching body feel only sad,

not pretty, and you are a wobbling top

 

running down, axis more and more uncertain,

someone cast out in a foreign land

unable to say even Help me, I’m standing

 

on sand in the face of a rising tide, I am bereft

and alone, however you might say that

in your unfamiliar tongue, I am too tired to weep,

 

too late to save anyone, a sack of skin and bones

a-rattle, no one on earth to point me home, no home

in what is known, the rest past words, unknown. 

 


Will Walker lives in San Francisco. He is a former editor of the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. His book of poems, Wednesday after Lunch, is available on Amazon.

Poetry: “The Whole Sky Rises Up” by Linda Swanberg

one winter alone in your little cabin

you worked meticulously on model ships

fingers looped thread after thread—tied tiny knots

 

made sails: red silk sails

blue sails the color of cornflower

stiff white sails cut from a sheet, glued, and dried

 

from each deck you positioned cannons—

stealth down to the least detail

the mind of war…

 

all that was long ago

 

today no boat streams across a calm Point Caroline Bay,

but explosions in the surge and swell of choppy waters

still interrupt my sleep

 

who can say when our words

will fall back upon us

like a wounded animal’s last breath?

 

old lover, it is the deadlock hour—night closes in—

you are far from me, and I am old

I winter slowly—measure every step

 

when in dreams I meet your face

(pale blue eyes)

I find not love, but death

 


Linda Swanberg received her masters from the University of Montana. She now studies with Tobin Simon, co-director of the Proprioceptive Writing Center in Oakland, CA, and has studied with Richard Hugo and Madeline DeFrees. A lifelong resident of Montana, she lives in Missoula with my husband, Gregg, and tends a large shade garden. She is also a pianist and beginning cellist.

Poetry: “Undergraduates” by Dan Jacoby

lost one night in st. louis

down from chicago

drinking wine

with brakemen, nuns, whores

auditioning farm girls

haunting rogers hall

for a fox double scotch rocks

grosse point boy sneered

an echo at love

looking through the hole

he put in his own head

in 1967 we were electric

a double feature in

the lindell boulevard toddle house

paid for our sins in the nam

without bolting

through the masonic temple parking lot

cowboys now and older with pablo,

a cross legged ginsberg,

straight out of crooked confusion

mad old university gangsters

in a red german cadillac

getting high narrowly

with the fiction in us

broken down movie extras

 


Dan Jacoby is a graduate of St. Louis University. He has published poetry in Anchor and Plume (Kindred), Arkansas Review, Belle Rev Review, Bombay Gin, Canary, Cowboy Poetry Press-Unbridled 2015 (Western Writers Spur Award), Chicago Literati, Indiana Voice Journal, Deep South Magazine, Lines and Stars, Wilderness House Literary Review, Steel Toe Review, The Opiate, and Red Fez, to name a few. He is a member of the American Academy of Poets and the Carlinville Writers Guild and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He is currently looking for a publisher for a collection of poetry.

Poetry: “Civilization and its Discontents” by Martin H. Levinson

I bite my lips, pinch my thighs,

pray I don’t pound you into the

ground or chuck myself off

the twenty-second floor terrace

we are standing on as your sip

your Singapore Sling, munch on a

pretzel, pontificate over climate change,

feminism, the lack of civility in American

 

society and your aching feet that I’d like to

stomp on each time you say “what is this

world coming to,” “politicians are liars and

crooks,” “bring back the good old days” as if

 

I don’t know I want to disappear and become

a Trappist monk obeying a vow of silence

with my fellow monks who also don’t talk

but love each other because how can you

 

not revere someone who doesn’t bore you

to death or make you want to kill them

with their washed-out platitudes and

monochromatic conversation that

 

dyes Technicolor discussions drab

and weary gray.

 


Martin H. Levinson is a member of the Authors Guild, National Book Critics Circle, and the book review editor for ETC: A Review of General Semantics. He has published nine books and numerous articles and poems in various publications. He holds a PhD from NYU and lives in Forest Hills and Riverhead New York.

Poetry: “Reckless Abandon” by Thomas Piekarski

El Capitan cloaked in a cloud of angel wing powder;
           art implemented as orgasm that releases
           inhibition and accumulates tintinnabulations…
                       Was it a clump of kelp or a mama sea otter
snuggling a baby on its tummy
that bounced out there atop the salty waves?
                        And would the answer be intelligible
                        if spoken in Gaelic, Martian
           or some language used mostly by flimflam gods?
 
Mom hung laundry on a rotating octagon clothesline
in our dusty poached backyard while delicious plums
           fell by the bushel and she would sing to finches
                        and paisley butterflies aloft
                        in the hot summer sky, thus reverse
           suicidal tendencies of native Earth,
intangible moon and sun. Meanwhile I was captivated
           by zephyrs blowing down avenues
           of ambulant dreams, shapes trapped in time’s dynamo
                         that minced the past and admitted me
                         to a council of unalloyed delights
where I was swaddled at the foot of a slick emerald waterfall.
 
Undisclosed events hibernate in big mysteries like atoms
           that refuse to be split, like a foghorn’s warning
                         inbound ships, a cat’s psychology, czar’s
           calcified bones. And here’s me gone to fish for
humpback whales with a tenuous nylon pole in the middle of
                          a blithe firmament closing in on a destination
                          that constitutes the trophy I can’t win.
        
 “I’m bummed” Jack pouts, “fed up with living a life I don’t fit,”
such an odd pronouncement exhibiting a deep guilt complex.
             At such times you have to counsel Jack
            to calm down, chill out and meditate. Additionally
my waitress Donna was astounded when the boss threatened
                            to can her for not following his code
                            because she dashed outside to give a bag
           to a lady who’d left it at the table. And now Donna
           says she’ll be moving from Monterey next fall
to attend mortician’s school, and doggone there goes my muse.
 
I pinched myself so can attest this was real: “Ok you guys
           line up,” my dad commanded me and my sisters.
           “I want you all to pop your eyeballs out
                       of their sockets, hold them
                        in your hands and then reinstall them
                        at 45 degree angles.” “Why oh why?”
I called out, unwilling to follow his summon. I wouldn’t be able
to stand the pain, and could never again look straight ahead.
           I had the right to protest: the Methodists reduced to ash
                       the Chinese camp at Pacific Grove in protest.
Billy the Kid committed murder to escape the Lincoln County
                       jail in protest. Tommie Smith raised a gloved fist
           to signal black power as a protest. And if puffins
can accentuate ecocide by laying eggs on shrunken icebergs
                       every man and woman may with clean conscience 
                       buck the tide, live or die in any manner despite
           possible punitive consequences, even while shunning  
the counter intuitive call of angel Gabriel’s phenomenological horn.
 
Imagine an Indy driver who has had a stroke and paralyzed
                       on the left side zipping past opponents
           at mesmerizing speed like giant ants that well up
           from a full moon and flee off its waxen edge into space.
Imagine this and you’ll inculcate what it’s like for me to withstand
my head abuzz while I engage heavy traffic on Highway One
                       and then clock in late at work.
                    
 Boil the foul taste out of seaweed; disclose happiness
          by painting a self-portrait. Don’t let sadness
                       take hold just because Phoenix is scheduled
                       to run out of water and leave millions high
           and dry. I’ll magically connect with my monumental self
as I flap wings and span the globe on dulcimer notes
                       while expats of Pompeii
           collect on shores of the Baltic and salute
           lava flows that pass between their legs.
 
The blacksmith become celibate who instinctively lays his head
                       in the lap of an expired pedagogue
                       is a distant cousin to the illegal alien
stooped in the field picking heads of lettuce. I wind up robots
           like inexpensive toys. Confounded in evening shadows
                       factory slaves are stick figures who flog themselves
at the steps of hell’s kitchen, and if you don’t believe this
           take the wine train through the Napa Valley and witness
           grapes of wrath withering on ominously parched hills.
Tallulah Bankhead was the type who would walk backwards
                       miles and miles in a monsoon to get
           what she wanted. I believe it’s just a stone’s throw
                       to Appalachia where Longinus snoozes on a cot
in a field of machine gun shells, which I suppose is what it means
to be a “citizen” in oligarchical Russia, what it is to lie
                        about life as though too young
                        to know the truth. Look closely
           into the eye of the hurricane and you’ll see Mr. Spock
zoom through the bowels of neutron stars in his fashionable
           space ship, which likely vindicates popes who can’t stop
blooming on the lone prairie of emancipated banana slugs.
                       Mademoiselle Constance wiggles like a fat chimp
           and adjusts her bonnet writing a villanelle on a cruise
           down the wide wide Volga while St. Petersburg sweats gold.
I stack smoke signals atop Mount Hood thinking rehearsal
                        will begin soon, anticipating my declassification.
 
Twinkling crystal arks pass unnoticed within the galactic Elysium
           but in the end catalogued as mock images.
                       Cyrus McCormick was an icon up until
                       the Dust Bowl made his reaper ineffectual.
Little kids in thongs dig cigarette butts from sand on bountiful
           Laguna Beach. Swallows at Capistrano have become
                         almost extinct, and California condors
           so awesome and loved by the public get poisoned
                      when they ingest carrion killed
                       by bullets with high lead content.
 
I hope in the next century scribes will not pigeonhole us
           as bad people simply because we failed at conservation,
           defied Nature’s laws and paid a stiff price.
                       Even Allah would admit that quality costs
and you can’t fake it like some trumped-up Aphrodite
           expected to come to the rescue, indemnify
counterrevolutionaries, tanked hedge funds
                       and blinking ruby lights of the cell phone tower
                       on a charcoal night.

Poetry: “Empty Vessel” by Eugenie Theall

Your cracked knuckles will never heal;

they know the grip of the hammer too well.

Yet you’ve stopped to cradle the hot cup of coffee

I brought. The woman you married thirty-five years ago

will not return, will not sing again, although

she washes your thermos, watches us

from the kitchen window. Shall I fill the vase?

Pick a color, Father; and I will search Amodios

and Nabels, bird nests, the buckets stacked

in the garage, our own overgrown yard.

I will rake the topsoil, pick out slivers of glass,

wood and rock, for you.

Poetry: “Renascent” by Matthew Wallenstein

January

is winter.

Footprints in slush

kicked back to slush,

an honest record.

This ugly alone.

Hoping not but knowing.

Last falls leaves

clinging wetly to gutters

half frozen.

The slush on the sidewalk is pealing paint,

the truth of it.

Step through sliding doors.

They recognize empty pockets.

Then the walk:

street,

then street,

then street,

then              ,

Poetry: “At the Pace of Infinity” by Oliver Rice

At dawn in Bangkok

a protagonist is having breakfast,

boiled rice with fish, pickles,

and dried shredded pork,

all reality engaging again.

Near Kiev a personage hours ago

had quite a hearty breakfast

of crepes filled with pot cheese

and topped with sour cream,

the dew phenomenal as the sunlight

on a mating ground of butterflies.

An expendable man in Haifa,

already craving his dinner,

broke his fast with parsley,

sliced cucumbers, tomatoes,

and onions, without dressing,

in Helsinki, dressed for an interview,

with a sandwich of cold cuts,

in Madrid with fritters and cocoa,

the ruins, the statues, the ids

having silences of their own.

Allegory sailing on the bay.

The rainbow indifferent to its physics.