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.

Poetry: “Samaritans” by Christopher Scribner

The speckled fawn walks among them; as she nibbles earnestly at the foliage, the shade of her body throws the tombstones’ dates into shadow. There’s splendor in the sharply-angled morning light. I imagine my own granite marker, its last line unfilled. In life’s sadness the days pass slowly, the years quickly; each year I keep my birthday quiet; each one unacknowledged pushes that last line of engraving lower down the slab. Yes. And, pushed low enough, the end-date will be covered by the growing grass, and disappear from view.

A stranger gave me a lift after my car died en route to my mother’s funeral. Later, in the procession to her gravesite, unsettled and bleary, I gaze out the window. Alongside the road another stranger, an old man in a black coat and fedora, walks slowly through the fog, limping slightly, leaning toward the side of his cane. As the hearse passes by, the man in the black coat turns, removes his hat, presses it to his breast, and respectfully bows his head. Better than I, he knew what to do.

Poetry: “Banyan Nights” by Lara Dolphin

Burgettstown bred, I sit on steel atop a

Bouganville Ficus close to Bagana near the

Torokina River directing artillery fire by radio.

Nearby flares rain down on Hill 260.

The Southern Cross appears, and the

infantry slips behind concertina wire. Saint

Barbara, bless these powdered eggs and

dehydrated potatoes, guide our ordnance

and steady our field glasses that we may

observe what has to/gets to be.

Poetry: “Six Standing Crows” by Meryl McQueen

Huddled like rabbis in a field

Of dying rye, six standing

Crows scratch a coarse meal

From dust and dirt. No command

Or edict tumbles from flat sky. No

Rain. Skullcaps of slick black

Feathers dip and nod as bow

To cello, the rhythm halfway back

To darkness. The gathered stalks

Are crumpled moths, wan and wasted

By timid clouds that balk

And twist at first blue taste of

Rain. Flow and wet, that covenant

To seep and grow, is crushed to dry

Retreat. The animals’ mute sacrament

Of final feast calls out the sky.

They rock on talons in the ruins, these birds

Like men of duty, men of prayer

Who conjure rivers from dead words

As weak as a promise. Where

Would we be without the harvest

Of grain and glory? The ink-dipped

Corvus flock stopped here to rest

But we are weak and ill-equipped

To save the day.

Poetry: “Rhapsody on Independence Day” by Evan Beaty

The psalmists have all gone underground

with armfuls of tortoiseshell inkwells and yellowed paper

and their bodies and horses’ bodies wrapped in a rind

of sour-tasting fog. All their wives are blonde

but not the type that cries at airports or major

abandonments of the more permanent sort. They are in their

houses making buttermilk biscuits, whistling entire

new American operettas. Their attics rattle. The preacher

at the Methodist picnic is blessing everything, saying God made us just

to love him back. Why was God not sufficient for himself? One must admire

how nobody asks this question. Instead they cut the thick-crusted

pies studded with little flags, then wipe their children’s noses.

Monticello sings with green today, but it’s hard to hear for the speeches,

Sousa, cheering sticky tourists. All those old Free World poses.

The taxmen are coming in through first-floor windows, tickling infants

in their cribs, taking the sugar bowl, the rocking chair, the coal.

There are tiny bubbles in the belly fat of this land. In an instant

it will fall away from the forests and hills to warm the gasping foals

and renew the farmed-out soil. The poor will render it into soap.

Take the underresearched pills. Have a cry. Put corn syrup

in your mouth and car and hair. Have a menthol.

A young woman is sitting on a stile somewhere in New England

and counting everything she sees. No, she is only a large doll.

Counting, counting. Meet me at the stile. Kiss me. Count me.

Poetry: “At Twenty” by Carla Baricz

Pauvre Martory! All those months in Tunisia

drifting on the chipped cusp of nonexistence,

yellow like yesteryear, sweating gunpowder,

choking up on surreal loves and manic

lusts inking the petrified yolk into sky.

Jaundiced and blue, a jazz trombone out of tune

still waiting for life to throb through its paces

according to the season’s barometer –

flakes of fire, furnaces moaning, mosquitoes.

When they lock you up in the wards, don’t let on.

Poetry: “Memoir” by Carla Panciera

The calf wandered down his driveway

and Louie, thinking: deer, got his gun.

But when the little Jersey emerged

from the buzzing haze of spring,

Louie lay the gun across his lap,

called: Here, Calfie, Calfie,

and the calf, Liza-lashed, a starlet

on mother-of-pearl hooves, came.

Louie had no rope, but you can’t sit forever,

your arm around a calf’s neck, even one

as satiny (oh, love! to smell like

sun and milk!) as this one.

Finally, with an extension cord leash,

they set off to find the owner.

The end of the story goes something

like this: Louie buys the calf. Feeds it

grain sweet as brown sugar, hay

festooned with alfalfa’s purple blooms.

One January, he stuns it, slits

its throat, the black eyes filmy, exiting.

The beginning, naturally, remains unaltered:

The unpaved road landmarked

with potholes, the provocation of (finally!)

spring. That day, the wind crooned –

treetopstreetopstreetops, while a man

led a calf with an extension cord.

They looked, for all the world

(a stonewall of chipmunks, a forest floor

of hermit thrush and mushrooms,

a mayfly constellation) as if

in search of an outlet, some arboreal current

to prove: also, such things exist.

Poetry: “man by the deli” by Daniel Aristi

he looks like he could use a government blanket una manta del gobierno, por favor

and hot cocoa and

an FBI agent tiki-like by his side reconfortándolo, and some wreckage, but he’s only got

why, the wreckage;

like a baby weeping dentro del vientre in the womb

quiet and still en puro silencio he is crying

so he’s there thinking his way through today’s debris

and he’s expecting no blanket or cocoa –

he’d welcome them, though, sin pedirlos

but then, what?

(Santa Barbara, CA, 21 Feb 2014)

Poetry: “Tea” by Ken Haas

We went to London once a year and,

aside from conjugate acts in wayward places,

there was one thing she loved doing

in that conurbation only, made personal

by her novel use of accoutrements

(strainer, drip tray, sugar tongs, cozy)

and especially how the milk was introduced—

smallest possible liquid dollop

that pricked the fuscous pond,

dove for a skipped heartbeat,

then resurfaced in one of three avatars:

mushroom cloud,

gossamer of cracked glass or,

to her repulsed fascination,

simply itself, the unaltered bolus.

Questioning would be like asking Magritte

what’s with the derby, or how come the apple

and why green.

Actually, someone did ask him. He said

everything we see hides another thing

and we always want to see what’s hidden.