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: “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.