Fall Quarterly – Ekphrastic / Music (November 2012 / 12.24)
Artist, Jeanne Marie Spicuzza: Spicuzza is a writer, actress, filmmaker, herbalist and the founder of Seasons & a Muse, Inc., a seven division arts and entertainment corporation. She is published in Shepherd Express, Poetry Motel, Poetic Diversity, Quill & Parchment, and others. The recipient and nominee of several prestigious awards, she performs internationally.
[I was listening]
I was listening to the voices of women
who cried out in many tongues,
many of them reduced to
the unique inverted,
the head upside down through the habit
of being trained in dressage,
I thought it was you who put down the innocent,
I thought I was only floating when guilty,
on the stained floor of the kitchen,
and it was not enough
cooked in the bone marrow and small bags,
who gave of vinegar and oil,
who were consumed by a cruelest of bread, who was meek
and not inherited, who was a peacemaker
who found a cold shoulder, turning,
always turning away into
someone else’s morning, who
hungered and thirsted for the scent of orange blossoms
and who was kept like muscle weakness
in a cage for growing calves, pure
of heart and met by the proscriptions of a parakeet
exercising its rules by rote, who was merciful
and told to gnaw on a borrow of soap, who was
hungry and thirsty and cried out I love you to an empty
electronic ear, who writhed in the forsakenness
of the body, who was taken for speaking the wrong
language and shipped back to
what owned her, while her children that no one understood
cried out in their new homeland of orphanages
until, abruptly and
inexplicably, as a star turning
on its axis, the human voice broke free of the chord
into nothing but joy
Rebecca Seiferle’s fourth poetry collection, Wild Tongue (Copper Canyon 2007) won the 2008 Grub Street National Book Prize in Poetry. She was awarded a Lannan Literary Fellowship in 2004, and her previous collections have won the Western States Book Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Bogin Memorial Award and the Hemley award from the Poetry Society of America. Seiferle lives in Tucson, Arizona, and teach at Southwest University of Visual Arts.
I Love Beach Music
Summertime at the ocean is full of heat. All kinds of heat. Eva Faye liked to be right in the middle of it. Nights, barefoot in the sand. Cold beer, she’d nurse one for hours. At Atlantic Beach there was a Beach Music Festival held every year right after the Fourth of July. Beach music ain’t the music you might think, there’s no connection to any other beach other than the Carolina’s and it don’t have nothing to do with The Beach Boys. It is Rhythm and Blues from the black singers, the ones who would be called foul names if they showed up just to dance. Maybe worse than called foul names. It is The Embers, The Coasters, The Drifters, Chairman of the Board and Sam Cooke and Smokey Robinson, it is jump blues and soul and the clubs hummed and thumped it into the thick summer ocean air of North and South Carolina.
Eva Faye likes to hang at Cecil Corbett’s Beach Club down near Myrtle Beach. One night she is holding court, as she likes to call it, and Rollin Walker appears at the table. He is about fifty years old, and he’s wearing khaki pants and a golf shirt that got too tight around his belly like he’s gonna pop. “Not right now, but try me again later,” she says. And soon as he walks off, Eva Faye looks at the man to her right and says, “Let’s shag, come on let’s shag.”
Of course shagging don’t mean the same thing as it does in other places. At Cecil Corbett’s Beach Club down near Myrtle Beach, it means dancing and it means dancing the shag. Eva Faye is a queen of the shag. She can dance like nobody’s business, moving those legs of hers around like wet noodles, shifting and shuffling, with her face lit up like she’s eating Christmas.
And all the while she’s acting like she’s not paying no mind, no mind to anyone or anything but the dance. And leaving people with no idea that she has mapped the whole room out, and the next three hours too.
Lou Freshwater is a student of literature and existential philosophy, but mostly she loves spicy food and the Delta Blues. She considers herself to be a lifelong student of these and other things. Her poetry and fiction have been published in Red Wheelbarrow and Modern Haiku, and she has also published an essay on the Existentialism of Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams in the Arthur Miller Journal.
This Mix-Tape Hopes to Get You Laid
That’s why you buy the hard-case Maxell
instead of the 3-for-a-buck K-Mart pack.
That’s why your set-list is so eclectic,
such a unified arc, your fingers poised
as the needle enters that tricky smooth zone
between tracks – press Record too early
and you’ll get dead air, but press too late
and you’ll have to hit Rewind, do-over.
This will make pops and clicks, bad omens
for your prowess (what this is all about).
So you hunch over the cheap cassette deck’s
buttons while cueing the needle just so
at a flirty song from a just-bought album –
Romeo Void’s Never Say Never –
. . . You might like me better if we slept together . . .
Which may be a bit much. Yet it must be said.
Not that this will be the first cut, no,
even you and your hormones know that’s wrong.
Avalon by Brian Ferry will set the mood
with its upscale, dream-state, late-night riff,
. . . Now the party’s over . . .
Yes, this is when things happen on Avalon,
whose island courtly love is your pry-bar
to the long chance of sex in some vague future.
And even though you’re not wild about Piaf,
La Vie en Rose charms, imbues you with soul,
the world-weary kind not the Motown.
You will be fun to talk to afterwards.
The urge to include Barber’s Angus Dei
must be resisted for it’s just so sad
she might start crying uncontrollably.
Besides, you need words in English not Latin.
You need outsourced smooth-talk from your records,
proxy lines like Cyrano de Bergerac’s
exquisite shit that seduced Roxanne,
which will be, of course, the very last track
(you and Sting, Sting and you, what’s the difference?) –
. . . You don’t have to wear that red dress tonight . . .
Baby, I’m here. I made this tape for you.
Rupert Fike’s collection, Lotus Buffet (Brick Road Poetry Press 2011), earned him the Finalist award (2nd place) as Georgia Author of the Year. His work has appeared in Rosebud, The Georgetown Review, Natural Bridge, The Atlanta Review, The Cortland Review, storySouth, and others. Fike’s non-fiction work, Voices from The Farm, accounts of life on a spiritual community in the 1970s, is now available in paperback.
The smoke hung high in the air and swung low in the curtains, blown by an old ceiling fan that twirled above the tiny stage. Oswald Bleu stood near the back of the room, leaning against the wall with one foot against the bricks and the other planted on the beer stained hardwood floor. He had come through the doors of The Village Stone at dusk to sign up for the open mic. It was evening now and he was not scheduled to play until the end of the night. Oswald loathed the waiting. He considered it bad luck to sit amongst the crowd for any lengthy period of time before playing — bad luck because he usually ended up drinking and smoking too much and this caused him to invariably fall short of his own expectations.
Lish had the stage and was reading a poem, pacing back and forth, microphone at his mouth, preaching his arrogant prose, stopping suddenly to chastise a pair of young college students for talking during his performance. Oswald had witnessed this type of display from Lish at other open mics and had come to respect the old man’s writing, but considered him an asshole. Well, he thought, so was Dylan.
Following Lish was an overweight woman who sang a song about all of the items in her kitchen. The resonant shrill sent Oswald outside. He noticed people alone, people in pairs, people in clusters of three or more pass him by. No one glanced at him.
An hour later, the host announced him and Oswald walked onto the stage, his guitar slung across his shoulder. He stood silently at the back of the stage, half-turned away from the audience. He waited until the crowd grew quiet and curious. Then with measured steps he walked into the spotlight and planted his left foot directly onto the base of the microphone stand and the other firmly at an angle. He paused again and then dove into a furious version of an old blues song called “Fixin’ To Die.” It was loud and raucous and he sang it ferociously. The crowd sat up. Legs were uncrossed, backs were straightened, mouths hung open. They watched the young man on stage where the smoke hung high and swung low into the curtains. He ended the song abruptly, with a gutteral “uh” and a punch into the air. He stood still. The crowd held their breath, then roared into applause. Oswald simply smiled and stepped back. The crowd fell quiet. He turned and pulled the string on the ceiling fan so that it slowed and stopped, the room now perfectly silent.
Oswald eyed the audience. He remained motionless in the center of the stage, five feet away from the microphone. Just before the silence became uncomfortable, he walked slowly up to the mic and gently rolled into a quiet ballad. It was his masterpiece. As he sung, his eyes remained closed. Sweat ran down the side of his face as he slowly drew the song to its end and said, “I’m Oswald Bleu. Thanks for listening.”
The crowd’s applause was wild. Without looking up, Oswald packed his guitar into its case and walked out the front door of The Village Stone.
Soon thereafter, The Village Stone was hollow with chairs askew, tables littered with empty glasses. All that remained was the haunt of a young man’s voice echoing in the corners with the smoke and the song dust left behind.
Michael Dickes has been or is soon-to-be published in Southpaw Journal, Thrice Fiction, Tree Killer Ink, Kerouac’s Dog Magazine, Thunderclap Press, Apocrypha & Abstractions, Connotation Press, Thumbnail, THIS Literary Magazine, Pure Slush, Flash Flood Journal, Riff Raff, Istanbul Literary Review, Metazen, and others. Michael was recently honored with the dharma name of Won Bul Seong (Sound of the Buddha) by the Won Buddhism Office to The United Nations. More at http://www.michaeldickes.weebly.com.
Pamela Johnson Parker
Unchained Melody: The Studio Version
– “I hunger.” Bobby Hatfield
Cashmere sweater slung over the arm of a sofa;
Grey beard of dust
Festooning a single sock
(Yes, each of the argyles is a clock without hands);
Pale parallelogram over the winged-open Dictionary
Of Difficult Words, pages
Spanning votive to vulva, their
Origins flame to sheath—literally, shroud.
Soot, pollen, paint, pastels—all but dust;
Books, chalk, inkpots,
Canvas, crayons—all but dust;
Ashes to ashes and the skin just dust
Cover for the moons and boats, carpals that slipshod
Sail through the wrist’s canals,
Sinew and the strong
Teeth and the tongue that spoke these words:
When everything is over, I want to be over
Everything. For the bones
Quickly, for the green fires that were
Your eyes, for the gold spokes within them, for praise
Of everything that made you curio
Cabinet, natural wonder,
I save everything: papers, nubbins of pencils,
Myself. I wrap this kimono around my body
As tightly as a dust jacket
Enfolds a book—
Not any book, but The Floating World, that last gift
You gave me. I inhabit a world afloat—no, not
The body erotic but the body
Febrile, burning for your burnt
Away body; body of flotsam, jetsam, body of rain;
Body alive like Danae in a personal cloud
Of gold coins, tens
Of thousands of them,
Nonpareils, in air the size of a sugar cube,
Speck after speck speckling the surfaces
Galaxies that might be
You. I trace your name on the desktop.