Poetry Special (December 2011 / 11.25)

Animula Vagula Blandul by Robert Klein Engler

Artist, Robert Klein Engler: Engler was born in Chicago. His poems and stories have appeared in Borderlands, Hyphen, Christopher Street, The James White Review, American Letters and Commentary, Kansas Quarterly, and many other magazines and journals. He was the recipient of Illinois Arts Council Literary Award for his poem “Three Poems for Kabbalah,” which appeared in Fish Stories, II.

Animula Vagula Blandul

                        We have your ancient wall
                        and your deathbed poem.
                        Each has a voice that calls.
                        Keep Out! Welcome home.

                                                QR poem by Robert Klein Engler


Peycho Kanev

Something small

In some old basement in France
the rats wake up and start to worry at the
forgotten paintings of Monet;
dreams for the bearded Cuba run out of
my toes
and I think to my self: what a beautiful September! – pain,
sweet as honey, gushes out of me, whizz around,
and again penetrate my bellybutton –
I part the drapes and watch the outside.
I notice the green of the trees,
the blue in the sky and the music,
the unsolved color of the music,
but I ignore them,
at this place, in this time,
we can’t sing;
and the music, yes, the music is dying,
all the great sopranos are dead.
I light a candle and hold it for a whole

outside the rain starts,

in the Vatican one holy man
is shaking;


Peycho Kanev’s poems have appeared in more than 400 literary magazines such as Ann Arbor Review, Istanbul Literary Review, Poetry Quarterly, and Naugatuck River Review. He is the author of WALKING THROUGH WALLS (Ciela, 2009), AMERICAN NOTEBOOKS (Ciela, 2010), BONE SILENCE (Desperanto, 2010), and r – a collaborative collection – with Felino Soriano, Duane Locke, and Edward Wells II (Please Press, 2009).



Serena Wilcox

Anonymous Intimacy

Kandisky patterns displayed
Against the window

Night wears lavender and fog
Gentle breeze smokes

Stars close their eyes

Sing cricket
From beneath the brush

Canticles of love

Serena Wilcox writes from the edge of Atlanta, GA. She is the poetry editor for Leaf Garden Press. She has literary work published and/or forthcoming in Ann Arbor Review, BlazeVox, Word Riot, Calliope Nerve, Word for Word, Moon Milk Review. She was recently nominated for Dzanc’s BEST OF THE WEB. You can find out more at The New Renaissance.



Bill Yarrow

Helix Poem: Samuel Johnson / James Joyce


gazing up

is a kind

into the blackness

of rust

I saw myself

of the soul

as a creature


driven and derided

every new idea

by vanity


and my eyes burned

in its passage

with anguish

to scour

and anger


Bill Yarrow is the author of WRENCH (erbacce-press, 2009) and “Wound Jewelry” (new aesthetic, 2010). His poems have appeared in Poetry International, PANK, DIAGRAM, The Centrifugal Eye, Pif Magazine, Rio Grande Review, BLIP, Ramshackle Review, and other literary magazines. His poem “Andalusia” was nominated by Up the Staircase for a 2010 Best of the Net award. He lives in Illinois.



Kathleen Kirk


The teal kimono hangs open, waiting
in the closet on a cloth-covered hanger
that cannot harm silk. Depending
on the light, the time of day,
its lining is lavender or blue-gray
beside the green in the blue of teal.
The sash drips almost to the shoes.
She is always too cold to wear it
over lingerie, or around the house,
naked underneath for her man.

A power line is down near the tracks.
A power crew is out to work on it,
and a train crew to man the crossing.
In someone’s house the lights are off,
and a woman has to feel her way along
the basement wall to get back upstairs.
Somewhere down the tracks the train
is paused, and a woman gazes out
the window at bluish snow, wondering
when it will start up again.

Kathleen Kirk works in a vintage bookshop and writes poetry. Her work appears in various print and online magazines, including After Hours, Apparatus, Fifth Wednesday, Poems & Plays, and The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review. She has three poetry chapbooks: SELECTED ROLES (Moon Journal Press, 2006), BROKEN SONNETS (Finishing Line Press), and LIVING ON THE EARTH (Finishing Line Press, New Women’s Voices Series #74).



Susan Terris

Poems from The Ghost of Yesterday

Pyramid by Vivienne St. John

Artist, Vivienne St. John: The image Pyramid by St. John will appear on the cover of Terris’ latest chapbook, The Ghost of Yesterday. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Spillway, In Posse Review, Pedestal, and HarperCollins




                                            –Cock & Bull

No, not that kind of cock, but a fowl one who
Chased us when we collected eggs on

Susie’s farm. At night, we’d lie on our backs
On the henhouse roof, suck just-picked plums,

Watch the Pleiades for shooting stars as we
Exchanged girlish bullshit of what we may or

May not have done with boys whose names we
Crosshatched on the raw edge of our books.


                                            –Bull & Cock

Bellow now. Use a mortar and pestle to make
A paste of days to rub in everywhere.

Mixed metaphor: but this is a rabbit-in-a-hat
Conundrum. If you don’t pull it out, is it still there?

No more exchanges with girl-women—they
Can’t keep secrets. Yes, bull and cock are literal

Now, preening and rutting. Life is experiential,
Existential. Always too secret to tender.



                                            –Rye & Ginger

Alas, but the ghost says I must confess, I
Had my first affair at 16. Though wearing

K’s ID bracelet, I—nights when boys drank rye
and ginger—was playing chess with Topher.

Then, once, while K was on a booze-run,
Topher, by the pinball in our basement,

Electrified the angora of my sweater as we
Kissed and rubbed until K—

Returning—caught us. Topher, he yelled, is
Nothing! I will be much more successful!


                                            –Ginger & Wry

At our 25th school reunion, K—already
3 times married/divorced but an entrepreneur—

Introduced me to his new woman friend,
A ginger-haired nymph less than half his age.

Remember Topher, he said, smugly. Too bad
About the accident. Drunk, of course.

But—you are looking good. And hey—your
Folks still have that pinball machine?

A real pinball, he told the gingersnap.
Bet I have 100 more free games still unplayed.



                                            –Flotsam & Jetsam

After Limantour Spit, we barbecue mussels
On Drake’s Beach, fly the 30 foot dragon kite,

As the children roam, collecting treasure: a boot,
Bucket with a hole, a strand of knotted pearls.

Daughter, donning the pearls and a sea-grass crown,
Declares herself queen, so we build her a driftwood

Castle, circle it with the dragon and crowd in
Body to body. Flotsam, for this day, protected, safe.


                                            –Jetsam & Flotsam

Messages in bottles—we float them from Bolinas
Lagoon. Help. . . moonrakers have kidnapped us

At Duxbury Reef. Help. . . we are living the wrong
Lives. Where have the children gone? Can we go, too?

Discard. Discard everything. Throw all dead weight
Overboard. Lighten up. Don’t look back.

Where are the life preservers to hold up our heads?
Is this life a life? Beware: here there be dragons.



                                            –Appled & Snaked

Please leave before I ask you again
To hang the moon, before you offer

One more stitch in time. Once I mistook
Fantasy for reality. Then a mythic garden

Grew around us as we slept—appled and
Snaked until I felt rooted there,

Until, though unclothed and unhoused, I
Was reluctant to lift my feet and flee.


                                            –Snaked & Appled

Please leave before I begin again to cry
Over our spilled honey, before

The bees swarm, before I start to
Count chickens as well as snakes and

Apples, before my thoughts are naked
As my scarred body. Because, if you

Don’t, I may break my silence, break you, too,
As I strike through this overgrown dream.


Author’s commentary: A few words about poems from The Ghost of Yesterday

It’s always hard to explain where an idea has come from. In this case, it started with a ten line poem called Major & Minor. It’s an odd little piece with someone referred to as the ghost of yesterday playing the piano for a lily, who might or might note be an actual flower. Feeling confused? Perhaps, I was, too.

Aware that the first poem might need some further insights, I reversed the title to Minor & Major, wrote ten more lines, and found the narrator, prompted by the ghost, was telling her “once-love” to stay away. After that, I was flying. I knew I’d found something thematic, something that would develop into another chapbook. And I’m a person who teaches the making of a chapbook and loves the form inordinately.

To proceed from here, I made a list of almost fifty combinations of familiar phrases that could be reversed and exist as other diptychs. I never planned to create fifty and, actually, stopped at twenty. Why stop there? Because when I reached that place, I realized, I’d done all I could do with these images and could not continue without beginning to repeat myself or without beginning to feel bored with the form.

In its entirety, the sequence alternates between diptychs where each half has ten lines and where each has only eight lines. The poems focus on different life phases. Of the four published here, two contrast teenage views with grown ones, two are thoroughly adult phases. Thematically, many of the poems have music, flowers, apples, old photographs, love, once-love, and water.

The ghost, however, appears only in the ten line pieces. There’s some kind of magical thinking, non-verbal decisions that make these things take shape; and I can’t explain them. They control me. I don’t control them. But I can explain one thing—something I was very slow to realize. I was working on the nineteenth sequence when, suddenly, I realized that the ghost—the voice of the ghost—was that of my father, now thirty years dead.

I was stunned and amazed. But isn’t the poet often the last one to know what he or she is actually trying to discover or to write about?

Susan Terris’ poetry books include The Homelessness of Self, Contrariwise, and Eye of the Holocaust. Her work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Field, Colorado Review, Blackbird, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and Ploughshares. A former editor of RUNES, A Review Of Poetry, she is now editor of Spillway and a poetry editor for Pedestal Magazine and In Posse Review. Her poetry was included in PUSHCART PRIZE XXXI.

About bluefifthreview

Blue Fifth Review, edited by Sam Rasnake, Michelle Elvy, and Bill Yarrow, is an online journal of poetry, flash, and art.
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2 Responses to Poetry Special (December 2011 / 11.25)

  1. Heather McPherson says:

    A couple of stunning poems and some fresh and lively perceptions…lovely.

  2. Pingback: 2011 – All Blue Five Notebook Issues, Special Issues, Features, Quarterlies, and Broadsides | Blue Fifth Review: Blue Five Notebook Series

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