Blue Five Notebook – (May 2012 / 12.9)
Artist, Siddartha Beth Pierce: Pierce is a mother, educator, artist, poet and African and contemporary art historian. She was featured on PBS in 2001 for her art show as Artist-in-Residence at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia, which included 20 poems as well as artworks. Most recently, her work has been published in Troubador 21, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, BluePrint Review, Botticelli Magazine, and the chapbook THE ARTISTIC MUSES.
When it doesn’t rain
(Caillebotte, Le Pont de l’Europe)
she holds her own parasol,
has chosen ruffles, red feathers
and a younger man.
She does not take his arm—
lingering one-half step behind
forces him to turn to her.
The spaniel will trot past.
It might try for a quick sniff.
It does not symbolize fidelity.
Karen Head is the author of Sassing (WordTech Press, 2009), My Paris Year (All Nations Press, 2009) and Shadow Boxes (All Nations Press, 2003). Her poetry has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies. She also works on digital poetry projects and teaches at Georgia Tech.
An Awful, Long Time
Lettie doesn’t know why the TV doesn’t come in anymore or why the postman doesn’t always pick up the out-going mail or why the garbage men never put the lid back on or why the store clerk doesn’t know her name or why the butcher shop went out of business or why nobody waits by the phone anymore or why they stopped making replacement ribbon for her typewriter or why she has to take so many pills or why her social security check doesn’t go up when the rent does or why the screen door only slams in the summer or why her son never stops in for a visit or why the water in the bathroom always comes out cold and delicious when the water in the kitchen tastes funny or why Jesus never came back from heaven the way Floyd never came back from the liquor store or why it’s been such an awful, long time.
Michael Dickes is a singer-songwriter, composer, and writer living in Washington’s Cascade Mountains. His stories have been featured in THIS Literary Magazine, Metazen, Istanbul Literary Review, Negative Suck, 52/250, and LitSnack. His numerous CDs include Dig, Loose Ends, Moveable Child, and Thirty-Five, and his work is featured on the soundtrack for Henry Poole Is Here, a film starring Luke Wilson and George Lopez. More information about Michael’s fiction and music can be found on his website, Michael Dickes.
James Lloyd Davis
Signs, like Burma Shave ads, by the side of the road
approaching Tyler, Kansas, Pop. 4,757
“Billy, if you’re coming home and see this …”
“Just keep right on going, past the grocery …”
“Past the little shrine in front of Rita’s rose garden …”
“With the toilet bowl grotto and the statue …”
“Of the Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus …”
“In her loving, forgiving arms, past …”
“The Circle K, drive right on through …”
“Jesus will always forgive you …”
“Jesus loves you …”
“I don’t …”
James Lloyd Davis lives in northeast Ohio with his wife, MaryAnne Kolton, who is also a writer. He’s returned to writing after a long absence, is working on two novels, and has published short fiction in various venues both online and in print. This is his first serious attempt at poetry.
The Economist and the Lower Rung
I am pedaling my unicycle backwards.
A small crowd is milling about like the smoke of fireworks. I am concentrating so horribly on my balance and on not running anything over behind me that I cannot see their faces. All a smoke of fireworks and dreams of fireworks and the smoke left after.
I think they want more.
Even though they have not asked I explain the myth of the stock market: how for years businesses have been debt based and that, unless you receive dividends, all you have in stock ownership is paper with a value provided solely by acclamation.
I am out of breath when I finish, but I have cycled backwards through the whole of it and I hear bare tatters of applause, a noise like June moths playing with the drying laundry. This is the beginning of what I am looking for. I pull my shoulders up as though to fold myself as a shirt. I cut ever tighter circles with the unicycle, but now I am gazing less often down, the confidence of a finished block of wood.
I begin to explain how the economy of transportation, how cheap shipping, makes it impossible for free labor to compete with slave labor. How it makes the word competition irrelevant. I hold my hands out like an albatross preparing to make its agonizing yet triumphant stammering footed
run across water and into flight.
My circle is either more numerous or packed closer in. They look like so many distinguished penguins, herded. Herded? To the edge of the ice floe? To the grace of the designated nesting area? To the killer whales swimming like a malicious economic troll theory in the vast ocean of their capacity for belief?
I tell them government is not a business: if it does not lose money it is not doing its job. I can barely turn my unicycle for the crush. There are faces like twice discounted day old melons and seascapes of formal cloth all about. Soon I am not turning, but running back and forth in the same battered straight line. The applause has gone elephantine, and from a ragged school of noise it has become rhythmic, a chant passed hand to insistent hand.
I want to give them what they want. Over the seemingly feral noise I try to explain how supply and demand is an observation, at times a canon of excuse, but no law. I think this is what they want to hear. But I cannot be heard. I cannot hear myself. My unicycle is not moving at all now. I am held fixed by the briar-like tentacles of applauding hands. And soon the unicycle is missing. I have had that unicycle since undergraduate school and it can never be replaced. I have no idea where it has gone, but now I will never have sex on it, balanced against the force of my pedaling, my love a brilliant counterweight, the three of us one rainfall animal when seen from beyond striking distance. I feel diminished without it, materially reduced. The faces about me exude avian aquatic smiles and I think I am going to be offered a prize, perhaps cash or a loudly singing trophy or crumpled cigarettes or my unicycle grandly returned.
I try to tell them how currency is better when based on faith and not metal.
Now I am lying here in this scratching of earth, just outside town and against a barn that has seen better productivity in its cobbled but napkin thin past. I will have years to watch its slide into checkered wall disuse, listening to it weather like mittens used in all the wrong seasons, becoming a house of vacancy and without purpose: then sink into a meticulous rubble, and one day become a brooding, expectant meadow again.
And surely, rusting entangled with the corn fed wreckage of all the rest, I will find my brazenly beloved unicycle.
Ken Poyner has been lurking about the small press arena for nearly forty years. Work in 2011 is out, soon or now, in Corium, > kill author, decomP, PANK, Fear of Monkeys, and about a dozen other places. He lives in the bottom right hand corner of Virginia with his power lifter wife, five rescue cats, and a refrigerator liberally stocked with beer.
Workshop for Getting into the Hammock
The teacher flicks through
the dry, white crop of poems,
finds the next in line, reads the title out loud.
At the word Hammock,
he coughs and pulls his eyes up.
You know… he says to the poet,
dark soldiers of the ellipsis marching
the question round the table to her at gunpoint.
The poet is young and tall and pretty.
I know, she says with a shrug.
The rest of us whisper the poem to each other
like news of a friend who moved
We leave behind the chilled, windowless room
of our ambitions to lie in that hammock,
wishing we could be the news that moved.