Blue Five Notebook – (July 2012 / 12.13)
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.
The Woods, A Song
If you touch one stick to the next, the forest will burn. Stick is the bone. Wood is the marrow. Marrow the heart I hold in you, translucent sparrow, the slip on a threshold, skyline sitting an apartment roof, the wind burning you through, the wind burning you through, I blow through a photograph and time bends a limb while the arm drags its needle across the record which begs my hands riding your hips like the miles between my legs ache for bicycle seat Augusts and your fingers between the star that sets my pulse in a two by two step cantor up the ark and into arch of body stretching cosmos into canvas, make me into miss my kiss my shape of word lit to lip like the cigarette I drank when the sun meant something different without you in it, without you in it, you are not in me but you’re in me, yours is the doorway which tongues my flame when the body blurs its sinews into salt certainty of “yes, praise this, stay” can I have some more, come home to hold, the whole to hang the half note question on the ridge of couplet come to verse I said I wouldn’t write you to the edge of roof and into skylines how my breath pushes silence up against the wall and spreads its body into french lace, finger trace, figure eights trace ice intricate on the window of my without begging a whimper into with, this is, this is, when we meet, met, when we meet again, every word a gasp, the world a word, starlings startling, girl, I am on the porch. I am watching the city burn without me in it. I am in the woods again, carving a name into a tree that no one will ever see near the stream in the city of time. You are made of a church, fall to me and loosening the dark screw.
Leigh Phillips is an Assistant Professor of English at Hostos Community College with the City University of New York. Her stories, memoirs, poems and criticism most recently appear in Rhino, So To Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language and Art, Paterson Literary Review, and The Prose Poetry Project. She has one poetry manuscript, Naked in the Heartbreak House, and she is currently writing an epistolary novel in verse.
Great Disasters in the History of Flight
As we strolled through what was left to us of our city, the tuning fork of her perfume, faintly redolent of lilacs and dead Nazis, gently touched the shafts of broken light. Because I am not a gifted surrealist, the puddles of melted penguins that graced the sidewalk with their accusatory presence escaped my immediate attention. Her timing, generally exquisite, particularly in one so young, deserted her at one point. “Do you love me?” Flawed from the outset, the question never reached escape velocity, found itself stalled in the humidity between us, and, with a belated mercy, fell to the welcoming concrete, where it shattered into all the tiny moments of the life we would never share.
Bob Carlton lives a bio-free life in Garland, TX.
Dindi Says Someday
she’s going to write a memoir
provided she doesn’t have to
sit down and face spinning
knives of words, paragraphs
that turn rancid. She wonders
what episodes best sum her up—
from when she played in forests
as a child to love affairs,
good and bad, or changing jobs
like water in the birdbath. None
of that unveils the core. Maybe
words can’t do it. Ornery,
they hate to be controlled.
She thinks of painting
but paint is words too,
so she looks for a key to release
herself to others, to make it
clear, for once, a key
that draws lightning to it
on a cold windy Escanaba
night, a moment
when everything illuminates
before darkness breaks
windows all over town.
Kenneth Pobo won the 2011 Qarrtsiluni chapbook contest for Ice And Gaywings. The collection was published in November 2011. Also published in 2011 was a collection of his micro-fiction called Tiny Torn Maps.
Halfway to Sleep in a Blue Plastic Chair, Somewhere Near Oncology
Light squeezes ochre through curtains, collapsing on empty coffee cups, torn sugar packets, her bare legs and hips. A metal door squeaks, and a toilet flushes. The old man next to me makes a theatrical production of clearing his throat. Cut. Damn it.
I narrow my lips to a frown. Squint my eyes closed to set up the tableau again. Action.
Caffey rolls over into that stream of light and is made golden, her skin like Devi, a Hindu goddess, obsidian eyes a generous bait, hungry limbs her snare, and Caffey straddles me as she grips my jaw with her right hand, leaning in to take a dark-roasted Sumatran mouth full of kiss.
Public address paging Doctor So-and-So, and the scene behind my eyelids evaporates.
So, staring. At the wall clock in its wire frame — Is it in clock prison? Stale stuck thought about chemo, nauseous misery, and loss, and vomiting bald loveliness pours back in. For my reality version of Caffey, quality of living is for shit.
So, waiting. Like in the back of our fifth grade classroom, cute girl Caffey and me, waiting on a clock — On time to release us from having to be here.
Ten or twelve people sit in this drab, a few more milling, one a young woman with Guatemalan medium-roast skin who’s maybe twenty, swinging long, badly dyed blonde hair around her shoulders and a tight, low-cut love-lies-bleeding blouse as she walks, aimless, texting… U r so effin lucky 2 not b me.
Jump Cut to childhood. It’s nine-thirty in the morning. My Navajo grandfather reads the newspaper, percolated steam floating from a mug, my Irish grandmother circling and nattering about crap he didn’t do yesterday, but it’s hard to concentrate on this image, his face. He’s been dead twenty-five years. His was the colon variety.
Dissolve. Look around perimeter of blue plastic chairs. Miss Guatemala? Vanished. Television bolted to the wall switches on, muddies up the P.A. calling patients’ names— Roll call for all those paling to shadow. Two cops in black uniform walk out the door.
Eyes close. Camera. And… Action. Sipping at a hot Styrofoam cup, I wind my way to the crime scene. The body is still — Full of dark cells able to talk, but not see each other. I’m able to see her, and we can’t talk to each other.
She is a spilled cup. I’ve used up the sugar. A woman, the shape of her, sinks into grounds. A man cries mute birds from his mouth. The birds want to call, Murder.
She wants to seize his arm — (…wait, this line isn’t in the script…)
Her silhouette wants to drink his eyes into bed — (…why turn this movie into verse…)
Their bed is the last place she feels him. Summer splices curtains of cloud, divides the river bed in gold and russet halves — (…is this the rewrite, the feel-good ending…)
He drifts, on black java water in a dank heat, struggling to wake, and though she tastes his bitterness on her tongue, she remains astride, naked, lets him inside the whole of her emptiness.
Michael Dwayne Smith proudly owns and operates the English-speaking world’s most mysterious name. His apparitions appear at Word Riot, >kill author, Monkeybicycle, BLIP, Pirene’s Fountain, Northville Review, Orion headless, Short Fast & Deadly, Right Hand Pointing, Phantom Kangaroo, and other haunts. He lives in a desert town with his wife, son, and rescued animals. Conjure him with the spell @michaelthebear.
For the Daughter Still Mad at Being Dumped
I worry you
found my cache,
of grievance I clutch
crammed with the stubs
of cancelled affections
from all the boys whose hearts
would not show up.
I’ve kept them you see,
for all the futures
I cannot shield you from.