Poetry Special – (March 2013 / 13.5)
Artist, Cheryl Dodds: Cheryl Dodds was co-editor/publisher for Urban Spaghetti, a literary arts journal. Her artwork has taken the form of mixed media, graphite drawings, photography, painting, woodcuts and multimedia as well as a few conceptual art projects. More of her work is online at AbsoluteArts.
A swan drifts beside milky
banks of the Great Way,
dropping occasional feathers
which eddy down, drop,
hesitate, and drop.
Someone out walking hushed
roads to untumble her mind
catches one in each hand.
She combs the air and rises
to grip the paddling
swan’s webbed foot.
Out in the uncurtained
sky, a white wind whirls up,
blows through the eyelashes
of stars, rocks the swan and its
rider into deeper black
water. Somewhere below,
in the forehead of a stone
house, an insomniac
with a telescope makes patient
notes in a worn, red book.
Janet Jennings lives in San Anselmo, California, with her husband and twin daughters, and is the author of Traces in Water, a poetry chapbook. Her work has appeared in Agni online, Nimrod, Spillway, and TriQuarterly, among others, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2010.
You Had a Father, Let Your Son Say So
Shakespeare, sonnet 13
I stared at the title too long and knew what settled on my chest
Was my reluctance to use the first person
And to acknowledge the ladder that leans against the wall
Rung after rung takes us to the roof where we can see
What we don’t want to see backyards and dogs roaming a fence
A car parked in the driveway where someone’s daughter
Bends over to create a scene for the cutting room floor
I sometimes remember my father’s hairline and the way
He got angry about what he read in the newspaper
And how white he was when he talked to me via pad and pen
Rung after rung and we find ourselves looking down
On where we are now and when we look up
The redshift we see reminds us
It is time to embrace the first person
Andrew Cox is the author of The Equation That Explains Everything (BlazeVOX [Books] 2010), the chapbook Fortune Cookies (2River View, 2009), and the hypertext chapbook Company X (Word Virtual). He lives in University City, MO, the Brooklyn of St. Louis, where he edits UCity Review.
The possibility of leading an alternative love life is a reminder that the life we are
leading is only one of a myriad possible lives, and it is perhaps the impossibility
of leading them all that plunges us into sadness.
– Alain de Botton, On Love
so when she walks up the escalator
from the subway breaks into
a scissored trot not enough
to cause a sweat call attention
hurrying to meet her married lover
in the corner booth of the mahogany
paneled seafood pub on Beacon Hill
she turns down the stairs to the Commons
gold-domed statehouse watching her back
finds the man she’d met in rehab huddled
shivering beneath crumpled newsprint
atop a green-slatted bench and despite
tremors his eyes gleam she bends to press
lips to his sweaty forehead thrilled at this man
rushing towards the Park Place entrance
wearing his three-piece Brioni suit
jostling down the rails to Brookline
where she waits in the back kitchen
by the butcher block counter stirring
a pitcher of this month’s drink wearing
the black lace slip which brings him full throttle
to the wooded drive behind Walden Pond
where she brushes aside the grease-tinted
bangs from his sixteen-year-old acned
face enthralled by the small glimpse of shine
the ring he clumsily slides over her pinky
she unbuttons her blouse wiggles panties
down her legs to the Kia’s floor reaches
for her son daughter snug inside
footed PJ’s carries them one in each arm
to their separate beds in the fishtank green
glow of the nightlight she tucks the blankets
chin snug whispers and kisses each one
retreats to the couch movie popcorn wine
Richard Krawiec’s second book of poems, She Hands me the Razor (Press 53) was one of seventeen finalists for a SIBA Award. He has published in Shenandoah, sou’wester, Chautauqua, Witness, Cream City Review, Florida Review, and Connotation Press. He has won fellowships from the NEA, the NC Arts Council (twice), and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He is founder of Jacar Press.
Elegy for Jack Gilbert (1925-2012)
It was a pretty day in May, 2004. Knoxville, Tennessee. We drank hot
chocolate together at the Golden Roast cafe. I crushed my red velvet cake
into many pieces with the side of my spoon. He laughed and told me my food
looked like it had been destroyed by a bird or a raccoon. He explained
how embarrassing it was to have lost his memory. Those days, he couldn’t find
his office, his apartment, his way when he went outside. He showed up late
to class or failed to come at all because he forgot the building where his class
was held. It was hard for him to speak and read because he had forgotten
the meanings of words. He no longer remembered the names of his favorite poets.
He wouldn’t call me by name but would only call me “the auditor” so he could recall
I was the professor sitting in on his graduate class. But he still spoke about his past
with great specificity. I played with my cake and spilled whipped cream
on the table while he talked. He said the first time he made love to a woman
whose name we will always remember, Michiko threw eggs into a pot and removed
the broken shells with her fingers. She stirred the eggs until they turned gray.
Then she leaned against the edge of his chair and breathed onto his neck
while he looked through her album of snapshots. Her hair on his throat
was so distracting he saw nothing as he studied page after page. The last time
he kissed her he was shocked her dead young skin could be so cold. He hadn’t
loved anyone else that way for the length of my whole life. After reading his poems
the world will not forget Michiko’s skin was the color of pale honey; nor will we
forget she had trouble sleeping because of the sound of petals falling from the roses
he gave her. As we walked outside he exclaimed how happy he felt in the southern
Spring sun. But he also said the happiest he had ever been was during his deepest
grieving for Michiko in the days and weeks just after she died. He had never
felt more alive. When he stepped out of my car he smiled and said he enjoyed
talking with me because I was so naked. I wondered if he would remember our
conversation. Why am I ashamed to admit this? I wanted him to know my name.
Amy Billone, who has published poems widely, is currently working as an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Tennessee. She writes, “I became close to Jack Gilbert when he was our Writer in Residence here in 2004.” Billone, who received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at Princeton University in 2001, is the author of Little Songs: Women, Silence and the Nineteenth-Century Sonnet (Ohio State University Press, 2007). In 2005 she edited Peter Pan for Barnes and Noble Classics.
The afternoon the sewer stops overflowing, I drop my ID
into my dirtiest sneakers and run across the canal,
sweating in the smell of ripe, inner city water in summer,
even though it’s still spring.
Okay, I’m secretly fond of the traffic lights that turn red in my face
the ones that forget to change back to green,
like they get a kickback from the stinky water
or maybe from that Fourth Avenue coffee shop,
the one that advertises,
“Stop. What else do you have to do?”
I can’t help but smile when Ari and Felix
in the Old Body body shop
offer me their newest re-used used car for free —
if I’ll just stop running, sit down, and drive
like God intended.
I want to marry the old women who cluster
blowing smoke at me from their wheelchairs
a safe half block from Our Lady of Peace
and their grandfather, leaning on a broom
that slow-motion sweeps the church steps
while he hisses “Puta” as I run by.
And yeah, I flirt a little with the almost-bald father
holding his almost-bald baby son’s hand
to help him toddle over the Third Street Bridge,
even though I have to zigzag jog
into traffic and almost get smacked by a BMW
driver who settles for giving me the finger.
But mostly, I love the canal.
I love how nakedly it runs
corruption from us, into us, through us,
its mutational properties
abbreviating 150 years of history into PCB.
I love how everything drains into its gravitational field:
stale coffee, coagulated paint,
unanswered prayers –
my shoes, my clothes,