Poetry Special – (September 2013 / 13.18)
Artist, Ernest Williamson III has published poetry and visual art in over 320 national and international online and print journals. He has work forthcoming in The Columbia Review, Bricolage: University of Washington’s Literary Arts Journal, and many others. View more of his work at yessy.com/budicegenius.
I almost became a PI
because the last time I saw my mother
alive we were spying on her husband.
She had picked me up in her Olds 88
which they’d spray painted a deep shade
of Carolina blue, covering up the car’s original
rusted yellow. Mom almost always drove
some big car, or truck, bench seated, pulled
as far forward as possible so her short legs
could reach the pedals. My father says
he first met her on a blind date
where she drove up in a VW bug,
the steering wheel of which
hid everything except her hairline and the tops
of her black framed glasses.
On our last night she wore a black
tank top and shorts.
We discussed the cheating ways of men
as if we were equals. We drove to my stepfather’s
ex-wife’s home as we listened to country music.
My mother gave me money for my high school
graduation invitations even though graduation was –
like a child – nine months away. Mom was weeks
from dying but we didn’t know that.
I can picture outlines of hair, the shape
of her arms. What I can’t recall
is what kind of shoes she was wearing.
I don’t know if we said I love you –
see you soon – or if we even found
evidence of infidelity.
Jessie Carty’s writing has appeared in publications such as MARGIE, decomP, and Connotation Press. She is the author of five poetry collections which include An Amateur Marriage (Finishing Line, 2012) as well as the award winning full length poetry collection, Paper House (Folded Word 2010). Jessie is a freelance writer, teacher, and editor. She is also the managing editor of Referential Magazine. She can be found around the web, especially at http://jessiecarty.com.
John Sibley Williams
I carry shattered windows
bricks and glue— an entire history
of man-made flags— down
to the forgotten districts:
under the overpasses,
where two simple gray pillars
hold up the sky,
where dreams wrestle free.
Hunger. Wet cement.
Recently my heart has been an iron balustrade
cut over a dry riverbed.
Lovers’ rose petals drift over me,
dry out like any other sand,
ask nervously as they plummet:
“what does it mean to be below?”
I rise in answer: towers and loss.
I scrape my unnecessary name from the pavement.
Portland. Or am I New York?
Ask me if it matters
to the faces that make up my face.
Ask me if it changes
a single stripe or star
that a match tipped upside down
burns faster, burns building first.
Ask me what I call myself.
What I call the flame above. The flame within
the driest mouth, the glass shards of dreams.
I carry a shattered image of my face
bricks and glue— an entire history
of need— up
to the well-lit districts.
Some there beg for definition,
like any other sand.
Beg without end.
Some simply sing the human divide.
Recently my arms have been a cardboard box
with shadowed views of skyscrapers.
Arms. Heart. Names.
A universe of man-made stars
that rival the sky.
John Sibley Williams is the author of six chapbooks, winner of the HEART Poetry Award, and finalist for the Pushcart, Rumi, and The Pinch Poetry Prizes. He has served as Acquisitions Manager of Ooligan Press and publicist for various presses and authors, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing and MA in Book Publishing. A few previous publishing credits include Inkwell, Bryant Literary Review, Cream City Review, The Chaffin Journal, The Evansville Review, RHINO, Rosebud, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Robert E. Wood
Thora and the Philosophers
Thora and Heraclitus
On dark days
the watering can.
On bright days
the herb garden.
All things flow.
Thora and Zeno
To reach the bed
she must cross
half the room.
Then half of what remains
then half again.
You know the rest.
There will be no nap.
Thora and Lucretius
Missing her today.
nothing would move.
Robert E. Wood teaches at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. His poetry has appeared in Quiddity, Cha, The Chattahoochee Review, Southern Humanities Review, South Carolina Review, Jabberwock Review, Prairie Schooner, NDQ: North Dakota Quarterly, Harpur Palate, The Centrifugal Eye, Poets / Artists, and previously in Blue Fifth Review, as well as in Bigger Than They Appear: Anthology of Very Short Poems (Accents Publishing). His chapbook, Gorizia Notebook, was published by Finishing Line Press and a second, Sleight of Hand, also with FLP, was just released. His book of ekphrastic poems, The Awkward Poses of Others, was published in 2013 by WordTech Communications.
Some of Us Just Hide Away
My daughter cries in the other room, a fire engine siren of an
angry, angry wail, and I think, Cry! Cry! Go ahead
and shout until you can’t shout any more because you have
no idea of all the horrors and terrors that are waiting for
you and your tiny, chubby little hands and feet, out there in
the real world. Get used to the tears, the anger, kicking at doors
and walls and metal crib bars with those tiny barefoot feet. Get
used to being in cages, because there are so many more waiting
for you. I think of all the lullabies I could be singing to
her, to prepare her for the toxic world she’ll emerge into
from the safe cocoon of this house
the miles of hot concrete
waiting for her to burn and
stub her toes on, scrape her knees against, the broken
glass waiting to cushion her falls, and oh, cancer.
She cries for her bear and I bring it to her, because that’s the one word
she can get out that I can translate, “bear.” “Bear!” I think of telling her
that her teddy bear is tricking her with false security
that real bears are hungry and angry and growl and don’t make
happy peeping noises like they do on
TV, but that she won’t have to worry about bears when she
grows up because they’ll probably all be dead by then. Instead, I just
hand her the stuffed animal, stuffed with plastic fibers and
possible carcinogens, kiss her forehead
wish her a better life
deny the inevitabilities.
Holly Day is a housewife and mother of two living in Minneapolis, Minnesota who teaches needlepoint classes in the Minneapolis school district. Her poetry has recently appeared in Hawai’i Pacific Review, The Oxford American, and Slipstream, and she is a recent recipient of the Sam Ragan Poetry Prize from Barton College. Her book publications include Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar-All-in-One for Dummies and Music Theory for Dummies, which has recently been translated into French, Dutch, German, Spanish, Russian, and Portuguese.
Michael C. Rush
100 Minutes of Solitude
feel the more-than-four winds
measure every angle of the sun
with each of your senses, all together, none
trace the outlines of leaves with the whorls
of your fingers taste the surface of stones
in every season drain the blue of sky
into your eyes and wait until the clouds
drift out of sight taking your thoughts
away find a tree and after introductions
when you feel comfortable enough
Michael C. Rush currently splits his time between northern Arizona and upstate New York, has most recently published poems in The Chaffey Review, Boston Poetry Magazine, The Fieldstone Review, Breakwater Review, and The Istanbul Review, and has poems forthcoming in Better: Culture & Lit and Pirene’s Fountain.
A Reflection by Pris Campbell
Scott Owens, Eye of the Beholder
Main Street Rag, January 2014
Scott Owens’ latest book, Eye of the Beholder, is probably the most sensuous, loving collection of poems he has published to date. The book rivals his popular The Fractured World in power.
The book is a love story to his wife and places him squarely alongside the best of the romantic poets. These are not simply the poems of a young man filled with the throes of first passion, which may or may not last. Rather, he writes of a passion that endures into the years of graying hair and difficulties resolved together. Both have been married before when they meet and truly become each other’s North Star leading the way to a better destination.
In “The End of Love,” he writes this about the death of his first marriage:
It doesn’t happen in a rush
of passion like in the movies.
Nothing happens like in the movies.
It’s more the slow drip
of morphine in the bloodstream
dulling interest in what you have,
making every conversation an act of will,
every shared moment too weak for dread.
After that painful ending, he meets his second wife. In “Before the Very Quiet Yes,” he relates:
They had no idea it meant that words,
like ‘sleep together, ‘future’ would
change their meanings, they had no
idea it meant that now they had
to do something together that now
they had no idea how to do, they had
no idea it meant that years of no’s
had been erased, that now no no
was possible, that always they would
have to find some suitable yes.
Later, in “The Things We’ve Become,” he writes:
You are not a river.
I am not the sky.
We have less time
than that to live
and much less ground to cover.
And finally, in “Refusing Loss,” the redemption of love is complete:
Oh fading, familiar body beside me.
I would give up everything to prolong
what we have together.
Owens’ writing is image driven and eloquent as he draws the reader deeper until reader and poet are one, traveling the yellow brick road together. I’ve admired his writing for years and in his new collection he has far surpassed my already high expectations.