Poetry Special – (December 2014 / 14.23)
Artist, Steve Golden, is a Singapore-based photographer specializing in portraiture and landscape. Traveling extensively throughout Asia, he is committed to capturing images of traditions that are fast changing. Steve’s latest work can be seen at his Singapore gallery Organug Studio or at his website. Of this photo, Steve says: “Daily life carries on as normal in the face of overwhelming physical changes to the Shanghai cityscape. The wall, once protecting a once thriving neighborhood, now attracts foreign and local graffiti artists.”
[Existence you are the champion again this bright morning]
Existence, you are the champion again this bright morning,
Night was another long chance operation, another dream scuffle
between fire and hail, obscurity, desire and denial
(I’d toss in some imagery here but none remains, just the after-loathing),
crazy as the infectious cities sucking the life out of my happy soul’s trite lies,
its gentleness falsely recalled and conjured back once more.
It must have rained; the mud below my window is gleaming truth.
I’m as sorry as the sesame seed is oblivious
to the unattainably supreme, the absolute
turning on me like the latest gimmickry
Morning means a fresh start,
so I’ll not mess with the décor of your expectations,
with the proper unfolding of the poem as we have come to appreciate it
in all its diversity,
or to toy with the brakes and accelerator in the heavy traffic of meaning.
I’ll refrain today from acting like a French poet savoring the slippage of sense
and the proper phrasing of alienation felt, say, shopping
while grief-stricken for shoes that roar at robins and grackles
like the echo of dead steel plants.
These are the years of rough drainage, similes clogging the pipes of the mind’s condo
like teaspoons deliberately shoved by the priesthood down the garbage disposal of doubt.
Even weak art has its moments, most of the time.
If it pleases you I’ll hop the next train.
I like trains.
I’m open to removal, but only to a place even more open-hearted.
Of course I love you, you need love!
Here we all are, in the middle of things once more.
The half-moon slides forth on its less-than-persuasive course,
and I long for summers past full of love and irresponsible shenanigans, don’t’ you?
Knowledge hisses at me every summer,
tells me to be like a wolf drinking from unrhyming streams spraying past scented clover.
Then Knowledge goes back to asking me what it means to say
“The table is there.”
As I ponder that I simultaneously feel
the body is here, awake, spending too much time
in the glow of digital media, not enough time studying the leaf
as it drifts, well lit through the suchness that contains all
including Foucault’s pendulum and the other Foucault’s influential texts.
(O the order of things.)
Speaking of texts, soon the next invoice will arrive in the mail,
the rugged and wide Sublime singing its trademark subsonic song
as I open the envelope and examine the charges.
But that’s fine.
At least I’ll still be here, able to flee or stay,
listening for the next call of the katydid,
revisiting notions of form and anti-form that feed our understanding
of fishy ideals lost on the elk beneath the Aspens,
not to mention the brains of the great dead philosophers,
their incantations, preambles and bootless packages long shredded
in the sluggish boneyard we call existence.
David Wolf is the author of three collections of poetry: Open Season, The Moment Forever, and Sablier. His work has appeared in The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, Poet & Critic, River Styx Magazine, and elsewhere. Wolf is Chair and Professor of English at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. Recently, he was named the creative writing editor of Janus Head.
On Hearing Scotty Stoneman Again
I’m glad this stayed true to something the way I have not. In the gentle circumstance of morning, the maternal song of a loon loops in the forest, scolds the squalor of the dog pens and detention ponds. Smoke like feathers from behind the houses, the light torn open by deciduous trees fills the columns of dust where the girls ran off when we wanted them. This land still gives but is a constant taker, poisoned orchard. The clay that marks us plies its consciousness in the wood grain and discarded metals, in the drunken fiddle’s easeful lexicon of grief.
Gary Sloboda is a lawyer, writer, and musician, but not necessarily in that order. His work has appeared in a variety of venues and is forthcoming from Blackbox Manifold and Nerve Lantern. He is currently writing a book-length collection of prose poems entitled Tremor Philosophies.
I sway in the kitchen while the orchid you gave
eases toward the lamplight.
I am waiting for your staccato on the door.
Green spikes my fingertips, and I roll bites
in sugar my tongue rejects.
I bruised you without intention,
as the sun bruises a melon on a windowsill –
hollowed gold: burnt red.
I will write you a letter
that cuts the sunlight.
Claire Hellar’s poetry has been published in Ceremony, Circle, and Westwind. She grew up in Papua New Guinea, wanders often, and paints each new apartment teal.
Karla Linn Merrifield
Yes, there was a hole,
as from a black fly’s bite.
Your pinprick festered
into a weeping pustule, burst,
and then carved a raw, red crater
in the thin skin of my wrist, refusing
to scab over for the longest time.
You kept at it, itching me.
But I never scratched.
There is no scar.
A seven-time Pushcart Prize nominee and National Park Artist in Residence, Karla Linn Merrifield is the author of ten books, most recently, Lithic Scatter and Other Poems (Mercury Heartlink) and Attaining Canopy: Amazon Poems (FootHills Publishing). Forthcoming from Salmon Poetry is Athabaskan Fractal and Other Poems of the Far North. Her Godwit: Poems of Canada (FootHills) received the 2009 Eiseman Award for Poetry and she recently received the Dr. Sherwin Howard Award for the best poetry published in Weber – The Contemporary West in 2012. She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye. Visit her blog, Vagabond Poet
We crack the egg
in the middle
yellow and runny
Hurts our eyes
the ground turns hard
No one cooked or
scraped an empty skillet