Volume 07: Autumn 2010

John Venturella

Wednesday, September 1, 2010
posted by Michael Simms

The Jolly Tinker

 

I build a rocket from beer bottles

and rose petals – light the fuse – almost explode

to the stratosphere – sputter out

freefall – fireball

 

into the Bronx on a 100° day

when the streets smell like hot

garbage in a stew

of falafel; subway screeches

are the upholstery needle

fingers of a lover scraping down

my back:

 

into a bar stool where everything

is dim and Captain Jack plays

on repeat.  Staring down

a glass of whiskey, wiping away

the sweat after each sip

checking my phone every five

minutes that slide across the floor

like a lover frictionless from sweat

_____

Dalenna Moser

Wednesday, September 1, 2010
posted by Michael Simms

Wounded Horse

 

Mona lives in a trailer

so she can keep her horse

scoop his shit with her shovel,

that’s love.  The railings of

my fingers circle his nostrils

as she thrusts the needle

into his bleeding legs

and I stroke his ears

while white gauze

is draped over his shins

 

like I would caress

the ears of my lover

lust after him to hear me

gallop the fence

to his wide open fields

with nothing

but the wind on my mane

and the long hoof of my voice.

_____

Laura E. Davis

Wednesday, September 1, 2010
posted by Michael Simms

Hyacinth Girl

 

From her mouth flow apple seeds &

hyacinth blossoms. Her long legs bow

when she climbs, maniacal—

 

to the treetops. To us, she is so

much longer up there. We fear her

rough fall and we beg her to return.

 

And she slinks down to earth

from her treetop, past cups of sweet tea

made from hyacinth leaves. She stops—

 

pressing her palms into the cool earth.

Her long fingers dig down.

Fingers that once fashioned clouds

 

to discs, words to poems, and pointed

us toward heaven. Her hands are shovels

that dig her way past normal into

 

the earth. Beneath us, she cannot feel

her fingers. She cuts them off, mantles

them under a tree’s roots. Her lungs fill

 

with chestnuts and autumn. We follow

handprints she left behind, deep

depressions of palms into soil. We beg

 

her to return, call her name in earth-colored

whispers. She calls back & with each breath

a hyacinth blooms beneath our feet.

_____

Aunt Emily

Wednesday, September 1, 2010
posted by Michael Simms

Aunt Emily

Imagining Emily Dickinson in 1852

 

 She’s thinking of song—

dividing the day into eight

juicy bits,

 

into sixty little books

of six folded sheets,

“always in ink,”

 

the worm of oblivion

tucked neatly into one

gnawed corner—

 

polishing some lapidary

idea of a frayed eternity.

 

Her hair is red

feathers—a robin’s

breast (wary little bird

binding us to her

paint.) Her

 

wandering pupil stares

sideways to infinity;

it is morning where she is—

 

the sun passing

like a swollen eye

across the crowded

graveyard.

 

Sewing Box

 

Half-hidden, her thimble,

     little dimpled well.

                 What residue

                 of her salt

     does it contain?

 

(The chary bird in me

       loves to sip from it.)

                  Measuring tape, scissors…

                  Enough equipment here

     for the tedious Fates.

 

Yes, here is her favorite

       pincushion, the sharps

                     and darners stuck in it

                     like small, heroic

swords.

 

Sacred Love

 

The trees practice it

all winter—the honey

 

locusts, with their spiritual

thorns, their dry pods

 

of sweetness,

the death pale birches

 

like bony priestesses

and the deflowered flower

 

girl plums, naked

and wind-thrashed,

 

in bruise colors.

But, what ascetic hermit

 

can resist disporting

when April unbosoms!

 

one of Vermeer’s women,

dressed up in such lush

 

tapestries, lavish embroideries,

brazen perfumes—

 _____

Kelly Beahm

Wednesday, September 1, 2010
posted by Michael Simms

Jubilate

 

For I will consider the purest praise

For the last hymned Amen to usher children running

Forward towards the bell tower doors – ornate and heavy –

 

To clog the entry – excitement keyed higher – 

To loosen the rope from its tethered position

To grab all at once for the sturdy three-in-one –

 

For the holy hush when a child is chosen

For the benediction – the pastor lighter without his robe –

For the pink hands gripped in prayerful submission –

 

To explode from the stones towards the sky – 

to the dirt – 

to the heavens return –

 

For their simple song expands from sanctuary rafters

For the ears of the church mouse and the alley cat –

For the mouths of mountains and nearby mini-marts –

 

To let the tongue sing out in delight

To raucously clang – clang – cheer and chatter –

To smell mint on ascent – the sweetest incense of reverend’s tobacco

 

For the door now open – the sun flooding in –

For the children now rushing out into the streets

For the red rocks and prickly cacti hollering holy hallelujahs to the sky.

_____

John Samuel Tieman

Wednesday, September 1, 2010
posted by Michael Simms

a modern haibun

 

another Monday
again I surrender to
the whisper of snow

My wife is reading Freud this evening. I sweep the fireplace, the ashes from Sunday more interesting for what they were. Phoebe says something I don’t quite catch, something about desire.

I stare out our picture window. I inventory our yard. Pine, twilight, beast, leaf, pulse and fog, raven, root. In the west, from work, a husband caught on a detour lengthened tonight by longing

“My War”, my memoir in this month’s Vietnam magazine, I’m surprised by the letters from strangers. Several veterans had the same job I had. Others vets were stationed where I was, An Khe, an obscure corner of jungle. One message from a wife — the husband never talks about our war.

in this Nam photo
the burnt torso of a monk
an enemy monk
tonight a cigarette glows
in the dark and is crushed

_____

Teresa Petro-Micchelli

Wednesday, September 1, 2010
posted by Michael Simms

If my co-worker asked I’d answer

 

No, I haven’t read the newspaper today,

like most other days,

I avoid licking the tips

of my fingers to flip the print

because who needs ink smudges on thumbs

anyway?

 

Reading the news almost guarantees

performing the Rorschach inkblot test

on myself.

So I don’t.

 

Because being your own doctor is hard:

            What do you see in this word on your thumb?

                        A man riding a unicorn.

What do you see in this one?

                        A man riding a unicorn and getting shot in the face.

 

It’s safer to be ten years old and play Barbie

than have what’s black and white and red all over

ruin your face

should you rest your head on the paper.

 

I want to daydream back to ten years old,

but getting stuck in “hey kid” isn’t easy.

            The images are blurry.

            The feelings aren’t the same.

            Being jealous is boring.

            I didn’t believe the same things I do now—

 

how I don’t believe in the news

the way some people don’t believe in God.

           

And the computer chair in this office isn’t made for reading:

the leather is too slick,

falling off your seat is not professional—

answering the phone from the floor isn’t yoga,

 

Yes, I try to practice yoga properly,  

regularly.

Arlene Weiner

Wednesday, September 1, 2010
posted by Michael Simms

Downward

 

Cold rain paves the path

with gold leaves, calls

to mind the future:

fall of snow. Must

every bright thing

fall, all wither, freeze,

erase our swept paths,

our steps?

 

How to become

like the earth,

that feels a fall

as a drawing down,

the way a lover’s face

is drawn down? How

to get that unjudging appetite—

inward, inward—dust,

petals, bedsprings,

water silvered with oil?

 

Come: the stinking grizzled

man carrying a plank,

the sixteen-year-old

stricken in the stadium,

millions of thistle seeds,

sparrows, meteorites.

…to draw the sun a little

and the moon much.

_____

Kevin Finn

Wednesday, September 1, 2010
posted by Michael Simms

Offshore

 

I wanted a ring with a carved Indian

face, or a horse hair instrument

that droned, but the Gulf was beaten

 

with oil in its gills and feathers,

a desperate mix, viscous and black.

 

Give me the horse skull,

keep the credit card.

Give me a great blue adventure,

I’ll just stand and stare.

 

The pelican grounded,

the sand like cement,

the open wound of our planet

cauterized just enough,

 

the shallow drill heading for bone.

 

Nuclear

 

The dark, steel drums of waste

sinking beneath the mountain.

The hot circuitry moaning

through the grid, alive, but forced

              to move.

 

These things wash over me.

 

A crowd draws in, closer

to the vast desert, collapse

like sinkholes, into fathoms

                     of what I want,

what you want, what we think

we need.

 

Tell me of the arctic hare, the caribou,

the sinking ice levelling

habitat and home.

 

Silver and gold cities that blanket

the country, now return to dust.

_____

Siobhan Casey

Wednesday, September 1, 2010
posted by Michael Simms

Departure

 

Before my sister

leaves I know that

there is never

a return

 

that there is nothing

but a wooden vision

of steps

 

leading out to road.

 

We talk inside

the steam of

coffee cups

 

inside the round

chk chk chk

of summer sprinkler

 

her wedding

already a permanence

between us

 

a moon resting

on its side

 

 a rusted

bell about to sound.

_____

Sarah Ansani

Wednesday, September 1, 2010
posted by Michael Simms

Something has Happened to Me

 

and there are paths in fields to prove it.

Bent blades of grass,
monitored hills,
cracked cords of wood from trees
that ward me away with ivy.

I envy the movement
of their shadows.
The outstanding height of their leaves,
flatter than hands, they cannot even
handle the weight of veins or bone.

And when I climb alone it is the touching
of hands that I miss. The long glances
at faces, the listening of words
long after spoken. But the movements of lips
are broken against these hills.

In these fields, I have scavenged
small, articulate bones
that I wish were mine or yours.
How refined they are, picked clean,
but stained with clay. And beneath them,

I suspect some flesh must stir,
a breath be taken, blood to seep.
An eye, like a round brown stone
to look up at me.
What looks like bones for a hand
are bones for a wing.

I spread my fingers upon them,
flesh to bone,
and breathe.
_____

Athena Pappas

Wednesday, September 1, 2010
posted by Michael Simms

Rhinestone Cowboy

as sung by Glen Campbell

 

He tells me he wants to be a Rhinestone Cowboy.

He smells like stale Lucky Strikes,

the Aegean, and boatwright’s sweat,

I found this stupid ex-pat bar in a guidebook.

 

riding out on a horse

in a star-spangled rodeo.

 

Barely old enough to be his daughter,

but there’s something

about the way he calls me

baby doll. I order another round

so I don’t have to leave.

 

And nice guys get washed away

like the snow and the rain.

 

His friends laugh at him

tell him to leave me alone,

the poor americanitha.

There is something suspicious

about a girl alone in a bar with no story.

 

And a smile can hide all the pain

But you’re down when you’re ridin’ the train

 

Meanwhile, we’re in

his dingy apartment,

watching my clothes fall

off at the kitchen table.

Enough whiskey to feel

clean until the sunrise.

_____