Poetry Lovers Are Everywhere: Winter 2005-06 Poetry Selections

They may gather in an intimate group of 20 to hear local bards at a small-town library on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Or they may bulge into a sea of 20,000 washing over the biennial Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in the autumn forests of northern New Jersey.

The venue matters little. The poets, regardless of notoriety, even less. It is the poetry — only the poetry — that is the draw.

Poetry offers friendship and familiarity. It is the ever-present present that’s acceptable everywhere.

THE GIFT

What is this urge to give
a look, a book, the quiet hours
of our lives?

To give what we can never own
to anyone who takes the time
to ask for it.

To give to get back
that part of ourselves always ignored
by others.


Charles H. Johnson
Poetry Editor
Identity Theory


ME & THE REDHEAD

A poem by Amanda Eads

In the cold virginia nights of late february
it seemed like winter was a permanent state
but despite the weather-the icy sidewalks and frozen
cheeks --
we'd walk for miles just to peruse those cozy shops
of the nearby college town and discuss
rand or joyce and bemoan
our provincial lives
we were content in our discontent
and at eighteen we loved the bookstores -- smelling
of patchouli and incense and cigars -- best
and we drank coffee and bought books
we'd sometimes finish
but mostly they'd just look damn good on our coffee
tables
and we were content     in our discontent

Now I am three thousand miles and many years
away from that town and those bookstores and know
our lives were not rustic,
just simple.  And we    well,
we were just content.

Amanda Eads – Amanda.eads@comcast.net — grew up in
rural Virginia where she earned a BA in Religious
Studies from Radford University. She and her husband
live in Dupont, WA. Her first poem will be published
in an upcoming issue of Penwomanship.

 

Winter 2005-06 Featured Poet:

Three poems by Tony Zurlo

LIFE INTERVENES

Far away you seem
Such tedious tasks intervene
A new job, a new time, a new place

This morning the eves are silent
The daily dove calls diminished
The home you began for them unfinished

Their companion is missing
The one in baggy pants and oversized shirt
And wide-brimmed cloth hat to shade the sun

Your roses sag in the Texas heat
By noon your African violets are dry
Our aging border collie paces the floor

In the afternoon the answering machine
The cable man’s incoherent mumbling
And a message from the Credit Bureau:

Dear Rescuer of Animals and Flowers
We regret to inform you that your application
For a loan for a home for your companions is denied.

In late afternoon we pass in opposite directions
I’m off to work at the same old time and place
While midnight memories of us together reassure me.


THE BENT PEOPLE

I: “Peace Be Unto You”

Across knife-edged gravel they drag
their scabs and stumps and scars,
and pull themselves crablike
along the scorched concrete to my porch
and groan: “Salamu alaikum.”


II: “Allah is the Greatest”

Blind adults prodded along
by chattering skeletons, tiny children
whose every joint and rib protrudes.
From faces, stretched tight like drum skin,
the chant: “Allahu Akbar.”


III: “If Allah Wills”

Medicine might have revived some
and raised them from the ground,
surgery might have unbent a leg or two,
with prayer a miracle might even save a few.
I whisper: "In Sha ' Allah."


IV: “May the Blessings of Allah (be upon you)”

I begin my lecture, “Why can't you . . .
we . . . ” then history intervenes.
I retrieve some coins and fling them
and turn to escape the bent people,
who cry out: “Baraka Allah.”

FAREWELL

We never tipped a pot of wine
nor wondered when the moon
first climbed the sky.
We never swam the Milky Way
to spy from the bridge of magpies.


As autumn sets, the sun
bleeds freely, and I sit
beneath shadowy pines,
recalling the night we debated
one of Li Bai's famous lines.


Into an ink-stained landscape
I slip, fog-shrouded valleys dip
between crimson mountains, and I ride
rainbows to the edge of the world
where the four winds collide.


I start in opposite directions,
split images under a stone bridge,
drifting apart on wooden rafts
seeking the unknowable, sailing
with wine cups lifted to the wind.

Tony Zurlo — libai21@comcast.net — is a writer/educator living in Arlington, Texas. He has published poetry, fiction, and essays in more than seventy journals, magazines, and anthologies including the Writers Against War, Red River Review, New Texas, di-verse-city: Founders’ Edition, Lily, Poetic Voices, and Snow Monkey. He has published nonfiction books on Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Japanese Americans, West Africa, Algeria, and Syria.

 

Winter 2005-06 Editor’s Choice:

COCKTAIL NAPKIN ("Happy Hour" at I Frarelli’s)

A poem by Madeline Tiger

   Falling into the lonely bar, rough

Soprano wannabes come down

   making an impression

of obesity against the long-

   winded gazelles, antelopes,

caribou who hoot at the tornadoes.

Quietly, incognito, you acquit yourself.

   The longer the cigarette

the shorter the life

    A long shot is a broken man

renewed (by writing) in a Hoboken dive.

   How deep the Pinot Noir

depends. Also, the Hudson. Or black

skies.

   Do all your friends have

partners-a-terre? Or summer terraces?

   Grounded you are surrounded by

flies. Closer will do no good.

   How quickly you can fill up

a cocktail napkin

    with hope or peanuts.

The owner of a pen

    license # invisible

better barricade the bar:

   Nobody intends to die for

a ticket or a renewed

subscription. What a raffle.

   Long-haired terriers covered

in raffia growl at the portal.

    All the stars are out

carousing. Ting a ling.

       You may dream of a repriev

        but the saints on board

        vote overboard and

        inundate you with

        trivial memorabilia, trinkets.

        These are the exercises of

        imagination: fingers

        stronger and stronger. The drink

        in the drink lasts longer

        than the boat at anchor. Amen.

Madeline Tiger — mtiger126@yahoo.com — lives in
Bloomfield, NJ. Her most recent collectionof poetry is
Birds of Sorrow and Joy: New and Selected Poems.

 

TROPICAL OHIO

A poem by John Hunt

Tell me, Poet,
about the cockroach,
darting from the crack
in my kitchen wall,
slipping  over  spoons,
feeding on the residue of my life.


Fifty million years of evolution
in each whirring leg,
could not, in sum,
improve upon the roach
that foraged for its meal,
in tropical, un-named Ohio.


Warm and ragged,
the land howled
as glaciers scraped her flat.


A place for my Ohio kitchen,
and another generation of roaches,
still safe in the cracks.

John Hunt — jhunt@ncsc.com — has a BA in anthropology. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.

 

"SILKWORM IN YOUR JACKET"

A poem by Azadeh Khalilizadeh

I am tired of crawling through these profitless
leaves,
Searching and finding, searching and finding,
So let’s twist and intertwine beneath
The emerald satin of this corporate vineyard,
And spin ourselves into the same cocoon.

And as you reach deadlines, budgets and other pasty
demands,
I cocoon myself to your money wall,
Then dazzle you into oblivion,
And scatter out of reach.

Azadeh Khalilizadeh — hedaza88@hotmail.com — lives in NSW Australia. She has a combined Arts/Law degree from the University of Sydney, with Honours in English Literature. She has been published in a number of high profile Australian magazines and journals, including Hermes and Tangent. Azadeh is a writer and legal editor of the Australian Legal Monthly Digest.

 

SCREAMING DOWN A WAYSIDE

A poem by KC Wilder

junkyard dogs — twisted daddies
bones heaped in art cars —

beside their own
screaming down a wayside

blasting loud obnoxious radioactive nano music
nothing else matters

KC Wilder — devonian@flash.net — lives in San Francisco, CA. He has authored five books of poetry and dozens of chapbooks, and has been published in over 100 literary journals and magazines worldwide, The Seattle Review, Poetry New Zealand, Soma Literary Review, Auckland Poetry Review, Wild Violet and The Iconoclast.

 

A GENTLE PILLOW

A poem by Ricky Garni

Sometimes I feel like I am living in the world of the
barking dog. You know that kind of world. It is like
any other world, with swing sets and treehouses and
bicycles and Hula-Hoops and ice cream trucks and
dinner bells, but right in the middle of it, next to
the children with the trembly legs, there is that dog.
He is barking and his mouth is foamy. He has eaten the
Hula-Hoop, chewed the swing to a little nub and the
ice cream man, a kind, gentle, slightly balding man,
patently refuses to come to the neighborhood anymore.

He is not mean, he is practical. I mean, the practical
ice cream man, not the dog, who is scary, and a little
phlegmatic. What else? Well, that’s about it.  Except
I miss my comic books. And I miss my Mother, the way
that she cooks meatloaf, and the way she rings the
dinner bell. We are hiding in the treehouse. We feel
sweaty and hungry. More sweaty than most children our
age. What will become of us?

I can hear Mother ringing the dinner bell. She doesn’t
know where we are. I think it is meat loaf night.
Mother, we are here. Stay where you are, don’t come
near. Or if you can, go the market and buy a rifle. A
really big one. Mother, make haste: his mouth can only
get foamier

Ricky Garni — rickygarni@earthlink.net — is a graphic designer living in North Carolina. His most recent publications can be found in Defenestration, Bullfight Review and Mipoesias.

 

LEICESTER SQUARE (after Miroslav Holub’s “Subway Station”)

A poem by Christopher Barnes

Here-and-there
they elbow bored tunnels.
With sundown chins,
hollow-eyed, they're snoringly lifelike.

Behind nine spurts of warm air
night light will be fully charged with pleasure,
a love-in of abdomens and feelers
will sneak out the bliss they crave.

Grid reference -- The Circle Line
where day jumped off.
Eastbound, eastbound, eastbound,
stuck-in-a-groove.

I clack jagged-edged jaws,
a menacing crush
as Mr. X shrugs at a late edition
-- "downcast man blows track,"
then
forty seven bring-downs step on a train.

I'm static in the chink
at the upside of a hard sell
for a shaky tickled-to-death operetta
in a pit for drones.

Christopher Barnes — d142024304@yahoo.co.uk — lives in Newcastle, United Kingdom. In 1998 he won a Northern Arts writers award. His collection LOVEBITES was published in 2005 by Chanticleer Press, 6/1 Jamaica Mews, Edinburgh. Barnes has a BBC Web page http://www.bbc.co.uk/tyne/gay/2004/05section28.shtml

 

BEFORE LETTERS

A poem by Martin Willitts Jr.

1.


before eels swam in electric waters, before

words were spoken

and salamanders sun themselves on rocks,

a man walked in the Alps

freezing and feeling his arthritis

wearing deerskin boots searching for lost sheep

in the wind that howled as hungry wolves.

Before there were written words

we trusted the information we heard

leaving those strange marks on stone

swimming with the eels in our head



2.



words are roaming loose

they fit all descriptions

they try to escape the boundaries of the page

taking with them: the odor of typewriters

the sound of spaghetti sauce

the touch of your laughter



3.



the alphabet is a bitten apple

its core already browning



words are unruly, disobedient

sticking out their rough tongues



they cluster as a distrustful crowd

following us down gloomy passages



our heart is loud and struggling

and the words do not want to listen



they pick out meaning

as the nocturnal insect of death

Martin Willitts, Jr. — mwillitts01@yahoo.com — has had poems in Rattle, Language and Culture, Octavo, Pebble Lake Review, FireWeed, Sidereality, and others. His fourth chapbook, Falling In and Out of Love, is available from Pudding House Publications.

 

“MY SERF, THE HOARDER”

A poem by Michael Powers

He wanders around late at night
sifting through trash heaps
and climbing up into Dumpsters
searching out things that failed someone;
One day it’s a lampshade,
the next it’s ceiling fan
blades.

But he’s never been able to climb into anyone’s heart
or find someone who’d put up with his own failures.

His purpose
if he has one
lies in his bones and his will
and in the hands he works with
while doing odd jobs
for anyone desperate enough to have him.

But when his health finally goes,
and his bones go too
so will his purpose
and all those fan blades he surrounded himself with
and all those television shows he watched
and those imaginary friends he made there
and that cheap entertainment
and that cheap laughter too
will still be around
but like nature,
it will all be indifferent
to his struggles
and to his decay.

And then he will die somewhere,
and then he will rot
like all the trash in all the Dumpsters
he ever combed through,
but no one will come back
no one will care enough
to ever come back
for him
or the scattered memories
he left behind.

Michael Powers — mppowers1479@msn.com — is from Boynton Beach, FL, and has been published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and Poems Niederngasse.

 

FROM SILENCE

A poem by Tom Harding

god knocked off the planets
like marbled glass
and moved on

struck with the silence
he pounded what was left
poured it into earth
and blew away nothingness with man.

still silence roared

he handed him confusion like apples
replaced arms with tools, ears with voices
and time enough to fill the universe
with its own chaos.

man knocked off god
then set about himself.

Tom Harding — tom.harding@talk21.com — lives in London, England.

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