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.
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
Charles H. Johnson
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.firstname.lastname@example.org -- 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
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.”
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 -- email@example.com -- 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 -- firstname.lastname@example.org -- lives in
Bloomfield, NJ. Her most recent collectionof poetry is
Birds of Sorrow and Joy: New and Selected Poems.
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 -- email@example.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 -- firstname.lastname@example.org -- 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 -- email@example.com -- 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 -- firstname.lastname@example.org -- 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 -- email@example.com -- 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
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. -- firstname.lastname@example.org -- 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 -- email@example.com -- is from Boynton Beach, FL, and has been published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and Poems Niederngasse.
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 -- firstname.lastname@example.org -- lives in London, England.