The Best Time of Year: Spring 2006 Poetry Selections


Editor’s Choice poem "The Accident" by Abigail George reminds us of the underlying theme concerning the arrival of spring. Her lines offer hope even in the wake of a tragedy trumpeting the death of a young accident victim.

"In life — I have discovered

The only solution for a broken heart is

To fall in love again and that it is only through

A news bulletin that our own empathy becomes visible."

Something else just as uplifting as springtime and its thoughts of love becomes visible in April, when National Poetry Month is celebrated in the United States.

A "news bulletin" plays no part in the expressions of love, empathy and compassion. Rather, poetry reigns for a month, and readers can dance to its music knowing that one-twelfth of the year promises not to break their hearts.

What a wonderful time to be in love.

Charles H. Johnson
Poetry Editor

 

VINCENT DREAMS

A poem by Marc Cianni

As I reach for a sip of tea from unfamiliar porcelain,

A slideshow projects onto the backdrop of my weathered
mind.

Images unravel one after the other
To create the episodes that earned me my aluminium
throne.

Marigolds, her chin, the view from the cottage.

I had talent, comeliness and sabre-toothed dreams.
I had a belt with “Vince” on the buckle
Warning others that I was a big deal.

Breakups, morning breath, crosswalk tragedies.

Emptiness used to be a friend of mine.
Now it picks at my layers in mobs of invisible
vultures,
Snacking mostly on dreams that I tossed to the side.

Sonatas, cocktail waitresses, running upstairs.

I am content to watch my seeping tea laze in its
saucer,
While steam rises into shapes of consequential
nothings.
I drift into frequencies unknown
And my gaze seems worthwhile.

Marc Cianni — cianni@bluewin.ch — lives in Geneva, Switzerland, was born in Canada where he attended a French high school for the performing arts, majoring in theater and music. He earned a BAA in Information Management from Ryerson University in Toronto. He is a member of the Geneva Writer’s Group.

 

A DAY BUSY WITH INDECISION

A poem by Derek Pollard

The comb, the toothpaste, the hand
Mirror, all in dim, watery light

This is our life together

Cigar smoke, blue as the bicycles
We rode through Tucson
Heavy as the sangria Gregor made

Today the raspberries are little
Brown pods waiting for rain
And the rain streaks the sky
To the east like hammered tin

It is cold in this place, and my jeans
Chaff the skin of my thighs

The fruit is a dream we hold to
Small, and new, and alive to us

The rain moves over Kalamazoo
Startlingly warm, bringing
With it a pair of robins that dart
Between the oaks and the sudden
Greenness

This is our life together
Quiet, and aimless, and full

Derek Pollard – Derek@photocolleen.com — lives in New Jersey and is an associate editor at New Issues Poetry & Prose and a contributing editor at Barrow Street. He has poems and reviews appearing or forthcoming in Ambit (UK), Caketrain, Colorado Review, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, Diagram, Hawai’i Review, iota (UK), Pleiades, PoetLore, Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West, Shade, and Zone 3.

 

The following three poems come from our featured poet, L. Ward Abel…

A JANIST RESOLVED

There are lady bugs

all in this house.  Every time

that I feel like swatting or

crushing one as it lands

on a sill, or countertop,

or coffee cup, I am halted

by thoughts of

the Virgin Mary, Our Lady

of the Piedmont, whose

presence

disperses all spectres

that huddle on my lawn

in eternal

twilight, not to be confused

with the ancestors

that take forms, that

watch over me, wearing

the same orange

veils.  I dare not

stain

my walls with their broken carotene.

I think it would be

baddamned luck.

 

ANXIETY INSTANTER

“Naked again,” someone whispers.

I look down at myself, and

of course I am. I am

awakened from sleep with the taste

of blood in my mouth,

with a very real feeling that something

is about to happen.

Half-lit, the room is reluctant

to give away time of day.  My features

dim at the prospect of night.

A night without me.

 


MEMORY AND ARCHITECTURE

Scar tissue,

it speaks many languages

like the truth,

is always there when morning comes.

I stand in the dining room

early,

through windows

the rise in the east shoots

the grove, my eyes

blink but adjust.  It is all there

in what has fallen

from oaks:

I’ve seen

pictures of fossilized leaves,

they retain a memory

but have gone away somehow.

L. Ward Abel — wabel@ldcp.net — lives in rural Georgia and is a life-long poet, composer of music and spoken-word performer. He has been widely published in poetry journals in America and Europe, including Texas Poetry Journal, Open Wide, The Pedestal, White Pelican Review, Versal, others, and presently performs and records with his band Abel, Rawls and Hayes. His chapbook, Peach Box and Verge, has been published by Little Poem Press. His new book of poems, Jonesing For Byzantium, will be published this year at UK Authors Press (Bristol, UK). Website:
www.universecanoe.com.


Editor’s Choice:


THE ACCIDENT

A poem by Abigail George

There has been a death

A drowning in a river

A crowd has gathered to pay their respects

Emergency services are doing an effortless, bold
drawing

Of printing a memory and identity

On the child’s body.

Circling, signalling and issuing warnings

that this is what will happen to you in life

this is what will happen to you

If you cease to pay attention.

Your forehead will cease

To bulge in concentration

There will no longer be

A glimmer of a smile regarded

As shyness or wariness

Towards the kindness of strangers

Your soul will be invisible

Your body: a sum of parts.

My heart takes flight.



The rubbish heaped at the water’s edge -

Elegant waste nonetheless there is a

Purity about the shape of the child’s head

Dirt under the fingernails is proof of evidence

Leaves and grass scribble randomly on the surface

Dust settles in the remainder of shadows, nooks and
crannies –

A shower giving rise to a flutter of a thousand things


They could not find your shoes, little one

The young mother was cradled

By the arms of other young mothers and

Other residents of the community

In love, who is king and who is the slave?

How many times in a day

Does this role reversal take place?

In life – I have discovered

The only solution for a broken heart is

To fall in love again and that it is only through

A news bulletin that our own empathy becomes visible.

Abigail George — ambrose@agnet.co.za — lives in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. She has had poetry published in Upbeat, Tribute, Sun Belly Press, New Contrast, Echoes Literary Journal and Carapace.

 

DAY 13, 622

A poem by Rosemarie S. Sprouls

Sit,
eat:
grind,
swallow.

Eat,
grunt.
Swallow
water.

“Grunt.”
Feed,
water.
Muck

feed.
Breath
muck;
sneeze.

Breath
dust;
sneeze.
Wipe

dust,
mold;
wipe
face.

Mold
smile;
face
sleep.

Smile.
Sigh.
Sleep:
snore.

Sigh:
grind.
Snort,
sit...... eat.....grind.....swallow.

Rosemarie S. Sprouls – kevinsprouls.comcast.net – is an adjunct English instructor at Richard Stockton College in New Jersey and a Celtic harpist. She has an MFA in poetry from Brooklyn College. Her poetry has appeared in Stockpot, Rewrites, Lunch, Muse Pie, The Little Magazine, Lips,and Junction.

 

THREE HAIKU

By Mathew Spano

empty stringers—
the old man pulls a rainbow
out of the fog
lightning strike—
the ancient cherry blossoms
again slowly
harvest moon
on the old man's blueprint
final arc

Mathew V. Spano – matandsteph@yahoo.com — teaches World Literature and Mythology in Literature at Middlesex County College in Edison, N.J. He earned his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. His poems have appeared in the leading haiku journals Modern Haiku and Frogpond. His poems have also been published in Cicada, The Piedmont Literary Review, Solares Hill, and Nor’Easter. His poems were selected for inclusion in an upcoming international anthology of baseball haiku to be published by W.W. Norton and Co. in 2006.

 

A VERY SORT OF DAY

A poem by Christopher Mulrooney

the most wanted poster
in the entire post office
is the one that says you
are an entire food supply
an acre of bottomland
the tide has covered over

in the Springtime well the
discourses are held at the
seminars and the briefings
in various offices you can
listen in on all that
if you are of a mind to

the lectures in common halls
and television studios and
book chat and wonderment
all over the radio flogging
this and that substantial
alternative product line

he hears over the hedge
and profits in all this
who hasn't a dime worth of clue
beyond the common wording of
Troy and the discourse of
sea lanes in the Middle Earth

and you may say what you like
subject to these considerations
and others unnamed as well
barring an effort at attention
it doesn't play well if it plays
and if so it's just playing

Christopher Mulrooney –christophermulrooney@yahoo.com — lives in Los Angeles, Calif., and has written poems and translations in The Tiny, The Blind Man’s Rainbow, Indefinite Space and Eclipse, criticism in Pyramid, The Film Journal and Parameter, and a volume of verse, notebook and sheaves (AmErica House, 2002).

 

DARK SALT

A poem by Lynn Strongin

Blake’s Jove
wielding his compass    mane flowing, a lion.

There’s a new strange bird on the porch.
Dark salt stands around.

Magnetic “healing” words on the fridge.

We have corruptible prayers
incorruptible ones:
Some tarnish like silver salt cellars:
Sodium darkens          a pillar rising in the
half-light.

A valentine shaped magnifier on the bureau of old oak.

A soldier in my dream strikes a matchflame on a
mannequin’s hip.
Parallel train tracks in London mesmerize me:
Was I a train-spotter in a former incarnation?

Lynn Strongin – yosunt@shaw.ca — was born in New York City, grew up there and in parts of the South, and now lives in Victoria, British Columbia. Poet and editor for The Sorrow Psalms and guest reviewer for New Works Review, she has published nine books of poems, has work in more than 30 anthologies and 55 on-line and print journals. Her anthology The Sorrow Psalms: A Book of Twentieth Century Elegy will be published by the University of Iowa Press in the spring of 2006. Her work was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

 

FOURTEEN INNOCENTS

A poem by Kenneth Slaathaug

Fourteen innocents sit before Big Brother
Fighting the illiteracy, unlike father or mother
Sitting in the pokey for selling the meth
Or drowning slowly in an alcoholic death
One youngster can't see the screen before his eyes
Some of the others almost wanted to cry
They click the mouse, place in the right word
Sadly, they may not distinguish between a noun and a
verb
Nobody finished that long-winded assessment
It just proved that they were deep in the basement
Poverty and history have hindered them from the start
Here come the teachers with the gigantic hearts
There, time after time, helping the students increase
their skills
Not in the number of TV hours or video game kills
Human interaction is what children crave the most
Yet, some of them might end up making coffee and toast
The session suddenly ends, the playing field still
skewed
But the spark of learning in somebody may be renewed
The student empowered to strike out on their own
Another soul saved, not another loss to bemoan
There's enough sob stories to mix up a witches' brew
But, somebody succeeding is a rarity out on Highway 22

Kenneth Slaathaug – kenneth.slaathaug@sendit.nodak.edu — is a math teacher who lives and works on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in west-central North Dakota. He has poetry posted at Poetry.com.

 

BEACHHEADS

A poem by Gladys Goldberg

 1.
            Relentless moon --
                                           as if a
siege
                                           a smacking
glare

            will not spare the ocean
                                           water's
catapulting rush

            toward the British beachhead
                                           like a
chauvinist froth

                                           Time soon
will wrap
                                           the new
moon

            in the continent's cap

                                           Strange
armada brewing
                                           Dunkirk -
dinghies not destroyers

            the pall of night
                                           then
orange light spitting
                                           as mortar
fire cuts dinosaur bites

            in the retreating swarms

                               2.         Stars in
June's high darkness

            that witness
                                           the
countdown
                                           when war
dressed men

            in helmeted fear
                                           hauling
them in barges
                                           to a
French coast misted
                                           in
artillery's

            flak and smoke --
                                           scud of
the beachhead
                                           at
Normandy                the climb
                                           the bloody
waves

                                           Later it
was said like

            an anti-climax:
                                           death
drove away the moon

Gladys Goldberg’ – Ggold01@aol.com — has had work appear in Paterson Literary Review, Laurel Review, the new renaissance, and the anthology, Poetic Reflections of Monmouth County, among others.

 

RIVER GLASS

A poem by Janet K. Brennan

Tables lean left
Cobblestones, unforgiving
at café Michelle
Le Pont Neuf, gently lit
reflects
as river glass on the Seine

Beaujolais tips the edge
Spilling red on white linen

~~~They are here
Each night, the same
Elicit kisses, embraces secret
Perfume bold
Mixed with passion’ breath
Her leg slips over his
Bare breasts catch each heartbeat
He gently removes a leaf
from her tangled hair
They glance
Sweet intrusion, my soul lonely
as I raise my goblet
 In pregnant salute

Janet K. Brennan – jbstillwater@yahoo.com — is a writer and poet who lives in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, N.M., with her husband, Arthur and a great gray cat named Amos. Her short stories and poetry have been published around the world. Most recently, “Taj Mahal Review,” December, 2004, and June, 2005. She attended the University of New Hampshire, Hesser Business College and has a legal certification from the University of New Mexico. She is currently working on her laureate in poetry.

 

THE COST OF SILENCE

A poem by Juanita Torrence-Thompson

Is the game of cat and mouse
or one-upmanship worth
the cost of human life?

What if you'd thought that by keeping
mum about the presence of Al Qaida terrorists
here before 9/11 it could've snuffed out your spouse,
children, your extended family and friends?

What if you'd deigned to consider the obvious
-- that our oceans can't protect us
forever? It's the law of averages.

What if you'd read Nostradamus and his
predictions or been less cavalier
about the invulnerability of America?

If you'd simply used common sense
and put 2 and 2 together
and been less territorial, perhaps arrests

could have been made then and maybe, just maybe
nearly 3,000 souls would have gone home
on 9/11 to have dinner with their loved ones.

Juanita Torrence-Thompson — poetrytown@earthlink.net — is editor/publisher of MOBIUS:THE POETRY MAGAZINE. She writes newspaper poetry columns in New York and Massachusetts. Her poetry collections include Celebrating a Tapestry of Life, Spanning the Years and Wings Span to Eternity.

 

THE INTELLECT CAN ONLY TALK ABOUT WISDOM

A poem by Katy Lederer

You have never shed leaves, but you leave.

You are treelike, a long-deranged stump, you grow
giant.

Your arms splayed,

Your arrow-sharp head in the God-hole.

In your thick trunk a pump.

Your tongue spitless, your millions of follicle eyes

Glaring barren and useless.

You are spiteful in sunlight,

While at night, in the profligate face of the moon,
you bask cold and majestic,

Your silhouette cracking the sky.

I wonder if you know of pain.

O Svelte One, without you, what this terrible sun

Beaming plentifully over the world!

Katy Lederer — katylederer@gmail.com — is the author of the poetry collection Winter Sex (Verse Press, 2002) and the memoir Poker Face: A Girlhood Among Gamblers (Crown, 2003). She currently lives in Manhattan, where she works for a quantitative trading firm.

 

(untitled) [1]

A poem by Judson Hamilton

I will build a boat in Lodz
And we’ll sail up the Odra to Gdansk
Where I will settle down to learning
The craft of ship building
Up to my ankles in wood shavings staring out at the
Baltic

While at night I will carouse with the locals
Learning sea shanties
In a foreign tongue
While you make various hearty stews with a wooden
ladle and the
entrails of
As-yet-unamed sea crustaceans

After a score of months we’ll set sail for a small
village in the far
north
of Norway
Just beyond the cusp of the Arctic Circle
Where I will have procured a post at the local
secondary school
As a teacher of
Geometry and woodshop

I’ll continue to hone my craft on weekends
Learning from people with names like
Thor and Sigmund

While you,
In our houseboat, on an ice floe
In too-large-mittens
Will stir the makings of a celebratory regal cake
In a confectionist’s bowl
(Icy steam issuing from your mouth in bursts)
an annual two-tiered cake
to mark the king’s birth
bigger each year
and oh so majestic

Judson Hamilton — be_mightee@hotmail.com — was born in Texas. He lived in Montpellier. He then lived in Seattle. He now lives in Wroclaw, Poland.

 

MUSCADINE

A poem by Andrea N. Richesin

For my sister, Wendy Richesin-Dodd

My great Aunt Vandetta fondly recalls a late

summer memory of my baby sister and her muscadine

the low crackle and gravel of her voice as she

recounts tears of mirth stream down her face

each time mispronouncing “muscadine” with an “m”
instead

of an “n” like the coin: a musca-dime



My sister crouches low over the galvanized bucket

fierce and focused, her breath slow with concentration

little drops of moisture form on her downy upper lip

in the sunlight, a split-rail fence supports her
haunches



Heat hums like a hive as she delicately  unfurls

her palm, delighted by her ability and the lurid

purply green sheen of its flesh. Then tracing

its smooth surface with index finger, she savagely

bites until juice squirts on her pinafore, pours down

her face and hands, and races to form trails of

tears on her dusty legs to snodgrass below.



My great grandmother’s backyard becomes our

whole world to explore- its rose hip, honey-suckled

air alive with heat, birdcall, and rain.

Andrea N. Richesin — nrichesin@comcast.net — is editor of the anthology The May Queen (Tarcher/2006). She has worked for Thomson Publishing in London, the technology business magazine, Red Herring, and the George Lucas Educational Foundation’s magazine Edutopia. She has also been a tutor with the Marin Literacy Program for the past four years. A native of Maryville, Tenn., Andrea lives with her husband and daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Posted in PoetryBookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.