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.

 

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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.

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