Monday, January 19, 2015

Call for Submissions: Volume 5, Issue 1

FOR PUBLICATION CONSIDERATION IN BLAST FURNACE VOLUME 5, ISSUE  1, SLATED FOR APRIL RELEASE:

For our seventeenth issue, we are entertaining poems with the theme of mistakes, as well as fine original poetry outside of this/these theme(s). We simply ask that individual submissions do NOT exceed more than three (3) poems per poet, and that each individual poem NOT exceed more than three (3) pages.

As a reminder: we accept a few kinds of submission formats: portable document format (.pdf), rich text format (.rft) and .doc/docx (Microsoft Word) files, OR .mp3/.wav audio files.

That said...please submit your BEST poems, or, if you prefer to create an audio recording of yourself reciting your poetry, send ONLY ONE (1) file attachment of NOT MORE THAN 2 MINUTES/120 seconds in total duration to http://blastfurnace.submittable.com/Submit

Please read our Mission/Values, Submission Guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) posted near the top of our web page, before submitting to review what resonates with us. We love a variety of poetic styles, but we are also picky. 

DEADLINE: March 20, 2015, at 11:59 PM EST

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Resolute: Volume 4, Issue 4

We are tremendously grateful at Blast Furnace for four full years of receiving and publishing fine poetry from all over the globe.

Since 2010, there have been many highlights to serving as editor and publisher of this little online journal, which, because of the quality writing it receives, has begun to be recognized in the literary world as a place to submit writing that resonates with a discerning audience. Volume 4, Issue 4featuring the theme of resolutions, as well as poetry outside of that themeis no exception.

In 2015, Blast Furnace looks forward to publishing and offering its first electronic chapbook (eChapbook) of poetry, along with its first annual chapbook poetry prize winner (Stay tuned for early Spring announcements!): One will serve as a fundraiser for a local (Pittsburgh region) library, another will be the first chapbook by a fine poet who we expect will receive recognition in years to come throughout the verse community.

Additionally, we will continue to publish interviews with reputable poets and artists who move us.

To our followers, we thank you for supporting and joining us on the journey.

- R. Clever

Blast Furnace Volume 4, Issue 4


Tidal Pools

What were the high curves of your pelvis trying
to tell me then? In that seaside room before I
undressed you for the first time you warned they would be
stark and skeletal. And they cast shadow over your sex
like fall dunes gathering darkness on one side
and luminous goose skin light on the other. You lay there
in just your red socks, more girl than woman,
“Forgetting to eat lately,” you said. And if that was a place
I wondered where you had gone.

Yet in that seaside room dusk entered and all night
we lay waste to forgetting, until the next day,
dressed like old people with borrowed winter hats;
we began memory, and climbed about the deep tidal pools
where tentative brine shrimp unfurled like fiddle heads
and small lime and red colored crabs raised claws unsure
whether to defend or attack. All amongst the green
tendrils of seaweed like those wisps of hair that schooled
and rounded the corner at your ear into which I would say,

“Look at the far rock with the ocean behind it.”
And you would do the same to say,” Lets watch
the large white barnacles open and feed.”
And we found each other that day by repeating everything
we saw like children. Later my finger would trace
again down the boney divide of your pelvis;
between darkness and light; the taut skin bowl of you
like something an epic tide had exposed after a storm.

Sean Sutherland attended Duquesne University. Originally from Maine, he is currently studying with the poet Philip Schultz at The Writers Studio in New York City. His poems have appeared in the literary magazines Prick of the Spindle, and The Meadow and he directs the reading series Verbal Supply Company in Brooklyn, NY. He is a MacDowell Colony fellow, and has had plays of his produced in Maine, New York City, and Los Angeles.



Our Mathematics

Catullus sang that even the bed cried out with passion. One day
we hiked Big Sur to make the beach and three sequoias sing mad love.
How the bark loved her ass and the sand stuck fast in our crevices.
Our love’s a circuit structure: she runs away while I self-correct.
She used to wake from dreams of my unfaithfulness, then wake me
for a fight. It never happened I’d cry, half-awake and all-innocent—
upon which she’d punch my neck, then go back to sleep. I and her dream
lay there wondering which was the rhino gaffed in from the wild unreal.
I confess that though I was mad and awake to puny injustices, her violence
was spearmint, her illogic narcotic. Catullus, if the bed sang out with ecstasy,
what did the walls, the floor and the ceiling?—and the flame in the lamp
who spied on you from the corner, didn’t it tremble with delight as well?
I love her crooked teeth when she’s awake, and love her troubled sleep,
the avalanche of snores and how her eyelids flit above stormy shores.

Robert Lunday



When Your Grandfather Shows You Photographs of His Mother

You identify yourself in the antique image. Long slender neck, narrow torso, your face tipped to avoid the light. Your hands rest in the valley between your thighs sharp under yards of stiff calico. Your face long, well-sculpted by a lean diet and youth, nearly but not ascetic. Blue veins clutch the temples under translucent skin, a milky film that just contains you. In the next photograph your black dog Carlo poses at your side.

But Carlo isn't your dog. Three degrees separate you across the time dimension. You never beat a man with his horse-whip for using it on his horse, though you wish you had that sort of courage and that sort of hands-on life, or burned all the books except the family Bible, praise her lord. And yet you hold your bodies as both shields and liminal thresholds.

Because a face never reflects the same, every photo sees something else. You're your father under the red star and your mother's grandmother in the morning sun. But not your mother who is the image of her aunt. You never did let her kiss you. You see Carlo and his mistress in another photograph, and her smile is so familiar. Now the gauzy mask of your mother's face floats across her-your features. Another light source and hour. Another shift of the hologram that is you.

Luanne Castle has been a Fellow at the Center for Ideas and Society at the University of California, Riverside. She studied English and Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside; Western Michigan University; and Stanford University. Her poetry and prose have appeared in Grist, Barnstorm Journal, TAB, River Teeth, Lunch Ticket, The Review Review, Wisconsin Review, A Narrow Fellow, Redheaded Stepchild, The MacGuffin, and other journals. Luanne's first collection of poetry, Doll God, is forthcoming from Aldrich Press. An avid blogger, she can be found at luannecastle.com. She divides her time between California and Arizona, where she shares land with a herd of javelina.



Sunday Morning, Carnegie, PA

In a strangle of train tracks
and freeway and creek
placed like an armpit
under the lumpy muscle
of Pittsburgh’s shoulders

sits Carnegie and my car
and myself inside

sans traffic Sunday morning
rolling past the priceless
Honus Wagner welcome
mural of the demure-faced
Dutchman before flying
down the boulevard
by blue onion bulbs
of a Ukrainian church
cater-cornered from
the yellow sunrise diner
which driving forty
while whipping one’s head

looks like a flag halved
in tatters on a Donetsk street

where nothing blue and yellow
is certain anymore

and in the Sunoco lot
blue and yellow
from awning to gas pumps
glass all bulletproof
shielding a cashier
in a bowling shirt
blue and yellow
who thumbs through People
pink-covered with Kardashians
as I glimpse a Trib photo
of some Soviet grinning
blue-eyed by the statue

of Taras bearing
a new republic’s flag

I pay her and look
next door at the dour file
of heartbroken parishioners
blue under onion bulbs
tramping in damp slush
of West Pittsburgh winter
brown on the curb
with aching fingers
fatigued from candle-lighting

by Kuksha of Odesa
and Job of Manyava

and borrowed Saint Jude
their hands prayer-tired.

Mike Wilson is a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He works as a copy editor and hiw writing has appeared in The Good Men Project.



No One

If I cluster frail curling
peacock feathers tall
in this chipped umbrella stand
against the window, no one
can peer through the shiver.

If I tack maps to the wall
behind this threadbare chair,
no one will notice the lack
of decent furnishings.
One stool and a small fridge

will do just fine for breakfasts.
No one needs to know
how it used to be before
my pincushion heart fell
to shreds, its dry stuffing

disintegrated, blown
from one vacancy to another,
salvaging tinder barely
sufficient to warm fingers
and breath, if any remains,
to start over again.


Trompe lOeil

The local mall steals
accolades for garden ambiance,

wrought iron fern-like logo,
spacious skylit atrium,

outdoor illusion secured by
an esplanade with a sinuous path

inviting gullible pedestrians
to stroll a boulevard of lean

birch trees, pale dappled peeling
trunks whose green applause

is hung high overhead,
but the air is canned,

the sun augmented,
the trunks themselves synthetic

and the verdant leaves
mere paper,

so maybe I only imagined
I took a walk.

Dianne Silvestri lives in Natick, Massachusetts. She is author of the chapbook Necessary Sentiments published by Finishing Line Press. Her poems have appeared in Earth’s Daughters, The Comstock Review, The Pharos, The Somerville Times, Evening Street Review, Steam Ticket, Boston Literary Magazine, and Apeiron Review, as well as two anthologies. 



The Eyes of Horses

Hot wind a coarse brush
through black manes
and cut hay.

Dusk absorbs
sunset's plaited gnosis
into its deep blue wings.

What survives this season
turns its back to the sky,
rests on dark arms

and lets dry yellow stones
fall into buried deltas.

Lantern glow on wire strand and coil,

hooves plant crescents in loam
while bales, lined up at arm's length,
release their last green to starlight.

Wagon, rein and halter, sweat
crusted necks to sun-burned hands,
sky a promise of more dust, of hot yellow

light edging the shadows of five oaks.

The swing-set chains and seats
pushed by this wind

as the kitchen window becomes a beacon.

Charles Thielman Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., moved to Chicago, educated at red-bricked universities and on city streets, I have enjoyed working as a social worker, truck driver, city bus driver and enthused bookstore clerk. Married on a Kauai beach in 2011, a loving Grandfather for five free spirits, my work as Poet, Artiste and shareholder in an independent Bookstore’s collective continues! Several of my paintings and drawings are, or have been, featured in galleries and cafes. All that I perceive becomes driftwood fed to the kiln of my creativity. And not a few of my other poems have been accepted by literary journals, such as The Pedestal, Pif Magazine, SLAB, The Commonline, Gargoyle, Poetry365, The Criterion [India], Poetry Salzburg [Austria], Gangway ...and ON!



Dawn Till Dusk

6:00 am—in our kitchen bay window
strands of Heather’s golden hair in the light

she blends a fruit smoothie, walks the dogs
I am in the sea of dream

snoozing in our half-full cocoon,
my morning begs coffee—numbers crunched

in the home office—rosemary tamed in the garden,
brake tag grabbed for the car, I enjoy gym time

at dusk and this pulls up shades
on the evening, I can sense her

driving home, the wild
Atlantic salmon in tow

Beau Boudreaux teaches English in Continuing Studies at Tulane University in New Orleans. His first book collection of poetry, "Running Red, Running Redder," was published in the spring of 2012 by Cherry Grove Collections. He has published poetry in journals including Antioch Review and Cream City Review, also in anthologies along with The Southern Poetry Anthology.



Report from the Edge
For her, to be free was only to be lost.

                                                            - Wendell Barry

i

Waning gibbous, its moon belly
cradling all that was, will be.

Mercury low in the southeast
where the dim Little Dipper hangs

straight down from its nail.

Wolf moon, hunger moon,
thunder and blood. Clear crescent

in the pre-dawn sky. In stillness,

moon of the longest night
travels into the fruitful dark.

ii

Here all things are done
in earnest. The douser

puts down her hazel switch,
grateful for tree, for blind water

whose song rises up
through the earth for her.

Here pinion and arbor
join in their task.

The clock hums its one tune.
Be ready, it says—

There is no way back.

Pam Bernard is a poet, painter, editor, and an adjunct professor of creative writing at the New Hampshire Institute of Art and Franklin Pierce University. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from the Graduate Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, and AB from Harvard University in History of Art. Additionally, Pam received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Creative Writing, two Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowships in Poetry, a MacDowell Fellowship, and the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. TriQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, Salamander, Nimrod, and Marlboro Review are among the journals in which her work has been published. Of three, full-length collections, her most recent was entitled Blood Garden: An Elegy for Raymond, published by Turning Point editions. A novel-in-verse, entitled Esther, is forthcoming from Cavan Kerry Press.



To a poet grieving for Central America

You didn’t have to go
so far south to farm for war, fish
for victims. Every urban scape in this land,
yours and mine, holds those same
remains, the severed parts
of ourselves.
Those who hold the club
may appear ‘kinder, gentler’; they keep
their victims’ ears in their pockets
and eat only sirloin
with their serrated knives.
But the wine they sip
is as red. It numbs
the tongue.

We don’t stain the gun
with our prints. We let them
do it to each other, call them
depraved. We keep our gloves clean
as the don of any family. We keep away
from the undersides of cities, direct
our waste management firms
to scoop up the deranged
with the drunks, hear their
empty shells clank down the street
and out of sight.

It is easier to cry out
In any other language.

Patricia Brooks is a former Managing and Fiction Editor of Northwest Review, has published two novels, and fiction and poetry in a variety of print and on-line journals in the past. After years spent writing a four-book series of historical novels (now in search of a publisher), she has just started sending out work again.



The Moon Rots and Splits

We sleep under the pitted light, tucking our knees
into loose flesh, our fingers threaded into cider dark.

The lake at our door flattens, presses its weight
to the bottom and the only movement is mine

and not mine, my unborn daughter kicking against me,
tapping a language I cannot translate.

My body’s lexicon no longer concerns me,
my only task is to wait and do no harm.

She flips, tests her new limbs against my walls
and I will myself, don’t bleed, don’t bleed, don’t bleed.

This isn’t spring, this is autumn. These are not days
to count or squander. No fires burn in our neighbors’ yards,

but late wind carries smoke, hints at unseen damage.
November waits with yellow hands. I taste the moon,

bitter like medicine. Bitter and alive.

Maggie Bailey has poems published or forthcoming in The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume V: Georgia, Tar River, Slipstream, and elsewhere. My review of Jane Hirshfield’s “Come, Thief” is available now in Flycatcher, and Switchback recently nominated her poem, “Topography,” for a Pushcart Prize. Maggie is currently engaged in a five-summer MFA program at Sewanee, the University of the South, and during the year she teaches high school English in Atlanta, Georgia.



Wind in My Clothes

Just when I’m afraid
Life is getting dull and pinched
The wind shakes my clothes fresh.
Best to put everything on the line
In this little yard that’s not even mine.
Autumn’s angle sun kisses warm
Sycamore leaves tacking their way
To the burying ground.
Juncos tiny voices admonish
That my worries are awfully loud
For someone who knows
Where she’ll eat and sleep tonight.

Jenny McBride's poetry has appeared in Lummox, The California Quarterly, Green Social Thought, the Prairie Light Review, and other journals. She has also published fiction.



Carrot

The pain is there, a less than subtle reminder
of alleged progress against time itself. Measure
what can be tolerated against desired results.
That end seems so very far away, a pinhead on
a distant horizon, a future promise without guarantee.
It’s an issue of discipline, a commitment to task.
Forge ahead, seeking that eventual reward, that
primrose garden of earthly delights, that mythical
golden ring, that beaming confidence revealing all
through gesture alone. Try and ignore the anguish
of now, the inchoate idea, focus instead on that
hopeful morrow, that smiling haven where hearth and health
burn as one, that day of cherished goal attained, the instant
when all this drawn-out agony proves worthwhile.

Gary Glauber is a poet, fiction writer, teacher, and former music journalist. His works have received multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. In 2013, he took part in Found Poetry Review's Pulitzer Remix Project. He champions the underdog to the melodic rhythms of obscure power pop. New work is forthcoming in 3 Elements Review, Fine Flu Journal, Brickplight, Stone Path Review, Stoneboat Journal, The Bicycle Review, Foliate Oak, Poetry Quarterly, and Think Journal. His collection, Small Consolations, is coming from The Aldrich Press in 2015.



Your love is a meal we share

Your love is meal we share, stopping as events blink by.
We are waiting trains, rushing travelers hop in and out.
Time slows, a luminous animal patrolling the depths.
We visit the bubble of an artisan polishing a vase.
Sitting down, transfixed by a moment of white jade,
We recall lolling on the sand as the outstretched arm
Of a comet flashed our future across a sable sky.
You sip my glass of wine, swirling it toward your lips.
I scoop toward you heaps of fresh rice steaming fragrant clouds.
We gaze at many dishes, teeming fields quilting a fertile valley.

Gonzalinho da Costa is the pen name of Joseph I. B. Gonzales, Ph.D. He teaches Methods of Research in Management, and Managerial Statistics at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business, Makati City, Philippines. He is a management research and communication consultant, and Managing Director of Technikos Consulting, Inc. A lover of world literature, he has completed three humanities degrees and writes poetry as a hobby.



Cant Mix the Sun with the Earth

Mashing boiled apples with peaches, he says
there's no better way to mix the sun
with the earth. This baked dough boy, sugar
falls in lumps from his body to the floor

as he shuffles around, gathering spices,
mixing basins, wires, ingredients of comfort.
He sings, "an apple pie without cheese
is like a kiss without a squeeze" and suddenly,

I know he’s right, and every other hot oven 
has been baking all wrong, all these years, 
the same way painters can't mix acrylics
with tin foil to get the orange, the taupe

just right. The same way relocating
to Florida has never really cured anyone
of melancholia or hysteria, Barry's Florida Water
bottles broken all along the coquina streets.

The advertisements said this state cures land-
locked syndrome, but there's actually nothing
worse for you, standing on a clinging shore,
afraid to get your blouse wet, afraid

of the heaviness of the cloth, the truth of it's salt:
there is nowhere else to go without a paddle.
There's only a path of sunken footprints you 
came from, soft cupped hands, not feet,

so you follow them in reverse, although nothing 
else is also in reverse. Unfortunate paths, this
must have been what drove Joe Bolton, sinking 
down, crusted fingers, smell of salt stuck to every

thing, dried out veins, constant sting of open 
wounds, growing entrapment. Sulfur water
can only cleanse black water back to black, 
can cure longing for nutmeg, or any wish to escape

sink holes, they are a common feature of the landscape 
with lost villas, cars, and bodies included. There's only
the humid balloon in the sky, it hovers the haunted 
Atlantic breezes, can't carry me, can’t carry Joe away.

Kristiane Weeks is a Hoosier with a passion for the arts. She’s dabbled in all writing forms, but poetry and creative non-fiction are her niches. Currently an MA student studying Creative Writing at Indiana University in South Bend, she received her BA from Flagler College in St. Augustine.




A Suit

Time absolutely for a new one.
Aromatic wool, silk to the skin.
No plaid, no checks or stripes, God no.
Mute black, with a soft sheen
only in the fold and sway
of its cool luxury.

Handsome for the podium,
the important banquet table,
for terse but sensitive tributes
and sendoffs, ceremonious good-byes.
A seemly addition to a group
gathered by grief, shadowed
by grief, touching or holding it.
A hedge against the airless horrors
of such doings if I’m lucky.

The fit of a suit hangs
on the lay of the shoulders.
I’m ready. I’ll stand up
to the clerk’s best blandishments,
strong with the foresight
of its borrowed dignity.
I’ll know it by its feel.

Next the hard tests of use.
The threat, for one, of faltering
newness, an ally’s slow defection:
barrier, buffer, friend until,
worn by the ways of habit,
it loses the life all its own.

David Hathwell is a former English teacher living and writing in the Bay Area. He has degrees in English, from Stanford and Columbia, as well as an advanced degree in music theory, from CUNY, and is now a piano student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. His work has appeared, or will appear, in The MacGuffin, Cider Press Review, Driftwood Press, Slant, Measure, Raintown Review, Angle, and Cordite Poetry Review, among other journals.



Mistakes

Mistakes are fire and ice, ice and river—
What the sages say about burn and winter.
I'm unable to do over or find shelter.

I will expire with regrets whenever
My life blows up in a stained-glass shatter,
Shards of color broken, never

To be repaired. What's lost, I haven't found.
I have erred
Repeatedly, lacerated

My skin with the sharpened
Edges of my own tongue's words,
The frozen roughness loosened

By a torrent beneath until it splits.
Sad, to wish not to have said this
Or that, wish to pull back the dark flag passing between lips,

Not unstoppable, just let slip.
Tell me again the tale of no forgiveness. It's
Hard ground, the meager comfort of precise breaks.

Jayne Marek’s poetry has appeared in publications such as Lantern Journal, Siren, Spillway, Driftwood Bay, Tipton Poetry Journal, Isthmus, The Occasional Reader, Wisconsin Academy Review, and Windless Orchard and in several anthologies. In 2013, Finishing Line Press published her first chapbook, “Imposition of Form on the Natural World,” and Chatter House Press brought out a book of poems she co-authored with two other poets—“Company of Women: New and Selected Poems.” She has always published fiction, plays, and academic articles.



Deleted Scene from “Good Country People
After Flannery O’Connor

She is a block of hay, like
            Sleeping Beauty in reverse,
like Waking Ugly, she has taken
            gold and spun it into straw.

She has time to remember
            while her mother searches,
makes frantic phone calls,
            calls Joy! Joy! and finally Hulga

which makes Hulga want to run
            and put a finger to those thin lips,
makes her forget that she cannot run
            or stand or even speak

because she is too busy remembering
            the tale of Sleeping Beauty
and despite the sounds that reach her now
            she believes the farm is all asleep,

all under a curse that fell
            like a light snow.
She has time to remember the story
            wasn’t Sleeping Beauty at all

but Rumpelstiltskin, with the miller’s daughter
           caught between her father’s bragging
and some strange man’s desire for
            a living being to call his own—

the poor girl            little more
            than a pretty womb.
Hulga is a block of hay beneath snow.
If an angel comes, she does not know.


Because She Wanted

Because she wanted to be closer
to God she took off all of her clothes.
She unnamed them as they came off
God like water all over the drowning
Over and over and over God
but under too deep under everything
stays under except God+ God. One nation
under Hulga. Nation like a fist
in the small of her back
That was years ago is how now felt then
Now covering her body at last.

Rita Mae Reese grew up in West Virginia and is a big fan of Flannery O'Connor, who also believed that place was paramount. She is a recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a Stegner fellowship in fiction, a “Discovery”/The Nation award, and a Pamaunok Poetry Prize, among other awards. Her first book, “The Alphabet Conspiracy,” is available from Arktoi Books. An animated video of the title poem was created by Flavor to showcase at the Association of Independent Commercial Producers Midwest Trade Show and can be viewed on her website at http://www.ritamaereese.com.



Rites of Passage

Catholics have transubstantiation
but Protestants have fathers
who only appear at nighttime
to brush our foreheads,
then one day when you’re five or seven
you bump into him in the hallway
like a tall wisp of smoke.

I first saw my father in the daylight
when I got up to deliver the newspapers
on our street.
I trudged downstairs, half-awake,
and found him in the kitchen
eating a bowl of Cheerios.

I wasn’t good at waking up early,
a prerequisite for my job,
so the papers were often late.
Yet seeing Dad with the sports section
like a unicorn in a sudden clearing
made it seem worthwhile.

He looked up and smiled.
The room smelled of aftershave
like a priestly incense.
He offered words of encouragement
then drove off in his Cutlass Supreme
as I slogged through the snow.

I absorbed the hyperbolic font
of headlines
as I tossed papers from my sack.
The sink filled with gray water
as I washed up before school. 
I felt like a spring
in the machine of the world.

Lee Chilcote's poetry has been published in Paddlefish, Icon, Tributaries, Great Lakes Review, Oyez Review, Steam Ticket, Conclave, Blueline (forthcoming) and other publications. His nonfiction has been published in Out of Line, Muse, Riverwind, Whiskey Island, Belt and the books "Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology and Cleveland in Prose and Poetry." Additionally, Lee's freelance journalism has been published by Agence France Press, Yahoo.com, Land and People, Home Energy, hiVelocity, Cleveland Magazine, Fresh Water Cleveland, Cleveland Free Times, Cleveland Scene, Rails to Trails, Journal of Light Construction, Rust Wire, Crain’s Cleveland Business and other publications. He completed an MA in English and Creative Nonfiction Writing from Cleveland State University in 2002, where he was awarded the Leonard Trawick Creative Writing Prize for nonfiction writing. My poem “Another Country” was also selected as a Runner-Up in the 2010 “Poetry in the Garden” contest sponsored by Case Western Reserve University. Recently, Lee was selected as second place winner of the 2014 Lakeland Community College poetry contest and a finalist in the Best Cleveland Poem contest. He was also recently chosen to participate in the 2014 Ekphrastasy project, a program of the nonprofit group Heights Arts in which poets craft verse in response to artwork.



Ite, Missa Est
 
The barest scent of berries,
morning twilight past and broken
into first shafts slight on these
mulberry leaves spotted and starting to fall,
but I answer as if to a person, as if
the hint of fruit and rot told something urgent,
dangerous to leave undone. Yes,
I know, I whisper to it, impulsive, a sibling
whisper, 
                as when my sisters said they’d
found that year’s stash of presents
in the old metal cupboard. That, perhaps,
we were meant to find, the keeping
of secrets and surprises by then
deemed so out of the way
that gifts were left in the most
obvious place, unintentional, as if
we’d been given up on so long ago
that even the wanting of a surprise,
much less the needing, made little difference
to the ones who could give it.
     I’m thrilled
to hear from this mulberry scent, though,
that the spotted leaves spoke to me after days
not hearing a soul. And I say Yes again,
but now the yes is rehearsed, I hear the word
in the same way I heard our last leave-taking
in the wake of the waste that follows
every holy greeting.
                That afternoon I took
a potato chip from the small bag you’d opened
and placed in the center of the table, one
perfectly round chip, though I don’t
eat potato chips much anymore, and raised
the salt and oil to my lips. These days,
they say community is the main thing,
the real missa, but it was your body, your
blood I was after—and after all, I didn’t take
them while you were there, I didn’t let you know
you’d fed me.
     It was worse, in some ways,
than answering the scent of invisible fruit,
though I tried later to greet you just that way,
with little success. And, you know, 
I’ve kept some secrets for no reason at all,
to have them to roll around in my mouth
and mind, to feed the rattling that seeks
a perfect word, but still, here
I answer trees, at stake only the pull of losing myself
 in a period like this. I think, yes, I’ll go—
or stay, or give delighted speech to a tree.
 
Adrian Gibbons Koesters' first volume of poems, "Many Parishes," was published in 2013 by BrickHouse Books. She is currently a fiction editor at A River and Sound Review, and lives in Omaha, Nebraska.