Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Blast Furnace Volume 2, Issue 2

Window of Opportunity

Monday morning on the Patuxent River: a few boats go out
in advance of rain. School's back in. Clouds.
So the pool's as private as an estate
on St. Leonard's Creek.
An elderly matron does laps, orders a chicken salad sandwich
without the bread and leaves.
A woman with veined legs holds the hand of a child
in Botticelli ringlets and ancient smile, an angel
unaware of what time it is or how much remains.
I look at my watch and, feeling the day in its long creep
from wakefulness to sleep, yawn in my book.

Two days already lost, we listen for clues,
watch other sailors and motor-boaters gather at the pool bar
in debate: which day is the best day,
when will the threatening front stall over the Bay,
and when will the remains of a tropical storm
kick up the fetch and make a trip north to Baltimore
all but impossible? Who knows?

On the third morning we leave our snug port behind
and bash our noses nine hours on a guess.
Twenty knots of northern blow and three-foot seas
I can hear the ospreys laughing overhead.
Six hours in, the waves off Holland Point
lie down at last like baying dogs; everyone's exhausted.
That night we're rolling with the waves in our kitchen.

Out on the water, there's very little done right or wrong,
and not much information.
There's no window of opportunity on a long voyage home.
In August, the next day is always the best
for a house-bound sailor watching the burned grass turn green
and a faint breeze shake the lawn.

Not the Last Summer

Dusk on the Bay, the summer awe
of microscopic change

has aged me. The first pair of swans
not the same, the first trio

of green-headed ducks
strangers. My thoughts disguise me

from myself. I watch the sun walk in
from behind the clouds,

its pink legs sinking slowly
until the inverted bowl of sky bells

the sea’s horizon with beauty.
Little wonder I never stop

watching the evening star
(not even a star), fold itself up

at twilight, resplendent
in its failed argument with the sun

but night falling (rather has fell),
makes me nostalgic before my trip

is really done, me unhanded at last
by an egret standing on a branch.


Opening Day in Baltimore, the first day of Spring:
white blossoms bloom in the Bradford pears,
the vaginal leaves hum, your wound is luminous.

If it rains men must lay a black sparkling tarp
over the earth and hold back the start a few hours
but the game will be played.

Beneath this plastic carpet life still buds
green and frantic; and high above, harbor gulls
swoop over the park as balloons fly up and shake

in the thunderous salute of navy jets
and forty thousand pairs of feet stamping our applause.
We're joined in singing the words of an anthem

written three miles down the Patapsco,
well past Fort McHenry; we loudly embellish the O.
A ball is thrown, a batter swings.

Michael Salcman is a physician and teacher of art history. He was chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland and president of the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore. His recent poems appear in Alaska Quarterly Review, Hopkins Review, New Letters, Notre Dame Review, Ontario Review, and New York Quarterly. Michael is also the author of two collections: The Clock Made of Confetti (Orchises), nominated for The Poet’s Prize, and The Enemy of Good Is Better (Orchises, 2011). His anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors and diseases is forthcoming (Persea).

Ready Position

The infield, finite but unpredictable
as our destination (it calls
the hops), dusts nostalgically across
my cleats, a crater-faced stranger
grown close. There’s no feeling
in a moment of fielding, only
a reflex, & I recall being fifteen
on this very ballfield, thinking then
that I was in love with some girl
& I could predict the hit of the pitch.
Are we still so naïve? I’ve archived
each & every replay—even
the five-holers, the airmails—but
there’s no reason to consider them all
when we survey what’s ahead,
the excuse to sweat, accept our
imperfections, submit to dirt & heart & mitt.
KG Newman is a senior at Arizona State University (ASU), where he is double-majoring in Journalism and English. As a sports writer for The State Press, as well as AZ Front Row Magazine, he covers ASU athletics and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Born in 1990 in Centennial, Colorado, he’s inspired to write by the game of baseball, girls pulling at his heartstrings, and the endless minutiae of life. Since his childhood dream of becoming a big-league ballplayer has long evaporated, KG now plans on peddling poems and articles for the rest of his life. Read more of his work at www.kinggriffeypoetry.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter@KG_Newms.

Dylan's First Triple

Now that he's old enough to turn the corner and look
for the third base coach's sign and use phrases like blooper 
and shot to the gap, our conversations grow thick
like outfield grass. Yesterday, he hit his first triple:
a roller to the fence, past the dip in the outfield
and he is confident it was a stand-up triple. Because
he grows so much each time I see him, it becomes easier
to imagine him sliding head first or turning two,
his hair trimmed short under his Patriots cap,
his softly-drawled voice getting stiffer and more assured.

I still have that one photo of him somewhere: 
blonde curls gliding gracefully from his pale skull, 
wearing a bright smile and a tie-dye covered 
in dancing bears. He'd just spun in circles and stood 
to giggle for the camera before falling into the leaves 
and singing the few syllables he knew. Now he's 
learned to keep his butt down, to pull the ball 
into his chest like a robin’s egg. He knows what 
hips before hands means and I believe him 
when he says they hustled, that the game was called 
on darkness with the other team up by one run and how hot it was 
and, like, so humid and how nobody felt really very strongly 
about playing D or, as he puts it, pitching the lights out.

If he were here right now, rather than on the other end 
of that long line, I would invite him into the backyard 
for a game of pickle, just like me and his father 
and our other brother used to play when we still had 
time to run. When is your next game I ask him, 
but he doesn’t know and he’s done talking 
to me as his friends have gathered in his driveway 
with a basketball and a free hour before dinner. 
The moms down his block are due home 
and this game cannot work without a clock.

Time to Share
When it came time to share, nobody stood and the preacher continued 

His sermon like snow day overtime 
And the sermon was boiler plateyou know how 

The Lutherans do: roast beef and mashed potatoes, corn niblets 
Floating in gravy on plate's edge, 
Pies from every garden in town 

When it came time to share, nobody stood until one crazy aunt 
Reached for the last Bible devotional that came by mail 
And lay on the nightstand when she was admitted, the way 

The Lutherans do with their minds on the fields and always on the past 
And the family all awkwardly seated on one side 
Of the aisle while the other sat empty 

And when it came time to share, nobody stood, not old farmers 
Who came for the free lunch, not church ladies she conversed with 
After service let out each weekend how the Lutherans do 

Before afternoon chores: feeding pigs, 
Hauling loads of corn for cattle wading ankle-deep in mud 
Waiting for the final bolt gun to take them away but when it came 

Time to share nobody stood: not a grandkid 
Who ran muddy-shoed under her apron, through her kitchen 
And across her carpet only to be spanked the way 

Lutherans do with hell on their minds, careful to get every note of every sermon 
Careful to sing only the hymns found in the book 
Careful to cover the rite of last passage until 

It came time to share and nobody stood, especially not 
Her children, who didn't use the words she taught them 
To tell the people in the quiet audience that she was more 

Than page 273 of a free Bible study guide or to model for their kids what should 
Be said about theminstead they sat like stones in a field 
Waiting for someone to come along and make them into a wall

Michael Haeflinger is from Dayton, OH.  He lives in Camden, NJ, where he teaches at Rutgers University.  His website is http://www.michaelhaeflinger.com.

Growing Season

Here: my lover’s child compassion for a worm,
the first nightcrawler he’d seen appliqué
gathered turns along unwatered ground.
A large one, mottled more red than brown

among those sweet and hot peppers—fruit firm
and still idea before a bloom, leaves’ lobes
palm-spread under stems, beneath spines of today’s
flowered tomatoes, already Roma globes

in August’s mind. I came for loss—to turn
the making and provision of my flesh
to dug, raked earth, each afternoon awash

with offering, my hold on self and hours
a leaving gathered by soil and roots’ yearn—
and lost, with summer’s tongue in mine, on yours.


Hallelujah! Its Pancake Time!

Together they and I slip on sweat
running the legs of this world’s dappled
horse, darkening each spackle spatter

spread through holes in the hide as I sink
my hands in and dissect, starting at the haunches
and the spine, the tailroot, where they’ve knifed

putty through the square mesh holes
until what’s left has dried, a bucket
and a scrape of white hard dough,

peaked as egg and sugar, as butter’s beginning.
I wring photographs, lemon, salt
in cheesecloth: rescoring, bleaching flame

on cake on tablecloth, chasing
a decade clearer, acid-burning
photoskin. I bury bottlecaps,

shredded waxed paper, twine.
I bury battered denim for his eyes
and curves of broken amber glass for mine.

My nose is narrower than his.
To remember, when I build us: his navel cupped,
mine folded; my smallest toe pressed

under, flattened; his cuticles
bloodied. I Shrove Tuesday.
Beat eggs and milk to froth

to feed the fat and sweet to us
so quick—before I fling the fibrous
pumpkin slime, the former-rooted

body fibers, the clinging dryer lint,
for nesting build: to use, these parts
of cover (picked-off balls of wool

or cotton, mud left from treading in,
flaked dried saliva off our spoons
—all in vials packed in gravel,

groundwater filtering past their seals,
corking flavor). Before a fast: a hurry.

Gluttony rather than waste, gorgeous

lines of larded sweetened crusts:
the lines of us round as lemons,
as a child, a thick-crumbed cake.

Lauren Leslie spent her young adulthood on a microfarm in Interior Alaska, surrounded by spruce and dogs and goats, and in 2009, received her MFA from the University of Montana. These days, she lives in Western Montana, where she teaches writing and tries to manage her love affair with the small towns of the West.

Washing Clothes at Jimmys Trailer
"The generative forces of the world are wholesome.”
                                                                           - Sirach

On the other side of the woods
lies the ordered green of a cotton field,
a very real Caanan
beyond the wood’s disorder.

My wife and I sit in rocking chairs.
A huge live oak shelters us.
I am very good at some things.

Last week, I knocked down a wasp’s nest
in the shed. The wasps have now tunneled into a roof beam.
The nest was the greater miracle.

One night we walked into the cotton field.
The plants had delicate flowers
closed with the sun’s leaving.

I fold up at night, too.
I am in this land of farmers seeking recovery.
For many years I cancelled my emotions with alcohol and drugs.
My childhood is a bad neighborhood.
It’s not safe to go there.

Today, the living green sap of Summer sustains everywhere.
Dragonflies shepherd the tall grass nearby.
A white feral cat eyes us from the edge of the woods.
Crows call from a nearby pine tree.

Every atom vibrates in something I can understand.
I am no longer outside of this.
The parallel scars on my wrist fade.
I am more powerful, now.

Winter may still be some ways off.
Nature endures without apparent effort.
I have survived the passing mystery,

the metaphor of Spring.

Bryan Merck has published in Amelia, America, Birmingham Poetry Review, Emerge, Hiram Poetry Review, Kansas Quarterly, Long Islander and others. He is a past winner of the Southern Literary Festival Poetry Prize and the Barkesdale-Maynard Poetry Prize. He lives in Moultrie, Georgia with his wife, Janice.

Lake Chelan For Three

Sweet mock orange thrives here.
This year's blossoms seem closer to God,
joyful in his art, as Lake Chelan's 90
shades of blue are watched daily.

He dreamed a planet ripe
with flowers, berries, shapes, & signs.
He's charmed by the father and daughter,
laughing on the cabin's deck,
deciding to name their mythic
baseball team "The Elderberry Stars."
Small constellations swirl
in their hair,
the deck is marked
with petal shapes,
starry little cogwheels
outlined on wood.

The brother drives for miles,
through dusty four church towns
On morning arrival, he finds
His dad's childhood Mickey
Mouse spoon, tabled in place.
Grandma Mabel's gold-rimmed
plates are set out neatly,
white welcomes.

The trio's stories retold,triple in value.
Offered the grace of rare days,
they pass memories back and forth,
like the father's rock collection
displayed on a painted spool
which once held telephone wire.
The stones clack when held together,
a diary of travels in the palm.

Their father hands over
Athens, New Orleans,
Hilo, Fishguard,
Lethogo and Cardiff.
They're all home, all home, now.

Barbara Ellen Baldwin is a book reviewer, and vets writing online, for finely-crafted print journals. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Annals Of Internal Medicine, Barnwood, Canary, Clover: A Literary Rag, Prick Of The Spindle, The Brooklyner Web, Constellations, a Journal of Poetry and Fiction, Conclave, a Journal of Character, Poetry Northwest (Commentary tribute for Carolyn Kizer), The Lullwater Review, The Snail Mail Review, Fugue, Gulf Stream, The West Wind Review, Speakeasy, Pivot, North Stone Review, Wordgathering, Art Centering, and elsewhere. She teaches online and privately, by appointment, and studies American Sign Language (ASL) with signing coaches. Barbara's new poetry manuscript, Feeding The Anxiety Dog, is seeking a publisher.

Chinatown Lamp

Oh gay grandeur!
In the stately Chinatown lamp

At noticing elderly tradition
Mocked in a garb of the foreign, waning heights

Still, outstretched with unbroken light
Yet from its side an unnoticed pale of glass

Broken at the edges
A shattered steam of perceptible ilk

The whole completion
Perfect in essence of earthly shade

And the light-polluted moon could not dim the celestial view
A glowing talon

Ripped through the crepuscular veil
In an instantaneous heat

A longing with the inspired duress of human sight
A billowing malignity disintegrated

Across the swill dark ocean of inebriated coloration
In a sky of impotent fire

On this northern latitude

A haze of brain
Besotted at raising the bearded chin

To gaze at the piercing scintillation of failed loneliness
On a cosmic scale

Rusty Kjarvik is a writer, musician and artist. His poetry has been published in Poydras Review (August 2012) and Danse Macabre, (July 2012), with short fiction in PressBoardPress (August 2012), and visual art for the cover of Eskimo Pie (July, August, September 2012). He also blogs (www.rkjarvik.blogspot.com) and performs world music.


I hear they have placed
A pretty blue plague
High above your flat
So tourists can find you
And say this is the spot
Where you killed yourself.
Lucky girl, you modern Sappho
To take the quantum leap
Like a comet to take your place
Among the darkest regions of empty space
With a brilliance that few can keep
And even less the mind to know
Where no dull planet can perturb you
As fallen flowers have no faces.

Clinton Inman was born in Walton-on-Thames, England. He graduated from San Diego State University in 1977 with a degree in philosophy. Currently, he is still working as a high school teacher in Tampa, Florida. Clinton says he is one of the few last standing Beat poets, and is trying to get a collection of poems together for future publication called, Far From Out or One Last Beat. He has published many poems over the years including, more recently, in The Tower Journal, Essence, The Warwick, Journal of Victorian Poetry, Yes Poetry, Poetry, Out of Four, and Black Cat Poetry. Additionally, some of his work has been read recently on YouTube by Janet K. of Down in the Dirt magazine, which publishes many of his pieces.


My mother stared through me like I was a screen door.
She forgot my face, even though my face is her face.
She was wearing all white, to be lost

against four white walls if not for her brown hair
and breathing. Open first story windows
let in unseen Brambling Finch and Old World Sparrow calls
from close oaks, lending advice for tabletop puzzles

families put back together again, together. Her
blue eyes glossy, lips still, but her clasped
hands tell me she’s calm. Some white paper cups
filled with sky blue pills and others filled with water
are handed out before and after we visit.

Freckled constellations, to be found
below cow licked muddy blonde bowl cut, wrapped
in worn clothes meant to dirty during summer. Skinned
knees tell of the most recent fall, fixed
to a leg swaying like a tire swing. No words
passed down for understanding. Holding
my mother’s hand, hoping she will tell me—
when she’s ready

Justin Kinnear is a California poet currently attending the University of California-Los Angeles where he studies English with a concentration in Creative Writing. His work has been published in Cornell University's Rainy Day (Spring 2012), University of California- Santa Cruz's Matchbox (2012), and University of California-Los Angeles's Westwind (Winter 2012, Spring 2012).

Origins & Intersections
- East Africa, 1100 AD -

            Dar al salam. The al najashi, al negusi.*
            Son of the king. Another king? Or a prince?
The fragranced cities of
                                Kilwa and Zelia.

            Mogadishu in full havoc, al moqaddasi at court.
            Pagan marketplaces,
            fruit vendors.

            Salt, nutmeg, cacao.
                   Salted air, chocolate coffee.

Women enfolded in vibrant narghile breaths, sweet mint tea and
red onion rings. Qadis in regal
strawberry marbles.

            Jasmine flavored dusks, rampant winters in
            steaming diaries. Secretly married,
            death in public. Stoned. Timbuktu
            love letters, neguse neghestat.
                    King of kings.

What is that category? Beyond all kings? Not quite emperor?

The walashma torn between Islam
                                             and the other.

Sultans in lethargic years.
Black, black, black Africa.

I don’t mean the people.

The relics of futuh al-habesha.
            Where do we come from?
                      Does it really matter?

                                     Braided numbers, hairs, alphabets.
                                             Circumcised wisdom.

                                                      Salaam aleikum.*

* Editor's Note: Dar al Salam literally means "house of peace" in Arabic. The poet borrowed the phrase to indicate the territory in the Horn of Africa around 1100 AD, to indicate the co-mingling and co-existence of Middle Eastern & African people. Salaam aleikum is a greeting in Arabic, meaning "peace be with you".

Polka Dot Dreams

These dreams are not real. They are not. They are not.
            See how they travel, with the kiss of a dead soul
and the lost aunt of the next door neighbor. That boy
in the blue suit does not know who he is, and his dreams
tell him, you are the boy in the blue suit. But he changes
colors at night,
            he becomes coral Vespasian full of
worming jingles.

But the dreams are not real. Like the mother, who dreams
of vivid springs and never-ending autumns, the oranges and the
            berry browns flaking with the snow,
            she sees every shade of her
olives and grapes.

If she wakes up. She is color blind.

These dreams are not real. The polka dots are not
real. They are missing a spot, a life,
            a detangled masterpiece.

These dreams that coagulate in the old man’s throat and
descend in the tumor of the liver he loves so much. He was
of donating his, why not? But he cannot, he cannot. So, be
with these dreams, they are not real, they are not here, they’re
in motion, they travel between the tumor and the coral lines
of midnight flavors,
            they quarrel with white hyenas and storming
bee queens. These dreams are not real.
          See? They travel,
            and lurch of dead souls,
            and blue corals and viscid
leaves and empty dots and vapid livers and
            drunken bees and hyenas.

These dreams are not real.
            They are not.
                        They are not.
You are not.

While Weeping (Broadway & 5th)

Someone whispers.                    Someone greets.
This city
            drones at night, it rustles
            spitting, echoing
teasers, unyielding in
                       somber swellings.
A man dressed in Armani suit and
bare feet stumbles upon a
                        squatted bum.
You must have forgotten yourself here,
                  because      I have no recollection
                                           of the aftermath.
Something is fading from
the corners, cascading itself on
                               corroded, corrupted
                                       walls. Weeping
                                              walls. Walls with
graffiti knifed in them.
              Somewhere, a baby
                          howling. It is too cold to cry.
The doorman, the
                    desk clerk, frigid as
         frosted breath emerging from
         window panes.
A boy wrapped in a
flag, wailing in
The driveways, and
                                on the oddly deflated
                                A mother contemplating the
                                          backbone of her son,
                 reaching to flatten the
air with her feathery fingers,
        there, where
                         he used to be.
                                                 It is                    a different time

Mahtem Shiferraw is an Ethiopian poet and an artist living in Los Angeles. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Loyola Marymount University and holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her poems have been published in 2River View.

No Backhoe
Elder brother Jim e-mailed the nine surviving siblings
what third-born Theodore had confided at lunch
in their customary booth near the chip machine
in the Tex-Mex restaurant where they had caught up
for twenty years, three days before his death, at
precisely the age of sixty, thoughtful and smiling:

“He wants all of us to dig the hole.”

Of course, they were busy, with kids and grandkids,
mortgages, marriages, divorces, failed careers; the travel
to Oregon was yet another hardship, but several arrived,
disjunctly, at the graveyard, variously distracted.
Jim brought shovels, picks, and beer.
Into the space delineated with nylon tape
by the scandalized cemetery association
they penetrated at first in silent exertion,
a discipline of abstract grief, sweat sparing tears,
six feet deep by three by eight and several tons
of sod, sodden loam, old river rock, clay older still, till
Eddy, the youngest, launched a great clot of spoils
onto the bended back and ass of Jim
at the opposite end of oblivion, and all hell broke loose.

Ted was buried in a well-dug trench
next to his beloved brother Paul;
a hole greatly different from all but the oldest there,
echoing still with shouts and laughter.

Ted Jean is a recently retired carpenter. He writes, paints, and plays tennis with his wife, Lai Mei. In the past year, his work has appeared in Pear Noir, where it has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, as well as DIAGRAM, Gargoyle, elimae, Magma, Blue Earth Review, and other publications. 

Old Dirayah

In Escalade comfort we drove along the Wadi Hanifa
Glimpsing remnants and roots of the house of Sa’ud
Mud walls of starkly humble homes not ancient
Mere 70 years old yet sharing DNA with the crumbling
Of 15th Century walls of palaces, towers, fortress works
Now patiently waiting resurrection under new emirs
While foreign VIPs drive by to sniff and nod the residue
One can sense the age but not its shape too far gone
I scramble from the car park down the path toward the lake
A jarring reference here in dry Riyadh but yes the water is
At least a shallow pond with “no fish” he confidently asserts,
The slight brown man of mid-years though not in thobe or ghutra
Yet certainly belongs here along with two children, the boy
large eyes-wide puzzling at the stranger imposing on their day
a pre-teen girl in pink t-shirt and jeans more engaging beams
when her English is applauded but: no she doesn’t like school
(as familiar strangely as if I had been transported seamlessly
to a playground pond at the heart of my home town of Pittsburgh)
While father predicts with confidence that the water will be gone
Within two weeks and no, there are no fish: then ma’asalama
He responds the same and smiles as I climb up the path back
into a world more complex more threatening than when the
Ottoman drove the Al-Sa’uds retreating to nearby Riyadh.
Traces of restoration of mud red and stone walls promise to
Recapture the passion of the founders, the fierce pride
Of these desert fathers defenders of Islam and the tribe
Who once camped along the wadi lined with date palms
Watering camels and preparing the bitter Arabian coffee
Just as served to us with ubiquitous courtesy and dates
On couches at the Visitor’s Center by Jamaal in uniform
While past glories only a hint modeled in the clay replica…
Leaving the old to drive past the busy shops and villas of
The new Dir’ayah
At dusk the dazzle of Ritz-Carlton and its royal neighbor
Portentous, regal in back-lit penumbra with palace guards
Pondering the question whether anything changes much and
How long until the view before us crumbles into forgotten but
Dust of dreams?

Wesley Rohrer, PhD, MBA, serves as Associate Dean for Administration and Policy in the College of Public Health & Health Informatics with primary academic appointment in the Department of Health Informatics at King Saud University for the Health Sciences, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Dr. Rohrer and his wife, Janet, have three young adult children who are the focus of his life outside the University. His extracurricular interests include competitive running and fitness, writing poetry and reading, especially theology and history.

Last I Heard

It can take a long time to know
a silence has begun
losing the refrigerator hum, low
murmur of a voice, a siren

growing distant as you
pass it on your run.
And when you are through
meeting for just one

drink and asking for the check,
you won't suspect it will be the last
time you see his hands, flecked
with paint the color of grass.

You'll have to imagine his place
as quiet as you left it, his door
opened by strangers, and his face,
the halt mid-swing, the floor

clear of his feet, his body hung
on that hinge like a coat.
Say goodbye to being young,
to whoever you still were while he wrote

to say he couldn't recall the last good
day he'd had, the gulls all calling in bursts
that wouldn't end, and now he understood
reallysomeone had to go first.


We let this body die
and die inside our home,
because we could not choose to burn
or bury, because the reeking lessens if you stay
very still, because some days I swear
I smell hibiscus, because we both say, you should do
something about this.

                         I confess I've taken cuttings
one lymph node from the neck, a few grey hairs,
that birthmark in the hollow of the hipplanted
them like succulents and left them undisturbed.

                         Who says we have to stay.
I'm going to see about the rules, I'm going
to get an explanation for the roots
and all their rot. I'll pay
until we're square, I'll say, it's all there,
go ahead and count it.

                         And what should you do
while I'm away? Water the marigolds,
eat the roast I left you
in the fridge. And if you find
the time, make the bed, burn
the houselet nothing dying
live, even if it begs.

Lily Chiu grew up in upstate New York and now lives in San Francisco. Her poetry has been published previously in Enizagam 

In Memory of Wallace Stevens

The cigars you smoke in memory
of Wallace Stevens threaten
to warp your spine with their weight.

Can’t you smoke more ladylike
extrusions, something leaner
and not quite as cucumber-shaped?

The corridors and offices reek
with atmosphere. No Smoking laws
fade when you invoke the Great

Tradition, for which people died
and resurrected themselves, again
and again. Smoke yellows the ceilings.

The alarms choke on it, stuttering
instead of ringing with insistence.
When firefighters arrive you hand

them cigars and they light up,
reciting “Emperor of Ice Cream”
from memory. I surrender

my right to smoke-free environments,
but I object to rousing the ghost
of that sly old corporate lawyer.

His bulk crowds me against the wall,
and his teacup rattles like the bones
of my worst enemies. You slither

off to a meeting, leaving a trail
of exhaust. I’m left breathing hard
and fast. My lungs are porous

as dishcloths, my heart awash
in pink slime. I’ll hide in the men’s room
where you can’t burn your ugly weeds.

I’ll bring Stevens’ Collected Poems
not to read but to prop the window
open, so maybe I can breathe.

Tradition and the Individual Talent

The shatter of heels on the sidewalk
as personal as telegrams,
the oily breeze clotting my pores.
I could walk forever uptown
past tenements gray as the faces
of cancer patients, every window
blown open by a scream. But
T.S. Eliot sulked here first,
his undergraduate clothes
so formal if I met him now
I'd take him for a bible salesman
and avert my gaze to the gutter.
Rather than chance an encounter
with his ghost, I'll haunt the bookshops
for bargains, slouch over coffee
at a French cafeteria,
pretend I still belong here.
Both Germany and Oxford
disappointed the budding poet,
his hat pulled over his ears.
How can I make up for his
apostasy, so personal
it numbed several generations?
Better sit quietly through lectures
while rain billows in leaf-blown streets
and traffic snarls by the Charles.
Better let the fourth dimension
have its way, bleeding through me
with heavy erasures, mulling
a marriage, friendships, apartments
so small my ghost has never
found its way out. These afternoons,
the storefronts glossy with damp,
the streets raving with strangers,
I enjoy being anonymous
in a place where I lived so long,
every pore of me open to greet
a muddle of lost telepathies,
the mass human engine flailing
with power, unrestrained yet
so inefficient nothing moves,
nothing happens. The rain drifts
like brain waves; the pavement absorbs

and instantly forgets each
random or purposeful step.

William Doreski's work has appeared in various electronic and print journals and in several collections; most recently City of Palms (AA Press, 2012).

Recalling Willem De Kooning, Excavation, 1950

There’s something shameless about the act
And display—about the carelessness
Of it all: couch cushions, laundry basket,
Bed-stand or end-table upended on the heap,
Ironing board and blender and sneakers,
The lamp with its ribbed shade. How the first things
Are soon obscured by the next—those black
Trash bags stuffed, I imagine, with clothing,
Or with whatever loose stuff (knickknacks,
Utensils) can be hauled easier this way
From her rooms down the block. Who hired
These men with their gassy junk-truck
To do this? There’s more of it, too much
Even for this disposal service dumpster
That takes up more than two parking spaces,
So that by week’s end, they have to stomp
On the bags and boxes, crush what they can
To make room for, stuff and shove aside. The rest
Will probably have to go in the alley cans
Reserved for residential trash. Just as well—
A pair of dingy jeans fell by the curb
And a passerby snatched them up.

The bones of the newly dead join the bones
Of those who died before them:
The bones of my ancestors let go
Through the door in the floor of the bone house
Into the common grave.

Such was the custom in the mountain village
In southern Greece, but custom
Changed mid-century, storing the bones
In metal boxes thought more dignified.
In rough pyramids now

Boxes are stacked according to kinship,
Some adorned with incense cups,
Icons, cuttings, or photographs.
Some customs, however, remain unchanged.
First the dead are buried

In one of several graves, elaborate,
Reusable—white marble
Bordered, white headstones hollowed
For mementos—then exhumed after three years.
Washed in water, then in wine,

Cleaned and blessed, the bones set out for three days
In the church before being arranged
(Husbands and wives fitted together)
In the one by two foot box: Sacrum, ilium,
Femur, clavicle, skull.

If flesh remains, the bones must be re-buried
For two more years. Some believe
Such remnant flesh a sign of sins not yet
Forgiven. Some believe shade trees or the stony soil
May impede timely decay.

Inexorably drawn to what appears
Impossible at first to face, you peer
Inside, but keep to the edge to keep
From plummeting into what pulls you in:
There is, you fear, no exit to this vision.
There is something down there you know.
Let the eye adjust and what was
Unspeakable will be named.

From Genesis 1 
(A composition by degeneration)

In the beginning

And the earth

    of the deep 
                         of the waters

And the evening and the morning

In the midst of the waters, and
                           the waters from the waters

And the evening and the

    waters under     heaven

    the gathering together of the waters

                                 yielding and
                       tree yielding

And the evening and

                the night
                        signs, and for seasons

                                         for lights
                                            to give light


                                              upon the 

And the evening

                                         the waters
                      abundantly the moving

                      above                  in the open

              the waters                   abundantly
                                                and every

                      and               blessed

                            in the seas

      And the
                  the living
                           upon                        kind

     in our image 
                            the image

     of the sea 
                                                  of the air 
                            the face

of a tree


From Genesis 2 
(A composition by degeneration)

Thus                            earth

            because that in it

            plant of the field before rain

dust of the ground

And out of the ground
            in the midst

that is               where there
            is          the same is it
               and to keep it


             ground            field


             the sleep         and
                         the flesh     thereof

                         is                  bone

                                   and flesh
                                               and        not

Joanna Anos teaches at the School of the Art Institute Chicago, where she coordinates an academic enrichment program for young artists.


They, her brother and sisters, called
my grandmother Pet. I don’t know why.
She was homely and strong and deeply-religious and
could never have been anyone’s pet anything. Your
face, when she scrubbed it, shone like Jesus’ face
on the mountaintop (or the linoleum on the kitchen floor).

When I was born she had been a widow
thirty years. My father (my surmise) never forgave her
his father’s death. He died of a weak heart
back when arsenic was the going cure. It was
death cured him of life.

Strong like the mountains she’d come from
and fearfully missed. She’d go back
for short visits. My father hated the place. West Virginia
was the dark side of hell to hear him tell it. But
he loved to talk about how much he hated it and

with sly affection for the people he had known there, their
ridiculous names wonderful to the saying
Dompy and his friend,
Clunch. Three sisters, Peachy, Plummy and Pruney. Ivy, Dutch, Dolly, Pearl.
A girl with the surname Clock married melodically to her first name, Chime.
He warned us not to mistake their backwardness for stupidity. Hill
people were as smart as anybody, just not smart enough to leave.

Telling stories or under stress, my father’s jaws tightened, his lips narrowed, a ramble
of vowels and syllables squeezed unrecognizably from the back of his throat.
He might have just stepped out of the mine. You became Ye when he was in a rage.
Ye’d better get in thar room raht now. (Unless you wanted a taste
his wordsof
his razor strop, you’d go, too.)

Dad and Grandma are both buried in Ohio, state of my
growing up, a place they never hated or loved
as much as where they were born.

Mark Goad lives in the Boston metro area but was born in northeastern Ohio, son on a father from West Virginia. His writing is ever informed by having been raised in an industrial city in Ohio. His work was recently published in Assisi, Bluepepper, BAQ. epiphany, analogpress and others.

Your fathers ghost and mine

collect what they took with them
and what they left us
cradling everything like a bundle of wood
            between them

as if always they were brothers

and walk together down to the river
where they saved us from drowning
            long ago
where now in their memory
            we spark bonfires
and watch them burn
bits of themselves from us

            again and again

until their only legacy
is a sense of weightlessness
and self-discovery

until all we have to cherish
is the fragrance of sandalwood

and our own hands

            and each other’s

A Game of Cowboys and Indians

The moment you fell
beneath my empty raised arms
the world disentangled
into the obtained and obliterated.

That peacock feather
sweat-banded to your forehead.
Soiled. No longer able to haul
the weight of its meaning.
That became mine.
Your raw knee, your blood
that soaked through soil. Mine.

And the counterfeit tears
for dying races,
so many asides of empathy.
And the religion, whichever
slid down us from birth,
god-empty and ritualized
into a game for children.
Yes, mine.
And wherever the parents went
as we filled in what was missing.

the choice that shouldn't yet be ours
or arbitrary.
The growing ennui of distance
between intent and consequence.
And the crust we learned too quickly
gathers on sleeping lives.

The hard earth was mine too
for a moment.
And the rain that moved in.

When I shave the past
from the mirror these days
and stand like a cocked rifle
surrounded by the empty world obtained,
I wonder how I used
those same raised arms
to carry you home
to the civilized man that awaited deep inside,
as damaged and severe
as an unheard gunshot.

Our Home

Regret waits in the insignificance of a missing window pane.
Stones still heavy our pockets.
There is nothing we've left unbroken.

Just inside the house we can never reenter
a light bulb swings from basement rafters,
naked, left on.
There is an unseen illumination.
We are outside now, looking in.
We still shiver at the menagerie of shadows
long understood to be winter trees.

And the children that once lived in us
invent demons from scrabbling of mice,
chaos from the slow grind of time.
There are too many synonyms for memory,
none spoken in our voices.

All the failures amassed since birth
we unload from our arms
onto the roof of our shared
childhood home,
that bows silently in the center,
cracks from bedroom to foundation,
and in time resembles a face
we've spent a lifetime wiping from the mirror.

John Sibley Williams is the author of six chapbooks, winner of the HEART Poetry Award, and finalist for the Pushcart, Rumi, and The Pinch Poetry Prizes. He has served as Acquisitions Manager of Ooligan Press and publicist for various presses and authors, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in Book Publishing. A few previous publishing credits include: Inkwell, Bryant Literary Review, Cream City Review, The Chaffin Journal, The Evansville Review, RHINO, Rosebud, Ellipsis, Flint Hills Review, and various fiction and poetry anthologies.

My Poems

Come, my poems, fly the road of my dreams,
You might knock on the right door,
Thus finally finding your dear home
In many peoples' hearts.
In my frequent wanderings
You find many forgotten signposts,
To spread my dreams along life's narrow canyon.
In my moments of weakness, I am throwing you
Into the dark,
Like poor foundlings
Who never left shadows while alive.
But you, my poems, are made of Faith too good
To be carried away by despair
Into dark infinities.
You are high born, my poems,
The souls of immortal poets
Christen you with a holy covenant;
To unmask greed;
To travel the thick forests of passion;
To open the gates for love;
To sing the Lord's praise.
My poems,
Travel day and night
In a hurried flight,
Without dreaming, or eating, or judging,
Without jealousy or arrogance,
Because I would like to leave the earth
Only for a while.

Walter William Safar was born in Sherman-Texas. He is the author of a significant number of prose works and novels, including "Leaden fog," "Chastity on sale," "In the flames of passion," "The price of life," "Above the clouds," "The infernal circle," "The scream," "The Devil’s Architect,” and "Queen Elizabeth II," as well as a book of poems.