Saturday, January 31, 2015

Marc Vincenz

Yet Another Reincarnation

I pay my soothsayer in hard-boiled eggs, chicken wings,
gristly claws, livers or gizzards—she believes in the due process
of tempests, visions of omniscient butterflies. An old woman
scrubbing floors portends violent crime or racketeering;
finch in the hand, fraud or incest; beetle on the mantelpiece,
ill health. She snatches invisible lassos from the air, spins dizzy
larks above my head, everywhere she sees living dead,
centuries of men on the low road to the county fair, millennia
of citizens ensnared in menial tasks, plowing, sewing, reaping,
daydreaming; mostly she knows where lightning will hit,
who will spontaneously combust, become president,
overnight millionaire. With my own eyes I saw her heal
a cancerous man, the single touch of her arthritic hands.
Twice she foretold my almost-demise, the possible grand curtain,
a lifetime of sighs, once a jet in the skies, once in a train wreck—
she hears the constant chatter behind, grandmothers and aunts and
ex-wives. The past is a series of dots you can trace through the sky.
It’s the future that’s harder to count, though in a finite universe
only so many spots can branch out—think of it as an astral crossword.
And the crowds that shuffle ahead and behind, dead or alive,
all animated beings begging for sound advice on love and career,
sex and disease, there’s little she hasn’t been forced to hear—
even in this lifetime—so she raises her soul-umbrella,
an unseen parasol, to ward off gnashing thunder of lost voices,
stinging hail of multiple choices; and in her abode of double-entendre,
a ghostly breeze blows, two degrees warmer than outside the door,
it snakes under your skin and coils there until you’re quite ready
to unravel. The wife thinks I’ve lost my head in the wild ranting
of this other woman, and she swears by Almighty God the fields
will remain parched and the harvest a washout if I keep this up—
one day she says the earth will buckle beneath my legs
and in my next life when I return as a moth, destined to bump
around lamps, perch still, motionless on bark in broad daylight
and three days later I shall lay my pearly eggs on the leaf
of an elm, shaded in the gables of a chicken coop, and over
and over, the clucking, the clucking, the clucking.

Marc Vincenz is British-Swiss, was born in Hong Kong, and has published eight collections of poetry: The Propaganda Factory, or Speaking of Trees; Gods of a Ransacked Century, Mao’s Mole, Behind the Wall at the Sugar Works (a verse novel), Additional Breathing Exercises (bilingual German- English), Beautiful Rush, This Wasted Land and its Chymical Illuminations (with Tom Bradley and forthcoming, Becoming the Sound of Bees (Ampersand Books). His chapbooks are Benny and the Scottish Blues, Genetic Fires, Upholding Half the Sky and Pull of the Gravitons. He has been published extensively in many journals and anthologies, including: The Manhattan Review, Washington Square Review, Guernica, The Bitter Oleander, Battersea Review, St. Petersburg Review, Fourteen Hills, Exquisite Corpse, Spillway and The Canary.

He is also the translator of numerous German-language poets, including: Erika Burkart, Ernst Halter, Klaus Merz, Andreas Neeser, Markus Bundi and Alexander Xaver Gwerder. His translation of Alexander Xaver Gwerder’s selected poems, Casting a Spell in Spring, is soon to be released by Coeur Publishing/Spuyten Duyvil. He has edited various anthologies and selected works of other poets, including Hugh Fox’s last and posthumous collection, Primate Fox. He has received grants from the Swiss Arts Council for his translations, and a fellowship and residency from the Literary Colloquium Berlin (LCB). His own work has been translated into German, Chinese, Russian, Romanian and French.

He lives in Cambridge, MA.

Amélie Frank

This Many Ways to Please the New Critics

(for Nelson Gary, who listened)

On the early July sidewalk
the only thing, a dead thing
its unmoving eye, sentinel to the end.

You’d never know this canary
had been born yellow
her job to hop about
while hardworking men give her the vapors
to fall into the Delphic swoon
to chirp, unbelieved, unheeded
or worse, misunderstood.

The psychopomp can tell you a few things

about being misunderstood.

He can arrive bearing a lottery ticket

of great joy,
and he’ll still have to outfly the scattershot
of the superstitious.

Auspicious is the glowing fruit
what becomes of the knowledge
that slides down the gullet
of Morpheus’ herald?
Creature and contemplation,
do they become one?


There is no beauty
in innuendos

that do not exist,
in inflections that

never crossed my mind
before, during, or after.

Innocence finds the cause 

of recurring winter indecipherable.
Beauty in snow, always.

It’s the barbaric cold 

innocence does not understand.

Thin men go to their graves
making thin women along the way.

Whistle-clean kisses. A bullet dodged.

Everything that I know about a poem
and all the nobility and love put there

come to nothing

if a reader commits the Intentional Fallacy.
For my part, I am not supposed to consider
the affect of a reader’s random paranoia
unless the reader tries to kill me.

Conversational Amélie

I – The Sky

for Michael Paul

Answer to today’s mystery: because the
sky across which I fly is made of pain.
It is a terrible sky. We all inhale and exhale
her every moment of every day.  She is
benevolent to all, but not to me.

Eventually, the sky wants to kill me.

She will do it slowly with great patience
and in gentle increments, for she is

well practiced in indifference.

When I was five, she taught the world
not to hear me.  She refracts the light
away from me so that none will see

who I am, what I am.

As I teach you the vocabulary and syntax
of my world, please hear me.  Please see me,
for I am more than what the light that
that spills from the sky allows you to see.

You are a particle.  I am a wave.
See me shimmer.  See me robbed of my
plumage.  See me ford on after both of
my wings have been snapped in two.

Everyone on earth can see me walk, 

but a rare few have noticed the wings
that hang limp, gone to atrophy
at my sides.  Ask me, who snapped
these wings?  I’ll answer that you’ve

startled me.  I didn’t know anyone
could see that I have them.  


Who snapped my wings?  
Breathe in.
Breathe out.  
Did you feel her love
your lungs with air?  

You have your answer.

Los Angeles native Amélie Frank is the author of five poetry collections, and her work has appeared in print and on-line in numerous local and national publications. She founded The Sacred Beverage Press with poet Matthew Niblock and has served as a judge for poetry and spoken word contests, a director of the Valley Contemporary Poets, a member of the Beyond Baroque Board of Trustees, and coordinated The Big Picture a documentary photograph of the largest group of Southern California poets ever gathered for a single event. She has received the Spirit of Venice Award (2003), served on the Ventura Arts Council (2004), and in 2007 was honored with a certificate of appreciation from the Los Angeles City Council for her work in the Southern California literary arts community. In 2012, the Board of Directors at Beyond Baroque voted unanimously to honor her the Distinguished Service Award.

Stephen Sturgeon

Music Between Strangers

A sycamore grove, and in its limbs
the orchestra played Má vlast, so I saw
boughs bouncing and tuxedo legs
swinging sap-spotted above the splayed
blades of the ground feathered black
in moss, in the sweat of the set sun,
and the players’ faces where moths roosted,
where leaf-points drew water-stripes
on brows and eyelids, their hands
that stirred in pollen like a fog, were masked
by birds’ nests and bows and flaking vines.

That you were last to climb down,
trumpet tied to your back with blue twine,
is the only thing I believe in,
and after you landed, drifting
through a stream, in a mat of orange needles,
you whistled to what light could float
through the leaves’ screen and canopy, diffuse
like tracing tissue, a scrum of benday dots,
            and not much at that,
now that more than the concert has ended,
                            my musician.

(originally published in the June 2014 issue of Poetry)


The letters I have written to the world
while traveling in this boat
contain the same message more often than not
The world is terrifying
and this boat is not much better
but it is better.


Days ago
by this time it may have been months
those of us in this boat
passed by a site of sacrifice

A column’s capital
tipped from its place
rolled into the river’s water

By all appearances
it is hunting us

Worse than this
the water is talking


I know the back of her hand like the bricks of Rome
but she vanishes into the glutted throng
and when she returns I do not recognize
her or the bricks of her hand, my cathedral.

Her tears you would see on book jackets. The river
floats trade winds to no vector, the commerce
a river must imagine is its heraldic right
skitters for hammocks slung in men and women’s minds.

Hold to the river. The wind’s force does not betray
how destination is cradled in God’s mouth
now frowning now smiling at time’s invisibility

licking the hull of this boat. My cathedral
city knocking against her own ears’ doorbells
has its place and vanishes and I do not recognize.


Have you even married a mountain.

Have you even loved a river or lake
visited it
and married it.


spinning spinning
we in this substantial
dialogue with creation
or the unassuming vitriol
of a creator’s whimsy
and flashing dance


In exhaustion lives discovery.
And the river resembles exhaustion.
The river ran in iodine
People brandished their blades
in cavalier fashions
Can you bear to see
what will be achieved
after the hour of exhaustion
The river reflects the trees
but the river does not reflect
this boat or we who ride it.
For now, I am, and this river is,
a traveler many times disassembled
that collects itself. When the collection fails
that day will mark the new kingdom

(THE SHIP was published summer 2104 in a fine, handset edition of 80 copies by Digraph Press)

Stephen Sturgeon is the author of Trees of the Twentieth Century (Dark Sky Books, 2011) and THE SHIP (Diagraph Press, 2014).

Friday, January 30, 2015

Sherri Felt Dratfield

Rip Current

A man in orange trunks ducks under high breakers,
far from the lifeguard stands,
in the rip-tide sea.

The man recedes from view,
foisted to and fro all out to sea.

The guards detect a sliver of orange
bobbing like a buoy.

The craft dispatched,
rowers clamber on. 

The boat pierces breakers like a bullet,
approaches the now vanished orange thread.

The man - retrieved,
plopped on sand like a noonday catch,
frantically pumped with mouth-to-mouth,
with chest thumping arms -

is dead.
I have learned to swim across the current grabbing me;

I don't lash opposite the thrusts,
against the under tow.

As though it were a beloved
in a sudden mood -

bullheaded, dogged -
I match the current stroke for stroke,

kick across its belly,
until it tires of my moxie.

The sandpiper wears its white feather noose when grown,
is not strangled.

The seagull gobbles a plastic bag as hungrily as crab,
then scavenges a straw.

The duck quacks for more bread,
although, before dawn, a cat

caught the last of her eight ducklings.
Lifeguards keep watch
till Summer's end.

Sherri Felt Dratfield’s second collection of poetry, Water Vigils, was recently published by Finishing Line Press. The City, Sherri’s debut book of poetry was published in 2013. Joan Larkin recently selected Sherri’s poem "Hallelu" as a finalist in the Jewish Current’s Raynes Competition.

Andreas Neeser


—for H.

Cawing descent toward the sleeping tree.
The seeds have been reaped, the sun
goes down at six.

announce messages from the sky,

they call and cut up the spirits,

in the half-light,

they sharpen their glances.

A bright vision grasping stony pastures.

And if they should squawk words,
we wouldn’t hear them.

Three Sisters

I float on leg-long logs,

skinned dead wood, not a breath of wind,
yet, portside,

on the stump, a complete stranger’s hair
forgets itself.

Over there, ahead, three peaks,

the mist draws soft contours,

the slate sisters blur up the valley—
aghast, I turn on the open lake.

For years my only brother,

I crawl to the rest area on the shore—
in the sallow light

I am nothing but my darkest word.

"Twilight" and "Three Sisters" were previously published in Grass Grows Inward, translated from the German by Marc Vincenz (Spuyten Duyvil, 2014).

Andreas Neeser is a Swiss poet and author who currently lives 
in Suhr near Aarau. From 2003 to 2011, he ran the Aargauer Literaturhaus in Lenzburg, Switzerland. He has won the Feldkircher Lyrikpreis (2008) and the RAI Bozen Poetry Prize of the Lyrikpreis Meran (2006). He has published numerous novels, short story and poetry collections. His  most recent poetry collection is, Die Sonne ist ein nasser Hund (Wolfbach Verlag, 2006). His novel, Zwischen den Wassern, was recently released (2014) by Haymon Verlag, Innsbruck. 

Irina Mashinski

The Border

            for Sasha
    I flew over Norway, 
I had lived in a cage – a landscape of frost covered wires
  and then broke free,
    flew away, saw fiords -
and lost fear.

Cliffs shone pure slate, their after-rain luster 
when I flew over Norway, 
I was finally out, out – and you
were five, you slept on the woolen sleeve of my Moscow
winter coat in the bliss of the stratosphere.
Just think: I can walk, hear whispers, see hues the way
            dry leaves  fall

with a hollow sound
of clapping hands
into empty symphony hall -
as my limbs, my eye lashes, and  the lines of a poem are free

to flow
over me,
not bound anymore by my eyelids
    nor by the gates
          of that thirst for
the border below.
(How it  gleams in twilight!-

the rim of a forest lake,
            moraine ragged edge).

The end of the world. For Ray Bradbury

Time. It belongs to us,
not more than, say, the moon,

Time, oblivious to whatever
a wife hears in the evening
from some misanthrope on the couch with a newspaper.

She listens patiently to the appalling details
of  the latest news,
and she sneaks out to bury them in the recycling bin

with an iron weight on top

Nobody sees her but the moon.

So, it’s tomorrow -  the last day of the world, at least
until the evening when it is once again
second to last.

Irina Mashinski is a bilingual poet, editor and translator, the author of nine books of poetry in Russian. Irina Mashinski’s work has appeared in Poetry International, Atlanta Review, International Poetry Review, Fulcrum, The London Magazine, St. Petersburg Review, and other literary journals and anthologies and has been translated into several languages. She is the co-editor (with Robert Chandler and Boris Dralyuk) of The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry  (Penguin Classics, 2015), as well as co-founder (with the late poet Oleg Woolf) and current editor-in-chief of the StoSvet literary project (, which includes literary journals Storony Sveta (in Russian ) and Cardinal Points (in English).  She received Russian America (2001) and Maximilian Voloshin (2003) Awards in poetry, and, with Boris Dralyuk, First Prize in the 2012 Joseph Brodsky/Stephen Spender Translation Prize competition.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Jonathan Penton

Evolution of a Plagiarist

Take a daughter, any daughter, let’s say her father’s famous
    Let’s say he’s a cartoonist known for his counterculture style
        Take the daughter, and her drawings, now let’s say that she’s an artist
Covering a variety of topics and a multitude of themes
But when you make the coffee table book that shows what she’ll be known for you are focused on the drawings of her famed cartoonist dad
    Let’s say some of them are naked (and he’s known for being naked)
    and many more refer to the fetishes of which he brags
    and so she becomes Electra, and her Jew mother Clytemnestra,
        so now archetypes are released where two women used to stand.

Now take the story, take the poem, drag the poem from the story
    Take the narrative you’re building, though the narration’s been done
        Take the way that you must process everything she tries to tell you
        Speaking loudly with her eyes and ears although her mouth is closed
Underneath the violet headboard
‘neath the noise, the void, the meaning
and the silences you know by now you’ll never understand
Take the pictures of her lifestyle. Take the images you filter.
    Keep your own eyes open going with her to the clubs and to the bars
Watch her hairstyle, watch her movements, watch the tactics as she compliments the woman while she strokes the folds ‘tween the man’s thighs

        Make the facts fit the backstory that the coffee table gave you
        Press her down like a dead fairy into that book you’ll write
Take your knowledge, take your learning, take every experience that’s left you
    Stupid as you were on the day that you were born
        when the doctors pulled your ankles from that open solar plexus
        someone’s daughter: spread beneath you: sliced like Portnoy: like a fugu
            like a reference to McDuff where a woman used to be
            Take your little crumbs of knowledge so opposed to understanding
            and acknowledge that the narrator will always make it about him.

This poem is inspired by a superficial examination of Evolution of a Crazy Artist by Sophie Crumb. It is fiction based on an afternoon’s perusal, and is NOT in any way a story about the real Sophie Crumb, nor her famous father. I have never met either, and know little about them.

The Father of Gilgamesh and the Lady of Shallot

I am told that every woman is a mystery
    that a passionate man can only crave to explore
        I am told ladies long for such study
            I can only determine that you long no more.

I have heard such study is my greatest pursuit
    and that commitment to such is more valorous than war.
        But I find it trifling, the answers unrewarding
            though at our first meeting, you answer nevermore.

Great ladies, seeking their own place in history,
    have chosen me to speak for them. Thus I enter into lore
        as beauty's champion, all things flawlessly masculine
            my reputation hiding how deeply I am bored
                to you, nothing holds interest any more.

I am engorged with answers. Women throw their clues at me
    without grace, compassion,
    without concern for muse or mystery which they profess to serve
        in some endless nest of rules in which they could never score
            while you lie, sacrosanct,
            your thoughts flowing out your hair into river without memory,
                your ready lips concealing as a babbling fool's rapport.

Jonathan Penton is the Editor-in-Chief of the on-line magazine Unlikely Stories: Episode IV (and its daughter, Unlikely Books), the Managing Editor at MadHat, and the Managing Editor at Fulcrum: an anthology of poetry and aesthetics. He is working on his fifth poetry chapbook and a libretto, which is very similar to investing in both real estate and hedge funds.

Ming Di

The Prototype 

Adam saw emptiness when he first opened
his eyes, and begged God to create you from
the same mud, and named you Lilith, and made

you the first couple. But you were naughty
and wanted to be on top, like him. How dare you!
So you abandoned Eden for the East.

Then God created Eve from Adam’s rib, and made
them happily ever after. Later on, dear humble Eve
became greedy and wanted to take over the top, toplessly

plus commission.  But you couldn’t care less, you'd
already multiplied with the snake: Carmen, Salome,
Barbie, Lolita… Dora Lolita is a little star that glows

on her own,  glimmering her pale fire and humming her little tune,
occasionally appearing in the geometry of his thinking—
when Nadam sees her, he captures her and reproduces her.

* Inspired by a sculpture of Lilith. “Same mud” comes from the Chinese mythology of the snake-body Goddess Nüwa who shaped humans from clay, men and women. Nadam=Nabokov+Adam.

(Translated from the Chinese by the author and Neil Aitken)

(First published in Poetry International/SDSU, Issue 18/19)

Ming Di is a Chinese poet and translator living in the USA, author of six collections of poetry and four books of translation. She is editor of New Cathay: Contemporary Chinese Poetry 1990-2012 (Tupelo Press, 2013). Her own work has been translated into English (River Merchant’s Wife, Marick Press, 2012), German (Ein Leeres Haus, DJS Chapbook, 2013), Spanish (Luna fracturada, Valparaiso Ediciones, 2014), and French (Histoire de famille, forthcoming in France 2015).

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lee Upton

The Coast of Apples

I would fly to the coast of apples.
            —Euripides, translated by Frederick Morgan

When I flew to the coast of ghosts,
there, on the white branch, sat Euripides.
At once, I tried to peel the skin

off my own anxiety. Euripides,
I said, you with the glorious name,
what do you want with apples

now? Flying, I can understand.
Although there are problems enough.
I’ve flown every month

for a year. Too often my flight was detoured
to the coast of bullets, the coast of salt,
the coast of abandoned tires—

which is not much better than flying
to the coast of thistles
but preferable to the coast of briars

next to the coast of radioactive waste.
At last when I stopped talking
Euripides peered down and said to me:

I bet the wings were the hardest part.
That, and the rest of the horse.

previously published in Boston Review

Lee Upton is the author of the The Tao of Humiliation: Stories; the essay collection Swallowing the Sea: On Writing & Ambition Boredom Purity & Secrecy; the novella The Guide to the Flying Island; and a fifth collection of poetry, Undid in the Land of Undone, among other books.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Vincent Cellucci

infanticide sunsets

for Robert Creeley

spindle over the shoulder tossing gills
pulse to pleasure covered knees locked
gusher under sea,  father flattens family
one must be a sniper & assassinate the adult
committing infanticide in us all
don’t ask absence’s offerings    ask sandboxes
empty swing sets, slides, or the rivers full of kittens
the mirrors who’ve seen enough faces
as the seer darkness the sword stomachs
or the sea tempests sun horizons
condoms machines coffee grinders bone xrays
trunks luggage glass condensation gold thieves
nets fish: gimmie a break absence & i’ll return the century

a child raised right taking back my first stolen piece of candy

from above the andes

                             a spine          of suns    across       the seas
                                                                                       exhales absence on my arm
                                                                                       breaks cloud wakes
                                                            hiding heavens’
                                                            placidity abandoned here when
                           sun evolved
                              soot books
                                               you have machines to read                                                                 
                                                                  drones to rove                                                                     
                                                                                                          all hours
                                                                                                          their hours
                            army of earth liberated combustion       the globe smothered internal
                                       our callouses refused
                                                                       debts acquiesced
                                                                                                           this blaring silence
                           jets us      hands to dreams
                                                                      fusion pursed
                                    sun pets our hides
                                    river lassos my larynx
                                             constricts blood
                                             tugs these buoys
                      bobbing in the tide
                                                                        we must not survive


I’m the styrofoam
                          sleepyhead to seduce you
                icicle fangs
                melt for sunrise
  between thighs  slowpoke round back
  my morning attack
                          sheathes yr
                             heavenly chambers
go extravagant

                                    my sister’s
                                    a slap
                                    & the hardest kick
                                    to the balls I know
the secret of no love
judged by behavior
bye bye love
bye bye savior
                               lions kneel
                               gazelles govern
        & silent words sacrifice poems
let you down, have idiosyncrasies, dents,
                             favorite colors
                                     and foods
why not the rum cake our parents served
                    at their divorce
                           now I taste

                             tucked like words in wills         

the howling outside my door
                           does not disturb me
just as freedom makes the best slaves

Vincent Cellucci wrote An Easy Place / To Die (CityLit Press, 2011) and edited Fuck Poems an exceptional anthology (Lavender Ink, 2012). Come back river, his first chapbook, a bilingual Bengali-English translation collaboration with the poet and artist Debangana Banerjee is recently available from Finishing Line Press. _A Ship on the Line, a battleship-collaboration with poet Christopher Shipman was just released by Unlikely Books. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Jennifer Kwon Dobbs

The Moon Jar

As the moon descends into the well

the jar inside the well

it reveals a great

emptiness that is the jar

summoning others who will come

after the fact of the jar

disappears inside the moon.


A House in Nicosia

White curtain fluttering as if a childish hand
bats at distance, flicks

plaster off ramshackle walls
papered with a politician’s face.

In Time’s slow fray

he’s a target
practice for tower guards

overlooking a football field
of plastic bags, green spray cans, a train’s
outline heaving across the bleacher’s height.

Down concrete steps
a diaspora
of feral cats scatter—
the only ones, ribbed with longing, who can cross.

I was talking about a childish hand

writing that wide and mortal pang
called History,

that human cry
forced from home one morning
leaving a smear.

Through dust and shadow, I see tarnish,
bullhorns, dogs, a crash
of drawers, metal spoons and forks,

a long crawl
space under pine boards
torn up revealing a secret

darkness where no one hid
the money, what’s left of the canopy

frame’s blue drapes
that her husband pulled back
to make love to her.

Young, they left the balcony doors open.
Boys laughed and kicked a ball past midnight.

Now the mattress straddles a threshold
summoning like tides to a raft
tied to the firmament.

Tell me.

If two loves claim this house
to whom does it belong?

Jennifer Kwon Dobbs is the author of Paper Pavilion, recipient of the White Pine Press Poetry Prize and the New England Poetry Club’s Sheila Motton Book Award, and Song of a Mirror, finalist for the Tupelo Snowbound Chapbook Award. Recently, her prose and poetry have appeared in Asian American Literary Review, Blackbird, Crazyhorse, Cimarron Review, Line Break (AAWW), Mascara Review, Poetry NZ, SOLO NOVO, among others; and have been anthologized in Echoes Upon Echoes (Asian American Writers’ Workshop 2003), Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond (W. W. Norton 2008), One for the Money: The Sentence as a Poetic Form (Blue Lynx Press 2012), and Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence (White Pine Press 2015). She has also received grants from the Daesan Foundation and the Minnesota Arts Board. Currently, Jennifer is associate professor of English at St. Olaf College where she teaches poetry, creative nonfiction, and Asian American studies.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Hélène Cardona

Dancing the Dream

This is a story of flight,
a story of roots,
a story of grace.
I am the wandering child.
Every journey knows a secret destination.
I'll find my way without a map, rely
on memory embedded in my mother's embrace
on stormy nights at the foot of the Alps.
I'll find home in the heart
of a rose, retrieve my soul,
anchored in the still point
where psyche rests,
the presence of mystery so luminous
I'm infused with its essence.
I walk the labyrinth, let
go of confined desires.
I rip the vine intertwined around
the umbilical, liberate the letters of
my name. They soar above the ocean       
for the falcon to reclaim.
I’m dancing the dream
on the brink of barren ravaged realms.
From volcanic pumice and pure clay
I reap scrumptious blossoms of love,
earth’s sweet and savory ambrosia.

From Dreaming My Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry, 2013)

Peregrine Pantoum

Begin with a dream,
snowcapped mountains and rivers of salmon.
Green rays cleave the heart of winter
dancing at the edge of the lake.

Snowcapped mountains and rivers of salmon
echo laughter and lilac sonatas
dancing at the edge of the lake.
Fairy tales beckoning days on end

echo laughter and lilac sonatas,
my grandmother’s exquisite designs.
Fairy tales beckoning days on end,
wisdom and melancholy build fires,

my grandmother’s exquisite designs
engineered by elves. I sleep with fervor.
Wisdom and melancholy build fires,
myriad books and soulful dwellings

engineered by elves. I sleep with fervor
on slippery roads, frozen paths.
Myriad books, soulful dwellings,
enchanted forests ripen with children’s riddles.

Slippery roads, frozen paths
drive mazes of mind.
Enchanted forests ripen with children’s riddles,
exiles and travels, forced and chosen.

Driving mazes of mind,
tales of torture ring from the land of gods,
exiles and travels, forced and chosen.
Sirens and magic flutes ablaze,

Tales of torture ring from the land of gods.
Green rays cleave the heart of winter,
Sirens and magic flutes ablaze.
Begin with a dream.

From Dreaming My Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry, 2013),
first published in Barnwood Mag

Hélène Cardona is a poet, literary translator and actress, author of Dreaming My Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry, 2013), winner of the Pinnacle Book Award and the 2014 Readers’ Favorite Award, The Astonished Universe (Red Hen Press, 2006), Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry, 2016), and Ce que nous portons (Éditions du Cygne, 2014), her translation of What We Carry by Dorianne Laux. She holds a Master’s in English & American Literature from the Sorbonne, taught at Hamilton College and LMU, and received fellowships from the Goethe-Institut & the Universidad Internacional de Andalucía. She is Chief Executive Editor of Dublin Poetry Review and Levure Littéraire, and Managing Editor of Fulcrum. Publications include Washington Square, World Literature Today, Poetry International, The Warwick Review, Irish Literary Times, and many more.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bud Smith

You Can Remain Anonymous

from time to time
we descend the fire escape declaring war on 173rd street

on Friday night
there was a wall of cops on the corner
a girl was abducted
in an unmarked van gunpoint, ski masks children saw it all crouching behind
the chain link fence
in the dog park

our problems:
the corner store is closed
we have to walk uphill to get beer there’s construction
they’ve torn up the roadI loop around forever
searching for a spot
“in the city it’s not called a road” “who fucking cares?”

the subway will soon contain
all the hellstorms of Hell itself and we will sweat
the fruit-stands return
but nothing is ripe yet
I eat it anyway
like a world destroyer
nothing sadder than a bland pear

Saturday, a squad card
rives all up and down the block blasting a looped statement
“if anyone has information regarding an incident
involving a missing person
and a white unmarked van driven away in the night
please contact the NYPD
you can remain anonymous”

for lunch I make eggs
I make bacon
the toast is perfect
best toast I’ve ever toasted we sit at the yellow table slowly sipping hot coffee eyeing each other up

all while the cop cars slowly circle below playing that statement

she’s afraid. I’m afraid
it’s like we will be dragged off at any moment
by our hair, by our teeth
by the veins of our heart however they’d figure out how to do that
criminal masterminds

Monday, at her desk
her co-workers ask her about it
“the thing” It gets much coverage
all across the office
by lunch, a girl has found some info online that says: “over the weekend persons of interest came forward and confessed to police that
they were involved in the ‘abduction’ on 173rd street. It seems
a young man was picking up
his girlfriend for a
SURPRISE BIRTHDAY PARTY and startled her. she screamed
she got in the van. they drove away to the party. had cake.
had balloons that was it. happy birthday”

and I stand
at my corner store window peering into the darkness
wondering when we’ll crash land into Heaven, and get our just rewards for all of our uphill struggles
never, probably
I crunch into a hard nectarine.

previously published in the Olentangy Review

Bud Smith works heavy construction in New Jersey. He lives in NYC. His recent book is the novel F-250.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Dennis Maloney

from Visions of Tao Yuan Ming


I heard a knock at my door early this morning
and in my haste put my robe on inside out.
I went to the door, asking “Who’s there”?
It was a concerned farmer who arrived
with a jug of wine from far away.
He suspected that I was at odds with my time.
“Shabbily dressed under a thatched roof
is not the way a gentleman should live.”
The world agrees on a course
and hopes you will join the muddy game.
My thanks for your suggestion old man,
but it’s my nature to be out of step.
Though you can learn to pull the reins,
to work against your nature is a real mistake.
So let’s just have another drink together,
there’s no turning back my carriage now.



I once made a distant journey
to the shore of the eastern sea,
the road long and far,
the way made difficult with waves and wind.
What drove me to make this journey?
It seems it was hunger me.
I labored hard to fill my belly,
when just a little would have been enough.
Realizing this was not an honorable course,
I turned my carriage and headed home.


A shade orchid grows in the courtyard
but its perfume is hidden, awaiting a breeze.
A fresh wind and suddenly its aroma
distinguishes it from the weeds.
Traveling on and on, one loses the path
but by trusting the Way, one might get through.
Awakening at last, I think of turning back.
“When the birds are gone the bow is put away”.

Dennis Maloney is the editor and publisher of the widely respected White Pine Press in Buffalo, NY. He is also a poet and translator.  His works of translation include: The Stones of Chile by Pablo Neruda, The Landscape of Castile by Antonio Machado, Between the Floating Mist:Poems of Ryokan,and The Poet and the Sea by Juan Ramon Jimenez.  A number of volumes of his own poetry have been published including The Map Is Not the Territory: Poems & Translations and Just Enough. His book Listening to Tao Yuan Ming is forthcoming from Glass Lyre Press. He divides his time between Buffalo, NY and Big Sur, CA.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

John FitzGerald


(for Chris)

I shall now sing you a lullyby.
It goes a little something like this:

Ahem, mi, mi, mi…

Burglars come
at night, when you are sleeping
and if you’re still awake
they chop your stinking head off
so go to bed now
and get yourself some rest

Wasn’t that a lovely lullyby?
Would you like to hear the second verse?

From Favorite Bedtime Stories (Salmon Poetry 2014)


Rule one is dreams, like everything, grow.
What? Did you think the rules never changed?
Well, I might bend them before your eyes.

Rules are something that I can get into.
Collections of words are my forte.
Some might come up again a little later.

But for now, by choice, I still abide.
Choice is also easily numbered.
The two choices here are delete or revise.


Then again, there is a third choice,
which is to leave things as they are. The status quo,
adoring words, and other tricks it may remember.

I listen in, and keep going over
my earlier suggestions of freckles on the Mona Lisa,
or Blue Boy in maroon.

And maybe Shakespeare should have cursed more,
mentioned it if he rented a room,
got caught with his hands full, waxing the wounds.


We could wonder if it were true.
After, he added punctuation,
recounted the number of lines per verse.

And that beginning which couldn’t be found
because it hadn’t yet occurred
wouldn’t appear until line thirty-five,

determining all before could be deleted.
Truth only lives for an instant, there’s no point in going back over it –
another idea I’ll just throw out.


Not all rules are man-made.
Many exist in nature.
In degrees of either on or off, with nothing in between.

Any time a person takes too strong a stance for good,
he’s bound to end up being the bad guy –
That’s rule two.

I mean, things either fall or they don’t,
depending upon the jurisdiction.
Who knew about the moon, for instance?


Rules of one place are broken in another.
You might do what you never could, like float.
Or take an old beginning and replace it.

Apples fell, and Jesus drank,
but what if it were so much he missed his calling?
And were rendered, say, a poet.

The poems would all be miracles, sure.
Lips to red from cyanotic blue,
water to wine, then back again, before anybody noticed.


So much for sacred too.
Rule three is write what the mind provides.
Not to do so is violation, the punishment for which is silence.

I strive to remember what is normal, or in other words, the errors. 
And if there weren’t any I would have to make them up.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer that perfection is attainable.

It’s just that it only lasts a moment,
because rule four is all things change, and then a lot of time
is wasted trying to put things back the way they were. 


The mind travels in waves.
It moves in frequencies detected by the brain.
But here is the difference between thinking and thought:

Scientists know the brain contains memories.
They’ve already probed into just the right places,
made electric currents arise to the level of moronic.

Picture wind as it blows through a tree,
or a river dipped into a cup. A river, by every other sense,
a blind man can’t confuse with the gutter. 


Oh, the mind comes in waves, believe me.
Perfection disguises itself as surrender,
and the funny thing is, it’s flawed.

Plainness makes perfection seem peculiar.
But the universe runs on tiny laws that anyone can break.
Rule five is contradiction – change always remains the same.

Once, I received a compliment.
It was, after hearing you, I don’t feel so screwed up.
And I said thanks. 


A step into emptiness proves the point.
I bear enough weight to crush myself,
But it takes two puffs to blow an ant away.

Did you know if you drop an ant from the Empire State Building,
within sixty seconds it learns about wings?
Feathers without birds nonetheless know how to float.

Those with minds of their own, I know, could take this the wrong way.
But with gravity as rules six through nine,
a minute’s a fucking long time to fly.

From The Mind (Salmon Poetry 2011)


John FitzGerald is a poet, writer, editor, and attorney for the disabled in Los Angeles.
A dual citizen of the U.S. and Ireland, he attended the University of West Los Angeles School of Law, where he was editor of the Law Review. He is author of Favorite Bedtime Stories (Salmon Poetry), The Mind (Salmon Poetry), Telling Time by the Shadows (Turning Point), and Spring Water (Turning Point Books Prize). Other works include Primate, a novel & screenplay, and the non-fiction Everything I Know. He has contributed to the anthologies Human and Inhuman Monstrous Poems (Everyman), Poetry: Reading it, Writing it, Publishing it (Salmon Poetry), Dogs Singing: A Tribute Anthology (Salmon Poetry), Rubicon: Words and Art inspired by Oscar Wilde's De Profundis (Sybaritic Press), and From the Four-Chambered Heart: In Tribute to Anais Nin (Sybaritic Press), and to many journals, notably The Warwick Review, World Literature Today, Mad Hatters’ Review, Barnwood Mag, and Lit Bridge.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Werner Lutz

Distant September
distant flocks of birds

a dusty
lipless grin

too late in the year
too uncertain

to hear the slapping of waves
at the riverbank

words lightly bantered
a playful timelessness



Like a curse
this evening arrives
over the Rhine

the towers sink
in the muddy light

the sandstone towers
winding staircase towers
the towers
of the futile prayers

the cottonwood on the shore
woven with cobwebs
made of pleading
begging sounds

the lips taste
of a foreign voice

Werner Lutz was born in Wolfhaden, Switzerland in 1930, and is considered to be one of Switzerland's foremost living lyric poets.  He has been awarded numerous prizes for his work, including the Basel Lyric Prize (2010) and the city of Basel's Literary Prize (1996).  He has published ten collections of poetry and currently lives in Basel, where he works as a poet, artist and graphic designer. Marc Vincenz's translation of his collection, Kissing Nests was released by Spuyten Duyvil in 2012.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dorianne Laux

Each Sound

Beginnings are brutal, like this accident
of stars colliding, mute explosions
of colorful gases, the mist and dust
that would become our bodies
hurling through black holes, rising,
muck ridden, from pits of tar and clay.
Back then it was easy to have teeth,
claw our ways into the trees — it was
accepted, the monkeys loved us, sat
on their red asses clapping and laughing.
We’ve forgotten the luxury of dumbness,
how once we crouched naked on an outcrop
of rock, the moon huge and untouched
above us, speechless. Now we talk
about everything, incessantly,
our moans and grunts turned on a spit
into warm vowels and elegant consonants.
We say plethora, demitasse, ozone and love.
We think we know what each sound means.
There are times when something so joyous
or so horrible happens our only response
is an intake of breath, and hen
we’re back at the truth of it,
that ball of life expanding
and exploding on impact, our heads,
our chest, filled with that first
unspeakable light.

From What We Carry (Boa Editions, 1994)


Moonlight pours down
without mercy, no matter
how many have perished
beneath the trees.
The river rolls on.
There will always be
silence, no matter
how long someone
has wept against
the side of a house,
bare forearms pressed
to the shingles.
Everything ends.
Even pain, even sorrow.
The swans drift on.
Reeds bear the weight
of their feathery heads.
Pebbles grow smaller,
smoother beneath night’s
rough currents. We walk
long distances, carting
our bags, our packages.
Burdens or gifts.
We know the land
is disappearing beneath
the sea, islands swallowed
like prehistoric fish.
We know we are doomed,
done for, damned, and still
the light reaches us, falls
on our shoulders even now,
even here where the moon is
hidden from us, even though
the stars are so far away.



We were afraid of everything: earthquakes,
strangers, smoke above the canyon, the fire
that would come running and eat up our house,
the Claymore girls, big-boned, rough, razor blades
tucked in the ratted hair. We were terrified

of polio, tuberculosis, being found out, the tent
full of boys two blocks over, the kick ball, the asphalt,
the pain-filled rocks, the glass-littered canyon, the deep
cave gouged in its side, the wheelbarrow crammed
with dirty magazines, beer cans, spit-laced butts.

We were afraid of hands, screen doors slammed
by angry mothers, abandoned cars, their slumped
back seats, the chain-link fence we couldn’t climb
fast enough, electrical storms, blackouts, girl fights
behind the pancake house, Original Sin, sidewalk
cracks and the corner crematorium, loose brakes
on the handlebar of our bikes. It came alive

behind our eyes: ant mounds, wasp nests, the bird
half-eaten on the scratchy grass, chained dogs,
the boggy creekbed, the sewer main that fed it,
the game where you had to hold your breath
until you passed out. We were afraid of being

poor, dumb, yelled at, ignored, invisible
as the nuclear dust we were told to wipe
from lids before we opened them in the kitchen,
the fat roll of meat that slid into the pot, sleep,
dreams, the soundless swing of the father’s
ringed fist, the mother’s face turned away,
the wet bed, anything red, the slow leak,
the stain on the driveway, oily gears soaking
in a shallow pan, busted chairs stuffed
in the rafters of the neighbor’s garage,
the Chevy’s twisted undersides jacked up
on blocks, wrenches left scattered in the dirt.

It was what we knew best, understood least,
it whipped through our bodies like fire or sleet.
We were lured by the Dumpster behind the liquor store,
fissures in the baked earth, the smell of singed hair,
the brassy hum of high-tension towers, train tracks,
buzzards over a ditch, black widows, the cat
with one eye, the red spot on the back of the skirt,
the fallout shelter’s metal door hinged ot the rusty
grass, the back way, the wrong path, the night’s
wide back, the coiled bedsprings of the sister’s
top bunk, the wheezing, the cousin in the next room
tapipng on the wall, anything small.

We were afraid of clotheslines, curtain rods, the worn
hairbrush, the good-for-nothings we were about to become,
reform school, the long ride to the ocean on the bus,
the man at the back of the bus, the underpass.

We were afraid of fingers of pickleweed crawling
over the embankment, the French Kiss, the profound
silence of dead fish, burning sand, rotting elastic
in the waistbands of our underpants, jellyfish, riptides,
eucalyptus bark unraveling, the pink flesh beneath
the stink of seaweed, seagulls landing near our feet,
their hateful eyes, their orange-tipped beaks stabbing
the sand, the crumbling edge of the continent we stood on,
waiting to be saved, the endless, wind-driven waves.

From Smoke (BOA Editions, 2000)

DORIANNE LAUX’s most recent books of poems are The Book of Men, winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize, and Facts about the Moon, recipient of the Oregon Book Award and short-listed for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Laux is also author of Awake, What We Carry, finalist for the National Book Critic’s Circle Award, and Smoke. Her work has received three “Best American Poetry” Prizes, a Pushcart Prize, two fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2001, she was invited by late poet laureate Stanley Kunitz to read at the Library of Congress.  In 2014 singer/songwriter Joan Osborne adapted her poem, “The Shipfitter’s Wife” and set it to music on her newest release, “Love and Hate”. She teaches poetry and directs the MFA program at North Carolina State University and she is founding faculty at Pacific University's Low Residency MFA Program.

Robert Archambeau

Sheena is a Punk Rocker

She, Sheena of the Jungle, the pulp-paged comics’ great white queen,

she, Sheena, born in slumped-out England, born

for young Will Eisner’s tabloid-writing scheme,

born of Jerry Eigner’s drawing, Eisner’s jiggle-in-the-jungle dream.

Reborn stateside nine months later (the money was better),

reborn a soft-core smash-hit shiksa, Jumbo Comics break-out dame.

Born first in the blur of Eisner’s novel-reading dreaming —

she, Sheena, born first in Rider Haggard’s one-hand-novel She.

Sheena born in the blur of the movie-goer’s dreaming

when Jeffrey Hyman (he’d drop Jeff, and go by Joey,

he’d drop Hyman, and then go by Ramone) caught her

in a seedy New York retro matinee:

kitsch TV for downtown’s nascent highbrow-lowbrow scene.

She, Sheena of the big screen, born Nellie McCalla,

born the butcher’s daughter (fifth of eight), she couldn’t stay

in dull Pawnee, hopped it from her butcher father,

hopped the train from dull Pawnee.

Reborn in chic L.A., she, Sheena, she’d drop “Nellie,”

pose for Vargas, pose it well and beach-front, pose it well, and not for free.

“I couldn’t act,” says Sheena, “but I could swing from trees.”

A pinned-up blonde, improbable as jungle queen,

improbable as her build, her frame, her curving fame, as in:

her 39-19-37, she, Sheena,

a big-screen screen-test six-foot queen.

She, Sheena, born again when Jeffrey (call him Joey) made

his infinitely probable 2 minutes forty, his infinitely perfect

four-chord chart-this scheme. Teens drive it up to 81,

in England make that 23. The hopped-up numbers scream

they know it: Sheena is a punk rocker, Sheena is

a punk rocker, Sheena is a punk rocker now.

Robert Archambeau's books include The Poet Resigns: Poetry in a Difficult World (2013), Laureates and Heretics: Six Careers in American Poetry (2010) and Home and Variations (2004), as well as the edited collections Letters of Blood and Other English Writings of Göran Printz-Påhlson (2011), The &NOW Awards: The Best Innovative Writing (2009), and Word Play Place: Essays on the Poetry of John Matthias (1998). He teaches at Lake Forest College and blogs at Samizdatblog.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Joseph Millar


All year they’ve given things away:
lipsticks, stockings, movie tickets,
wiper blades and cigarette money.
At dawn they stand over our sleeping bodies
gazing into the vague, distant future.
Then they stay outdoors after dinner
smoking and watching the road turn dark
and they don’t want to come back inside.

A thousand of them have rested later
under the gray coat still wet with rain
in their belt buckles and reading glasses,
their hatbands and tobacco smells.
When they fall asleep
night collects in their palms,
miles of track turn bright with dew
and a net of stars rises
over the river. They hear a voice
like their own
asking for order, asking for quiet
while the world tilts away from the sun.
and the shadows grow long
at the end of fall
over the wisps and stubble,
over the dust and chaff.

New Truck

I want a new truck
a green Dodge with the Cummins engine
four-wheel drive sitting high up off the road
and the long bench seat with sheepskins.
I'll have Automatic so I don't spill my coffee
power wing mirrors so I can see everywhere.
I'll wave to all the people in suits
coming out of the bank,
and turn on the radio
to some Texas blues.
Then I'll drive down Main Street
past the courthouse
heading straight for the waterfront
a strawberry blond with a nice big ass
sitting close up beside me
with her hand on my leg
chewing Juicyfruit
and talking a blue streak.

JOSEPH MILLAR'S first collection, Overtime was a finalist for the 2001 Oregon Book Award. His second collection, Fortune, appeared in 2007, followed by a third, Blue Rust, in 2012. Millar grew up in Pennsylvania and attended Johns Hopkins University before spending 25 years in the San Francisco Bay area working at a variety of jobs, from telephone repairman to commercial fisherman. It would be two decades before he returned to poetry. His work—stark, clean, unsparing—records the narrative of a life fully lived among fathers, sons, brothers, daughters, weddings and divorce, men and women.He has won fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as a 2008 Pushcart Prize and has appeared in such magazines as DoubleTake, TriQuarterly, The Southern Review, APR, and Ploughshares.  Millar teaches in Pacific University's low-residency MFA.

Edward Wells II

What would it be to return to what they call home?

That house with that man,
so thick standing on the stone porch.
Lawn sparse, parts brown.
Still couldn't see his vulnerability.

His was the mouth that silenced mine.
His image became my fear of being poor:
alone, broken.
Still, he can't show me love—
as it is to me.

One Night

Walking in the rain
The drops, more like kisses than tears in this heat
The warm air; the wind

The palms, calling the storm
Your eyes watch the dog

Thinking of the bus
The music still echoing:
in your mind; in the street behind you

Tomorrow is Sunday
It is so close now, beginning just miles to the west

Edward Wells II was born in the United States of America. He is hiding out and helping out in the mountains of Colorado in-wait to depart for Indonesia, March of 2015. His recent collections include: Mexico 2009 (2010 Full of Crow); Thrw: 3 | w (2012 concept; please press); CO (2013 Pedestrian Press); They Come From (2014); Anatomical Fugitive Sheets (fictions accompanied by original paintings by Tom Melsen 2014); Waiting (working title). A collaborative novella with Nicolás Díaz, Commuter (2014 Fiction Attic) was also recently published. Meanwhile, Edward's book i Am not Sam: Scribblings from American Samoa is forthcoming from MadHat Press (2015). Edward began Creative Writing coursework through the University of Toronto in 2014. He holds a four-year degree in English: Creative Writing and a two-year Liberal Arts degree.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Christopher Shipman

The Movie My Murderer Makes

My murderer has stalked me my entire life. He stood beside the bassinet the day I was brought home from the hospital. There he was again at my first birthday party. My mother must have thought he was a distant cousin she hadn’t seen in years. If you’re thinking this sounds like a scene from a scary movie, I think so, too, and that’s what it would feel like if I could remember, but it was my first birthday, so I don’t. I just imagine a Superman cake with one blue candle stuck in its red chest, and people peering over at what must be the little me, and any one of them my murderer.

The Movie My Murderer Makes

He showed up at my friend’s lake house every summer when I was a kid. He caught the most fish. He held his breath under the water the longest. I swam by. I felt him pinch my leg. Sometimes it felt more like a tickle. I giggled. He hid in the tool shed. He knew I wasn’t afraid unless I was asleep. He held hairspray and a lighter behind his back and snorted. He used to hog the bathroom, too. He hid in the tub. And in the kitchen once I caught him with his face shoved in the fridge, looking for leftover pizza. My friend’s father saw him that time and chased him down the moonlit mossy steps all the way into the moonlit mossy lake. He swam to the other side and disappeared into the night.

The Movie My Murderer Makes

My parents had him over for dinner one night. We had meatloaf and mashed potatoes. He polished off two plates, then washed the dishes. I wanted him to finish my meatloaf so I could have a piece of apple pie, but he just kept repeating, “I already ate, I already ate,” as he backed slowly out of our house, hopped on a tandem bicycle and rode off alone. It was sad. And also like someone was filming the whole thing from the top of the catalpa in our front yard.


These murders first appeared in PANK and will be published in the chapbook The Movie My Murderer Makes forthcoming early 2015 from The Cupboard.

Most recently, Shipman is co-author with Vincent Cellucci of A Ship on the Line (Unlikely Books). Forthcoming work includes a chapbook of short prose pieces, The Movie My Murderer Makes (The Cupboard), and co-authored with Brett Evans, The T. Rex Parade (Lavender Ink). His poems appear in journals such as Cimarron Review, PANK, and Salt Hill, among many others. Shipman lives in New Orleans with his wife and daughter and teaches English literature and creative writing to high school kids.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Lee Slonimsky


for Harry Soodak
I have to pause to feel my atoms spin,
to flow with physics governing within,
or else reality would merely be
dry words in textbooks.

                                            Here, upon this ridge
commanding twenty miles of woods below,
I ride the view, my atoms’ roll; see a smudge
of black cloud east, forecasting rain or snow
and watch a hawk coast gusts, like waves at sea,
her feathered flesh atomic too, like mine.

And we’re both cousins to these trees, a lark,
all weather, wind, one falling leaf, an ant
so capable of doing what I can’t:

back-carrying ten times his weight up bark.
The sun itself (atomic-craft).  A fly.  This pine.


I wish these woods would change their color
all at once

instead of meekslow hints of orange, tan,
but much of nature’s heart is patience and

it’s often only birds who hurry, as right now:

a flock that flurries, half tree height,
their black still glossy from last hour’s rain,
across this glen, as fast as summer’s wane
is slow,

                entangled in dense leaves, late light.


The scent of lemon trees far out at sea
without cargo, or even wind, to explain:

you smelled it too.  I saw your puzzlement;
we shrugged away confusion, sipped our jasmine tea
and watched seasparkle from our deck chairs, then
reflected on what such little miracles meant.

“Perhaps ten million years ago, this
was quite the sunwashed valley; groves of trees
so thick their scent persists,” I said.  You laughed:

“Some things just can’t be explained.”

                                                                    A breeze
picked up, and lemons vanished.  Sea turned rough,
our chairs began to slide, then we got up,
observing quite a leap from a blue fish
that surged skyward, then dove in a gleaming loop.
I took your hand; we balanced; air was chill.

And soon the sun returned, and sea was still.

Lee Slonimsky’s work has appeared in Best of Asheville Poetry Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Measure, The New York Times, New Ohio Review, North Dakota Quarterly, and Poetry Daily, and has received seven Pushcart Prize nominations and one for Best of the Web.  His fifth collection of poems, Wandering Electron, was published by Spuyten Duyvil Press in 2014.  Lee is also the co-author, along with his wife, Hammett Prize winning mystery writer Carol Goodman, of the Lee Carroll Black Swan Rising trilogy from Tor in the US and Bantam in the UK.  And he conducts a monthly New York City poetry writing workshop, “Walking with the Sonnet.”