person Charlotte Hamrick, one poem

Charlotte Hamrick’s poetry, prose, and photography has been published in numerous online and print journals including Foliate Oak, MORIA, Pithead Chapel, and The Rumpus. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and was a Finalist for the 15th Glass Woman Prize for her Creative Non-Fiction. She is Creative Nonfiction Editor for Barren Magazine and lives in New Orleans with her husband and a menagerie of rescued pets.

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Call and Response

After-life is waiting, treading water.
Hovering there beyond the sun as I sit
in my bones and pull blankets over
my head. Church bells count the hours
until there is no more weaving of fine wool
or forging of metal.

Euterpe plays her flute while I hold
my breath in preparation,
water rising,
singing to the crescent moon.
Might I save my grandmother’s letters,
my sister’s photos,
save them
from the muddy river bottom?

I am standing on the levee, bare feet
in soft sand, holding a lantern, looking
for lost souls and lost ships.
On the other bank, an answering light.
This is where I decide.

\\-

person Mark J Mitchell, one poem

Mark J. Mitchell was born in Chicago and grew up in southern California. His latest poetry collection, Starting from Tu Fu, will be published by Encircle Publications shortly. He is very fond of baseball, Miles Davis, Kafka and Dante. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the activist and documentarian, Joan Juster where he makes his meager living pointing out pretty things.  He has published two novels, three chapbooks, and two full length collections so far. Titles on request.  A meager online presence can be found at https://www.facebook.com/MarkJMitchellwriter/

~~~

SHORT TOTENTANZ

Dancing behind, ahead beneath, above,
one Death calls names softly as flower songs.
It’s never personal. He has enough
for all. Mornings still arrive, rosy dawns
show off after you go missing. This proves
less than sad. A music moves you along
where awkward feet slip and one note goes wrong.
He’s always there wherever you move—
that dancer—behind—ahead. You’re above
your death. Call his name, his soft flower song.

~~~

person Stephanie L Harper, four poems

Stephanie L. Harper has recently relocated from Hillsboro, OR to Indianapolis, IN to pursue her M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Butler University. Harper is author of the chapbooks This Being Done and The Death’s-Head’s Testament. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Slippery Elm, The High Window, Panoply, Isacoustic*, Underfoot Poetry, Eclectica, Cathexis Northwest, and elsewhere.

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Insomniac’s Fugue

with lines from Paul Celan’s “Todesfuge”

surging the body awake at night
this sleepless penitence singing the present

is measures composed in the dark
blood of ancestors & victims
repeating their chronicles
awake wenn es dunkelt
when it darkens ein Mann
er schenkt uns ein Grab in der Luft
he gives us a grave in the sky
in the sky

is a wake of white
milked from nuts wir trinken
sie mittags und morgens
the daylight we drink
with illusory vanilla
notes of cinder tongues
proclaiming Life:
Schwarze Milch der Frühe
daybreak’s black milk

is an ardent robin intoning
counterpoint to the now
looping orchestral
theme song of Doctor Who
from temporal lobe hallucinations
the teenage daughter’s recent binge incites
slinking through the gloom downstairs
echoing ghostly

is a dream of the son with autism simulating in song
his longing after “falling in love”—

is an anthem                 is a meaning                 is my hope
someday to know what it means for him
learning to warble so
his crystal baritenor bell repeating
what he hears perfectly when
they say that falling in love is wonderful
wonderful in every way so they say

is why my body is lying awake
in the milk-white pall of the lonely
moon’s illusory east to west trace stippling
cinder sheets through egg-shell staves
es blitzen die Sterne the stars’ twinkles
composing the vanilla night

is the earth’s harbor ein Grab
in der Erde for the cursed
dust out of the fallow seasons’
ashes the body tries to deny
der Tod ist ein Meister death is
a dominion like the song
my daughter keeps playing over & over
immortalizing the chronicles
of an ancient Time Lord’s Life

is this Life composed
of too many switched-off signals
repeating for hours in the dark
blood surging me awake
counterpoint to my not-dreaming-now

is the wistful song that breaks in the dark
hours before illusory sweet daylight
of cinder wir trinken und trinken
daybreak’s black milk we drink
our tongues proclaiming Life

is vanilla-white

is blood surging

is this sleepless penitence
surging my body awake
in the darkest hours of night

is the noble robin awake—     awake—     awake—     awake—

~~

Terminal

What is the terminal velocity of a squirrel?
my son once asked

(only the gods know what
precipitated his inquiry),

no doubt hoping
for a literal response;

but i couldn’t help
wondering

whether the fall that fails
to attenuate its consequent

landing, misses the mark,
or strikes true?

While certain Rodentia have
inherited the uncanny

fortune of built-in
arm-to-ankle extensions,

evolution withholds
such membranous solutions

to our own, inborn
predilection for doom.

What profit is to be
won of our climbing—

of so much inching along
the highest branches until

they can no longer bear
our weight—

much less of our retreats,
our blunderings, our plummets?

Does the sole, stepping
forth, create the target,

or obliterate its imprinted
eons from the forest loam?

Terminal is an attitude,
i wish i’d known enough to tell him,

having little to do with velocity,
& much to do with trajectory.

~~~

Cephalopod

I know how you tried to befuddle me
with that ten-legged head of yours—

how you thought you’d streak by
& ink me blind, but I see

how it is: I mean, once your penetrating-
obsidian eyes shone the ocean alive,

that cute little stunt of tucking back
your longest tentacles, as if you could

pass for being one of the girls, almost
like innocuous, trifling, bipedal me,

was glaringly obvious. I know your beak
was really poised from the start to strike—

to crack open my sternum, take
my breath into your breath, & feast

on the still-thudding muscle inside me—
because motoring between my mere

two legs, primed to be torpedoed
by your mantle, until I tauten

like a caecum gorged on tiger prawns,
is the same jet-propulsion as yours

worked in reverse…

~~~~

Self-Portrait as Ellipsis…

In a perpetual state of waiting
for the inevitable to come to pass,
my toe taps its refrain like the telltale
heart beneath the floorboards. I know
I’ll be unearthed, eventually, it’s just
a matter of time before my unassailable
beats broadcasting their rhythm from
beneath your feet—droning, insistent,
speaking to you in a voice you never stop
hearing, though it isn’t clear whether
it’s your ears, or a whole other part of you
perceiving it—impels your answer.

~~~~~

{ Space Struck – poems – Paige Lewis }

Space Struck
poems, Paige Lewis
Sarabande Books, 2019

~

If, instead of a far creature, I imagine here an empty cage, then perhaps I’ve been blessed by revelation as originally intended, and tended to, in and by the baptismal poems of Paige Lewis as visible from their Space Struck, a work of thisness and anti-thatness. In a verse so propulsive that the forms therein dance in the before and after of being re-shadowed, Lewis makes of the beyond a proximity where privacy enters the pocket as a rescued oyster and emerges secretly as a smallness freed from size. In places such as these, urgency need not be restless, awe need not outgrow its display, and we need not slow ourselves to be overtaken by beauty.

~

reflection by Barton Smock

~

book is here:
http://www.sarabandebooks.org/titles-20192039/space-struck-paige-lewis

person Rupert Loydell, one poem

Rupert Loydell is Senior Lecturer in the School of Writing and Journalism at Falmouth University, a writer, editor and abstract artist. He has many books of poetry in print, including Dear Mary, The Return of the Man Who Has Everything, Wildlife and Ballads of the Alone, all published by Shearsman, and Talking Shadows from Red Ceilings. Shearsman also published Encouraging Signs, a book of essays, articles and interviews. He has also authored many collaborative works, several with Daniel Y. Harris; and edited Smartarse and co-edited Yesterday’s Music Today for Knives Forks & Spoons Press, From Hepworth’s Garden Out: poems about painters and St. Ives for Shearsman, and Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh: manifestos and unmanifestos for Salt.

/~~

STUPID IDEAS

Fairies, princesses, games of noughts & crosses,
old drawings by the girls, are scattered
throughout my notebooks: personal histories.

I’m struggling to relax and get ready
to travel and meet the world. Bad coffee
in the station cafe doesn’t help; I don’t like

being early but Peter needed to get to work.
Two books and a change of clothes,
an advance ticket and lots of stupid ideas

for the rest of my life. Thought I saw Cathy
but it wasn’t her, wasn’t anyone I knew.
Everything is on time or happens when

it happens: we will get there in the end.
Terminal decline is the long slow slope,
the way things fall apart, wear out,

or simply stop. The local train meanders off
on its branch line, the platform is filling up.
There’d better be a seat.

                                          When I wake up
it is Somerset, blue thunder over the hills,
a patch of sunlight in the distance

illuminating but also bleaching out.
A red ball’s beached in the bend of a stream,
swans are asleep in the centre of a field

which has been carefully mown in a spiral
from the centre. There is a tractor and
a disused shed in every muddy corner.

~~/

person Kevin Casey, two poems

Kevin Casey is the author of Ways to Make a Halo (Aldrich Press, 2018) and American Lotus, winner of the 2017 Kithara Prize (Glass Lyre Press, 2018). And Waking… was published by Bottom Dog Press in 2016. His poems have appeared in Rust+Moth, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Connotation Press, Pretty Owl Poetry, Poet Lore and Ted Kooser’s syndicated column ‘American Life in Poetry.’ For more, visit andwaking.com.”

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Snowglobe

When my grandmother came to live with us
after her surgery, our dinner time changed
and we no longer sat at the table.
My sister and I had to share a bathroom,
and I had to sweep up the bits of paint

that her wheelchair would knock from the doorways
of our house–a flurry of white chips
scattered in drifts across the threshold
of the bathroom door, the living room door,
her bedroom that used to be our playroom.

At first, I needed to be reminded.
But then I began to follow behind,
watching her with my dustpan and brush,
anticipating the sound of rubber wheels
that creaked from the wood floor to the carpet.

By the time she passed away later that year,
I began to dream I was trapped inside
a snowglobe that my grandmother kept shaking,
running back and forth with my dustpan upraised,
desperate to capture each flake before it fell.

/\

Letting Go

A half-ripe apple plunges with abandon
from its comfortable perch through the tree’s
layered canopy of woven branches.

You look up at the sound of it crashing
through October’s rusting leaves, its rush
to give in to a moment’s joy toward
a single bounce on the frost-scorched grass,
then to sink into the soil bruised but free.

How weary it must have grown of those long weeks
spent carrying the burden of our plans,
our hopes for an ample harvest, weighed down
even as a white-winged blossom in spring,
and all summer spent so close to heaven.

\//\

person Mike Ferguson, one poem

Mike Ferguson is an American permanently resident in the UK. His most recent poetry publication is Professions [The Red Ceilings Press, 2018], and a collection of found prose poems is forthcoming with Knives Forks and Spoons Press.

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Red Hot Pokers and a Moon Half Way Up the 11am Sky

The art gallery is just beyond – and there are paintings neither of us would know – but when asked, you tell me immediately what those flowers are called. I name it a simple thing. This time of year until the turn of permanent cold. Out of torch lilies and kniphofia, I would go with the first had you not been with me. Shame of a dancing bear prompted. Only one day before had been such a misery, and here we were, for just an hour [maybe], able to see colour. Imagine that world rife with kniphofia crime. Nothing can make you dance, yet you’d feel the extra pain. It was when driving home I saw it hanging in there.

~~