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.

~

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.”

\/

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.

~~

person Annie Stenzel, two poems

Annie Stenzel was born in Illinois, but has lived on both coasts of the U.S. and on other continents at various times in her life. Her book-length collection is The First Home Air After Absence (Big Table Publishing, 2017). Her poems appear or are forthcoming in print and online journals in the U.S. and the U.K., from Allegro to Willawaw Journal with stops at Ambit, Catamaran, Chestnut Review, Gargoyle, Kestrel, Poets Reading the News, The Lake, and Whale Road, among others. She lives within sight of the San Francisco Bay. For more, visit http://www.anniestenzel.com.

//

An evolution

Was there milk in my mouth
when I learned to speak?

My first sentence definitive,
a clear declaration after I was placed
face up, outdoors, on a blanket one summer’s night:
I want my own sky!

Was there water in my eyes
when I learned to cry?

Not hunger-tears, nor diaper-discomfort,
not even post-nightmare dismay: I wept because
I wanted to see the Moon’s expression
when her face was turned away from us.

Was there a song in my ears
when I learned to sing?

First I began, all innocence and melody,
then I was silenced, because my pitch was imperfect.
Thereafter, even the shower walls
were respectful when I sang.

Were all of the world’s words in my mind
when I learned to write?

I know German, and a little Gibberish; at one point
I was fluent in French. But most of what I say
when I talk in my sleep is murmured, strictly dreamstuff,
not something you would recognize as speech.

\\

(This is the alternative)

On a day when almost everything is too much effort
it turns out I am holding a banana in one hand
and not for the first time, either:
hardly anything enjoys the privilege of uniqueness.

It turned out I was holding a banana in one hand
while I stared out the dirty window to the street.
Hardly anything suffers the stigma of uniqueness.
There is a reason: we would be frightened, and we already are.

While I was staring out the window to the street
I was also trying to keep certain thoughts at bay
and for good reason: I can be frightened, and I am.
As it was, I tried to hear the freeway sounds as soothing.

There I lay, trying to keep thoughts at bay
but they were like fish that jump into the boat while you’re rowing!
I tried hard to hear the freeway noise as soothing
and not as the sound of tumbrels, advancing on the Place de Grève.

I’m serious: once a fish did jump into an eight I was rowing.
You wouldn’t read about it! the doctor at 5-seat exclaimed
but he’d never heard tumbrels, advancing on the Place de Grève.
Enough about Paris … that was then; this is now.

That fellow at 5-seat never read about it, silly doctor.
Many people are squeamish about flights of the imagination.
But enough about Paris: that was then; surely this is now.
And remember that most old lakes are difficult to navigate.

Isn’t everyone somewhat squeamish? Imagination takes flight
and not for the first time, either:
Old lakes really are most difficult to navigate
on a day when almost everything is too much effort.

//\\

person Kelli Allen, a poem for Daniel Deardorff

Kelli Allen’s work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the US and internationally. She has served as Poetry Editor for The Lindenwood Review and she directed River Styx’s Hungry Young Poets Series (2013-2017). She is currently a visiting professor of English Literature at Northeast Normal University in Changchun, China.

She is the recipient of the 2018 Magpie Award for Poetry. Her chapbook, Some Animals, won the 2016 Etchings Press Prize. Her chapbook, How We Disappear, won the 2016 Damfino Press award. Her full-length poetry collection, Otherwise, Soft White Ash, arrived from John Gosslee Books (2012) and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her collection, Imagine Not Drowning, was released by C&R Press in January 2017. Allen’s new collection, Banjo’s Inside Coyote, arrived from C&R Press March, 2019.

http://www.kelli-allen.com

~*~

Myth talker, deer singer
-for Daniel Deardorff

It’s a descent, Danny. The archers only miss
before winter. You have gone into that within
so many times. And now that invincible core
steels the eyes from elk to guide the way
forward. We limp toward the trees
together, between guitar strings you left
on the cabin porch and the two crows
who need materials for their hoary nest.

All the cunning in that universe is a gift
under the skin of what will not heal.
We recognized you coming through
our exiles, not to shame our monstrous
greed, but to lift packages from the floor
to decorate our birthing tables, to witness
our sorry faces when we ask what we missed.

You were iron from the quick, holder against
the keys spilt too soon from outturned pockets.
How could we know then to love you as you
built stone-by-stone these men who would stand
over our beds insuring limbs could uncurl into sleep?

Danny, the way out meant being weary of hunger
for the whole summer. We all end in a salty mound
of food not good enough for the brown rat’s shadow.
This is where those myths have gone. With you.
With the suffering of otherness, looking up.

~*~