person Charlie Brice, two poems

Charlie Brice is the author of Flashcuts Out of Chaos (2016), Mnemosyne’s Hand (2018), and An Accident of Blood (2019), all from WordTech Editions. His poetry has been nominated for the Best of Net anthology and twice for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Atlanta Review, The Sunlight Press, Chiron Review, Plainsongs, I-70 Review, Mudfish 12, The Paterson Literary Review, and elsewhere.

//

Van Cliburn

Was it because the wind blew
so loudly on the barren prairie that
thought went missing in the gale?

Was it the emptiness and largess—
men in baggy suits, women’s circle
skirts, so many blubbering through

the prosperous fifties? Was it because Ike
and Khrushchev were threatening a last
dance in a mushroom cloud?

Was it because this young guy from Kilgore,
Texas grew up where it was so flat and dusty
that either you drank all the time,

made friends with a cow, or gave your heart
to something so completely that it became
the very form of your soul?

Surely that’s all we had in common: emptiness,
ubiquitous dust, and calamitous wind. Still,
I shared with this man a gushing love

of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov and
the Russian spirit—a romance of music
that let us survive ourselves.

\\

Returning to Earth

In Returning to Earth*,
Jim Harrison’s character, Donald,
climbs into his own grave while
a relative administers a lethal potion.
He was terminally ill as we all are,
which was Jim’s point, and felt that death
was nature, not at its finest,
but at its essence.

When Jim Harrison died
a friend found his body
on his studio floor, a pen
lodged in his hand. A poem
he’d abandoned by dying
on his desk.

My father-in-law, Ben Alexander,
discovered the seventh clotting factor
of the blood in the thirties. He was
a passionate scientist, but also
a passionate violinist. His brother
Joseph was a composer and pianist.
They loved playing together.
One evening in 1978, after playing
Beethoven’s Spring Sonata with Joseph,
Ben put down his fiddle and died.

The Tibetan Monk, Sogyal Rinpoche,
writes that we only know two things:
We are going to die and we don’t know when.
I would add two more: We don’t know
whether our death will be a good one or a bad one,
and we don’t know that final song,
that final poem partly unwritten.

______________________________________________________________________
*Jim Harrison, Returning to Earth, New York: Grove Press, 2007

//

 

{ In The Field Between Us – poems – Molly McCully Brown + Susannah Nevison }

In The Field Between Us
Molly McCully Brown + Susannah Nevison
Persea Books, 2020

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It is possible our maker knows we are makerless. What can we do? Pair up, perhaps. Read outwardly, together, this In The Field Between Us, placed so mortally within by poets Molly McCully Brown and Susannah Nevison. Look, I have wanted to write you. But instead I cup my hands by holding this book while elsewhere I clay and call inside its impression of response. Oh body, with your origin stories for mirrors. Oh eye, with your cut of arrival’s winnings. I was wrong to think correspondence would turn one lonely. Here, in a verse predating what is both former and latter, are two as two bringing transport to a standstill. Should I go on? Can I? How pure and wrecked can language be? I can’t say, but start here. There are tools used in this work that don’t exist. I needn’t be whole, but am by them, fixed.

~

reflection by Barton Smock

~

book is here:
https://www.perseabooks.com/in-the-field-between-us

person Howie Good, two poems

Howie Good is the author most recently of Stick Figure Opera: 99 100-word Prose Poems from Cajun Mutt Press. He co-edits the online journals Unbroken and UnLost.

Love in Time of . . .

The spring has started off all wrong.
It’s been dark and murky, and I’ve got
no idea why. I’m struggling to keep
the screech of panic out of my voice.
Chinese! The sky is full of them. Maybe
what I need more than isolation or
bleach is the soft, reassuring weight
of your body on mine. The grim faces
on TV advise completely the opposite,
but we’re meant to be held by each other,
amazed by how much we can touch.

Apathy for the Devil

This is the country you heard rumors about, where the sky acquires the greenish sheen of sickness and birds are forced by the diseased air to fly close to the ground, where memory lasts just a very short time, where school hallways are spotted with blood and the cops have a penchant for suicide, where deranged angels hoot all night in the tree outside your window, where thought is folly and endings go spectacularly wrong, where love, invisible until now but always there, spreads like a spider crack.

&

Maybe if I shorten my name, quit Facebook, lose the gut, I can escape everyone’s notice. I don’t care what the police say; today it’s cold and getting colder. People are acting more than just a little crazy, running around and around and not realizing they’re always running in the same spot. At this distance, I can’t hear all the cries or actually see who that is writhing on the ground. Whoever it is, they’re beating him bloody with baseball bats. It’s like Moses striking the rock and thinking, Be water: blossom everywhere.

&

We’re always evolving, always about to become something else, always both here and not here. Seen from space, we’ll appear at times to be moving away from something, but at other times to be moving toward it. I have to walk really carefully or there are consequences – dark energy, space-time decay, bubbles of nothing. Wherever we go, however long we stay there, God is a joke nobody gets. Most of us develop our own variant of “oh well.” It’s why the soul weighs just 11 ounces.

 

person J.D. Nelson, one poem

J. D. Nelson (b. 1971) experiments with words in his subterranean laboratory. Visit http://www.MadVerse.com for more information and links to his published poems. Nelson lives in Colorado.

^^^^^

bright bird was to wear an apple

the miracle ice of the world to know us
the complete corn as a new vegetable

we hear of the light as one more of the soundhouse tapes
cooking that brain too loudly

the robotic moist apple tonight is the shape of the dream
we get that rasp of the clone

the start of the world in the ice of shrimp hampton
ministry of tree foot the gallant yes

we hear the same talk from the dragon
you have that serious foot of the proper talk

the fool in the ice water
the starting gulp and a new picnic

^^^^^

person Brian Glaser, one poem

Brian Glaser has published two books of poems, The Sacred Heart and All the Hills. He has published many essays on poetry and poetics and he is an associate professor of English at Chapman University in Orange, California.

*

DIFFICULT JOY

1.
someone’s a wren
tugging at the sun;

the fire’s throat
on the last lectern—

added to them
just in time

—night newborn,
you will say maybe—

2.
the spirit of a magnet
against the spirit

of the rain—

irrational as a number
in the garden—

your second beard,
the literal meaning

of the four
memories at once—

3.
what the leafless trees add
is nothing

to the tally of whiteness—

her genius
harasses like the wind;

death’s creek—
a broken doorbell—

4.
darkroom of a deacon—

the exultant slide to the corner
of the pitch—

5.
dark energy,
a mass,—

Cherry Garcia—
save me some,

I will lick it happily
from your knuckle—

*

person Jesse Wolfe, seven poems

Jesse Wolfe is a professor of English at California State University, Stanislaus. He is the author of Bloomsbury, Modernism, and the Reinvention of Intimacy (Cambridge UP, 2011) and the recipient of an award from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Wolfe is the winner of the Hill-Müller Poetry and August Derleth Poetry Contests, and his work has been published in New Millennium WritingsPenumbraRed River ReviewRiver Poets JournalHenniker ReviewShanti, and elsewhere.

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Bunyanshack

A spiral of pigeons rose from the roof.
(The scaffolding had been removed;
the lumberjack statue stood, complete.)

In the parking lot, Arnie said
he used to ignore Beethoven’s first three,
but now, they glide straight out of late Mozart.

This discovery, Arnie, was new
twenty years ago. Now it’s a commercial
for someone you’d like to think is still you.

Barbara smoked, leaning against the truck.
We all stood in the middle
of something irrevocable. Anything they’d failed

to tell mom was a permanent failure.
But she and I had said everything:
In Ojai, hiking among the orange trees,

we remembered the year I left college:
long asthmatic nights in filthy depots,
as though my guitars were my family.

She scoured her journals, as if for her mistake,
but there was nothing to apologize for.
Our decades of love were enclosed, complete.

\

60

You drove slowly around the pebbly cul-de-sac
and around the cul-de-sac you wound again
as we continued our conversation from the diner
which paralleled many other conversations
at the diner yet seemed destined never to resolve
our dispute about whether god was a metaphor
which we joked was itself a metaphor
for our hope never to resolve the conversation
which bore us back and forth like waves

and I stepped to the mirror above the sink
with half a Styrofoam cup of hot chocolate
and poured it down the sink as I watched my face
hover in the mirror and heard it roll around
and down the sink while thinking still
about whether anything wasn’t a metaphor
as my moist breath faded from the reflection
that with nothing at the base of metaphors
all metaphors would swirl around and around with no end

and I climbed into bed which felt like a bier
digital minutes ticking into hours
trying to recall exactly what we said this time
at the diner and as you drove around
and around the cul-de-sac after we returned
testing its parallels with what we said
all the other times we shared hot chocolates
(soon no one will remain who knew our diner
nor the drives we made around that cul-de-sac)

/

Amusement Park

Some dreams are too greedy to be satisfied.
It’s always too soon for closing time:
there’s still one roller coaster we haven’t tried
from the top of which you can kiss the moon.

Not mine. Earthbound, firm,
I slow to a stop at every light:
I—we—have too much to protect.
Not only our child in her booster seat,
but a thesis: I’ve never been cowardly.

Choosing you for a partner was a fool’s move, unless
I’d planned to be launched beyond myself.
Choosing me for a partner was a forfeit, except
you swore that you longed for a permanent rest.

Everest is littered with athletes and poets,
the oceans with Ahabs, Cousteaus.
But how could I—or our daughter,
if she touches your mind—
stand shore-bound and blind
if there’s no span in the moonlight,
no slope in the submarine reefs,
where you’ll agree not to dive?

\

Weekends

The front window propped open
with a small block of wood,
we could smell the jasmine
from dad’s small square garden.
The traffic: a loud continuous shhh!
Sometimes, a few drunken teens
stumbled up Ocean Lane, a block away.

Sometimes, it seemed dad knew everything,
all the books packed in his one-bedroom.
Sometimes it seemed he had nothing.
But when a homeless man tapped his screen door,
dad gave him a whole loaf of bread.
Tired a lot, he rarely showed anger.
His face bore mixed messages,
as I have now, to pass on.

/

Perseverance

We could soak in TV for hours,
sprawled on the grey linen couch,
fighting the glare through the windows
that faced the vast unkempt backyard.

We could turn 180 toward the black chokeberries
hunkering like drunks
in rainstorms, like amnesiacs.

That’s when we lived in North Wisconsin
(before we sold the VW van),

where the sky kissed the edge of the prairie.

\

The Big Picture

The omniscience galls me, he thought
halfway through his paperback
on a park bench near the lake:

the author’s mind diving
like a predatory bird
into every POV
when we pretend to need no god.

He imagined his mother
kneeling in her garden
cataloging his failures.
—Her head would be tilted 30 degrees
over a meager strawberry on a vine.

Setting the book down face open,
lifting his pink face toward the sun,
he thought, I’ve floated
through so many cities
just to escape those invasions:
to feel lucid, anonymous, at ease.

/

Junkyard

Stray cats scavenge
amid remnants of radiators and refrigerators.
Stray cars crawl
along the access road behind the fence.
The boys, 15 and 12, still drift there
every Sunday.
He would have said, like grey water spirals
toward a drain.
Every year it’s clearer
they’ll never go to college.

Now, hypotheticals seem less useful.
They bring their music and comics
and—he thinks—they talk.
Had he done that at 12,
if he’d had a sibling,
his habits could be different.

Now, he thinks, whether they talk to me
is incidental.
The fridge is full of pizza and Coke.
He’s sponged off the plates in the sink.
On Sunday nights, they have a board-game ritual.
No one wins every time.
If it’s too hot, they keep the AC on.

When he was 15—before Drama Club—
time must have had a shape.
But all he hears is his father:
make plans, set goals.
He could say different things to the boys
when they’re ready to listen.
Something about self-love.
Or how personalities persist.
How, if you can’t tolerate them,
you’ll end up damaging yourself.

\