4 Poems by Bruce McRae

Sing-Along

 

A song sung by the house dust.

A song to the spider’s laborious thread.

A song in the tread of the emperor’s carriage.

 

The mother weeping

over dishes in a kitchen melodrama –

she hears it, clearly.

The mercenary, cutting thick necks –

he hears it too.

The song of the blue chord.

The song of December transposed into June.

Of the wrong-headed angel.

 

Music plays on a stone adze.

It slips beneath the arctic waters.

It sits very quietly at the back of a classroom,

counting its glass beads and saints’ knuckles.

Adjusting its badges and straps.

Accumulating dark knowledge.

 

You see the heart is an instrument.

The soul is a drum and a hand

pounding on the gates of a glassy heaven.

You see. The song is singing itself

in a night-stained doorway.

From out of the roof of your mouth.

 

A song about razors and cranberries.

A little song about a meteor shower,

about the rise and fall of dew.

The one we all sing, like wind under a rainbow

or chorus of doubt.

 

Beautiful shouting.

 


Space Between the Lies

 

 

Inane moon, maddened stars, cross-eyed planets,

Earth’s bell ringing in the salt and pepper lunacy,

the first night being also the last night,

existence circular in nature.

 

I’m on the light-path, one of the dark races.

I’m loving myself in a black mirror,

Deimos gesticulating, Phobos running not far behind,

Andromeda rattling her leg-irons,

gravity imposing its letter of the law,

atoms warring, space closing

like a door or an eye,

the ultimate silence thickening its broth.

 

My synapses sparkle and spar, mind delighted

with itself, its own divine machinations,

the universe a dull cliché, cosmos waterworn,

the Big Bang quaint in comparison –

like a cute little croft on Mare Frigoris,

say, or the red star of Christmas.

 

The space between the spaces expands,

while I gather in the far-off moments.

The infinite and eternal are wrestling quietly,

God in his heaven, or so I’m told,

a little brownstone bungalow

on the back steps of beyond.

 

All else, the miracle deepens.

 

 

 

A River Running Underground

 

 

In my mind is a paper mountain.

God shrugged, and that was my mind

separating one water from another water.

My mind imagined other minds.

It manufactured an idle daydream.

It made shadows after dark,

creatures without substance and form,

glass cities, ethereal fogginess,

the most beautiful of all the monsters.

 

In my mind is a sun weeping light.

Sparks star off an iron spike

while my mind paints jungle flowers,

highways of ice, celestial filaments,

an army of children crying:

“Toys and snowfall at Christmas!”

 

A vortex of quiescence,

and my mind is resting by a calm lake.

A storm’s fury and human furor

and my mind is wandering in a thick forest.

The universe is a single great thought,

my mind asleep on its downy pillow.

 

Where nothing, and no one, may wake it.

 

  

Auspicious

 

 

The weather promises to change

from man to animal.

Today’s forecast is absence,

with a chance of longing.

In the east, flying horses

and a scattering of flowers.

From the west, incursions,

barbarous hordes, black ice.

 

The weather changes its mind,

abandons its principles,

is forced to choose between

darkness and light.

They’re predicting tons

of tons and long cold showers.

They say it might break,

but we’re in for a hard spell.

 

Today’s weather is being

brought to you by sponsors

who’d rather you didn’t

put their names around.

Listener, the sea is rising

up out of its empty shell.

For all its talk of courage,

the wind is turning.

 

 

 

Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island, BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with well over a thousand poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press), An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy (Cawing Crow Press), Like As If (Pski’s Porch), and Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).

"Sleepwalking" by Darian Bequette

we are the few

most observant

yet we are the most perplexed 


we are the ones who find ourselves falling asleep in mirrors

caught up in the world of pines

we called our home

pricked by the corners of stars

as we sink in water

and find mountains have grown

on our bones


all because we found a crystal like clearness

to the things we haven’t seen 

or may never see


the paradox with which

we are faced is astounding

skipping along in different dimensions

a tie fails to exist

as our knot is transparent

the scissors are vital 

but the cutting excessive

division brings us closer than never before


this modern glitch shows symmetry

and though your face shows geometry 

it does not show empathy


those loose fabrications twisting themselves together

i see the pattern before my eyes

i am at a whim

to fleeting nostalgia

lost in alternate settings

like the pictures on a screen 

faceless but moving


they say there is always hope

but at the same time hope is always fleeting

my struggle was never to prove to you that you were wrong

but rather that nothing is right


i’m in an ocean and i’m drowning

but there is no water in my lungs

i’m on fire 

but my skin doesn’t have any burns

that doesn’t mean i’ve never been hurt


transparent divisions surround me with

sweet shimmering nothings

i pass through air and get lost in other places

managing to shatter the glass in my lungs

i let my eyes blur over

for it’s a terrible storm in my mind

and when reality blends with daydreams 

like the colors morphing in a sunset 

i constantly feel as if i am sleepwalking

5 Poems by Maria Berardi

Abstract

(Long Cove, ME.)


Flat water, no demarcation

always undulating, o undines

sky? sea? A thin scrim

measureless depths, mermaids more limited

to paint on, not vapor; canvas.

than thought, nacreous slippers

This \/ represents flight.

flipped from the feet of strange princesses

This oblong is land.

here is richness, treasure past counting

This dot: . is: You Are Here.

life goes about her own program

Hang this on your bedroom wall.

the surf's violence to our soft flesh

Ponder it.

is freshness to the winkles, the whelks,

the rockweed and bladder-wrack.



The Coldest Part of the Coldest Time of the Year


January dawn darkness.

Ponderosa pines blessed with precipitation,

the fine edge between frost and snow, and


lodgepole pine's every needle

articulated by delicate white.

Aspen branches silvered


by intricate ice

suspend a waning moon

in their clutches.


Independent of it,

Venus, a planet;

to us, a star.


I hate that I love this,

that I feel an affinity to beauty,

deadly at this time of year.


Detachment is not in my nature

but it seems to be my path,

the only way out is through


and the only way through

is step after step,

plucking off


each snowflake,

ice-bit, like lint,

like errant feathers,


adoring this world I repudiate.

Denying the despair

that is legitimate but useless.


Holding and letting go,

embracing the loveliness continually

as I continually remove it from its hold on me.



Lattice


You are a lattice, a template.

We send up spindly strings of green


from that six inches of topsoil

that yields all our earth's life,


we shoot ourselves up towards you

and cling fast.

We project, we pray.

We infiltrate. The vine of us


thickens and deepens, splays out

in all directions simultaneously,


we are logorithmic,

we are exponential.


We lace out like cathedral windows,

like butterfly wings.


We grow all over you and, strong

and replete with sunlight, begin to bud.


Oh! The blossoms we burst out!

Oh purple and deepest blue!


Oh delicacy of fragrance!

Oh what fruit will come from this!


You are not there.

But now we are.


Bridge of green and flower,

sturdy as a city.


You are a problem of language

and this is where language stops.


Just words.

This, this: life.



The Faces Carved on the Harbor Pilings

Belfast, ME.


Bemused or mournful, the waning tide reveals them.

They regard the busted harbor and the gulls perched on them.


Thier wood is soft as fur from years of salt and turbulence,

their hood-folds and face lines are encrusted by barnacles.


Medieval, these monk-faces dream their double lives,

the air that slowly covers them in the waning tide,


their other wet element that inches up in the waxing tide,

that slowly and quickly nudges their bearing, fingers their grain.


At high tide they disappear to the Ocean Museum,

at home among sea stars, irish moss, and urchins.



Evergreen


Huge roots reach for water through boulders.

Wind suffuses but does not move.


Such graceful strength,

tensile, and taking


nothing from the living.

Luxuriant there in dirt and sun.


Abundant. Silent.

Resin essence anoints the restless air.




Maria Berardi’s work has appeared in local and national magazines and online (13 Magazine, Voca Femina, Mothering, The Opiate, getborn and most recently Twyckenham Notes and forthcoming in Luna Luna). Her first collection, Cassandra Gifts, was published in 2013 by Turkey Buzzard Press, and she is currently at work on her second, entitled Pagan. She lives in the Front Range foothills west of Denver at precisely 8,888 feet above sea level.

Her process is one of listening for transmissions from the cosmic radio and trying to catch them on paper before they dissipate: the glimpse, the complicated knowledge.

4 Poems by Colin Dodds

Grasping at the Cord

 

Pocked by mussel fossils mocked by graffiti

the coral limestone slab at ruin center wryly

reveals the betrayals impregnations and undulations

of empire—the heavy lifting that briefly vaulted historical time

from its raw parent, pulled taut the wandering strands

and deified our game of life and death

 

At the center of the slab is the mask of the boss

brandishing staff or whip of office

brow pronounced with circumspection

or slack with placid awe anchoring memory

 

Mute face opaque with the madness

to murder and to mollify in conscious service

to the umbilicus that annexes afternoon anxieties

to the melodrama of the night skies

 

A crown wreath mask overshadows that face—

itself a mechanism for the divine to breathe

in our compromised atmosphere

 

Shielded and shielding he handles the cord

ties its numbered knots weaves it among

the dead and never-dead—intimate

with its unreliability but never daring

to imagine its futility

 

 

Empty Armor

 

To pass under an arch and under a yoke

are not so different

To pass under and to understand

are not so different

 

Floodlights pour milk on the monument

Achilles’ shriek arrives in the hiss of traffic

On the arch, a soldier feeds his dead friend

 

Empty legionnaire armor on cornices

of august buildings confers on all who pass

the blessing of men who lived marched

died never asked what it was all about

 

It reminds like a cylinder seal

impressing the eyes of the boulevard

and reassures us of the war

we step from nothingness for

assuming our armor and being assumed

into a posture to encounter strangers

and act like we belong

 

 

Invades Every Zone

 

When was the planet snared

in this vast narrative of unfinished business?
What sun sang it?
What nebula of jostling stars enlisted us so?
 

Police lights ricochet off cobbles

and annihilate the last delineation

between visual beauty and pollution

 

In theremin bus-brake squeal

smell of stale smoke in a wool coat

doorway squint of a tired restaurant worker

and light sweat of a long autumn stroll

the religious mysteries recast as political controversies

recast as market crises recast as sexual tensions

recast as religious mysteries

 

to the beat of a frightened bird’s heart

And everyone has some kind of money in the game

 

Scallop shells on bank, chapel doorways

hiccup The visible is pollution

in the dying downtown of an old smithereen factory

where men once melted to pocket combs

for the gaudy godhood of one unlikely boy

for gunny-gray highway that gathers as it discards

the smaller towns’ million minor fortunes

and hushes hugely past caverns and taverns

dug to hide from the ruthlessness

of wealth and poverty alike

 

where regents and recidivists recede

down a trail of discarded disguises

to a place understood only as death

 

A commerce truly INVADES EVERY ZONE

as the inscription over the bank lobby read—the one

the security guard asked me not to photograph

twice

 

 

You or Someone Closer

 

When your routines cease to soothe

When you park the car and lay your name in a wallet

When the highway hotel and restaurant become useless

When no forms move in the windows beyond the scrubby dunes

When the phone won’t even tremble

When you can’t see the streetlights or hear the wind of any plan at all

When night reaches in directions with no names

 

     And you violate the sleep

     that shapes your days like rivers shape states

     to approach the place and time

     at the spring of all places and times

     where your virtues and sins

     knit into an ill-fitting womb

 

          Then remember

          you’ve been here before and perhaps never left

          Remember it’s all familiar for a reason

          and there is a right way to handle this

          Remember you or someone closer

          went to great lengths to remind you to remind you

          to remember

 

 

 

 

Colin Dodds is a writer with several novels and books of poetry to his name. He grew up in Massachusetts and lived in California briefly, before finishing his education in New York City. Since then, he’s made his living as a journalist, editor, copywriter and video producer. Over the last seven years, his writing has appeared in more than three hundred publications, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net Anthology, and praised by luminaries including David Berman and Norman Mailer. His poetry collection Spokes of an Uneven Wheel was published by Main Street Rag Publishing Company in 2018. Colin also writes screenplays, has directed a short film, and built a twelve-foot-high pyramid out of PVC pipe, plywood and zip ties. One time, he rode his bicycle a hundred miles in a day. He lives in New York City, with his wife and daughter. You can find more of his work at thecolindodds.com.

 

"Dedicatio" by John Thomas Allen

DEDICATIO: Behind the Green Door
for Julianne Buschbaum 1970-2017

 

Amnesia the pocket serum sacrament
blow dart dawn to the waking saints 

in a sunrise split as perforate tissue.


A pink dawning in a tissue perforate
with the hieroglyphs of Etruscan angels.


A creeping yellow slow as subatomic
parcels, chutes lateral in jeweled stars,


dust the tongues of snowblowers.


Antibodies spun in fool's gold hold to
sugar angels arches; her steady rocking


sperm, a siren tip, hair ribbons;
a body and her release, orgasm's


rocking chair flooded, shadow spindle
wood, locked sighs in paint’s drying point.


Downcast we pull acoustic chlorine's
loose guns to no effect. Bodiless we weave


in the Red Letter sewn to a target, notes
of a glass violin always closer. Our Icarian


forceps leak away as diurnal shadow,
all to the music box’s silk purr.


Flypaper music bars holding the grooves,
seen through De Chirico’s silkscreens,


white star bits falling in webbed geometry.


Gouaches wreathed on medusa’s head,


her night music laced,
her auroral doll roast.

2 Poems by Brice Maiurro

Kansas City


Somewhere in Kansas City someone might be saying these words.
My friend Sarah is locked up in Alberta,
the bars are birch trees,
they surround her,
and day after day she draws them,
these spines that spring from the earth.
She draws them
as if maybe she can work her way through them.
She draws her lover beside her
and she draws us again in Denver
or together in the birch trees.
She draws them as if she can conjure something

or someone
to another place.


Lost in Conifer
I walked through an endless field of evergreens
and miles deep into my head
playing a long tricky game of object impermanence
I stumbled onto this great field of birches,
holy
and unbroken
I stepped into them
and I was not there
I was with Sarah and her Ivan in Alberta.
Sarah asks me
Do you believe in time travel?
Somewhere in Kansas City someone might be saying these words
and there is a currency too valuable
to knowing that my breath has traveled as far east as it is west
into the mouth
of a stranger
that I met in another life.

 

 

i shot a bullet at the mirror and the mirror shot back


i shot a bullet at the mirror and the mirror shot back
and my head hit the tile with a thunderous clack
and the clack sounded loudly such an echoing sound
and as i stared at the ceiling all the cobwebs i'd found
they reminded me time has a way to keep moving
and i found myself stuck with no patience to lose and
my patience was gone it had leaked from my brain
and it packed up its suitcase and boarded the train
and the train went to nowhere or at least so i heard
when i sat back and watched and i realized absurd
things happen and we just keep sipping our coffee
as we stare at our watch in some strange hotel lobby
that we call our existence where we never are sure
if our intentions are selfless or if they come across pure
but i'm telling you this that i learned looking up
at the ceiling of the bathroom where i swallowed my blood
that if the train that your riding ever goes off the track
and you pick up a gun and it goes in your sack
and you go to a room with a mirror that stares

and it's empty and hopeless with too many chairs
and not enough people and you look in the mirror
and you're just staring back at everything that you fear
when you pull out your gun from your oversized sack
if you shoot at the mirror it is sure to shoot back
this i know beyond reason this i know for a fact
cause i shot at the mirror and the mirror shot back

 

 

Brice Maiurro is a poet, publisher, editor, community organizer, and writer based out of Denver, Colorado. His first book of poems, Stupid Flowers, was released in 2017 and is available at Revolution Records in Kansas City.

"The land is our ocean" by Matthew Roth

The land is our ocean

There are no beaches
In this town. No rolling waves to
Wash our un-wanteds back out to sea

Here we bury our trash
Dig it up after 48 hours
Then devour it
Slathered in barbecue sauce

No sliding foam across the sand
Or salty wind to mask the
Seagulls’ starving cries.   

The sky has no competition
There is no port of entry. We
Have no way to see them coming

Things just pop up
Like native grass. We cover
Them in colored blankets
And offer up a contract
Like soldiers in a war. 

But there is no war. There
Is only God and weather. 
And we do not fear the weather. 

Like a mirror pointing outward
We long to be ourselves
In the reflection of the world
Safely hidden  
Like a painted mirror
Like lipstick on a bowl of oatmeal

It’s the sin that makes the
Fucking so good
The sandbags of guilt that
Keep the church basement dry

Pure pure. It’s been so long. 
The kind of pure you could just kill for. 

We covet what we have
A peak within a valley
It’s different for cows

Flatness
The earth, canvass, the screen
It all disappears when we sleep
Even in sleep mode
We act like it’s the same
And it is

"magnolia, faded" by Promise

Fiery antebellums sprout in crags of swampmoss brickmud coated gator-

     skin a creole drinking Southern Comfort in Manchester.

     Deep skinned & bony fingers femme

whisper to planes they bring down with blood drops on dirt

Kitchen mice meet mange cats in the alleys outside

La Maison De La Compte

 

Saturday!

Saturday!

Sacred rot

Of Saturday!

 

Lay our heads still in sticky February night. Praise the crescent.

des dieux étranges laughing with glazed eyeballs

over bridges stretching miles

 

Where are you tonight as I am harassed in

sleep by spirits?

How do you lay,

as I, here,

expanding fingertips

in & out?

 

Too drunk to dance at a honky tonk

in the industrial town

a little wobble in the knees

skeletons gripping limp corpses in two-step

Welcome home.

From Friday,

 

into Saturday

they danced in sways

as I was bar stool bound

waiting for the turnover

from metallic to smoke

jazz

 

Sun tinted holed shoes in Garden District interrupted

     light of golds & greens a hazy heat hitting the bitter sweat of forehead wavers &

     ivy in the quarter where stones gather over cement shuttles to heaven in ashes & jewels

     with docked boats and red freights rolling through the algae skinned gray below peepholes

In rebuilt wood with rusted fish bites and water rustles Saturday descended upon the pier

 

Transmission blew

outside of Memphis

Too bad the Mississippi flows the

Other way

 

Improvisations: I by Evan Thomas

The donkey in Balthazar was given the motivation of Lee Marvin. Actually there wasn’t any motivation at all. The important thing was to arrive at an absolute simplification, even if such a process incurred the simplification of composition as an accidental byproduct. Like a hallway, all the doors unlocked, linoleum floors, rapid Oxfords. Tearing ass all the way down. Actually it was really unforgettably slow. Due to lack of motivation.

Taxi Driver was originally written by our curé de campagne, or was it Andy Kaufman. I forget, not having seen Taxi Driver. Lee Marvin was slated to play Jodie Foster’s role but obviously backed out when they started filming The Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday. Steven Prince played Andy. There were no parts to learn; the aperture free of single grains of sand as it was. Red, orange, & green all flashing in sixteenth-triplets. Sound & image flickering as they fade out, the print burning up in the projector like a Memphis summer. Everyone said they never thought he had it in him.

I have brought from the outside of my motivation the unknown genre. Taken it deep within my heart. It takes the intolerable & throws it in the ocean. A suitcase full of water. Bicycle gang with popguns. A gun is a complex image. It is different when Lee Marvin brandishes one versus just about anyone else. Fred Ward did not look like Henry Miller, but then again no one really knows what he looked like when he was young anyway. Lee Marvin was a more suitable choice, but he was busy with valley fever. Fireworks on the fourth of July, & the 30th of June, for whatever reason. Buddy, at random.

As Paul Schneider spoke his first lines onscreen, Taxi Driver turned the same age as him. The Doors were born the same day as David Berman. Actually so were you. No motivation for this world. Hide the ideas in plain sight & they'll come out in both directions at once. People slammed the double bill but I couldn’t see how doors wouldn’t open for ideas. Setting the woods on fire, hungover in the backseat & sombreroed. Or was he a winterer who just made bad company, suffering from Friday night fever in Santa Monica.

Buzzed-in, I gave up the bench. Nice shades. Bresson shot his own hand for that scene, then himself in the foot. Moose yelling at each other for a staff-only. It's the one thing I guessed at that doesn't actually appear. What do they even make. Men use, even without an ear lent. He felt beset by the quarry, & came up juicing the terraplane with more days to tack on. Church-going people brandishing a big mace. The final statement was on money. I can’t say where it begins. Questions regarding intent. Hammer down. & tomorrow too. Never to be repeated.

Sower & ewe afield seeding for harvest with only three or four available. Three forty-foot lengths of rope. Rotting barns. Dead wind farms. The purest marriage of sound & image. Fell down the basement steps. I saw the parade. What are they even building. Lee Marvin’s headstone. A dream in four parts across four nights with lost rivers in between. I didn’t retract my hand this take. The ocean will cover over the fields again someday. Absolute lack of human motivation. It only seemed.