Wind Chimes by Michael Brockley

wind chimesFrom your seat in a leather desk chair, you gaze out the window in your writing room. The wind chimes you bought when you moved into this house have lost the clapper during the past winter, and the black enamel has eroded, leaving the silver tubes exposed to the havoc of blizzards and storms. You have not heard the instrument’s  melodies since your last German shepherd passed. In mid afternoon a finch alights on the aging deck to perch on a post beside the chimes in order to survey the sky for red-tailed hawks and the terrain for cats before flying into a viburnum. After this year’s finch flutters away, you continue to read from Moby Dick and an anthology of movie poems. Films you would call them, if you were a cineast. For weeks, you’ve wondered if the white whale has been retired from the literary canon as you drew near to the end of the book without any of the ambushes you would expect from Jaws or the squid attacks in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. On your porch the finch skips back into the sunlight, and you notice its feathers shedding February browns in favor of the radiance from an April sunbeam. The bird chirps a song you can hear through closed storm windows. Just such a finch has visited your springs throughout the lives of all the German shepherds you have companioned. Perhaps the absence of the Leviathan in your adventures turns you toward an enigma that might be kindness. Toward a silent conundrum that might even be joy.


Michael Brockley is a retired school psychologist who lives in Muncie, Indiana. His poems have appeared in Fatal Flaw, Woolgathering Review, and Visiting Bob: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Bob Dylan. Poems are forthcoming in Flying Island, Last Stanza Poetry Journal, and the Indianapolis Anthology.

Poetry Workshop Resumes this Wednesday

I am happy to announce that the Wednesday afternoon poetry workshop and study group resumes this week and will meet every other Wednesday from 1:00 to 3:00 pm ET via Zoom for 12 weeks.
 
Specific meeting dates are: September 1, 15 & 29, October 13 & 27, and November 10.
 
Each week we will discuss a chapter from The Making of a Poem by Mark Strand and Eavan Boland and/or Best Words, Best Order by Stephen Dobyns before completing a writing exercise and workshopping participant’s poems.
 
There are two seats left for this session, the last of 2021.
 
The class fee is $200
 
To register, contact me at ZingaraPoet@gmail.com.
 
Please share this  with anyone who you believe may be interested.
 
See you Wednesday!!

Interview with poet Pamela Yenser, author of Close Encounters Down Home

When my good friend, Pam Yenser told me her poetry collection would be published earlier this year, I couldn’t wait to savor it. You see, I have missed working with Pam ever since I moved from Albuquerque to Charleston eight years ago. Missed hearing about her projects, missed reading her latest poem drafts, and equally missed telling her about my own work. Of course I had to interview her for Zingara Poetry Review, which you will find below immediately following a poem expert from her book, Close Encounters Down Home.

Our Lives Were Like Firefly Light

Our lives were like firefly lightclose encounters
Caught in a jar, we lit up the night.

How did our collectors punish us?
Did Mother bruise us with brushes?

Did Father grow closer by inches?
Had he grown too big for his britches?

Was he mad enough to break into
her closet and remove each left shoe?

The lawyers said she had dementia.
Who was crazier was the question!

Leave, my darlings, that long-ago life
where Father knocked with a kitchen knife

at your side door. Shake off that old shoe-
stealing monster. I never left you

alone to remember. Now you’re free
of Mary and the Frankenstein she

married. Look! I have razor blades sewn
into the hem of every poem.

from Close Encounters Down Home, Finishing Line Press, February 2021

Pam YenserTell us a little about the genesis of your book, including your writing process.

I love your reference to the “genesis” of my book! It’s an apt metaphor for CLOSE ENCOUNTERS Down Home. Although there was no single moment when I decided to write about my father’s fixation with the Roswell, New Mexico, flying saucer incident or how it affected me, I can tell you that it showed up among many poems with vivid and often distressing moments from childhood—some with recurring images and motifs I had not yet connected to the rest of my poetry collection. One day, I envisioned that story stretching from childhood and coming of age into a well-organized adult poem of perception. Once I focused on paring down to a thirty-page narrative, one memory begat another, telling the poet-speaker’s “true” story as honestly and openly as possible.

The poetry writing process is an intricate exercise, isn’t it? There are the poems (part memory and part memoir) and then there is the plot (part chronology and part time travel). For the memoir aspect of my poems and creative nonfiction, I dig through biographical memorabilia: family photos, letters, hospital records, email reports, calendars, event notes, cute kid memorabilia, pre-Covid travel guides, and whatever is in the eight storage boxes bearing down on my bedroom wall. For allusions to historic events like the Roswell saucer crash, I collect contemporaneous accounts in books and magazines. It’s hard to keep up. My book was published two months before The New Yorker broke several stories in its May 2021 issue, revealing the highly anticipated opening of top-secret military reports on extra-terrestrial sightings—including the Roswell saucer incident.

The poet-speaker’s story begins in Roswell, where flying saucer mania attracts her father, who straps her in and flies her down through the clouds and over the wreckage. “Cloud angels!” she remembers. “It looks like a broken kite!” The “red rocks and glitter” I wrote about years ago showed up in a photo released recently by the U.S. Army. Worried my book of poems would get lost among the hundreds of books titled “Close Encounters of the First Kind,” or the Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth kind, for that matter, I added “Down Home” as a subtitle. There are several homes of memory in the book, and all include a fox of a father, a religion-possessed mother, a brother L.A. doctors called your little retarded brother,” two younger sisters, and their little brother.

While grouping poems that emphasize time and space travel, I formatted “Memory’s Gate” and “Snow Angel” to travel typographically forwards and backwards on the page, like a windshear, creating a cyclone of words on the page. “The End of TV,” in the shape of a tornado a few pages before, confirms the news, “It’s coming.” Most of the poems are separate memories, but the book’s final poem “Damn, il pleut is a summation in rhymed couplets. It is also an illustration of the time and place displacements the speaker in the poem experiences. I was sitting in a recliner, a legal pad in my lap, when I had the notion to recount the father-daughter relationship from beginning to end. That poem submitted the next day—on the final day to enter—won the annual Ithaca Lit poetry contest. Thank you, judges…and Ms. poetry muse.

Now, about the mechanics of the writing process, or should I say, the consequences of the writing process? The machinery of publishing…the publishing part.

Like most everyone these days, I use Submittable to access challenges, and contest deadlines. It is nothing like the old days, when I mailed off a manila envelope containing a few poems and a stamped return envelope. I used to dread return of my poems—not only because of the usual rejection slip, but also because the pages themselves might be handled by many, mis-folded, or missing—which meant those printouts couldn’t be recycled for the next submission…but then, return envelopes might also contain encouraging notes. I remember an acceptance I received from esteemed Shenandoah Editor R.T. Smith, who wrote to me in a formal letter of acceptance that he had “at last received a sestina that worked.”

 How did your book come to be published?

How, indeed! I was mentored into the process of publishing. I remember one night meeting the brilliant poet Hilda Raz, former Editor at Prairie Schooner, that widely respected journal at the University of Nebraska. Hilda had moved to Albuquerque about the time I did, when she became Editor at the University of New Mexico Press. I had long ago submitted poems to her, but we didn’t know each other. Fortunately, we all met through a college friend of poet and critic Stephen Yenser. She had read that my husband, Jon Kelly Yenser, and I were giving a reading, and she invited Hilda. Kelly had recently published chapbooks through Kattywompus Press—a wonderful experience, and that reading led to Hilda’s acceptance of Kelly’s collected poems at the University of New Mexico Press…and a mighty motivation for me.

When Hilda Raz, a wonderful listener and ever an advocate for poets, realized how often I read my broadly published poems, she looked at Kelly and said to me, “Why don’t you have a book of poems? Every poet I know has one.” My excuses were inadequate: grading papers, managing home and garden, balancing a career and two kids. I had submitted my book-length manuscript only a handful of times. Hilda’s question was to the point, and soon enough she had me focused on submitting poems and collecting prizes: the first Bosque Poetry Prize for a quartet of poems on James Merrill, the Ithaca Lit Prize for the concluding seven-part poem of the chapbook “Damn, Il Pleut,” and a plaque I treasure from Leslie McGrath, judge at the W.B. Yeats Society of New York, in recognition of my epistolary verse “Dear Mary Shelley, Regarding Monsters.” At that point, Hilda gifted me a workshop and suggested I sign up for the annual Colrain Intensive Poetry Manuscript Conference. With additional encouragement from Four Way Books Founding Editor Martha Rhodes and also from Translator/Editor Ellen Watson, who had helped select some of my poems previously for the Massachusetts Review, I buckled down to CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, finishing it in March of 2020 and submitting the manuscript immediately to a Finishing Line Press chapbook contest. I didn’t “win,” and yet I did: I was a finalist, and Editor Leah Maines invited me to publish at her press. By that time, twelve of twenty-two poems in my manuscript were published in serious journals. I am delighted with the book. Finishing Line Press is a first-class operation which not only makes handsome books but has a well-developed marketing plan and distribution network—necessary elements for a successful publication.

Can you discuss how you determine when to use formal elements in your poetry?

I have never shied away from traditional or experimental forms; in fact, I tend to rhyme like hell when writing poems of witness. I was a formalist from kindergarten, thanks to a book of nursery rhymes my Grandmother sent. I stapled books of my rhyming poems for my teachers throughout grade and middle school; however, I didn’t know any other way to write until my Wichita High School teacher Lee Streiff, a beat poet who wrote flying saucer fiction, sent me to the library during class to read books by the imagists and early Beats. At Wichita State University, I fell in love with Theodore Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz,” and bought Lewis Turco’s Book of Forms for practice. I learned formalism at WSU by example: John Keats, Elizabeth Bishop, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and James Merrill—poets whose rhyme and line breaks are meticulous and witty, and I was drawn to Sylvia Plath’s syllabic lines. I began to use syllabics in poems of mine that otherwise don’t appear to be formal; but it is the energy of rhyming couplets that drives my final chapbook poem to its logical conclusion.

What are some overarching themes or motifs in your collection and how do you explore them?

As I gathered my “memory poems” into a book, I used a flying motif in conjunction with time travel and family history. I meant to make a narrative out of memoir and motif, starting with the Roswell crash. But memory knows no chronology: sequence and consequence are distorted. Poems likewise move back and forth between the actual and the imagined—as does our understanding of interplanetary space travel! While arranging the order of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS poems, I seized the chance to emphasize time and space travel by placing poems that travel typographically forwards and backwards on the page midway in the book. In “Memory’s Gate,” the adult poet-speaker is pulling rotten fenceposts at her home in Idaho, when she remembers a neighbor and her father discussing flying saucers over a picket fence while her father casually reaches up her skirt as she walks along the top rail. In “Snow Angels,” I forward my truth, then reverse the direction of 9-9-9-3-foot syllabic lines to speak of the past. Here is a small excerpt illustrating the turn:

It is our father who harries us

along that old game of Fox and Geese,

our spokes creating an enormous

sign of peace

until we are chased until all fall down

to make hourglass waves of skinny arms

and spraddled legs becoming frigid

snow angels…

…then and there in a dormitory

meant for students in a Midwest mining town

where the military marriage

of a nurse

and her captain came undone and I

vanished inside—becoming nothing

more than desire in her lover’s eyes

for a girl.

I should note how beautifully the overarching metaphor of flight is depicted in the painting on the cover of the book: blue skies, the exposed woman turning her back on a column of naked children, all those figures focused on the challenge and perils of flight…or escape. The artist who painted that triptych is a lifelong friend and former colleague who is familiar with my story—one that has versions in other lives; and so, in the opening, I invite my readers to come onboard through a literary device—the apostrophe:

You’re in that saucer

spinning out over Roswell

on edge like a dime….

Sylvia Plath seems like an important figure for you. Can you talk more about that?

Ah, yes, but of course. Sylvia Plath reminded me of my own situation, right down to the moment I felt so trapped in my parents’ little brick house that I thought “If the wolf isn’t caught I will walk down to the nearby creek and drown myself. Mercifully, I could not figure out how to do that in water so shallow. Like Plath, I eventually told my father, in so many words, “we’re through.” I was a college student when I read Plath and started writing “Confessional” poems. I read Robert Lowell’s Life Studies. His students included Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. That was the heart of the movement. Though we both had “Daddy” poems, Plath’s efforts at suicide were unfortunately more focused than mine. For others who suffer closed doors and intimate inuendo, it takes time to react—it’s difficult to process what has just happened.

“Zipper Trip,” my first confessional poem, was under consideration for a prize at Massachusetts Review when I withdrew it from the competition to protect my family from publicity that would have attracted and enraged my father. That poem, taught later in Women’s Studies classes and listed in literary indexes, drew responses from male as well as female readers who found themselves in a similar situation. I was driven from that point to read the many isolated, multilingual, and multi-gendered poets who speak out against repression. I sometimes try on their exact form and write my way within the shape of their argument—now called a “hermit crab” device. An example of a hermit crab poem in my chapbook is the opening “Like Emily, They Shut me up in Prose,” a 12-line Rondeau Prime form I closely follow. I even make myself at home in Dickinson’s title, which comes from the first line of her poem (the work of her editor, because she simply numbered poems and didn’t use titles.) Like a naked crab on the beach, I crawled inside her poem, making myself safe at home. Within her protective shell, am I the poet, poet-speaker, or a vulnerable creature hiding on a hot beach? I begin this book like a hermit crab, at home wherever I am safe from predation.

What projects are you working on now?

I’m completing a full-length manuscript with the working title of “Transported Here.” I am obviously not done with time and space travel—nor with shaped and formal poems. My Roswell experience begins that collection, including a section on the family that, as a reviewer put it, “does not travel well together” as they drive across the country on iconic Route 66. Continuing my interest in the unstable dynamics of memoir and memory, my collected poems recall campus protests of the 1970’s, during the run-up to Vietnam War and its interruption to our studies and our lives. I also write about love as passion and escape…into nature, human nature, and the historic role of the cicadas’ devastating “Insect Sex” on the Kansas landscape, necessitating that we find relief (re-leaf?) by being transported through travel—across state borders and abroad. The book ends with poems about the summer 1971 in Greece with James Merrill, our dear mentor and Yenser family guide. In this final chapbook-sized section of my collection, I attempt to capture all that is Merrillian in Greece: the art and food, politics, history, armed Colonels marching into a play in the amphitheater at Epidavros, the bucolic Peloponnese, the bluest seas, and whitewashed island towns, marble walls embraced with bougainvillea, and investigations of the ruins—both personal and planetary.

Now, a question that everyone wants to know the answer to: How has writing been during this time of the pandemic, social political upheaval, and activism?

Covid more or less shut down our writing routines until we got the green light, or rather the “turquoise” light here in New Mexico. We haven’t been able to join our writing tribe at the coffee shop, on campus, or in each other’s homes. Like so many others, Kelly and I had medical concerns and were directed to isolate at home, where we found ourselves excessively cooking, housekeeping, composting, gardening, dog walking, and Skyping for hours with family and friends. We were depressed by the politics of the first Covid year—not only horrified by the Corona virus and its blood-red spikes, but also disgusted with our nation’s bloody politics—so many shootings, so many lies, so much gratuitous violence. Aside from donating, I felt helpless to help. Sometimes, the best I could do was to shower and change pajama/sweats once a week to become presentable for a conversation or poetry reading on Zoom, but I also became aware and grateful for a safe house, companionship, and online transportation. We were obliged to sit for hours in our car, waiting for groceries, but wait we did, then wipe the stuff down, and cut out the rotten parts. That is the lesson we’re learning, isn’t it: to appreciate the leavings of our lives?

Retired after working at ten colleges and universities, I have more time to write. I now manage a family business—NM Book Editors, where I teach as a developmental editor. I find it satisfying to see a client’s annual award-winning books of memoir reach the reading public, and I am educated by the subject areas I’m obliged to study. I recently discovered the Netflix series Rotten, which contains a segment featuring a New Mexico client: a lawyer trying to save American farming from international dumping of cheap products. I watch the British baking show to broaden my survival skills. I’ve learned to make biscotti and lost 20 pounds by giving it away to friends and neighbors. I’ve slept for 20 years and awakened to the silver in my hair. I have religiously washed my hands until my skin has become thin, transparent, loose, and smooth as silk. I’m writing my first Pandemic short story. The anti-hero is a politician who runs from room to room, trying to escape until Truth catches up with him, and he catches Covid.

It came to me then in a dream, as I ran from room to room in Freud’s castle, that I too must have made a mistake: I turned a corner and fell to the bottom of a dry cement cistern. I stood up, spun around, looking upwards for toeholds, where there were none, and said, “Does this mean I’m dead?” But here I am, and all my family vaccinated and free as birds! In the tiny territory of our Albuquerque backyard, grown children are transported by car or plane from Wichita and LA, my hometowns. Meeting on our patio under climbing yellow roses, bees, and butterflies, we recite the names of this yard’s honorary survivors: Dove, Hawk, Magpie, Meadowlark, and Sparrow.

Close Encounters Down Home is available for purchase at Finishing Line Press


PAMELA YENSER (BA, MA, MFA) was born in Alexandria, Virginia, and grew up in Wichita, Kansas, and has been teaching at colleges and universities since she was a sophomore at WSU. She does improv and gives readings. Her poems are available online at Connotation Press and Notable Kansas Poets; in print at Poetry Northwest, Midwest Quarterly, Shenandoah, Massachusetts Review, others; and in many anthologies. She and her husband, the poet Jon Kelly Yenser (UNM Press), work at NM Book Editors, LLC, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

FREE Writing Workshop Orientation August 25 at 1:00pm ET

You are invited to a FREE orientation and information session, including a group writing exercise, being held tomorrow at 1:00pm ET via Zoom (see login information below). This is an opportunity to ask questions about my online writing workshops, classes, developmental editing and coaching services. Feel free to share this invitation with fellow writers who may be interested.

There are still seats open in both the Wednesday afternoon poetry workshop and the Saturday afternoon writing class if you or anyone you know are interested.

August

Wednesday Afternoon Poetry Workshop and Study Group via ZOOM

This group meets every other Wednesday from 1:00-3:00pm via Zoom. The next 12-week session begins Wednesday, August 25. 

Each week we discuss a chapter from a book about craft, workshop poetry, and respond to a writing exercise or prompt. $200.00 for six meetings plus orientation.

  • Fall Session 2021: August 25 (orientation), September 1, 15 & 29, October 13 & 27, and November 10.

TO REGISTER: Send email to lisahasejackson@gmail.com


Six-Week Micro-prose, Flash Fiction, and Prose Poetry Workshop

Saturday Aug. 28, Sept. 4, 11, 18, 25 & Oct. 2 1:00-3:00PM ET via Zoom.

This workshop will focus on works that range from 50 to 800 words and explore the commonalities and differences between lyric prose, prose poetry, flash fiction, and micro-prose. Six-week class for $200

TO REGISTER: Send email to lisahasejackson@gmail.com
ZOOM INVITE

Lisa Hase-Jackson is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Free Introduction and Orientation for Writing Classes and Workshops
Time: Aug 25, 2021 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87066429592

Meeting ID: 870 6642 9592
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I look forward to seeing you!

Ambidextrous by Denise Low

Ambidextrous
 

Let me kiss you with my left lip and my right
            open my right labium and the left.
 
Let my left eye solve quadratic equations
            and my right eye parse Picasso.
 
Let me sign the check upside down with my right hand
            rightside up with my left.
 
Let me read traffic signs blindfolded.
            No, just kidding. Let me brake left-footed or right.
 
Let me track two rabbits to the compost pile
            Let me aim left-eyed and shoot right-handed.
 
Let me watch sunrise and offer tobacco smoke.
            Let me offer tobacco smoke at moonrise.

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, won a Red Mountain Press Award for Shadow Light. Other books include Jackalope and a memoir, The Turtle’s Beating Heart (Univ. of Nebraska). At Haskell Indian Nations Univ. she founded the creative writing program. She teaches for Baker Univ. and lives on Tsuno Mountain. www.deniselow.net

Registration Open for Fall Writing Workshops

Wednesday Afternoon Poetry Workshop and Study Group via ZOOM

This group meets every other Wednesday from 1:00-3:00pm via Zoom. The next 12-week session begins Wednesday, August 25.

Each week we discuss a chapter from a book about craft, workshop poetry, and respond to a writing exercise or prompt. $200.00 for six meetings plus orientation.

  • Fall Session 2021: August 25 (orientation), September 1, 15 & 29, October 13 & 27, and November 10.

TO REGISTER: Send email to lisahasejackson@gmail.com


Six-Week Micro-prose, Flash Fiction, and Prose Poetry Workshop

Saturday Aug. 28, Sep5. 4, 11, 18, 25 & Oct. 2 1:00-3:00PM ET via Zoom.

This workshop will focus on works that range from 50 to 800 words and explore the commonalities and differences between lyric prose, prose poetry, flash fiction, and micro-prose. Six classes for $200.

TO REGISTER: Send email to lisahasejackson@gmail.com

After the Broken Hip is Repaired by Michael H. Brownstein

AFTER THE BROKEN HIP IS REPAIRED


In the great lakes of injured bone,
a spinal tap     temperature     a reading of the pulse.
When he arrives from the water’s bottom to the light
Recovery     no pain     a stomach of animosity.
Laying in his bed, they welcome him back
warm water     salad     something soft to chew on.
He sighs. Pain tears away from its cocoon 
blood work     pulse rate     temperature     blood pressure.
He refuses pain pills, calms himself, lets the wind outside in, 
and when he falls asleep     a current of coolness, 
grass carp darting to the side     pain sinking into mud.

Michael H. Brownstein’s latest volumes of poetry, A Slipknot to Somewhere Else (2018) and How Do We Create Love? (2019), were recently released (Cholla Needles Press). He has a Sunday poetry column in Moristotle.

 

Bird, tired bird by Sue Blaustein

         Here’s a gull
missing a chunk of itself.
Not just downy feathers, no…
Long feathers are gone,
        and maybe flesh.
 
Bird, tired bird…
Limping in the street alone,
        using energy
        you can’t spare –
        you bend
and open your beak
to a twig
that has to be food
         but isn’t.
 
I’m sure you can’t fly…you can barely
         walk. Juvenile
plumage, but you won’t grow up.
         Something
         happened.
 
         Juvenile – you’re
limping like an ancient –
         past two cases
of spent bottle rockets.
In deep summer, sweet summer.
The 5th of July.
 

Sue Blaustein is the author of In the Field, Autobiography of an Inspector”. Her publication credits and bio can be found at http://www.sueblaustein.com. Sue retired from the Milwaukee Health Department in 2016, and is an active volunteer. She blogs for Ex Fabula (“Connecting Milwaukee Through Real Stories”), serves as an interviewer/writer for the “My Life My Story” program at the Zablocki VA Medical Center, and chases insects at the Milwaukee Urban Ecology Center.

Here Is The Summer by Ian Powell-Palm

Here Is The Summer 
 
 
with everyone you love inside it. 
No more bodies buried beneath the floorboards. 
 
The ghosts in this place are still able to stand the sight of you. 
Here, people die for good reason. Nothing is ever random. 
 
Your eye is enough. I beg it to swallow all of me.  

 A crashing wave of pink flame, 
my only view, my whole world for a moment 
As the car speeds past the exit. My brother, screaming, 
            Something about freedom as he takes us 80 mph over the hill. 
 
If I told the sky that I had lost my body,
Could I ask for it back?
 
If I gave it to the River, could I become downstream? 
Am I an extension of everything I’ve ever touched? 
 
My love, I want us to live. 
So, I hang up the phone and lock 
my hands inside the basement. 
May they never reach you again. 
 
My love, I you to love anything other than me, 
so I step out of your life, 
and onto the cliff, 
 Back and forth through the car door,
For a decade,
 all of my leaving barely contained,  
measured only by the seasons my body no longer passes through. 
 
I am fully alive 
until I step into a summer 
that is snowed in on all sides.
 
When we make love inside this place 
I am everywhere but here.  

 Never beside you in this bed of thorns.  
 
Never alone with myself.  
 

Monkey in a Cup by Javy Awan

I used to mail-order the little monkeys in a cup,
advertised on two-bit comic book back covers,
but the compact box with air holes at the top
didn’t come—I know it was dumb, but I sent cash:
laureled one cents, buffalo nickels, burning-torch dimes,
and Liberty quarters scotch-taped to a card and sealed
in a stamped envelope addressed with best penmanship.

Years and many moves later—they must have tracked
me down like schools their alumni—the delivery arrived:
the miniature hermit monkey snug in his sturdy
live-in cup of Horn & Hardart cafeteria china—
he was a born commuter, a philosopher in a tub.

He’d climb out and walk around wherever set down,
and despite the ad’s fine-print disclaimer about luck,
he had the knack of picking out winners at the track—
dogs, thoroughbreds, and trotters—offsetting expenses.

He’d tell fortunes as a parlor trick, with a deck
of mishmash cards almost as tall, laying out the draw
and discerning the gist with tiny finger to tiny lip
and detective tics of his head. He’d mime the result
with movements precise and unmistakable:
going to the bank, falling in love, fighting a battle,
earning a degree, sailing a ship, and marrying.

Somehow, the single monkey in a cup multiplied—
each Saturday breakfast, the row of mugs had grown,
with furred pates and bright eyes peeking over each brim.

I figure that back in the day a shipment of monkeys
must have escaped and hid out in a post office store room;
they intercepted crates of mugs, and in a few generations,
resumed fulfilling the long-delayed orders,
boyhood to manhood. That would explain it.

Javy Awan’s poems have appeared in Poet Lore, Solstice, Ghost City Review, Potomac Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, and The Ekphrastic Review; two of his poems were selected for reading at locations on the Improbable Places Poetry Tour in 2019. He lives in Salem, Massachusetts.

 

Two Writing Workshops in June

There have been more than a few requests for workshops that treat works in progress, so I am offering two in June, one for poetry and the other for short prose.

These will be supportive, developmental workshops that include revision prompts and exercises designed to help writers view their work with fresh eyes and gain a renewed sense of purpose.

Registration is open and seats are limited.

Summer Poetry Workshop

This group will meet  June 2, 16, & 30 from 7:15 to 9:15 pm. EDST via Zoom to read, write, discuss, and workshop poetry.

$175 ($25 credit per referral).

TO REGISTER: Send email to lisahasejackson@gmail.com

Micro-prose and Flash Fiction Workshop
(and prose poetry, too
)

Saturday June 5, 12, 19, & 26 1:00-3:00PM ET via Zoom.

This workshop will focus on works that range from 50 to 1000 words and explore the commonalities and differences between lyric prose, prose poetry, flash fiction, and micro-prose. 

$200 ($25 credit per referral).

TO REGISTER: Send email to lisahasejackson@gmail.com

Tethering by Carolyn Martin

Be tethered to native pastures even if it reduces you
to a backyard in New York.
– Henry James

This morning’s rain kept me inside
and I swear I heard weeds in my flower beds cheer
and aggravated birds crackle in the neighbor’s cherry tree.

More natives to add to the cats, squirrels, moles,
and slugs rough-shodding the yard;
not to mention maples, moss, firs, and perennials seasoning.

But my landscape is running out.
I may have to track down the Polish pasture
where my grandmother plowed courage and tears

or search out my Russian father’s New York flat
which, if memory serves, lacked a bathroom
and stove, not to mention a hint of yard.

This morning’s news might reduce me
to nabbing images from a Mars volcano flow
or the Deep Solar Minimum of our quieting sun

or the 17-year-locusts resurrecting again.
So much life happening beyond my kitchen table
and the tethered views I bank my poems on.

And yet … yesterday I watched errant robins ignore
earthworms to dine on suet cake while my lone iris bulb –
its first time out – exploded into purple-black magnificence.

And it’s true I’ve yet to find words for how
summer breezes train lily leaves to wave at me
or why the brightest star in the western sky comforts my nights.

Always more, Nature whispers, from the corners of my yard.
Of course! I cheer, startling the song sparrow performing
her signature piece from a dripping dogwood tree.

From associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, writing and photography. Her poems have been published in journals throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. She is currently the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation.

Bisymmetry by Denise Low

I open a map scaled one to one

read it as fast as I can

but cannot catch up with Borges

who writes:

 

“Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire

whose size was that of the Empire,

and which coincided point for point with it.” 

 

Press my torso into garden mud

for a full print. Voilà.

 

Scatter Pompeii ashes over a volcano

and wait two thousand years.

 

Paint the Mona Lisa but it’s only

my inept fake (damn, the smile’s crooked).

 

Shoes, put the left one on the left foot, the right one

            correctly aligned with the right big toe. Walk.

 

Mittens, don’t forget the opposing-thumbed mittens.

            Thumbs and toes, toes and thumbs.

 

Quote from “On Exactitude in Science,” Jorge Luis Borges, https://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/users/08/bblonder/phys120/docs/borges.pdf

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, won a Red Mountain Press Award for Shadow Light. Other books include Jackalope and a memoir, The Turtle’s Beating Heart (Univ. of Nebraska). At Haskell Indian Nations Univ. she founded the creative writing program. She teaches for Baker Univ. and lives on Tsuno Mountain. www.deniselow.net

 

Traveling Along the Corpse-roads by Diana Rosen

The writer submits to a walking meditation, ignoring
the beauty under her feet, unaware how they crumple
sun-golden Lion’s Tooth and dandelions, the clover.

The writer stomps on, blind to the circinated fiddlehead
budding into a passion of forest green, signaling her
to connect, tell those tales, those found only in dreams.

No sweet roses scent the air. Instead, geraniums, marigolds
release their bitter scent, awakening her to the Lion’s Tooth,
dandelion, the sweet clover patch that invites honeybees.

Under the dimming twilight, white daisies fold back petals
white, warming blankets for a dream-filled black-dark night.
Blades of grass thick and tight in a unison of lawn lushness

whisper to the hedges, the hydrangeas, “She is back.”
The writer sharpens her pencil, reclaims her notebook,
the eraser. Refreshed, in spite of herself, she begins.

Diana Rosen has published poetry in RATTLE, Existere Journal of Arts & Literature, Poetry Super Highway, and As It Ought to be Magazine, among others. Redbird Chapbooks will publish her forthcoming hybrid of poetry and flash, Love & Irony. To read more of her fiction and nonfiction, please visit www.authory.com/dianarosen

Removing a Gate by Jeff Burt

Maidenhair ferns at your feet
seem to rise out of the dust for rain,
the sword ferns sprawl to catch fog,
and the maple lifts itself out of the soil,
massive roots becoming visible
like the muscles of a shirtless power-lifter.
You have taken the widowed boards
of the gate and saved them from the fire
to build a little eave that shelters
the dahlias from full sun,
and now brushed by the breeze
this creates they nod thank you
thank you thank you,
and you wonder what you can do
for hikers and walkers weary from the dust,
a small jug, a metal cup, a wooden bench.
You have wood leftover,
and the sun still to set.

Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County California, home of redwoods, fire, fog, and ocean. He has contributed to Rabid Oak, Williwaw Journal, Willows Wept, and Red Wolf Journal.