Monthly Archives: July 2020

Tug by Stephen Mead

back to back, it’s
a sort of duel, this,
only at High Noon,
refusing to pull apart.
The arms are laced.

The shoulders are red sands
of matador energy
against an equally bloody heat.

Here, striations
of the bull-ring scene are ivy
and upon that wrestling flesh,
Christmas lights dangle from the leaves.

Over rippling torsos
they gentle like lightning bugs
any straining muscle.

What lock keeps
this enjoined heart captive
by the pumping, bumping chambers
of hips, legs, buttocks?

It is all the hypersensitive
self-consciousness & suicide callings
of youth vs. the scrapbooks of the spirit
age makes albums of:
time capsules of photos
in the mind’s flickering eye.

Listen, if there is a war
to that passion then let it turn
sky blue as letter paper,
turquoise clear
as the gaze of a Siamese.


Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer.  Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online.  He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. Currently he is resident artist/curator for The Chroma Museum, artistic renderings of LGBTQI historical figures, organizations and allies predominantly before Stonewall, https://thestephenmeadchromamuseum.weebly.com/

Signs by Anne Whitehouse

A brief April snow disrupted our spring.
Amid clumps of snow, daffodils
nodded in the icy breeze. A glaze 
of snowflakes sugared the hyacinths.

I worried for them and the tender lettuces,
red and green, I’d only just planted.
But the sun came out; by mid-morning,
the snow was gone as if it hadn’t come.

You’d have to be able to read the signs—
the water drops glistening gaily
on the new leaves, the green moss
wet and velvety, the bushes slick.

Perhaps patience is the key, I thought.
How hard it is to wait out a siege.
The enemy is the invisible virus,
and there is no way out but through.

Once it has passed, we will have to know 
where to look to spot the absences 
only glaring for those who miss 
what has ceased to exist.


Anne Whitehouse is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Meteor Shower (Dos Madres Press, 2016). She has also written a novel, Fall Love, which is now available in Spanish translation as Amigos y amantes by Compton Press. Recent honors include 2017 Adelaide Literary Award in Fiction, 2016 Songs of Eretz Poetry Prize, 2016 Common Good Books’ Poems of Gratitude Contest, 2016 RhymeOn! Poetry Prize, 2016 F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum Poetry Prize. She lives in New York City. www.annewhitehouse.com

 

Start Where You Are Yoga and Memoir Workshop: Write, Heal, Transform

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Enjoy this weekly Zoom class meeting from 6:30-8:30pm Thursdays in September for 4 weeks (September 3, 10, 17, & 24). Get all the benefits of a home practice with the support of professional instructors Jessica Merritt and Lisa Hase-Jackson as well as fellow yogi/writers. Participants will be led through a 30 minute yoga series followed by a memoir writing exercise and instruction. Stay centered AND start or make progress on your memoir this September and feel good doing it. The cost for this class is $199. We recommend reserving a spot with a $50 non-refundable deposit. Fees can be paid through PayPal to zingarapoet. Include a note stating that your are registering for the Yoga and Memoir workshop.

Jessica Merritt, owner and founder of MindBody Health & Healing, LLC located in Charleston, SC., is a Certified Holistic Health and Wellness Coach, Registered Yoga Teacher, and Reiki level 1. She believes in supporting the body’s natural ability to heal through movement, breath, and energy work. Her goal is to bring awareness to natural health and she specializes in providing 1:1 sessions in a therapeutic setting. Jessica has studied health sciences, psychology, human performance, and the mind-body connection for 9 years. She was a college athlete where she played for Team USA in the World University Games in 2013. With a passion for health & well-being and personal growth & development, Jessica created her business with an aspiration for deep healing and self-growth.

Lisa M. Hase-Jackson is author of Flint and Fire, winner of the 2019 Hilary Tham Capital Collection Series prize. She holds an MFA in poetry from Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and a MA in English from Kansas State University. She has taught poetry and creative writing classes in colleges and community settings for over ten years. She believes good writing comes from self-knowledge and a consistent practice that grows from a sense of authenticity rather than from rigid, external pressures and expectations.

For questions, send email to LisaHaseJackson@gmail.com

Online Writing Workshops to Begin August 1

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Photo by Hannah Olinger

Whether you want to add a little structure to your writing practice or just want to spend time with other writers and gain perspective on your process during the pandemic, these workshops are for you!

Poetry Workshop: twice-monthly online poetry workshop via Zoom for the low cost of $15.00 per workshop (or pay for all 6 workshops in advance for $72.00). The next session will run from August 1 to October 17th  (August 1, August 15, September 5, September 9, October 3, and October 17) from 10:00am to noon Eastern on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month. Each workshop will include a writing exercise or prompt with time to discuss works-in-progress and the writing life. Workshop drafts will be due one week before workshop so others can read and consider. Our format will call for a discussion of the writer’s goals rather than a critique or line by line edit. We want to consider the work as a whole and as part of the poet’s larger collection or aesthetic and to generally deepen our relationship with poetry.

Advanced Poetry Workshop: a six-week advanced poetry workshop and study group from September 8 to October 13 which will meet on Tuesdays from 8:30pm – 10:30pm Eastern via Zoom with email and Google doc supplements. Each week we will discuss select chapters from “Why Poetry” by Matthew Zapruder, “Madness, Rack and Honey” by Mary Ruefle, and “The Flexible Lyric” by Ellen Bryant Voigt, particularly in terms of whether or not they affect our relationship with poetry, our sense of craft, or our revision process. Some weeks we will focus on generating new work and other weeks we will focus on works-in-progress and/or revision. Participants will be expected to have their own copies of the books. Some supplemental material may be provided. The cost for this class is $120.

Memoir: Start Where You Are Yoga and Memoir Workshop: Write, Heal, Transform Join me and yoga instructor Jessica Merritt via Zoom from 6:30-8:30pm Thursdays in September for 4 weeks (September 3, 10, 17, & 24). Get all the benefits of a home practice with the support of professional instructors Jessica Merritt and Lisa Hase-Jackson and fellow yogi/writers. Participants will be led through a 30 minute yoga series followed by memoir writing exercises and instruction. Stay centered AND start or make progress on your memoir this September and feel good doing it. The cost for this class is $199. We recommend reserving a spot with a $50 non-refundable deposit.

A full list of online workshops available here: Writing Workshops for Fall

 

How to Baptize a Child in Philadelphia, PA by Mike Zimmerman

First, clasp the crown of his head
like a football, a hot pretzel,
like the accidental bird flown
in you forgot to let go.

Say “you can be anything.”
Let him drink soda at breakfast;
read him a story at night.
Let this story be about

A car or a dog or a fish.
Say, “I wish you didn’t
ask questions at bed.”
Turn out the light.

If you’re going to the dollar store, bring him with you.
Let him buy Mountain Dew and sour lemons.

Help him with his homework.
When he asks, “we’re mostly water? how
can that be true?” Tell him, “because it’s
in the book.” You don’t know the particulars
Except that Jesus walked on water,
The Delaware must be a sacred thing
despite the bodies in cold clothes
on the news. Baptism happens in water.

If he finds a blue jay with a broken wing, tell him
it serves those Jays right for beating the Phillies.

When hell comes up in church, he’ll ask
“What’s revelation? What’s sin?” Show him
The steel mill again. Tell him, “Son,That time of reckoning is not for us.”


Mike Zimmerman is a writer of short stories and poetry, as well as a middle school Writing teacher in East Brooklyn. His previous work has been published in Cutbank, A & U Magazine, and The Painted Bride. He is the 2015 recipient of the Oscar Wilde Award from Gival Press and a finalist for the Hewitt Award in 2016. He finds inspiration and ideas from the people and places he loves. Mike lives in New York City with his husband and their cat.

Gentle Stratigraphy by Kim Malinowski

Leaves crowd blossoms into wispy

decent—

is that how it always is?

Meandering fall into glade—

your hand reaches out—
moss between toes
pebble jutting into hip
coyote jawbone at brow.

 Banks cut by patient water.

Soft decent—

Sandstone and lime carved into stratigraphy.

I map it like I do your irises, your dimples—gentle craft. 
Do you carve me with your caresses?
Shape me as the stream does the bank?
Fingers tap at my stomach.
Moss and mud—water—do you map me?  

The sun sets. First stars appear.
Do you know the constellations of my freckles?

 You may bend and ford me.

Let my stratigraphy show layers.
Love and loss—unbearable and bearable pain—
show life lived to the brim.

 Reveal me.

 Revel in godhood—shape my soul.


Kim Malinowski earned her B.A. from West Virginia University and her M.F.A. from American University. She studies with The Writers Studio. Her chapbook Death: A Love Story was published by Flutter Press. Her work was featured in Faerie Magazine and has appeared in War, Literature, and the Arts, Mookychick, and others.

grounded by Heather Laszlo Rosser

today, I watched
the red tailed hawk
swoop through the bare
trees, and wanted to fly.

I don’t know why now
or why not before
but suddenly, it’s
imperative that I know
something about flight.

do I ask someone?
boys dream of flying.
the fellow in the deli
probably knows. excuse me,
sir, what is it like to fly?

last night I walked down a narrow
passage in a charcoal sketch,
but like my young daughters,
I wanted up.

can we be too rooted to the Earth?

tonight I will ask the boy next to me
the one hiding out in a lean, sure man,
I will ask him, beloved, can I hold on
behind you on your way through?

Heather Laszlo Rosser is a New Jersey native and has been writing all her life. She holds an MA in English Literature from the University of Vermont and an MFA in Fiction Writing from Vermont College. This is her first published poem.

Chocolate by Michael T. Smith

“I just
Brought you
Chocolate,
So we can start from
There.”

The word
       Itself
Was intoxicating –
‘chocolate,’
Hung on my lips before I
Said it.

Tasting it,
And letting the idea
       Seep into my mind
In some eternal moment.

But the idea
Should not be dormant,
       Alone –
And so it will be joined
To a thing not untoward –
To what I bring to you.

Michael T. Smith is an Assistant Professor of English who teaches both writing and film courses. He has published over 150 pieces (poetry and prose) in over 50 different journals. He loves to travel.

*July 7 is World Chocolate Day

Review of Only as the Day is Long by Dorianne Laux


Only as the Day is Long

New and Selected Poems
by Dorianne Laux
New York: W.W. Norton & Company
Paperback: 2020

A review by Dana Delibovi

Dorianne Laux was not someone I ever chose to read. I knew she wrote longer narrative and confessional poetry, but I like poets who write short lyrics. I heard her poems depicted lots of robust American sex, all flesh and zippers, but I like poetic sex that’s either unrequited or heavily veiled. I understood she told stories of the working class. That’s a harrowing place for me, a place I almost killed myself to leave behind.

So I’m still wrestling with why I felt drawn to buy her collection, Only as the Day Is Long. Maybe my instinct perceived what my reason could not—goodness knows, it wouldn’t be the first time. I loved this book, and I regret not reading Laux sooner

Only as the Day Is Long is a superbly curated volume, the best of a life’s work.  Poems are arranged chronologically, starting with selections from Laux’s first book, Awake (1990). The first poem from Awake, the opening salvo, is a narrative confession, all right, but certainly not of the grey-light-at-the-summerhouse variety. “Two Photographs of My Sister” conjures two pictures: one from a camera and the other from memory, one of a child in a cast-off swimsuit and the other of a teenager beaten with a belt by her father.

She dares him.
Go on. Hit me again.
He lets the folded strap unravel to the floor.
Holds it by his tail. Bells the buckle
off her cheekbone.
She does not move or cry or even wince
as the welt blooms on her temple
like a flower opening frame by frame
in a nature film.

The remorseless, almost clinical brutality of this image hooked me on Laux—I could not look away. After that, I was caught completely by the poem’s end, where Laux admits that her sister’s swelling face still follows her, like a “stubborn moon that trails the car all night…locked in the frame of the back window.”

I had to keep reading. In poem after poem I found a brave and untamed narrative that compelled me to care: the endless chores and abuse of a tough childhood; the mystery of debased parents who somehow managed to craft glitter-covered change from the tooth fairy; and the sacred, lost ritual of “Smoke” selected from the book (2000) of the same name.

Who would want to give it up, the coal
a cat’s eye in the dark room, no one there
but you and your smoke, the window
cracked to street sounds…

Laux is has a particular gift for poems about everyday objects and the stories they hold. A favorite of mine is one of the book’s new poems, “My Mother’s Colander.” A whole world of childhood literally sifts though this object, part culinary tool, part toy. I physically felt my own childhood in Laux’s final image: kids holding the colander aloft in the sun, its star-shaped holes making “noon stars on the pavement.”

Less appealing to me are the poems of sexuality and celebrity in Laux’s corpus. Many of the sexual poems often indulge in body parts and whoops and the doffing of underwear—items that are out of my prudish comfort zone, and which remained out of my comfort zone despite Laux’s deft prodding. An exception: “The Shipfitter’s Wife,” in which sex after work is a way for the wife to comprehend, almost to metabolize, the husband’s toil—“The clamp, the winch, the white fire of the torch, the whistle, and the long drive home.” Perhaps my prudishness also caused me to dislike the celebrity poems about the sensual mystique of Mick Jagger and Cher. These poems, selections from The Book of Men (2011), felt contrived, painfully so since Laux’s work about everyday life rings so true.

In terms of craft, Laux is a master of two poetic skills I admire greatly and only wish I could approximate. The first skill is the generous use of verbs, especially the stout Anglo-Saxon verbs. “Antilamentation” a poem against regret, is a prime example of Laux’s barrage of verbs: beat, curse, crimp, chew, pitch, and more. The second skill is the just-right line break. Laux never breaks a line haphazardly; every break, punctuated or not, adds to both meaning and music. This is perfectly illustrated by these lines from “What We Carry,” the title work of Laux’s 1994 book.

He tells me his mother carries his father’s ashes
on the front seat in a cardboard box, exactly
where she placed them after the funeral…
What body of water would be fit
for his scattering? What ground?

After reading Only as the Day Is Long, it struck me that I could never write an objective review about it.  I could never say with conviction that any and all readers would like this book. That’s because what I most loved in the book were the stories and images that mirrored my own life. Laux’s earliest years were spent in New England; I grew up there. Laux’s father was in the navy; my father was a navy veteran who worked as a boat-builder. Like Laux, I once smoked like a chimney and listened at night to the sounds of my drunken street. I changed social class through education and writing. But the question that remains is why, after so many years of knowing about Laux and avoiding her, did I now pick up her book?

I’m still not sure. It might be simply a matter of the extra time I have these days. I’m older, semi-retired, happily at home, and freer to explore.

Or maybe it’s taken me this long to touch the wounds my of hard-knocks past—the kind of past that informs so much of Laux’s work.  A legacy like that dogs you, and its bite-marks hurt, no matter how many degrees you rack up or how many poems you publish. A battered colander, a smoke in the dark, or a sister’s livid welt sticks with you, in Laux’s words, “no matter how many turns you take, no matter how far you go.”



Dana Delibovi is a poet and essayist from Lake Saint Louis, Missouri. In 2020, her work has appeared in The Confluence, Apple Valley Review, Linden Avenue, and Noon. She is the 2019 winner of the James Haba Award for Poetry.

Even When by Shannen Angell

Thank you to this damned body
a middle ground
no man’s land
mediation between the warring sides
the daggers in its skin
its joints
its bones
and the self that extends past
physicality

instead embracing compassion
creativity consistency
even when its body is
incapable of walking
even when its body is
locked to the bed
even when its body
cannot contain an ounce more
of pain

Thank you to this damned mind
a middle ground
pie in the sky
idealist who insists that
inviting cousin chronic illness
to the wake will not
reignite the generations-long battle
between the self that extends past
physicality

and the physicality itself
the space it demands to fill
even when its mind is
struggling to swim
even when its mind is
convinced of its dusk
even when its mind
still cannot give up
and continues to raise
its hand


Shannen Angell attends Utah Valley University and is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in writing studies. When she isn’t writing poetry, she can be found cross stitching or playing Animal Crossing. She has previously been published in UVU’s Touchstones and Snow College’s Weeds.