Category Archives: Zingara Poetry Picks

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.

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

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.

 

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

 

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.

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

All That Remains: Inspired by Van Gogh’s Bedroom by Kim Baker 

One wonders who, alongside Vincent himself,
stares down upon the empty bed.
Two framed guardian angels?
Or the visages of brothers, of lovers?
They are all that remain to witness
this hauntingly serene scene.

Moon-glow window partly ajar.
Towel resigned on a nail near one door.
Patiently anticipating painting smocks
signature straw hat at the hooked dowel.
Hairbrush, pitcher, carafe
atop an apprehensive table, waiting.

Chair pulled close to the head of the bed
as if someone had just been reading 
a soothing children’s story to Vincent
or pleading in a blanket of red woolen urgency
robin’s egg blue reasons for Vincent 
to skip the long walk to the wheat field 
accompanied only by the cold steel of peace.

When she isn’t writing poetry about big hair and Elvis, Kim works to end hunger and violence against women. A poet, playwright, photographer, and NPR essayist, Kim publishes and edits  Word Soup, an online poetry journal (currently on hiatus) that donates 100% of submission fees to food banks. Kim’s chapbook of poetry, Under the Influence:  Musings about Poems and Paintings, is available from Finishing Line Press.      

What Is Lost Is Not Lost by Pete Mladinic

I like looking at bicycles in old films
such as this one of Dawson, a mining town,
now a ghost town.  I like at the opening
the long line of coke ovens, the miners, two
men, walking home from the mine.  I like
the bicycles, the dogs, the women’s dresses,
their hairstyles, looking into their faces
wondering what happened
after Dawson, where they went, what they
did or did not do, what they did or did not say.
The lady narrator, her
last name Loy, said she and her
husband went to graduate school the following year. 
They had two young sons, Merrill, the elder
and Bill, who lives now in Eugene,
Oregon, and introduces his mother
in the film, which was shot by Mr.
Loy in 1938.  There are numerous shots
of the boys, several of Bill in his playpen
and then one where he seems
happy, having just
learned to walk.  There are shots
of the mines, the houses that sprang from
mountainsides, the church, the school.
Now, nothing left in Dawson
but the cemetery.  I like the moments of Bill
walking on his own,
but I have no idea what he does in Eugene.
He must almost be seventy.
His mother, a young wife
in the film, sticks her tongue out in
one shot.  She was born in 1917.


Peter Mladinic has published three books of poetry: Lost in Lea, Dressed for Winter, and Falling Awake in Lovington, all with the Lea County Museum Press. He lives in Hobbs, New Mexico.

March Triptych by Margarita Serafimova

My heart is full – an ocean of swell – with you.
Everything is green and dense, weighty,
and swaying bottomless.
White are the changing faces of the waves.

*

My life was inside of me, budding, dark-red
against my inner skin,
on a frosty morning,
when instead of a sky, a radiant emptiness reigned.

*

The dying hours are blossoms at dusk.
You touch me so, my face is trembling.

Margarita Serafimova is winner of the 2020 Tony Quagliano  Award, and finalist in other contests. She has a chapbook, A Surgery of A Star (https://bit.ly/3jDU793) and two forthcoming collections. Her work appears widely: Nashville Review, LIT, Agenda Poetry, Poetry South, Botticelli, Steam Ticket, Waxwing, A-Minor, Trafika, Noble/ Gas, Obra/ Artifact, Great Weather for Media, Nixes Mate, etc. Visit: shorturl.at/dgpzC.

My Brother Julian’s Apple Core by Alejandro Lucero

It never saved us from the rain, but
Julian’s apple core looked like an umbrella with a stem
and tasted like the Tecolote Mountains
because that’s where we always picked them.

Julian’s apple core looked like an umbrella with a stem.
He tossed it down from a tree in the Tecolote Mountains
because that’s where we always picked them.
It looked like a green planet falling smoothly out of orbit.

He tossed it down to me from a tree in the Tecolote Mountains
and promised matching Harley’s and sunglasses to keep the bugs out of our eyes.
They looked like green planets falling smoothly out of orbit.
We ate so many, the cores crept up our pant legs like scrambled field mice.

He promised matching Harley’s and sunglasses to keep the bugs out of our eyes.
I imagined riding to our apple tree. Kickstands sunk into the dirt.
We ate so many, the cores crept up our pant legs like scrambled field mice.
Through their scratches, we kept eating as they fell from their branches.

I imagined riding to our apple tree. Kickstands sunk into the dirt.
Sometimes we only took one bite before dropping those little planets to the ground.
Through the scratches, we kept eating as they fell from their branches, but
all I wanted was to turn the apples into umbrellas.

Sometimes we only took one bite before dropping those little planets to the ground.
Julian’s apple core never saved us from the rain, but
I still wanted to turn them into umbrellas
and to taste the Tecolote Mountains with every first bite.


Alejandro Lucero is a writer from Sapello, New Mexico by way of Denver. He serves as an intern and poetry reader for Copper Nickel. Pushcart Prize nominee, his most recent poetry and nonfiction can be found in Progenitor Art & Literary Journal and is forthcoming in The Susquehanna Review and Thin Air Magazine.

Under the Radar by Javy Awan

Duck your head down—no, lower—down by me—
pardon my whisper, but we’re under the radar—
escaping detection, maneuvering free—
we’re at the controls where controllers can’t see,
scouring for secrets of forbidden traffic—

We’re clumsy but finessing, caressing the contours,
guiding and gliding along edges and tops, joy-riding
our own unmonitored zone—we’re under the radar!

We alone know our whereabouts acrobatic, hush-hush—
the tickles on your belly are the tendrils of leaves—
stay alert to the lifts of buildings and hills, but don’t rise
and rise and rise on the thrill—keep hugging alongside,
the target’s in view, nary a clue—we’re under the radar!

Above, the invisible rays would imprint our paths,
distinguish our craft, assign tags, and keep tabs,
tip off the hostiles to aim their ack-ack—our blips
extinct on the screen, ablaze in the skies—Amazing!—

We hit it—a simultaneous bloom! Veer back to home base,
reining-in breathless highs, lest we soar into sights—
Victorious, unharmed, we’ll rest arm in arm—under the radar!

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.

 

Tear Down by John Sierpinski

In this broad shouldered city, in this 50’s vintage motel
arrive to check in at the office, but the cigar chomping
manager has given away our room. A pot of what looks
like tea, but really a poor attempt at coffee sits on a single
burner “hot plate.” Stale-looking donuts wait to be put
out of their misery. Sorry about that, he says with a jerk.
but I’ll tell you what I’m gonna doI can’t wait for this,
I think. For ten bucks more our honeymoon room just
opened up. He winks at my girlfriend. His cigar is
sopped. I grab the key, we are both tired from the road,
tired of this guy. Walk down a few doors past a couple
yelling behind their door. Key in the lock. This “special”
room has mirrors on the ceiling that reflect the filth,
shag carpeting up the walls, stained carpeting on the floor,
a cigarette butt in an ashtray. The word kinky is too kind.
On the floor, next to the bed, there’s a balled up washcloth
Just a minute, I say and head off toward the office.
The cigar-man is talking to a tired-looking older woman.
They both look up. The room isn’t clean (an understatement)
and there’s a used washcloth on the floor. There’s
a moment of silence, then the woman says, They were
only in the room an hour. I’m the one who cleaned the room
after they left. Fatigue has bitten my lip. The woman
hands me a clean washcloth. I turn around and stomp back
to the room. This night is disintegrating into dust. No
wonder the couple two doors down are still shouting, shouting.

John Sierpinski has published poetry in many literary journals such as California Quarterly, North Coast Review and Spectrum Literary Journal to name a few. His work is also in eight anthologies. He is a Pushcart nominee. His poetry collection, “Sucker Hole,” was published in 2018 by Cholla Needles Press.