Category Archives: Zingara Poetry Picks

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.

 

My Sister’s Baby Blanket by Alejandro Lucero

At a Christmas party, my sister left behind her baby blanket.
We turned around and drove back through the snowy roads.
My parents kept reminding her they would never forget.

A small square stained with spit and mashed peas; it was no trinket,
and my grandma, the party’s host, already tossed it in the garbage load.
At a Christmas party, my sister left behind her baby blanket.

If she were older perhaps she would have felt no regret.
Perhaps she would have found another to save herself from the cold.
My parents kept reminding her they would never forget

the gift from our aunt who’s now alone in a pinewood casket
and wrapped in her own blanket of roots, worms, and mold.
She missed that Christmas party my sister left behind her baby blanket.

On her last days, we brought my aunt flowers and unripened fruit in a basket.
We said we loved her and all the other things she needed to be told.
My parents kept reminding her they would never forget.

I write these refrains, and think how my aunt and sister never met,
about how their hands will never get the chance to hold
at a Christmas party, how my poor sister left behind her baby blanket,
and how my parents kept reminding her they would never forget.


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.

His Agenda by Peter Mladinic

to place a lens before a leaf in the sun
and evoke a flame
to see a magnificent cottonwood green in the pale high desert
to see a hawk on a wooden post
to walk at night a runway where in daylight planes land
to gather mesquite and lay it near a fire pit
to strip naked on a canyon rim and swim in the creek
and towel himself dry and put on clean clothes
to put ice and whiskey in a glass
to sit in a chair and open a paperback, Agee’s
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
to fly in a piper cub over a canyon
to see the green cottonwood alone in a corner of pale high desert
to know the cactus wren is cousin to the javelina
and the sun’s dying fire and wind
and egrets white on the Pecos
below fire-blackened trees.


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.

Seas of Change by Marc Janssen

For you beginnings are never endings 
Every sunrise only rises, rises 
Into the arms of a mild waiting moon 
Tears are history, regret a rare realm. 
No, this ship, my beautiful bark only 
Arrives, it arrives, and arrives, it is 
Never swallowed by darkened horizons. 
But it is disappearing now and I 
Can’t bear it, waiving glad tears on the dock 
Is the most painful thing I’ve ever done.  


Marc Janssen lives in a house with a wife who likes him and a cat who loathes him. Regardless of that turmoil, his poetry can be found scattered around the world in places like Penumbra, Slant, Cirque Journal, Off the Coast and The Ottawa Arts Journal. Janssen also coordinates the Salem Poetry Project, a weekly reading, the annual Salem Poetry Festival, and is a 2020 nominee for Oregon Poet Laureate. 

Dusk, South Baltimore by Deborah Phelps 

Driving home from the old city row house
To the new suburban home,
I always twisted about, seeking out
My old friend, the orange Domino Sugars sign,
Glowing, a jewel, set in the wires of shipyards.

Admiring too, the rose-pink-gold
Chemically-tinted clouds striating over
The Hanover Street Bridge, as my father
Skirts the parameters of black Cherry Hill
Apartments and Brooklyn Park decay.

Such poverty so grandly lit!
Rose-pink-gold stratus and sundown.

As if Keats himself painted an ode
On the storefronts selling wigs and steamed
Crabs, a sonnet for the stinking
Old-style bars, the front doors ajar.
A rift of ore loaded into the abandoned
Warehouses, their brick-fronts so colorfully
Spray painted with the names
Of those already dead.

Deborah Phelps is a professor of Victorian literature and Women’s Studies at Sam Houston University. Originally, from Baltimore, she lives and works in Huntsville, Texas, home of the biggest penal colony and fastest death row in the nation. But that is a subject in other poems. She has published a chapbook, Deep East (selected by Stephen Dunn) and in many journals, including Southern Poetry Review, Spoon River Review, and Verse.

Emily Dickinson May Be Weary by Rikki Santer

of surviving as a ventriloquist Sphinx
for novelists, filmmakers, memelords
—& poets like me.  Spectrographic
erasures bloom with threadbare
secrets—Snapchat daguerreotypes
in 3D flurries of foxglove crowns—
posters & t-shirts dwell in too much
possibility, while her jasmine tea blend
boasts to rival sunset in a cup.
How fresh can brandy black cake
taste in the rewind of how-to-videos
or namesake ice cream flavors prevail
in the melting? Like her herbarium,
collected & pressed dry—Emily’s
riddles may tire—rickety dialogue
slanting between spirit & dust.


Rikki Santer’s work has appeared in various publications including Ms. Magazine, Poetry East, Margie, Hotel Amerika, The American Journal of Poetry, Slab, Crab Orchard Review, RHINO, Grimm, Slipstream, Midwest Review and The Main Street Rag. Her seventh poetry collection, In Pearl Broth, was published this past spring by Stubborn Mule Press.

Grief by KB Ballentine

The doe stares until I turn away –
when I look back, she is gone.
No sound to tell me where,
no movement of the leaves.
Only the wind – breathing.

You left like that.
No gasping, no torturous sobs,
just a closing of your eyes,
and I was alone again.

Now I wander the woods,
hike trails where families laugh.
Where couples with dogs
smile and whistle,
where music pulses with runners,
invade the stillness of this place,
where once we towed
our own kids and dogs.

The dream, the reverie
that comes from silence, I need.
When summer sun sears
through canopies of green,
when heat hazes the path –
a shimmer – where I can see
a hind leg, a hoof – you–
appear in the shadows.

KB Ballentine’s sixth collection, The Light Tears Loose, appeared last summer with Blue Light Press. Published in Crab Orchard Review and Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, among others. Her work also appears in anthologies including In Plein Air (2017) and Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace (2017). Learn more at www.kbballentine.com.