A well-known someone
once wrote a poem for me.
To my delight, it showed up
in a literary journal of some repute
and then in an actual book.
My initials were there,
right under the title and following
the word for. I was delighted
that this fine poet had discovered
words meant especially for me
and I hadn’t even slept with him
or chatted him up flirtatiously.
My friends, I ask you to imagine it:
a poem for me who ground away
at her own poems—hustling
the hell out of every line,
always afraid that my lack
of credentials would become
oh-so-apparent in my ignorance
of literary intricacies. I must tell you:
that poem didn’t care one bit
about my lack of formal education.
It mentioned beauty and had an
understanding inside it that claimed
the right to know what beauty is
and what it is worth. “It doesn’t matter
that you aren’t beautiful,” my father said.
“It matters whether or not you are smart.”
He, too, had discovered words just for me.
This all happened years ago. The poem
with my initials happened 35 years ago.
When I remember or dream, I forget which,
it is those initials I see: for _______.
Those initials are what I believe.
Martina Reisz Newberry’s most recent book is BLUES FOR FRENCH ROAST WITH CHICORY, (2019 from Deerbrook Editions). She is included in The Sixty Four Best Poets of 2018 (Black Mountain Press). Newberry is widely published in literary journals in the U.S. and abroad. She lives in Los Angeles.
I plunge my hands
into the soil
in an attempt
to feel the heartbeat
of the earth,
only recovering my hands
when I realise failure
is all I can feel;
I see dozens of strangers
on their knees,
clasped hands dirty
their own found failures
bringing tears to their eyes,
the realisation of stillness
for even those with clean hands
Edward Lee‘s poetry, short stories, non-fiction and photography have been published in magazines in Ireland, England, and America, including The Stinging Fly, Skylight 47, Acumen, and Smiths Knoll. His debut poetry collection, Playing Poohsticks On Ha’Penny Bridge, was published in 2010. He is currently working towards a second collection.
He also makes musical noise under the names Ayahuasca Collective, Lewis Milne, Orson Carroll, Blinded Architect, Lego Figures Fighting, and Pale Blond Boy.
His blog/website can be found at https://edwardmlee.wordpress.com
My War and Peace
Nothing better than the gentle grade
of a river bank,
book in hand,
breaking with plot and characters
now and then
to take in a scenery
that is anything but
what the author’s been describing.
No smoky, loud, ferocious,
battle scene here.
Just a stream
a little less idle than myself.
A fenced field
where a herd of cows
The squirrels aren’t concerned
about a further division
approaching from the rear.
The chipmunks are wary of hawks
not advancing cavalry.
Napoleon is a name unknown
to the wildflowers hereabouts.
And the elms don’t care a hoot
for Natasha and her suitors.
My eyes begin to close.
It’s not you, Tolstoy.
It’s my surrounds.
Yes, your war had me
But, as always,
I settle for peace.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Midwest Quarterly, Poetry East, and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in South Florida Poetry Journal, Hawaii Review, and Roanoke Review.
Do I have to shower every day
to keep my Mediterranean
hair and skin
in tip-top shape
as I was taught
when I was a child?
I admire the angel
on top of my Christmas tree,
who looks the way I feel
this afternoon, as if I can close my eyes
and smile at anything,
even when the cat climbs
a strand of silver garland
and kicks a ball and bell
to the rug. I am unlearning.
A requiem of sleet
falls hard on the hood
of the SUV in the drive,
its windshield wiper blades
raised like arms without hands.
I discover some paint, on the wall
beside the base of my bathtub,
rolled like scrolls
written by prophets of steam
from shared showers
and post-workday soaks. Then
I watch the dogs and cat
run back and forth with delight;
when they burn off their nervous
energy. Friends, if you want to see
something beautiful, look around you
and in the mirror. If you want to hear
something peaceful, take this moment
and breathe it out. I am unlearning.
Joey Nicoletti‘s most recent books are Thundersnow (2017) and Capicola Slang, which is due out in April 2019. He teaches creative writing at SUNY-Buffalo State.