William Doreski: Two Poems

The Purples in the Painter’s Eye

You can’t sneer away the clouds
knuckling their great abstractions.
You can’t rename every street

after your few brave followers.
I’ve tried to appraise you with song
on the tip of my tongue, but lack

the requisite melody. Stones
rattling in a mountain brook
would more likely catch your ear.

Today we expect to hear the truth
or read it in the New York Times
where every nation has a say.

We also expect the rain to arrive
in a cornucopia of wind
tinted by solar distractions.

You refuse to credit the mind
that mapped the atom forever.
You place no faith in the art

that names itself after silence.
You expect celestial glassblowers
to render landscapes so fragile

and elegant that your old aches
and pains will find no place to settle.
I wish you luck and favor

but don’t believe the purples
inherent in the painter’s eye
will rescue you from suffering

you wrought to punish yourself
for disowning the nation you crossed
a dozen times driving alone.

Let’s agree on something small
enough to pocket when we tire
of fondling its many contours.                           

The day exposes a yellow rind
under a sickly overcast.
Let’s read the newspaper at home

and leave the absences grinning
in the public streets where anyone
can mistake anyone for themselves.

 

_____

 

Puddles Shaped like My Enemies

Last night’s metallic rain left
puddles shaped like my enemies.
I hadn’t known I had so many,
but here they are, bearing weapons 
of quicksilver, chrome, and filth.

You advise me to stomp right
through them, shattering their calm.
You have no enemies, no trace
residue to rebuke you for
famously missed opportunities.

The hard rain blinded the night
so absolutely no response
seemed possible. The cats cried
nervously, the windows rattled.
We stayed up as late as we dared,

aware that pale forces were plotting.
At dawn the sky was meringue,
the trees stood around embarrassed
by a night of hysterics. You roused
the household and told me to don

my boots and splash those puddles
before they sulked underground to plot.
We’re being silly. These puddles
don’t resemble people except
in their slouch and selfish glaze.

Besides, my enemies aren’t yours,
so you don’t have to worry.
I plumb the puddles and determine
that they’re too shallow to drown me,
even if I flop face down.

______________________________________________________________________________________

William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities and retired after three decades at Keene State College. His most recent book of poetry is Stirring the Soup (2020). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals.

paul Bluestein: “Subway Benediction”

Subway Benediction

Running for the subway shuttle
from Grand Central to Broadway,
I heard music drifting through 
an open door. I swung into the car 
and there he was. Long-haired, bearded 
standing in the aisle 
with his mismatched socks on display,
singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow 
in a voice so open and sunlit
that I forgot I was underground. 
Even the wheels squealing 
as the train rocked along the tracks 
could not pull me out of the song 
spinning through the crowded car
like a spider’s web, holding us fast 
for the ride that was suddenly too short.
A hat on the floor in front of him 
held some silver and some paper
and I added my thanks. As I left 
the train and headed for the exit, 
I could still hear him singing 
to the empty car, words that poured 
out into the station and were  reflected 
by white-tile walls, spattering 
the passengers with red, violet and green.

_________________________________________________________________________

paul Bluestein is an obstetrician (done practicing) and blues guitar player (still practicing) who began writing poetry in 2018 after joining The Poet’s Salon in Fairfield, Connecticut.. His work has appeared in The Linden Avenue Literary Review, Third Wednesday, and Penumbra among other publications. His first full-length collection, Time Passages, was published in 2020 by Silver Bow Publishing. 

Dan Nielsen: “Oatmeal”

Oatmeal

_____“Coffee, Sugar?” the waitress asked in passing.
_____Warren looked up from his book and nodded. A cup and saucer appeared. Coffee was poured.
_____“Anything else, Sugar?”  
_____“Eggs over easy and rye toast, please.”
_____She wrote something on a notepad, tore off the top sheet, and placed it beside the saucer.
_____“Do I pay now?”
_____“Whenever you like, Sugar.”
_____“I was going to order oatmeal, but it’s not on the menu.”
_____“We only have the packets.”
_____“Oh.”
_____“Right.”
_____The waitress tore off another sheet and handed it to the cook through a little window. The cook said something that made the waitress laugh. Warren tried to think of something funny to say. He added creamer to his coffee. He turned over the bill. There was the dollar amount and a name he didn’t read.
_____The eggs arrived. Warren ripped off a corner of rye toast, dipped it in the tiny tub of grape jelly, and used it to break open a yolk.  
_____“Want me to warm that up, Sugar?”
_____“Please.” Warren thought of something. “Is there a pay phone?”
_____“You passed it on your way in, Sugar.”
_____There was a phone book attached to a wire. Warren thought about the alphabet. He hummed the song. He found the page with the name and went down the list with a finger until he came to the full name. He dropped a quarter in the slot and listened to it fall, hitting a little bell somewhere along the way. The dial tone was a dead person in a hospital. He stared at the book and dialed a number. He stared some more and dialed another number. He lost his place. He started over. He made it to the end. Someone answered on the second ring.
_____“Hello.”
_____“Hi?”
_____“Warren?”
_____“You said I could call.”
_____“And you did.”
_____“Is this a bad time?”
_____“No, I’m interested in what you have to say.”
_____“I found the place. It looks good.”  
_____“I was a little worried.”
_____“There’s no bed, but I saw a lunar eclipse.”
_____“That’s nice.”
_____“I slept in a chair that smells like cat.”
_____“Is there a cat?”
_____“Not now.”
_____“You have a phone?”
_____“I’m in a restaurant.”
_____“Are you having breakfast?”
_____“Yes.”
_____“Oatmeal?”
_____“They only have the packets.”
_____“Oh.”
_____“Right.”
_____“It sounds like you’re okay.”
_____“That’s why I called. To let you know.”
_____“Are you okay?”
_____“Yes.”

_________________________________________________________________________

Dan Nielsen is a part-time standup comic. His least flavor of jelly is petroleum. Recent FLASH in: Connotation Press, Jellyfish Review, (mic)ro(mac), Necessary Fiction, The Cabinet of Heed, and Cheap Pop. Dan has a website: Preponderous, you can follow him @DanNielsenFIVES. He and Georgia Bellas are the post-minimalist art/folk band Sugar Whiskey.

Eugene Stevenson: “Need is Cold with Cloud”

Need is Cold with Cloud

Trees by the windows of the bus,
mountains by the wing: troubles
fade with distance, how many miles.

Need is cold with cloud, street
good for suitcases, sodden breath,
questions laid down on pavement.

A familiar voice glides its answers in
the wind, but wears the face of
a stranger, whose sidewalk, street.

A cut strong enough to out the abcess,
fills the void with piano concertos or
the monotone analysis of toilet training.

There is a hole in the park outside,
the earth’s blood curious & clear:
points of reference on a creased map.

Trees, mountains, personal history,
all as inarticulate as the adulterer
asleep with another in his own bed.

In the brain’s convolutions, study is
no help when ghosts of past & future
congregate for dialogue & confusion.

_________________________________________________________________________

Eugene Stevenson is the son of immigrants, the father of expatriates, & lives in the mountains of western North Carolina. His poems have appeared in Angel City Review, DASH, Gravel, The Hudson Review, The Loch Raven Review, October Hill, The Poet, South Florida Poetry Journal, Swamp Ape Review, and Tipton Poetry Journal, among others.