Irene Han: Two Poems

Train Ride

A beginning is also an end.
An end is also a beginning.

On the F, the woman sitting
across from me is wearing heavy

sunglasses. 10:30 might still be early
for some people. It’s the glare of these

metallic cars, harsher than natural sunlight.
When she takes them off, she has a black

eye. The movie The Long Goodbye comes
to mind, how waves of the ocean drown

out their voices in Malibu. Nina, brushing
her blond hair aside, shows us her bruises:

“It doesn’t look like you walked into
a door.” On the wall, the last few lines of

a poem: And at dawn, waking… The
subway blaring, I step out into the light.

 

On E. 60th Street

When I was turned away from
a matinee— “Who goes to the movies
at 4pm on a Tuesday?” –the teller says:
“I hate to break it to you, but you’re not
more special than anyone else.” It’s rush
hour: everyone’s leaving, yellow cabs line
up in a row, standstill traffic. I watch
the day wind down from the second floor
of an obscure building. Wind and rain
alternate in unpredictable succession.
On the inside, the outside world seems
to unfold on a distant screen. The sound
of blazing sirens and desire fires away.
And yet, the edge appears closer.
Dreaming of the end, through clarifying
high windows, I see the beginning.

 

 

Irene Han writes, “I am an academic and specialize in political theory. I have a Korean background and have lived abroad. Therefore, you will see various cultural landscapes in my poems.” 

Robert Nisbet: “History’s Girl”

History’s Girl
 
Just a scattering, a row or two of mourners,
nurses and carers, is in the crematorium,
as the very old lady’s passing is noted.
We know just a little about her life

She’d been a country girl, in the orchards,
in health and growth. And then in service
in a Shropshire manor, first a parlourmaid,
then a housekeeper, domestic dignitary.

Somehow to college though, stenography,
a post-war typist in a London ministry.
Later her one boy friend (she was vague on this),
a feverish kind of fun, clogging with alcohol.

Rehab, then another surge, and to Scotland,
junior admin, poll tax and public spite.
Retirement was a release, South again,
and, for a joyous while, the neighbours,
their boy and girl (both in Canada now)
who called her Auntie.

The move to a cottage in Pembrokeshire
brought immersion again in fields
and green and trees. Brought too infirmity,
the final passage to the nursing home.

Now March’s sleet tickles the roof and doors
of the crematorium. And history’s girl leaves us,
in a respectful hush, behind the closing curtains. 

 

 

Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet, sometime creative writing tutor at Trinity College, Carmarthen, living a little way down the coast from Dylan Thomas’s Boathouse. He has published widely and in roughly equal measures in Britain and the USA. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee for 2020.

Peter Waldor: “Pendant”

Pendant

One time your pendant,
ammonite in blue resin,
fell into my mouth
and I let it stay
a moment too long.
I was like one
about to swallow
a folded page so
it doesn’t land in
the wrong hands.

 

 

Peter Waldor is the author of Door to a Noisy Room (Alice James Books), The Wilderness Poetry of Wu Xing (Pinyon Publishing), Who Touches Everything (Settlement House), which won the National Jewish Book Award, The Unattended Harp (Settlement House), State of the Union (Kelsay Books) and Gate Posts with No Gate (Shanti Arts). Waldor was the Poet Laureate of San Miguel County, Colorado from 2014 to 2015.  His work has appeared in many journals, including the American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, the Iowa Review, the Colorado Review, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Mothering Magazine.  Waldor lives in Trout Lake, Colorado.

Michael Milligan: “Honestly I Hardly Think of Him at All”

Honestly I Hardly Think of Him at All

What I thought might come
of this I can’t recall.

I rarely dreamt of safety
and never forgot how the wax

melts when I fly too high,
the sky there uncluttered by restraint.

I am torched.
I am metal I melt I am molten.

How blue my father’s eyes burned,
like a welder’s acetylene flame,

the 6,0000 surface
of the sun. I wished him to sleep

on blue glass the color of his eyes
and wake suddenly afire.

None of that matters yet still
l fall through the atmosphere.

Still come down here.
Every time.

 
Michael Milligan has worked as a construction laborer, migrant fruit and grape picker, homestead farmer, and graphic arts production manager. He took his MFA in Creative Writing at Bennington College, thereby joining the teeming mass of writers with degrees of dubious cachet. He was co-founder of Poetry Oasis in Worcester MA and was co-editor of Diner. His book reviews, fiction, and poems have appeared in Agni, The New Orleans Review, The Valparaiso Review, Chaffin Journal, and others.

David E. Howerton: –Morning damp fades–

–Morning damp fades–

Didn’t pay attention again
world changed left me confused.
Been years or at least
feels that long,
drank self into forgetting.
Dogs bark down road.
Morning damp fades,
leaves hot vehicles odors
drifting down road.
Someone I don’t remember
smiles recognition
damn hangover.

 

 

David E. Howerton is a part-time programmer and lives in the American River
Canyon outside of Auburn, CA. He has done landscaping, sign painting,
cooking, and made jewelry to pay the bills. His hobbies include type
design, soapstone carving, walks in the woods, collecting dragons, and
a growing library of Science Fiction.

John Yohe: Three Saint Poems

Saint Lot

I tried to be a good jew + christian
+ preach the word of god to sodomites
they wouldnt listen + in fact his plan
went far beyond those awful carnal nights—
it’s hospitality: if people want
to sodomize your guests (tho what the men
did to deserve that I don’t know—I cant
imagine fucking angels) well you then
offer your daughters + if that dont work
you get the hell out of town—god will put
it in
_____ but pity me: my hag wife dies
+ my hot daughters raped me—on my word—
two nights in a row the ungrateful sluts
believe me—when has a man of god lied?

 

Saint Wife of Lot

I saw my husband offer my daughters
for carnal knowing to the crowd outside
in place of two strangers
____________________you are so sure
were angels + I saw that he had lied
about everything + I saw my name
erased from history but still I ran
b/c I saw what he would do to them
alone + I was right—you know what men
can do but yes I turned + saw the fire
a city burned I saw the children burn
I saw the angels laugh at us like dogs
I saw that this would be about desire
or sex so I knew it would be my turn
+ so I turned
_____________to look + saw your god

 

Saint Daughter of Lot

So yes when God turns yr mother to salt
get father drunk + fuck him to have kids
voilà yr christianity: my fault
when obviously it was he who did
the
____drinking + the raping—what’d you think?
a parable about how it’s ok
to fuck yr daughters?
__________________ha ha wink wink
those zany christians—oops I meant to say
those jews—you get my point—it’s all bullshit
control religion to control women
no exceptions for abortion in case
of incest we need punishment
for being sluts + not dad fucking me

 

 

Born in Puerto Rico, John Yohe grew up in Michigan and lives in Oregon. He has worked as a wildland firefighter, deckhand/oiler, bike messenger, wilderness ranger, and fire lookout. Fiction Editor for Deep Wild Journalwww.johnyohe.com

Ashley Fernandes: “Witching Hour Bliss”

Witching Hour Bliss

sometimes at 3am, I am awake.
I open the window and drink the night.
the cold air hits my lungs like ice,
but it feels good to feel
something that isn’t pain.
I let the night flood my body,
making me whimper,
and leaving me melancholy.
but it feels good to feel
something that is better than pain.
then I close the window,
drunk on the night.

 

Ashley Fernandes is an emerging Canadian writer based in the Toronto area who is currently working fervently on her first novel, Hummingbirds in the Night Sky. When she is not writing, she spends her days reading for inspiration or fantasizing about drinking hot chocolate in autumn weather.

DS Maolalai: “Drunk, and trying to be quiet.”

Drunk, and trying to be quiet.

moving through the kitchen
like a boat in harbor,
drunk at 11pm
on wine, and a little beer afterward,
and trying your best
to be quiet. putting down bottles
by the backyard door
with a sound
like tanks
crushing houses in palestine.
then you turn
and knock a fork over. turn again
and pick it up. upstairs
someone turns over
in your bed
and snorts a sound
like cars crashing
and collapsing
mineshafts. you freeze. then move,
more freely now,
feeling a fool in your concern,
remembering
how heavily
she sleeps.

 

DS Maolalai has been nominated four times for Best of the Net and three times for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press, 2016) and Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press, 2019).

Frederick Pollack: “NGO”

NGO

My group reinvented compassion.
We dispense it, with whatever
water, pills, fresh bandages, etc.
we have, on the blanket heaps,
torn tents, and cardboard homes
extending miles
from the broken cloverleaf to former country.
The vista has a dark sublimity.
If it were part of our culture
we would, while kneeling, ministering,
and seeing – too few – our comrades do the same,
remember saints in paintings,
and reflect: There was a hierarchy
that made propaganda
from a legend or a wish, then hired artists …
As it is, we think mostly about guns –
great survivors, always healthy –
and viruses that paint
the landscape in broad subtle swaths.
Like all of us, I spent my early years
killing. My rationale was broadcast
from the splintered towers on every skyline
to the pasteboard church of my former father.
When, on the shoulder
of the cracked road, I tend
dying youths who only killed for food,
I envy them. One is troubled
by a drone. “It isn’t ours,” I tell him,
“we don’t know whose it is.”
With his last breath he hails the Holy Ghost.

 

Frederick Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS (Story Line Press; the former to be reissued 2020 by Red Hen Press), and two collections, A POVERTY OF WORDS (Prolific Press, 2015) and LANDSCAPE WITH MUTANT (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018). Many other poems in print and online journals.

John Marvin: “Heisenberg and Heidegger Homelettes”

Heisenberg and Heidegger Homelettes

don’t save bandaged reminders of uncertain songs
and wail in the night over dry Mississippi oxbows
_____protecting engendered species under eroding banks
where they hover in harmonic minors like blues and lamentations

don’t wait for ships to sail lost strangers on a road less travailed
and all smoke and flakes of snowy ash floating downy windy
_____reddening sunsets like an uppercut grazing a bruised cheek
where ancient wounds forget stragglers who mean neither good nor harm

don’t count your blessed chickens pecking relentless paradiddles on gravel
and tin roofs with Englishmen in the noon day puncture of a sky less avid
_____enthralling forever arrows of outrageous importunities
where a dazed audience doesn’t know whether to laugh or crow

don’t you know little fool your trajectory has concealed your likely positions
and being becomes less available for psycho-concussive
_____tripping hammers against a true temple of everyone’s worship
where miracles abound like leaping lords and turtle dove love

don’t slow cook being as an abstraction derived from universal sproofs
and a mortar pure white in all its concavity sequestering powders
_____awaiting an anxious blow from above crushing will to powder
where humming sooths that abyss staring back at a stranger’s eyelids

__________________a stranglers eye
___________________________a strand                a

 

John Marvin is a teacher who retired and subsequently earned a Ph.D. in English at SUNY Buffalo. He has poems in scores of journals, and literary criticism in Hypermedia Joyce Studies, James Joyce QuarterlyPennsylvania English, and Worchester Review. His book, Nietzsche and Transmodernism: Art and Science Beyond the Modern in Joyce, Stevens, Pynchon, and Kubrick, awaits a publisher.