alan catlin: “The Phrenology of Words”

The Phrenology of Words

Men of science trace the curves
and the lumps, the sloping hillock,
rugged clefts and steep inclines,
with skilled fingers. They pause
in mid-exam to consider the meaning
of the Apex of A, a U shaped declivity,
the bizarre confines of scientific Z.
Try to provide a contextual content
of separate entities that are independent,
in and of themselves, but have such
different meanings when placed in
relationships with another. A dark art
emerges from the ruins of abandoned
archaic words and forms, especially those
that have no meaning in poems of
misdirection and misguided substance.
All conclusions are subject to revision
even ones that appear obvious.

Only the photographers of the spirit world
are satisfied with their results. Auras are
illusive but strongly felt even as libraries
are being dismantled and burnt to the ground.
The shadows captured in these photos are of
real people but no one can remember their names.
There are no words left to describe them.

 

 

Alan Catlin has two new full length books out: Asylum Garden: after Van Gogh from Dos Madres and Lessons of Darkness from Luchador Press. 

Robert Beveridge: “Cold in July”

Cold in July

Even the birds have forgotten
How not to shiver;
Canadian breeze entered
Without a knock, picked up
Erie steam. The geese
No longer fly north.

Old-timers postulate
The distance of Earth
From Sun is growing,
Forever growing, a gradual
Shift from the night-time
Of summer to the dawn
Of the new ice age. They sit
Before July fires, birch,
Maple, Ash, sip
Heady concoctions of wine,
Cinnamon, cardamom.

Only the steelworkers
And the guy on his bulldozer
At the garbage dump
Are warm.

 

Robert Beveridge (he/him) makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Collective Unrest, Cough Syrup, and Blood & Bourbon, among others.

Boris Kokotov: “In the Garden”

In The Garden
 
In the Chihuly Garden
bees pollinate flowers
ignoring exhibits

while visitors
photograph glasswork
paying no heed to bees.

Bees belong to flowers,
art belongs to indoors.
tourists belong to their cameras.

But what about you and me?
Do we “belong together”
as a popular song suggests?

Or shall we dismiss the lyrics,
and stick to the facts?

 

Boris Kokotov was born in Moscow. He is a poet and translator, the author of several poetry collections. His original work and translations to English have appeared in Adelaide, Blackbird, Chiron Review, Constellation, The Lake, Poet Lore, and Washington Square Review, among others. He lives in Baltimore.

Francine Witte: Two Poems

Again

Later in June, we would wish
the rain over us, welcome that last

crisp of spring. We wanted to hold
these lovemoments, whisper of forever

written in the tree buds. And yet we knew
what was coming, sad repeat of last

year’s summer, drying grass, bend
of flowerheads into the field, the sudden

broken promises, the surrender of our
tired hearts. How we knew again

that everything that started in April
would show its fraying edges, and by summer

the end of all of it would begin.

 

Late August Evening

Blue moon in the sky, full
for the second time this month.

Just like us, meeting for another
try at love. We sit at our favorite

restaurant, order our favorite meal –
garlic pasta, buttery bread and halfway

through you are certain it’s over. The
rest of our dinner going untouched and me

watching your face, now fallen out of love,
your voice talking about everything

that isn’t us. The waiter remembers
our favorite dessert – tiramisu and two

romantic spoons. I want to warn the knowing
smile from his face. Instead, I take a bite,

sweetness going dead on my tongue. I look
at your hands, skittery birds about to fly.

Meanwhile, outside, the second chance moon
continues to shine, flickering in and out

of the sky, hidden, then not, behind
a balled-up fist of ­clouds.

 

Francine Witte’s poetry and flash fiction have appeared in Wigleaf, Mid-American Review, Lost Balloon, Stonecoast Review, Moon Candy Review, and many others. Her latest books are Dressed Wrong for All This, (Flash), The Theory of Flesh (Poetry), and The Way of the Wind (novella). She lives in NYC.

Luanne Castle: “Autobiography”

Autobiography

The story went that when I was born
my nose broke when I hit the floor.
At four, I watched my mother stuff
my blankie like a headless twitching body
in our trashcan and tamp it down.
At six, I left play forts behind.
At six and a half, the Brothers Grimm.
(Mother threw out the book—of course—
citing the family violence within).
When I was nine, we left our house
with the basement bomb shelter
and moved near the city dump.
At eleven, I left my childhood friends
for a lipsticked group that roamed our district.
On my twelfth birthday, my father left off
smacking me in favor of a lock on my door
and a snarled-back lip in front of others.
At thirteen, I left, but came back in the dark.
At fifteen, I tried to leave my body
but the fuming nurse refused my wish.
Two years later, I left home again, but
snuck back for a suitcase and stumbled into
a realistic toy gun pointed at my chest.

 

 

Luanne Castle‘s Kin Types (Finishing Line), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Award. Her first poetry collection, Doll God (Aldrich), was winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, she studied at University of California, Riverside (PhD); Western Michigan University (MFA); and Stanford University. Her writing has appeared in Copper Nickel, TAB, Glass, Verse Daily, and other journals. 

Charles Rammelkamp: “Lost in the Supermarket”

Lost in the Supermarket

_____I was walking down aisle four looking for the V8.

Coffee
Tea & Cocoa
Juice
Sports Drinks
Powdered Drinks

_____I swerved my cart around a gray woman who muttered, “All the weird things they’re doing to our juice,” resentment heavy in her voice like the aggrieved white people you hear muttering about immigrants and gays. Or is it black people and Jews? Juice. Posting manifestos in Facebook before – well, they used to call it “going postal,” but now maybe it’s more like going viral. I wonder what she meant.  What were “they” doing to “our” juice?  I plucked a spicy hot V8 from the shelf and put it in my cart, thinking, what had they done to our tomato juice?
_____Later, I caught up with the woman in the chilled foods section frowning at the cottage cheese selections while I snared a carton of orange juice from the cooler. No pulp. Not from concentrate. The look of dull anger in her eyes as she looked at the Chobani told me she was angry about what “they” were doing to “our” yogurt. Latte? Coconut? Heresy!

 

 

Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. A chapbook of poems, Me and Sal Paradise, was published last year by FutureCycle Press. Two full-length collections are forthcoming in 2020, Catastroika, from Apprentice House, and Ugler Lee, from Kelsay Books.

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.