musings

Three Poems by Jessica Chickering

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Three Poems

by

Jessica Chickering

Again & Again

I know your body like I my own, every muscle, tendon, freckle, atom, and before you are near
me I feel you everywhere like the wind, all encompassing.
I knew the sound of your voice before you spoke,
and in the moment our eyes met I knew that I loved you
and could not stop myself from being with you,
and could not stop my hand from reaching for yours,
and could not stop lips from finding yours,
and could not stop myself from knowing you,
as I have always and will always know you, because we are one in this moment.

The moonlight streams though exposing every ounce of your flesh like a gift.
You have been waiting and I have been waiting to find ourselves here, intertwined by a lust old
as time, animalistic and humble.
There are no words, only the beauty of the feeling of my tongue on your tongue as I explore
you again and again, (ever undiscovered and discovered and longing).
You are tuned to me, your hands make music on my body and every note that we discover
makes the birds cry out in jealousy,
And until the earth ceases to spin, and the tide ceases to rise, and the birds cease their cries, until that day we will not be apart.
For as long as I breathe, you must breathe, and as long as your heart beats, my heart must beat.

Blue Raincoat Roadside

Lighthouse limelight shines,
Cedar chest lunchbox
and weathervane wine.

Knife chopping onions,
pink watermelon
shudders in the know.

The porch boards bend and
creak under the weight
of her unleaving.

My face is her face.

Hush – when I am old,
sideways and troubled
I will absorb home,

searching my memories
for a glimpse of that light.

Tasty

Cheiloproclitic at your feet
brush, touch, taste
Cheiloprocilitic at your feet
resuscitate, breath, heat
Cheiloproclitic at your feet
pucker, suck, bite
Cheiloproclitic at your feet
lick, swoon, punch
Cheiloproclitic at your feet

Brief bio: My name is Jessica Chickering. I live in Denver, Colorado. I am 34 years. Getting old is both awesome and terrible. I hate people who say cliché things about aging. I write, (say something self-effacing about my writing followed by something redeeming). I graduated from the University of Colorado – Denver with a BA in writing and an emphasis in poetry – I pay the bills doing something that utilizes little of the talents I crafted. I have cat named Girl Kitty, I call her GK for short. I am happy to be alive.

Poetic Statement: Poetry is amazing and undervalued. This is true for so many things I find important and worthy in the world as it stands at this moment. I long for a place where I feel more at home. I feel at home in poetry.

 

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Five Sonnets by John Lowther

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Five Sonnets
by
John Lowther

I never resist temptation, because I have found that things that are bad for me do not tempt me.

That will make more sense when we’re actually doing it.

This kind of judgment emanates from a hot emotional space, not from a cool intellectual one.

To whoever tagged this “gonads and strife”: Excellent.

You know, vacuum, dust, mop and help me move the furniture so I can clean behind them as well.

Certain people I imagine naked every time I see them.

Ultimately this is the only thing that interests me.

Yeah, that’s right, I said it.

*

I’m so over school.

I got my own ideas.

I like to sleep a lot.

The ethic that is never relinquished is that which embraces exploration, experiment and play.

This sentence no verb.

Clean and set this wig.

You change life for me.

If the egg sinks to the bottom, but stands on its point, it’s still good but needs to be used soon.

Nothing is possible.

You left this at mine.

Theoretically, yes.

*

You have to make retarded podcasts to keep yourself entertained because porn is so boring.

I think it depends on how much you consider humanity to be an invasive species on the earth.

Meditation on scripture is like a cow chewing its cud.

That requires a tank, and something pneumatic to run.

My life is like a glacier.

Fate doesn’t give a fuck.

Any event, once it has occurred, can be made to appear inevitable by a competent historian.

As an unabashed shoe person, I gotta say that I love the blue satin pumps and am meh on the boots.

  *

 Piss off fuck face.

This is not a pipe.

We found a real gem.

I had my face done.

Get over yourselves.

You’ve eaten earwax.

Give him a blow job.

Enjoy the jewelry.

Look at her lips.

Use insecticide.

This is not rain.

A change in enunciative value is produced as a result of the new system of inscription, which because it is organized, has wide-ranging, yet regulated, effects.

Some people, though, simply do not ‘telegraph’ any information about their sexuality.

Here’s the kicker.

You should think of a lesson as a weapon in love.

 

*

 

This is my time.

In both directions at once.

I can only see the dead ends everywhere I look.

There is great disorder under heaven and the situation is excellent.

Blocking relationships are computed for local pairs of parts that are in contact with one another.

It’s a huge myth that unconditional love, or radical acceptance of someone you care about, requires you to accept them for who they are.

That’s the gist.

When in doubt, freak ’em out.

All the road signs have been pulled down.

Russian roulette isn’t the same without a gun.

Note on the Text
555, is a collection of sonnets whose creation is database-driven and relies upon text analytic software.
The frame or measure is quite mechanical. I crunched and analyzed Shakespeare’s sonnets, then divided by how many to arrive at averages for words, syllables and characters (inclusive of punctuation but not spaces). These averages (101 words, 129 syllables, 437 characters)became requirements for three groups of sonnets (185 in each).
Parallel to this I started a database for lines found virtually anywhere (though I tended to avoid poaching from poetry). Values for word, syllable and character are recorded. Typos and grammatical oddities are preserved and the lines cannot be edited, though they can be swapped out for other lines of the same value.
Line selection isn’t rule driven and inevitably reflects my reading, watching, listening and thus my slurs as much as my passions, my amusements and those things that disturb me. I espouse only the sonnets, not any one line. Some irk me, others please. Some are just off somehow. There are also intentional banalities as I think they can be made to resonate as well as horrible statements that I try to break in some fashion through context.
Sonnets are assembled using nonce patterns or number schemes, by ear, or notion, or loose association, by tense or lexis or tone. Every sonnet must match the average exactly.
The completed sonnet count as of this writing is 404. I’ll be done when all 555 make it through editing. So at the level where all this database and text analytic stuff takes place things are pretty frosty and procedural, but line selection is extremely idiosyncratic, and as the implementation is not automated inevitable mistakes creep in (which I correct if I find them). I often think of Pound’s “dance of the intellect among words” but it is less words than sentences (or units punctuated as such) amongst which I move. The dance in question tracing out a knot (rather, a gnot) that holds the lines together for me.
Poetics Statement
I’ve already said too much it seems to me, but here I go (in somewhat didactic form). All Language Is Poetry (that we do not always recognize this is due to “occlusion” otherwise known as “taking language for granted”). ALIP, a lip, All L is P, lisp. Writing from the head, by what is called “inspiration” is all well and good if that is what you desire, but we are all Systems of Low-Level Regularities (Harry Mathews), SLLR, which read upside down with bad glasses is “slurs” which works quite well doesn’t it? Just as the drunken fool tells you the same story thrice, that we are systems of low-level regularities, that we have slurs — poetic habits at the conscious and unconscious levels — requires (if one might wish to outrun these things) that we adopt other measures than inspiration with which inspiration can, perhaps, combine. Having a poetics, like having a “voice”, is something I try to stay one (or more) step ahead of. Something is following me though, I catch sight of it now and then, it means me no good. It speaks.
Bio
John Lowther co-founded the Atlanta Poets Group in 1997 and quit in 2012. The University of New Orleans Press published The Lattice Inside: An Atlanta Poets Group Anthology in 2012. Forthcoming from Lavender Ink is John and Dana Lisa Young’s book Held to the Letter. He edits 3rdness Press. He is writing his dissertation on the intersections of Lacanian psychoanalysis and queer theory with issues raised for these by transgender and intersex people. For the moment, he lives in North Carolina.

Excerpt from 47 Venezuela

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Excerpt from 47 Venezuela

by 

Jesse S. Mitchell

There are stars up over the ocean
And I know because I have seen them.
Like words written mutely in the sky
And I know because I have read them.
Tiny sea beacons to guide all who between the waves still malinger,
Little dots shining bright
That the darkest of night
Cannot cleanly obscure.

To read the all of 47 Venezuela, click here.

Three Poems by RC deWinter

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Three Poems

by

RC deWinter

shedding stardust

i am unglued
from the world
freefloating
a bit of cosmic dust
the moorings i fly past
limned with thorns
my hands are still

Madman’s Cathedral

You’ve been here over and over and over again.
This place is so familiar it almost feels like home.
It’s the hell behind your eyes,
the goblin-made cathedral in which you worship –
unwillingly, it’s true, but faithfully nonetheless.
And it’s not even hushed as a cathedral should be.
Screams follow you down the aisle,
echoing endlessly off the arches crowning you in bloody thorns
that tangle in your antlers and slide down your corded neck
to rest against your much-decorated chest,
inside which your heart beats an arrhythmic conquista.
No one awaits you at the altar where the thousand skulls grin,
mercilessly mocking sleep as you kneel unshriven
and know you’ll make this pilgrimage again.

Dorothy Gale, B-Girl: The Real Story

Did I ever tell you about
how I met the Wizard
and how there was nothing
in that black bag for me?
Because there wasn’t any black bag.
You think you know this story
but you don’t.

There I was,
hanging out all innocent
in my farmgirl jumper
and dorky ankle socks.
I kept my hair in the braids
to keep it out of my face
while I was bushwhacking
my way to The Emerald City,
but yeah – I was wearing
those killer red shoes.

I ditched the damn dog
because he just couldn’t seem
to get with the program –
which was
to get the hell out of Dodge
(and never back to Kansas).

Anyway,
the dog was always nervous.
He peed in the basket,
yapped like a springsprung
windup toy,
ate grass and puked it back –
once almost on my shoes –
so I left him with the strawman
and the clinking, clanking,
clattering collection
of calliginous junk.

More on that in a min…

The lion – that pussy! –
had run off ages before,
back to whatever hidey-hole
he inhabited before that lousy
halfhearted attempt at courage.
He was more trouble
than he was worth anyway,
all the time sniveling and shaking
and hiding his eyes behind
that stupid plume on the end
of his tail.

By the time I’d got within
spitting distance of the Wizard
the other two had decided
they’d had enough of
sleeping in the dirt
and talking trees
and pelted apples
and that hag on the broomstick
with her underwater face
always showing up and yelling
about something or another.

They settled in a cottage
on the outskirts of the city,
for all the world like any
old married couple.
Lemme tell ya, though,
somehow i can’t see
either one of them in an apron
and I bet they fight about
who does the dishes.
‘Cause let’s face it –
wet straw is no fun
and neither is rusty tin.

Anyway,
I sashayed alone
through those monster gates.
I never had a problem
with a guard.
I’d smile and flirt
and give ’em a little
of the good old wide-eyed admiration
and boom!
I was wherever I needed to be.

When I’d cleaned up some
and gotten a new dress
and traded those socks for silk
and found a shoemaker
to put some higher heels
on those killer red shoes
i didn’t look half bad.

All that folderol
about the Wizard
and killing the witch?
There was no curtain.
There was no loud
and angry voice.
Pure bunk!

He was a regular guy,
sitting there just bored to death.
He took one look at me
and he was mine.
And funny thing –
I kinda liked him too.
He asked me what I wanted
and all of a sudden
I wasn’t sure.

It’s been a few years now
and I’m still here,
just the Wiz and me,
living it up in this huge
art-deco monstrosity.
We play cards and we dance.
We take bubblebaths
and never have to worry
about bills or housework
or any of the stuff
that eats away
at most people’s lives.

And on Sundays
we take the carriage out,
all decked out in our best.
We ride through the city,
waving and smiling
and getting hit in the face
with flowers tossed by
adoring bumpkins.

I don’t know how
he got these people
to put him in charge
and I don’t care.
I’m sitting pretty, I am –
good food, nice clothes
and no more slopping hogs.

And if I have to listen
to dreary stories about
hot-air balloons
and hocus-pocus hokum
that’s okay – fine by me!
I’m not even sure
where the hell I am,
but I’m the wife
of the most powerful man
ever to rule a country
that doesn’t exist,
and yet is more real
than any place
I’ve ever known.

Poetic Statement: Although the majority of my poetry to this point might be called confessional,
it is important not to conflate the poet with the poem. A germ of truth can blossom into a tree leaved with outrageous fantasy. I find exploring and experimenting with new forms helps keep perspective fresh, and I no more limit myself to one genre in writing than I do in art. Poetry is communication. If I touch one heart or provoke one mind to think through my writing, I have done my job.

 

Bio: RC deWinter is a photographer, digital artist, poet, essayist and singer-songwriter currently living and working in Haddam, Connecticut. She has been shooting photos for over 25 years, using both traditional and digital SLR equipment. Her digital work is created using a variety of software and includes oil paintings, watercolor sketches and drawings.

Her work has appeared in print, notably in the New York Times, chosen for publication in the New York City in 17 Syllables haiku competition, Uno: A Poetry Anthology, Pink Panther Magazine, Arts Creation Magazine, The Sun Magazine, 2River View, Poetry Nook, Garden Tripod and The American Muse as well as in many online publications.
In addition to her personal online portfolios, Ms. deWinter’s art is exhibited on of several internet-based showcases, including Saatchi Online, ARTbracket, The Art for Cancer Gallery, Copperflame Gallery, b-uncut and Artists, Writers and Photographers in the Raw. ABC has licensed several of her paintings to be used as set decor on the television series Desperate Housewives.

Ms. deWinter is honored to be the first digital artist invited to exhibit her work at an October 2011 solo show the Arts of Tolland Gallery in Tolland, Connecticut.

Two Poems by Arthur Turfa

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Two Poems

by

Arthur Turfa

 

The Conversation

 

Several years after the break

we stood together near the house

early on a summer evening

as the sun slid into western skies.

There we reflected on past years,

expressed mutual remorse

(at first so tentatively)

because the wounds had been healed.

 

Searching the wreckage of it all,

we salvaged enough to move onward

along separate but often parallel paths.

 

Thousands of miles behind me,

tens of thousands awaiting me,

we started the process of becoming

the people we were intended to be

even though the horizon was hazy.

 

Times and places slip away

softly and inexorably from us.

At times several chords on an acoustic

bring back walking over hills

or a sprawling campus.

For fleeting moments we are again

as we were but did not remain.

Far better to be who we have become,

to realize that it was better because

we stood together near the house

early on a summer evening

as the sun slid into western skies.

 

Precession of the Equinox: Polaris Shifts

 

Slightly tending westward, gradually

the lodestar  yields to its successor

as a new Astrological Age begins.

A residual memory, following me

from the Planetarium in Junior High.

Polaris’ replacement will then

give direction to new future stargazers.

 

One of the last young people to escape

from Kensington’s web of snarling streets

and elevated train lines, you seized your chance.

You became our Polaris, colorful in action

and attire, caring and cajoling, steadying

us to be the people you knew we could become.

 

Across the county or continent, we returned

and you greeted us, gloried in those returns.

As colleagues we spoke when storms neared,

and I kept your counsel in sight toward calm waters.

 

Now I know you began your precession,

stepping aside, though not then out of view.

Some of us search for you, exchanging pieces

that do not always fit together.

Second-hand accounts, some leading closer,

others in contradiction, point to a lodestar

that no longer shines in our heavens.

 

Every so often I scan the spreading stars

for our Polaris, until comes the realization

we are now lodestars for ourselves,

for stargazers we need to steady, for those

who receive the light as we did once

while scanning skies for our Polaris.

Three Poems by Arthur Turfa

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Three Poems

by

Arthur Turfa

 

Late Afternoon: the Pilgrimage Church

You asked me to explain to you a past

the always-correct Party had chosen

to hide from you. Yet in a new place now

you wondered about the saints and angels

within and without of Maria im Sand.

Willing I went with you over the

hills on that grey day, October fading,

winds bringing in clouds into the valley.

I pointed out the Virgin’s deep blueness,

the smooth apostolic face at the cross,

the font, pulpit, altar, sunless stained glass,

the mixture of styles, depending on time.

In the cemetery an old man spoke

about previous warfare’s heavy toll;

we exchanged a glance thinking of new deaths

and walked the streets of the closing-down town.

Interest does not always lead to belief.

But each November you light a candle

for your mother. You are a pilgrim

pursuing an uncertain goal as you

seek for answers to your unvoiced questions.

I think back to this day, and wish you peace.

 

Sunday Morning at Beech Island

Sunny morning on the crest of the hill,

Slightly-cold wind in this January

Blowing down the slope toward the Savannah.

Red-doored neo-classic chapel readied

For weekly glimpse of transcendent grandeur.

Uncertainties hover here over us,

Somber occasions, enduring concerns.

During flow of familiar devotions

Light transfixes heavenward-pointed Host

Suffusing unveiled glory over all.

Some linger later outside on the porch

Viewing the landscape with improved vision,

Savoring the moments they wish would endure.

 

A View Backward from the Bend

Every now and then, my path will bend.

If no mists fill the valley, if cloudless

Skies permit, I can gaze where once I went.

On ribbons of path straddling the ridge

Were elusive apparent destinies

Downward sloping toward sunset beaches,

That so thinly disguised a cul-de-sac.

Stretching to the sky, several towers,

Some unfinished, others now collapsing,

Their classrooms with closed windows preventing

Fragrant air to alleviate the staleness,

Not knowing the land where lemon trees bloom,

Scholars scour the text repeatedly

For some non-existing enlightenment,

Refusing to look at the external.

Occasionally a face that I see,

Or a song wafting melody to me

Reminds me of my travels on that path,

Reconnecting me to what I had loved

Even if no longer can be found

Even if it no longer can be loved.

As quickly as it comes, it disappears

And I follow the bend to straighter paths.

 

Bio: Arthur Turfa lives in the South Carolina Midlands, but his poetry contains influences of his native Pennsylvania, California, Germany (where he has also lived), as well as other places. He is working on an e-book of his poetry, scheduled for release later in 2014. Published in the Munyori Literary Journal and South Carolina English Teacher, he also maintains a personal blog, Some Poetry at aturfa.blogspot.com

Poetic Statement: Essentially I think Wordsworth had it right, although I do not always find long-lasting tranquility. Something or someone grabs a hold of me, and lingers until I recapture the moment, the glimpse, or the time from my life. My poetry attempts to include the reader into what I experienced, rather than telling the reader all about it or me. At times I strive for a sense of closure, at others I want to preserve something (more as a Symbolist than an Imagist). Whom do I read; Eliot, Auden, Rilke (in the original), Frost, Updike, Shakespeare, Bukowski, and others.Language that sings is more important that language that rhymes.

Prose Poetry by Matthew Kirshman

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Prose Poetry 

by

Matthew Kirshman

 

Jaguar and the Joking Tree

All of nature is a giving and receiving of signs.  The air around the body collects in mosaic fraternity.  A wee worm wriggles its way up and gets lost in the Alien World of Creation (AWC).  Before the first recorded dream, before the soothsayer and tribe, in the heart of the jungle stood a hard, dark tree, beneath whose limbs crouched a sharp-toothed Thing (T).  With infrared KillerVision®, it spied two figures approach, interlopers in the Garden of God’s Astounding Desire (GGAD).  Try and hide.  The jaguar’s first slice is fine and light.  With no warning, you are TradeMarxed© completely.

 

Folk Legend

I photographed them get into the car.  Have you read my “Manhunt of the Year” (Life May, 1977)?   How about that close-call with the law, which might have ended it all?  Their escape was a travesty, bought by suitcases of cash from the Narcotics Agency.  How ironic, the shootout took place at the Ford Pharmacy.  They entered Cincinnati on page 96.  With a trunk full of gelatinous explosive, they headed to the Flamingo Motel.  From there they followed a well-established strategy.  Do you think they looked like newlyweds?  I find it difficult to credit.  I tailed the Jaguar to Chicago, where a cult following had sprung up overnight.  To the journalistic eye, their pop-appeal was transparent:  the lore of outlaw lovers, with sirens closing in.

 

Mysticism and Meat

Ideally, you are devoured in your prime by medicine men and not as junk-meat for the communal pot.  With the breakdown of tissue, the cells issue a mortal cry.  Around the Cook’s Bible chimes a chorus of sous chefs.  The page emits a campfire glow from which a cannibal emerges.  What’s missing?  Pretty soon, your arms and legs—seared and smoked until dripping from bone.  In the aftermath of prayer, when chords rise from the planet, you make the rounds of the soothsayer’s intestine. 

 

The Hungry Python

All of life the python seeks to know.  He slips through the flea-market with a clinging stomach, catching in his glittery eye items from the old world:  sheet-music, tunic, ice-cream scoop, top hat.  To touch these with quiet flicks of the tongue.  At the sound of thunder, the merchants start to pack, placing wares hurriedly in boxes and covering these with plastic sheets. 

 

 

Bio: I live in Seattle, Washington with my wife and two daughters.  I am an English teacher, but before that have had a varied career–telephone repairman, bartender, and cook, to name a few.  Writing since the early 1980s, my publication credits include: Charter Oak Poets, Dirigible: Journal of Language Arts, Helix, Indefinite Space, Key Satch(el), Mad Hatters’ Review, Phoebe: The George Mason Review, posthumous papers (NothingNew Press), Vangarde Magazine, Xenarts.com, and Z-Composition.