Note on text: 555 is a collection of sonnets whose construction is database-driven and relies on text analytic software. I crunched and analyzed Shakespeare’s sonnets to arrive at averages for word, syllable and character (inclusive of punctuation but not spaces). These averages (101 words, 129 syllables, 437 characters) became requirements for three groups of sonnets. I collected lines from anywhere and everywhere in the air or in print in a database. The lines are all found, their arrangement is mine. Values for word, syllable and character were recorded. Typos and grammatical oddities were preserved; only initial capitals and a closing period have been added as needed. The selection of lines isn’t rule-driven and inevitably reflects what I read, watch, and listen to, thus incorporating my slurs and my passions as well as what amuses and disturbs me. These sonnets were assembled using nonce patterns or number schemes; by ear, notion, or loose association; by tense, lexis, tone or alliteration. Every sonnet matches its targeted average exactly. Think of Pound’s “dance of the intellect among words” then sub sentences for words—it is amongst these I move. The dance in question traces out a knot (better yet, a gnot) that holds together what might otherwise fly apart. I espouse only the sonnets, not any one line.
Comment on Poetics: Of late I’ve wondered why the poetry produced under the LGBTQIQA-etc umbrella is so markedly averse to experimentalism, to the avant garde legacy, etc. Why it tends toward the middle waters of the mainstream, poetically speaking. Why shouldn’t Alt-sexualities encompassed by and exceeding those four letters find more common ground with Alt-poetries in common resistance to normativities whether theybe of the hetero- or discursive- sort? That which is ostranenie is also queer, or no?
Bio: You can find out about John Lowther’s work at his poetry blog where there are many links to online poubellications and details about a few of his ongoing projects. Or if you prefer the tangible, pick up one of these anthologies The Lattice Inside: An Atlanta Poets Group Anthology (UNO Press, 2012) or Another South: Experimental Writing in the South (U of Alabama, 2003) or wait for Held to the Letter (co-authored with Dana Lisa Young) due from Lavender Ink in 2015.
the other world rewards me
as a photograph,
shapes and colors
the remnants of their explosion
out of context
there was a flock of starlings,
I could not tell you anymore,
not even if the creatures,
surrounded me again, here,
I would only see a monochrome
grouping, I would only see
what more could you see
when one of us breaks
or cloaks herself in new silks?
the great changeover armed itself
in nothing but the delusion
that you were always master
and these are all your tools
I see myself at your side, eye
-to-eye, inside which is still a tincture
of the time before you and I
in my eye too
was the house, the glorious
overthrow of the ledger
the markings of our losses
I never saw
the inside but as spectator
I knew, with all the windows
leading to all the rooms
that I could house them together
there were no padlocks
here nor a single car
not a telephone wire, a time
or a name or a face misplaced.
Poetic Statement: Let me mourn. Let me dream. Let me see you not as how you present yourself to be but how I envisage. Let me write my story, let me turn the pages, let me bridge subject and object with my own brand of ink. It isn’t white ink, ink of life, the glorified rape of the canon, sowing its seed in anyone’s lap. It’s the red ink, the ink that transcends the permanence of the whole thing and rewrites, retells, the nagging voice in the background your history sought to cut out. It’s the ink that seeks not to hide glitches but to bring them to the center light.
Bio: Stephanie Kaylor is based in upstate New York where she is completing a MA in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies. She is also a current MA student at European Graduate school, concentrating in narrative structure and desire. Though her musings are not political in content, she is an ardent supporter of activist causes, including sex workers’ rights and prison abolition.
Michael David Saunders Hall
Analog Soul: Ode To The Ark of History
“History is never silent, it reminds us again and again and again, that we live its presence in every part of our life every day.”
–Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky)
#1) In the Fountain of Now
in the beginning
of the end, in the fountain
of now, where youth
is the eternal exuberance
to the sound
I once telegraphed rhythms
cutting in, out—
in the cadence of heartbeats
with rhythmic instinctions
transcending the trek
of life. it’s all a mystic brew
of rhythms spun from
constant conjures cooking
in the cauldron
of old record
of the crossfader
…& crescendo, making
music from noise wandering
amidst the voices
in the margins, lingering
like echoes, refined
#2) In the Tongues of Talking Drums
Everyday is the big playback: listening
to ex libris
excerpts & excursions in aural alchemy enjambed
& juxtaposed within the soul vibrations
of lingua franca
conjured in incantations of rhythm, connecting
us to the continuum of lost & found moments
the metronome of memory into the digitized
diary of the mind where our analog souls
into the ark of history, rehearsing & conversing
In tongues of talking drums
hieroglyphics & a tapestry of folktales.
Words on Fire (or: Destiny…in search of the light)
inspired by Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale
Are we ever to be old
As the destinies or dreams
Of our own decree we seek?
Connected by light
We are stars ageless as God
More ancient than Earth
In a clockwork of spirits
Born out of our words on fire
& loves unbroken by time.
Two Views on Love
What’s this thing called love?
Kisses coming off the tongue
Hearts beating like drums.
In the scrupulous scribbles
Of life painted freehand, love
is the serenade
of whispered watercolors
& on, dancing in the flesh
never to be forsakened.
i am unglued
from the world
a bit of cosmic dust
the moorings i fly past
limned with thorns
my hands are still
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 –
to get the hell out of Dodge
(and never back to Kansas).
the dog was always nervous.
He peed in the basket,
yapped like a springsprung
ate grass and puked it back –
once almost on my shoes –
so I left him with the strawman
and the clinking, clanking,
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
Jesse S. Mitchell
Yorba Linda’s Cephalopod Blues
So, screech the cyanide strings
And glow the Baba Yaga shine
And love the lemon yellow sun
And dance the barbed wire whirl.
More and more
More sang rouge than Khmer Rouge
Because that’s blood
It’s heintei twister girls
All cyclone breathing and never sleeping
Hot and heavy, until you cannot imagine calm.
Makes a hollow in the center, all the stirring, the churning, in the heart.
Just keep you spinning
Like a rotating planet (big hairy knuckled rock) in orbit
Until you read your name in the obit.
I believed myself awake then but only half-drowsy and half-dreaming, oh merciful God, a certain kind of violence written across my brain, curved cursive handwriting and between the etched and entwining loops and spaces I saw a pause and for a moment the silences replicated stingy threads like DNA (proteins stuck clinging to each other, pornography) and through the pauses I saw visions, heaven help me. There I dreamed of Mexico but no black Madonnas or border towns but Chiapas, Emiliano Zapata, there revolutions, honey spun, a thin strand of spider silk that connects to every corner, shaking like candy floss along the coast from Cardiff to Bristol or home Atlantic, some beach drenched lovers surely cryptic, in the sun, breathed too the same air in my lungs, fueled by similar oxygen and other molecules. And all over my body I felt a breeze, a cool breeze from the north, an all over wind, a numbing that means complacency for I am on the rung American…but reaching upward always, grasping for the next. So, all I know is smothered . I cover my wounds with grease and ash and leave the faintest footprints, carrying away the rest.
And rainy streets that stumble down and sudden downpours that drench your feet and back alleyway-drifts that spring up in hectic fits
and corners stuffed with this independent business,
Tempting-changeling like bower birds, trying to make a go of it. Carnival barkers and newsprint shills, broken off words and movie deals.
And what heaven acquires…
Overcome and drowsy down, hazy trace and spirit bound.
And tastes like blood-spit
The sort of thing that happens with busted lip.
And what Hell loses…
And all gone.
And looks blurred green sky
The kind of distance that comes
With hard-crossed eyes.
And what Earth regrets…
Or with falling down and smacking face
Knocks you brutal all over the place.
From careful tedium, strolling soaked
Through tepid wet Cartagena
I had a dream that was the same as Romeo and Juliet.
Except in this case the hero of the story was a small coiling spiral
Of double helix DNA
And it was a tiny lump of highly protein encrusted couch fluff
To which it was conjoined.
And they floated together on hot air currents
Billowing around the world
Looking for a simple pool of their own in which to self-replicate.
And thoughts traveling wildly across their minds (what minds you could speak of, little synapse and sparkling little cell-buds and ganglia)
like how different would Cabaret have been
If David Mamet had written all the lines for Sally Bowles
And how much they both hated the work of Paul Theroux,
And how much of the history of the human race on Earth
Is basically a big iron screw jammed in the middle
Of a large misshapen clay ball.
And how we all could use some more productive occupation.
Bio: Jesse S. Mitchell writes books, has a wife and kids, and dislikes
the slow disintegration of time, immensely.
Poetic statement: I mean to make noise, a great deal of noise, so much
noise it will be impossible to ignore.
Deep Within the Ravine
(after the painting by Hans Hofmann)
Below the surface
what never was
it never was
the sseduction of flesh
by skin to bone
feet fins wings arms
of the creator
creating its own
the hallows of the earth
where it began.
Bio: I live in and write from New Jersey. Many hundreds of my poems appear in print and online journals and anthologies throughout the world, including Alba, Anastomoo, The Camel Saloon, Counterexample Poetics, ditch, Fowl Feathered Review, Haggard & Halloo, PressBoardPress and Otoliths,among others. I have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and the Rhysling Award.
Poetic Statement: Mine is a poetry of big ideas in small, singular packages. I want the meaning to come through in accessible form–but with a slant, and always with a musical quality.