Saturday, June 13, 2009
Three poems by Christian Ward
The sea has started to encroach
on the city; creeping steadily
through the night, weaving past
freeways and zig-zagging train lines;
pressing its belly against windows
to claim territory. We wake to find
its marks on cars, bus shelters
and building walls. Thinking it done
by animals, we wash it off, letting
it dribble onto pavements, lawns;
splash against trees. How lucky
we must be to not feel the pain
produced when it strangles.
We experience this at birth, tasting
the air swelling our lungs.
We came from a sea once and long
to return, listening to the outside
world become reduced to background
noise as everything slowly turns to ice.
Lessons from My Father
On the weekends we spent
with him, my sisters and I
would climb into the car
and wear an icy look prepared
for us. He taught us to fold
napkins into battleships
at roadside cafes, ready
to assault everything Mother
held dear: her Mediterranean
heritage; Spanish and Italian,
her native tongues. We always
ran behind him on walks, feeling
the earth scraping underneath
our feet as he pulled us forward
with the wires attached
when we were born.
Walking by the River Thames, 6 am
The river is a chessboard
waiting to be set. Chairs
hung upside down on tables
by the waterfront resemble
hourglasses. Swans and geese
are opposing pieces. I walk
past unopened pubs and cafes,
looking for a glint of life;
their reflections motionless
in the water, as if waiting
for the outcome of the game
to decide their fate.
Christian Ward is a 28 year old London-based poet. His work has appeared in Diagram, Welter and The Kenyon Review and is forthcoming in Anon, Envoi and Mimesis. A chapbook, Slippage, was released from Liverpool-based Erbacce Press last year. He hopes to start an MA in Creative Writing in the coming months.
Two Poems by Donal Mahoney
Tornadoes in the Parlor
Tornadoes in the parlor,
in the kitchen, in the bathroom, too,
churned every hour Dad was home.
But Sis could tell you more.
She helped Mom board up the house
when I walked out the door
and rode my bike around the block.
If you find Sis today, she’ll tell you
funnels tore the basement, too.
So what, you say? Well, Dad’s been dead
for seven years and Sis is somewhere.
She knows good weather here is still a squall.
An Earthquake in the Chest
The demise of Mr. Wise came as no surprise
to the clerks in his department,
those weathered women who for years
had borne his scorn so well.
The story goes that Mr. Wise that day,
balancing his tray at lunch,
stepped lightly past
the puddings, pies and cakes
and pitched across his broth.
Two feet from the register, he dropped,
a humpback suddenly ashore.
Behind him in the line was Mrs. Burke
who saw her boss's water break.
She knew right then
there was nothing she could do.
After all, as everyone could see,
an earthquake in the chest
had taken Mr. Wise.
And that is why she raised
both arms and cried,
"Forget the CPR! Someone
call a priest!" No other sound
was heard that afternoon.
Not one boo-hoo.
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, MO. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. He has had poems published in or accepted by The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, Commonweal, Revival (Ireland), U.S. Catholic, The Christian Science Monitor, The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey), Touch: A Journal of Healing, Public Republic (Bulgaria) and other publications
Two Poems by George Anderson
He always sat at the bar at Ryan’s
near the pool table.
He was always there after he knocked off work
until 11 pm closing time. He lived upstairs.
He drank schooners of Toohey’s Draught
one after another. He never once
had to raise a finger to the barman.
The beer would appear before him like magic.
He was able to drink glass after glass
I never once saw him talk to anyone.
He seemed simply to exist in the moment.
Particularly, in moments when the golden amber
rolled sweetly down his gullet into his stomach.
One day, I stumbled into the men’s toilet
& it changed my view of him forever.
He was at the urinal singing
in a low pitched moan &
as I pissed beside him
his voice became that of an angel
& I imagined momentarily I was in church
not in a stinking public lavatory.
Pommy reckoned he worked
as a signalman for the Road & Traffic Authority.
Months later I saw him down at Gibson Park
holding a young girl’s hand,
a bright orange balloon in the other.
He had a huge sloppy grin on his face.
I felt genuinely happy for him.
Yesterday I caught up with Pommy at the Ryan’s
and noticed the empty seat near the pool table.
I order a couple of black ales
and asked the barman, ’Where’s Spinifex?’
‘The guy who always sits at the end of the bar’.
‘Don’t have a clue, mate’.
The third or fourth internet date
was a tall, mostly coherent blond
who spoke with a German accent.
She was affectionate, genuinely funny &
a brilliant dancer. Yet she seemed to be holding
something back during our first brief encounter.
I’m not one to quiz anyone about past
relationships or to ever hold them to account
but I could sense something was seriously wrong
& I started to ask her some awkward questions:
‘Where did you get that deep scar on your face?’
‘How long have you felt you were being followed?’
‘When did you start packing the mace?’
In tears, she finally explains how her ex-husband is a control freak.
How he usually follows her in rental cars.
How he’s probably watching us right now in the restaurant.
How he will most certainly have a weapon.
She explains how one day she threw scraps of ham to her dog.
How he chased her with a boning knife into the back yard.
How he strangled her, screaming with an unusually high pitched voice,
accusing her of wasting good meat, of sending the family to ruin.
She explains how the police had arrested him six weeks ago
& had placed him in remand at Parramatta Prison. And in a low-keyed
remark, so quiet I don’t think she really wanted me to hear,
she admits that her ex had escaped yesterday by squeezing through
a narrow window & scaling razor wire & was still at large.
‘Excuse me, I need to use the toilet’, I say, as I launch myself
through the back door into the laneway, smartly skipping desert
George Anderson grew up in Montreal and now lives and teaches near Wollongong, Australia. He has published over 400 poems since 2002. His chapbook ‘Dancing on Thin Ice’ is available though erbacce-press. He blogs at: http://georgedanderson.blogspot.com/
Two Poems by Kenneth P. Gurney
You dream the long race over
and the lake of clear water
a few steps past the finish line
and your hot, beating heart
pushes sweat from your body.
Then you roll over, sleep,
dream again of the flight
of crows and how you join them,
wing downbeats thrust storms
toward Kansas until you land
on a tree branch extending
over the lake of clear water.
On your back you lie, snore softly,
until your eye movements quicken
and off you walk across the lava fields,
feet burning in the red-orange glow
of earth’s first-history as time speeds
through your steps and rain water gathers
in your footprints: clear, deep.
You return, again and again, to the water,
this lake upon the mountain. No matter your form,
the distances traveled, nor the method—
You return to the clear lake because
you always find me there, waiting,
like the day we first met
on the trail under the tall pines,
examining the light-bent depths
far below the granite lip of the bluff.
Woman at the Poetry Bar
Normally walks stoop shouldered, carries an anchor
around her neck most of the day, but locates her Hyde
upon the stage: claws emerge from chewed nails,
fangs readily rip dangling modifiers to shreds,
aggressively, under the spotlight, she grows
like the Venus fly trap’s jaws around the hungry fly.
Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM. His latest collection of poems, Writers' Block, is available through Amazon. To learn more about Kenneth, visit http://www.kpgurney.me/
Ironing and After Thoughts
Our tongues have become wrinkled
my hands steam over your blue shirt;
an invisible stain
petulantly, your fingertips
arch up the middle of my back
and I, smudge out each
looking for secret whispers
the story told of twenty minutes past
where your fingers
were on the nape of my neck.
Stephanie Valente lives and writes in New York. Her work has various journals and magazines. She is currently working on a collection of short stories and as always, poetry. She enjoys candlelit smiles and diamond cut laughter. One day, she would like to be a silent film star. She can be found at: http://kitschy.tumblr.com/