Poetry

 

Chad Heltzel

Recognition


After Jeff Wall’s Flooded Grave

Eleven new species discovered
in a central Vietnam mountain rainforest: 
three species of rare leafless orchids. 
One produces a black flower.  Also, a butterfly,
yellow-striped with red spots
along the body, a skipper, quickly darting
when it flies.   Only a decade ago,
a new species of wild cattle found roaming here
among the trees:  nothing so small
as insect or flower:  in the country’s heart,
somehow lost to sight.  And all this time,
the river running through has provided its water
for thousands living downstream. 
It is called the Perfume River, no less—
its scent gathered from tropical flora
growing along its banks after traveling
through fifty-five waterfalls. 

Follow it:  mock lemon, cinnamon bark,
lotus flower that creates tea from its water. 
Gardenia, camellia, cilantro—the river pocking with rain
dripping off the epiphytes.   Here is where
you find it.  In the blurred distance,
a crow waits indifferently between a shimmer
either tombstone or flood pool.  Ribbons of water hoses,
red and blue, lead to the grave site. 
The water has gathered inside,
blankets the floor of the hole. 
At a glimpse, it is all there,
but only for a second.  Everything is here.  
Urchins and starfish.  Rupture of light. 
Water drops.  Vanilla bean. 
Mother and father.  Black orchid.

 

 

 

Reamy Jansen

Anti-War Poem


I said to Susan, who knew what I meant,
that I felt as never before the need to
write something political, something anti-war.

And we were all there at the retreat: painters,
sculptors, composers, but it was up to the two
of us. We had the words, or so they all thought,
but then I went back to my studio, a cabin
in the woods, and pretty much forgot about it

Until I turned off Independence,
away from the march on the 18th, cold and enraged,
knowing there were no lights on in the White House
that the windows were just as black as they were
in the fall and, as I walked to meet Paul, I thought
about imagination and how much imagination it takes,
really, to imagine war and its aftermath–

It’s probably not as hard as writing a poem.
All you have to do is imagine your son, Paul,
killed, unclaimed in a barren land, or maybe
your other son, Gabriel, Gabe, who’s younger,
but they’re safe now, more or less. But then there’s

Kathleen Carillo, who’s got an incomplete in comp,
called up in the reserves and now in Qatar
or Kuwait, but not Kansas, who’s just a kid a freshman
just as Bill Vere is, in the back row thinking
for the first time about Orwell and elephants
and is still a boy, a wrestler, who doesn’t yet know
how to write all that well but is "intrigued" by college
and he’s giving it a good shot, a college try.

These kids you know, but the old men
who want war you don’t know at all, except,
let’s face it, you’re an old man too, just 60,
with two draft-age sons and you can’t see so well,
but at least you’re not blind, and now you’re
struggling with a poem whose feet
may not do anything, marching may be better,
and you’re counting the iambs, so American
after all, and imagining how you’ll end it,
wondering how the powerful get their power
from indifference and can’t imagine war
or a poem. Susan, I hope you’ve done better
than this.

 

 

Allen Bramhall

Worcester as an Average


Long ago, in the days before requirement, Worcester began with the letter W. Winds were wild there, in the town of Massachusetts, in the state of United States. The people of Worcester learned averages from the beginning, and brought them to the end.

The end lasted, but so did the beginning.

Nearby mountains and oceans loom to swallow every word that Worcester can make. The people there are the people there. And when they wake from their daily world, they stand on slopes.

These slopes are peopled with elegant names, tribal conclusions, definite places, and swarming. Stasis invites a document from the verity of fronds, and all the while, a pressure ensues. The justice of spring will speak in terms of ratification and alert. Trial is symphony, if only the people there knew, in their heart of hearts, amidst the stereopticonical display and Northern lights. O blessed and seasonal, O instrumental from the word go, O Worcester in its people! Wherewithal is the fray itself, placed just so.

I wanted to write a pogrom, said some infinite sage of diagrams and assertion, on the envious track and winding thru the landscape. This is not the placement of Worcester or any clear class, but the edgeless swordplay distinction that teems withal. T. S. Eliot threw Missouri away, myriad history amok, choosing the grace of Wensleydale and cheddar like a man. That sucking sound enfolds. Enough books are written that way, without a people to mention but a plot and vampire.

The point is, Reader of the Not Quite Written, that the introduction is near the end. Doorways point to expanse but cannot complete the gesture. A book in John Adams’ hand reverses several trends, but you will need to read on.

 

 

Gabriele Quartero

Four Bad Poetry Remixes


[remix n.1]

Incoherent faces fracture,
The detail of effects happening

In another place and to others, but
His fingerprints were all over ‘his’ faber poets:

There he is, like an ultrasound snap inside the belly,
Taking rubbish out of the dustbin and pasting it back into nightmare,

Shadows slouch: he notices them.
Features, limbs, inked with suspicious boundaries.

A wintry feel with a blood loss.
His figure is cordoned off.

 

[remix n.2]

Is a cheap gift at the year’s end.
Meaning-making at its most distant, primal level: a blank page.
There is no meaning and you create meaning
With occasional snaps and cracks.

 

[remix n.3]

Almost underneath the ceiling fan,
Noticing that, between disheveled curtains,
Quite often a tornado is like a twisted sphere,

He writes and paints.

He has a master’s degree in creative writing,
Plus the sickly split influence
Blossoming somewhere between the dirt of his
Toes and the chaste tears of his one-hundred-year-old spawn.
Sappy similes.

 

[remix n.4]

I’m an enthusiast, overall.
But who’s afraid of that?
Shit. Shit. Shit. I didn’t mean it.

 

Meg Pokrass

Oil Spill

The man I love
smells of brine.
Together we drive
to the mini-mart,
make the checker’s night
cracking jokes–
buying Jim Beam.

Already his eyes are half closed,
his lips taste of kelp.
As usual, I keep
the bathroom light on all night
so he’ll find shore.

 

 

Sheila Murphy and Douglas Barbour

Continuations LIV

frag mentation     how thought
            less than hope
     less than proof falls
in pieces passive aggression
            blows bitter sonant
        high upon that hill

        as life       work
seeking the optimeter 
   watch these rainclouds
           plump then dim
ill winds lie too      the scope
of these high mornings

no scop could scry while
            snoops    (snopes)
snap colour less languid
     sirro-cumulus   frayed
            as fogged panes pain(t)ed
states meant to wash away

           remainders of the story
trail post-cull formation of
                     accumulation      rays
competing with fog        with ash
    the urban hill times  panes
            free of the blur

            flee  (fleeced)  from bleared
windows open to con
     figurations  / lights flicker in
            a city   / or bulkhead full
    the darkness surrounds
            a chitter of binary argument

lament comes after glitter
       d    raw   n  down spawning
            bipolarity’s unsound semester
     a full measure of what windows
                all ow in       least
      sum of squares in flicker m ode

to returns re turn of sea
            sons flick of fin
     flecks in mid stream
strum of blood full
     filling far flung
            lunge for home (spun)

            rum’s in blood a brood
and lungs keep struts at bay
       the sea’s good gift by turns
                        amid the lulls
            each water pulls
in line the gift of home

in time the grit of shame
            bleeds finer  (there
     s a red door opening
            into an other
                  s fantasy of
war dread warded off

     officially over once and then
(and then) open to and to
            what is the count now?
    gone into phantom fighting
                        grit, hamas
            (jamais) in wards    where fin

is h ardvaark like crushed by
     roadside rooted ruckus
            un-said    sanded
eyeful     filling un- s(t)ated
                        ends mean
     meant not quite that away

way th rough       full o’ the
         (meanderish) rush          cut      
   brash            rucksack a
   droit        ly lifted
seeking aid in form
        of mean tall roady’s t ending

trending to ward
            off neanderish cousin
                        ing    sing sing
ing into an o(a)th errant trap
     carried on the back
            storied (gone)  myth/ing

   this        ling
e ring   reposited      rap
            port          rend(er)ing
   other           singularities
       near farthings        lifts
 b(l)acktop       rinsed      by brain rain

fain to faint hearted far
            seeing sawing off
     nosey two faced spite
            again   again(st)
all thinking   com(b)ers
       breakers brokering loss

            linguish      awe    commensurate
with beakers          broken
   although glossed     no similar
           art       sought      inklings
      parsed        though sewn
                 to twelve tomorrows

floating away to rub
     the soft shouldered
            beached breached
wreck of dreamt trans
            parancies /   para
                  no(i)dal points taken

older beaches, often rancid
            one would dread
      the transit          from
   a not(ch)       to ache
          on sand (on hand) unhand the specks
                each pointing to

                        ward off word of
loss less than seen     than seemed
     possible then    some (w)hole
            blown side of sandy road
                  whose   (enemy)   few
standing there    dead    in sight(s)

            feat    her     drops       and
sand ward           as hosanna
                seams             a posse
    tenders leading        role           
less   than              sum of 
                 obbligati sounding

collateral diminuendo dommage
                             draws down
            all moons / rivers riding
high watermarked orders du jour
     how de jure   / dejection deleted
            in tents astride the waste

and ripeness            of the blond moon
            gone to dress the water
     marking river town     is paced
            to elide tension thus thinning
      hastily lithe          bending the ridden
                   hide of moss      j’espere

esprit de la chance  /  ghost
            whistles graveyard chants
                  walked by a run
                        ing sore no soar
            beyond stage fr(e)ighted
haul of hail to freeze fraught light caught out

            along the st     rung lace lit
store           of whisk light        at the rate
                of frizzled tweaks        the caught
       esprit          and chancy little
           tumbles            equally
                invest in soaring yonder

invest it sure lie like that
   beyond belief system a tic
tact knows not the sung
                        bent nota bene
      fitting law less its accrued
            a crew dead to the world

watch this s(t)ung crew leaden
            botched detached attache
         be nimble nonetheless
      to see fit vested
                 yonder         run
            to c limb uplift from limb

carry-on lug gages what potent
     ial alliance fallen for/th
            coal lesion of welling
walling off all o there but for
            something like a grace
     noted as it fell beyond that horizon

            the all heeds welling-up
of walls at attention lingering
                        (whole tones)
            tilde for a hat
                   less co-a-leisure
     named for suited gravity

pulling unsuit ably down
                        (dumbed
     doomed to lie there
            unmoving object
ive gone and done it
       again st android felled

            dome vies for sky lit
view          domingo lasts
     the lull moves one wing
           at a time            sky
lights       the camera
                   full of sleep

 

 

Joseph Somoza

Bus Ticket


Probably that's him
walking down the street,
jaunty, hands
in pockets, but at best
one in a million if you
happen by.  That's
the problem with big cities,
or the laws of physics.  Take
a girl from high school who
married and became
another.  Then the
public-library phonebook wouldn't
help much, what with the
weather turning, the snow cover
disappeared and you not
recognizing any place, or any face
coming out the Safeway that might
clue you in, you not even
resident, but drifting
out of curiosity, a state
everyone assumes is foreign.

 

 

Craig Cotter

Self Portrait at the Surly Wench, Tucson, Arizona


Physically small.
5-9, 130.
Close cropped hair.
Shorts, t-shirt, flip-flops.
Clean shaved.

Quiet, alone.
No thoughts sticking,
no thoughts building.
Reaching for Nirvana
get cock & balls.


advice

how did i
get so rich.

paul spend more time in
your green grand torino.

norman send me 200 dollars a month
for the rest of your life
to try and balance
your anti-gay karma.

joe remind me your last name
come eat another load.

anne for one week
don’t respond to anyone.

ron embrace lower-case
cuz i said so.

phyllis do 5 years
insight psychotherapy
about your fears.

alex
come to LA
for a week in bed
with me.

cheryl
lose.

lynn
let the kids
visit me in LA.

arthea
don’t lie to yourself
that you like being lonely.

candido
stop mumbling
jesus christ.

nancy
get a new house.

strange man
when you bag her
lick her pussy good.

tree
keep your peaceful consciousness
toward me.

soft-shell turtle
don’t dive off the warm sand
beside the clinton river
in the drayton plains nature center
when you see me.

sarah
be a boss.

stacey
69 with me
when it’s humid
in guanacaste province.

9-year-old boy
in the back seat of your family’s car
on the ventura freeway
you can do it bro
you can escape,
be content, find love
             and occasional bouts of happiness.

nat
serve only youself
for a year.

manopan
live like
you no longer have servants.

helen
go back in time
skip the farm
go to high school.

wendy
don’t take acid
and get in the car
33 years ago.

enrique
don’t tell me about
any of your material possessions
for 5 years.

unidentified bird
look yourself up
in peterson’s fieldguide
get back to me.

diane
don’t release your next book
until i edit and approve it.

robert
an unproductive darkroom/
crypt closet
get out now bro
i’ll bury you later
(leave instructions

rest of you
want advice
cotter1960@charter.net
you’ll have to service me a while
so i can get to know you.

raul
find me again
won’t let you down
this time.

it’s so unfair
i’m this rich.

 

 

Janet Butler

rain, san francisco


white rains mist the empty distance
and the city sits
a faded watercolor

tones shift and drift
in diaphanous escamotage
as medusa vapors coil
from shapes that burn
behind grey veils

 

snowfall

massy whiteness builds
in rounded forms
all sharpness tendered
by voluptuous purity

snowy breasts bellies hips
lush to fullness
and thicken to satiety
lying in bloated after-pleasure
abundant
on the startled city

 

 

Robert E. Wood

’Tis Pity


Now you begin to turn Italian,
says Ford provoking Caroline dismay

as his protagonist paints God’s quick finger
above the slightly spattered hats of Cardinals

spans Florence with the surface of an egg
rides Vespas echoing down narrow streets

weds cunning Venice to the nubile sea
twirls fettucini carbonara on a fork

invents the sonnet in its subtlest shape
obtains a perfect haircut for a song

drives a Ferrari for a thousand miles
through wildly cheering mildly suicidal mobs

assassinates Lucrezia Borgia’s mate
and writes an opera about a clown.

Now he begins to turn Italian
and mimics passion, but he’ll miss his cue.

 

Kilt

It is deadly to discover passion for a wife
even your own
he finds.
All night long it is like being in love with the sea
enthralled by the seventh wave.

            In she walks
            with gams that would blind a bishop
            jukebox wailing bagpipes.

The royal tontine aggravates
desire splayed like a caltrop in his path.

            The night is noir, the dame is trouble.
            He’s packing iron.
            This is the final score.

Fettered in blood he looks for water
bone ache cold.

            The hawkshaw on his trail
            won’t take too long.
            Follow the money, look for the frail.

The gaudeamus of the heirs is brief.
A palimpsest of envy whets the knife.

 

 

Rick Marlatt

Anniversary


My darling,
another year has added itself
to the index at the back of the book.

Tonight we’ll sit in the north corner booth,
our booth, as you call it,
sipping Chardonnay until memories mingle and overlap.

There won’t be any uncomfortable silences–
we’ll talk forever
about how the second boy
is so unlike the first
how the sex
has gotten more complicated
how you don’t read nearly as much as you used to
how it was a good thing we left the city
how all our old friends have lost touch
how the rains have returned
how proud you are that I left the company
how you knew it was forever right away.

The waiter will have to come back
at least twice before you decide
on the baked chicken parmesian with roasted garlic mushrooms.
“I’m excited to try this,”
you’ll say with an innocence I think our girl would’ve had.
Your round eyes will inflate
at the overzealous picture of the
caramel fudge brownie
or the after-dinner drinks that call Kahlua a staple–
but you’re watching your waistline this year.

“What does it mean?” you’ll ask
and though I know it means
a few more seconds will pass
when people we meet ask us “how long?”
You’ll know the answer but look at me wonderingly
as if you’re hoping I’ll come up with the number you’ve suddenly forgotten–
a man runs his finger up and down the index
which gets larger all the time
though the print gets finer
and finer–
but I’ll say it means some things are still meant to be.

During coffee that you’re disappointed in
we won’t dive headlong into another year–
it won’t toy with us or sneak up when we aren’t looking
but be waiting with a twig of parsley and toasted dinner rolls
when we return from the restroom
just like it’s been planned.

Our lives are a sketch scene,
we merely fill in dialogue
and add action when we feel moved.
There are no cues from the director
who has long since walked off set,
bored to death by our creative ineptitude.

And we aren’t marching
towards middle age
or years that are somehow golden,
we’re sitting
across from each other
in our familiar smells
and contemplative looks,
listening to the other chew.

And on the drive home
the theatre’s marquee
will twinkle like fireworks
in your tired eyes.
“Shall we take in a show?”
I’ll ask without slowing down.
“No,” you’ll reply in a yawn’s intermission.
And we’ll drive home,
mouths defined by toothpicks and thin mints.

Tires we just had rotated
will propel on into the night
and headlights due for change
will show us where we’re going before we get there.

This is our life, darling, nothing more and nothing less.
I love you for not leaving and the index points to the rest.

 

 

Simon Perchik

*
Her window, small, cracked :its emptiness
magnifies the room – she’s huge
face to face with blurred mob scenes

– her table is immense, train stations
ball parks – all those clippings, covered
as when a great statue still veiled
feels its blood beginning to move :a fold
that wasn’t there before

– she will smooth the bulge, over and over
accuse the papers, magazines, their pictures
for years waiting and motionless
and under the tablecloth

– she will look only at crowds
– he couldn’t get out if he wanted
even if that’s him with the hat
or no hat and where is this place

this under the ground where everyone
is always gathered, waiting
for the gentle handhold, the first sound
the weeping for strangers – she will swell
enormous over the moonlight
over his stillness to find its way.

 

*
Around my shadow the sun
drawing a line :an insect
without legs, stretched out

– I’m not going anywhere
though under my chest the grass
staggering in pain, both ankles

still ache, have this thirst
left over, once closer to the Earth
– they were the first to weep

– my eyes could only watch, by then
soaked in distances and ash
and you and the shade

that moves by itself
almost escaped – my breath
has a darkness now, calls out

– half around the sun a gust :your name
alone covering this bug
smaller and smaller, then nothing

as if its memories were leaves
were cold and on the ground my shadow
stopped reaching for stones.

 

 

Ron Winkler

a day like December


this day has a glacial character.

how else could it be:  winter is the basis of it.

the couvert of the clouds has not yet been opened.

although this mailing has much to do with me, par avion.

the sky belongs to a department of gray.

a new coloration has taken over somehow: dietetic light.

at least the sun is maintaining an appearance.

poplars on the horizon, Iroquois brushwood.

avenue lines run on and on to end in a distant lip seal.

the snow has gotten through there too.

what fell earlier could pass for crinoline.

the scenery more scenic than ever.

regarding which I happen to know:

a few glassy ponds award themselves to the woodland as medals.

warm bird-flurries disrupt the ceremony however

going away.

tr. Rodney Nelson

 

 

ein Tag wie Dezember

 

dieser Tag hat glazialen Charakter.

wie könnte es anders sein:  ihm liegt Winter zugrunde.

das Couvert der Wolken ist noch nicht geöffnet.

obwohl mich diese Sendung sehr angeht, par Avion.

der Himmel gehört einer Graubranche an.

es herrscht ein neuer Ton irgendwie: diätetisches Licht.

wenigstens wahrt die Sonne den Anschein.

die Pappeln am Horizont Irokesengestrüppe.

Alleen führen noch immer ins Labiale.

auch sie sind von Schneefall punktiert.

was bisher fiel, lässt einen Reifrock vermuten.

die Landschaft so landschaftlich wie lange nicht mehr.

wovon ich auch noch weiss:

einige Tümpel verleihen sich Wäldern als glasige Orden.

aber die Wärmeflocken der Vögel täuschen

darüber hinweg. 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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