Picaroon Poetry - Issue #17 - July 2019

Featuring poetry by Sharon Phillips, Peter Burrows, Kitty Coles, alyssa hanna, Crystal Anderson, John L. Stanizzi, Chris Hemingway, Sue Kindon, Kathleen Strafford, Jenna Velez, Maureen Daniels, Samuel Guest, Charlie Hill, John Son, Beth Bayley, Visar, Bethany W Pope, Luke Kuzmish, Gerard Sarnat, Chris Hardy, Erik Fuhrer, Christopher Hopkins, John Raffetto, Andrew Shields, Bo Meson, Brian Comber, Martin Zarrop, Kristin Garth, Maiya Dambawinna, David Bankson, Jeffrey Zable, Rickey Rivers Jr, Anthony Watts, Donna Dallas, Chuka Susan Chesney, and Tobi Alfier. Picaroon is, as always, lovingly edited by Kate Garrett.

Featuring poetry by Sharon Phillips, Peter Burrows, Kitty Coles, alyssa hanna, Crystal Anderson, John L. Stanizzi, Chris Hemingway, Sue Kindon, Kathleen Strafford, Jenna Velez, Maureen Daniels, Samuel Guest, Charlie Hill, John Son, Beth Bayley, Visar, Bethany W Pope, Luke Kuzmish, Gerard Sarnat, Chris Hardy, Erik Fuhrer, Christopher Hopkins, John Raffetto, Andrew Shields, Bo Meson, Brian Comber, Martin Zarrop, Kristin Garth, Maiya Dambawinna, David Bankson, Jeffrey Zable, Rickey Rivers Jr, Anthony Watts, Donna Dallas, Chuka Susan Chesney, and Tobi Alfier.

Picaroon is, as always, lovingly edited by Kate Garrett.


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<strong>Issue</strong> <strong>#17</strong><br />

<strong>July</strong> <strong>2019</strong><br />

Edited by Kate Garrett<br />

All poems copyright © <strong>2019</strong> individual authors<br />

Selection/issue copyright © <strong>2019</strong> Kate Garrett / <strong>Picaroon</strong> <strong>Poetry</strong><br />

Cover image is detail from ‘Medusa’ by Irina Iriser via Unsplash and used under<br />

the public domain license.

This Month’s Rogue Poems ● <strong>July</strong> <strong>2019</strong><br />

Directions // Sharon Phillips 7<br />

Cousin Dorothy // Peter Burrows 8<br />

The Omen Days // Kitty Coles 9<br />

ars poetica from the bottom of the ocean // alyssa hanna 10<br />

Soushoku-kei Danshi (Herbivore Men) // Crystal Anderson 11<br />

a poem from POND // John L. Stanizzi 12<br />

Foxes in Fog // Chris Hemingway 13<br />

Enfant Terrible // Sue Kindon 14<br />

Lilith // Kathleen Strafford 16<br />

american heathen // Jenna Velez 18<br />

The Flesh of Vows // Maureen Daniels 19<br />

Shiver // Samuel Guest 20<br />

Arguing about songs // Charlie Hill 21<br />

St Pancras // John Son 22<br />

Communion // Beth Bayley 23<br />

Sango (To Whom I Almost Lost My Mind) // Visar 24<br />

Kě'ài // Bethany W Pope 25<br />

Bud Says // Luke Kuzmish 26<br />

Redondo Beach Mudita // Gerard Sarnat 28<br />

Dragon’s Tail // Chris Hardy 30

Voyage Out Sonnet 50 // Erik Fuhrer 32<br />

Yellow beak // Christopher Hopkins 33<br />

The Botany of Insomnia // John Raffetto 34<br />

Stop, Look, Listen // Andrew Shields 35<br />

one in the eye for bio diversity // Bo Meson 36<br />

Panopticon // Brian Comber 37<br />

Harvest // Martin Zarrop 38<br />

Captives // Kristin Garth 39<br />

And Thus I Run Out Of Myself // Maiya Dambawinna 40<br />

Back then you were a globe // David Bankson 41<br />

This is No Nursery Rhyme // Jeffrey Zable 42<br />

Dumpty // Rickey Rivers Jr 43<br />

The Pixelated Man // Anthony Watts 44<br />

The Intermediate // Donna Dallas 45<br />

Aftermath // Chuka Susan Chesney 46<br />

Unfinished Portrait // Tobi Alfier 47

Sharon Phillips<br />

Directions<br />

Today you're finding it hard to write<br />

in your edgy restless mood; maybe<br />

the cat thinks you should stop:<br />

he paces around on the desktop<br />

and smacks your hand with his paw<br />

but you are wound too tight to give up<br />

so you keep on making ragged notes<br />

about the weeks of heatwave—the day<br />

you dozed in the shade of the lilac,<br />

the rumble of bees in the rambling rose<br />

—but none of it feels urgent or true<br />

until you write about a woman you saw<br />

yesterday in the hospital: pink mohawk,<br />

tall; how she stopped and dried her eyes<br />

and asked the way to the cancer ward.<br />


Peter Burrows<br />

Cousin Dorothy<br />

Inching back the curtains, Cousin Dorothy<br />

notes the car outside the house opposite.<br />

Rings to confirm. Timings. Things taken in.<br />

All the details she likes to know – so same time<br />

next week they tail him to the garden centre,<br />

where once he took the now brooding passenger<br />

who sends her in to trail them through the sliding doors.<br />

Warm air ruffles the senses. Vague browsers push<br />

her through: fragrant scents, Muzak, shelved goods. Which way<br />

through crowded displays of needless desires?<br />

Teased on by the lure of fresh coffee. The café<br />

tables laid out like a board games tournament.<br />

Old faces meet. Couples stare through long windows.<br />

Daffodils. Spotted, eating his cake, she draws near,<br />

hearing him moaning to one about the other.<br />

He knows nothing about women. But, big house.<br />

A car. Grown up kids far away. He’s a catch<br />

of sorts. What she loses being difficult.<br />

Back in the car, debriefed, deaf to the stirred<br />

fury, she smells the candles on her fingers.<br />

Weeks later, after the usual calls, he relents,<br />

as he always does. But the other woman<br />

stays. A weak hand played – she won’t be happy, still,<br />

she’s someone else to drive her about. For now.<br />

Cousin Dorothy, scented candle lit,<br />

awaits her next mission, by the window.<br />


Kitty Coles<br />

The Omen Days<br />

These mornings, owls call in the light;<br />

bats fly by day. The pile of the velvet<br />

between us grows thinner, thinner.<br />

You have left me signs:<br />

the way that heron flew<br />

above the hazel tree as if it was broken<br />

and the distant shots I heard<br />

when I walked by the orchard<br />

and a pheasant, black as oil, appeared from nowhere.<br />

I lay out my cards and you rise<br />

in each formation,<br />

the page of cups, proffering a glass of nothing.<br />

Smudging the doorways, the smoke ascends,<br />

pale ropes; in the bowl<br />

a nest of ashes the size of a fist.<br />

I wash myself until the skin seems thin.<br />

I will put down roots<br />

and live like a hyacinth,<br />

like a mystic, nourished<br />

on nothing but air and water.<br />

My blood will put out tiny flowers like stars.<br />


alyssa hanna<br />

ars poetica from the bottom of the ocean<br />

more than anything, i want to be a multitude of stimuli,<br />

energy flowing flora and turquoise and tidal,<br />

ocean<br />

rescuing the fear of sharks and jellyfish from<br />

the forces we forgot. i received a thanks for<br />

curating a museum<br />

of dewdrop—<br />

she told me i made her feel less alone.<br />

urn-kept, her mother agrees, sends me flowers that i<br />

really wonder if i deserve.<br />

i want to shake senses<br />

but who am i to start earthquakes?<br />

i will never know if the seafloor can<br />

recover from more eruptions, but the acrylic<br />

in my blood<br />

yearns, tells me i must help her heal, attempt to soothe<br />

every woman’s old wounds. if my words, my paintings<br />

are bandages, can i keep the earth<br />

from bleeding out?<br />


Crystal Anderson<br />

Soushoku-kei Danshi (Herbivore Men)<br />

Your fantastic house plants succeed,<br />

form a least demanding ecosystem<br />

against your solo back; expectation<br />

(like sloughing skin<br />

from apple meat)<br />

casts a wide orbit around traditional time<br />

sinks. You escape the pull of gravity by scaling<br />

honeysuckle on urban trees that struggle with their workloads<br />

(exhaust sags their frames like afterglow salarymen);<br />

respiration without surgical mask protection.<br />

You like the gentle demarcation of that sterile cloth<br />

stretched between yourself and konkatsu (exploration of pure<br />

flowers; the heaven, the earth, the human),<br />

kampai!, ferris wheel, procession (pictorial<br />

occasions displayed in an alcove). You like the<br />

openness<br />

in (eating cellulose) reframing disappointment<br />

with indifferent stems so there is no koibito<br />

aggression and that is fine<br />

because ohitorisama<br />

is not a provocative word.<br />

Reclaimed carbon dioxide<br />

(the sun, the water,<br />

the photosynthesis, the cascade mist<br />

droplets on leaves and nomikai beer)<br />

will ask you for nothing more.<br />


John L. Stanizzi<br />

a poem from POND<br />

1.25.19<br />

10.36 a.m.<br />

36 degrees<br />

Pappy grass, browned and mushy, but an inch down the hard freeze has<br />

overnighted and is still rock-hard. Yesterday’s torrential downpour<br />

normalized the southwest end of the pond – clear water and a view<br />

distinct enough of the bottom that I can see the sand, a reminder of summer.<br />


Chris Hemingway<br />

Foxes in Fog<br />

At first she thought they were dogs<br />

brushing his heels,<br />

domestic shapes in the thickening fog.<br />

But then five, seven, eleven,<br />

tawnier, redder.<br />

Crossing the car park,<br />

a duskworld.<br />

He gathers scraps from the folds of his coat.<br />

Conjures swirls from these foxes.<br />

Carnival blizzards,<br />

that could turn to snow.<br />

He will not tame them.<br />

He doesn't want to.<br />

He wants to be a ringmaster.<br />

For this night only.<br />

He doesn't see her.<br />

He thinks he’s alone.<br />


Sue Kindon<br />

Enfant Terrible<br />

A surrogate city<br />

gave birth in the early hours<br />

after the shortest of labours<br />

to a healthy, full-term woman<br />

who wanted to suckle<br />

the Sacré Coeur.<br />

The child-woman's fontanelle<br />

throbbed like the light show<br />

of a maternal Eiffel Tower,<br />

post-partum arteries pulsed<br />

with the can-can of The Seine<br />

past Notre Dame.<br />

Mother and daughter dancing it all,<br />

the bouquiniste stalls on the quays,<br />

the high-heel click of the Métro,<br />

haute-couture clinics,<br />

jewels in arch windows<br />

of golden hotels,<br />

colliding with whores<br />

in doorways or draped over cars;<br />

the drug of exhaust fumes,<br />

cocktail of Gîtanes and garlic,<br />

posters for sex shows with fishnets,<br />

rue des Deux-Boules.<br />

*<br />

The daughter grew weary of Paris,<br />

taking trains further out<br />

every stifling weekend,<br />

estranged in the forests of Senlis,<br />

Rambouillet, the deep breath<br />

of Fontainebleau,<br />

sleeping pill journeys<br />

on long-distance lines<br />


to the Morvan, or Chartres<br />

with its half-timbered love-nests,<br />

the murmur of pigeons,<br />

the dapple of flesh.<br />

She wanted an ocean,<br />

the Brittany coastline,<br />

salt for her lipstick,<br />

dulse for her hair:<br />

without Paris<br />

she deckchair-dozes<br />

and nods at the sea.<br />


Kathleen Strafford<br />

Lilith<br />

Adam’s first wife<br />

I<br />

She bathes in waves of seminal fluid<br />

flies on the moon’s last breath through windows strange<br />

drains men in their beds<br />

bites off their head<br />

stretches their drongo-skin<br />

for bongos<br />

cocks quicken<br />

like headless dancing chickens<br />

She yearns to straddle Adam like a stag<br />

gallop fast to brag dig her spurs in<br />

teach his hot tongue<br />

to flick like a feral cat.<br />

Adam sows wild oats elects to plough his fierce erection<br />

into the cunny of mares, many (he finds) don’t have opinions<br />

just an occasional toss of mane or whinny<br />

is all Adam needs.<br />

Lilith hates when horse hairs stick to his knees.<br />

II<br />

With argument’s last straw<br />

Lilith is banished doomed to fuck Eden’s dark angels<br />

howls giving birth<br />

to changeling owls & hyenas<br />

dons wings grows talons<br />

to cling to bed posts<br />

soars the night’s sky seeking bleary-eyed<br />

infants Shoves<br />

her blue nipple into tender lips<br />

cackles as they choke.<br />

She Eve-drops<br />

slips between the sheets<br />

of her Ex fingers his rib-caged wife<br />

to know the other woman<br />

taste the difference<br />


III<br />

Lilith grows a tree<br />

sleeps in its hollow<br />

with mopokes and poppied hemlock<br />

Its roots are serpents<br />

Her arms and bony fingers reach up splintering<br />

through limbs<br />

ruby amulets glisten like fruit.<br />

IV<br />

Through the centuries:<br />

Lilith whispers to Circe<br />

Who whispers to Medea<br />

Who whispers to Morgan Le Fay<br />

to all bearded hags and to Hecate<br />

who slither like snakes<br />

to all Malkin women<br />

(From the author’s collection Wilderness of Skin, published by Yaffle Press, <strong>July</strong> <strong>2019</strong>)<br />


Jenna Velez<br />

american heathen<br />

American heathen<br />

She’s disgusting<br />

With ivory fangs<br />

Melts the metal down<br />

From gemstone Jesus<br />

Builds her altars<br />

For the humanity she lost<br />

To God-fearing men<br />

She loves her seafaring gods<br />

American heathen<br />

Curses the soot off her cheek<br />

From the fire where she burned alive<br />

She’s holy<br />

With gold jewelry<br />

A priestess to the pyre<br />

To the ember and amber<br />

Prisoner moth in resin flames<br />

American heathen<br />

Cuts out a blue eye<br />

From folkish faces<br />

She’s tricky<br />

With a riddled tongue<br />

Casting runes with the<br />

Ruins of a man’s body<br />

That claimed her as a<br />

Star-spangled sacrifice<br />

Blood, white, and blue on the drinking horn<br />


Maureen Daniels<br />

The Flesh of Vows<br />

In our bed<br />

we are cast again into gridlock,<br />

your mouth,<br />

bitter soot, my body,<br />

death’s dais.<br />

You call this<br />

commitment,<br />

this trek<br />

back and forth<br />

to the half-life of release.<br />

Your hands<br />

fling waxes<br />

that harden<br />

against my thighs,<br />

our palms fuse<br />

in the hot-light.<br />

Think how many times<br />

I could have killed you.<br />

The pulp of your body<br />

lodged in me:<br />

Spine. Testicles. Toes.<br />

The married flesh<br />

of our vows,<br />

a dead thing.<br />

There is no stitch for this wound,<br />

no song to sing ourselves serene.<br />


Samuel Guest<br />

Shiver<br />

she shivers in a bed of rose petals as my<br />

hand glides across her collarbone<br />

tears run down my cheeks in little<br />

rivulets that whisper<br />

where did you come from<br />


Charlie Hill<br />

Arguing about songs<br />

And sometimes we sit<br />

in the kitchen<br />

and argue<br />

over which songs<br />

should soundtrack<br />

the spaces<br />

of our conjoined divide.<br />

Then we laugh,<br />

bitter wistful,<br />

at the casual accord<br />

that once greeted suggestions<br />

of any tune really,<br />

to help pass the time<br />

between going to bed,<br />

making love on the sofa,<br />

having sex on the table<br />

between us.<br />


John Son<br />

St Pancras<br />

If I ever get married it’ll be here, gazing into<br />

my husband’s eyes alongside 2 for 1 paperback<br />

deals and cut-price egg mayo sandwiches.<br />

My boutonniere will be a chicken wing.<br />

It won’t match the acuity of rhubarb<br />

or gooseberry, but people will love it for trying.<br />

I’m back-benched, licking ciabatta dust off my<br />

fingers. Last night you were on fire, but not<br />

in the way that wins people Man Booker prizes -<br />

rather, like the way people gawp at departure<br />

boards, and drop their coins on the concourse<br />

floor when fumbling for train tickets.<br />

Pennies roll outwards in miniature flight paths of change.<br />

I am scheduled to meet Mark at the shop selling<br />

activewear for the modern impotent gentleman.<br />

We have planned meticulously: from the greeting kiss to<br />

our getting lost on the Tube, reuniting on the<br />

Victoria line platform in an achingly sexy epiphany.<br />

Weddings are much like delayed trains. Both require dancing<br />

to an excessive degree, but rarely for good reason.<br />

I will never marry Mark. He’ll run away to Nottinghamshire<br />

like they all do in the end - my chew toy of a heart in one hand,<br />

my beloved chicken wing in the other. What will become of<br />

me then? The place settings left stale and untouched;<br />

the elegiac concept of train termini stations, but never<br />

the cold, hard reality of it all.<br />


Beth Bayley<br />

Communion<br />

The Novena Catholic Church has been rebuilt and made grand enough to<br />

accommodate nearly everyone’s Sunday morning, though at Christmas they<br />

needed a tent outside and a video screen for overflow. We could see it from the<br />

bar across the street, where they know us well (a phenomenon I’m ambivalent<br />

about), as we had our communion of lager and thin, crispy pizza.<br />

So Sunday’s crowded, but Wednesday is, too, and sometimes even the lunchtime<br />

throngs head in for a Jesus fix. That’s when I usually see her, at the bottom of the<br />

church steps, with a dowager’s hump under her floral blouse and the brightest<br />

magenta lipstick on her wrinkled mouth. You aren’t allowed to beg in Singapore,<br />

but you are allowed to sell packets of tissues, three for a dollar, and she holds<br />

three yellow packets in her left hand. Sometimes there’s an uncle in a wheelchair<br />

selling them too, one leg a stump that the crowds have to walk around; but it’s her<br />

I go to with my coins, her lipstick a beacon and beckoning.<br />

I blot my own lipstick with her tissues later, as I get ready to go to the bar, leaning<br />

into the mirror to examine my own wrinkles, empty riverbeds, dry tributaries seen<br />

from space.<br />


Visar<br />

Sango (To Whom I Almost Lost My Mind)<br />

Streetlights ceased to work,<br />

but mossed rainspout of the road<br />

carried market trays and parasols,<br />

Mannequins armless or nude before boutiques.<br />

The balconies are decorated with clothes,<br />

Schools of trees sway at passing jalopies,<br />

Capricious lovers took photos at Samonda's gallery,<br />

Relationships wore out and snapped.<br />

Waysides crawled with old denizens,<br />

Bridges were ceilings, clothes rented by bodies<br />

changing. The street was an imposter,<br />

its pygmy goats ruminating on Serendipity<br />

leaves. Beer parlours swallowed your<br />

working husbands;<br />

Latitude kept us so long on the ground.<br />


Bethany W Pope<br />

Kě'ài<br />

My restaurant-buddy has a name I can't<br />

pronounce. I've tried, of course, but she asked me<br />

to stop. We mainly communicate through<br />

Google Translate and gestures. My Chinese<br />

is virtually nonexistent; her English<br />

limited to 'Hello!’ but we persist.<br />

After I make my selections, shovel<br />

bok choy, raw horse flank, and dumplings into<br />

my bowl and she loads it all into<br />

the steel boiler, she sits down at my table<br />

and teaches me numbers using mushrooms.<br />

She touches each head as she counts them out.<br />

I don't know anything about her life.<br />

I don't know where she lives or what she does<br />

for fun. I don't know how she lost her eye.<br />

I know that she's in her early thirties.<br />

I know that she likes K-Pop, coconut<br />

milk, and pictures of puppies. I know that<br />

she finds puppy pictures on the internet<br />

and stores them on her phone because after<br />

I’ve counted to ten to her satisfaction<br />

she opens a folder and shows them to me.<br />

She says the same thing about every picture:<br />

Cute, cute, cute. ‘Kě'ài, kě'ài, kě'ài.’<br />


Luke Kuzmish<br />

Bud Says<br />

Bud says<br />

that there’s a<br />

big difference<br />

between feeling hopeless<br />

and being<br />

hopeless<br />

he learned<br />

this lesson<br />

well<br />

when he gave three years<br />

of his life<br />

to the department of corrections<br />

“I was writing<br />

a lot of letters:<br />

love letters<br />

send me books<br />

or send me money<br />

letters<br />

let me know<br />

how the flowers are doing<br />

while I’m away letters<br />

let me know<br />

if the sky is still<br />

broad and open<br />

even<br />

for<br />

someone like me letters”<br />


Bud says hope<br />

is like oxygen<br />

all around<br />

“I’ll stay hopeful<br />

until<br />

I stop breathing”<br />


Gerard Sarnat<br />

Redondo Beach Mudita*<br />

Let’s do a snappy happy poem<br />

that maybe someone can understand.<br />

A February Sunday. Lovers or friends.<br />

Mothers and dads teach kids<br />

to ride bicycles. Dogs chase Frisbees<br />

and masters into the glass waves<br />

along the curling of the shore. Old and not,<br />

rich and poor, black and white,<br />

a marriage party, some alone<br />

come from all over Los Angeles<br />

to bathe in the glory while most of the rest<br />

of the US freezes.<br />

Instead of running or walking<br />

or fashioning sand castles, I brought<br />

a beachchair, just sat.<br />

The water and air talked to me about how they<br />

weren’t getting any younger either.<br />

A gaggle of nondescript birds<br />

dart past a giant inert seagull.<br />

In lieu of time’s conspiracy<br />

each year since winter started,<br />

what I must do with my remaining breath<br />

when not writing becomes clear<br />

as a bolt of cold crashes through my chest.<br />


A lovely stooped over rotund couple<br />

in gray sweaters makes its way.<br />

Straining to absorb last heat from the sun,<br />

delight as we all move on.<br />

*Meaning sympathetic joy in Pāli and Sanskrit; English has no single word for Buddhism’s<br />

third brahmavihārā, or divine attitude.<br />


Chris Hardy<br />

Dragon’s Tail<br />

In October lay the hedge.<br />

Keep hawthorn, hazel,<br />

blackthorn, beech and ash.<br />

Behead the oak.<br />

Slice stems to a tendon<br />

of sapwood with the hook.<br />

Pack down the pleachers at a slant,<br />

staked with poles, bound by whips.<br />

Haul away everything cut out –<br />

long twisted branches, brash,<br />

axed trunks, young growth, dead wood,<br />

and stack it in the field.<br />

Fire will change it to<br />

a hill of incandescent caves<br />

from which a ring of flame<br />

will spread across dry stubble.<br />

You’re left with a barrier<br />

dense and sharp, chest high,<br />

a straight dark line<br />

leaning up the slope,<br />

and a circle of black earth<br />

where nothing grows<br />

until April rain wakes<br />

thistle seeds blown in.<br />

Soon cornflowers, hare bells,<br />

orchids, vetch and grass return,<br />

are mowed, raked out to dry,<br />

baled in stacks and barns,<br />


like gold sieved from the earth<br />

for feed when fields are bare,<br />

when waterfalls of stars<br />

fall through the skylight,<br />

and the hedge is sinew, ribcage,<br />

spine of the sleeping serpent<br />

round your bounds<br />

that you laid there.<br />


Erik Fuhrer<br />

Voyage Out Sonnet 50<br />

The moon broke straight over the earth. Birds whitened<br />

the horizon, straight as threads of sunlight. Shoulders<br />

hunched the morning into life. Lips anticipated explosions penetrating<br />

through mourners. Voices shook hands down the passage.<br />

Grief clenched death with raced down cheeks. The dead dreamt.<br />

The mornings became fewer every day. Eyes took pains to suffer. Laughter<br />

crumbles to a full stop. Spirits sting the room. Minutes, dropping<br />

anchor, forgot what rain looks like. Play desired a gravel path. Insects<br />

hum the heavy drop of silence. People light thunder<br />

darker across the earth. Wind carried lightening<br />

at the joints. Slackening light voiced electric<br />

crowds of artificial light. The storm began to tell stories of needlework.<br />

Moths thoraxed the room. Cheeks whipped lighting over a chair in final struggle.<br />

The shock of rain could not speak. Eyes resumed knitting the open air.<br />

*This poem is from a longer work titled The Voyage Out Sonnets, a page by page erasure<br />

of Virginia Woolf's The Voyage Out. During the process of erasure, I moved chapter by<br />

chapter and then formed what I had into 50 experimental sonnets. I highlighted language<br />

over narrative and rarely re-used Woolf's subjects, instead often giving agency and voice to<br />

animals and inanimate objects. For the most part, I did not add anything to the text, with the<br />

exception of the rare addition of an "s" at the end of a word. I also occasionally cobbled<br />

together a word from individual letters. That said, Woolf's original language remains mostly<br />

intact and unadulterated.<br />


Christopher Hopkins<br />

Yellow beak<br />

On the sands<br />

we pass a carcass of<br />

a sea bird,<br />

dried and belly burst.<br />

Unnatural<br />

to see it this close.<br />

The worked yellow flint of the beak,<br />

its only recognisable form.<br />

The bleached rub of exposed<br />

wing bones,<br />

now whiter than the<br />

torus nest of feathers<br />

that once was its chest<br />

and the gather of weathered<br />

pellet edges;<br />

the shrimp & fish<br />

of its plastic suppers.<br />

The down shivers<br />

in the intimate winds,<br />

ghostly twitch of the starving<br />

brimful,<br />

a stomach full of death.<br />


John Raffetto<br />

The Botany of Insomnia<br />

Again I rewind the tape<br />

looping endless<br />

babble dreams<br />

under<br />

cycad moon.<br />

Years spent in therapeutic<br />

echo chambers<br />

shadows of volcanic<br />

torn palms<br />

fronds<br />

against gnarled oak branches,<br />

a slow drip<br />

of desired rest<br />

cast aside<br />

near streetlamp glow<br />

the forgotten<br />

and forgiven<br />

lie in state<br />

of green fossils<br />

as the tape<br />

sputters into a taut<br />

endgame<br />

as dawn approaches<br />

through filtered<br />

blinds.<br />


Andrew Shields<br />

Stop, Look, Listen<br />

When you don’t look, the money’s no good.<br />

When you don’t listen, the locks break.<br />

When you don’t close the door, the ink runs out.<br />

When you don’t write, the phone keeps ringing.<br />

When you don’t call, the car won’t start.<br />

When you walk, the radio plays.<br />

When the day’s not yours, the present unwraps.<br />

When you don’t explain, nothing happens.<br />

When you’re not here, the candles never go out.<br />


Bo Meson<br />

one in the eye for bio diversity<br />

Three billion unfussy fat boys,<br />

as at the dawn of days,<br />

a 6 mile nucleus, yucatan bound -<br />

burrows 25 miles<br />

under undulating ground<br />

600 mile speed air-howl,<br />

as chloroplasty dies<br />

a hypoglycemic death -<br />

fixed point of a necessary reign<br />

causing dinosaurs to drop<br />

Cretaceous, a mass extinct,<br />

with heavy metal band<br />

a cosmic iridium bookmark -<br />

the footprint-free paleogene<br />

a planet sudden dark<br />

Transitional therapod fossil<br />

Darwin's Bulldog spots<br />

small autochtonous relic -<br />

with melanosome mange<br />

cotton-candy fuzz ,,, psychedelic<br />

Four-winged paravian,<br />

2-stroke pneumatic stoking<br />

survival entice us -<br />

past this sick 6th<br />

biotic crisis<br />

Graven heft of a stone tablet<br />

birdosaurs unbound<br />


Brian Comber<br />

Panopticon<br />

Uncle Joe had a poster of Stalin and would put you right<br />

if you didn’t toe the party line,<br />

he denounced Khrushchev<br />

and planned purges of his own<br />

when he would turn up the white noise<br />

and break a few skulls<br />

he told us of his day at the beach, how he saw<br />

the toddler running towards the tethered donkeys<br />

and then, to follow, in this order;<br />

the desperate mother,<br />

the bank holiday crowd disturbed by the fuss,<br />

sitting up and shielding their eyes,<br />

the police calming down and fanning out,<br />

the shouting grandfather,<br />

and much later<br />

the circling helicopter.<br />

Uncle Joe said he could have stepped in,<br />

stopped the child and helped the law<br />

but he’d been in trouble for that kind of thing before.<br />

We didn’t holiday with Uncle Joe anymore.<br />

Last time I saw him he was at the windblown station<br />

shaking out a lifeboat tin,<br />

not turning to watch us go.<br />

My dad said he should go back to Russia,<br />

where turning a blind eye and seeing all<br />

would keep your apartment, a welcome at the factory gate<br />

and where the beach could be cleared<br />

with just a word from the State.<br />


Martin Zarrop<br />

Harvest<br />

Tractors dig deep in Passchendaele.<br />

Above, the morning mist,<br />

below in mud, corroded steel,<br />

a crop that knows no armistice.<br />

In furrowed fields, disposal teams<br />

collect the toxic bric-a-brac:<br />

grenades and fuses, Flying Pigs,<br />

white phosphorus and mustard gas.<br />

Above, no regiments,<br />

below, in rough and ready rows,<br />

shells primed to suffocate and maim,<br />

nudged nose to rusted nose<br />

millions that failed to detonate,<br />

foundering in quagmire like the men<br />

who perished long before them,<br />

known and unknown warriors<br />

whose names are carved in stone<br />

or traced through DNA a century on<br />

in earth and scraps of cloth,<br />

fragments of bone demanding<br />

recognition from their heirs,<br />

remembrance from those who pray<br />

as the old world turns under the plough<br />

and will not die away.<br />


Kristin Garth<br />

Captives<br />

Unlike you, Colossus was born free, months<br />

old taken, forest to captivity,<br />

New Hampshire caged, first, watched TV. Now grunts<br />

at you, in Florida, field trip, fifteen,<br />

schoolgirl, flared dress, against impact resistant glass —<br />

six hundred pounds, his punch — retreat fast. Hear<br />

docent remit biography — wild grass,<br />

good genes, Gulf Breeze to breed. “Confusion, fear.<br />

Forgotten gorilla ways.” Teen tears, beast bounds<br />

then squints sideways, sovereign staring into<br />

you; chest heaving in his concrete compound<br />

reminds cowering schoolgirl captive who<br />

was born to your abusive family:<br />

freedom is strength, even the memory.<br />


Maiya Dambawinna<br />

And Thus I Run Out Of Myself<br />

An Ode to Pablo Neruda<br />

Twenty-six and over your head, you were<br />

Lost in the complexions of strangers, you<br />

Found yourself putting angels to rest, just to<br />

Ease the hunger pangs of loneliness. Ask<br />

Me if I ever made you less than worthy. Ask me<br />

If you want to know why, how, what and where<br />

I hid all my sweet nothings addressed to you. I’ve<br />

Labelled them, dated them, buried them. It has been<br />

A long time coming. Caught in the fences, I –<br />

I lose track of time. My hands would<br />

Forget how yours felt in an instant. I have<br />

Spent twenty-six years inside my stomach, only to<br />

Bubble to the top of my oesophagus and fall. Tell<br />

Me I never looked beautiful. Tell me how<br />

Every woman before me has reduced me to dirt,<br />

How the memory of them surely mottles<br />

Me – tell me I’m nothing more than rocks;<br />

Prometheus, tell me I chained you – forgetting how,<br />

With a rushing of blood beneath his wings, the<br />

Eagle used me. Becoming part river,<br />

Louder than thunder, I am only towards you running.<br />


David Bankson<br />

Back then you were a globe<br />

held apart by ocean arms,<br />

melted glaciers refrozen,<br />

vodka & ice castles,<br />

your exterior severe<br />

as the dusk's late light, draining<br />

every window in the house with day-<br />

killing darkness; I<br />

stitched together the broken bits of myself<br />

& learned to ignore loose threads<br />

& pricked thumbs.<br />

I learned of the difference<br />

between being silver & moon<br />

glimmering on the top of a stray puddle.<br />

Between hearts & the seas<br />

without end I mistook them for.<br />

Surrendering & being seen<br />

to have surrendered. A globe<br />

& a land without smooth slopes.<br />

Between such an example of weakness<br />

& leaving before it could be proven.<br />


Jeffrey Zable<br />

This is No Nursery Rhyme<br />

The capsule from the burning bottle turned everything dark.<br />

And nothing was ever the same.<br />

Baa Baa Black Sheep said he would bite me<br />

with his iron teeth,<br />

and the children once known as Jack and Jill<br />

were now Smack and Vill;<br />

Vill standing for villainous.<br />

“We’re gonna take all your money!”<br />

she hissed in my ear.<br />

“Buy more guns, drugs, and take lavish vacations.<br />

Live like royalty for the rest of your days!”<br />

So with nothing left to lose<br />

I downed another capsule,<br />

which put me to sleep for a long, long time.<br />

And when I awakened I looked into the eyes<br />

of Baa Baa Black Sheep,<br />

who’d made a hole in my chest,<br />

and one in the back of my head. . .<br />


Rickey Rivers Jr<br />

Dumpty<br />

Look into the mirror and at the egg man holding it.<br />

The irony is lost on him.<br />

His pieces crackling like your mental state,<br />

your eyes red, long tired.<br />

What say you to this reality?<br />

When you wake with headaches,<br />

and painful joints.<br />

Do you carry on?<br />

Or do you succumb?<br />

These questions boggle unbroken people too.<br />

The glass cracks<br />

and so goes your mushy brain.<br />

Don't worry, you're sane.<br />

Broken people broke in people.<br />

This has always been the case.<br />


Anthony Watts<br />

The Pixelated Man<br />

My resolution wavers. There are days<br />

when I’m almost high definition, almost<br />

know who I am.<br />

But mostly I’m this unresolved<br />

abstraction –<br />

a ghost made of lego.<br />

When they turn off the power<br />

I sleep, dream of a woman<br />

perfect in every pixel.<br />


Donna Dallas<br />

The Intermediate<br />

Help me, help me.<br />

I can’t get out.<br />

I’m constantly torn<br />

between here and there,<br />

blonde or brunette, walk<br />

or ride.<br />

I look at the old photos<br />

of the old me, the ugly me.<br />

I look in the mirror and want<br />

to be a new me, not an older me.<br />

Maybe I will go on a diet.<br />

I’m saving my money,<br />

I’m saving my money!!<br />

I’m in the middle of haircuts<br />

and jobs.<br />

I refuse to go backwards.<br />

Tomorrow is already sitting<br />

on my lap like a stack<br />

of unopened mail and<br />

I’m not even finished with<br />

my To Do list.<br />

Who am I, who am I?<br />

I’m in limbo hanging<br />

like a coconut.<br />

Crack me open and at least<br />

pour me over ice.<br />


Chuka Susan Chesney<br />

Aftermath<br />

There was a zoo of dead animals in my throat after you died<br />

A coat closet filmed in Naugahyde<br />

eyes watched me crouch<br />

they knew what had transpired<br />

the rusty underpinnings of deep blood chords<br />

and you on the floor like washed-up insides<br />

a manatee asleep and barely alive<br />

they took you away and tried to make you breathe<br />

but you couldn’t be revived and you turned into leaves<br />

that tempted the doctor as he exhumed your head<br />

to study the madness that waded into death<br />


Tobi Alfier<br />

Unfinished Portrait<br />

She’s stumbled over love’s disputed borderlands in many weathers. The burnt air<br />

of August finds her just as compass-in-hand wandering as the itinerant fall wind—<br />

cloud shadows a checkerboard of pattern on low hills, tops coated with sugarsnow,<br />

the air waiting, workmen and vagrants waiting, tinge of clay and dried mud<br />

up against curbs, reminder of rains that came, ground-thirst slugging down water<br />

like she used to shoot tequila. Now it’s a calmly sipped shot of anything gold, in<br />

anywhere quiet, mirrors against the back bar reflect her carefully painted face, hair<br />

brushed a thousand strokes, age impossible to guess, and it’s another late<br />

afternoon in the rugged splendor of somewhere-ville. Windmills stand tall and<br />

graceful, lining the valley. Sound of the Union Pacific on its way, a distant lullaby,<br />

reminder of a long-ago trip from Texas to California, bunk beds to sleep on, birds<br />

and brush waving goodbye through the window as it rushes and rushes, stopping<br />

in towns along the way that she doesn’t remember. Time—like footsteps<br />

dispatched in an alley, the downgoing sun. Shale tones of sky ease around<br />

memory no one but she wants to revisit. The early fade of day.<br />



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