Poetry Issue 8 Winter 2015

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Exiting the House of Academia
By Robert Romanyshyn

I have been a standup comedian for the soul,
a juggler of passions,
a clown in a painted face,
a magician with a few bad tricks,
and a fool.

I have dropped milk-white semen words on many pages
and dripped blue honey in unsuspecting ears.
I have written articles and books,
traveled to far places,
made too many speeches,
ranted and raved,
begged and wept,
and made numerous appeals.

What is left behind of all these efforts,
of all these disguises?
Some legacy, some small trace of who I am, that I was here?
Are there any children of these deeds,
so many of which seem ill conceived?

On gray, empty days I see only abortions,
stillbirths and miscarriages.
And it seems I have wasted my seed and my life,
chasing phantoms.

I am getting old now and my days are long and slow.
I sit in the sun with a big hat to cover my face.
I have no magic to make the ghosts disappear,
and I am still a fool.

But at night in my dreams,
a poet sometimes comes
who leads me from the house of academia
into the streets of life.

 

WHAT DAN McDERMOTT FOUND
(WHEN HE WAS LOOKING FOR SOMETHING ELSE)
Donald Carlson

What Dan McDermott found
wasn’t what he wanted
but what we needed,

the grace of looking
in the wrong place at the right time.
Consider this Fun Fact:

On average, we spend a year
of our lives looking for misplaced
things. The time we spend

finding whatever we aren’t
looking for defines a life lived well.
The puzzlement of knowing that there’s

something we should be seeking without
being able to, defines life in hell,
as Dante learned, descending concentric

rings of stuckness past a people
eternally stuck, the damned clueless
how to look, how to find what they aren’t

looking for–a road–a way out and up,
through and beyond themselves.
Which brings me back to Dan, whose

providential find, once shared about,
prodded something in us to awaken,
not so much an object as a route.

 

The Day Always Comes
By Donald Carlson

Yesterday could you imagine waking
into a different now? The next day always comes,
and we say, “How is it I find myself

here?” as is passes to was,
find to found. By virtue of such questions

we come to ourselves sitting quietly
Saturday afternoon, around the kitchen table,
face-to-face, sipping coffee, wondering
at the staging of trumpet vines draped
across the garden twine we stretched
for them (too late, I fear) widthwise
across the back patio to engineer
some shade. The bumble bees
and honey bees fumble into orange
cones to find pollen they will later
transubstantiate into honey and wax
until, at least, a cunning hand shucks
blossoms from their vines to make
a pile of rusted husks composting,
deflated on the concrete floor.

A question mark hangs within the silhouette
of someone boarding a plane tomorrow
morning for the coast, a coast that has
yet to unfurl itself fully from the sea.

 

WHAT DAN McDERMOTT FOUND
(WHEN HE WAS LOOKING FOR SOMETHING ELSE)
By Donald Carlson

What Dan McDermott found
wasn’t what he wanted
but what we needed,

the grace of looking
in the wrong place at the right time.
Consider this Fun Fact:

On average, we spend a year
of our lives looking for misplaced
things. The time we spend

finding whatever we aren’t
looking for defines a life lived well.
The puzzlement of knowing that there’s

something we should be seeking without
being able to, defines life in hell,
as Dante learned, descending concentric

rings of stuckness past a people
eternally stuck, the damned clueless
how to look, how to find what they aren’t

looking for–a road–a way out and up,
through and beyond themselves.
Which brings me back to Dan, whose

providential find, once shared about,
prodded something in us to awaken,
not so much an object as a route.

 

No Place for Refugees
By Stephen Linsteadt

Vapor trails crisscross above
the San Joaquin Valley like Fukushima
fallout over the West Coast where huddled
anchovies and disoriented sardines
prepare to evacuate.

No place for ocean life.

Rows of pink blossoms on rain soaked
bark line the valley highway
like a military parade with stacks
of bee boxes empty and foreclosed
spread out among the flanks.

No place for honeybees.

Flood and drought force
migration into human trafficking
and sinking boats.

No place for farmers.

The apparatus in foreign camouflage
laps up the last drops of black blood
while bombing their own.

No place for refugees.

 

 

Suspending Dr. Monnett
By Stephen Linsteadt

It’s pouring rain in the Mojave
over bone dust

Melting polar ice-caps
need someplace to go

If only stranded polar bears
had rafts of wood
they could follow their evaporating habitat
to the desert

‘We are at the beginning of a radical depopulation of the earth’

Be careful not to blame it on global warming

 

 

 

                     A QUIET PLACE
                        By Lois Carey
                As I sit in this quiet place
                Reflections of a lifetime seep
                Through with ups and downs
 Boats and swans rock with the lake
 As they enfold the creatures of this place.
     I gasp at the visible sights and sounds
     The worms, the fish, the flies abound.
     Smells of the flowers, the fruit, the trees
     Permeate the atmosphere, as if to please
     Me with purest joy unbounding
     In this place of peace and quiet-sounding.
                Invisible things are here as well


     Creatures from my darkest reaches
     Demons, fairies, gnomes and witches
     Haunting the specter of my silent night
     Creeping, smashing into awareness
     Of inner shadows, blackest darkness.
     Darkness hiding the Self from me
     Yet pulling me inward intimately
     To seek, to find that central core
     That opens the hidden, magic door.


     This quiet place, not really quiet,
     Teems with life, noisy and silent
     Yet something more taps on the space
     A presence, a god, a spirit, or
     Is it Spirit and something more?
     Something as yet unnamed, unnameable
     Harmonious, cacophonous, it's all of this
     As I stretch, pull, tug with the process
     That beckons me on ever more deeply
     Spiritual questing continues unceasingly.
                My own uniqueness I jealously guard


     Yet taunted, touched in intangible ways
     By the outer souls along this journey
     That, once begun, I am powerless to leave.
     I stop, I start, I turn around
     I seek, I ask, I think I know
     And suddenly I become muted
     As a spiritual presence overtakes my soul.
     Mere words loom as a major hindrance
     As I wander . . . . pondering
     The wonder of it all.

 

 

 

Pandora Addresses Evil, With Regrets
By Mary Ann Bencivengo

I was so curious,
I so wanted to see,
that that box/jar took
the better of me.

The very first time
an evil appeared,
I laughed and I laughed and
nearly laughed myself to death,
the world quite negligent.

I never meant to
service you, I laughed only
out of nervousness, you
then took advantage,
fed off it, grew.

And so time was the vacuum
the gods slipped through.
They went to the remotest heavens,
became removed.
Their voices echoing through
my nights did not console my hopes.
They spoke to me in sleep,
whispering, Eckliepsis,
Archilochus was right.

So now as some say the earth’s
days are lessening to none,
with rain forests disappearing
and global warming long begun,
theft, murder, rape,
victims burned at the stake,
homicides, suicides,
the orient’s enforced
more than one child abortion spermicide,
the hole in the ozone
unfriendly things might just slip through,
and all this plastic in the oceans
and all these chemicals in our food,

please take it all back,
I beg of you.

 

 

Perfect Circle of Dreamers
Monika John

There you go – sliding down the rabbit hole
unable to stop your plunge into the unknown.
Black shapes of monstrous whales
under the surface of deep dream seas
announce the impending descent.
You struggle to halt the momentum.

Gazing around you see nothing
until eyes become accustomed to the dark.
And there they are surrounding you –
others who fell against their own volition –
startled, disoriented, confused
by the strange space and emerging faces.

After some awkward silences one after one
speaks guardedly fearing exposure.
Tales are exchanged about subtle perceptions
that led to this very moment in time.
Private specters emerge, are shared.
An almost imperceptible flame arises.

The rabbit hole takes on a comforting glow.
Then one of them begins to dance her pain,
may even take a stranger’s hand in passing.
You no longer feel so bad about hidden grief
when learning that it was as clear to others
as a harvest moon in full bloom.

Before long everyone skips down a passageway
which only minutes before had been pitch black.
Twilight has become a trusted friend.
All are drawn by the beckoning light.
Shielding against bright sunshine they slip
into masks fashioned from fabric of dreams.

You may even look back to the mysterious den
with the faintest hint of nostalgia.
But you are ready to journey on
towards new crossroads, uncharted terrains,
perhaps you prance a few steps along the way.
Like a doe in a meadow you play with your shadow.

 

 

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