Two Poems by Andrew Osborne

An image in three parts

§1

Then, feeling there was no other way

to go through life, I wrote a confession

§2

From myself having been hidden by nerves,

a voice took up, made a dwelling in me.

I wrote until I saw and felt ashamed.

 

But just as often I would give way to

some image offered by nostalgia,

which in its fading seemed suffused with light.

 

The next day, feeling entirely false,

I would have to begin writing again,

would catch myself there with gaze turned elsewhere.

 

What is out there would appear in transcripts

of private impressions— there, myself,

always being put at a distance so

 

that touch, which brought to me in its own light

a category of the natural,

could be true— as it is already

 

in the contours of life as it is lived.

All that plate glass through which the world to life

is brought close— out there what is meant by will.

 

§3

I am moved by Renoir’s Alfred Sisley:

The right shoulder estranged from bright nature

(being out beyond the open window),

but the left offering hope of dissolve.

 

A way of living already in place,

I have kept myself close to where I am—

never allowing it to approach me,

touch me and thereby reconfigure me;

 

 

What place in me could contain there

§1

I have lately made a career reading

about the problem of self-consciousness.

Sitting down early to work, it becomes

doubtless that I will die without knowing,

still waiting for me to come to myself.

There have been depths constituted in me

by turning from my surface, that mere ground—

having long been afraid of what spirit

dwells in me, what kind of soul takes shape from

an irregular flow of sensations.

When it visits, I am overtaken—

having had too much coffee or having

been sedentary, unmoved, for too long

—until it departs of its own accord.

Then I feel it is some concept, some thought,

that forms life: the world as is, what is there

without understanding, terrifies me.

When I can exhaust my body in work

and it is merely felt, without cover,

I—in that moment of revelation;

of feeling my hand move in the darkness,

like soil being turned over again

—long to have been there always, opened out.

§2

I was shown an autobiography

and have been reading it for nearly four

years now: This work, in which I find the truth,

pulls me from myself into a clearing.

I have waited for each volume, and have

read the most recent one impatiently

in my backyard, at a splintered table,

sometimes losing my place because a gust

of cold air reminds me that I cannot

forget to plan for Christmas holiday.

My dog moves through the yard with her nose to

the ground, sensing the coming of a new

year in the smell of matter passing on—

a smell, I find myself hoping, distinct

from the carcasses of birds, which she hears

as well. What speaks in them I do not know.

Near the end of undergraduate work,

when something new in me had begun, I

read Schelling’s treatise on human freedom:

—We will struggle to remain in the light

once we feel the depths from which we have been

lifted into existence, he writes there.

More than all I have read, this remains true.

Schelling wrote this in the context of an

ongoing metaphysical debate:

In the sense Spinoza meant, is God here?

Schelling posits an original will,

made objective, open, in works of art.

In art our will, desire, confronts us;

in what we make, the divine is with us.

Augustine, when young, took into himself

different heresies moving throughout

God’s creation. One day, in a garden,

he heard the Lord in the words of Saint Paul,

to whom the divine appeared as a light.

Between Paul and Augustine the divine

had been reduced to the words of the Saints,

and in the time of Luther it will speak

only in the quiet of our conscience;

a voice without a throat in the stillness.

The will of God becoming—change—weighs on

the future Saint: If the Lord is perfect

and the world merely his manifesting

his will, why do things develop in time?

Augustine believes the mystery will

be resolved if he can focus his thoughts,

withdraw them from here below. He writes, as

an act of prostration, the Confessions.

§3

Often there are weeks (once an entire

February) in which, out in its midst,

I find I am only myself, morning

bringing relief in the work to be done.

Whatever is physical about the

world—whatever is equally expressed

in the equation and the feeling of

cold when I push myself out into the

morning—persists in spite of what I think.

Should I give way to the force of life or

should I disavow it as unholy,

it will be there still; as though life moves in

a shoal, land having given way to drift.

A few weeks ago, I woke to vomit.

It continued for a few hours, and

then it finally eased. I made my way

to bed and put on music to calm me,

but it made me weep like some old mystic.

This thing which I am—the atom, the string,

a bit of matter turned back on itself—

had come apart and would remain apart.

Longing, I called out of work and ordered

the Upanishads; they now reside on

a shelf my eyes pass over when I sit

down to work unread, before I focus

my gaze on the laptop in front of me.

It makes me ashamed when I see it there.

A reminder that I will struggle to

find myself again in light and that I

won’t care for the light once I am in it:

a recess where the soul takes itself up.

Two Poems by J.L. Moultrie

Astral / Insignia

 something fragile

undone

 

something fervent

shunned

 

we’re often

mistaken for others

 

looking for a mind

other than this

 

it became clearer

in the thaw of spring

 

it became clearer

in that quarrel inside of you

 

the interior of those moments

doused in forbidden aims

 

we planned to circumvent

the chaste flames

 

they lived as we did

in a language that held us

 

a spell of rain

made me notice the blushing sky

 

some simple pain

falling into the crevice of my mind

 

it is hard to ignore

the brook and ravine

 

the heath and meadow

revealing the stain between

 

something articulate

and ill framed

 

Self-Portrait

 Looking past

the dissonant flowers

my body comes apart

in stilted frames

 

Serenading the ancients

we’re pounds of flesh

inhibiting the

warmth of discord

 

The sprawling pain

like seamless

impassible walls

separates each revelatory day

 

Finding ways out of

my skin proves difficult

the years levitate

about our inherited clay

 

To exist is

a brief fit of ambivalence

a dance in

subterranean tombs

 

About the Poet
J.L. Moultrie is a native Detroiter, poet and fiction writer who communicates his art through the written word. He fell in love with literature after encountering Fyodor Dostoyevsky, James Baldwin, Rainer Maria Rilke and many others. He considers himself a literary abstract artist of modernity.

 

Two Poems by Phil Ginsburg

Time Warp

Years pass and I thought I had landed safely.

But then an unscheduled flight of memory pilots me to that place I vowed never to visit again.

And there I am with the same baggage I unpacked years ago, landing at the same gate, greeted by Larry, the same limo driver.

“Welcome back,” he smirks. “Will you be staying long?”

“No, not this time, I tell him.

“That’s what you said last time,” he replies.

“ I know.” I say.

I excuse myself to use the airport restroom and immediately book a return flight.

Last time I drove with Larry he took me out of my way and then claimed it was to avoid all that inconvenient road work.

I think I believed him then, but not now.
Sometimes the devil is in the detours.
Hope with Toppings
I’ve gained weight.
My doctor asked if my diet had changed.

I told him I have been gorging on hope.

He said, “you need to monitor that, because hope deferred will make your heart sick.”

Turns out he was right. The next day Hope decided what I really needed for a season was a diet of disappointment.

“It would be good for you” he said. You’ll thank me for it later.”

Sure enough, overnight the promises I once fed on began to taste like hospice haute cuisine —those pimento cream cheese tea sandwiches they serve as afternoon snacks to the terminally ill.

My heart went on a hunger strike.

They forced fed me with an intravenous solution of positive placebos and eventually  released me.

But something happened last night last night amid the movable feast of the unforeseeable—hope showed up at my door with a three topping 16 inch pizza.

Turns out he had the wrong address.

It was for Lucille, my next door neighbor, who recently lost her husband Mike to pancreatic cancer.

I was happy the pizza was for her. She too had suffered a diet of disappointment for a season.

Five minutes later she called and asked if I would like to help her eat that pie.
Of course I said yes.

We ate. We talked.We laughed. I actually liked the pineapple topping. With every bite we both felt an appetite for hope rise up within us, like one of those self rising pizza crusts they advertise on television.

Speaking of crusts, Lucille remarked how the crust on our pizza tasted nothing at all like those awful hospice haute cuisine tea sandwiches.

And I had every reason to believe her.

About the Poet
Phil Ginsburg is a poet/playwright. His work has been published in United States, England and Israel. Phil’s plays have appeared on stages in Colorado and New York City. His short play “Another Day in Polka-Topia” won the John Mineri Award in 2012 at the (now closed)  Globe Repertory Theater in New York. He is the author of three poetry chapbooks books available at poorrichardsdowntown in Colorado Springs. His performance poetry can be streamed here. Phil’s musical “Almost Jerusalem” was the libretto winner of the 2019 International Moon dance Film Festival.

Captured by Helen Doran-Wu

Captured

1
Me dad worked on the docks. Sometimes a banana managed to fall out of a crate and he would bring it home as a treat.
He’s just sitting there blinking beneath the lights and Virtual Reality cameras. The beads of sweat running down his cheek.

He got me a sheetmetal worker apprenticeship at the ship yards. Me mam hit me over the head when I tried to keep the money.
No one’s going to care about, let alone watch, this rubbish. A shrivelled old man talking about last century and another place.

Am I doing alright? Is this the kind of thing you want?
He thinks I can’t see him assessing me from under his lashes. Him and his blood shot eyes. But I can. Next he’ll be sucking his teeth and laughing.

Jazz night at the Tavern brought in the best girls. Your mum didn’t normally come in on jazz nights but she came that night.
Oh, there he goes. Choking on his own laugh. I’ll have to try and get the right shade of blue when they re-colour his eyes.

We wanted a better life in Australia but the desolation nearly killed us. Then there was the flies and naked flames in the workshops. Bastards!
A shame I can’t completely edit him out of my life.

All that talk of the Tavern and heat has given me a terrible thirst. Ah, a liquid lunch?
A photo would have been much quicker.

2

Me dad worked on the docks. Sometimes a banana managed to fall out of a crate and he would bring it home as a treat.
I adjust the VR goggles to bring Grandad into focus.

He got me a sheetmetal apprenticeship at the ship yards. Me mam hit me over the head when I tried to keep the money.
He’s staring at the floor. Like a scared rabbit. He knew she was embarrassed. Angry.

Jazz night at the Tavern brought in the best girls. Your mum didn’t normally come in on jazz nights but she came that night.
No wonder she died early.

We wanted a better life in Australia but the desolation nearly killed us. Then there was the flies and naked flames in the workshops.
The need for a wine worms in the pit of my stomach and up my throat.
 
Time for lunch?
Mum’s AI wouldn’t approve if I turn up smelling of wine. Those things are too bloody clever.

 

About the Poet
Helen Doran-Wu lives in Perth, Australia. She is a mature-aged MA student at Curtin University. Giving up full-time work was the best decision of her life.

 

Amuse-Bouche for Lulu by Emily Wall

Amuse-Bouche for Lulu

.                                        –       a pantoum

I sit at your scrubbed wooden table, in that perfect hunger

before you pick up the mortar and pestle, a few small olives, garlic.

Outside the window grow the flavors of Provence: smoky, sweet.

Like this, you show me, grinding the pestle.  Now, you try it.

 

Before you pick up the mortar and pestle, a few small olives, garlic,

you remind me it’s not about how it looks. It’s humble, this small toast.

Like this, you show me, grinding the pestle.  You try it.

Garlic, olives, oil.  That’s it.  Don’t get fancy, don’t show off

 

you scold me.  It’s not about how it looks.  It’s humble, this small toast.

I bring it to my mouth, and I fall in love:  with garlic, with Lulu, with my body.

Garlic, olives, oil. Maybe capers.  But that’s it.  Don’t get fancy, don’t show off,

just taste, just breathe.  Just remember.

 

I bring it to my mouth, and I fall in love. Garlic, Lulu, my body:

eyes closed, I see my pure self, in the kitchen in Berkeley.  At my table.

I just taste, just breathe.  Then I remember

that the secret is foraging.  To find the farmer who loves garlic.

 

Eyes closed, I see my pure self in the kitchen in Berkeley.  At my table

a farmer tells me about a woman growing olives, out in the foothills.

Learn the secrets:  forage, meet the farmer who loves garlic.

I stand in the market, and the olive grower hands me one olive.  I bite its dark skin.

 

That farmer told me about this woman who grows olives out in the foothills.

Jeremiah and I could use these.  I think of a hungry woman, who will come tonight.

As I stand in the market, the olive grower hands me another olive.  I bite.

That hungry woman, who has maybe never felt the weight of a pestle, needs this food.

 

Jeremiah and I can use these tonight.  I think of the hungry woman, who will come

and how this olive grower, and me, and the woman, will touch: hand to table to tongue.

This woman, who has maybe never felt the weight of a pestle, needs this food.

I open my eyes, and there you are, Lulu, pure oil on your hands. Anointed.

 

This olive grower, and me, and the woman, will touch: hand to table to tongue.

Outside the window grow the flavors of Berkeley: smoky, sweet.

I open to you, Lulu, pure oil on your hands. Anointed,

I sit at your scrubbed wooden table.  In perfect hunger.

 

About the Poet

Emily Wall is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Alaska.  She has been published in a wide variety of literary journals in the US and Canada, most recently in Prairie Schooner and Alaska Quarterly Review.  In 2013 she won a statewide contest and a poem of hers was placed in Totem Bight State Park in Ketchikan, Alaska.  Her first two books were published by Salmon Poetry. Her most recent collection, titled Breaking into Air, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press.  Emily lives and writes in Juneau, Alaska.

Two Poems by Jan Wiezorek

Litany
We have sunlight to keep us from sleep, but we take
candles in glass and set them around cut logs

from seasons when cold was sufficient. Squirrels
beg light like seed spread along pottery.

Day- and candlelight compete as our imaginary
bear raises her snout to the fragrance of French linen.

The raccoon stiffens in burial among moss.
We pattern it like a lamp that once swung

across heavens, as if it were a sanctuary.
We fear wounds and know doves will

fly to us for food as we walk from glass
to glass and blow. By then all light will

end, and we will hold hands so as not
to slip on the logs that brace our souls.

 

Catechumens
He is in the niche across from the painting
that says I want to be stolen and sold

for firewood. She rests in the pew
and scratches love letters in the shellac.

Several have found the pain of kneeling
calming in the presence of desire, gold-plated

and on sale in the gift shop. One is leaving
the empty confessional and cannot accept mercy.

I see others running toward the lawn,
cutting their toes on the mower blade.

They scrape the fence and seek balm
to salve the sting. Many choose

to string beads and mark thoughts
to fingerings that float from light

to sorrow to joy, uncertain where each begins
or how to stop this revolve inside ourselves.

About the Poet
Jan Wiezorek has taught writing at St. Augustine College, Chicago, and his poetry has appeared or is forthcoming at The London Magazine, Southern Pacific Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, Bindweed Magazine, Literary Juice, Elsewhere, FIVE:2:ONE, Random Sample, Squawk Back, Tuck Magazine, Panoplyzine, Better Than Starbucks, and Schuylkill Valley Journal. He is author of Awesome Art Projects That Spark Super Writing (Scholastic, 2011) and holds a master’s degree in English Composition/Writing from Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago. Visit him at janwiezorek.weebly.com.

Two Photos by Fabrice B. Poussin

If Only

 

In the Air of Beauty

 

About the Artist

Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. He is an author of novels and poetry and his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and dozens of other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review and more than 170 other publications.

Nine Walking Dreams by Hilary Sallick

Nine Walking Dreams

1.
When suddenly
I wanted to speak to you
a thought appeared     on its own
free of context
I tried to imagine the rest
to make the fragment into a form
of communication
But nothing I was able to say
was what was necessary
It was then I began speaking
with fewer and fewer
words
2.
There was a shape
I wanted to copy in words
natural and glamorous
like a spider-web
graceful      not quite invisible
catching the light     dazzling with dew
It was a shape that could be named
It had a theme  an intention
a meaning visible in itself
Only by almost forgetting
the idea of such a form
was I able to begin
3.
I walked home
carrying two bags
In one      pomegranates   asparagus   wine
a weight of ease and richness
In the other   three books
reminding me of my leisure
how I could choose their offer
of a kind of power
to be found within
for good
In my eyes    more beauty
the willow
rising above the buildings
the little trees turning gold
In my mind    a voice
speaking to me   only to me
I was careful
of my carelessness
I guarded my delight
as I walked home
4.
What the very old person needs
is what the baby needs
and what we all need
So we can learn from them
They can show us
what matters
They don’t want what they don’t need
They want something more
than food water sleep touch
For the old man to need all this
from us
can be terrible
But it isn’t
Because he needs something more
What is it?
He needs to be seen
in his dreams
He needs to be remembered
5.
He composed this poem on the spot:
The dream was walking
It took one step
and another step
It kept going
the same two steps over and over
It came to a staircase
It took a step up    It took another step
And then      because—
because of the agony
of finding no meaning
to those same two steps repeating
it decided       to stop
6.
He told me:
Today I had a very disturbing experience
They came and took me away somewhere
It was a large amphitheater
completely dark
I didn’t know where I was
I didn’t have my billfold my credit cards
I was naked as a jaybird
Then in the darkness I heard my name called
It was terrifying
Other names followed
I connected it with an occasion honoring social scientists
who had made contributions to understanding the life course
They were going to ask me some questions
There was no one to help me
I couldn’t speak because there was no one to listen
I tried to ask for help
I tried
but there was no one
No, it wasn’t a dream!
It’s probably in The New York Times
I bet it’s in there
7.
I keep trying to really see the sky
because the day before he died
he looked in the direction of the window
for long minutes his eyes listening unafraid
and not wanting to interrupt I studied his face
then the vast blue sky
in silence       and the next day
I raised the blinds for him again      just in case his eyes
which were open unblinking fixed
could feel the light
because a tear ran out each corner
once or twice     and I didn’t know if it meant something
or nothing
because he couldn’t speak or chose not to or
was past speech
and because I want the sentence to lead me somewhere
as if the ending could be an answer
because the hour is here again and the blue
is shining through voluptuous clouds
I keep looking
8.
The chair is empty
For days no one has come to the table
moved the papers
written  a line
No one has raised the shades
looked out the cold window
No one has seen the sky from there
Through the eyes
of that room
There’s no touch no plan
no arranging
There’s no trying to begin
or end
It’s a useless room
No one uses it
Even so
the room is there
Behind the door
A chair a table three windows sky
9.
I walk in here
It’s the stillest room in the house
The door closes behind me
Light pours in
and warms the silence
in which I listen
in which nothing needs to happen
except
whatever happens
About the Poet
Hilary Sallick’s chapbook, Winter Roses, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press, and her poems have appeared recently in the Aurorean, Third Wednesday, and The Human Journal. She is an adult literacy teacher in Somerville, MA, and the vice-president of the New England Poetry Club.

Two Poems by Eunha Choi

In the Land of Opaque Realities
Pondering in the land of opaque realities
Where facts are fictionalized
And the aberrant notion of post-truth
Emerges with despicable pomp
Asking the difference between
Fantasy conspiracy and utopia
incessantly on an increasingly
Silent confused bewildered crowd

To distribute due blame and shame
Distinctions among the three shout urgency
Urgent emergency potency now
Distinguish us, they unabashedly shout
Whipping each other to keep each discrete apart
Now, distinguish us to keep salutary distance from
The incipient catastrophe of language meaning
Everything and nothing all at once. One breath.

Strained drained now lethargic mind
Must be summoned this autumn night
When most sleep and some weep and few plot
Mind, distant and cool, leveled and constant
In an multiplying territory of transcending lies

Mind, wake now
From slumber dormant rhythm
of numbing requiems
Heed the towering voices of Brahms’s chorus
In his building German requiem otherwise
Follow the sharps and flats to draw the labyrinthine outside
From

Slumber distraction soul-slashing sameness
Where both the aesthete and philistine perish
Both in the name of unclassified art
Wake mind, emerge from phantom state
Rise susceptible to emanating gradations of
Warm icy lights generating placating
shrill sounds
Inhabiting the raspy silky blankets of skin
Grown parched and sullen gradually
Suddenly
Upon the nocturnal bright concealment
Of truth running frightened away from lies

 

 

Excess
Times of a putrid self-inflicted inability to say
.                                                        no
enough no more
                     have alas arrived. Where has the preference
for just balance scampered to?

Golden teeth through which bolstering lies

jump

like spigots filled with ancient venom

A bewildering taste for
                          the monstrous aberrant

conditions preserved conserved pickled for a long howl

in mouths palates once inclined for palette shade regularity

many are the names to call this existential, moral

malaise

even the burden to name has ceased to matter

whatever compass worked last year and the many

before doesn’t anymore
.                                             alarm sirens go off
all night and day: every single instant of the regulated
clock and the insensible mind

what is that?, mounting they ask

… thunderous silence strikes

we have lost the ability to name excess as well

doesn’t matter if you its excreting insides inhabit another word
the broken puncturing shell of another word

its greenish yellow with putrefied odor yanks quick allusion

.                       . to itself

 

About the Poet

Eunha Choi is an Adjunct Instructor at Lehman College. Situated where literature, cinema and philosophy meet and fail to meet, her research interrogates realism less as an aesthetic or literary form of representation than as an always in flux theory of the real and a model of critique. Her recent publication appears in Pacific Coast Philology, Confluencia, Ciberletras and Chasqui among others.