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.

The Virgin Mary Burns a Self-Portrait in Toast by Anna Ralls

The Virgin Mary Burns a Self-Portrait in Toast

I imagine the churches, their

pageants, their individual respective

marys, wearing blue

atop pale skin.  I pulled this strip

of barbed wire out of my bare heel

after a walk across the lawn.  I tap it

with my finger, and chip away

another crumb.  I think

of these midwestern marys, so

very new, like crisp corn.  Maybe a strand

of hair peeks out from a white head covering,

and it’s blonde, always blonde, or maybe

with a touch of strawberry,

like that willowy girl in Missouri who at sixteen is cast

as Mary for Christmas while her older sister, two inches shorter,

thirty-five pounds heavier, with auburn hair kept pixie cut,

picks with her fingernails at a wart on her right thumb.

I laugh, imagining them,

as I twist the wire,

burn my face darker

.                               into coarse bread.

About the Poet

Anna D. Ralls is an emerging writer from Columbia, MO. She is a graduate student at Oxford University, and her works are forthcoming or previously published in Contrary, Atticus, and Colorado Review. She currently lives in Bloomington, IN, and loves to spend her spare time singing opera with her husband.

Two Poems by Taylor Harrison Micks

Contest Between Harmony and Invention
The festival of lights is not about self knowing, or looking inward:
the flags strung up over the festival are a boat race more than
they are prayerflags, where by the docks we hear the harvestsong
from across the lake, and my throat is sore as if I sang it too.
And I tell you a sandpiper that I saw, reminded me of my own
lovemaking—his fleet-of-foot to the tide. Birdsteps, I can’t tell
if they’re cautious, following the tide where it swings, gone out
to where the dark waves are just a sound. Music of a garment
being torn, an orifice of the spirit closes with the stars overpowered
by the festival’s light. The sandpiper, called a curlew here,
becomes a shadow. Most dreams are gray like that, dreams I color-in
upon waking, but two of color, actually of dream color, came to me
last night and in the first, books piled high to the ceiling divided
us two. You lit a cigarette, said only desire could make us poor.
In the second, the wintercoats on the backs of chairs multiplied,
in every style, falling to the floor off the chairbacks like petals.

 

A Walk for Postage
Even I’m impressed at the jaunty tempo
mustered in my footfalls passed the assisted
living for folks in wheelchairs; always a few
puffing out front. I may be dizzy for love,
or dizzy for a provocateur. I see it
in the bobbing boughs. Of course I feel
it pout in my lungs. “Bazaar in a Jar”
is a church function apparently,
and the scalloped Art Deco makes one
wonder at the parishioners. Are they bashful?
Besmirched? — piling in the backseat
of a resurrection. Bleak overhead, the low
clouds in gradations of newsprint. Lonely
as a shepherdess, or however I might deign
to characterize a stranger, a woman in the park
dizzies herself — bowing and circling her tripod.
As though a mortal puncture has depressurized
my cabin, the shutterbug’s spaniel finishes
me in a mosaic gust of still-grain yellow leaves.
To have peace in giving away and receiving
is to become, oneself sacred. There was a limby
thistlebush the color of mica, its flowers demi-
secondeing up then low, floated away, lighter
than air at the touch of a yellow bird’s play
this morning, beholding flowers as though it
were me growing, them breathing. My eyes
dripped like fists.

 

About the Poet

Taylor Harrison Micks is a poet from Columbus, Ohio and an alumnus of Ohio State. He lives in Champaign, Illinois, studying for an MFA in Poetry at the University of Illinois, and has had poems published in Ninth Letter.

 

Adjustments by Aidan Coleman

 

Adjustments  

A cry swerves into sleep.

I fumble for an off switch.

*

A head nods and dips

like a buoy and floats away.

*

We wake towards

a bubbling inarticulacy.

 

About the Poet

Aidan Coleman’s two collections of poetry, Avenue and Runways and Asymmetry have been shortlisted for numerous national book awards in Australia. He writes Shakespeare textbooks and is a co-designer of the MOOC Shakespeare Matters with the AdelaideX project. His poems have been published in The AustralianThe AgeAustralian Book ReviewBest Australian PoemsThe Carolina QuarterlyPoetry Ireland Review and Virginia Quarterly Review. He lives in Adelaide.