The Walk

A poignant poem this morning from my friend Ryan Stone, along with a spectacular photo of a walk in the Dandenong’s.

days of stone

I wake a full hour early
for the rare gift
of a walk in the woods
with my father.

He is a silent giant
among misty ghost gums.
I tell him, Watch!
See how fast I can run.

He doesn’t yell when I trip
and fall, but lifts me
with unfamiliar,
calloused hands.

At the end of the trail
I study my grazes—jagged
and bloody. He tells me
he’s leaving my mum.

On the walk home
I gaze at the gum trees
and fragmented clouds, thinking
they should look different somehow.

Ryan Stone

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At 3 a.m.

This poem is a departure for me. I found myself channeling Hemingway after reading for the third or fourth time A Moveable Feast — perhaps the best and least known guidebook for Paris. My thanks to Scot at Rusty Truck for publishing it this week.

At 3 a.m.
after one more day
without words, Paris
takes you in like a whore,
not surprised you’re back
for another fuck in the dark.
November. Brittle rain
scrapes the bone.
You walk the sheen of cobbles
to the Seine, where bodies,
freshly guillotined, once floated,
heads left behind in baskets,
past the great cathedral, gargoyled,
buttressed, to the boîte
on St. Louis where absinthe
and jazz make love, and a girl
comes to rub against you
like she knows your name.

– Sarah Russell
first published in Rusty Truck
for Poets United Poetry Pantry
Photo by Nicolas Vigier

The Boatman

A haunting poem today by Carolyn Forché that highlights the refugee crisis. Poetry Foundation published it this week, but I didn’t see a way to reblog, so here it is in its entirety.

We were thirty-one souls all, he said, on the gray-sick of sea
in a cold rubber boat, rising and falling in our filth.
By morning this didn’t matter, no land was in sight,
all were soaked to the bone, living and dead.
We could still float, we said, from war to war.
What lay behind us but ruins of stone piled on ruins of stone?
City called “mother of the poor” surrounded by fields
of cotton and millet, city of jewelers and cloak-makers,
with the oldest church in Christendom and the Sword of Allah.
If anyone remains there now, he assures, they would be utterly alone.
There is a hotel named for it in Rome two hundred meters
from the Piazza di Spagna, where you can have breakfast under
the portraits of film stars. There the staff cannot do enough for you.
But I am talking nonsense again, as I have since that night
we fetched a child, not ours, from the sea, drifting face-
down in a life vest, its eyes taken by fish or the birds above us.
After that, Aleppo went up in smoke, and Raqqa came under a rain
of leaflets warning everyone to go. Leave, yes, but go where?
We lived through the Americans and Russians, through Americans
again, many nights of death from the clouds, mornings surprised
to be waking from the sleep of death, still unburied and alive
but with no safe place. Leave, yes, we obey the leaflets, but go where?
To the sea to be eaten, to the shores of Europe to be caged?
To camp misery and camp remain here. I ask you then, where?
You tell me you are a poet. If so, our destination is the same.
I find myself now the boatman, driving a taxi at the end of the world.
I will see that you arrive safely, my friend, I will get you there.

Poem by Carolyn Forché
Photo source

 

Even For Winter

Strength and sadness and anger in Rajani Radhakrishnan‘s words.

THOTPURGE

they sat there in the evening light, cups of tea
and hot bhajiyas on the plastic table, people calling
out from the street as they passed, asking about their
children, their mothers, even as their wives waited
in their kitchens and bedrooms, they sat there and
thought about a pink cheeked girl, how they could
steal her, keep her, break her, destroy her, and they
smiled at the people passing and asked for more tea
and took calls from uncles and brothers and the birds
sang as they came back to their nests and they talked
of a child and how they would kidnap her and sedate
her and who would rape her and who would kill her
even as their wives waited in their kitchens and
bedrooms and their mothers prayed in temples so
their sons would live longer and they asked for more
tea and smoked cigarettes till…

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Bathsheba, Bathing

She doesn’t know King David watches,
doesn’t know his lust — blind
to her virtue, her marriage.

I serve this most beautiful of women,
make the water warm, the soap fragrant.
I pour sweet oil between her breasts,
watch it drip on thighs and belly.

She is wed to Uriah, away at war,
but she’s lonely for men’s praise,
looks often in the basin
to measure her own beauty.

I fear the king’s desire. Their eyes meet,
and I know his will is hers as well.
God will smite them in their coupling.

What will become of me who keeps
their secrets? Are my loyalties to king
or God or to my mistress whom I love
as David loves her, as Uriah loves her.
My secrets must remain more secret still.

– Sarah Russell
First published in Ekphrastic Review
Based on Bathsheba by Jean Leon Gerome, 1899
For dVerse and for Poets United

 

 

 

Stevieslaw: My poem “Breakdown” just appeared in Nixes Mate Review

This fine poem by my friend Steve Deutsch was published today by Nixes Mate Review.

Stevie's Law

New in Issue 7 of Nixes Mate http://nixesmate.pub/issue-7-spring-2018/Review

Breakdown

On that endless day in February –
when I found out
you wouldn’t be coming home,
I hitched a ride to Lewistown
in a car so beat up
it might have been lifted
from a junkyard on Route 220.
The delinquents that drove it
were thoroughly stoned
and moved in fractal time –
abruptly, like mechanical dolls
wound for infinity.
We took the grade
down Seven Mountains sideways
laughing at fuck knows what.

They tossed me out
at the train station
just over the river –
a place so desolate and cold
the vegetation that grew there
could not be found
anywhere else on earth
I sat on the icy asphalt
and cradled my backpack,
as if the contents –
some ludes and librium,
two nickel bags,
rolled sweat socks,
and a stuffed dog named Lucky,
could save me from the…

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Sin Collector

One of my favorite poets published this poem on Ekphrastic Review, one of my favorite sites. Can’t figure out how to reblog from ER, so I’ll reblog from Rajani’s site.

THOTPURGE

still-life-with-five-bottles-1884.jpg!Portrait

Still Life with Five Bottles: Vincent van Gogh

Collecting sins in old bottles, the days reach out and drop them
in like pebbles, still smelling of fond river beds. Yesterday, it was

the temptation of an improbable love, too big to fit into that
slim hipped flask, but sin is pliable, twists and changes as it is

gathered, as we change its name, change its colour, make it
bearable in the morning. When all those hours, all those words,

all that feel of skin on skin has been corked, when the bottles fill
the shelves and rooms and toss and turn on the breasts of the

tides, when everything has been cleansed and bathed and the rain
never stops falling, tell me then, when did love become a mistake.

Thank you Lorette C. Luzajic, for publishing my poem at The Ekphrastic Review.

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Cleats by Joseph Mills

What a great poem this morning on one of my favorite poetry blogs — Autumn Sky Poetry Daily. Editor Christine Klocek-Lim’s selections are always spot-on, and this one touches my memories of my own kids’ teenaged years.

Autumn Sky Poetry Daily

Cleats

After practice, my son kicks off his cleats
and leaves them under the front seat.
He treats the van like a storage locker,
draping his uniform and sweats around.
The daughter complains each morning
as I take her to school. The cleats smell.
They’re in her way. It’s not fair. I agree
with all of these points, and yet I don’t
tell the son to move them. For one,
it’s yet another argument I’m too tired
to have. There are already so many things
I’m prodding him about: homework,
showers, closing doors, drinking water …
and, to be honest, I kind of like them there,
this mark of the boy, these muddy talismans.
He used to hold my hand as he fell asleep,
and once he pulled his fingers away,
picked his nose, then slid them back in my palm.
Yes, this is love, I thought then, holding snot

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The Contents

This is perfection. Thank you, Ms. Bridgewater and Eunoia.

Eunoia Review

After the tremors and reverberations of the explosions have passed, Mr. Beauchamp emerges, brave on feeble legs, from the tiny flea circus of a studio overlooking Beirut. His grey beard is somber enough for the occasion, thick with saline as he views his smoking city through an afghan of debris. A woman wailing swallows her sobs long enough to watch familiar Mr. Beauchamp head toward the square. He scrapes his box along the ground, lifting it gently at every step and crevice, though it may weigh more than his fragile, tweed-clad body.

The black box looks funerary, ancient paint chipped to reveal splinters of the light wood from which it is constructed, the cold metal handle small enough to dig uncomfortably into any hand that might attempt to carry it. The box is unusually heavy; most people pick it up twice, attempting once and then re-thinking their technique. If they…

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