Five poems by Holly Day

Mouse Trap

The little mice watch me from their prison of tin and plexiglass
inside the live mouse trap I baited the night before. Four little mice
with pointed noses and trembling whiskers
eyes black and bulging against their dark brown fur.
I wonder how I must appear to them, this giant thing
that they spend their days avoiding, rushing from one dark corner
to another at the sound of my footsteps, and now
there’s nowhere left to go, they wandered into this baited box
and now I have them in my curious grasp.

I tap on the little plexiglass window and they
rush to the corners of the box,
cram themselves into the entrance chute, their thin black tails
twitching and curling, hanging out in the open. I imagine
what it would be like to keep them as pets, these stinky little mice
what it would be like to train these wild mice to live in a cage
to eat only when food is offered, and only what I alone offer them
if eventually, they would learn to anticipate my arrival
at the door of their cage with joy, or if
they would always be just as terrified of me as this?

 

Up

You can’t let the universe overwhelm you, can’t let
the infinite reaches of space intimidate you.
You can’t let the size of a star convince you
that you don’t exist, you don’t matter, you do.

Even a tiny mote of dust
floating in the air, pinned by a sunbeam
occasionally reflects the light just enough
to become the brightest object in the room
a flash of unexpected brilliance.

 

Zaire

Yesterday is a river that swallows all rivers.
Everything that came before this morning is part of the same
itinerant body of water. There’s no need to keep track.
I emerge from yesterday washed clean
of everything that came before, brand new, I insist
that we treat this person I am as a brand new me with no past
no past at all.

There is an island in the Amazon
strewn with the bodies of discarded dolls
offerings to some child long gone. I imagine
you’d like to make offerings to a similar child in me
some ghost child you can blame for tantrums
the way I talk in my sleep when I’m scared.

In my dreams, I am suffocating all of the ghosts
that keep me from being a brand new person,
a person without a past. I hold their wide-eyed faces
down in the water until the bubbles stop.
I insist on a new name every day.
I will only answer to these new names until
all of the old parts of me are gone.

 

Nowhere ‘Til April

In my desk is a picture  of a jungle from somewhere
warm and green that a friend once sent me, said I could go there
live in his family’s abandoned farm any time I’d like
there’s no plumbing or electricity there and sometimes snakes
make getting to the front door difficult, but here is a picture
and I  can stay there.

I can feel the edges of the green photograph in my pocket
when I walk the dog in the winter, when I wait for her to take a crap
hovering in apparent agony over the ankle-deep snow. I can go there
any time I’d like, and there would be snakes but it would be warm.

 

Stranded

When your parents are gone, all of the unanswered questions
must be written on pieces of paper and shoved in between rocks
whispered into tape recorders held by spiritualists

shouted from the top of a hill into a sky full of stars.
there are oracles in the caverns beneath toppled Aztec ruins
trees that take questions in spirit forests in Estonia

but all of these
are ineffective conduits for grief.

..

Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Plainsongs, The Long Islander, and The Nashwaak Review. Her newest poetry collections are In This Place, She Is Her Own (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), A Wall to Protect Your Eyes (Pski’s Porch Publishing), Folios of Dried Flowers and Pressed Birds(Cyberwit.net), Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), and  Into the Cracks(Golden Antelope) 

Three poems by John Grey

STRANGER TO ME

Some memories are thin air.
Or they take vacations,
for years, some of them.

And they’re lazy.
Not workaholics like
the ones I’m pleased to remember.

Or they’re restless
like the people in them,
don’t stick around for
when I want to recall.

Or they’re considerate,
slip away, knowing that
a mind is limited,
and room must be available
for ideas.

As to why
you’re a stranger to me,
some memories are good
at taking orders.

 

THEN CAME THE DARK

The day is long but not long enough
for now the dark grimly enters the picture.

My lights come on automatically,
to mimic my breath and my heartbeat.

The closer I am to my destination,
the more endless the journey feels.

Earlier, the horizon guided me.
Now the road ahead disappears into oblivion.

Even though I know where I am
and where I’m going, the night is unsettling.

For this information is now mine alone.
I don’t know what I should be doing with it.

 

WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE I ONCE KNEW?

I can’t remember.
All I can come up with
is the white-eyed blankness of a china doll.
No dreams possess the face.
Can’t say “I love you”
or even “Don’t count on it.”

And this other one.
The corrugated gray hair is familiar.
But I try for flesh and I get galvanized iron.

And a third.
She’s surely sputtering words at me –
a banjo-twanging southern drawl –
but her expressions don’t follow.
There’s no one there.

The surrounds have taken the impress
of so many people.
But they’re no good with faces.
Give them skulls
and they stretch skin over,
unwrinkled, unknowable,
tight as drumheads.

..
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in
Midwest Quarterly, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work
upcoming in South Florida Poetry Journal, Hawaii Review and the Dunes
Review.

Five poems by Alisa Velaj

HRABAL*

It’s so cold that breaths are freezing up,
pigeons are numb under roofs,
the mist o’er the snow mums in unbroken silence…

One bygone February, in Prague,
Hrabal had a vision of the most peaceful season,
while trying to feed the poor pigeons…
Then…cherubim simphonies blasted from heavens!

Hrabal     Hrabal     Hrabal
The 5th floor of the hospital echoed the knell
for the least fulfilling journey of the Man,
who melted frost away from guitar strings!

February 2019

______

* Bohumil Hrabal (1914-1997) – distinguished dissident Czech writer.

 

Translated from Albanian by Arben P. Latifi

.. 

SNOWY SILENCE…

– 1-

A diaphanous dawn stretches lazily over trees.
A blackbird, here and there, atop leafless branches.
The sky, on its part, pours on us bleaching light…

-2 –

Oh, long must we have slept under the red roof!
What the stars didn’t say, still reached us as hushed gossip.
– I’m all a magnolia flower, the girl whispers to her lover.
He scans her in thoughtful silence, a snowy silence.

– 3 –

– What’s that bird looking for while hovering on and on?
– The sunflower hidden somewhere unknown, my fir tree.
He then eyes the tree trunks and his beloved,
lets a flammea flower shoot out of his chest,
and marvels at her till the next sunset…

– 4 –

A sunflower, perhaps, in every blackbird’s mind.
A flammea, not only where it sprouts…
A dream that red roofs dearly miss. A flame blazing in a corporal cloud!

 

Translated from Albanian by Arben P. Latifi

..

 

SNOW-BLANKETED HORSES

It’s no surprise their eyes are startled. Snow flakes mingle with their manes. They look down for an instant and then throw a fixed, prolonged gaze at some pointless direction. Suddenly, one of them snorts and turns his eyes toward me. There is so much innocence deep inside them! Like the babies’ eyes trying to get accustomed to the light. The longer they look at you, the more peaceful those pupils grow! And I feel so ungrateful, when I think of the fire awaiting me at home, on the mountain peak. For I do have a holy fire that eternally waits for me. These creatures, instead, will remain lonely by the barren trees, subject to the empathetic sighting by travelers like me, which, after all, remains just casual sighting…

 

 

Translated from Albanian by Arben P. Latifi

 

 

NOMADIC

The broad-shouldered man is indifferent to the snow.
He rules abandonment out by way of tunes.
Leaning onto him, his wife enjoys the organ music and winks.
They lull the woods and thaw the snow away…
Friends with the blackbird, afore and after her migration,
Migrant nomads of Dionysian blood they remain! 

 

 

Translated from Albanian by Arben P. Latifi

 

 ,, 

I NEVER AWAITED LOVE AT SUNDOWN

 

I never waited for love at sundown.
Pilgrims arrive, bulging with sorrows,
or nomads, often wandering purely at random…

Never did I wait for love at sundown.
Dusks and nights, one shouldn’t be allured
by bodies earlier unknown on the full map of light
(if it so happens, they’re merely fake lures).

On a narrow path, from a cliff behind firs,
I’ve watched for love like a blind man craves eyesight.
Ah, I know love’s whims!
It tends to steer away from flowery build-ups…

 

Translated from Albanian by Arben P. Latifi

,,

Alisa Velaj was born in 1982 in Albania. She has been shortlisted for the Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in 2014. Her poetry have been published or are forthcoming in CultureCult Magazine, Stag Hill Literary Journal , The Quarterly Review, Orbis, The Linnet’s Wings, The Stockholm Review of Literature, Poetry Space Showcase, The Seventh Quarry, among other publications. Her poetry collection, With No Sweat At All, will be published by Cervana Barva Press in 2019.

Wen I Get to Heaven, by Joe Balaz

Wen I get to heaven

if I get to heaven

dey going give me
wun pair of wings.

Wen I have dem attached

I going soon find myself
in front of wun towering podium

wheah wun seraph
wit wun lawyer’s necktie

will begin to present
all of my devilish deeds.

 

On each reference

wun baldheaded cherub
smoking wun cigar

going come up behind me
and pluck out wun feather.

 

No doubt
wen my session is ovah

I’ll find myself

stuck on some isolated cloud
wit aerial nubs

watching everyone else
fly around in evahlasting bliss.

 

To make mattahs worse

even my harp strings
will be broken.

 

Wit such anticipated
good fortune

I would probably
be bettah off in hell

shooting craps
foa wun glass of watah.

..

Joe Balaz has created works in American English and Hawaiian Islands Pidgin (Hawai’i Creole English).
He presently lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and he is the author of Pidgin Eye

The Testimony of the Skaters and the Transcript on the Rink by Emily Martin, reviewed by Clara B. Jones

AAA_Emily

Emily Martin
The Testimony of the Skaters and the Transcript on the Rink
2019
Gauss PDF
http://dl.gauss-pdf.com/GPDF275-EM-TTOTSATTOTR.pdf

Unpaginated (16 pp)

 

Crosshind
Hinging outward and then turning in
Is it not a return to order
I will turn toward
I will not be able to help it
Passive voice as dream logic
Exaltation

Emily Martin (2019)

Many articles and books have been written in an attempt to describe and define “experimental” poetry. Victor Shklovsky’s 1917 manifesto, “Art as Technique,” remains one of the most influential statements on the subject. In his brief essay, the Russian Formalist stated, “The technique of art is to make objects ‘unfamiliar,’ to make forms difficult….” Emily Martin’s long-form “collage” poem, The Testimony of the Skaters and the Transcript on the Rink, is a worthy example of Shklovsky’s ideal. This young writer and teacher, living in Brooklyn, employs words, phrases, and sentences in juxtaposition to one another, generally, without necessary regard for formal, logical, or grammatical rules.

As a result, the chapbook provides a pastiche of images, rhythms, and “strange” formulations whose interpretation is wholly in the reader’s control. However, one cannot conclude that Martin’s elements are random events or that her “devices” are unintentional. In the epigraph to this review, for example, she employs more than one linguistic convention. In particular, Martin rarely uses punctuation, suggesting that the sentence or sentence-fragment, is incomplete or, perhaps, that some words have been erased. Further, she often capitalizes the first letter of the first word of fragments, as the Modernists, Wallace Stevens and John Ashbery, usually did, seemingly equalizing each line—even, one-word lines—relative to one another.

On the other hand, Martin varies her forms, sometimes composing in a traditional format and, at other times, featuring innovations, such as, white spaces and prose poems. Her language, however, never deviates from the experimental—in grapheme, morpheme, grammar, and syntax—conventions evident in the following segments:

 

A prairie, a scrim, a sliding door
Filling up footprints in the snow
I mean the decay of the mutual happiness of lovers
And the day returned as usual, in tears, and ready for the performance
And once again, the performance took place
The confessional text demands a judgment from the reader
Preface: Bibliographical…
……………………….. Metrical: Yes I I remember well our meeting,
When first thou dawnedst on my sight,
Jhttrotmrtion: Critical
…………….1. POETIC IDEAL.
at the acting of a Booth. Such art is of the highest, and is reached only through one
road:

…and, several pages later, Martin writes,…
Winter bedroom
Forest by the railroad tracks
Puberty of grief
And then set out the frosting cake
……………………..I really like looking at your vacation pics
Hunting lodge
Preservation game
…………………….What do you like to do for fun?
Curing, smoking, salting, keeping alive
A hole burnt through the center of the frame
Crepe and uncrepe
Four grandparents in a bed
Lay a cupped hand on top of one another
You are a weeping stone
The thin dog becomes the road

 

Repetition, a device often associated with the Modernist poet, Gertrude Stein, is apparent within each fragment [“performance”], as well as, between them [“road”], though the segments are separated by a few pages in the text. The use of “white space” provides, not only, visual appeal, design, and complexity, but may, also, indicate erasure or may slow the pace of spoken or silent reading. Collage has its origins in Modernist visual art [Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism]; thus, it follows that, in collage poetry, the representation of words on the page should be important to the writer, as they clearly are to Martin. Related to visual effect, Tristan Tzara spoke of a “cutup” writing style which Martin honors as indicated by the poem’s cover page reproducing a collage painting.

Speaking of “collage” poetry in 1998, critic, Marjorie Perloff, pointed out that, though it may appear otherwise, a “collage” composition may display “logical relations among elements,” such as, similarity, equivalence, dissimilarity, inequality, grouping, or association. Each of these features, binding the parts into a whole, can be found in The Testimony of the Skaters and the Transcript on the Rink by readers open to the surprises, novelties, rewards, and lessons of innovative writing. In Emily Martin’s new chapbook, “strange” devices and compositions provide exciting aesthetic experiences via emotion, sensation, image, and thought. I look forward to following this young poet’s career as she matures and expands her practice.

..

Clara B. Jones is a Knowledge Worker practicing in Silver Spring, MD, USA. Her chapbook, Poems for Rachel Dolezal, was published in 2019 by Gauss PDF.

An Orange for Christmas, by Mandy Pannett

As tenant of a land whose lease is shifting,
full of small print, I’ll opt for a simple hamlet
and live the life of a pebble instead of a rock.
Such simplicity, I hope, will bring in a puff
of clean, new air; no longer will dilemmas
multiply like spinach or split a shade of green

into a thousand hues. Mine will be a simple green,
not jungle-green or artichoke, not a bloom shifting
with swathes of algae on pools. No loaded dilemma
will find a spare room anywhere in my hamlet –
spiders and cobwebs will be gone in a puff.
My green will be seaweed, salty, crusted on a rock.

And consider Peter the Fisherman’s rock.
Will it prevail against hell’s gates? How green
he must have felt at cock-crow, self-image a puff,
a spit in the wind. A house of stone on shifting
sand must always sink, as Dunwich did, that hamlet
now under the sea. Can I really leave all dilemmas

behind, opinions that niggle my ear? Dilemmas
are tricky. In a Zen garden are fifteen rocks
but there’s always one out of sight. Ask Hamlet,
he knows how a man may smile and smile, be green-
lily livered and yet be a villain, how one may shift
a foot and perspective’s lost, crumbling like puff-

pastry, flaky and empty which is the nature of puff.
Confusion, airborne, covers the land. Dilemmas
reproduce their nuclei, divide from cells, shift
into semantics, take a moral stance, or, as rocks,
stiffen and will not budge. O my country, my green
island, how out of touch this hermitage, this hamlet.

A dream: Christmas. Gift of an orange. A hamlet.
Simple. (Simples, as the meerkat says). It’s a puffball
blowing away. To think otherwise is foolishly green.
It’s not a question of one egg or two, dilemmas
crash out of the basket, golden yolk spills on rocks
that hide a vicious edge. And everything goes on shifting.