Tuesday 26 April 2022

Five Poems by Diane G. Martin



Diagnosis

 

Overture already swelling,

I am seated in the orchestra.

Soon settled, props arranged at hand—

a hanky, cough drops, tablets, water—

 

waiting for the curtain’s rise. Be

still anticipation, breath, thought.

Imagination, taut as tuned strings,

vibrates, tingling fingers. B note

 

tinnitus alerts my perfect pitch.

Ahead. Pitch forward. Fall. Suspend

my disbelief in this paltry

melodrama, commonplace end.

 

 

February 13, 2018

Bangor, Maine

 

 

 Prayer 

 

MISSILES, MISSILES BURNING BRIGHT...

 

The religion among pigeons

is noble and upright,

their souls holy and immortal.

 

ANGELS OF DARKNESS, DEMONS LIGHT...

 

Once every bird’s age, they

sacrifice, to their god’s delight,

those of most shimmering plumage.

 

PASS US OVER JUST ONE MORE NIGHT...

 

After the high priest plucks their wings

in the temple, they lie in state,

chirped over, till wings are reclaimed,

 

TO BURY OUR CHILDREN WHILE WE STILL MIGHT.

 

and they soar to heaven.

 

 

February, 1988                             

Gorham, Maine

 

 

 Etiquette

 

“When a woman lives alone, her house

should be extremely dilapidated. The mud

walls should be falling to pieces. And if

there is a pond, it should be overgrown

with water plants.”

 

               “The Frost Month”, Shonagon

                         The Pillow Book

 

 

When I’m found, the unbearable,

hovering air will escape

through the door in a rush, as if

fleeing cremation or worse,

the hot stench of my body.

 

Decaying along with the trash,

half-cooked meal and sour milk, my

once startled eyes will accuse

from the floor. The discoverer,

summoned most likely by neighbours,

 

will clutch a clean cloth to her nose

in a panic to keep from inhaling

my death. My apologies, please,

in advance, as the glass of field flowers,

by then, will be mouldy, as well.

 

 

May 8, 2014

Bodrum, Turkey

 

 

Gifts of the Magi

 

An old friend shows, direct from work,

for old times’ sake. Soviet

Champagne and red beads—caviar,

you might say. Speak of bygone debt,

 

not looming ones. Pale tulips cup

a lavender sip, slip of tongue.

Next, two lone moms bear scented cream,

massage despair in songs unsung.

 

Then, ready cash is lean. A young,

dark Georgian orders, baked and boxed,

a steaming khachapuri, bound

with string. Enjoy, it’s on the house.

 

I sit, while it browns, in my soft

Italian coat, and apprehend

three poems by Akhmatova.

Inclining, Peter kissed my hand.

 

 

Birthday 2019

St. Petersburg, Russia

 

 

Lihula Odyssey

 

New paint has licked the train museum.

Fragile flowers splash the walkway’s edge,

and cotton-bundled clouds spread cushions

against the low horizon. Wedged

 

in cracks between rich green fields strewn with

phlox and Queen Anne’s lace are hay rolls cheered

in pink, slick, rain-proof coats. Fluffed firs fringe woods

and purple lupine spires embroider

 

borders, doing what they can to spruce

midsummer up. Snapped trees tell winter’s

tale, and warn off veins complacent. Cranes

nest top electric power towers,

 

proud, uncivil. They might have sent me

word, down the line, of squatters, vandals,

thieves invading my defenseless house.

Sinister now, bottles with candles

 

and without are littered in the filth

and rubble that were once asylum.

No more mellow celebrations here.

Last conflagration by debauched scum

 

will be set in blind delirium.

 

 

July 26, 2018

Tallinn, Estonia

 

 

 


 

Diane G. Martin, disabled poet, photographer, prose writer, Russian literature specialist, translator, Willamette University graduate, Diana Woods Memorial Award CNF winner, Princemere Poetry prize runner-up has published in numerous literary journals, from the US to the West Indies. Her poetry collection A Pilgrim’s Progress was published by Purcell Press. Other work includes several collections of poetry, another of creative nonfiction, and a multi-genre memoir. Diane is working on a novel set during the Siege of Leningrad. Longtime resident of Nevada, Oregon, San Francisco, CA, Maine, St. Petersburg, Russia, Italy, her main themes are exile, disability, and displacement. She has one daughter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Five Poems by Sharon Larkin

 


Receiver

 

Lying in the post-dawn glare through drawn curtains

I first hear it in my right ear. Not tinnitus, no, not that.

 

A machine-generated morse, too fast to copy, impossible

to record and slow down for later transcription, far more

 

complex than dot dot dot, dash dash dash, dot dot dot

on fast repeat. Not a terse message, sent as a burst

 

not fast enough for that. No, someone is trying

to message me through the fillings in my molars –

 

an alien transmission from light years in the past

to say ‘We are here’ and to ask ‘Where are you?’


 

 Reverie

   on The Chair Factory at Alfortville by Henri Rousseau

 

Someone has left a giant's chair at the edge of the water,

big enough for the owner to sit in and soak his corns

or bend down and scoop up crustaceans for breakfast.

A little fisherman, with rod and bait at the wharfside,

has been casting his line all night, catching nothing

and now this neo-Goliath is in position on his throne,

laughing as he lands all manner of piscatorial delights.

A lady watches from the promenade, lips smacking,

Her long tongue whiplashes out, like a chameleon

catching flies. She snatches crayfish from the Titan.

They stick to tastebuds as if drawn to a Velcro magnet.

She gulps down the raw flesh, pincers still snapping,

burps and chortles as the big man secretly weeps.



In Transit

 

The detonation first – and then the portal

locks at the echoing retort. He swivels,

watches the wheel spin clockwise to seal

the tunnel behind him. It begins to feel

like a submarine now, as aftershocks rock

the walls and his innards begin to shake.

Festoons of spiders' hammocks dance

above his head, wafting into the distance.

It’s dark but he can see the ghostly webs

well enough, as shivers break his trance.

With a galloping pulse, he takes a chance

to inch ahead, one man's tentative steps,

as the arachnid cribs continue to oscillate,

fade from dawn grey to the dead of night.



Visitations

 

The female blackbird lands,

head cocked, on the lawn,

waits for more of her victim

to emerge. A millimetre more

and she drags a writhing worm 

from heavy clay, flies to the nest.

 

A male kingfisher perches

on an overhanging branch,

watches for lunch to turn up.

With a twitch and a snatch 

he swipes the stickleback,  

takes it home for the chicks.

 

The man in the suit shuffles   

along on his way to the office,

not anticipating anything

outlandish to disrupt his day,

until he’s located, monitored, 

sampled, analysed, assimilated.



Managed Invasion

 

You asked about our latest insertion.

Next to the second post on the right,

you'll find them, alongside the footpath.

 

Sorry, we can't say which footpath.

You should be able to work it out

for yourself. Think about it.

 

Each of them will be lying

under a well-preserved fossil

that we are careful to turn over.

 

They’ll become cribs, cocoons,

little tumuli, henges, whatever,

to keep them dry, out of view

 

until the appointed time. Kids

don't collect gryphaea now

so the shells won’t be disturbed.

 

If you work out where they are,

you may, of course, look at them

but do replace the devil's toenails

 

after you have observed

what they are harbouring.

We won't activate them for a week

 

so you still have a little time

to track down their whereabouts

before they go walkabout.




Sharon Larkin’s poems often begin with a visual stimulus but soon become ‘infected’ with psychosocial concerns, as is evident from her poems in ‘Interned at the Food Factory’ (Indigo Dreams, 2019), ‘Dualities’ (Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2020) and over 200 poems in anthologies, magazines and e-zines.

A former civil servant, she now runs Eithon Bridge Publications https://eithonbridge.com, edits 'Good Dadhood’ ezine https://gooddadhood.com and blogs at 'Coming up with the Words' https:/sharonlarkinjones.com.

Sharon has degrees in literature/art history and modern languages, as well as an MA in creative writing. She is proud of her Welsh ancestry and enjoys photography, the countryside and the natural world.


Four Poems by Jay Passer

 


THE BURIAL

 

I admit

I want a sleek black Benz

and a 4-car garage

and my studio reached by tunnels

in the northern California reaches

the Pacific O not far

for sojourns, including bonfires

and now that I can see the stars

let me doze on the hump of beach

and ponder cosmos

my driver awaiting

as I drink from my flask

an elixir not of this world

but from dreamscapes of old guys

like William Blake

or Hieronymus Bosch

with the peep of Miss Dickinson

forever tickling my scrotum

I confess

in my world Emily's Korean

and knows all the ins and outs

of perfectly fermented kimchee

while I wield my nakiri

I got a stable of thoroughbreds

I got a mansion the size of Atlantis

and places to go, like the moon, or Saturn

flat on my back caressing the curvature of the earth

the Pleiades behind my Ray-Bans

nurturing some

new flower

 

 

THE HICCUP

 

somewhere

somebody's getting banged

or burglarized

 

or eating a grilled cheese

sandwich

having a quiet drink

watching a re-run

betting against

the home team

 

somewhere

somebody's shooting up

staring at the wall

 

or walking the dog

putting laundry

in the dryer

raping some autistic girl

poisoning the pigeons

 

while elsewhere

someone's

reduced to a husk

by taxes

by arthritis

by teetotalism

by television

by lethargy

 

while in the 1% spectrum

it's a party

a banquet

a wedding

a victory

 

one day

after the other

the only surprises being

a microbe

or a virus

some libidinous scandal

or terribly random accident

just a blip

a hiccup

a drop of dust in a speck of bucket

beyond the pale

before business as usual

 

one day after

another



THE CRASH

 

In an emergency

it's a racecourse for fire engines and ambulances.

 

inferno in the theatre,

a high-school shooting,

 

a furor at the nail salon-

telle est la vie.

 

In alleyways the tent-villagers turn and gawk

before resuming jonesing.

 

It's not considered grave until the helicopters arrive;

choppers, drones hovering in the backyard,

 

barbecue in a tornado-

quick, where's the kids,

'cause it's high time for

target practice at the preschool.

 

There's a crisis, a cannonade in the making

spurned by chequered flags,

 

the Jolly Rogers of Indianapolis,

Le Mans, Daytona, Monaco.



NO FOAM

 

I got a beard like Rumi,

Brancusi,

Walt Whitman,

Monet.

 

it's wild and intangible;

a briar patch of alien

intervention.

 

neither Adonis nor Apollo,

not David with his sling.

 

in the end, though

despite my infinite excuses

I'm really just a lazy bastard

who hates shaving.




Jay Passer's poetry and prose has appeared in print and online since 1988. He is the author of 12 collections, most recently The Cineaste, from Alien Buddha Press, 2021. Passer lives and works in San Francisco, the city of his birth.

One Poem by John Yamrus

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