Saturday 24 September 2022

Four Poems by TAK Erzinger


 

Mid-life


Under my coat, I pulsate

like a Dutch bulb ready to

emerge from its sepal.

I’ve already faced the darkest day

and settled in this soil

I want to rush this moment,

to reveal what I have become

but the travel has been more robust

than I’ve anticipated

I need to wait out this hibernation.

A half a life away now, a lingering

fog begins to lift, I notice even the

meagre trees are full of buds,

I think I hear a birdsong.

Let the days slowly lengthen; I

might not catch its first light but

my thoughts turn towards its warmth.

In spring, I shall emerge shawled

in ripened skin, perennial and strengthened.

Far off, a young girl departs from home

bearing down the path,

her beacon, the promise of the journey.

 

 

In (im)Perfect Agreement

 

Harmony is what they heard

when he strummed his guitar

my voice connected to his

while he was singing Margaritaville,

closing his eyes, garnering attention

I accidentally slipped off key

after, when there was no longer

an audience he yelled at me.

I couldn’t keep time, my rhythm

always a little off:

it was my own damn fault.

 

We would rehearse it all over again,

his talent: a natural performer-

played it all by ear

even though he could never hear me.

Our act had them all fooled

they listened, smiling to themselves

taping and nodding to the archetypes.

I can still recall those words, they haunt

me like ghosts from random devices:

it could be my fault.

 

Music and liquor ran through his veins

which may have been why he didn’t

find it inappropriate to teach me

that song, the family protected him

he was their youngest but the performance

had worn thin, away from the stage

the dark nursed his anger and thirst

a song could no longer quench

from behind the curtain the harmony

was lost:         

it was never my fault.

 

 

In Between Days

 

Often, I pass that little girl on the street

she whispers: see me.

Eyes full like the sky and moon,

her lips hold a secret

but her face speaks

a wide constellation of freckles

her body seems to float

unaware, she balances the world

at her feet.

I recognise her curiosity and catch

a whiff of her innocence.

Between the public garden

and the cemetery we pass each other

I could pretend not to see her

and then she startles me and

says “hello” –

my whole life rushes by

in the afternoon light

I lose her as she slips round the corner

and just like the sunshine that warms

my cheeks youth returns for an instant

and I am reminded how I ended up here.

 

 

Waterway


Follow me, it directed

the way a calf is steered by its mother.

Docile and curious, I obey

hugging the water’s edge.

 

The creek was made redundant

by the old factory but has not retired.

Repurposed by stones and roots

 

flowing for treading fish

and the trill and song of birds,

it sustains natural life

 

no longer concerned with

a waterwheel or profit

I watch it, as it

 

runs and leads

and laugh,

because I cannot keep up.







TAK Erzinger is an award-winning poet. Her collection “At the Foot of the Mountain” (Floricanto Press California, 2021) won the University of Indianapolis Etching Press, Whirling Prize 2021 for best nature poetry book. It was also a finalist at the The International Book Awards 2022, Willow Run Book Awards and Eyelands Book Awards. She is an American/Swiss poet and artist with a Colombian background. She lives on a foothill of a Swiss alp with her husband and cats.

Three Poems by Debendra Lal - Translated by Pitambar Naik from Odia into English


  

Debendra Lal is a lawyer by profession. He writes poetry in Odia. His work appears in numerous Odia journals and in Indian Literature, the journal of the Kendra Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. Hes two books of poetry, Andhakshara and Birodhavasa. He grew up in Kesinga in Odisha, India.

 

The Wild

 

The wild will no longer be wild, but had they

been wild forever, it would have been good.

The wild will gradually construe the difference

between the vowel and the consonant

they’ll also learn how to sum up the

arithmetic, theyll study modern literature,

science, geography and will understand

where the profit and loss is along with

the reason why the sun rises and goes down.

The wild will no longer be wild----painful,

that’s my sorrow-----like someones skeletal

body, empty stomach and a tear that doesnt

ooze and the unexploded whoop of the heart.

 

Coming out of the jungle, the wild will

understand the civility and as time goes by,

in a few decades, theyll be civilised and 

regret for their nakedness, theyll be dressed

in urban attire----jeans, blazer, suit, pants,

bras and panties, theyll tune to the latest

cosmetics instead of clay and turmeric

doing away with kendu-leaves bidi,

they’ll switch over to smack and heroin. 

And eventually, the wild will be civilised

leaving the deserted jungle they’ll fly

by the Boeing jet faster than the sound

facing towards the sky, they’ll go in search

of a new planet like the earth to recycle

another jungle to be wild at any cost.

 

 

Dad

 

Dad, you lost. You lost thats why

I came to take charge of everything.

Its scorching, here

is it easy to run in the scorching sun?

 

The road is even longer than

our longevity   

at the end of the road, theres a godown

and the godown houses everything.

 

Only the hardest part is that to wish

dad, grandmom said that

youre running so fiercely.

 

How far was the godown from you?

Just now I have started running

its done, when I crossover the hills

behind the Kali temple.

 

But, dad, will I be able to cover this little

an extra mile or should I call son? 

 

 

Ram

 

Whether or not Ram was there I dont know. Whether or not

Ram would come one day, that also I don't know. But then, the only

thing I know is that there’s one Ram Lal, there’s one Ram Prasad,

there’s one Ram Kumar and theres one, Ram Ratan Ghasi.  

 

The one whos a servant at someone’s house the one whos

pulling a rickshaw from daybreak to the sundown the one

whos begging from door to door and the one who’s head-carrying

human excreta daily from the Notified Area Council. I

’m saying the truth, whether or not Ram was, I dont know. 

 

 

The poem portrays the blood-chilling and despicable impact of the

caste system on Dalits and how it has reduced them to subhuman.

 

Translated from the Odia by Pitambar Naik

 

Pitambar Naik is an advertising copywriter for a living. When he’s not creating ideas for brands, he writes poetry. His work appears or is forthcoming in The McNeese Review, The Notre Dame Review,  Packingtown Review, Ghost City Review, Rise Up Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Indian Quarterly and elsewhere. He’s the author of the poetry collection, The Anatomy of Solitude (Hawakal). He grew up in Odisha and lives in Bangalore, India.

Four Poems by Nolcha Fox

 


Enthusiasm without a plan

 

is sections of wooden slats 

erected haphazardly

through the yard,

resting against

vague hopes

of becoming a fence,

of joining hands

through trees 

and the neighbour’s 

swimming pool,

a winding noose

to suffocate spare time,

a windmill to fight

until you sell the house.


For Ken Tomaro

 


Moonlight and Shadows

 

The moon is a narcotic, 

a dose of dreams,

we stagger under its weight,

resting only in shadows

of trees and walls.

 


At precisely the time

 

the world ends,

my attention wanders 

to the brick of light

through the window

chasing deadbeat

shadows and blank spaces.

 


Stranger

 

I see you on the platform,

your face a shadow

underneath your hat.

You leave the train car

at my station.

When I turn,

you disappear from sight. 

I hear your footsteps 

echo mine

down dusky roads.

I spin around,

no one behind.

Alone at home,

I hear your voice,

a whisper rising

from the cracks

between the floorboards.

You chill the room,

replacing summer heat.

 



Nolcha Fox - Nolcha’s poems have been published in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Alien Buddha Zine, Medusa’s Kitchen, and others. Her chapbooks, “My Father’s Ghost Hates Cats” and “The Big Unda” are available on Amazon. Nominee for 2023 Best of The Net. Editor for Kiss My Poetry. Accidental interviewer.

Website: https://bit.ly/3bT9tYu

“My Father’s Ghost Hates Cats” https://amzn.to/3uEKAqa

“The Big Unda” https://amzn.to/3IxmJhY

Twitter: @NolchaF

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nolcha.fox/

 

 

 


Five Poems by Erik T. Johnson



PARABLE


See that man. On a hard road home.

Look at his beard. It's grown too long.

Look at his eyes. Cool as swordfish.

Spies a bright comet. See him wish.

Mark his shuffle. He's a guilty man.

Witness to himself with enmity and

He stops in an inn. Sleeps in a field.

It's dark in the forest. The leaves too still.

He climbs the pines. Seeks nests until

One falling star falls. Rests where it will—

Far out in the sand. He prays in silence. 

To wish is too grand. He must do penance.

The wolf is at hand. Zones in for the kill.

Hear the man: "I won't be a parable."

He whispers he shouts. Into an ill wind.

Did he make it out? Or is he still in?

 

 

I AM THE WOMAN 

 

I lost my daughter.

I don't remember when.

I don't count the weeks.

 

No calendars for me.

 

The open windows and 

My mirrors tell 

all the time I need to know.

 

I don't truck with

numbers.

A grisly nothingness hides in them,

somehow:

 

I had 1 daughter—

she disappeared with her father.

I had 1 husband—

he vanished with my daughter.

 

That's 2, already.

See what I mean about numbers?

 

Don't answer. 

It doesn't matter.

Please leave 

before 

I ask you to stay.

 


FACELESSLY TRUE

 

That man has no face and

she's got no head.

I'd better turn away.           

 

La la la, la la hey.

 

I'm looking for a city park fountain.

Baptism dunk in waterspin

as rats distill brown sewer gin.

 

Mythic sprinkler system siphons Lethe.

Its yellow snowmelt and black sleet

are where our fleeting memories meet.

 

A broken fire hydrant,

defiant,

one block up from Stuyvesant,

outside a napalmed tanning salon,

waits for the joint to be well-done.

Can't even trust a safe fake sun.

 

Small disasters are big miracles

If you know how to look away.

                                                             

La la la, la la hey!

 

Skyward is astray. Stars blink fancy but

NO VACANCY.

 

Everybody,

I'm on drugs and THE DRUGS ARE ON ME.

                                                          

La la la, la la whee!

 

How'd he lose his face, didja see?

Not my affair, and besides

he's still got a crop of hair that shines.

 

There's nothing underneath my feet

I haven't stepped in or had to eat.

Or upchucked.

Enough to fill your dump trucks.

 

The street is flat meat.

Gutter roadkill skeleton.

Every word is for lack of a better one.

The asphalt gapes beneath the heat

like a megaton tideturn.

Decisive rattle.

Incisor gristle battle.

 

I'm sticking a scalpel

into my lapel. Because this

is the Big Apple.

 

Turn aside from miracles. 

The snidest firecracker only

goes off behind your back

and years ago.

 

But who am I to ridicule?

Nobody that's who.

The public that's who.

The rats that's who.

The headless that's who.

Facelessly true.

Who died and made you?   

 

 

THE WITCH HUNT

 

Don't pretend you've no elves in your hat

That you wear careless

Like it fell there

From a tornado passing

That everyone missed but you.

 

That's right. You stand in disaster

With your smirk and your fingers

Working small marks in the air.

 

Do you really know the big secret?

Is that why you're so angelic?

 

Are you sure you're pixie-free?

The magic circle carbon copied?

 

Your face can't hide the death's head.

 

I demand you reveal your heritage 

Before I strike up the witch hunt.

 

 

THE GONE FOR GOOD


I meet those who have gone for good

on weedy asphalt plains, senile streets,

their names and numbers long forgot.

There is a network of collapse made of

nothing but crossroads.  Just take

the avenue you spotted 

clogged with broken inventions of wind

in direction not cardinal not ordinal 

without prediction, almost too pale to take in.

. . . The gone for good have left for worse; there's 

no turning backward for them.

Funny how forward is like being trapped.

Eternity is the next stop.

Do you recall That Summer in Brooklyn 

when I asked you into my bedroom? 

You said no the first time and Yes the last. 

The gone for good are like that Yes—

as full of promise as they are empty gas.

And can you guess what they want of me?

Only to be remembered to the ones that 

linger here a little while, we who pretend 

at immortality by waking each day.

By sleeping in the dark. I wish they had more

to say. I wish we too, when I come back.






Erik T. Johnson - Erik. T. Johnson's short stories have been featured in a range of literary/speculative fiction periodicals, such as Space and Time Magazine; British Fantasy Journal; Electric Velocipede; Sein und Werden; Clarion; and Structo.

His own short fiction collection, Yes Trespassing, was released in 2017 to positive reviews from professional publications and readers alike. A book of the weird and surreal, This is Horror UK stated that “YES TRESPASSING is a magnum opus of staggering proportions . . . One of the best, most beautifully written collections of this or any other year.”

Erik is currently writing poetry being set to music by, and performing with, the composer Gene Pritsker and other members of Composers Concordance, a group of some of the best musicians in the world. Erik and Gene have released several song cycles available on Spotify, the most recent of which is the jazzy Let's Save The World Suite. 

You can learn more about Erik's work at www.eriktjohnson.net

 

Three Poems by Dana Trick



Grieving Paradox


As human,

You only left your life behind.

 

On an indefinite loop,

I continuously fall in the love

Of your works, your worlds, your wonders,

Your heartbeat, your soul, your blood.

 

I want you back so much,

To devour more of your creations,

But that is too selfish of me to even beg for.

 

But no matter how much I hold on to your pieces,

Even when I cry a thousand paper cranes,

You can never come back, really.

 

We’re strangers,

And you’re dead,

But my heart still breaks.

 

I love you

But I didn’t know you,

Yet you gave me everything good in my life.



How To Mourn a Creator


How do you mourn a stranger that meant so much to you?

 

How are you able to cry over someone

Who was just a moment ago a name next to the word “by”?

 

How can you wail and weep over the grave of someone

Whose only communication with you (& many others)

Is through the silent miracle of a drawing, a song, a story, a verse?

 

How dare you demand that they would come back just to continue their work

Just for you,

Denying the tears of their families and friends who need them the most?

 

How does one reconcile when the revelation of their crimes and victims

Speak louder than your love and adoration and flimsy excuses

Because you like something they created?


 

How To Mourn Creator II


When I heard the news,

I refused to believe it,

Wanting today to be more yesterday’s normal,

Yet when the others wail and wept inside their screens,

Then I couldn’t stop the tears.

 

I thought I was mourning you,

A person of words and flowers so beautiful

But really, I didn’t know you at all

And only cried over the broken promises

Of your future flowers, your future songs, your future beauties.

 

You,

Who have spent decades learning and mastering your abilities,

Who is a human being with a mundane life but caring loved ones—

How could I boldly demand of you to come back

Just to create my escape and my comfort,

Never allowing you to return to your life.

I wanted more of you.

 

Too late I realize how I, a stranger—

Who found your flower-songs,

Who worshipped your soul and heart,

Who indifferently saw you as a conveyer-belt of circus-&-bread—

Caused you so much strife and burnout with my greed and gratitude

That sapped your life away.

 

I’m not even worthy of mourning you.




Dana Trick - Born a first-generation Mexican-Canadian-American autistic biromantic-demisexual with ADHD, Dana Trick lives in Southern California where it is clearly foolish to wear black any day. Besides writing, she spends/wastes her day by either reading weird books; researching history because she has a history degree; drawing art and comics that she posts on deviantART under Silencedbook9; and watching cartoons, anime, and Youtube videos. Her work has been published online--Art of Autism, the Lothlorien Poetry Journal, The Kolkata Arts, The Writer Shed, The Writers Club, and The Ugly Writers—as well as in print anthologies: the 2018 Moorpark College Print Review; the Poets’ Choice Realm of Emotions; Other Worldly Women Press’ Behind Closed Doors; Free Spirit’s Historic Tales; Wingless Dreamer’s My Glorious Quill and The Book of Black; Dragoon Soul Press’ Organic Ink Volume 5; and The Ravens Quote Press’ Balm 2. She wishes the reader a nice day.

Two Poems in Italian with English Translations by Barbara Di Sacco

  To write Articulating thoughts to himself He sat alone, in front of a beer staring at the mug, without batting an eyelid. For the third ni...