Saturday 30 September 2023

Five Poems by Kathryn MacDonald

 




SHE SINGS ONLY AT TWILIGHT

 

when the birds have hushed their twittering

tucked heads under wings

 

when the only sound is falling water

over rocks in the garden pond

 

she sings an incongruent tune     not quite

melody     not quite memory

 

some lost thing striving to be found

 

whispers within passion’s undersong

bare as her feet on the pebbled path

 

murmurs     a shiver between

heart and lips     a quiver of arrows

 

the taste of dusk’s rising moon

 

 

COMPANY OF WAYFARERS

 

meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

                             – Rumi

 

They come in a dream walking

the path of joyful lamentation

beneath boughs fluttering with leaves

and birds singing. The shadow

is nowhere in sight.

 

Each daughter, sister, friend

walks within my lunar mind –

quiet beyond belief – fully

present in the fertile darkness

of morning twilight.

 

In this company of wayfarers

there comes no crowd of sorrows

no dark thought…shame…malice

and in these moments I forget

the shadow waiting.


 

A BLIZZARD BLOWS

 

A blizzard blows
encircling yard light
with a misty veil.
Snow cocoons fields
where only yesterday
earth had begun to show
St. Patrick’s promise.

Gone     all gone
buried deeper and deeper.

Last night’s cradle moon
     with Jupiter and Aldebaran
     winking at either tip
hides behind clouds.

As evening stretches
toward midnight
I curl by the fire
read Irish lore
     the saint’s conceit
     to raise the dead
     to herald spring.

In dawn’s pale light
something rich and strange
shadows the tempest
of the night: stillness
stretches across this silent
landscape     leaf-barren
branches shiver
a haze of snow
falls
        from the oak
a wondrous keeer-r-r
a rush of wings
tail like embers lifts up
up into awakening sky.



PHANTASM

 

Last night a fairy-tale boat set sail

     wooden cabin set deep

     within hull’s green embrace

     portholes of brass

     roof curved like a wave

     Moonlight Sonata softly lilting
a phantasm on a breeze of red sails
 

a vision

fit for Titania to drift upon

     a sylphic boat light as air

     an enchantment

brimming with tales

to carry into dawn’s faint twilight –

the breaking of day.


 

BELOVÈD

     after Rilke “Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes.”

 

Do you see her – wearing black, silk

rustling like dry leaves in a light wind –

in her hands a small clàrsach, polished

hornbeam, carved? There were cliffs

there / and forests made of mists,

the way ahead stony – more portentous

than her river crossing had been.

She beseeches him to follow her

singing for love     singing him home –

from one lyre there came / more lament than

from all lamenting women     singing

she dares not turn    she dares not turn to see.

She listens between the notes

     between the breaths of her song.

Listen…. Does he come

                                       trailing graveclothes?

 

Notes – Unnecessary for understanding the poems, but you may find them interesting.

 

Company of Wayfarers borrows from “The Guest House” by Rumi.

A Blizzard Blows borrows from The Tempest by William Shakespeare.

Phantasm: The reference to Titania is from Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, where we meet Titania, queen of the fairies. “Moonlight Sonata” was composed by Ludwig van Beethoven. The German poet and music critic, Ludwig Rellstab, “likened the first movement to a boat floating on the lake,” which was my thought when I was writing the poem. (Source: https://www.popularbeethoven.com/9-facts-about-beethovens-moonlight-sonata/)

Belovèd borrows from “Orpheus. Euydice. Hermes” by Rainer Marie Rilke, translated by Stephen Michell.

 

Kathryn MacDonald has published in literary journals in Canada, the U.S., Ireland, and England, as well as anthologies. Her poem “Duty / Deon” won the Arc Award of Awesomeness (January 2021).  “Seduction” was entered in the Freefall Annual Poetry Contest and was published in Freefall (Fall 2020). She is the author of A Breeze You Whisper: Poems, and Calla & Édourd (fiction). For details, please see https://kathrynmacdonald.com.

Kathryn was on the editorial staff of Harrowsmith and Equinox magazines and Camden House Books. She’s been a speech writer and the author of many anonymous reports. In addition to facilitating writing workshops and coaching sessions, Kathryn taught credit courses in literature and writing in Ontario’s college system. For pleasure she pursues photography and sketching with ink and watercolour. Kathryn is a graduate of the University of Windsor and holds a master’s degree from Queen’s University, Kingston. She studied writing with Alistair MacLeod (U. Windsor), Patrick Lane and John Newlove (workshop at Collingwood), and more recently she enjoyed a writing retreat with Lorna Crozier (Wintergreen), among many other workshops and seminars, including three six-week courses with Ellen Bass (online). She is a member of the League of Canadian Poets, Quinte Arts Council, and Spirit of the Hills Writers.

 


Five Poems by Louis Efron

 




Writers Eulogy

 

another day breaks through spent hourglasses

on painted wooden windowsills

warming settling sand

as writers labour to create anew

 

rooms measure time in syllables

emotions pool around us in ink

white space ignites blue then orange

                              a poetic inferno departing in drifting ash

 

blistering paper slowly curls from aging walls

giving new breath to hidden veneers

dusty tales sealed in glue, crack 

like thick makeup on an old face 

 

faux leather chairs, grand desks of pine

overlaid with shallow oak

          tarnished gold-plated trinkets adorn corniced shelves

                    with forgotten fiction and others’ truths

 

a space where everything is briefly real

and past narratives

bookmark time

in bright, but empty rooms


 

Arcadian Eyes


dark eyes reflect smokey flashes

          from deafening staccato machine guns

                    fixed on three-dimensional flat screens

  

fingers scurry over wireless consoles

          like spider legs attempting to evade death

                    from hunched lumbering gamers

 

a binary coded world

                    never burning

                              but always on fire

forcing sweat to boil from our pores

to cool tranced, agitated monsters

 

thick layers of masked decay

melt from our lit faces

                    like wax partitions between

                              real, fake

                              human

artificial

 

in this crowded metaverse

          where all has been equalled

          and corrected

                                        we are lonely 

 

a world that can no longer be unplugged

where soft hands without heartbeats join

then pass through 

to emptiness

 

 

God’s Garden

 

where her tears slip and settle

wide-opened daisies are born

 

shades of powdery pink and white

          bowed angelic fingers

lifting up beaded golden saucers 

 

light breezes sweep weeping petals 

broken pinwheels

seed imperfect copies

as tears wilt with everything

 

soft wings brittle

scatter like dandelions

across unsettled fields

in heavy gales 

 

discarded vessels droop

brown

and

barren

a wasteland wholly stripped of faith

 

a grief deeply

dampens her earth

inspiring all that may one day

         

again be beautiful 

 

 

Short Circuit 

 

Like buttery oil

          briefly

Spilling through streams of crystal-clear water

 

energy infuses

                              new life

                              desperate to stay afloat

In unyielding currents

          competing for space

                    in flesh

                              and 

                                        dirt

                              never balanced

 

We flow

          bubble 

and

                              separate

 

Peering through syrupy membranes

reaching 

for charged branches

                                        in stormy heavens

 

Brilliant

          blinding

                    crooked cords

 

Allowing us to leap 

          To the next seeded womb

and live again

 

 

Rooms without Nightlights

 

Sparring with moonlight

prying through shutter gaps

                    menacing figures

cut from a cloth

of night’s deep sky

haunt the walls of our youngsters’ rooms

                    compelling little feet to rush through 

adrenaline filled corridors 

                              to escape 

cracked basement doors

                     leaving lonely spaces 

with ruffled sheets

to tend to their own ghosts

 

Now safe in the arms of loving guardians

          nestled heads

with tousled hair

          gently sleep

beneath stuffed beasts

 

But imagination tempers with age

and villainous allies

crawling out from

between the covers

 

of twisted fairytales

swap darkened spaces

for inviting masks

fooled only by our children

framed on forbidden trading cards

in palmed devices

 

At the threshold of French-vanilla taffy wallpapered hallways

like strained umbilical cords

          leading to once unlocked doors 

                    we are desperate, discarded sherpas

in the thick of some impossible trek

lying awake on stone-like mattresses 

                    grasping unread bedtime stories 

with stressed spines

                    as sunlight fills our now adolescents’ chambers

 

In rooms without nightlights 


Louis Efron is a writer and poet who has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post, Chicago TribuneThe Deronda ReviewYoung Ravens Literary Review, The Ravens Perch, POETiCA REViEWThe Orchards Poetry JournalAcademy of the Heart and MindLiterary Yard, New Reader Magazine and over 100 other national and global publications. He is also the author of five books, including The Unempty Spaces Between, How to Find a Job, Career and Life You Love; Purpose Meets Execution; Beyond the Ink; as well as the children’s book What Kind of Bee Can I Be?


Five Poems by Robert Cooperman

 



First Ride with My Father

 

Experts say we remember nothing

from before we’re five or so,

needing language to record memories,

 

but there was that three-year old night,

heat heavy on our apartment, me cranky

with sweat.  My father strapped me

 

into my stroller, and rolled me down

to Ocean Parkway, gently rocking me

while he smoked, as cars sped past. 

 

And as if Prospero had summoned it,

a soft breeze cooled my small, sweaty chest.

Dad’s lit cigarette a light in a window,

 

signalling that home was waiting,

whenever we were ready.

 

     

First Driving Lesson

 

I was eighteen: no idea how to handle

the wheel, but desperate—a horny teenager

who believed a car was the key to dirty bliss—

to learn how to drive.  When Dad finally caved

to my wheedling, Mom declared,

 

“If you’re determined to die behind the wheel,

then the whole family will perish with you!”

 

So with Dad riding shotgun, Mom and Jeff

in the back, in the empty high school parking lot

I fed a little gas, like Dad had showed me,

then gulping breaths for courage, shifted into “Drive,”

the car bolting like a rodeo bronc, Mom gasping,

Jeff cheering, the wild road beckoning.

 

Steering was even worse: all I could think of

was to imitate movie getaway wheelmen

after bank heists.  They flung the wheel left to right

and back again and again, over desperate-to escape-

the-cops roads, our family Ford careening

like a bumper car, the engine whining in the empty lot,

until Dad, his face red as the “Warning” light, shouted,

 

“Brake, brake!  We’ll get you driving lessons.”

 

Mom breathed relief like a balloon with the air

shooting out, my kid brother laughed, knowing

he could’ve done a lot better, and I wondered

if maybe a lifetime on the subway wasn’t a bad idea. 

 


Me and Parnelli Jones

 

Among my friends, a ritual

more sacred than fasting

on Yom Kippur: when one of us

earned his driver’s license,

we’d tool down to Nathan’s Famous

in Coney Island, for celebratory

dogs and fries and to stare

at the hot-pants women, and try not

to make eye contact with their muscle.

 

So with my new license—far

more legitimate than the deed

to the Brooklyn Bridge—I informed

my father I’d need the car that Friday night. 

He looked up from the racing form

and half-laughed, half scowled,

 

“Listen Parnelli,” referring to the famous

race car driver, “you may have fooled

the dope who gave you the driver’s test,

but you can’t fool me.  You’re not driving

at night with your crumb-bum friends.

So just get used to running errands

for your mother, until I say otherwise.

 

“Now, turn on the Knicks game

and take a load off; plenty of time

for you to do something I hope isn’t

lethally stupid behind the wheel.” 

 

So I watched and fumed:

the Knicks, for once,

not an embarrassment.

 


A Country Drive

 

One morning of our Catskills

bungalow colony summer

when I was maybe ten, Dad and I drove

into the nearby small town, on an errand.

 

By the side of the blacktop, two young,

sexy-smiling women, not bothering

to lift their thumbs in the universal signal,

just billowing in their summer dresses.

 

Dad stopped, smiling as if remembering

an adventure from before he’d met my mother.

The next we knew, they’d pulled pistols,

ordered us out, one of them planted

 

a rose-red kiss on my cheek, stirring something

that almost made my head explode,

They drove off, laughing, Thelma and Louise,

or Belle Starr and Bonnie Parker on a crime spree.

 

While I stared at our vanishing car,

Dad spat words he’d told me never to utter,

and sighed we had to report this to the cops,

while all I could think of was that kiss.

 

And then, of course, I woke, somehow

twenty years older, New York City

morning light cruel as that snub-nose .38.

 


Breakfast with My Father

 

Dad drove his Lower East Side business’

panel truck to where we ate breakfast, before

I jumped the subway to my commuter college

in the terra incognita of the Bronx.

 

At his favourite cafeteria,

Dad always had the scrambled eggs,

hash browns and toast, and once

he slipped in three rashers of bacon

and winked not to rat us out to Mom,

who kept our apartment kosher enough

for the Head Rabbi of Jerusalem.

 

Me?  I was addicted to the French toast,

explosive with cinnamon and syrup.

Sated, I caught the “D” train

while Dad drove to another day

of his drunken thief of a partner.

 

Thinking back, I should’ve kissed him,

sprung for those meals: my way of saying

how much I appreciated the rides,

the conversations, for just being with him.


Robert Cooperman's latest collection is BEARING THE BODY OF HECTOR HOME (FutureCycle Press).  Forthcoming from Kelsay Books is HELL AT COCK'S CROW, a sonnet sequence about pirates.


 


 

 


Six Poems by R. W. Stephens

  Like Extended Haiku       Tango music muted , o pen window    Fading summer light s hadows   C hair on the porch   An empty glass       ...