Tuesday 31 October 2023

Three Poems by Joan Leotta

 



The Language of a Leaf Bouquet

 

If I send you

a bouquet of leaves

will you think of

this gift of leaves as

a sign of a lesser love

 

lesser than a bouquet of

showy flowers?

 

Or will you

admire each leaf’s colour,

inspect the

tender architecture

of each leaf’s veins?

 

Do you know separated from the

tree they will soon dry and die?

 

Will you see how leaf’s lines

mimic my veins?

Will you see how without your love

flowing to and through

me, I, like these separated leaves

 

will soon be,

a dry leaf, crushed?

 

 

Listening to Trees

 

Trees, strong silent sentinels,

Of the landscape,

rarely speak aloud

except in dialog with

wind, rain,

or an occasional shout

of pain, a cracking noise,

when attacked

by lightning.

 

Seeking homes,

birds and squirrels

revere trees

as archangels

protecting and providing

for them.

 

Every now and then,

However,

when a bird or squirrel

or gentle breeze rustles

leaves, I’m sure

I hear a soft, caring

laughter that can

only have come from

my row of trees.

 


Stormy Day Stillness

 

I look out onto morning’s

rain-soaked ribbon of sidewalk,

emptied of walkers, likely inside,

avoiding the pelting droplets.

By afternoon, sun is

struggling to slipping

through the clouds.

Birds have winged back,

but I am loathe to be the

first of my kind to join

them on the sidewalk

as they peck to feast

on the buffet of crawling

things rain flushed out.

I tell myself, “I don’t want

to scare away my feathery

friends from their dining delights.”

But my inner voice whispers,

“You simply want to remain alone.”

I must admit, I enjoy the absence

of other humans, revel in the stillness.

My going out could

encourage others to spill

out of their houses into

the outdoors and assault

my ears with sounds of chatter,

and the pitter patter, of

their steps, that all this 

would drown out the birdsongs

that will soon follow

the birds’ sidewalk feast.

No, I will stay inside at least

A while longer and

enjoy the lingering stillness

celebrating in my singularity

the small silence that comes

after the storm.




Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. She performs tales of food, family, strong women. Internationally published as an essayist, poet, short story writer, and novelist,  she’s a two-time Pushcart nominee, a Best of the Net nominee, and a 2022 runner-up in Robert Frost Competition. Her essays, poems, CNF, and fiction appear in Impspired, Ekphrastic Review, Verse Visual, Verse Virtual, Gargoyle, Silver Birch, Yellow Mama, Mystery Tribune, Ovunquesiamo, Synkroniciti, MacQueen’s Quinterly and many others in US, UK, Australia, Germany, and more.  Her poetry chapbooks are Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, and  Feathers on Stone, published by Main Street Rag. 

Joan Leotta
Author, Story Performer
“Encouraging words through Pen and Performance”

Nominated for Pushcart and Best of Net in 2022

"Feathers on Stone" poetry chapbook available from me and at

https://mainstreetragbookstore.com/product/feathers-on-stone-joan-leotta/

Other Joan Leotta Books

Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, Finishing Line Press (Amazon)

Morning by Morning and Dancing Under the Moon, two free mini-chapbooks are at https://www.origamipoems.com/poets/257-joan-leotta 

For information on my four out of print novels, collection of short stories and four children's  picture books, contact me at this email 

 

 

 


Five Poems by Wilda Morris

 



Walking Guanajuato

 

I circle Jardin Unión in late afternoon,

dodging mariachi bands. I pull out coins,

pay a strolling guitarist to sing La Bamba.

After ambling to la Plaza de la Paz, I stop

for tortilla soup at a sidewalk café,

cross to the Basilica. Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato

beckons from her glass case.

I dip onto a kneeler and cross myself,

Catholic style, then sit a while, my eyes

travelling across the altar. Determined

to explore every bell-ringing church

of the city, to circumnavigate sanctuaries,

seek out statues of saints,

I rise and set out for San Roque.

 

Seeing the Knight of the Sorrowful Face,

in whose story centuries of readers found refuge,

I feast on paintings and sculptures

in the museum dedicated to the knight,

his squire, and his lady, Dulcenea.

After hiking up the 113 massive stone steps

of the university, I investigate museums

hidden within its walls, the wide atrium

that exits onto Callejón del Estudiante.

 

I stroll the Callejón de la Condesa,

named for the Countess of Rul, so distraught

by the Count’s unfaithfulness and the sneers

of neighbours she only used the back door.

 

I wander up ancient alleys, sometimes

merely steps steep enough to make

my knees protest and my feet complain,

while my eyes drink in the colours

of painted houses: baby blue, gold,

cinnamon, maroon.

Scrambling up to the balcony

on Callejón del Beso I fancy I see Luis,

the forbidden suitor, across the narrow alley,

holding Doña Carmen’s hand,

giving it one last kiss as it turns cold

after her father stabs her.

 

One night, I eat the mandatory meal

at Truco 7, where a man gambled away

his fortune and his wife to the devil.

Then I slink through the subterranean

tunnels, to see if they are really haunted

by the ghosts of monks distraught

by the demolition of an old abbey.

 

In one week, I explore every museum

from the Casa Diego Rivera to the Museo

Del Pueblo. I stride up another hill,

pay my respects to the French doctor,

little girls dressed as angels, boy saints

and the others mummified in the cemetery.

 

I plop down at a sidewalk café

in the Plaza del San Fernando,

order chamomile tea,

and watch as mothers push strollers,

teen girls sashay by, young men

stride across cobblestones

as if they owned the world,

venders trudge along with push carts,

and children skateboard,

while my feet cool and prepare

for my next adventure.

 


Hot Chocolate at la Biblioteca

 

There are two big bubble eyes

on the top of my hot chocolate,

a small dent that might be a mouth.

I consume this heat knowing

San Miguel de Allende may consume me,

spit me out Mexican. Each little freckle

on the cinnamon-brown face

is a Spanish word I need to learn,

a bright colour I cannot yet name,

a saint whose statue I don’t recognize,

another ranchera song breaking mi corazón, 

begging me to stay and sing along.

 


Souvenirs of Mexico

 

From street vendors, I bought

a handmade doll and a necklace.

I found a little book picturing ancient,

mostly ornate, doors of San Miguel

at a book shop.

 

But how can I explain the other souvenir

I brought home? It’s like this:

There’s a street, if you can call it that,

in Guanajuato, the Street of the Owl,

once the route of donkey caravans

with packs of silver from the mines.

It rises from what once was a ravine

to the top of the city. When I tired

of walking that long ramp up,

I chose sidewalks of uneven stairs.

 

On that warm, sunny January day

a small girl in a plaid jumper

pushed her wheeled book bag ahead of her,

caught up with it and shoved it again.

It clattered each time it fell.

I watched her, not where I stepped,

until my right leg crashed into a two-foot step,

creating a long gash.

 

Six months later, the little doll

with black hair tied in bright ribbons

sits in the corner of a bookshelf

where I notice her once in a while.

Ever so often, I wear the necklace.

The book? I flipped through the photos

when I unpacked. The souvenir scar

I see every morning when I dress for the day

and each evening when I prepare for bed—

a reminder of the callejons I love to walk,

those little alley-streets leading who knows where,

providing vistas of that ancient city so full of life.

 


Picnicking in Rural Mexico, 2007

 

We bring our sandwiches to the bank

of a free-flowing stream,

discover we have invited ourselves

to lunch at the local laundry

of the poor. Women bearing bundles

squat on flat rocks, dip, splash, scrub.

A señora in a bright blue dress

calls out to a boy who runs

along a path with his dog.

Two dark-haired girls balance

on wet rocks, splash in the water.

Their mothers laugh and sing,

sisterhood as sociable as a picnic.


 

Florrie Finds Me in Mexico

 

Wind

plays palm

leaves like strings

of a guitar.

Red poinsettias

wave bright blossoms like flags.

Cedars sway. I want to sing

a lullaby, to rock my first

granddaughter to the pulse of nature

on this warm afternoon in Mexico.

 

Here the dead whisper to the ones they love.

They live closer to the earth’s surface

and rise on the Day of the Dead.

Is that why you come today

to haunt me in this place?

I will celebrate,

pretend I hold

you again,

sing to

you.

 

 



Wilda Morris, Workshop Chair of Poets and Patrons of Chicago and a past President of the Illinois State Poetry Society, has published numerous poems in anthologies, webzines, and print publications, including The Ocotillo Review, Turtle Island Quarterly, Modern Haiku, and Journal of Modern Poetry. She enjoys experimenting with different forms and styles of poetry. Wilda has won awards for formal and free verse and haiku, including the 2019 Founders’ Award from the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. RWG Press published her first book of poetry: Szechwan Shrimp and Fortune Cookies: Poems from a Chinese Restaurant was published by RWGuild Press. Much of the work on her second poetry book, Pequod Poems: Gamming with Moby-Dick (published in 2019 by Kelsay Books), was written during a Writer’s Residency on Martha’s Vineyard. Her third full-length of poetry, At Goat Island and Other Poems is hot off the press from Kelsay Books (and available on the Kelsay website and on amazon.com. She is working on a book of poetry inspired by books and articles on scientific topics. 

Her poetry blog at wildamorris.blogspot.com featured a monthly poetry contest for more than fourteen years.


Three Poems by Jack D. Harvey

 




Icarus Reduced

 

"He will watch the hawk..."

    Stephen Spender

 

Who before him

flew so fast, so high?

His father's advice unheeded.

A reckless boy enjoying

the freedom, the escape

from the ant-bound earth

of men.

 

Plenty of room up here,

thought Icarus,

flying high

on his new-made pinions

higher and higher and the wax,

cooked by the sun,

melts away, drop by drop;

then from his shoulders

the wings sweeping away

in a tapestry of liquefaction

and Icarus,

tumbling down in wonder,

strikes the sea;

coming from on high

its surface

hard as concrete.

 

"Like Icarus,

hands, wings, are found,"

Spender says?

 

Not really.

 

Hands, limbs, guts,

smashed red flesh,

on the sea's surface

unfurling, floating for a while,

never to be found

on the trackless sea;

not Icarus, necessarily,

certainly not in any sense,

but a horrible mess

for the fish and the rest

of the watery crowd

to scavenge and devour.

 

Spender gilds

and guides the fall

of Icarus with his poetry,

lovely enough,

making Icarus' gory end

a delicacy, an abbreviation;

from the plain facts

abstracting what he needs

to please the reader's sense

of artistic restraint.

 

But Icarus falls

a long country mile

of mythic proportion;

near the sun he was,

at least, more or less,

and falling like a stone

from his height

on arrival hits

a sea hard as glass.

 

No seeking or finding

what's left

in the indifferent brutal sea;

a waste of time.

 

That's it, readers,

a waste of time

and this poem

as much as I can tell,

as far as I can see

and what's the point?

Merely another dog

barking at the moon,

bow-wow, bow-wow,

for art and life,

two realities to reconcile,

to piece together somehow

into a fabric that makes

sense of it all,

gives each its place.

 

The trouble is that

we all bleed and die

and Hector's grotesque

dead body,

bumping around Troy,

drags us back, reminds us

of the dirty unlovely sticky bits,

the graphic display

of what can happen

to our fragile humanity.

 

Too bad for us.

Paint it up, paint the lily

how you like,

write that poem;

it's no more than

a momentary break,

a surcease

from the uncertainty,

the hard edge

of our worth and life

here below;

a stopgap for Spender

or some such artist

to insinuate more here

than meets the eye;

than the stark reality

of cold sunlight and

cold water cast

on Icarus' fabulous flight

and fantastic fall.

 


Socrates Said

 

Socrates said,

it’s all in the head;

the fountain’s spurt

flies up from the dirt,

falls back in the dirt,

and the dawn dreams

same as night dreams

 

fade and fall back.

 

Our battles too

Socrates said,

toys for the kids;

our upstairs

junk-filled

to the very stars.

 

I served my time,

Socrates said,

play and purpose

I acted

to the end,

playing more and more

as age unstrung my knees;

I had fun with fools

who killed me

in the end.

 

Hemlock they called it?

Down I drew the

draught-

Apollo’s son

my last refrain.

 

Am I stopped?

 

No, no

clipped off,

the head, the dome

it’s all in all

 

motors on.

 

        

Steinmetz

 

Steinmetz the mindsmith,

like a fetish in his canoe

twisted

and impenetrable as Vulcan.

To command the outside

the dome dumb as the

Balkan heights;

but inside the rails

lead onward forever.

 

Steinmetz, walking on wheels,

happy as a mole;

his vision floats

in the hollows of

the names of

unnamed things;

airy as hawks,

his thoughts

move away from the

pain of his body.

 

The still Mohawk

a vision of plenty,

an outside

ordered as the law of reason.

 

Science?

Steinmetz searches the world’s shell

for a grain of knowledge

for the pleasure it brings

for the bitter despair

 

for the Serpent’s garden

he searches.

 

Steinmetz, prince of his realm,

learns from the river;

stream becomes Strom

and the current carries

 

Steinmetz surprised

 

to a kingdom

not his own.


 



Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Comstock Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Poetry Journal and elsewhere. The author has been a Pushcart nominee and over the years has been published in a few anthologies.

The author has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, New York. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired.

Icarus Reduced was accepted in February 2023 and finally published in Red Weather Issue 40 in September 2023.

The other two poems were published years ago, Socrates in Zombie Logic Review (kaput according to Duotrope and Steinmetz in Duanes Poetree, also kaput, according to an email from the editor who moved to Bangkok. 

Five Poems by Chris Butler

 



I Was Written by AI

 

I'm a poem

written with

artificial

intelligence.

There's no

rhythmic

beating of

the keys

through the

pulsing of

internal organs

and exposed

nerves

behind these

words,

only

algorithms

regurgitating

the entire

history

of poetry

into a

manufactured

process of

synthetic sweeteners

to be consumed

by the tasteless

masses.

 

 

Orange Orangutan

 

Colour makes us hungry,

hunger makes us human.

But I've had too much to dream,

washing the hands that fed you,

draining blood through strainers

that also collect rain water

as I drown in the sun

and burn on this earth.  

 

 

Blue Balloon

 

When letting go of the blue balloon,

the string slowly slips through

a loose fist of indifferent fingers,

as my decapitated head is coloured

the bluish hue of oxygen deprivation,

whilst holding in the final breath

from one last hit of helium,

until it disappears

into the atmosphere,

forever floating away,

camouflaged by the sky.  

 

 

Truth

 

When I graduated

high school,

I wanted to be

a journalist.

After I graduated

from college,

I ended up as

a poet.

 

One seeks the truth,

one speaks the truth.

 

 

Death is Not the End

 

Death is not the end

on an earth

where the conditions for life

are so fragile,

 

precarious and precious,

appreciated only as it depreciates,

 

time waiting impatiently to pass us by 

through the vast void of empty space,

 

tearing through the soft fabric

and the mother's warm comfort

of our first baby blanket

lost at the bottom of a black hole.

 

But because I will not wait for death,

death must wait on me.


Chris Butler is an illiterate poet. He has published 6 chapbooks and 4 books of poetry in his “Poems of Pain” series. His final book in the series, BEATITUDES, will be released this Fall. He also published the book DEAD BEATS with Dr. Randall K. Rogers. He is also the co-editor of The Beatnik Cowboy literary journal. 



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...