Sunday 30 June 2024

Six Poems by R. W. Stephens

 



Like Extended Haiku 

 

 

Tango music muted, open window  

Fading summer light shadows 

Chair on the porch 

An empty glass

  

 

The mantle clock never strikes. 

Liminal stasis made physical 

Time stalled, frozen  

On its fading face.

 

 

A faded picture captures 

A scene of sunny,  snow laden trees 

Winter is here,  

Melting into spring

 

 

Tall trees sway with feathery whispers 

In the waves   

Of a damp wind at sunset.  

The sacred voice of fog  

 

 

Meet on empty beach 

Avoiding boiling sand 

Nod hello as we pass. 

Solitude returns as we part

  

 

Dream of redwoods green in the snow 

Imagine them young 

After a great fire 

Redwoods’ life as a Phoenix







R. W. Stephens is a native of California, born in San Francisco. Now living in Oakland across the bay. There was a sojourn to Wisconsin for university, then  return home with a BS in English. He has had an interesting life, from working in a nuclear power plant to making specialty contact lenses with a week as a guest in a rural village in central China in between. He has been published in  Lothlorien Poetry Journal Anthologies, Synchronized Chaos, and second place in an International Literary Contest Nature 2023. He is the organizer and coordinator for a small writing group based in Hayward, California. “May this wine I pour you sweeten the lives of those you have left behind.” rws  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Poems by Rachel Landrum Crumble

 



There is a Circuit for Sadness


linking memory to emotion,

hippocampus to amygdala,

head to heart.


Mine is a strong but faulty current

I learn now. Sometimes the synapses

flicker and go dark,

like a satellite map of  Midwestern towns

at 2 a.m.: no traffic light, and the odd

porch light or street light

as far apart as fireflies floating

the deserted highway.


This circuit is more the cold ache

of the Aleutian current

than the bathwater of the Gulf Stream.


Some people’s neural circuits light up

like Manhattan at 2 a.m., but

I am that insomniac

back in that Midwestern town,

sitting on a porch swing.


The moon is large and rides the flat horizon.

I can think in such quiet, with only an echo

of a coyote’s distant bark against the barn.



“Each man is a half opened door

leading to a room for everyone”

Tomas Transtromer


Some are double bolted with bars

on a storm door. The loved and hated

inside are prisoners.


Some are blown off, so wind

and rain and vermin come and go—

no more a shelter than a lean-to,

addicts lean against the walls,

curl up in squalor, recognizing no one.


Some are French doors, admitting

morning light, the people within

drink coffee and wake

like swimmers coming up for air.


Some are Plexiglas storm doors

with brass handles. Smudged glass

gives the impression of transparency.

Plastic runners through white-carpeted rooms

welcome no one, the thermostat

a year-round 65 degrees.


Some are scarred but beautiful,

solid oak, uneven stain and raw grain,

the original inside handle replaced

with a crystal knob. The people come and go—

loved, stifled, launched.


 

Lessons on Loss in January


An arthritic oak

wears a tattered skirt

of last year’s leaves.

            Sometimes old grief is ugly and vain.


Two century old yellow maples

grew up together so close

they fused above the roots.

Now one remains, strong and wounded

a bald spot at the base

where lightning blew them apart,

felling the other.

            We survive loss.


A row of red cedars, branches

touching like children’s clasped hands

playing Red Rover, is a strong shelter

against cruel wind.

            Hold hands, and bend.


Yet merciful wind strips high branches

on poplar trees even of loss.

How can Spring’s yellow-green buds appear

without winter blasts that pry those last

dead leaves loose?


Their dark beauty against a changing

palette of sky is its own stark victory.

            Let go.


In January, nocturnal roots

hold fast to the earth in freeze

and thaw, secretly incubating Spring.

            Trust the unseen.


Deciduous trees, like aging starlets,

die from the inside out.

Conifers die from the outside in.

            Leave me my heartwood.

            I am evergreen.


 

Surreality


Here land is sea and sea is land.

I am rocked to sleep each night

and swim the sky across dry oceans.


Down is up and up is down,

so when I am depressed I fly,

when happy, dance the liquid land.


It is virtuous to sleep at sunrise

and wake well after noon, since

day is night and night is day,


Insomniacs walk well-lit museums

of empty streets. Only 24-hour diners

and all-night groceries are filled with

dazed somnambulists wearing shades.


Our waking hours are lit with party lights.

Whole populations of birds lost

to the false promise of luminous cities,

forget their yearly migrations.

When they die, their feathers are the seeds

of a new species.


After death, humans come back, perennials

in spring, in time for Mother’s and Father’s Day,

make amends, or testify

at their own murder trials, vacation

in summer, then fade away in fall.


The world itself grows prodigious

as a cabbage in a bright Alaskan summer.

There is room for all. We fly with no luggage,

no planes. Instead of highways, ribbons of farmland

guide our flight patterns east, west, north and south.


To get back home, we breathe into a paper bag.


 

God Particle: A Cosmology

                  Higgs boson: a sticky particle that gives weight and mass to all it touches…

                  …”smaller than all other particles but also heavier in atomic weight. Considered the glue of the universe,     the Higgs is an invisible energy field that fills space”. (mydictionary.com)


 I.  Dream


A taxonomy of animals parades

through the hardscape

guided by the stars,

or some invisible unction.


Suddenly I sprawl on a brick walkway

below, unbroken. A cardinal

hops towards me with great urgency,

then on my shoulder. I stand up

just as a river of black cats wends its way

through the town.


II. Anxiety/Waking


Heart’s mysterious pounding

in the dark—waking from a dream?

Rehearsing tomorrow’s failure?


Inside a macro womb

constellations of blood vessels

pulse their code,

elemental and Other.


III. Reality: Already/Not Yet


I remember I am held,

held first, then released,

released to crash into everything

sacred and profane:

to resound like a bell

to mourn like a flute.


The prayers of my ancestors

pelt like a meteor shower,

replenish like a Spring storm.

Let me be held in that prescience.

Let me not be forgotten.

Let my elements cycle

through eons and diffuse

to spirit, ash, ether.

When Day descends,

give me my new name

on a white stone.





Rachel Landrum Crumble recently retired from teaching high school, having previously taught kindergarten through college. She has published in The Porterhouse Review, Typishly, SheilaNaGig, and Common Ground Review, Spoon River Review, The Banyan Review, among others, and forthcoming in Poetry Breakfast and Humans of the World. Her first poetry collection, Sister Sorrow, was published by Finishing Line Press in January 2022. She lives with her husband of 43 years, a jazz drummer, and near 2 of their 3 adult children, and two adorable grand twins.  poetteachermom.com is her website. 

Friday 28 June 2024

Four Poems by Gary Bills

 




GRATITUDES

 

I.

 

Ah, bless you Mother Moss, for your kindness 

when I fall, in this, your sacred place,

forgive my silly drunken steps, my blindness;

softer you are than any balm of grace

softer you are than carpets of the Fay

when travellers stand bewildered in the eye;

you put to shame the foam and kissing spray

and clouds that bring their bluster to the sky.

You’re softer than the spring wind after sleet

and make a man forget his clumsy feet.


 

II.


Thank you for your moment's visitation 

Mother Butterfly, although you're only white

And merely tipped with sun - you bless creation,

Flower dancer – glides and jitters in your flight.

You lack the peacock robes that graced a Shah

And some might sneer you're just a poor man's sprite,

But I say, you're quite perfect as you are,

For all you have is offered free and bright -

You bring a world where summer breezes run,

Although your wings are merely tipped with sun.

 


III.


Thank you, Sister Fountain, for your song,

Which brings to mind the rocks where pools are caught;

The pause and brim and pour - now weak, now strong,

The tumbling of those sticks and leaves of thought,

Another place, another time, but one,

The water rhythms - varied but the same,

And flows and trips beneath the changing sun

Repeat eternal visions of your game,

Where water stirs and falls I hope to hear

The salving past - tomorrow without fear.


  

IV.

 

Bless you Brother Beetle as you fly -

I had forgotten wings, you scuttling thing

With carapace of iridescent dye,

Fixed on lacquered black - your armoured back;

Some catch the scrape of death in beetle flight,

That ill-tuned violin, which ends all song

And brings a sudden close to waning light;

But inquisition's pulse is seldom wrong –

You're out about your business through the night;

Such eldritch realms you seek, beyond our sight.





Gary Bills was born at Wordsley, near Stourbridge. He took his first degree at Durham University, where he studied English, and he has subsequently worked as a journalist. He is currently the fiction editor for Poetry on the Lake, and he has recently gained his MA in Creative Writing at BCU, with a distinction.

He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize for his post-modernist epic poem, Bredbeddle's Well, which was published  in Lothlorien in 2022.

Gary's poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including The Guardian, Magma, HQ and Acumen, and he has had three full collections published, – “The Echo and the Breath” (Peterloo Poets, 2001); “The Ridiculous Nests of the Heart” (bluechrome, 2003); and “Laws for Honey” (erbacce 2020). In 2005, he edited “The Review of Contemporary Poetry”, for bluechrome.

His work has been translated in to German, Romanian and Italian. A US-based indie publisher, The Little French, published his first novel, “A Letter for Alice” in 2019, and a collection of stories, “Bizarre Fables”, in 2021. These were illustrated by his wife, Heather E. Geddes. His second novel, "Sleep not my Wanton", came out in January 2022.

"Sleep Not..." is due out again shortly as an audio book, as possibly as a hardback.



One Poem by Daniel Suter

  Narnia     I'm looking for the door , m y mind longing to explore .   I'm pushing it wide open , h oping to find the beauty   o f...