In Consideration of Things Seen or Only Felt by Devon Balwit

Approaching sirens wail, but I examine
glistening stonefly larva, balled

in an open palm, and a regal moth coif, elaborate
as any contessa’s. I count

the feathers of a barred owl’s wings,
for a moment shielded

by their spread blessing. I know the fate
of this and every other poem

having recently wandered the stacks
of the largest bookstore in my town,

pitying the slim volumes huddling
for warmth, each orphaned darling.

Better to consider the crystalline perfection
of snowflakes delivered

by the same technology that pinpoints
airstrikes but cannot spare

noncombatants, or to lose myself
in the archives of the surrealists,

a preserve for insomniac dreams,
the meticulous obsessions of three a.m.

As covertly as a masturbator, I pour over
Paphiopedilum and Phalaenopsis,

blossoms spread like blood-swollen privates—
all of this, species and souls,

evanescing, as it would even were the State
benevolent, and the earth not wheeling

at 1,550 km/hour, spinning skin into crepe,
bones into spun-sugar filigree.
 
 
 
Devon Balwit is a writer/teacher from Portland, OR. She has five chapbooks out in the world. Her poems have appeared in Rattle, The New Verse News, Poets Reading the News, Redbird Weekly Reads, Rise-Up Review, Rat’s Ass Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, Mobius, What Rough Beast, and more.

 

 

Two Poems by Kierstin Bridger

Photo by D’Arcy Norman.

Flight Plan Interrupted

I often guess at names for towering clouds,
walk Wonder and Preconception on separate leashes,

try to picture where the other shoe has dropped
or where it dangles somewhere barely holding on.

Skyscrapers are nothing seen from the window
of our Cessna. Flat planes of gray concrete stuck to the land.

Never mind their stories, their poetic sighs
elevated and numerated from within.

Yet here I am floor 7, room 728 remembering
their silent geometries as I watch the citizens below

in matchbox cars and other combustibles
(addictions and intentions invisible

save for the wink of turn lights and the curl
of smoke slipping out thin window cracks).

From this vantage I can’t see the red satin slipper
we passed a half an hour ago.

The shoe was not without sex appeal
the mystery of abandon— one thin strap,

told tongue-tied tales of a date gone bad—
maybe a pilot, a cad, and some fresh rose

scented with vanilla and musk
dabbed behind her ears.

Too much tequila—too much, too fast—
details more mundane than sublime.

It seems whether aloft or on sidewalks,
Scuff and Speculation are the only dogs I know.

 

Snapchat/Snapshot

The soft hair of a mule deer
floats inside the open window sill
without notice.

There is no mesh screen, only a boy
entangled in his bedsheets,
a thin phone glows in his hand.

He takes photos of himself
naked torso, profile in shadow.
The ambient stillness of lamplight

is kind to his face
which is broken out but only a little.
He is thinking about the girl

across the country.
It is still early evening for her.
Dishes just cleared from her California table,

olives poured back into the jar, bottles
slick with sweat, glisten near her head.
She has stood so long in light of the icebox—

an old fashioned word
for a new and not so knew time— an hour
has slipped past without making a sound

save for the cool thermal hum.
The boy and the girl
exchange images over and over.

Her face tilted, filter of cartoon:
doe spots, lips parted in half pout
while his eyes grow heavy with sleep.

Outside an animal folds its legs into the sage,
tucks his new velvet prize in moonlight
and beds down for the night.

 

Kierstin Bridger is a Colorado writer and author of the 2017 Willa Award winning Demimonde (Lithic Press, 2016) and All Ember (Urban Farmhouse Press). Winner of the Mark Fischer Poetry Prize, the 2015 ACC Writer’s Studio Award, an Anne LaBastille Poetry Residency and short-listed for the Manchester Poetry Competition in the UK, Bridger is both editor of Ridgway Alley Poems and Co-Director of Open Bard Poetry Series. She co-hosts Poetry Voice with poet Uche Ogbuji. Find her current work in Prairie Schooner, December, and Painted Bride Quarterly. She earned her MFA at Pacific University. Kierstinbridger.com.

Columbine by Dana Bloomfield

I experience this through John.
My widower friend enters my office,
back from his coffee break
with breaking news
that fifteen lay dead in a Colorado school.
Hostages, bombs, mountains, columbine.
I let his face tremble
and his voice sway dizzy, heavy wonder.
I am his quiet anchor, How tragic…
Columbine High School.

Yesterday, radio rhetoric argued
that American education doesn’t prepare
children for the global marketplace.
Glazed-over American eyes turn away
from Kosovo’s blue light hum
to tremble, sway dizzy,
learn late what it’s about.
I survive this onslaught.
I have John for a human shield.

 

Dana Bloomfield is a retired preschool teacher. Her poems have appeared in Baltimore Review, Digges’ Choice, Baltimore Women’s Times, Green Revolution, and the anthology Grease and Tears.

Music Hath Charm by Jack D. Harvey

Sweetbody told me
that in the Republic
of Mars
surgeons operate
not with scalpels
in their mitts but
with musical instruments-
can this be true?
The ragged edges of
make-believe are
strained by that metal.

Who can’t see the
trumpeting surgeon
blowing an abdomen open
with the brass,
or the piccolo twiddling
away the cerebellum?

What fancy irritations
for the bemused patient.

Locked in death,
the corpse is a feast
of sound;
the human recovery
a triumphal procession.

Death allegro,
life andante.
Maybe on Mars
concerts are swashbuckling
events,

redder than the planet itself.

 

 

Previously Published in Indiana Review.

 

 

Jack D. Harvey has been writing poetry since he was sixteen. He lives in a small town near Albany, N.Y. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired. Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, Mind In Motion, The Comstock Review, The Antioch Review, Bay Area Poets’ Coalition, The University of Texas Review and a number of other on-line and in print poetry magazines over the years, many of which are probably kaput by now, given the high mortality rate of poetry magazines.

Two Poems by Victoria Crawford

Angel Autumn

Oranges, scarlets and golds
burst across the Southland,
mobs of Fall color,
to match my mother’s calendar
as the year and pages grow thin.

SoCal unique autumn benefits,
nightly news touted catalog,
for the encircling mountains
of Ciudad de los Angeles:
clearance for spring of
fragrant manzanita, oily chaparral,
wildlife has more open space,
hi-temp seed germination.
Jerky cameras display flamed brilliance
climbing against the stars,
up the Angeles Crest.
Pine and oak torches dance on hilltops.

Angelino child, I stand in my front yard
and wonder about California seasons.
The radio told us it was
carelessness or intentional,
or an Act of Nature like auto
insurance called it
when our car hit a deer.
I watch the oranges, scarlets, and golds
on the horizon and stick out my tongue
to taste drifting ashes.

 

 

Cypress Years

A kid scrabbles up gray boulders,
forsaking mother’s sedate path.
Plaque is read, for my inattention,
detailing two centuries of life
for Pebble Beach’s Lone Cypress.

Among towered stones, she dwells
in the house of adversity
between typhoon winds and melon
sunsets crimped on the horizon.
I grip her coarse bark, smelling
the sour of decayed aspirin.
Chains upright like crutches hold her
in place— fun for my swinging,
until mother warns me off
to tide pools below Madame’s feet.

My own children rock scramble,
probing tide pool short lives:
sea urchin, star fish, and sculpin.
Park bench suits grandma and me.
We admire the tenacity
of Lone Cypress from forty feet
fenced to secure safety from
tourist feet and arson.
Scorched, a twisted arthritic
fist stabs at heaven,
immobile and eloquent,
Cypress persists. We change

and I push my mother up
a wheelchair accessible trail
to an inaccessible tree
a last 17 Mile Drive tour.
Soon mother’s dust will waft
to the unseen Western Isles.
How many greats of grandchildren
will see this vibrant tree?

 

 

 

From Monterey, California, Victoria Crawford is a poet passionate about connecting nature and the human experience in words to share with readers. She has been published in Peacock Journal, the Ibis Head Review, Wildflowers Muse, the Lyric Review,
Eastlit, and other magazines, as well as having upcoming work in Canary and Pacific Poetry.

The Truth of the Matter (Revealed in My FB Feed) by Devon Balwit

The dog has a parrot
perched

on his nose.
He watches

with a single eye,
concerned

by the beak
so close

to ocular jelly.
The dog is trying

to be a sport,
the parrot

only itself,
coy, mugging

for an unseen
master. My own devil

perches the same,
God

looking on.
Perhaps, his stay

will be as brief
as a photo op,

perhaps, a lifetime;
perhaps he will take

an eye. His talons
prick

my bridge.
I look askance.

 

 

Devon Balwit is a writer/teacher from Portland, OR. She has five chapbooks out in the world. Her poems have appeared in Rattle, The New Verse News, Poets Reading the News, Redbird Weekly Reads, Rise-Up Review, Rat’s Ass Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, Mobius, What Rough Beast, and more.