An Ekphrastic poem inspired by Metamorphosis 2, by Thomas Terceira.
Kitty is my monument to selfhood.
Drown me now, sailor.
Fir fir fir fir, o little white blossom, save me.
I told them Love poems have no pronouns in newsprint.
She misses her mother, had a few surgeries.
Now these wings on my back and a mustache.
Now she’s telling me her dreams and nightmares.
Just get off my back, this is my map.
Sleepy, erudite, easy, ooooo, bat legs, foxy.
It shares a language, it speaks for the self
and for more than the self; it speaks for the culture.
No way will I have a birded head or be suppressed,
“And that night, they were not divided.”
The poem serves as a substitute culture
with towns and cities of selfhood.
Then she starts blooming into a striped wallflower.
No one could look at the brown blind little creature.
Gertrude, what is trust? A haphazard dynamic.
Take this red road to Rahway. You will find the sticks.
The sticks will be bats. Toss them into the sea or hit homers.
The tiny, starving, thirsty, trampled plant is trust.
Trust is a mother holding her infant.
We learn the extent of our comfort in her arms.
First published in Ekphrastic Review.
Mary Meriam is the founder of Lavender Review, cofounder of Headmistress Press, editor of Irresistible Sonnets, and author of The Lillian Trilogy. Her poems have been published by The New York Times, the Poetry Foundation, Oxford University Press, National Public Radio, Penguin Random House, University Press of New England, Seal Press, and many literary journals.
You are beautiful and faded,
Like an old opera tune
Played upon a harpsichord;
Or like the sun-flooded silks
Of an eighteenth-century boudoir. In your eyes
Smoulder the fallen roses of outlived minutes,
And the perfume of your soul
Is vague and suffusing,
With the pungence of sealed spice-jars.
Your half-tones delight me,
And I grow mad with gazing
At your blent colors.
My vigor is a new-minted penny,
Which I cast at your feet.
Gather it up from the dust
That its sparkle may amuse you.
(Amy Lowell, 1874-1925.)
Photo of Amy Lowell c. 1916 by Bachrach.
The British Army now carries two rifles,
one with rubber rabbit-pellets for children,
the other’s of course for the Provisionals….
‘When they first showed me the boy, I thought oh good,
it’s not him because he’s blonde
I imagine his hair was singed dark by the bomb.
He had nothing on him to identify him,
except this box of joke trick matches;
he liked to have them on him, even at mass.
The police were unhurried and wonderful,
they let me go on trying to strike a match…
I just wouldn’t stop you cling to anything
I couldn’t believe I couldn’t light one match
only joke matches… Then I knew he was Richard.’
(Robert Lowell 1917-1977.)
At about 2.5 ft/sec, a
body in the Loop Current
will disappear posthaste.
Our planet is pitiless,
the nearest goldilocks
14 light years away,
only 4 times the mass
of earth and rocky,
with 18 day orbits.
Perhaps life has existed
near Wolf 1061
the decade we’ve watched,
and bodies warm
in a gulf stream
like Southerners here,
2 weeks to decompose,
8-12 years to finish…
But perhaps not. I can
imagine that world
still unwilling to
loop to death, still pristine.
The chance is as
real and as fun
as the skeletons inside us.
David Rodriguez is a writer and teacher based in New Orleans with an MFA from Florida State University. He has previously been published in the New Orleans Review, The Southeast Review, The Sandy River Review, Hawai’i Review, and Jarfly, among other places.
We are hibernating, but it’s not winter.
We are in the middle of the lake,
but we are not swimming.
We’ve made an island of a canoe.
I brought berries, nuts and plums
and you brought beer, and some poems
that I wrote. Staring out into the woods,
I wonder how many mountain lions are prowling,
scraping their huge paws against bird carcasses
on the ground. They don’t eat dead animals,
you correct me. And they’re nocturnal.
And I point out that we’re not swimming,
but we’re still in the middle of the lake.
First published in the collaborative chapbook, Five by Five.
The pills aren’t for me: they’re for
the man who lives in my stomach,
who is hoisting up my spine with a stick
upon which he is trying to balance
the spinning plate in my head. It wobbles
like a warped record on a player.
The man’s neck hurts from always
looking up at the bottom of the plate.
The pills are to ensure he does not lose his
Marta Shaffer is completing her MA in English at California State University, Chico, where she received first place in the poetry category for the 2015 Intro Journals Project Award. She has worked as a student co-editor/poetry slush pile reader for Watershed Review. She was the winner of the haiku contest judged by Kazim Ali at the Wordspring Writing Conference in 2014. Marta has upcoming work appearing in the fall issue of The Finger, and was also a Chico News & Review finalist in the 2015 Poetry 99 contest. She cannot roll her tongue. She hails from Minnesota.
Photograph of a mountain lion in Grand Teton National Park (not at night) courtesy of the National Park Service.
Why we speak
My grandmother’s song
grows in fields, where
joy is trapped
in the clap of tongues,
grief twirls between teeth,
and silence is sculpted with
She sings of words dressed in ink,
drying in the folds of wrinkled spring.
To save them is to
frame them in speech.
come from fists
breaking open skin
of stagnant ponds,
cut banana slices in milk,
light kissing folded pages of poetry,
apologies churned out of
and in the heel of wise old women
standing over history,
with wind parting their hair.
God of half hill
of half hill.
The other half for
storm goddess, that wily bitch-
he was a sword wielder,
would find stolen gold
from the ear of corn,
spit in faces
stepped on his toe
when he stretched.
Striped of fury-
for fury belonged to the storm,
and him, the half hill.
bathed in silver light-
storm goddess pulls snakes
out of her nostril
skin, lilac of
untouched by spite.
Rishitha Shetty lives in Bangalore, India. She has been previously published in Spark, The Indian Review, The literary yard and The Quail Bell Magazine. She is a member of Bangalore Writers Workshop.
Photograph by Flowcomm.
The days fold
through barbed wire
to the hands
Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, OR. She has six chapbooks and two collections out or forthcoming: How the Blessed Travel (Maverick Duck Press); Forms Most Marvelous (dancing girl press); In Front of the Elements (Grey Borders Books), Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders Books); The Bow Must Bear the Brunt (Red Flag Poetry); We are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), Risk Being/ Complicated (with the Canadian artist Lorette C. Luzajic), and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). Her individual poems can be found or are upcoming in Cordite, The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, The Ekphrastic Review, Red Earth Review, The Fourth River, The Free State Review, Rattle, Posit, and more.
Original photograph by Khlim28.