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Friday, August 4, 2017

John W. Gorski ------ three poems


Agoraphobia                                                                                                                                                            1                                                                                                                                                                  
The Baltimore sky hung
automobile exhaust
above Gwynn Oak amusement park
that summer evening.
People approached at angles
in streaming intersections,
as I heard the roar
of the roller coaster
carrying laughter and screams.

Then I saw a boy my age
pass by wearing a dark red
Tyrolean hat with a white feather
making the first crack
that in later years would be filled
by crowded rooms electric
with sinister gazes.

Why that ostentation
agitated me I can’t say
as I look back
at that fog of Ferris wheels
and cotton candy.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
Identity Loss at the Movies

Down a summer street off Myrtle Avenue
in Brooklyn near the El station,
I watch an Oriental epic
in the charcoal hush of the Ritz Theater
while thinking of the first feature about  Joan of Arc.
Somewhere in the celluloid haze,
I’ve dropped my paper school ID card.
Outside, I fidget through my pockets –
crows circling in my thoughts,
hectoring in Anglicized German:
“How could you be so careless;
why didn’t you use your head?”

Years later, it will be found
in a layer of soot – a smiling fifteen year old
in a button-down head shot revealed
by then as a mask burned away
at the stake of daily life.

On the screen, Chinese porters carry
supplies over the border of a mountain pass
of craggy rock and abyss sky
aflame with the Tibetan sun
whose billion facets I would enter
through  colored tablets I swallowed
in my early twenties.
The ignited kindling at my feet
would rise into my brain
with more knowledge than I could program
and I’d  start to wonder
if my mirror image was real.

But at eighteen, I’d  already begun
to fall out of lockstep
with the other soldiers and sense
their jeers before they spoke  –
trains coming from blocks away,
shaking the upper windows of the neighborhood.


                                                                                                                                                                              3
Polaroid Journey Back

I’m going back to
the polaroid length
of the Delaware river.
Standing by its overcast shore
in Wilmington with my grandmother
who mutters in German,
I am four years old
and less than three feet  tall –
an unwitting replica
of Trudy Montag’s main squeeze.

Tonight, I’m looking through
black and white photographs
of my first ten years,
watching my lack of stature
and downcast face winding back
to its headwaters.

The camera’s droll eye
catches me bow-tied
in white shirt and Sunday school slacks
a few years later –
a living room quarterback 
ready to throw a football
while looking towards the floor:
“hey, go out for a long one,
if you really want to “ –
it seems to say.

Or there I am at the front door
of our Maryland address
in the uniform of a space man –
pointing a ray gun
at the other dime store -
costumed  invaders from down the block.                                                                                                                                                                  
And though I eventually reached
the height of 5’ 6”,
there was a swift current
that ran through me
carrying the same sentiment
of the protagonist in “The Tin Drum”
who never wanted to grow up.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Pamela Carter ----- poem

WHAT IF WE DID THAT?


What if we did that — swooped
low over lawns and skimmed
for our dinner the way a swallow
scoops insects from mid-air
on sweet June afternoons?
What if we awakened
and dwelled not on his being gone,
nor on the emptiness he carved
in going, nor on him, a haunt,
no matter how friendly,
but on the solid objects
before us: the kettle, the bib,
the bird in motion, the palm
of the baby’s hand as it waves
at the swift flight, and the new moon
coffee crescent which stains
this last page with daily habit?
Would our tears dam
against our lids? Would he lose
presence in our minds? Would he promise
to return to our dreams in his tiger-striped socks

to dance again with the ecstatic dog?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Karen Havnaer ----- four poems

FOUR POEMS BY KAREN HAVNAER

STREET OF THE DEVIL WINS


Power glimmers on the skyline
from the windows of the First Bank Building
where goodness is a carefully
assembled portfolio
where the fully invested
are sorely offended
by a woman whispering
to a child she sees
in the palm of her hand.
Her hair is alive with lice!
Love lurches down the street toward her
with a broken tooth grin
his eyes on her purse.

This is the street of it hasn’t worked out.
This is the street of the devil wins.

He has a bad record, record, record.
He steals drugs while working
as a hospital orderly, illegally sells
government cheese. His father is crazy,
mother unknown. He admits nothing.

Charity blushes brighter than a baboon’s ass.
This is the street of the devil wins.

He claims remorse, says he’ll
pay back everything. The lie wobbles
like a baby, bounces like a bad check.
His spirit spoils like fruit rotting
in the crates of Central American Cities.
He claims his brain was stolen
and his watch. He slumps in doorways.
He sizzles like cold meat on a hot griddle.

He isn’t ready for high tech.

Their eyes smashed like glittering green glass
Dreams slither through the streets
vicious as snakes that poison
our sense of what it is to be human.
This is the world bowed down to
the drunks curve into it
lie like children chilly in the womb
their teeth loose against the dark.

Change, stuck in its own fear,
imprisoned in a tale of woe,
turns its victims round and round:
It’s papa coming through the door
his sleeves rolled up against his arms
his love careless as a slap.

This is the street of it hasn’t worked out.
This is the street of the devil wins.



THE VIET NAM VET CONSIDERS DARWIN


I’m a free man and so is my wife.
Is she smart? Of course, not.
Whoever heard of a smart woman?
And I mean that respectfully.
And my mother—England or not
am I an immigrant?
No, nor a monkey either.
I’m not a monkey
and I don’t care what they say.
Do I look like a monkey?
Is this a tail?
They ask you to believe
a lot of craziness
but I’m not nuts
or a monkey either
like marriage was made in heaven
but a monkey? Never.
Can you see the difference?
Why not a dog?
Who knows what happened back then?
They couldn’t even write!
Those smart-asses with their eyes
can say what they say;
Democracy will not be mocked
whether they divorce of marry or not.

You think I’m impotent?
I’m not. I’m shell shocked
and I’ll show you a divorce
or any other thing
hanging in a tree or not.
I don’t even like coconuts
and never did—ever.


FIVE HEARTS
(“…a little wretched, despicable creature; a worm a mere nothing,
       and less than nothing…” Jonathan Edwards 1703-1758)


1.
Here he is, a little farmer
no longer than a finger
a hairless curl
rosy as an angel’s blush
a showgirl’s wriggle.
Without eyes, ears, nose
he clearly knows I’m here.
He pulls back, draws forward
on bristles invisible as white eyelashes
then shrivels as if he thinks
I’ll mock his labors
make fun of his looks.


2.
“Dainty fellow,” I protest,
“little nibbler, earth mover
aerator, leaf and litter eater
plant feeder, disposer of all that’s left,
I’m not some callow fellow
here to dangle you before crossed eyes,
a gap-toothed, sarcastic grin
or stuff you where I keep my pocket knife
then forgetting sit on you at dinner.”


3.
A hungry crow,
who’s been pecking
at the street,
flaps in to squawk
and scold as if annoyed
by our alliance.
I lift my trowel
And my five-hearted friend* and I
go back to work.

*The earth worm has no lungs, breathes directly into
  his bloodstream and has five hearts.




VASHON DOCK

A bee saws among berry bushes
brambling thick and blossoming down
torn stairs, where sea leaves cling
to sand and stone.

Ducks rest upon their breasts,
rising, they fall upon their watery backs,
one duck turns to shake the water
from his head.

Clouds tow their shadows through
water that glimmers in their wake.
Wobbling between splintery poles,
the ferry clanks into place.







Monday, June 12, 2017

Julie A. Dickson ------ four poems




Entwined


I am the wind.

Moving air about

more out of boredom, really,

I despise inactivity.


I am the earth.

In silent caves, on rocky cliffs

the darkest forest deep,

The mother beneath your feet


I am the ice.

Thin coating over cold water,

fish peer through my window,

a circling hawk flies in shadow


I am the fire.

Always hot, I burn,

my sorrow in dying embers,

flame gone, no one remembers.


I am the sky.

Not so much above it all;

I wrap myself around

these elements that are bound.


All factions are in kind,

cohesively entwined.                                                                    



Julie A. Dickson

Exeter, NH



---------------------------------

Brown and White
When she boarded the school bus, the first thing I noticed were her very brown legs.
The only portion showing was between ivory-white socks, carefully rolled down –
identical cuffs against her ankles, and the knee-length hem of her plaid uniform skirt.
Somehow, my eyes stayed transfixed on her shins, so dark in contrast to my pale legs.
I looked down quickly, as if to verify this, but also because I didn’t want to stare.
I was a new student, my first day in fifth grade. I didn’t know a single person,
didn’t know how to make friends. I glanced up as this girl slid into the seat in front of me.
I studied the back of her neck, at the tightly curled hair that I wanted to touch.
But I did nothing. I looked at the cover of her notebook; Clara seemed to be her name.
I finally uttered my first words in a soft timid voice, as if to myself, “This is my first day.”
Clara turned sideways in her seat and smiled. “Don’t worry. Don’t be scared.”
I had been on the bus for over 30 minutes and Clara was the only one who had spoken to me.
It was a small town in 1965. I didn’t know about prejudice then, had never met a black girl.
At school, in a sea of faces, none looked at or talked to Clara, but I didn’t know why.
Because of our brief exchange on the bus, she reached for my hand and led me to the classroom.
I didn’t have any other friends that year in school. I couldn’t have known that my simple act
would mark me, drawing a line in the sand so clear that no one would step across.
Clara and I sat side-by-side during that 5th grade year, in class, at lunch and on the bus.
My parents moved away the following summer and I never saw Clara again. I was saddened
that I didn’t even get to say goodbye, that she would look for me in the fall, never knowing…
Twenty years later, on an escalator in a mall, my five-year-old daughter placed her hand
atop a huge dark hand behind hers on the railing. I looked down and saw brown and white.
We both looked up and smiled. He grinned at us, not seeming to mind her touch.
I thought of Clara for the first time in so many years, our skinny shins, brown and white.
Two lonely girls who met on a bus and became friends at a time when no one approved.

Julie A. Dickson
Exeter, NH


-------------------------



Whispers on the Wall


A vagrant vacancy

whispers to the wall,

in silent proclivity

illegible scrawl.


Meaningless message,

or does it preclude

a venomous vestige

most humans elude?


Wander on freely,

most unconcerned -

perhaps quite naively,

no danger discerned.


Disquieted candor,

facts unparalleled -

blindly meander,

our consciousness quelled.


Julie A. Dickson

Exeter, NH


--------------------


Table 3
Needs More Coffee


I’ve been to diners north of Nelson, true

that’s reaching into Canada, you know

BC, for sure took in objectors then,

since ’73, it was the place to go.


So when I made a road trip to the south

to be exact, a town within the states

Bonner’s Ferry Diner, there I stopped

where they boasted some impressive plates.


The coffee shop was crowded on that day.

I sat upon a lonely counter stool,

removed my jacket, drank a steaming cup

a stranger in this place, I played it cool.


Suddenly, a nearby waitress said, “more

coffee for the Neos at table three.”

I froze with my mug halfway to my mouth,

courage gone, I did not turn to see.


The noisy crowd continued with their meals,

I gazed around me, no one seemed to care

that word still echoed, sounding quite surreal

not a word was spoken, not a stare.


Sat silently for moments, didn’t move.

When I finally turned around, I gazed –

a group of shaved head men at table 3;

recalling stories told, I sat there, dazed.


Being from BC, I had not seen

America, by definition spoke

diversity, the melting pot, I heard

the sight before me almost made me choke.


Did these men personify the norm?

Whites supreme appeared the badge tattooed.

It caused my fear to surge, I wondered when

to Nelson more might flee from war, elude


oppression, hate and violence that they face

out in neon light the signs were there,

in diner, I saw faces that would fight,

at table 3, around me, everywhere.



I left the Bonner’s Ferry Diner then

thinking that America digressed,

turned its back on all the progress made

extent of which, I never would have guessed.



Julie A. Dickson

Exeter, NH