back to Five Willows Literary Review main site

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Alley S. Greymond --- Three poems

(c) 2005

I am envious of the table; the way it stands, resolute
in the north, the south, the east and west of it.
The table is rarely restless, never inching
toward the back door at sunset, never shuddering
in hesitation, so that the piled books and empty places
never shimmy to the edge and fall. The blameless table.
The ulitarian table. And I am envious of the lamp.
It doesn't seem to mind whether it pours forth light
or is left in it's own darkness. And the bookcases;
they contain all the arguments of the books and the knick-knacks
over priority placement. The paintings don't rage at the chairs
nor ignore the submissive rug covering scars in the floorboards
and bundled dust. The bed too, is satisfied
whether I make it or leave it a mess.
This whole houseful of items, unconcerned about the dimensions
of their existence, about whether they are extensions of me
or are a series of facts standing on their own.

(c) 1994

Vicky Carter teaches god and the 3-Rs
to second graders at Jackson Christian School in Tennessee.
Vicky Carter relentlessly raises funds
for the Soldiers' Angel Foundation
signing hundreds of cards each week.
Vicky Carter is a Funeral Director in Bakersfield.
Her dead are buried with dignity.
Vicky Carter wipes the brow of the weary
and prays for the sick.
Vicky Carter tells me that life is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.

Vicky Carter manages the Wilmington Mellon Bank
and still finds time to partner with the YMCA
Black Achiever program. In the photo
Vicky awards the honors, smiling,
and we smile with her.
Vicky Carter is the mother of a star
USC Trojan basketball player.
When I am quiet, I can hear her cheer.
In 1971, Vicky Carter changed her name to Vicky Nguyen.
Some Vicky Carter will always remain inside her.

Vicky Carter transcends race, religion, geography
and time. She is almost always female.
Vicky Carter is a quantum leap in our evolution,
an exponential growtht, an algebraic formula
I struggle to figure out. Vicky--the faster I hurry
the slower I go.

Vicky Carter is a Tissue Establishment Registration Coordinator
for the Human Tissue Staff
at the Rockville office of Blood Research and Review.
Vicky Carter oversees the Keele University Center
for applied Entomoly and Parasitology in the U.K.
I would probably be dead, if it weren't for Vicky Carter.
Some generous quality, some selflessness
motivates her to eradicate our suffering.

I believe there is a little Vicky Carter in each of us.

Vicky Carter is a Florida Real Estate Lawyer
and a Realtor in Joplin.
Vicky Carter crossed America on the wagon train.
Vicky Carter died in Portland in 1898, survived by
two sons and six granddaughters, all carrying Vicky Carter DNA.
Vicky Carter knows all there is to know
about property, about turning a house into a home,
about birth and death and the cycles of it all.

Vicky Carter is a fifteen-year old singer
of love songs in Calgary. Her talent exceeds her years.
Vicky Carter is a relay runner at the San Antonio
Community College. Her body is a temple.
Vicky Carter rides horses on the weekend all summer.
She travels in the winter. To live like Vicky Carter
is neither easy nor difficult.

Vicky Carter asked me
What benefit can be derived from distinctions and separations?
All I need can be found in vicky Carter.
Vicky Carter can be found in me.


If we can be reborn, if we can ask the form
let us not ask for this. Let us try something different.
Maybe moss, deep in timberline up the slope of Index
where only the hardiest may see and leave us.
I could be a short-tenured fern beside the pine
upon which you entice in tactile emerald plush. Let us try
something that requires the courage only to survive,
that has only the weather to forgive. Let us try
something that does not require love, as humans know it;
surreptitious negotiations that bind us like a loose button
and a fraying hole. Too rare these moments of comfort
that filigree between sporadic reminders of your affairs;
photographs stuffed under the mattress, glove box condoms,
Hotel soaps. Our hearts navigate a minefield.
If we are required to learn the lesson of love, then let us lumber
back as dogs, loyal for life, whose tails never lie.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Joanna Sit -- two poems


When Michael Johnson of English

Comp. 150 asked what it meant,

I told him, “something

that doesn’t last long. You know,

like the half-life

of a dream, a bubble

that you pop

inside childhood,

some would say that

another word for it

is ‘fleeting,’ but it’s not

a synonym

‘cause ‘fleeting’ implies

flight, movement, a kind

of elusiveness, and if you

really want to look into it,

‘fleeting’ is a word made

dishonorable by Jason

and all pirates of his kind,

fleet stealing the fleece plus

the killer girl (later he’d be sorry –

but more on that in your Intro.

to Lit class), birth of Aphrodite

and the Trojan War, blood soaked

ships sailing on winds of sacrifice,

sands of Iwo Jima, smell of napalm

on China Beach, the word

is different from that, as you see,

‘cause it has no movement,

no history, no promise

of violence, maybe a trace

of pink in the sea foam

from a dying soldier…

note that it is constant,

but not, it’s there but for a moment,

and the moment depends

on what you think of time -

long enough, not enough,

but it’s enough, as in the relativity

of time, which you can read

about in your advanced physics

class, except you wouldn’t learn

about the mass of loss, how

much that weighs, and the speed

in which it travels in

its own light, or missing

something that was never there,

a word whose noun you can collect

in plural, bid on its history, which

brings me back to

the point that it’s not

like the idea of the temporary

even though neither can be

traced. We, shameless, try to

give it time, or definition,

like jail in place of guilt.

At the end, temporary only implies

coming constancy and promise,

rewards of waiting for another

that’s not and so in this case

there’s hope and in that, a sense

of return, so temporary is the lover

filling in for love (the word made

flesh, the word made mortal), a way

to wait for reincarnation, some

redemption when you keep the moment

for more permanence, like

the cotyledons of ferns,

the coleoptiles of grass,

the true subject of Whitman as opposed

to the true cause of Dai Yue’s Lament

of the Flowers in Dream of the Red

Chamber (also later, when you take World

Lit in your Junior year) would be

the leaves of the cactus pear,

blooms on the cherry tree

and everything you see

and everything you know.


Daylight Saving Time

It’s going to get dark

early soon, night barging

in before we have a chance

to eat at the table, even if

by “we” I mean

the rest of the world

outside these windows, even

if by “eat” I mean drink,

even if by “chance” I mean

no choice but

all of this, without

invitation or rejection

a gust of wind raises

the curtain, a leaf having enough

looses itself from the elm

and the end of day.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Poems by John Burgess



make my heart
beat irregular

take off
at crazy speed

murmur and stutter

slam against
my breath

beat me
wild drummer

skip and skip and skip



Like Apollo's capsule
the angle has to be right

A slant of light thru fogged goggles
exaggerates visionary tendencies

Sun spinning in syringe rituals
& everyone a Security guard 

Not all places signed
are signed correctly

In a circle beneath a streetlight
on the lawn beside the chapel



Our fathers and their fathers
what passes in the veins
brutality a blood bondage
always did look good in heels

to get at something common
dig around the root
indifference is symptomatic
Mr. Reed is dead

velvet can cause arousal
epic only comes in metal



Always stand waiting vigilant at the edge. Patrol the border where light of conflagration and reason no longer reaches. Set camp at darkness. Look homeward for the durable unmet pattern of night. Say nothing. Cradle him. Circle his halo. Remember that meaning is in things you carry in your back pocket. Anticipate the full force of his open hand against your body. Be there when stumbling and mud-stomped the angelic makes his way toward light.



What once signaled the end of buffoonery has become a ritual of black wearing. Can emotions be provoked by a noun? Tripping dazed down confused hallways and expanding sidewalks. You remind me of her. The good moon that wanes fatigued. Her white-linen face blushed with deciduous imagination. You slouch. Once the recorder of lost incidents you can't name which morning sun you're remembering. You're a faker. And this is fiction.


You will come to love this land as much as I do. How hard it can be! Tolerance can't be taught. It's not about me, it never was. Subterranean isn't a state of mind here. It’s as big as myth or as real as any street name. It hardens thru repeated administrations like stacking stones or laying bricks. It's the reason for 12-packs and carryout. I see it in your face. There will be stories written someday.



The way she exhales as if growling or beating a cymbal. Using the leverage capabilities associated with screwdrivers to get at things. There is an opening and closing to each scene. Level 20 is required and its weight of 20 comes with 32 defense points. You are thinking about something practical not decorative. It's not sentimentality that makes me keep the cut-glass decanter on display. I will flatten my memories to the thickness of paper. Pleasure comes from seeing context for determining scale, you say. A dog sniffing for explosives at the Post. A biscuit.