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Volume 11, Issue 2
Summer 2008

Richard Dinges Suzanne Nielsen
Nirvan Hope Margaret Robinson
Nicholas Messenger Gerard Sarnat

Margaret A. Robinson

Glad

that the bread, for which I had no milk
(and so mixed it with water), rose like
a champ and bakes

that December rain stopped as I walked
with my friend this morning

for the editor who took my friend’s story
and backed off from rewriting the end

that today my students made me feel smart

that the rooster-shaped timer keeps track
of the bread, hot wheat scent rising like prayer
through the house

that my arthritic thumb hurts less than
its wont

for wont, want, taunt, lily, and shit

for lamplight as I speak of the day’s shining
necklace and its beads of dull
events

for health for no war on my street

for chocolate sauce on new bread

Joy

that it's Wednesday, the work week's tallest finger,
the hand's mountain peak

that soon I'll walk with my friend, striding down hills,
struggling up

that he still has one lung, I still have one breast, we may
see a hawk

for the clear back yard sky, holding only two clouds,
now drifting off

for bare trees and thin shadows stretched to gigantic length

for Longfellow forests

for villanelles and free verse

for leftovers to carry for lunch, take-out Szechuan
broccoli and rice

that at work I can make students laugh

that chickadees visit the feeder

for having no child in Iraq

this poem was published in Bellevue Literary Review


Margaret A. Robinson had two poems in the last issue of "Margie." She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Widener University and lives in Swarthmore, PA.

mar0002@mail.widener.edu

 


 

Richard Dinges

July 4

Too many faces
with averted eyes,This day drips blood
from slashed soles,
children running barefoot
through broken glass,
printing their names
in Morse code while
tiptoeing on hot gray
concrete, looking for
a bandaid, red
dots and dashes,
showing the way home.

Airport Terminal

too many modes
of dress and pace,
swinging arms
a blurred jumble,
this human race,
dropped from cloudy
skies, then lifted
back to vanish
into sun's rays.
I find a place
to sit and watch,

pull in my arms
and cross my legs,
pretend I am not come
into a terminus,
just a brief pause,
where I hold my breath
and wait for one
to return my gaze.

Richard Dinges has an MA in literary studies from University of Iowa and manages
business systems at an insurance company. Steam Ticket, Hurricane Review,
Wisconsin Review, Flint Hills Review,
and Nebo have most recently accepted
his poems for their publications.

rdinges@alltel.net

 


 

Nicholas Messenger 

Lourdes

The cripples crawl the tortuous stair
in love with Calvary
like crushed things in a cruel boy's pockets,
while the martyrs
suffering obscenities in the chapels
call their lust.


The market babble
and the burble of the river lap them,
ringing the marble steeple,
with the slow bell tonguing in the lap of hills.


The crescent stairways gape knees to accept them
sucking them from sunlight.


Squirting their white souls on the altar
stinging with candle fire
they leave their sobbing stains,
as arrows leave their barbed heads in the flesh.


They come out with their god's deformity
bent down like men with barrows
laden with his flagellating guilt,


by pornographic trinket stalls
with the plastic badges of his sweet fluorescent pain.
Icons certificate their proud grades of humility.


Amazement finds them, trampling the floral spring,
like carrion-pickers crawling round the market shrine.
They mill like lewd flesh-sackers in a brothel yard.


The crass spa straddles the village
limply like a joyless whore.

Or they enact their own encumbering sacraments.
They walk through speckled fields and hawking alleys,
black with white
like taken chessmen smugly consorting off the board.


They suffer through rough nights teasing vigils,
nailing the dawn's joy to the grass,
and curling their celebrant bodies together
with day-break sweating on the river boulders
in a cleft like black damp skin.


And then, embarrassed by so much confession
suddenly sunder,
following the river up and down respectively,


to flee the haggling soul-mart;
leaving the cheap pressed reliquary filled
with a too saleable epiphany,.
backing along the wooded valley
carefully brushing out their tracks.

The white church rises above the ridges
seeming to follow them.

Subjective Landscape

Without their sails of leaves
still swayed
the trees roar braking wind
in bare-twigged strident turbulence.
The ash thrown down among the inky weeds
bursts into cloud
and swirls above the crinkled water.
Weed heads scuffle on a crumpled can.
The mud-suck slicks my treads around the rubbish buckets.
Weather!
Bags of big moon-blighted cloud
splash mad rain splotches out of darkness
all dark long on anybody out.
I’m out.
I am the night worm,
swallowing in pace before me,
pouring tunnelled darkness after.
Hedged night thunders.
Empty hamlets open rock jaws,
glitter in my lights
and slam behind,
a gnash of bells.
The pruned oak avenues of winter beat
the stroboscope of misty moon.
I am the latest rider on the wings of rage.

The Holy Mountain

Not just the hermits
rising every day before the dawn to wait
on rocky rafts in clouds for it;
nor all the monks and nuns
with bronze gongs longing for it late;
nor all the monkeys squatting in the thousand-foot-high branches looking down
at all the pilgrims in un-
broken sequences up all the up-stairs panting
upwards and down all the down-stairs down;
nor all the toiling porters
crucified beneath the flexing poles of pannikins
weighed down with beer and onions
and undamaged bags of eggs; but all the ordinary sorts
who taking it for sacred, never tread the mountain,
who imagine it abandoned and its cries the shrieks of demons -
all are waiting for the Dragon.
At its stirrings they grow loud with dread, and mounting
eagerness. Its snoring reassures them that it is asleep, not dead.
Its bird-sung silence becomes agony
to them : they shout and bang on things in case it slips away.
We are all living in the shadows of the mountain. Are you ready
for the moment when the Dragon wakes?

( first published in Ascent Aspirations Magazine)

Nicholas Messenger had his first poems published in New Zealand as a schoolboy. He won the Glover Poetry award in the 1970’s. In recent years he has had work published in a good number of online magazines.

nansei@farmside.co.nz

 


 

Suzanne Nielsen

The Democracy of Cranberries

Marie DDS believed with every inch of her life

that at their core cranberries were democrats,

not because of their bittersweet aftertaste,

but due to a hint of blue in their blood

when cooked to a pulp.

Specializing in Alterations

Marianna found a cure for the April wind

by sewing dead AA batteries to the hems

of her skirts. In most cases this served

the purpose until she went for her recent

physical and was asked to step on the scale.

When told she had gained an accumulative

amount of weight she gasped and insisted

her clothes drooped on her lately.

The Presence of a Boat

Mother Teresa passed out life jackets

while the Catalina ignited its engine.

One short, she assured Mr. Ventura

clothing could serve as a flotation devise

in an emergency event. Mrs. V’s attention

was focused on the Book of Mormon

but couldn’t help notice her husband

remove his sandals, touch his toe to the Mississippi,

insinuating that his life preserver, although invisible

to the naked eye, would assist him to walk on water.

The job of Job

Mid-morning in May the doorbell rings.

Cops, I think. Someone’s complained about

the dogs

the kids

my muffler no wait,

witnesses for Jehovah

fill the front steps

Bibles in hands that adorn thumb rings

witnesses of color

they are brave to enter the realms of

the suburbs and for this reason alone

I am patient while they read from Job

insisting He had the answer to

why good things happen to bad people

no wait,

why bad things happen to good people

either way

that’s quite a question for even Job

Such young witnesses, one under duress

the one with an overbite.

The other, the one of color,

she’s a true witness now

offering me information on diabetes

I thank them after their seven-minute revival

I thank them, close the door and wonder if they

think I’m fat or if I have a diabetic look in my eye

no wait,

they’re just doing their job

for Job, for Jehovah.

first published in Brick and Mortar Review

Suzanne Nielsen grew up in St. Paul's East Side, a working class community,the setting for most of her short stories. She writes poetry,fiction, essays, screenplays and memoir. She teaches writing at Metropolitan State University and her work has appeared in various literary magazines internationally in all-of-the-above genres. In addition to

teaching, Suzanne is a wife and mother, a doctoral student at HamlineUniversity, as well as the owner of two dogs. Viewher monthly column, Cool Dead People at www.doubledarepress.com

srnielsen@earthlink.net

 


 

Nirvan Hope

garden grammar

some days are just for editing
turning nouns and verbs like
garden compost mulch dug under

a comma here a colon there
pluck phrases re-arrange paragraphs
sweep away dead leaf redundance

a day for weeding rows of idiom
for space and light of understanding
quicken mundane metaphors of life

prune stake leaning beds of proses
while sprinkler rains on trellised lines
root deep tendrils of reflection

not the day to harvest chapters yet
as tender buds grow perfect meaning
my dear dearest or my darling one

Nirvan Hope is the author of the forthcoming book Three Seasons of Bees and Other Natural and Unnatural Things. She writes and takes photographs in the Pacific Northwest and is currently working on a memoir set in England and Northern Nigeria. Her work has appeared in regional, national and international publications.

nirvanhope@earthlink.net

 


 

Gerard Sarnat

Packing Black

Have you ever packed black, not fashionable black,
chic black, Johnny Cash black?

Rather black prepacked, unpacked & repacked
again & again - or finally wising up - realizing
it's easier to leave a small suitcase off to the side,
ready, just waiting for the next phone call
when suddenly (never knowing the real hows & whys)
you're apprised by some nursing home guy
that your daddy cat-of-nine-lives is sobbing,
"Please, son, fly down to see me,
be here this one last time."

Yes, I mean exactly what you've likely surmised.

Unsurprised Dad's survived, still alive -- barely
('til recently a vital ninety-five, sporting
hound's-tooth fedora,
cruising his red Pontiac convertible,
flirting mercilessly with the girls),
all dressed in my kind of black
(not rabbi or back-end from baptism black
-- we both despise holy black-black),
I'm set to arrive just in time to say our goodbyes
before he maybe dies.

Once mighty Dad lies there
shrunken under a blanket,
pale & buck-naked except for syringes,
IVs, oxygen mask; humiliated; helpless yet lucid;
riddled with cancer -- its stink palpable,
traveling light white this last ghostly trip,
leaving me, a mere sixty-three,
behind ... can I make it without him?

Gerard Sarnat splits time between his San Francisco Bay Area forest home and Southern California's beaches.

He is a seeker and Jewbu, married forty years/father of three/grandfather, physician to the disenfranchised, past CEO and Stanford professor, and virginal poet at the tender age of sixty-two. Gerry has recently been published or is forthcoming in numerous literary journals. "Just Like the Jones'," about his experience caring for Jonestown survivors, was solicited by JonestownAnnual Report and will appear later this year. He is currently working on an epic prose poem,The Homeless Chronicles. The California Institute of Arts and Letters' Pessoa Press will publish his first book.

Gsarnat@aol.com