On this page: poems by I.B. Iskov, jacob erin-cilberto, Jerome Mandel, Jim Bennett, John Marshall, Judy Kronenfeld, Katelyn Whitley, Lisa Aigen, Lynn Veach Sadler, Margot Van Sluytman, C.B. Follett
The following works are copyright © 2012. All rights reserved. No distribution or reprinting in any form whatsoever without written permission from the authors.
I.B. (Bunny) Iskov is the Founder of The Ontario Poetry Society. She is also the recipient of the 2009 R.A.V.E. Award, as Art Educator / Mentor in the Literary Arts Discipline in the City of Vaughan. Bunny’s work has appeared in many fine literary journals andother poetry publications. Her collection, “Sapphire Seasons” is published by Aeolus House Press.
I prefer the box
in the youthful spring.
Like a perfect prefect,
I am in charge.
Long lost whimsy is the festive foundation.
Minor therapeutic posture
bent on raucous revelry
induced by the single size.
at the chance to lay open joyous reveries.
Two extended callused feet dangle down the edge
In my design
symmetrical moments bring out the child.
I visualize familiarity
at a slumber party
just for one.
Garlic and Pepper
Chickens. That’s right, chickens;
one blonde and one brunette
scratch and poop on hearth and home
and everyone thinks they’re cute.
Garlic is the ditsy blonde,
the good-time girl who lays her eggs in strangers’ beds.
She’ll cock her head, do a little dance
and jump on your lap like a harlot.
Garlic can spice up the loneliest fowl on any occasion.
Pepper is the bitchy brunette,
the one who plays hard-to-get.
She’ll fling her head in one direction, waltz in another
and never give you the time of day.
Pepper’s sharpness leaves a bitter taste on every tongue.
Garlic and Pepper live together in the same cage,
share the same food and drink.
These two adopted sisters cluck secrets and
hen-peck away at their owners.
Ken “fog” Gilbert aka jacob erin-cilberto, originally from Bronx, NY, now resides in Carbondale, Illinois. erin-cilberto has been writing and publishing poetry since 1970. He currently teaches at John A. Logan and Shawnee Community colleges in Southern Illinois.
His work has appeared in numerous small magazines and journals including: Café Review, Skyline Magazine, Hudson View, Wind Journal, Pegasus, Parnassus and others. erin-cilberto also writes reviews of poetry books for Chiron Review, Skyline Review and others. He has reviewed books by B.Z Niditch, musician Tom Maclear and others. His 11th and newest book of poetry, “An Abstract Waltz,” is scheduled for release this December. erin-cilberto has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry in 2006-2008. He also teaches poetry workshops for Heartland Writers Guild, Southern Illinois Writers Guild and Union County Writers Guild.
mother superior needling
the voice hungry
the ego starving
songs sloppy havens
refuse of refuge
kick away the microphone with ebbing strength
throw the melody against a raging night
in the morning
you're a million selling artist
suffocating in Goldfinger's web
of unwieldy concern
nowhere to breathe
pack up the drums
i think i hear a deteriorating beat
effortless pounding in the brain
but on the skins not the same
beat the dream into submission
the lyrics will carry you into the coffin
all hands on deck
this girl's ship has sunk into slippery stream
and oceans are only as vast
as the horizon in which the song
every other night i dream you into my poems
but oh yes you have heard that before
and think i'm full of shallow ink
just a word processor
with plugged in feelings
automated rose giver
sweet nothings fading as the printer
runs low on tapped out emotion
i want to slam my fist on the poem
try to get a little color into the lines
pluck the last bit of sentiment
that's deflowered you with me
but then the bruises
would make others wonder
if my love for you is detrimental
and if you really need the in between nights
to recover from the fistful of kisses
i hit you with even when i didn't mean them.
drop me off at 17
there's someone i want to see again
if she's home
after 40 some years of driving me crazy
with visions in my rear view
and memories on pay per view
for only 79.95 a shot
cheap fare considering
in my mind
i never left her front porch
my lips are still touching hers
and when the moon is full
i can almost see our reflection
on the darkened screen of the TV
that i unplugged yesterday
because the rerun of us
our series was canceled
for a chilled night breeze
that made us hold each other
just a little bit closer
and you pulled away.
she crosses her legs
no overtime this night
the workplace dark except for the dim dash light admonition
and the humming heater
the perturbed customer
his hands between her knees
praying for a night cap
but she's tired of her life's wheels spinning
tired of laying rubber between the seats
of opening her mouth too many times in silent benediction
remembers a hymn she sang once in church
just before the priest tried to consecrate her body
with his philanthropic missile
"bless me father for i have sinned"
"bless me sister for you i've sinned"
and now the chalice contains regrets
and short paychecks
because her body is losing communion
with her heart.
Jerome Mandel, Professor Emeritus from the English Department in Tel Aviv University, immigrated to Israel from the United States in 1978. He won first-place in the P.E.N.-UNESCO International Short Story Competition (1997). His stories have appeared in literary magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. The Israel Federation of Writers Unions published his collection of short stories, Nothing Gold Can Stay: 18 Stories Of Israeli Experience In 1999.
And was it just a month ago
he went singing off to war?
To meet the boys,
ride on trucks,
share sandwiches and jokes.
"Don't worry, Mom. Be back soon
with a kitbag full of dirty clothes.
So much hangs on chance.
If only he had stumbled then
who was always fine afoot,
Or a bird had flown between
the shrapnel and his eye.
So much left to tell him.
But what can I say to a limp shirt?
Stands in the slack sea of trash, a pillar
amid the flotsam of looted stores,
—-firm, green, lapped
by the ruin of desire and the desolation
The numb, sated after a frenzy of unwrap
and open, dazed by color, stupefied by number,
sit dull and blind before a tree
by tinsel, hung with gay grotesques, and gift-
wrapped in blinking strings of light,
as by an angry idiot.
A white styrofoam angel askew crowns
the sacrifice razed in rows at forest edge
(like slaughtered mink), too earth-bound
or fine to escape the butcher’s
Lashed, dragged, bought and sold
to stand upbright in a hot house wrapped in light
to flash-all-night/shine-all-day rigorously
compelled to be gay regardless of time,
weather, watchers, want, or need---
the joyless iteration of autism.
The glittering dead, all memory of forest,
savour of pine, dispersed by arid house,
electrically linked and so electrically driven,
like the muscle in the frog’s leg,
to blink in no direction, to no
To be unplugged.
To be stripped of clothes it never wore.
Waiting for the pendant gaiety to be detached
from crucified limbs and gently buried in tissue
for next year’s gaudy resurrection.
Waiting to be unscrewed from the prosthesis
that imprisoned it up but not alive.
To be felled again, dragged again,
condemned and vilified for dropping needles
through the house and out the door
to wash up with trash on the beach of morning,
a curbside corpse, in the thin sun on the tree-lawn
beneath trees that give no
Jim Bennett lives near Liverpool in the UK and is the author of 63 books, including books for children, books of poetry and many technical titles on transport and examinations. His poetry collections include; Drums at New Brighton (Lifestyle 1999),Down in Liverpool (CD) (Long Neck 2001),The Man Who Tried to Hug Clouds (Bluechrome 2004 reprinted 2006),Larkhill (Searle Publishing 2009). He has won many awards for his writing and performance including 3 DADAFest awards. He is also managing editor of www.poetrykit.org one of the worlds most successful internet sites for poets. Jim taught Creative Writing at the University of Liverpool and now tours throughout the year giving readings and performances of his work.
on the corner of the document
there is a metal staple
over the years
it has imprinted itself
two brown lines
of rust stain
sit either side of it
train tracks of rust
three lines like
a diagonal page number
or the room number at
tells me to turn the page
he reads on
the staple and its stain
are hidden by the fold
at least now there
may be a chance of
but in the centre of the page
there is the
remains of a small fly
as it tries to fly
just one last time
John Marshall lives live in southeastern North Carolina, nine miles from the ocean. He is the principal and founder of Epiphany Arts: Cape Fear Poetry Society. He has had his poetry published all over the world; from the United States, Canada, Scotland, Wales and England, to other countries such as Romania and Israel.
John’s awards include the Charles A. Shull Award—North Carolina Poetry Society (three times in three different years), the Caldwell W. Nixon, Jr. Award—North Carolina Poetry Society, the North Carolina Poet Laureate Award—North Carolina Poetry Society, and the Poets' Choice Award in Beautiful Nuance Magazine.
Within the sun and cloud shaped halls
of ancient, sculptured windswept walls
you were waiting
for me to find you.
Among the nubile nymphs and fauns**
wrapped in the raiment of vernal dawns
you were waiting
for me to see you;
and so I came like a child of night
into your eternal, ethereal light;
as you in silence and starry lace
illumined my path to humility.
Upon the mossy, marbled floor
where like rain you draped your hair
you were waiting
for me to touch you.
Beyond the dark and mystic door
where stark and cryptic dreams appear
you were waiting
for me to hear you;
and so I came like a child of night
into your eternal, ethereal light;
as you in silence and simplest grace
illumined my path to serenity.
*Sculpture by Avard Tennyson Fairbanks
**Sculpture by C. Paul Jennewein
The Birds of Ophion
We are the birds of Ophion;
we soar on his powerful breath.
Our pinions were fashioned by the fingers
that spun the strands of space.
We are going to the myrtle grove
to perform the aerial dance,
to honor the guardian of the heights.
We will decorate ourselves with poppies
and with sheaves of corn and wheat.
The songs of our flock will encircle the welkin,
as we hover in the ether of its islands.
We are the sky people;
we fly on the shaft of the wind.
Our music was conceived by the spirit
that composed the chorus of the spheres.
We are going to the oak glen
to call his name,
to summon the angel of the air.
We will paint ourselves with the soil of earth
and with the juices of wild plants.
Our voices will rise in praise of him
who rules the kingdom of the clouds.
We are the hordes of the atmosphere;
we sail the streams of Zephyrus.
Our migration was patterned by the hands
that wove the web of time.
We are going to the valley of the sycamore
to call the god of the cosmos,
to invoke him who governs the universe.
We are the swarm of his creation in form and design,
creatures of his invention through beads of stellar rain.
Legions of his circle, in flight and in song,
we will ornament ourselves with the brilliance of his throne.
Judy Kronenfeld’s poems have appeared in The Women’s Review of Books, Poetry International, Natural Bridge, Cimarron Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Calyx, Hiram Poetry Review, and many other publications. Her most recent collections are Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths, winner of the 2007 Litchfield Review Poetry Book Prize (Litchfield Review Press, 2008), and Shimmer (WordTech Editions, 2012). Born in New York City, she now lives in Riverside, California, with her anthropologist husband, and is a retired teacher of Creative Writing and English (Lecturer Emerita, Creative Writing Department, University of California, Riverside), and an Associate Editor of the online poetry magazine, Poemeleon.
The Heresy of Paraphrase
a true poem is . . . an experience rather than any mere statement about experience
Cleanth Brooks, The Well-Wrought Urn
Spit on my face you Jewes, and pierce my side,
I intone, an acolyte in the garden
of study—Jewish girl from the Bronx
on scholarship at an Ivy college—kneeling before
the vaunted poem. I am imagining John Donne imagining
the crucifixion, meditating
in my carrel-retreat above
the snow-hushed dorms—as Louis Martz said
Donne meditated with the help
of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint
Ignatius Loyola in The Poetry of Meditation
(Yale U.P., 1954). Toes freezing
in my boots, I give myself
to the text, artifact holy
as a reliquary, autotelic—
that word chanted in reverent tones
by Professor R. who’s in love with the swirl
of the Baroque, and swirls with it,
his own turns and bows as beautiful,
he knows, as what he bows to.
I am experiencing every phoneme
like blessed wounds; as Donne
becomes Christ—for sinnes,
which passe the Jewes impiety—
I become him, my voice lowering
to his plangent prayer in the sestet—
Oh let mee then . . . admire—
and not once do I think Jewes,
She was well-married as Miranda
to Ferdinand, zippy as Rosalind
in Arden, pony-tailed like a kid,
at her first MLA in 1971, when the handsome
professor of Middle English lit
who’d taken to saying in class,
“Feel free to call me Rick!” (was he
newly entering the late ’60s zeitgeist?) invited her
to his room on some job-search
pretext. Assuming concern
tantamount to her own
ambitions, she went, not overly
suspicious, and watched while he,
obvious as an undergraduate
cribber, poured more Scotch
than she might drink in a month
of grad-student dinners. But his lips when he
kissed her descended softly
as dewe in Aprille
that falleth on the flowr—their pressure
subtle as the most deft irony.
She helplessly savored
their touch, then begged off,
murmuring something earnest
about loyalty. He asked Are you
sure? then let her go,
then said—as her heart fell through all
the stories of herself like an elevator
out of control—I’ll still write you
a good letter for that job.
That’s an unusual name
–Never heard that one before. How did you say you spell that? C-o-r-n-f-i-e-l-d?
–Whoa! That’s long.
Praise to the republic of names
with –chik or –chek or –nik
with shtuh or tsuh
or –etto or –ini, or –ez or –ero
or –feld or berg
names that sputter
with –owski or –ewski
or –enski, or –zhinsky
names that belong
to the great
in one time zone
and ends in another
with –opolous or –amian
–ayam or –ootham
–swami or –arasamy
names that might choke
the maws of pols and pundits
like chunks of dough—
Puttermeister, Nice to see you
Secretary Svidzinskaia, Family well,
too big to swallow, juicy
names that make you chew
with open mouth,
names that clatter
over the ground
like a toddler’s corn-popper
push toy, or quack and flap
names, full of flavor
the whole raucous
Babel chorus of them.
Katie Marie Whitley is a thirteen year old Christian. Her hobbies are reading, writing, playing the piano, and having fun with her cats. She is the oldest of seven children, and she enjoys being so. She is currently working on her first novel. She writes poems for many people online when they ask her to.
Heart of Ice
A girl stood on the side of the road.
This girl has a heart of ice, I've been told.
She never blinks, she never talks.
It is shown in the way she moves, the way she walks.
She cannot love, she cannot feel.
You may wonder, how can this girl be real?
Her heart is numb, her mind is cold.
Her hair is wild, her arms are folded.
I look at her, and she looks familiar.
I can't help but find this peculiar.
I now know, my eyes widen as if this is the first time I've seen.
This girl standing in front of me, she's, well, me.
Been writing poetry. Plan to write more. Kids are more or less raised, off in their six different directions. They don’t mind that I am finally going in mine. I love my work as an art therapist, enjoy a quiet coffee with Steven, my spouse, my friend, every once in a while...to read him what I write.
Vincent's Empty Chairs
splayed, the legs
stood solid on terra cotta patchwork.
Spring had caressed
the spouting onions
musky like his tobacco
Sharp Like his turpentine.
He left his pipe
on the yellow ladder-back
"See I was here!"
Gauguin's Green Chair
Like so much in his life
Vincient was disappointed.
But he banked a small flame in the hearth
for his friend
left two good books
on the chair
so if he should come again
stay long enough this time
to read them.
right out of the tube
Silver and ochre bristles
paint a seam.
silver blue veins
Subtle, verdant nuances
the cracked patina
of the planet.
Soft, gentle drizzle
The downpour keeps me inside
As if I'm paper.
The bridge has broken
Fast feisty, the river swells
All this fuss, mere drops.
Wind hums in the pines
I long to sit there quiet
Low boughs drip warm rain.
Lynn Veach Sadler
Lynn Veach Sadler is widely published in academic and creative writing, former college president she has seven poetry chapbooks out. One story appears in Del Sol’s Best of 2004 Butler Prize Anthology; a novel will soon join her novella and short-story collection. She won the 2009 overall award of the San Diego City College National Writer’s Contest and Wayne State’s 2008 Pearson Award for a play on the Iraq wars. She has traveled around the world five times, writing all the way, and works fulltime as a writer and an editor.
Seeing the Elephant
Antepenult of cruises ’round the world—
“The Come-One,-Come-All White Elephant Sale.”
And all but one do come.
(P. T. Barnum’s pinioned in his berth.)
Three ship’s rooms, all public hallways cleared—
for booty and looting. You enter all
your former-exotics, priced five times higher.
Termites have haute-cuisined on
Mombassa’s eight-foot-high giraffes,
Masai warrior tribe with
Piraeus’s genuine Persian carpet
persists in unpiling.
Argentina’s maté cup leaks;
its straw won’t draw.
Sydney’s ship-in-the-bottle has sunk.
Bali’s “ten watches for ten dollar”
have lost any sense of time
they might have had.
One of Mumbai’s great
stone matched pachyderms
World-wide gemstones have all gone glass.
You now know: real ivory and vicuña
aren’t allowed out.
The aroma of Seychelles vanilla has vanished.
The multicultural aphrodisiacs
make your mate sleep.
The Pampas leather jacket
has porcupine-quill holes.
On and on you sale in
To a man, every ship’s mate
is smug and knowing.
You see their smugness,
shove aside four women
for a frazzled mambo frock,
fading as you fight.
No woman has to be
Union or Confederate
to see the elephant!
The You’s of Public Life
You have to please PARTY,
PEOPLE, BODY POLITIC,
everyone (except your mother,
who will accept you anyhow).
You have to be your own self
but can’t be too soft or hard,
to compromise is worse than weak.
You can’t [overtly] torture;
America doesn’t engage in such.
You can’t owe friends.
You certainly can’t owe non-friends.
You have to ignore your General MacArthurs.
You can’t ignore your General MacArthurs.
You have to be loved, feared, admired,
“folksy,” appear lucid, not go dumbstruck,
and get along.
You can’t be intellectual!
You can’t tell all.
You can’t lie.
You can’t have a private life.
You can’t have a life.
You have to be a chameleon.
You have to be you.
You have to have a you to be.
You can’t be right-brained.
You can’t be left-brained.
You can’t be ambidextrous of brain.
No matter what you do,
you’ll ever after be a pol!
Your strangest bedfellow will be yourself.
Tupac Shakur and Inca Gangsta Rap
Mr. Spanish Man now
don’t be knowin’
Inca’s Quechua for “prince.”
Mr. Spanish Man let
Inca Manco Capac rule.
Inca Manco Capac
playin’ possum two whole years.
Then Inca Manco Capac he broke out.
Built him Vilcabamba
on Urubamba River.
Inca Manco Capac’s son
Inca of Vilcabamba IV.
Incas call him Túpac Amaru.
Mr. Spanish Man take de head
of Inca Túpac Amaru.
Mr. Spanish Man now
don’t be knowin’
Túpac Amaru got hydra head.
Long come Túpac Amaru II.
ain’t he rebelled agin’
Mr. Spanish in Peru?
Mr. Spanish don’t be knowin’
dis one Hydra II.
Long come horde of hydra heads.
Call ’em “Tupamaros.”
Down Uruguayan way.
Inca Raúl Sendic’s men.
Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.
Dey back in Peru.
Now here be me.
Inca Gangsta Rap, Man.
You gets my shank.
What you don’t be knowin’—
Mr. Spanish Man be you.
Mr. Spanish Man now
don’t be knowin’ Inca’s Quechua for “prince.”
Same ole, same ole anyhow.
Dey got me,
Tupac Shakur, too.
Margot Van Sluytman
Margot Van Sluytman is an award winning Poet and an Expressive Writing Facilitator who teaches individuals how to write their voices to find healing and transformation. She is a recipient of the Seeds of Joy Award from The National Association for Poetry Therapy for her book, Dance With Your Words: Tears Let Me Begin to Speak. She received a scholarship from The Merton Institute of Contemplative Living, where she completed her book, Contemplative Waiting: Write Into the Heart of Your Spiritual Journey. She recently received The Queen Elizabeth the Second Graduate Scholarship for her Master’s work. Her focus is on Sawbonna a sibling of restorative justice.
Sophia Dances Near
Silent night creeps and crawls
Into my crushing betrayals.
But before I can permit myself
To cave, sentinel stars lean into
My fears, tenderly enfold
My long-hidden shame.
This night candles lit, I kneel
Before blazing fires. Raising my
Heart onto the altar that is
Sophia's blessing. And She
Encourages me to feast upon
Surrender. To dance my passionate
Tears like wildly rejoicing waves.
With trust. For She knows.
CB Follett won the 2001 National Poetry Book Award for her Collection of poems "At the Turning of the Light" published by Salmon Run Press. She is the Poet Laureate of Marin County, CA (2010 to 2012).
Follett is the publisher and owner of Arctos Press and with Susan Terris was editor of RUNES, A Review of Poetry, an annual themed anthology, published until 2008.
She has won the Portland Poetry Festival Competition, The New Press Literary Quarterly Prize, the Northwoods Journal National Poetry competition and a grant from the Marin Arts Council.
The shadow of Earth consumes the face
of the moon like a shuttering lantern
across the evening sky.
The shadow eats the moon coming,
disgorges it going.
The moon seems consistent
in its lack of attention,
affected by neither the seizure
nor release of its light,
like those who remain unaware,
unconcerned, about each step I make
in my new black shoes
although in the end
every small tender movement
connects along some thin wire
stretching between us,
from which hang those delicate
bells we almost hear.
Mulberry bushes are kept low to the ground,
so low you can see workers
bent in their white shirts
reaching into the fat green leaves.
The workers have wide hats of woven grasses
that look like dinner plates in Alice’s Wonderland.
Long rows of green dotted with white.
After being inside the silk factory,
field workers seem lucky to be outside,
to smell the rich earth under their feet,
the bruised green of leaves,
the warmth of sun wrapped around them.
Inside are machines, heat, and steam.
Oval cocoons are soaped to remove the gum,
bleached to whiteness, tumbled
in boiling water to loosen the silk
and fed into machines,
one tiny strand at a time – undone –
all that work the spinning worms thought
would protect them into moth-hood.
Over burning water, young girls
lean forward, their hands red and
too sore to touch, their necks
at that curious angle that defies the spine
day in – day out – steam, clanking machines
bobbing cocoons, impossibly thin threads – the worm
giddy and cooking in its tumbling, its thinning walls,
the first translucent light of its death.
Unreachability of Truth
In the convictions of morning
fresh from the work of dreams,
truth can be sassy
as a sparrow warbling on the window branch.
By noon, it has set like concrete and
much store may be put in it, but by dusk,
it begins to crumble into uncertainties,
becoming unreliable as sand.
Page two, where our paper sometimes
puts its science writers, and I am happy
to see Perlman there in the morning,
or Petit, filling me in on some tidbit
of the lines and planes of space or land:
theories trotted out full of proof and conviction.
Other scientists will come, unpin them from the line,
cart them off to labs or computers to branch out
in hypotheses that may, or not, hold water, or stars.
Then a few months, a year later, the theorems
so full of facts are no longer the truth.
Some data of matter or a carbon date
has changed the truth to new truth.
When Gatsby swore to Daisy that he’d love her
until he gasped his last, was it true? For that moment
he believed; she a touch more skeptical.
The shelf life of this truth no more nor less
than that of the proven consistency of Mars
or the conviction that introducing a small beetle
could control the killer bee, or that rabbits
would be good for Australia.