#31

Ananda Selah Osel
The Last Poem of the Night

my real name is
not the name
you know me by
I changed it
to hide from
you and them
and him
and me

i went over there
and found nothing
of interest
in that stuff in which others found interest
and so i came back here
sat there
and looked up at that
thing
until my eyes started to water
and get kind of itchy

then I walked that way and
asked that lady if she knew my
real name
and she said she didn’t
and I had some emotions about that
but I did not show them
to the lady who was down that way

so,

it is best not to change your name
but if you do
you should remain
in your place
even though you may want to
go elsewhere
and make a new history
for yourself

anyway,
the point is –
i am still me
even though i
insist you call
me
something
else

 

 

Sharmagne Leland-St. John
Murmur

She was on the ragged edge of sleep, in those dark
velvety moments just before dawn, in the small, crowded
bedroom of the old Spanish bungalow on Vista Grande.
The small bedroom she shared with her sister, and a year
later with a newborn baby brother. Her dark-eyed sister,
Nicole, lay sleeping in the twin bed, which ran crosswise
at the foot of her own long, narrow bed. Curled up on
her side, facing the wall, with its swirls of white wedding
cake plaster, straight black hair in pink rubber curlers,
her older sister slept, unaware, undisturbed.

Some unidentifiable murmur in the dark and distant
garden with its tangle of fruit trees and brick edged,
moss covered, herring bone pathways, had awakened
her, terrified her. She lay there shaking under her thin
blanket, sobbing into the softness of a feather pillow,
encased in its delicately embroidered slip; sewn by
a grandmother who lived far away, but dreamt of her
nightly, and sent beaded moccasins at Christmas and
braid ties and bows for her birthday.

A light went on in the turquoise and gray tiled, deco
bathroom that separated the master bedroom from the
small room with its textured, white walls and large picture
window. The room they called the nursery. The warm
glow from the nightlight spilled out into the room, from
the crack beneath the door, with its crystal doorknobs.
Shadows danced menacingly across the iced walls.
There was that sound again. Then the door opened,
and her mother’s arms were around her. Petting her,
smoothing her hair, brushing her tawny bangs from her
forehead. Patting her on the back.
Whispering ‘shhh’ into her tiny ear,
“There baby, don’t cry.”
She almost sang the words, tender and somewhat
out of key. Then the sound again.
“Coo-coo coo-coo, ”
“It’s just a mourning dove calling to his mate.”
“Coo-coo coo-coo”
She had not the slightest idea what a mourning dove was,
but she believed her, she trusted her, she had no
reason not to, yet. The child stopped crying as she
breathed in her mother’s perfumed aroma now full of
the musky scent of sleep and dreams. Then the small
body in the vastness of the twin bed, relaxed in her
mother’s arms, as tears were wiped from her emerald,
thick lashed eyes, first with gentle finger tips, then the
silky corner of a blue chenille dressing gown.

The young mother slipped into the narrow bed with the
child, kissed away the remaining tears, and held her
tightly against her breast, until she drifted off once more
into the unparalleled safety of sleep.
“Coo-coo Coo-coo”

Years later, lying naked, in a spacious, antique, wooden bed in a
bougainvillea-covered villa, in Tuscany, the woman who grew from
the child, would tell her lover, this was her earliest memory.

 

 

Chris Stanifer
Vegas by Gaslight

Stoned to death, then paved
my desert softly cries out
for one real flower.

When she speaks to me
the thunder stops to listen
then, too, shrinks away.

The gods have passed on
and we have replaced them with
steam, gear and pulley.

 

 

Danny Sklar
Cats Are Like Thoreau

They come and go
as they please.
Cats are like Thoreau.
You cannot explain
them.
Cats are like Thoreau.
Everyone has their
own idea of them.
Cats are like Thoreau.
They mean something
different to anyone
who studies them.
Cats are like Thoreau
in the woods and
on the beaches.
They move like
themselves in the
night owning
the world.
Cats are like Thoreau,
independent like the
practical stars and
moon.
Cats are like Thoreau
writing like a cat
wagging its tail.
Cats are independent
like wearing a hat
while drinking
orange juice.
Cats are like Thoreau
because people who
know them like people
who know Thoreau
think of him think of
cats think of Thoreau
and his flute outdoors
like a cat in the mind
of the world.

 

 

Lyn Lifshin
THE WOMAN WHO LOVED MAPS

Not for accuracy, she is tired of facts and distance,
longitude, unless it’s carved out in aquamarine
and violet. She doesn’t want carefully engineered, exact
miles, doesn’t want to leave the draped rooms the old

parchment and linens are spread out in, throws out her
AAA map, her Frommer’s, her Michelin, doesn’t want the
careful blotches, the interstates, but loves those old
picture maps where flying monsters with lavender wings
inhabit islands mysterious as Rorschachs or hieroglyphs
almost too devastating to read, wants what shimmers and
intoxicates like velvets and old Persian rugs. It’s too
exhausting to pack and unpack, she doesn’t want to find her

self stranded in Istanbul or Tangiers in the rain and
no taxi. It’s easier, she tells herself, to love maps than
men who’ll roll away from the pillow, whispering “for her
own good,” or: “it wasn’t you, it was me.” She wants to run

her fingers over their pale tourmaline and rusts, old as
teapots from Persia, the oldest Venetian glass. She doesn’t
want exact latitudes, but what is mysterious as a room behind
drawn lace, lips she won’t have to do laundry for. She aches for a

country in the shape of a fly-blue fish washed with lemon,
something she can date with one glance, something from
the fifteenth century. Not what folds up, can split along
the crease, wants what she can lie smooth in a locked flat drawer

or roll up to have there in the dark just for her

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