Poetry #111

New poetry by Michael McAloran, Ananya S. Guha, Verity Hill, Lyn Lifshin, and John Swain

Lyn Lifshin
THE MAD GIRL THINKS OF JOSEPH CONRAD’S HEART OF DARKNESS, THE HORROR

lights up the hisses
after a barrage or
“stupid ass hate”
and “stupid bitch”
If there was sun,
she wouldn’t see it.
Monday, Tuesday,
a black  hole. On
the metro, families
clutch children like
jewels.  She knows
someone must have
held her like rare
gift too but last
night’s sleeping
pills left her groggy.
Sylvia and the
sludge of the kitchen,
of drugs is as clear
to her mood tho often
she’s become what she
is called: slut, cold.
Say her waltz is lovely
and she’ll float off
the floor but one
sneer, one “follow me
you jerk” and she’s a
disaster, unable to do
the step she’s done
for ages, unable to
think of anything lighter
than Conrad’s here on
Heart of Darkness,
knows she feels at the
center it is the horror,
the horror

THE WOMAN WHO SEES DEAD HORSES

there, suddenly, she
says there, on the
race track: ghost
horses. Jockeys
and trainers. Rail
birds, yes, but it
was the horses.
They would exercise
themselves in the
mornings, even
run in races with
live horse. Maybe
why some of the
horses racing spook.
It seems there are
no reasons. The
dead horses are not
able to rest. They
are dangerous
to live horse and
jockeys these ghost
horses that haven’t
gone into the
light haunt race
tracks across the
country. She said she
did all she could,
sometimes she had
to ask the ghost
jockeys and grooms
to lead one fiery
stallion too wild to
do anything with. She
thinks he is still
probably there

Michael McAloran
nectar-

with sharpened breath
the season collapsed
emptied out the flesh and
flung the bones to the wolves

a dry distance
the fevered tongue
only the shadow remained
to carry away the
beauty of the saldering bones

dragging the nectar of light in the depths
of the hollowed out skull

to feed-

seduced by the flame
the weakened flesh torn to shreds
the emptiness of the tombs kisses the suns
shadow its electric light

the dense shore glistens

fresh cut garlands travelling downstream
betray the lie
cards strewn in the oceans tide
to f e e d upon the ashes of death

Ananya S. Guha
This Otherness

This otherness
wilts, when exposed
cringes when questioned
raises petulant furies
when seemingly observed
this otherness hides in hideous
self, and uses masks for disfigurement
this otherness is complete self
of a kind of inertia
in which the only subterfuge
is words, implosive, explosive

Do I need to get rid of  it
its whimsical pitfalls,
do I need to bury it into
covers of unruly nights
and dissipate the flagrant
unquestioned, mocking self

This otherness roams
in serpentine streets
of a predator, whose only
identity is the habitat
of arid zones conflagrating
into the flames of an unrepentant soul.

John Swain
Cord and Knot

Promenades of willows filter moonlight
like spells of cord and knot over the paths.
I walk lower
where lovers drew their hearts in red chalk
at the edge of the pier,
the purple river flows over
as tied rowboats gently touch one another.
Reeds lean amber kept in their fine dress
like she sometimes dreams,
reeds glimmer in a wind of precious stones,
I won’t argue,
this softness may coarsen by tomorrow morning.
The lonely river moans to hold sky fires,
dizzy I slip into the reflection of silver bridges.


Sandspit

A clarion storm bellows like a ram over fossil cliffs
as choirs of high winds vibrate the aching stone basin,
silk threads fall as the chrysalis of air detaches.
After the drifts, spits of land emerge in the river,
the sand of powdered garnet could support my weight
when the waters receded,
fish scales glisten rotting the crevice of limestone,
flesh and eyes were picked by birds,
I left behind my fallen shape as the crater fills with rain.
Men pulled flathead catfish from the river heavy as men.
The floodcrest tangled drowned horses in the tops of trees
as the lightning brightens like brass lamps over a bowl
of bitumen incense and fragrant water lilies.
The locks continue to lower barges like a clepsydra.

Verity Hill
burn on the beaters

burn on it
burn it out so it won’t burn in you
then you will not be its ashes

it could happen that fast, happen cold
like blood and a razor drawn, one flourish of cufflink
that left you gapemouthed with half your insides looking back at you
just as surprised to see your face hanging open

we used to take
the red carpet out
and beat its dust into the sunlight
those gemflecks diamonds then
not grit like we were;
sometimes we’d sweat there
a second beating longer, just
to imagine ourselves shook loose that way

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