#112 – Poetry

New poetry by Todd Herskovitz, Lyn Lifshin, Laura McKee, Jack Ohms, Kenneth Radu, Spiel, and Stephen Jarrell Williams

Lyn Lifshin
BASEMENTS

after the wire net,
maybe no more squirrels
but what  of the fencing
helmet as much a mesh
as the nightmares of
women he never
lived with. Looney
tunes or lonely tunes
In the cellar, the webs
hold old stories,
under the packed earth
ghosts of those who
painted the rooms but
left the closets
cherry and emerald,
the color of jewels,
something in code

IN A CITY OF STRANGERS

sometimes it’s a relief
to have it all done,
become code blue,
no, no mess, no fuss.
Gone like a pilot who
crashes and is never
heard from again.
There and not there
like a cat embryo
absorbed into the
mother cat’s blood.
Over, past stains and
longing. Finished as the
poems and relation
ships never are.
Complete. What you
cherished, diamonds,
rubies, all those clothes
that never kept the
blues from the door,
discarded . Those men
like  lovers that didn’t
call tho  they wanted
a piece of you, pieces
of clothes too small
for any of them, the
chance gone, as close to
you as for now
they can get

Spiel
Odds

Flesh-hued cotton panties over their heads, covering their ears
and topped off by orange and green party hats from that carousing
in 1944 on army leave in Paris where they were rightfully
thrilled at the revelation of one another in dark shadows.

Now these two old men are fixtures faded as wallpaper,
unable to recall why panties and hats had been so hilarious
in their steamy bathroom mirror one-way-back-when drunken night;
only that the panties keep their ears warm, reason enough.

They piddle their aches from threadbare tapestried chairs,
facing so their feet meet to keep track of each other;
each half-deaf, fearing he cannot hear the other breathe.
Yet they also fear dead silence, so they kill it with classic vinyl,

spinning I get no kick from cocaine. But it’s not the lyric
that lulls their hearts, it’s the familiarity of old tunes;
how they used to hug-dance in their lard-laden kitchen,
brittle Woolworth’s shades drawn down against a world

that might not tolerate two such battle-weary soldiers,
peacefully withdrawn. Alone, together: Edward crocheting
dainty doilies to keep his knotted knuckles nimble, Rodney knitting
acres of the cutest afghans for those virile young boys in Iraq.

Long ago, they had to abandon thoughts of ever going back home,
just tucked them away in their root cellar to gather fungus and mouse turds,
but they agree noises rise from there, like sharp cracklings
of their battalion on the front lines of The Big War.

Jack Ohms
Itch

Tomorrow
and tomorrow
and tomorrow

I’ll get myself down the unemployment office to
speak
with my contact there.

Her name is Paula.
She bites her nails.
Hates foreigners
of all persuasions.
I wouldn’t touch her.

Then,
the day after
and the day after
and the day after that

I’ll stay at home and think about

tar
trees
flowers
rust
cabbage
love
clay
dust.

It’s fine, fine, fine
like bone china fancies
being a flea on the
underbelly of humanity.





Todd Herskovitz
The Tower

It would be the reversal of some misfortune,
A turn I could not have explained or understood before,
And now, to see the tender sky, the rosy skyscrapers,
It seems to make perfect sense – the night’s dark horse –
One can barely see him as he rides, a faraway boat in the ocean.
And the calm stars, each coming into her own, casually undressing
Before the nightly revelation, the frank display of the heavenly night.
The moon, too, is something peaceful, beatific in her stance –
A relaxed and rounded moon, the watery light that comes down, too,
Is a tender touch, a method of reaching the ground, the silver-green grass
And the purple trees – the wind blows coolly this time of year,
And one can see the tower in the sea – bracing, mountainously, the waves –


Stephen Jarrell Williams
DRIPPING

Rainfall
outside on the street

occasional wind gust
spatter against the window

a lone car swishing past
in the 3AM dark

ceiling fan slow
caressing bed sheets

trying to sleep
through all your mistakes

turning the light on
never looking in the mirror

no thunder
no scars on your skin

only another long night
drizzle

wishing for a storm.

Kenneth Radu
daffodils in snow

trumpets of yellow
brave above snow

the winter forgot
play a tiny concerto

you have to bend
low to hear

the soft music
of contradictions

cold hearts
on a spring day

a lover
who sees his beloved

and leans over
a frozen pond

to kiss what isn’t there

Laura McKee
sappily waving

I ran to one of the windows
too late
so I just missed you
and wanted to call out
size of a gum tree
to bring you here
large as life
in a flickering
of dry red leaves
tearing between my fingers
a scent of you.

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