Poetry #113

New poetry by Walt Burns, Michael Aaron Casares, Steve De France, Joseph M. Gant, Phil Lane, Lyn Lifshin, and Satnrose


Lyn Lifshin
SOMETIMES IT’S LIKE

the child dancing in
the Warsaw ghetto
in his body of rags
there must have been
music no one
could hear
dancing thru corpses,
his face pale as the moon
just to stay alive,
begging please
don’t hurt me. Dancing
to horror. No one
could hear what
he heard, the razor’s
edge, the body’s language


IN THE POEM I WANTED TO WRITE

we moved like birds on
fire, Joy was the champagne
we sipped. I wore rose,
stripped of all memory of
the times I never got them.
Each turn was oxygen.
We clicked like glasses of
Beaujolais. the lights
dazzling stars on the floor
as we were in the poem
I couldn’t write

Phil Lane
First Third

This morning,
after dawn breaks
like the amniotic
crash,
you awake,
derelict of duty,
no teeth at your bosom,
the fact of death
still in your eyes
like sleep, your hands
still heavy as sandbags,
and useless now.

This morning,
Did you call his name
into the void? Did you
go through the motions
of mourning: the screaming,
squalid swoon, the shock?
Did paralysis grip you
like agoraphobia,
like yellow wallpaper,
white jackets?

This morning,
you called to tell me
about the mammogram:
no cancer this time
except the one called
loss; from the big
casino somewhere,
he still calls you crazy,
still sucks at you
like a needle to a vein.

But that morning,
a phone ringing:
death’s shotgun salvo;
That morning,
A rosary: death’s rattle;
a hearse: death’s
baby carriage.

This morning,
it is what it is-es and
such is life-s collected
like condolences,
the icebox full, the mailbox,
the pinebox you helped
build: symmetrical
as a cradle;
incongruous,
unfair as a miscarriage,
and imperfect
like mother’s love.

This morning,
blackbirds swirling
in the dead of dawn,
magpies, ravens
alighting on dead trees.
Simplified:
the ethereal epiphany
of what you learn
from one-third of yo
having died—

Satnrose
THERE IS NO SUN THAT SHINES PERMANENTLY

when she opened the thing I thought I saw the single star of my own
true north in the heaven of the monopolized ones and so somewhere
someone was being rescued somewhere a dawn was rosy fingered but
who I am for her is something that changes each and every single day
but who she is for me is always the same so there is no sun that shines
permanently and there is no dark old age there is only the color of new
dyings perplexed by the road I can’t trust to know if I have been here
before because my memory plays new tricks on me everyday but even
when I play along with it even then it won’t let me forget what I want


Joseph M. Gant
Treasured

I hold your head
in my caring hands—

your face, a sunrise
on Winter’s day.
your hair like fields
of golden wheat and
eyes as ponds, limpid
reflecting and serene.

until I put you back
upon my collector’s shelf.

Michael Aaron Casares
Iconoclassic

I.
A severed perspective left to
some super-literal plane, I will
tell you about my day with this
endless soundtrack of enlightenment.
We will reach it only through excess.
We will discover the tempered beauty
of history on this fictional bus ride,
this mind-myth produced. And
everyone is reaching for the same
goal, but we will take different paths.
Even those who have given up,
those who do not care,
reach this goal by
hoping, waiting.

It is this moment,
this time subjected with intrinsic
knowledge, this post-modern trek
where we are asked the question.
We are asked to look beyond vanity
beyond the quest for fame to a deeper
resonance, to a weightier image, not
an idea of the past.

It is urgent even in its deadpan
voice—the message something more
than what words put forth. What is there
in the hypnosis of tonality? The subtle
vibrations that bubble and pulse…
this is just the beginning.

Can we possibly mark such a marvel with state-lines
and railways? It is endless, the image in the mirror.
It is endless the lines we’ve drawn on the land.
It is endless the land which we see. How long could
it go for? How long could it last? How much will we
have to fix before we reach a happy end?

II.
We’re tripping out, we’re tripping back
and beneath these psychedelic lights I can
tell you for a fact, we missed our stop two
days ago. Who knows what door we’ll exit
now. Still, the flash and yet we move, we
assert control over our environment, but
that force is thin in the sieve of our grasps.
I told you what we were, putting our
thoughts on to paper as if they mattered,
as if people cared, as if in ten thousand
years they’d still be around and our good
name adorned in the annals of a time so
advanced we can’t conceive. Or until
tomorrow when the world shreds its
skin, shedding off it’s surface and all
I ever had to say is inconsequential—
that’s right, created or not, it had no
consequence. It just took up space in
all its uniqueness. We are show room
dummies.

III.
Beneath the lights: do you know of this
place? There is nothing but euphoria.
There is candy all around that is so sweet
your liver it could drown. That is your
choice, I suppose. There could be eloquence.
there could be decadence. There could be
elegance. There could be decadence. It will
continue, beat-by-beat on the post-modern
railway however fast it may go into the future,
screaming from the past, the smoke rising like
a mist and as the wind picks it up and sets it in
its repetition a smoke that wafts one two three…

IV
This dazzling energy, this gift that we’ve been
given; this sight we see a different source, a
different way that is free; this light that lies
beneath our hearts; this chaos locked inside
our minds; this radiant virtue to now bestow;
a voice, a virtue, a vindication that we are owed.
We have vowed unto the light, but not enlightened
with the vice of greed and selfish hate, but to bear
the sun, to bleed inside, this dazzling energy, this gift inside.

V
We are using words now, bu-bump-bu-bump-bu-
bumping along this dusty trail, this rusted track—
Afraid that we will lose distortion and become
complacent like the others. Chucking whiskey,
drinking booze, living our life through a magnified
personality. Jim Morrison never looked so good
pinned up on your wall, I know I pierced his heart,
and he’s still hangin’ on my wall. He’s inhaling those
toxic fumes our statesmen love to hate (that’s right, American)
because they know if they approved it there’d be global
satisfaction. But Jim don’t mind, teetering in th’
fumes. He is the first to enter into this arena:
the masculine God of word and thought to
touch us in the deepest parts of our starry
souls. He is a passenger aboard this train
riding slyly from East to West, starting at beginning
finishing anew.  But we all are, our walkman
pasted to our head. We are simply seeking
inspiration, riding in the rain. But a single finger’s
in the air saying, “Fuck you.” Acceptance sorrow steps
us forward, daring railing, trailing trains and
we plunge into the memory.


Walt Burns
ignis fatuus

here’s a threesome
of upturned birds
spoon and peel the pigment
gliding on their ashes
a child’s hand reaches
down grabs them one by one
like flying goldfish

their fossilized impressions
stuck in paper sky
i dreamt them up
but long ago
most my classmates
hang their tired M’s sprawling
over boxy homes
red roofs of pumpkin teeth
no inch between their gardens
i drew those W’s like troubling crows
hovering over mother

the refrigerator powers down
deprived of current left to rot
a fat kid’s iron maiden
everything is yellow now
but queer there is no sun
no outside world
to accept this tardy payment
to circulate the air

“yard of the month,” she cries
a distant hollow
then slams against our universe
my jaw is wobbly from its
punch
she must be pulling
weeds again
along our neighbor’s
boundary she’ll not come in
until this ends – he

knows I search the blinds
for her thick behind
he knows there is no sun
the walls are double
sided blights of space
on end they suck the life

windows fill
with burnt red brick
there is no sun
there is no sun
of course his eyes are striking
null patinas – infinity
each a host to petri dish

contaminants. immune.
boiling adam and eve
on the very pinhead
countless
bacteria of Abraham
commiserate
when he too sneezed a nation.
there is no son. innocuous.

his name was father. I did not come
from him. a pension for word-
perfection, call him Jimmy
wither as he’s stricken
to flush this memory
to prove another point.
to remind my trolling
traveling head, here old abe
relieves himself,
I should put the seat
back down

he could no more gouge his eye
to condemn the passing
of what it saw
would destroy himself and me
my children
losing precious time
still to meet their end

no matter how I refuse to preach
hapless to his hirsute hand
lifting a glass of sun tea
in the air conditioned den.

god, jimmy drink it down
there is no sun, you’re dead
here’s a threesome
of upturned birds
spoon and peel the pigment
gliding on their ashes
a child’s hand reaches
down grabs them one by one
like flying goldfish

their fossilized impressions
stuck in paper sky
i dreamt them up
but long ago
most my classmates
hang their tired M’s sprawling
over boxy homes
red roofs of pumpkin teeth
no inch between their gardens
i drew those W’s like troubling crows
hovering over mother

the refrigerator powers down
deprived of current left to rot
a fat kid’s iron maiden
everything is yellow now
but queer there is no sun
no outside world
to accept this tardy payment
to circulate the air

“yard of the month,” she cries
a distant hollow
then slams against our universe
my jaw is wobbly from its
punch
she must be pulling
weeds again
along our neighbor’s
boundary she’ll not come in
until this ends – he

knows I search the blinds
for her thick behind
he knows there is no sun
the walls are double
sided blights of space
on end they suck the life

windows fill
with burnt red brick
there is no sun
there is no sun
of course his eyes are striking
null patinas – infinity
each a host to petri dish

contaminants. immune.
boiling adam and eve
on the very pinhead
countless
bacteria of Abraham
commiserate
when he too sneezed a nation.
there is no son. innocuous.

his name was father. I did not come
from him. a pension for word-
perfection, call him Jimmy
wither as he’s stricken
to flush this memory
to prove another point.
to remind my trolling
traveling head, here old abe
relieves himself,
I should put the seat
back down

he could no more gouge his eye
to condemn the passing
of what it saw
would destroy himself and me
my children
losing precious time
still to meet their end

no matter how I refuse to preach
hapless to his hirsute hand
lifting a glass of sun tea
in the air conditioned den.

god, jimmy drink it down
there is no sun, you’re dead

Steve De France
MAN IN THE MOON

I bump into a man who has
only a mouth in the middle of his face.
This mouth—grins—asks for a light.
Is this some kind of a joke? I ask.
He twists & opens his ancient mouth
into the shape of a waiting grave.
I stand looking into nothing.
I don’t know why, or for what reason
But I suddenly recalled a childhood
memory—a dream, or perhaps both.

I can’t be sure—maybe it is now I dream.
A dream of such pure white snow
it clings like a frozen shroud
to the windward side
of a young girl’s face.
Passing me on the street
she had smiled
so sweet a smile—its memory & sweetness
lasted all of my days.

“I asked for light,” said the mouth.
My hand, under a crackrd street lamp,
trembles & the flame—ethereal—surges.

Before everything went dark
something funny happened to the moon.
I was watching it—as I said—and right then
it seemed to stop as if it were broken in the sky
and it just hung there.

4 thoughts on “Poetry #113

    1. I hear that guy moonlights as a metronome ; ) And, Allie, that’s ahem . . . Joseph M. Gant. Joe Gant is a freckle-faced hooligan who lives up the street and shakes the apples off my trees.

  1. I look at long poems in pieces. While this one was longer than most I’d read through, the following stanza of Phil Lane’s
    “First Third” hit me like a flock of sparrows, razors on their wings and flying past my face. Imagery, scansion . . . it’s just there and works.

    But that morning,
    a phone ringing:
    death’s shotgun salvo;
    That morning,
    A rosary: death’s rattle;
    a hearse: death’s
    baby carriage.

    Bravo!

  2. Joseph: Thank you so much for the kind words…this was a poem that took a lot of revision…written about a horrific event…without getting into specifics, I know we can all unfortunately relate to that phone call (“death’s shotgun salvo.”) Thanks again, and I loved the last line of your poem, which I would have to label a “killer.” -Phil

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