Dorla’s note: I have been poetry editor at Gloom Cupboard for a little over a year. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some wonderful co-editors and read some fantastic poetry, as well as learn a few things about being an editor. But even good things come to an end. I am no longer able to give Gloom Cupboard the attention it deserves. So Poetry #122 is my last issue. The wonderful and talented Joseph M. Gant is taking over, and I look forward to the poetry he curates in future issues.
(P.S. – If you sent me a submission within the last month and have not heard back yet, your submission is still up for consideration; I have forwarded it on to Joseph.)
New poetry by Ashley Bovan, Alan Catlin, Richard Cronshey, Rachel Kalyna, Cindy Kelly, John Kuligowski, Lyn Lifshin, Michael N. Thompson, Liz Wells, and Lisa Zaran.
Lyn Lifshin I THINK MAYBE MY JAW HAS FROZEN as if to keep pace with everything turning to stone in you much as, when my mother was so ill, becoming thinner and thinner, something in me, as if trying to keep up, withered away. I hear a clicking, a reminder, as if what’s coming past my teeth might jolt and jar, be harsh and metallic, words that could scar, tear lips and tongue, words so tortured and boiling nothing they passed thru could be the same AS IF TO DEFY TIME my mini skirts are tiny. I gulp vitamins vitamins, work out, take ballet as if it was whiskey. I may try meditation next to not grind my teeth at night as if mixing a dust of my self to sprinkle over your grave. But I try to keep what I can. In my drawer, the photographs where your hair was still dark and curly next to the azalea oil my mother gave me. I called her that Sunday it first sweetened the afternoon, knew, as I did that morning I took you in the kitchen leaning against the dark wood, replaced, but not before you wouldn’t be there again, knowing what seemed so normal, ordinary, soon wouldn’t Michael N. Thompson DAMNED Living on crusted bread, The damned to God Because nobody else Seems interesting to them Veterans of living hand to mouth Congregate in the doorways Of weekly hotels Whose biggest draw Is a color TV A vagrant sleeps Without any shoes While wearing a carbon sheet As a blanket And he washes his face With bilge water The ghosts like this Of North Beach Echo through Vacant eyes, Grizzled faces And barely audible voices Of the damned The daily soup line Always draws a crowd From the trodden-upon Living in run down rooms With Goodwill furniture And the tobacco-breathed urchins That hover like flies Outside of the library Though their body language Screams of coal and cobalt, These are pleasures In their empire of coins To the desperate And the damned Rachel Kalyna Fantasia Upon albino headlands, a hunter's halo expands the sky. We stood west of wisdom, unbalanced as glass. Nearly blind by breakfast. Chemtrail steam is not constant, you say. But you say many curious things (secretly believing in breath and midnight pavement levitation, shadowbox and buckshot lungs). I refuse to trust a frenzy of ghost-words and swear: the ground will howl your name with implosive emphasis, neck-kissing its nebulous parallel. Quixotic, though, it may seem, you secure red-slate on a skeletal crux; promise cold contact to paper cut the child. Protective, cryptic colors rush inside the pinhole of my hidden room. No necromancer could resist a glimpse. Now I wonder about the echo of atmosphere between our hands and how exotic animals walk on cardiac walls. Nothing can take this away except tomorrow. Lisa Zaran Stone How sad the self maiming moon is. Lonely hobbit, even the owl doesn't see you whose very calling is to, little gray, unpleasant chine, a billion stars surround you and nobody counting. John Kuligowski Splitting He sucked the wisp of her movement like an eggshell and reached for the coffee. Her lips melted into the door. The meal arrived. She laid her perfect white neck before him, cars flashed by, a sussurus of voices. Their waitress glimpsed the ten o'clock mouth, marveled. What now? That's it; we both know it. Why not do this now? What now? The tip-- The waitress takes the plates, marvels at their refined anonymity, the kind erosion of their jackets in night. Liz Wells Seafarer The moment you choose to abandon the boat you’ve already become something else. An entity that draws its breath underwater, recalls the taste of rusted metal. The moment you choose to lay down the old wood that’s propelling you through the blue peaks and valleys of the Willamette, you’ve already decided the water looks more green than blue. The moment you choose to drown out the cathedral bells you’ve just noticed, you’ve already disappointed your father. The river must now provide. The moment you choose to swim or not these moments do not apply. Ashley Bovan Just Outside Newport My eyes letch around th e contours and slopes o f the river-bank both b anks one eye left one r ight following the shap e as it bends widens na rrows a loop a twist st eep bank flat bank mudd y dry weed-filled or ba re on and on this train trundles where am I goi ng I wish I was back ho me again looking at you Richard Cronshey All at One Time Hadashar the sound of waves in a language you can't remember Afternoon I keep for you on a tray High desert high tension wire in wind A horizon only you can see Silver line beyond which words cannot go Thin white syllable in which your childhood lives half asleep. Cindy Kelly Tephra She was born close to the clouds with a full head of hair: Golden spun glass hardened in the whip and wail of the wind that tangled and matted, stretched and pulled, carried her in the breeze, and settled her down in quiet places where her tears dried hard and black when they fell behind her as she walked. These shiny stones we steal and she tells us in smoke signals she does not like it. Her back is straight as a cliff, breasts round and cratered like the moon, and she is good at suitcases and making excuses for sudden travel. She keeps her little sister, born in the shape of an egg, black with pink spots, tucked under her armpit, hoping to hatch her. Pele asks her brother, a whirl wind of a fellow, born with a shark's fin on his forehead, to take her and her egg sister far away. They take a canoe to the land of sugar where she digs a house on a mist-crowned precipice, and sets fire to the trees. Alan Catlin Road Rash The cast on his skin was scarred and scabbed all down the right side of his face and arm where the tattoos should be, presumably his side, his leg beneath beat-to-shit jeans held together by motorcycle oil and grease, a length of rope through loops, his one good eye focused on the Black Jack's shot glass he held in his left hand, long neck PBR nearby for easy accessing once the shot burned its way to his rotted gut, "Marching to the gallows is for pussies, I'm a burn rubber right up to the noose kind of guy." He might have said, once they removed the wires from his jaw, the way he was drinking showing how he got the worst case of road rash anyone had ever seen on a semi-ambulatory fool, you just knew he was hell bent for disaster trying to outrace John Law right into a wall if that's what it would take to avoid a day before the law, the hanging judge, who had a rap sheet a yard long with his name on it and a mission to see that the long, reckless ride ended here.