Gloom Cupboard Poetry #124 brings to you the voices of new and established poetry writers. This issue features the work of Saberi Roy, T.M. De Vos, Lyn Lifshin, David M. Morton, William Merricle, Tyler Bigney, Debrenee D. Adkisson, Jan Darrow, Meghan K. Barnes, and Ian C. Smith. Do enjoy.
by Saberi Roy
Stretched body wide, the armchair reclined and between the creases
Time passes like slumber. To the north when naked silhouette fed
Agonies and wetness reached a degree of imperfection.
Whispers that reached my ears could have been more than what was said
and the eyes have seen more than what could be seen. Clothed in
full, bodies have danced in the dark yet I see them
naked and vulnerable, hurt and torn, as meanings
derive from raw shapes and endlessness of primordial necessities.
Bio: Saberi Roy’s poetry has appeared in Carcinogenic Poetry, Psychopoetica, and First Science among others.
by T.M. De Vos
The only interesting events
take place between those
who need no light to find each other,
whose eyes are accustomed, already,
to the dim, in spaces that are always bare,
suits tacked and square, socks put away.
Desks are somewhere, idling,
sound evaporating from them like pianos.
You wake, head to toe with others,
hair soft and stiff
as a taxidermied animal’s.
the bodies do not separate
like a handful of batter being grabbed.
He is known for being kind.
He brings you water when he questions you,
the clear column
blameless and vertical in his hand
as your life is not.
The others know the instrument
he applies to you
like a carpenter planing a board.
What is love, finally,
but rubbing at a thing enough
for its nerves to tell it you are there?
A bag of laundry tumbled in your scent
might be as good.
Think of how they cut and hang a dog
to punish it for who has laid out a bowl
often enough for it to return,
how they string it across the porch
of the one who is too dark,
or has loved the wrong person:
Look at this soft thing you fed, all guts now.
He has no choice;
he is very sorry.
He adjusts to your darkness,
blank and black as a cave,
and your organs inch forward in schools.
Bio: T. M. De Vos received an MFA in 2004 from New York University and a Hopwood Award in 1999 from the University of Michigan. Her work has appeared most recently in HOBART, Dossier Journal, Bosphorus Art Project Quarterly, Tidal Basin Review, Sakura Review, The Whistling Fire, Shady Side Review, Umbrella Factory Magazine, and the Los Angeles Review. She is a staff member of Many Mountains Moving and a contributor to Fiction Writers Review.
I COULD HAVE BEEN A WIDOW
by Lyn Lifshin
I think of that
standing with the
light going rose
over the pond.
This small deck
could be a widow’s walk
I think of women
staring out into
gray water, into
some blue black sea
looking for signs,
imagining the boat reeling
My hair would frizz
in peach plum and salt air
my jaw frozen in the shape of a moan
by William Merricle
Shadows exit closed windows.
Desire is a glass slipper
The end quivers to life.
Serenity’s at hand.
Every prayer is a roof.
Out of breath in the hurricane.
The one-eyed surgeon giggles,
“Isn’t it funny how
everything works out?”
Fulfillment’s forever on a binge
Fueled by nothing.
I rowed across the lake
And I can tell you
The scenery’s the same.
The watchmaker notices
The shaking hands.
Gangs of ganglia
Whip the senses.
Keep the trapdoor fastened.
I find myself
Shooting the man in the moon
All is perfectly quiet
Between the moans.
Every roof is a prayer.
I used to never
“We have no sin.
Can u bring a sample case?”
the sun is shining
by David M. Morton
and the grape hyacinths
I hurried to the sink
to flush my face with cold water
and poured it into my throat
to gargle and spit
such happiness sometimes
in the morning
the slight anxiety
in my stomach that
is like an itch to get
the birds singing
songs that their
great great great great
mommas and dada’s sung
sounding fresh from their throats
the sun hits the ground, warms it,
and brings it up to warm my eyes
what a life it is
when the brain is going good
it is my brain on drugs
drugs I haven’t consumed
but somehow came and got into me
drugs slipped into my drink by some shrew
drugs injected into my blood
from the needle of a scotch pine
I read a story of some man that would
put his ear to the ground in the cemetery
and I’m called to do that as well
because I am drugged
a flash of a knife makes me smile
a murderer sharpens
the tips of my bones
the fireside of a building
is my hand
and the warm rock in the evening
is my virgin
the sun is my face
and it is cut deep at dusk
it feels like the pleasure of a bit lip
“a bushel and a peck” I feel I need to sing
“a bushel and a peck
a peck a’peck peck
Bio: David M. Morton is not a zen practitioner. He is Germantown, Ohio’s most prominent playwright. Poems of his have appeared here and there, but not too here and not too there. He usually is sitting in the middle of a field, smoking a pipe, wishing he had a biscuit in his pocket.
by Debrenee D Adkisson
He set fire to this temple long ago,
brought his can of lighter-fluid
and doused the place, pouring
extra on the artifacts most golden.
I cried as life went up in flames,
as stars grew pale outside against
the rising cloud of smoke.
The moon dimmed, eaten
by the fire.
I got out and ran, scanned
the night sky for direction, left
a million miles of sand and grass
between us. He stayed put.
I built myself a new house, covered
it in stone and mud and called it
home. It was stronger
than the temple made of gold,
which melts. I had learned a thing or two.
But he came then with his fire can, found
me crouching in a crevice of the
cool house of stone. He flicked the
match and watched it lick up rocky walls.
There was nothing more to melt,
all my treasures were destroyed. I was
not afraid of fire now, and sang a chant
at him from inside blackened walls,
COMING OFF A HIGH HORSE
by Debrenee D Adkisson
I thought that arms were not for me.
Then you bared muscle and I
scarcely caught my breath.
I wanted it around me,
sliding up and down me,
firmly clenched between my teeth.
For a hippy feminist, this
was difficult to face.
I practiced gagging
in the bathroom with
the door closed, but no one
ever tried to enter
anyway. I made some awful noises,
but they knew I could
take care of this myself.
Once I threw up something
purple and contemplated
as though you might appreciate
such things, but realized
you might ask me was I sick.
Unsick, I’d have to tell you, and
this would spark a conversation
I did not yet want to have.
Teaching my body to loathe
wasn’t working, so the
my hair in ponytails.
You didn’t seem to mind.
I asked to see your arm again and
one eye at a time
admired its beauty –
the pulsing veins and cut
of rocky muscle, the dark
hair on the forearm, the
ripple as you walked.
Breath caught in my throat, and again
I felt the panic, thought of
grabbed your face
to kiss your mouth
by Jan Darrow
there is no
of stone markers
left to rest
we do not own
You and I: My Little Kudzu
by Meghan K. Barnes
Intertwined like kudzu and a dying tree—
I wait helplessly as your sharp,
Thin-slicing edges peel back the weave,
Off my bark
Wrap around the circles of my years,
Covering the distinction of my era—
The influence, intellect, integrity,
Which comes with age—
Flakes carelessly back with the dehydrated
Graying layers of flesh, which once covered the sap,
Leaking from within.
Spilling on your leaves, dripping
Towards the shade, into the shallow,
Two-inch pit, which stands as the only thing—
By you, by me,
By the bark and the leaves,
It stands waiting for us to die—
Decompose, to finish whatever this is,
So that without us, it too, could be free.
by Ian C Smith
It takes minutes to climb into the car
an orchestra of spring birdlife swelling
& her wayward arm mocking her.
Words, the words, clamour for release.
When they married, already middle-aged
sex surprised her, breathless, joyous.
Their bedroom dialogue set in diamonds
she wants the scorch of body heat again.
As she struggles to explain their woe
he giggles, interrupts, sneers, clowns.
Perfect sentences queue for a hearing.
She waited so long, can’t lose any more.
I’m being a naughty boy, he announces.
With two good hands she would shake him.
Their counselor leans forward
says, No. You’re just being an arsehole.
Giggling gone, he attends to advice.
She senses he is still more than her carer
yearns to love, murmur her pent-up words.
Leaving, he touches her, suggests coffee.
Deep into the Red Square
by Tyler Bigney
I met you outside the movies
listening to you complain in Russian
about the rain.
You were wearing a little black dress
and I was dressed in a blue alligator polo
and a pair of gray shorts.
I watched as the make up spilled
from your eyes,
as you stood uncaring
and uninvolved of everything
around you. Watching leaves
the size of my fist
blow across the street.
Deep into the Red Square
is where you first kissed me—
on the top floor of St. Basils Cathedral
overlooking the Moscow River.
And I let your perfume melt
into my skin,
quietly promising myself
that I would never wash again.
Bio: Tyler Bigney is a writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. His short stories, poems, and prose have appeared in Poetry New Zealand, Nerve Cowboy, Iodine Poetry Journal and Underground Voices, among others.