With Poetry #126, we offer a small selection of fine poems. We hope to accentuate the talent here by making this release of Gloom Cupboard concise and focused. Do enjoy!
by Melody Feldman
They say the war is coming
You build a room beneath the stairs
I bathe under iron curtains
In bed we lay wet on the sheets
You cock your pistol
Against my jutted hip
I eat nectarines stolen from the grocery
And suck the juice from the pit
You smoke long cigarettes
Read to me from Hunger
On lined notebook paper you write
The whisper of blood
The pleading of bone marrow
Bio: Melody Feldman received her MFA in Fiction from Fairleigh Dickinson
University where she was the assistant editor of the Literary Review.
Her short story Pie won the 2008 Fulton Prize for Fiction from The
Adirondack Review. She has also had work published in 34th Parallel,
Perceptions, and forthcoming in The Story Branch.
The old school bell
by Chris Kemp
Where land comes to end
Amongst brine and foam
Steadfast against unrelenting
Beat of northern sea,
There stands an old school house
Cut stark against steel blue sky
Its white washed facade
Grey and worn, its windows
Blinkered against harsh Norse winds
Its bell rings silent across the
Great expanse and emptiness
Falling upon ears of all those lost
By chance I found it one
Bright winter’s day
All bathed in golden light
Its beauty rang out
Such a sonorous sound
That vibrated through my
Soul, filling me with the life
And being of all things—
So immediate and real
Yet how quickly fades the light
As we fail to hear the
School bell’s call
by Ben Rasnic
The tree trimmers have left
my glorious Maple
botched and butchered,
hat racked and jaded
The tree is barren now.
The seedlings shocked
from their stems.
Birds and squirrels
refuse to nest here anymore.
bare crude replicas
of Flying V guitars, diviner rods
or broken swastikas.
Black bark peels in the sun
like dead skin.
But Spring is near
and the air is pregnant with rain.
Bio: Ben Rasnic is originally from Jonesville, a small rural town in extreme southwestern Virginia, population <1000. Currently, Ben resides in Bowie, Maryland and earns a paycheck as an accountant for a paper recycling company in Alexandria, Va. His poems have appeared in numerous online and print journals.
by Lisa Feinstein
I went through your house last night,
opened the unlocked door,
torn screen flapping
like laundry-line delicates,
climbed down cellar stairs,
wooden steps cascading
to the old, cinderblock basement,
your rich Carpathian voice,
grey curled hair
and your solitude so late in life.
I stood quiet in the kitchen,
my friend, half-smoked cigarettes,
a Hungarian newspaper
on the table, four years
after they carried you
through the front door, past the summer
I crept through hallways, stumbling
over floorboards in the dark,
in rooms where your children grew,
yellowed curtains, no claw-foot here,
reaching for my glasses to see
scratchy records, Zorba the Greek,
chicken wing bones.
An old telephone
sitting on a box,
no cord, no outlet, barely a wall
between us – the things
your family left for the mice, the vestiges
nobody came for, never packed in boxes or bothered
to cart off when you died,
leaving your home
vacant, empty-eyed, hollow, but remarkably clean
despite broken windows,
peeling paint, crumbling plaster,
and the city closing in,
growing about your house
like vines on a fairytale castle.
by Megan Watkins
He only writes of her. Centuries later they mock him:
n’a qu’une seule note, son âme peu profonde
Once he tried to write about cypresses
in the ruins of the palace.
Ink mixed with vinegar that made it shine
swelled and dripped onto the page:
The scent of cypress haunts the Madinat al-Zahra.
Everyone, he thought, knows that. Scratching a little
with his reed pen, he sat
and thought again of her head thrown back,
white and drained as a goat when
its throat is cut and bled.
As he struggled to rise from
the warmth of her slave-girl,
she turned and left, was gone
through the booksellers’ calls, the stench
in the streets of tanners, into throngs of women,
the hardness of markets.
Coins. Not held since her father’s death.
A craze for asparagus had come from the East
with a new man of fashion at court, with a lute,
five strings that he played on
for beardless boys. She pushed, was jostled
among dates and oranges
watched the women around,
stood with them a long time waiting.
For the rest of her life she walks the streets, dares
to go into men’s houses. Describes
constellations of lovers and laughter
that might conceal her faith
Les yeux, les seins, a libertine.
Centuries later, they praise her.
The slave-girl, now loved her mistress. Dressed then
undressed her, accepted gifts of embroidered sleeves.
Wrote professional slander: harlot, hag. Plucked quail
stuffed with this and that member, or thing; a barren, a shrieking,
a cold automaton the wind howls through, and so on…
sang these lampoons at majlis with Mozarab women
and others sometimes from the North
with their straight pale hair and silence
who would faint under the weight of a silver carafe.
She had no love for him
who still loved the Princess when he fucked her.
I must do it, she said to the girls
who were learning to dance and smile,
I will have daughters, freedwomen,
maybe a son.
They do not write about that, at all.
Bio: Megan Watkins lives in London and is a student at SOAS.