Poetry #123

Poetry #123 brings you the voices of established and emerging writers. Ananya S. Guha, Alicia Hoffman, Michael Mc Aloran, April-May March, Laura Whelton, David McLean, Judith Fanny Rose, Sami Schalk and Mark Vogel have all made this great issue possible. I hope you all enjoy my first issue as Poetry Editor for Gloom Cupboard.

for Larkin
by David McLean

churches can still have the highest windows
ever, they can still slant explosions
towards heaven, or at least light retreating
towards transfinity

and this is ridiculous to me as it was to you
because intelligence has always been cold
and we are cum in god’s whorish painted
face. here is one testicle, two testicles;

they are both together better than heaven
when we temporarily empty them.
but the windows of a church can still seem
impossibly high, full of gods and time,

full of endless lies. (i revisit your poem
to steal what is mine.)

the devil
by David McLean

the devil might be an old lady
in an apartment, with a cruel
and unusual cat, trapped,

a telephone of antiquated
design for plotting charity
and crime,

because a sandwich is dead animals,
a snack, a distorted pause
between pregnancy

and death. insanitary towels
and a meaty metaphorical
apostrophe, worms

and orgasms being
the better part of me.
an old lady might be evil

if any body can be

Bio: David McLean is Welsh but has lived in Sweden since 1987. He lives there on an island in a large lake called Mälaren, very near to Stockholm, with woman, cats, kittens, and a couple of dogs. He has a BA in History from Balliol, Oxford, and an MA in philosophy, taken much later and much more seriously studied for, from Stockholm. This is just one of the things that makes him so boring. Up to date details of many zine publications and several available books and chapbooks, including three print full lengths, a few print chapbooks, and a free electronic chapbook, are at his blog at http://mourningabortion.blogspot.com

by Ananya S. Guha

It was a day of awful
black crows, nestling
by the side, cawing.
They hovered in a frenzy,
went out to the rains
to have a bath.
Sloshed, drenched
they came back
with their antics.
they stand on an edge
of a precipice; taking
you with their gauche,
black-coloured bodies.
You are afloat watching them.
They are mirrors, in which
we are cadavers.

by Alicia Hoffman

The word wallows
on the tongue
like the leaves
of the weeping
one that once
reigned tall
in the yard
of a house
I grew in.
The tree was
bad memory
for grandfather,
wasted on bitter
divorce, drinking
disorder and
cans of Ensure,
and for my mother,
who swung from
its boughs as a girl
in hand-sewn skirts,
sitting cross-legged
on a board of etched pine
hung on knotted rope
from the branches.
Now, the trunk gone
to rot, the leaves brown
even in the green of
Pennsylvania Spring
I, too, need to glide
in twilight air and
release the things
beginning to break me.

Bio: A graduate of the Creative Writing program at SUNY Brockport, Alicia
Hoffman lives, writes, and teaches in Rochester, New York. Her poetry
has appeared in Redactions: Poetry and Poetics, Red Wheelbarrow,
elimae, Poetry MidWest, Umbrella, The Centrifugal Eye, Boston Literary
and elsewhere.

by Michael Mc Aloran

The pared sun

I am the laughter of the gallows

The joy of kicking up frozen winter leaves

This flesh thrown listless to the wolves

Dense with nothingness

The Eyes are Alive
by April-May March

The emerald green bed covers were stained in hospital smells.
Outside the small corner window
the sun was sterile.
Rays of heaven sent optimism
seeped through.
He reached out a tired hand,
his lips dry with a flaked glue white lining
they pursed together in an oval of woe.

Wisdom waited with the words that never arrived.

It’s almost here
by Laura Whelton

Its almost here
Another trial of revolt
Hopeless drunken men
Hold me down one after the other
What’s the point in another day

Will the long and arduous despair
Be substituted

Standing in a shop
Long and limpid days, together apart
What’s the difference

Poems written, Sanskrit
Metaphors for life
The tangible feelings laying
Like dust in the air

He arrived home angry
He came back mad
I sat and waited for eternity for things to be ‘normal’
But end up bleeding on a strangers’ couch

Who keeps this
Who remembers the past
With honest eyes

Who writes and feels and keeps
All these desperate days to themselves
Held like dolls in their arms

I ran and ran
But never got past Go.

Mother’s Day on the Savanna

(For the mothers of Ethiopia and Somalia)
by Judith Fanny Rose

The caravan of love moves on
even after hope is gone the women of Somalia
walk the cracked savanna
The earth splits zig-zag
under dusty leather feet
Spider children dangle
from rusty iron backs
Arachnid shadow marionettes
their bent twig limbs on stings of pain
dance down the setting sun.

A gaunt geometry of shoulder
juts from folded batik burnt umber
gold yellow, paint beauty form an obscene palette
Van Gogh’s Sunflowers parted reveals
Picasso’s Guernica beneath
She has no more woman curves
only an acute triangle of bone
too close to skin for comfort
The same bone once separated laughing babes
astraddle each of her wide hips
Now, bone of mother grinds against bone of daughter
hunger honed, misery the whetstone
There is no Eucharist
No Holy Water
The only Lamb her own

The babe cries soundless shapes
her mummy lips stretched thin as borrowed time
black hole saucer eyes to dry to make her tears
She can no longer lift her head
to see the one she loves
Her mother’s eyes betray no pain to the six more
that call her mama
She does not touch this daughter now
but leaves her to the boy’s frail grace of arms
and hoists another to her back
She will not waste the one cup of porridge
on her dying babe or feed the one
she fed just yesterday
She marks the days upon them
wiser than King Solomon
she knows which to feed tomorrow

At night she dreams of her husband
He calls to her from the banks of the Jubba
knee deep in water
fists aflutter with opal-scaled sunfish
She almost smiles in the sanctuary of sleep
before she wakes to count the children
Falling like grains of sand
through Famine’s hourglass

Bio: “Prends l’eloquence et tords-lui son cou!” ~ Paul Verlaine. Translation: Take eloquence and wring it’s neck!

(Love Your Body Day 2009)

by Sami Schalk

This is my body.
A big black woman’s body
that likes sex and skirts,
green tea and pepper jack cheese.
This is my body
with lines that dance across
my stomach, hips and thighs,
my flesh a water bed of
skin, blood, fat and nerves.

This is my body.
Not a runway body
or a porn body, my breasts
don’t perk and point
my curves aren’t controlled
by corset tops or Lycra bottoms.
No tightness or tuckedness
or medical adjustments.

This is my body.
There is hair here, heft here
and it is clear I spend less time
waxing and shaving than I do
making food that soothes my soul
because this is my body.
And if I am allowed to choose
lipo or Depo, Maybelline or saline
then I can also decide my size
is fine, pick thick and stick
to improving my mind instead of
punishing my body for looking like
my mother’s instead of a Maxim cover.
This is my body.
This is my body.
This is my body.

Bio: Sami Schalk is a feminist poet from Southgate, Kentucky. She received her Bachelor degrees in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies at Miami University of Ohio and her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame. Sami is a Cave Canem fellow and member of Women Writing for (a) Change. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in CC&D, Diverse Voices Quarterly, The Battered Suitcase and elsewhere. Currently, she is a doctoral student at Indiana University in Gender Studies.

Mrs. Cow
by Mark Vogel

In Normandy sun this European black and white
and brown cow communicates with swishing tail,
coming close to our pretty books and youth,
our giggles and whispers.  Her eyes take in
our performance, our sated repose—
she welcomes us as conquering explorers.

She nudges one step forward, then another,
though she is always ready to back and run.
Her head arches so slow in pushy curiosity and her tongue
gradually extends a mile to taste.  We can’t help but
smile, for no one here fears her shit stained hide,
her clod footed big boned pushiness, her huge bovine eyes.

We have learned this morning she has no desire
to eat us, or bully us with force, that once again
a warm summer sun and big eyed innocence
can conquer fear.  Beneath an ill-fitting skin
she comes closer—transcending, without trying,
labels suggesting she is only cow.

Bio: Mark Vogel has published short stories in Cities and Roads, Knight Literary Journal, Whimperbang, SN Review, and Our Stories.  Poetry has appeared in Poetry Midwest, English Journal, Cape Rock, Dark Sky, Cold Mountain Review, Broken Bridge Review and other journals. He is currently Professor of English at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.

Published by Joseph M. Gant

Writer and Open Source enthusiast.

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