Brand New Secondhand Dress
Afraid that she’ll tear her two-dollar dress,
she lives in its floral pattern,
like a girl in a garden with a book on a mission
to translate fading perennials.
Like a fabric woven so long ago
that we’ve forgotten its fabrication.
She forgets her own name
within that floral labyrinth
where pistils floss their teeth.
Stamens wait for phone calls.
What comforts her was broken
in by another, in another age.
What clothes her suggests
a hundred ways to be naked.
This is the rain my father knew.
My mother would see him to the door
as he left for work
at the tinplate plant.
A worker for all seasons,
his continental shift
sounded like a dance,
a geological movement
over a quarter of a century;
mornings, afternoons, nights,
two of each as he'd wait
for the one weekend holiday per month,
the stop-fortnight of summer
as July closed and August began.
His coil of days,
the overtime for extra pay
inside a fork-lift truck.
I still see and hear him leave,
his uncomplaining silence
I search as the tinplate shifts.
Edna’s son gave her one, so before
long Morgan asked his son to get
him one, and soon, one after another, almost
everyone at the Eldercare Hotel got
one until the halls seemed filled with
wheelchairs coming and going, the
motorized ones whizzing, and of
course the staff tried to restrict wheelchairs to
those who needed them, but, who
did not need one?—why should
anyone hobble about on a walker when
one could race around in a
mechanized go-cart with three
speeds forward and a buzzer to
warn people out of the way just as
if the drivers were—look out!—fully
alive, but then Morgan and Edna had
a head-on crash, and so the caregivers said
no more wheelchairs, someone might get
hurt, we can’t have that, so everyone had
to go back to crutches, couches, tapioca,
Bingo, and reruns of
“This Is Your Life.”
As Jerusalem Burns
Looking at blood dripping from
Blood from your eyes.
Chewing the buttery flaking bread,
We sigh and moan and rush to read
The Op Ed.
Maybe someone got an idea.
Maybe someone can do something
A white dove.
A black crow.
We can't just sit here.
Limbs lingering on street corners.
Flakes of flesh.
Mouths that can
Our own jaws
Until the newspapers
In our French manicured hands.
And we shake the
Crumbs from our
Dana Buchman suits.
As Jerusalem Burns - Dvorah Telushkin
Brand New Secondhand Dress - Glen Armstrong
Figment Twenty-Three - Gerald George
A Mother - Barry Spacks
Letting the wind build dunes - Charles F. Thielman
From the Last Puritan - Michael Prior
Roberta Senechal de la Roche is an American historian, sociologist, and poet born in western Maine and raised in upstate New York. She graduated from the University of Southern Maine and the University of Virginia, where she received a doctoral degree in history. Currently Professor of History at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, she lives in the woods outside of Charlottesville near the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Dvorah Telushkin is the author of Master of Dreams, her memoir of her 14 years as assistant and translator to Isaac Bashevis Singer. She is currently launching her one-woman show titled “In Search for the Perfect Pocketbook”, as well as a poetry/photo series titled Faces in Trees.
Byron Beynon lives in Wales. His work has appeared in several publications including The London Magazine, Poetry Wales, A New Ulster, The Blue Hour (USA), Worcester Review (USA), and In Parentheses (USA). A Pushcart Prize nominee. A new collection of poems titled The Echoing Coastline is forthcoming from AGENDA EDITIONS (UK).
Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He also edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters.
Roberta Senechal de la Roche
Your mother said, it’s always a place
but you’re never really there.
Do you know what I mean?
Your father wasn’t either, but he stayed anyway
for you and all the rest that happened here at home
until you went away untouched.
When I was young they were still around, she said,
amazing grace and ladies’ gloves
went up all the way in white.
But someone took down the sky in bits,
and never put it back.
It was in the war, and we were scared.
They rationed doubt;
we left the rest behind.
You’ll catch on as you go I think,
but you won’t get it until it’s late.
I just want you to be happy and find someone,
though you can’t if you’re like me at all.
Look, I have pictures here that show
what it was like to be a child
before the colors went away.
The room gets small and tight,
she says I want to lean, a wing is broke,
what’s left as I get down to bone?
You have to go, you have your own,
but as you back out slowly through her door,
you know you really want to hear again
that story we tell ourselves in the dark.
The scent of lilacs leaning over terraces
can break us all over again,
if we think back.
Silence lies latent in the golden boughs
we hope to find, we who return
to sift through the archeology of desire.
The raven’s kiss is on the land,
upon the perennial queen of shade
who comes with pomegranates after winter,
Whose sleep is a history of dust
whose crown of shadows
marks the final fall of flowers.
We danced with bells and snakes,
purified our hands in smoke
but had to leave with words we could not speak.
Gerald George has published numerous poems in journals, magazines, newspapers, and anthologies, and a book of poems, Imitations of Indonesia (Chestnut Hills Press 1997). His verse plays have been produced on stage and radio. In 2010 he won the Donn Goodwin Poetry Prize. He serves on the editorial board of Off the Coast. He lives in East Machias, Maine.
Defiant once -- would not clean her plate! --
so they taught her lack of confidence,
broke her will, sat her up all night
a child entrapped at the dining table.
Through life she played the incompetent,
trying her hand at everything,
expecting to fail.
Kindly, unvaunting, did she damn
her timidity, that led her to be
a watcher? that gave her
a diplomat's skills?
Easily teased, easily laughing,
alert as a workday saint, she strived
to be helpful, modest, weathering
as she aged to a total state of grace.
Blessed to be raised by a kindly woman,
some of her goodness descended to me.
I remember best her beaming smile
and the way she helped me cut the ties.
Barry Spacks, a poet/painter, earns his keep teaching writing and literature at UCSB after many years of doing the same at M.I.T. He has published poems widely in journals -- paper and pixel -- including stories, two novels, eleven poetry collections, and three CDs of selected work. For a long time he has been a very busy man.
Letting the wind build dunes
Charles F. Thielman
You prep this canvas, painting it black,
leaving indigo and cobalt blue
for the approach to foreground.
Walking your nerve-into-muscle hinges
around each trained urge to irrigate
what is with what is wanted,
constructions of thought being infamous
for planting balsa inside reach, you see
today’s truth like a spider's web
stretched over a mirror.
If only you could be ambidextrous
after waking at 4 a.m. carrying the colors
of a dream, night sky starred silent, oak
ready to sweat wings into shallow skies.
You paint quickly, with muscular strokes,
letting a distant wind build dunes, letting
this sable brush follow what speaks
between mind and pulse.
Allowing your eyes to hold one memory
beside canvas, your long glance
of Laotian women gardening atop
a freeway ravine, their bodies moving
as if deaf to the hiss of traffic,
refugees in their native dress, they bend
and rise, step, bend and rise, and step
while reaching into a seed sack,
planting what will grow.
Charles F. Thielman was born and raised in Charleston, S.C., and moved to Chicago, where he was educated at red-bricked universities. On city streets, he has enjoyed working as a city bus driver, truck driver, warehouse manager, and enthused bookstore clerk. Married on a Kauai beach in 2011, a loving grandfather for five free spirits, his work as poet and shareholder in an independent bookstore’s collective continues! His chapbook, Into the Owl-Dreamed Night, is available from Uttered Chaos Press [ utteredchaos.org ].
From the Last Puritan
Mr. Cromwell, I write you now with cadmium
blooming in my heart, I am a fugitive pigment
on the walls of your art.
The night flattens itself across my table,
tempts me with endless legs of sleep.
But I will not be led astray.
The deep rivers call me too, Mr. Cromwell.
I am unwell: pulling my daily bread
from hooks, planting
seeds on my neighbour’s roofs—
a fallen star stirring up the earth
like God’s molten plough.
Mr. Cromwell, I beg of you: return
to New Somewhere, reclaim
New Nowhere, because here
the land punctuates my thoughts
with its sad commas of tree and sky,
and here, Mr. Cromwell, is where I will die.
Once Upon a Time in the West
after Sergio Leone
Tumbleweeds rumble in herds towards
the horizon, only to realize it keeps getting
Men draw quickly, fire caps and corks from
plastic pistols, drink themselves down
to sleep on herbal tea.
A guitar string snaps like a rubber band
across a classroom. Someone leaves
holding ice to an eye.
I ride into town on a second-hand horse,
wearing a white hat and spray-painted
spurs: no one seems to care.
The music swells like a river at full flood,
the flies flicker on their wires. The sky
blushes behind a paper fan.
I practice my quick-wrist in the mirror.
Coyotes cut through the dessert;
I take the proffered slice.
Michael Prior is a writer living in Toronto, Ontario, where he attends the University of Toronto’s MA in Creative Writing Program. His poems have previously appeared, or are forthcoming in Canadian magazines such as The Antigonish Review, Branch Magazine, Carousel, CV2, Freefall, Grain, and Qwerty. He was finalist in the Malahat Review’s 2013 Long Poem Prize.