Saturday, 22 April 2017

a process of transfer by Mark Young



According to the Global
Innovation Index, Blaise
Pascal, a football player from
Côte d'Ivoire, has, by bor-
rowing a foreign syntax &
utilizing mimetic translation
practices, devised a multi-
disciplinary platform so visceral,

so deeply emotional, that it
renders Baroque drama the most
dangerous of all social &/or artistic
endeavors, even given the brilliant
splendors & alluring vices we
have available to us today.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Mountainous by JD De Hart

Double arc-en-ciel sur Le Reposoir by Nestorrefacteur

My friend told me the story
of the Mountain. That was
a nickname, but his real
name did have two Ms in it,
which was fortunate.
One in the first, one in the last.
These letters he decorated
with snow caps when he signed
his name on school papers.
Whatever happened to the Mountain?
My friend did not know, but did
not recall seeing him at graduation.
Do mountains migrate?
One hopes this mountain has not eroded,
merely settling for being a hillside,
but has continued to grow tall.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Long Before Isis by Donal Mahoney

Warm by Nuural Qudus


Thirty years ago, long before ISIS started executing Kurds, Muslims and Christians, I hired a Pakistani Muslim as an art director in Chicago. I was an Irish Catholic editor putting out a small national magazine. I hired him because his work samples were good and he had worked for the United States embassy in Pakistan for more than a decade. The embassy facilitated his emigration to America. It didn’t hurt that he had seven children and I had five. I too knew the misery of being out of work with a family.

Different as we were, Mohammed and I were also much alike. Deadlines and details were important to both of us. Other than the two of us, the staff was female. It helped on occasion to have another man around the office.

After a few years Mohammed invited my wife and me to dinner. His wife put out a big feast of Pakistani food, dishes we had never had. We also had never had Indian food and we know now there are certain similarities between the two cuisines although I remember to this day that a staple dish like biryani was moist in the Pakistani style and not dry as I have experienced it to be in so many Indian restaurants in America. I have no problem with either version but personally prefer a moist biryani. 

My wife and I knew very little about Pakistani culture and Islam on our arrival for the dinner. This showed when I shook hands with his wife, something I found out later to be a no-no although our hosts said nothing and his wife shook hands like an expert. I also engaged her in informal conversation during dinner which again is something of a no-no but she seemed delighted to respond in kind. 

And I probably made a big mistake asking her about a famous Pakistani poet alleged to be a drunk. Mohammed had previously denied this allegation as a complete falsehood. But his wife assured me the poet was indeed a drunk and seemed to disapprove of liquor in general since most Muslims, I believe, do not drink liquor, never mind to excess.

When his wife confirmed the poet was a drunk, I just happened to see Mohammed look down at his empty plate. He rubbed his forehead for a minute and then managed a slight smile. He knew that I did not know any better about carrying on a conversation like this and he loved his wife. It may or may not have been the first time she had engaged an American in an informal way. She was a terrific cook and certainly knew her Pakistani poets, much to the momentary distress of her husband.

Maybe a month later or so, the subject of religion came up at work. Mohammed told me he was sponsoring a cousin to emigrate from Pakistan and they were not close friends, simply kin, and he was obliged to do it. Apparently his cousin was a Sunni Muslim and Mohammed was a member of the Shia branch and the two branches do not get along when it comes to their theology. 

It was just Mohammed and I talking at that time while laying out an issue of the magazine. I can’t recall precisely what areas we covered but we did not get very deep into the vast differences in theology between Islam and Christianity. I may have asked him questions about his faith but I don’t recall that he had any curiosity about mine. But since I had asked for clarification about certain points in Islam, he wanted to make certain I understood what the facts were. I appreciated that and then somewhat facetiously said all was well as long as he didn’t try to convert me.

He paused for a moment and said, “You be a good Catholic and I’ll be a good Muslim.” I knew already that he was certainly a good Muslim. I also knew at that time I had a ways to go to qualify as a good Catholic.

All this took place as I said 30 years ago when there was no ISIS and I don’t recall any simmering conflict at the time between Islam and Christianity. I knew that neither side had forgotten about the Crusades but by and large the Crusades were at most an unfortunate fact of history for Catholics. I did not realize that certain Muslims still burned quite hot about the Crusades and had other resentments against the West and wanted to avenge the injustices they thought had been visited upon them. 

I am happy that Mohammad is still alive despite the fact that we are both long of tooth. I found his phone number today through Google. I saw his picture as well. He still lives in a suburb of Chicago but the picture must have been taken at a religious event because he was dressed in a black robe and black hat not unlike the garments worn  by imams addressing the faithful on the evening news. Needless to say his appearance disturbed me. 

I still might call Mohammad but if I do, it wouldn’t bother me if his wife answered the phone. It’s been 30 years but I think I’d ask her if she can tell me the surname of that drunken Pakistani poet since I remember only his given name and can’t find him so far on Google. And then maybe I’d have the guts to ask if Mohammed was home. If he was, maybe I’d ask him what is going on in the world today, from his point of view, because people like me don’t understand it. I imagine it would be a long conversation. Thank goodness there are no long distance charges on my wife’s cellphone.

*****

Donal Mahoney has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. He has had work published in various publications, including The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Christian Science Monitor, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Commonweal, The National Catholic Reporter and other magazines. Some of his online work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html#sthash.OSYzpgmQ.dpbs=

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Les diables de François Ibanez

Waning Moon by Ralph Combs


Les diables et les lunes
La pluie grise
Les diables pénètrent la vie
Des lames de glaces et de feu
Et des larmes

Les consistances stationnaires
Révulsent et creusent nos rides
Anciennes et calmes
Les diables irriguent d'un sang chaud
Violet et répudient les étoiles sommaires

D'un regard ils foudroient
L'apparence du monde
En fait le chaos irrémédiable
Le chaos sous la lune
Le chaos fait de braise ardente
Les diables hurlent dans le noir

Saturday, 8 April 2017

The Illustrated Man Person by Mark Young

& considered. Where to start.
Where to end. What to be. Call
me Queequeg? Start at the fore-
head? Fill it in or put a title there,
the chapter heading? The chin?
Remembered Ta moko, had seen
the death of it when young,
old ladies sitting on the kerb

waiting for the bus to Waitara's
Manukorihi Pā, green markings
moving with their mouths. Had left
the country before its resurrection,
part of the twin-tongue reformation.
Using the chin would give that aspect
strength, but continuity lost in the
hidden contours of the throat. The

neck? Too many prison tats, tearing
along the dotted line. The chest? But
only if a play, the curtains opening.
But only if the final scene, or curtain
call, everyone on stage. & how to lay
it out? As newspaper, columnar, or
else a book, straight-down, verso,
recto, the arms appendices or table of

contents & an index. Dead Egyptian,
ungrateful, right round & keep on
keeping down, or variant helix, single.
Or doubled, entwined, defining who
you are. Or who might like to be. Ideal
is Möbius Strip. Reading the message
within the eyes each other time you
pass. Alternate. Reading without them.


*****


Mark Young lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia, & has been publishing poetry for almost sixty years. His most recent books are Ley Lines, from gradient books of Finland, The Chorus of the Sphinxes, from Moria Books in Chicago, & some more strange meteorites, from Meritage & i.e. Press, California / New York. 

He also has two chapbooks in the Moria Books Locofo Chaps political poetry series — "100 chaps in the first 100 days of the Trump presidency."  

Monday, 13 February 2017

Life in the Air by J.D. DeHart



Of course, it did not start out this way. I was a tender shoot, what you might call a really solid branch. Three times, birds built a nest on me. I grew so monumental, I even had a kid try to stand on me. He fell and knocked the wind out of himself, but just the same. These are the kind of bragging rights not all of us have.

Imagine my surprise and reluctance when I felt myself joining the earth. Three, maybe four, villagers swooped around me and separated my form, along with many others, from the trunk. I really miss being part of that trunk.

They pared me down, sliding a blade to smooth my surface, and then whittled even further. They are trying to pick their teeth, I thought. I imagined myself being forced against enamel and pink, diseased gum, prying free pieces of beef. Not the kind of life plan I had in place, if you know what I mean.

So, you can probably guess the rest. What you might not know is that, in history, the warrior is given the medal. The mode of victory is often an afterthought, and by that I mean the weapon of choice. If it is the first time that weapon is used, sure.

We know that the Chinese invented gunpowder, and it is also thought that the crossbow originated in ancient Asia – the bronze triggers. It is easy to find out that the term “grenade” goes back to the 1500’s.

Nevertheless, I was consumed with flame and then launched through the air. I felt the exhilaration of the wind increasing my heat. I would love to say I found my home in some screaming warlord or the Great Scumbag of the Universe (whoever that may be). I ultimately found my home, deflected from metal and then landing in some straw. The straw, of course, caught the flame, and the flame caused the smoke, which allowed the enemy army to be overpowered.

But sure, sure, give credit to the general. Let’s see him light up and go flying.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

My Parents Were Illegal Irish Immigrants in the United States by Donal Mahoney

Joseph Francis O'Mahony, first row, third from left, circa 1920, age 16, all dressed up and looking older than 16 as a prisoner of the English on Spike Island a few years before he emigrated to the United States. There he became a citizen and the judge told him to change his name to Mahoney, a decision he would bemoan like a banshee for years. Permission to use this photo has been obtained from the Waterford County Museum in Ireland.


In 1920, my father, 16, was a guest of the British government. He was a prisoner of their forces occupying Ireland at the time, a group called the Black and Tans.

One day he and seven other prisoners were brought out of their makeshift cells to dig their own graves in a small walled compound. As tradition would have it, they would be shot into their graves and other prisoners would be brought out to bury them.

By prearranged signal, the eight men dropped their shovels and broke for the wall. Bullets stopped five of them but the other three climbed over the wall and made it through the rural Irish countryside to freedom. One of the escapees eventually went to Australia, another to Canada. My father made it to America.

The story doesn’t end there, of course, and he only told it once. But even if you were only in eighth grade, as I was at the time, it’s not a story you forget.

Ironically, his first job in America was digging graves in New Jersey. Then he boxed professionally in New York and sang in Irish nightclubs. He never drank. He was an odd fellow in that respect and perhaps in some others as well.

After another boxer broke his nose he stopped fighting and emigrated from New York, this time to Chicago, where without skills or experience he was hired by the Commonwealth Edison Company. He spent 35 years there as an electrical lineman who specialized as a troubleshooter called out during big storms whenever they occurred anywhere in the State of Illinois. He had to retire earlier than he would have liked after absorbing 12,000 volts of electricity trying to save a rookie he was training from touching the hot wire that got him.

At some point Joseph Francis O’Mahony, a native of Ballyheigue, County Kerry, met and married my mother, Mary Therese Roche, an illegal immigrant from Togher, Cork. She arrived in 1926 or so, got off the boat and found herself, for reasons she could never recall, in the middle of Harlem among the first black people she had ever seen. They helped her locate her cousin elsewhere in New York. In time she used her cousin's paperwork to find jobs cleaning the houses of others who could afford to hire her.

My father, apparently illegal as well, didn’t stop for documentation, perhaps because the Black and Tans might have delayed his trip had they found him.

My mother was reared in rural Ireland with eight siblings in a thatched-roof cottage in the middle of a cabbage field. An English landlord owned the field.

My mother didn’t know she needed papers to come to America. She had just grown weary of harvesting cabbage and thought she might try her luck in America. Apparently she had no problem getting on the boat.

These two illegal immigrants had a good if not perfect life in Chicago compared with the life they might have had if they had remained in Ireland.

My father earned good money as an electrician and saved a lot of it to make it possible for his son to earn two degrees. He and my mother died, however, before seeing their first grandson, Sean Owen Mahoney, win a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University.

It’s just as well because my father would have been very unhappy to have a grandson studying in England.

Almost as unhappy as he was to learn many years earlier that he had spent all his hard-earned money to send his own son, the author of this piece, to a university and have him come home with two degrees in English, of all things.

Once again my father had proof that life isn’t fair.