Tuesday, 3 January 2017

notes by Mark Young



Discovered a chilli plant growing in the back yard. Orange turning to red. A birdseye, high heat. Last year they were growing wild in the front garden. Pulled out the plants. Kept the fruit. The freezer contains a ziplok bag full of them. A little chilli goes a long way.

Two rainbow bee-eaters on a branch. A member of the kingfisher family but very different in colour, in contour of beak. Still, they have that kingfisher / kookaburra feel about them.

I am waiting for the electrician & the plumber to come. Maybe I can ring up a mechanic, say the car has broken down, & hold a trade convention.

Break off reading Ed Sanders' Tales of Beatnik Glory – a little of that goes a long way too — & start reading a Val McDermid novel, The Torment of Others, one of the series of Tony Hill / Carol Jordan mysteries. I enjoyed the BBC TV series but the books are blacker, more graphic, & I'm enjoying them more. What does that say about me? The title of this one comes from a quote by he whom Paul Blackburn called the preacher, T.S.E., tse-tse fly, from The Dry Salvages.

I bring in the washing. It starts to rain. Now there's a change in the normal order of things.

My legs ache. Age. Arthritis. My left kneecap clacks like Philly Joe Jones in behind Miles Davis. So What perhaps. I run the Cannonball Adderley solo through my mind. It helps, but it doesn't hide the pain. Aspirin works better, though it hasn't the same rhythm. Or the phrasing.

Am assuming birds broadcast the chilli seed, but how can they stand the heat, not that they're ever in the kitchen. Though, reading about the bee-eaters, I learn that they render the sting harmless & kill the bee before swallowing it. Maybe birds render chillies harmless with a garnish of ice-cold water.

That reminds me. I take some soluble aspirin, in a glass of warm water to make the tablets dissolve faster. The plumber arrives. & goes fifteen minutes after. Paid by the hour. My kneecap still clicks but the ache has gone. I make lunch. Afterwards go outside. Click. Now that I am aware of it, my eye is automatically drawn to the orange of the chilli amongst the brown & green & purple of the garden. Click. The bee-eaters have gone. The electrician is still to show.

*****

Mark Young lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia, & has been publishing poetry for almost sixty years. He is the author of over thirty-five books, primarily text poetry but also including speculative fiction, vispo, & art history. His work has been widely anthologized, & his essays & poetry translated into a number of languages. His most recent books are Mineral Terpsichore & Ley Lines, both from gradient books of Finland, & The Chorus of the Sphinxes, from Moria Books in Chicago.

Friday, 30 December 2016

To Peel or Not To Peel by A.J. Huffman



“I am sorry the pears weren’t
pre-ordered,” said the woman
with the plastic shoe box full
of green and yellow, lined
end to stem.  A tiny mass coffin
for wayward fruit.  “They have
to go.”  Unchecked,
she carried them, a sole pallbearer,
to the trash.  No
ceremony, no speech.  Just plunk
and slam.  As the lid
closed on their lives we returned
to the mundane chores of ours.

*****

A.J. Huffman has published thirteen full-length poetry collections, thirteen solo poetry chapbooks and one joint poetry chapbook through various small presses.  Her most recent releases, The Pyre On Which Tomorrow Burns (Scars Publications), Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink), A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press), and Familiar Illusions (Flutter Press) are now available from their respective publishers.  She is a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2600 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, The Bookends Review, Bone Orchard, Corvus Review, EgoPHobia, and Kritya.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Body Talk by John Grey

Encyclopædia Britannica
eye embedded in the mossy rock rings
tear evaporates from pebbled paths
tongue, enemy and friend of mankind
back of the neck, purveyor of sunstroke
heart-beat, a fleeting nod to life and death
saliva, a sea stemmed by lips,
brain, epitome of cramped quarters or the
computer company itself
thoughts, a Jewish man engaged in rapid conversation
with a Dominican woman
memory, a sound obsessed with its own history
hands, pincers for the workingman's soul
fingers drumming the tireless tracks
thumb, the baton, palm, the Gypsy storyteller
elbows, part of the outline that holds me in place
shoulders, a fifty year old magpie nest
arms, individual pieces of business
armpits, jungle home of Tarzan, lord of the apes
breast takes its turns beating, feeding
nipple, the shiniest bauble
lungs, in their application, circle the wagons of black wind
chest (see dead man's) yo ho ho and a bottle of...
thorax by Doctor Seuss, navel by an orange
pubis, the God of porn
penis, forever seventeen years old or a fragile jetty .
where the moon docks,
buttocks imitate the swell of two bellies
legs, begging weary ice-shapes
knees, the last resort of unintentional foreplay
toes, the hiding place of lesser molecules -
next stop, the insides -

hands up those who thought they were already there

*****

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review.


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Jesus, Can We Talk? by Donal Mahoney

Crijn Hendricksz.jpeg
By Crijn Hendricksz. Volmarijn (circa 1601–1645)

Jesus, can we talk? Some folks say you're coming back any day now but many of them have been saying that for years. They say it could happen tomorrow, or maybe next week, and they've already put their affairs in order. They believe they will be swept up and taken into heaven, leaving many others on the ground, just standing there, slack-jawed and staring at all the backsides rising in the air.

I'd like to among those rising but my Baptist barber says he doesn't think papists will be issued passports for this trip. I've been his customer for 30 years so he plans to take a rope along and drop it down to me. If I grab hold and can hang on, he says I'm welcome to come along if Jesus doesn't cut me loose. I may be a papist, he says, but he knows from all our haircut debates over the years that I believe in Jesus and the bible as the inerrant Word of God. He even tells his Baptist and Four Square Gospel customers I'm okay, theologically speaking.

I keep telling him papists believe in Jesus just as strongly as he does. But that's not what he heard about Catholics growing up in the Ozarks as a child. What's more, since I grew up in Chicago, I talk kind of funny, he says. I always tell him I can sound just like him with a mouth full of cornbread.

In the meantime, Jesus, I need a favor on different matter entirely. I'm hoping you'll find time to make a quick visit to the house of a friend of mine around midnight any night of the week. He's been retired for many years and he's enjoying the fruits of his considerable labors. As I often remind him, he's enjoying the fruits of your favors as well. But he doesn't see it that way, necessarily, if you want to know the truth.

As I see it, you've been very good to this man for more than 70 years but now he needs a different kind of help. Like me, he's old enough to find himself any day now next up in the checkout line. But he talks as though the life we both enjoy has no end in sight. If he didn't live in a far-away city, I'd take him for a haircut at my barber's shop and there he would hear the truth with a little cornbread on the side.

Now don't get me wrong. I don't want to see my friend turn Baptist, not that there's anything wrong with Baptists, as Seinfeld might say. I just want him to get back to Mass every Sunday morning before someone has to push him down the aisle in a wheelchair. He has a lot to be thankful for and maybe not a whole lot of time to say thanks.

You see, he was a high school graduate who became a paratrooper during the Korean War. After he was discharged he found a job as a janitor. In no way dumb, he used diligence and brains to become vice-president of the same company in ten years. He got there by being a good salesman of condiments. The man can talk but then a lot of Irish-American papists can talk. Maybe we can't yodel like the Swiss but we can certainly talk.

Not satisfied with being president of that company, he quit and started his own company. He decided to manufacture and sell products that were just catching on when Woodstock was all the rage. You remember Woodstock. That's where all the musicians and Hippies showed up on a water-logged farm in the Catskills in 1969 to celebrate free love and other developments in society at that time.

In any event, my friend figured that supplying health food to vegans and vegetarians would be a gold mine in the future and it turned out he was right. This is a guy who spent his adolescence at White Castle restaurants eating double cheeseburgers by the sack. It must have taken a conversion experience akin to the one Saul of Tarsus had to get him to try health food. I'm not sure he eats that much of it himself but he sure can sell it.

Thirty years later, with his kids reared and on their own, he sold his company for seven million dollars. I haven't asked him yet if he had any outside help in his success or if he did it all by himself.

He still believed in you while the company was growing but I don't know what happened after that. He's a good man, basically. He has the same wife now as when he was a janitor, a big bunch of kids now grown up and doing well and a flock of grandkids who adore him. Excess of any kind has never been a problem with him. He simply lost his faith somewhere along the road to becoming a millionaire. Other millionaires have followed the same path, I imagine, but I have never known any others, personally.

Many decades ago in grammar school, he and I were always in the same grade and we both believed, without any doubt, that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead and opened the gates of heaven for the likes of us and maybe for the likes of the worst of us if they shaped up in time. Now my friend is living the good life but says he doesn't know if you exist or if you died on the cross or if you rose from the dead. He says he'd like to believe in you but he needs some evidence. Otherwise, he says he'll remain an agnostic, a word he says means "I don't know."

Well, Jesus, I don't think his problem is a simple one. First he has to come to believe in God again, a belief some philosophers say a man can reach through reason alone. After all, there are the five proofs for the existence of God that many philosophers accept. But then he has to come to believe again in Jesus Christ--that God sent his only begotten Son to die on the cross for the sins of all mankind. That's the hard part. He can't do that through reason alone. That takes faith, the gift you gave to both of us, the gift he lost and I somehow retained despite being no better than he is.

Jesus, this man is 77 years old so perhaps you can sense the urgency of my request. There's not much time for him to believe again unless, of course, you step in.
That's why I'd like you to drop by his mansion some midnight when you have some free time. Just pull him out of bed by the ankles and hold him upside down for awhile before you introduce yourself. Then tell him you are Jesus Christ, a native of Bethlehem with strong ties to Galilee and Nazareth. Remind him about what you did with the loaves and fishes at Cana and ask him if he sees any parallels to that event in his own life. My hope is that before you leave, or shortly thereafter when someone revives him, he will find that he has the gift of faith again.

You see, I don't know how he lost his faith but I can't find it for him. The nuns who schooled us in the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ have been dead for many years. There are a couple of them who might have been able to turn him around. They had a way of making you see the truth. It's amazing how quickly you can see the truth clearly when an old-style nun in a big habit takes time to explain everything half an inch from your nose.

In any event, you gave both of us the gift of faith in 1938, the year of our Baptism, and I somehow still have my faith, despite not leading a noble life. I mean I was honest and was never arrested but there might be a lady or more who would take a bumbershoot to my backside if she ran into me, even at my age.

My friend, on the other hand, has done everything according to the book but he no longer reads the book. So, please, drop by his place some midnight before he dies and yank him out of bed by the ankles. Let him know who you are and mention that you look forward to seeing him at Mass on Sunday. Remind him that he can get a spiritually nutritious bite to eat at any Catholic church in the world in case he still likes to travel. Food that will stick to his soul for the long road ahead.

By the way, this man can afford to tithe, big-time. Even though papists don't tithe the way Protestants do, they nevertheless give a ton of money to charities managed by the Church and other not-for-profit organizations. But it's probably best if we don't mention his ability to tithe to my Baptist barber. He might be tempted to get on a plane and go see if my friend needs a trim.

*****

Donal Mahoney has worked as an editor for U.S. Catholic Magazine, Loyola University Press, and The Chicago Sun-Times. Retired now, he keeps busy writing poetry, fiction and nonfiction. One of the most important aspects of “freedom” for him is freedom of religion and the opportunity in the United States to practice it or not practice it. Some of his work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html#sthash.OSYzpgmQ.dpbs=

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Operative by JD DeHart




spy in my own life,
uncertain of what side
I am on, agent/counter-agent.
not sure what the sides
even represent.
both parties sound the same
after so much rhetoric.
there is a beautiful dangerous
woman who turns out to be
nothing but an ordinary seamstress.
she owns lots of kittens.
not real cats, but objects made
in their round little shape.
the nefarious villain with the plan
for domination turns out to
not unlike myself.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

No cows to look at by Robert Ronnow

Argleton, view from Bold Lane

No cows to look at
I hear the truck traffic

Everything changes like clouds
The page this poem is on burns

Coming from the funeral with friends
Talking on the telephone

No trucks to grind their gears
I hear the minute hand moving

Birds and people inhabit the earth
A black bear inhabits the earth, too

A rock in the sun
Calligraphy brush

In a mind there is apocalypse
No one can hear it


*****

Robert Ronnow's most recent poetry collections are New & Selected Poems: 1975-2005 (Barnwood Press, 2007) and Communicating the Bird (Broken Publications, 2012). Visit his web site at www.ronnowpoetry.com.




















Sunday, 6 November 2016

Reaction to an Editor's Suggested Revisions by Donal Mahoney




Yours is the first email I opened this morning. I was surprised to see your name since I had forgotten about the piece I had submitted a year ago. Time does fly.

I appreciate your suggested revisions and invitation to re-submit the work once I have made the revisions. I can tell that you spent a lot of time analyzing my efforts.

I'm afraid, however, that I can't make the changes you suggest. Nevertheless I feel obligated to compensate you for your time.

It is to that end that I took your name to Rebecca. I showed her your suggestions and she said that your name would be introduced at the next gathering of her coven. She asked if I had any suggestions for revisions to your life. I said I did and that she might want to take notes.

I said I thought it might be best to have your organs rot one organ at a time. I added, however, that while your organs rot slowly in series, your heart should remain strong so you can die at a leisurely pace. We don't want to rush this.

She said that could be arranged although it was an unusual request. In similar cases in dispatching someone who has grievously insulted another, usually the insulted party wants the insulter eliminated immediately. I'm unusual, she said, in that respect.

I told her I didn't want to be heartless and have you die before you have a chance to put your affairs in order. And I reminded her not to inflict cancer on your pancreas too early because medicine has no certain cure for that. In short order, cancer of the pancreas usually means lights out.

I suggested she start with your gall bladder and move on to your kidneys and then your lungs and then your brain. That will keep the doctors busy while you waste away. I suggested she save your pancreas for last.

I also asked her to let me know when your pancreas becomes involved so I can make plane reservations to come and say good-bye.

In the meantime, may your next issue be stillborn. No reason to make it different from the last.

*****

Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He has had work published in various countries. Among them are Bluepepper (Australia), Ink Sweat and Tears (England), Beakful (France), The Galway Review (Ireland), The Osprey Journal (Wales), Public Republic (Bulgaria), and The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey). Some of his work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html#sthash.OSYzpgmQ.dpbs=