Category: Poetry

Seventh Month – John Grey

Seventh Month – John Grey

Seventh Month

Heart swells

and yet something inside

feels like a cobra

slithering and biting.

A blessing.

So why do you have the chills?

You’re carrying around

a couple of pounds of fatback.

Your joints insist on telling you

the weight exactly.

Now for every licked finger,

there’s a gray ghost

wavering at the end of the bed.

For love hard as marble

there’s a limp wet feeling.

Night after night,

it’s one invisible kiss,

and then the world

lands its fist halfway up your teeth.

Oh, joyous, expectant mother.

The moon is painfully rocking your hips.

And you’re flaunting a faint smile.

Nothing here caused it.

Looks like it strayed.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dalhousie Review and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Qwerty, Chronogram and Clade Song.

Circumstance – John Grey

Circumstance – John Grey

The vivid scenes created in the poems John submitted to us were powerful for all of us to read. We will be sharing a total of two poems from him, the first today and the second tomorrow. We hope you feel just as transported as we did. Enjoy.

Circumstance

When her son was conceived,

the lake wore its starry sparklers,

the moon was pancake shaped, 

and a cool breeze blew in through

the open windows of her boyfriend’s car.

She was seventeen, naïve,

and sprawled across the lumpy backseat 

of a second-hand Chevy,

cramped, uncomfortable,

but not complaining,

not when so much talk of love

had preceded the spreading of her legs.

Her life was going nowhere anyhow.

Her grades didn’t cry out, “College bound!”

The town was small.

And the night seemed as anxious to get on with it

as her boyfriend’s probing hands,

his amateurish thrusting.

When the son was born,

it was like there no longer was a lake

or a moon or a breeze.

And no sign of her boyfriend’s car.

Nor of him either.

She was stuck at home

under her father’s glare

and her mother’s distressed happiness –

the lovely grandchild,

the daughter no better than a whore.

But such a smile that baby had.

Until it caught up with its own circumstance.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dalhousie Review and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Qwerty, Chronogram and Clade Song.

Ah, Life – Caleb Coy

Ah, Life – Caleb Coy

Ah, Life

Ah, says the sighing sage, Life.

You have to taste it in the deed,

Make time for it by letting go.

Screw that, says the cynic, the salesman.

You have to have a leg up on the vermin who desert

         a sinking vessel.

You have to do what is best for yourself.

So, therefore, one must have the time of one’s life

         now,

While the vermin still crawl in the crannies,

While the ship is still afloat.

The sage and the cynic meet to trade secrets,

to agree.

As the hull scrapes against the rock,

As the water seeps in,

As the vermin fly in droves and the bow tips upward,

Tell yourself

         this is the beginning of the thing        

not the end of it.

Caleb Coy is a freelance editor with a Masters in English from Virginia Tech. He lives in Christiansburg, VA with his wife and two sons. His work has appeared in The Common, Stonecoast Review, and Harpur Palate.

Here on Earth – Caleb Coy

Here on Earth – Caleb Coy

Here on Earth

I said I know you never meant to do

         the thing you did.

He said, I know that, I know that,

But as a consequence of my deeds

And the boulder I set rolling,

         a pure good thing

         is gone from here,

And it’ll never return here again.

I mean here on earth, not here in this town.

I said, I know that, I know that.

Caleb Coy is a freelance editor with a Masters in English from Virginia Tech. He lives in Christiansburg, VA with his wife and two sons. His work has appeared in The Common, Stonecoast Review, and Harpur Palate.

Detour – Caleb Coy

Detour – Caleb Coy

Detour

Worms eat the belly and freshen the soil

To reconcile, to breed blooming flowers,

And call them a masterpiece—

This is tramping in God’s garden.

Sensible, though it is, to say she has spoken,

An echo sublime, a material reflection,

The path into her muffles into darkness—

Not this way. Not in the brambles.

Terror and folly, awe and mystery

Choke the spirit of searchers,

Their counsel tangled in time,

In the depth of undiscovered stretches.

Here we turn. Here we take the byway.

Leave the wood, leave the peaks, leave the beaches,

Return to the tongues of men and of angels,

Return to the temple of the prostrate self.

Lest the image become the object,

Lest we return again to whispering horns,

Or we wander in dimness of words

And swallow the wormwood within the honey.

Caleb Coy is a freelance editor with a Masters in English from Virginia Tech. He lives in Christiansburg, VA with his wife and two sons. His work has appeared in The Common, Stonecoast Review, and Harpur Palate.

Blackberries – Caleb Coy

Blackberries – Caleb Coy

This is the first of four poems that we will be sharing from Caleb. We hope you enjoy reading his words over the next few days just as we did during the editing process.

Blackberries

I turned blackberries from the stem

On down the brambled row,

Ripe and bulging,

Silver in the sun of evening.

Beetles had come to drink,

Sometimes four on a single berry.

You must blow them off

Or risk the smashing of all.

My fingers stained with soft

Labor, my bucket half full,

I wipe my brow at the end of the row

And carry my glean to the stand.

Later, I return with white raspberries,

My blackberries having been taken.

The farmer offers me his own picked bushel,

But it is not the same.

Caleb Coy is a freelance editor with a Masters in English from Virginia Tech. He lives in Christiansburg, VA with his wife and two sons. His work has appeared in The Common, Stonecoast Review, and Harpur Palate.

Unwelcome with My Camera? – Keith Moul

Unwelcome with My Camera? – Keith Moul

Another piece of Keith’s we found to paint a vivid picture. Enjoy.

Unwelcome with My Camera?

Local folks suspect strangers lurking about.

My head up, I gauge light burst on a window,

then as flashily decamps in the leaves’ flutter.

What to do with “get away from my lawn”?

Or defend a case of brilliance here observed?

If I turn to gaze farther, I dig ghastly cavities

in brain matter granted custody of this place.

All right, a simple inquiry at the door: May I

pause to limn the gilding pageantry of light?

Thus squandering that time and all should he

answer “NO!” East breeze ferries drama in;

rain sweeps to vertical the velour of leaves;

street spray from a car flashes the horizontal.

A tide no more regularly reconfigures beach

than light saturates this neighborhood’s eyes,

blinding in painted white of this church wall

of a minor sect sparkling as if combustible.

My accidental presence here creates a scene:

a timeless day, my imperfect finger ready on

the release; my ignorance; me, wet but steadily

pelted by as yet unknown but eternal certainties.

A forced departure bars me from final assertion,

penultimate views, or any infinite assertions

on any stage where my vision may earn a space.

Evening darkness, of course, supplants debate,

yet a word: I click a frame to the mediating, but

minor sect, yet in profile.  Kinfolk tales portend

a fight, but guide the fine spirit of nostalgic light.

Keith Moul has written poems and taken photos for more than 50 years, his work appearing in magazines widely.  His chapbook, The Journal, and a full-length volume, New and Selected Poems: Bones Molder, Words Hold were recently accepted by Duck Lake Books. These are his ninth and tenth chap or book published.

Spring Tumbles Anew from Slush – Keith Moul

Spring Tumbles Anew from Slush – Keith Moul

Spring has officially sprung (as of the 19th, really) and this poem of Keith’s is the perfect piece to conjure the spirit of the season. Enjoy.

Spring Tumbles Anew from Slush

Each flake busted in like a little mountain,

encasing in cold, longing vegetable corpses

all ready to join the living in spring warmth

per custom cited in every local garden book.

So hurriedly seized, as hurriedly deliquesced

on orthodox cue as air bubbles up from below.

We feel tingles, but hear both pops and smacks

of joy, the smell of mud striving with the melt:

tendrils uncurl, sliding up to slippery twirl

rose hips aged orange 

red and yellow dogwoods bud

purple blackberry vines

clamp bronzed cedars 

opalescent horseflies neigh

Ever-curious, hatched right to hungry, eager

for buoyancy permitting them radical choices,

astute robins enter as if by stage direction

cunningly unwritten, breathtakingly in tune

with planetary law, with music of the spheres.

Cabin fever primes my detonator,

floods the vacuum universe with word bursts,

splotched, fused and spattered with galaxy light,

hoops shade as if of crinoline

tufts gurgle with new aromas

caterpillars undulate

deer pad ancient paths

saplings rise into forest space

every root electric in reverence,

passion holds trembling beneath every leaf.

Keith Moul has written poems and taken photos for more than 50 years, his work appearing in magazines widely.  His chapbook, The Journal, and a full-length volume, New and Selected Poems: Bones Molder, Words Hold were recently accepted by Duck Lake Books. These are his ninth and tenth chap or book published.

And Dreams of Seas – Stephen Mead

And Dreams of Seas – Stephen Mead

Another poem of Stephen’s that we took interest in, “And Dreams of Seas” felt real, raw, and visceral to us. We enjoyed it, as well as “Sighs,” and we hope you will too.

And Dreams of Seas

If the food stayed down

(& it did)

If the hands found each other

& not blindly

or just through letters,

that piercing paper touch

(& they did)

If we were soluble, the flesh

transparent, & could merge

in a flow where nobody 

drowned

or at least not alone

(& we might have)

If your voice, face

was suddenly inside mine

& sky-lit eyes looked out brighter,

an ocean in the all-over-dark

(& we almost)

If I were not sad, could feel

joy even in your leaving

without angry idols, fearful

obsession of the fact

fact of your sickness

(& I am)

or death

(am not)

then the last vast wave

would not want oblivion

(& we cannot)

only a sort of truth,

nearly clear

(& we don’t)

in this surge,

the real dream

which does not stop

Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer. Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online. He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. Currently he is resident artist/curator for The Chroma Museum, artistic renderings of LGBTQI historical figures, organizations, and allies predominantly before Stonewall: https://thestephenmeadchromamuseum.weebly.com/.

Sighs – Stephen Mead

Sighs – Stephen Mead

Sighs

To covet, sighs,

a covenant between spirit & flesh.

Eyes come

eternally mortal to that rhythm:

Pelvic, pubic, the moan emissions

between your eyes above mine

as sex & sensuality meld us to one fluid,

bone marrow, the extremis…

You know that knowledge is terrible,

death’s phantom a phoenix to the fusion

of our shadows & the winged brilliance

where, life to life, pulses feed sickness or DNA.

Love, feed the thirst, the hunger desire

decides on. Choose passion as breath & we

wave in the ebb, the flow of that domain…

Here, first eddy, flushed then waxen

tallow, flame to wick.

Come, come again, I’ll hide no sighs,

being charcoal to paper 

rubbing an imprint.

Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer. Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online. He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. Currently he is resident artist/curator for The Chroma Museum, artistic renderings of LGBTQI historical figures, organizations, and allies predominantly before Stonewall: https://thestephenmeadchromamuseum.weebly.com/.