Author Archive

boxofchalk Books

The Osiris Poems by Simon Perchik (2017)

Local Lexicon by Edward Butscher (2018)

Guilty Pleasure(s) by Eric Greinke (forthcoming 2019)

Local Lexicon by Edward Butscher

“A poet whose inner life is a torrent of imagery sweeping the reader into a maelstrom on the page—frightening to experience but one continues to read, adjusting, recognizing yet another form of speech to be understood…and finally to enjoy with admiration for the skill with which such ferocity finds itself on a page with consistent style and force.”—David Ignatow

“Poetry is a sullen art, and Edward Butscher knows the etymology of the word and the true root of all art…His poems are a source of strength…Butscher is out for blood. His is a no-nonsense poetry, filled with our primordial origins.”—Simon Perchik

About the Author: Poet, critic, and literary biographer, Edward Butscher resides with his wife, Paula Trachtman, in Greenport, Long Island. His poetry and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies since 1976. Collections of his poetry include Poems About SilenceAmagansett Cycle, and Child in the House. His biography Sylvia Path: Method and Madness, was the first of that poet, and Conrad Aiken: Poet of White Horse Vale won the Melville Kane Award from the Poetry Society of America.

Issue 11.4

Welcome to forgejournal.com, the online iteration of Forge.

Nunc lego qui nunc scribunt – I read now those who write now

-Robert of Cricklade

Come celebrate Spring by enjoying the perennial goodness of our poets and writers and artists in the latest issue!

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~Leif Milliken

Uber-editor, Forge 11.4

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CONTENTS

—Prose—

Michael Andreoni – My Rembrandt

Lenny Levine – Damning with Faint Praise

Jim Ray Daniels – Underwater

Arthur Davis – The Voyeur

Dee Redfearn – Who Was Gregorio Cortez

—Poetry—

Simon Perchik – 12 Selected Poems

Jeanine Stevens – Caught Summer / Firestorm in the House of Birds / Ornate Persona / Winter Coat Tinged Platinum / Within a Frame

John Grey – Paul’s First Kill

—Visual—

Jessy Randall – 3 Comics

3 Comics

By Jessy Randall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul’s First Kill

By John Grey

He said it seemed like a good idea at the time.

His father hunted so why shouldn’t he.

And the old man never did lock away his shotgun.

Besides, what other purpose did the surrounding woods serve

than to provide targets for sharp eyes and steady nerves.

 

No, it wasn’t as if he was being threatened.

The creature was a raccoon sleeping high up in the fork of a tree.

His first shot missed altogether.

That furry bandit stirred but not quickly enough.

The second and third shot hit it in the head.

The corpse dropped at his feet.

 

He’d never seen anything dead before.

Blood oozed from the side of the head.

Dark eyes stared unblinking at the barrel of his gun.

Does it have a family, he wondered.

And what about a soul?

 

The dead raccoon was his guilty secret for a whole seven days.

The way his face mobilized so pale and furtive,

his mother knew something was up.

His father didn’t notice however.

He didn’t once check on his rifle to see that it had been fired.

 

His mother finally grabbed him by the shoulders,

shook his body until the lies spilling from his mouth

couldn’t help but speak the truth.

He was burning with shame

while she trembled in fear.

“You could have killed yourself,” she said angrily.

It was no doubt a reproach

but, for a moment there, it sounded like an instruction.

 

___

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

Within a Frame

By Jeanine Stevens

            Photo of Jean Cocteau by Man Ray 1922

 

Skin shines over thin knuckles.

A young Jean peers through an empty frame.

 

Smart suit of clothes expertly tailored,

collar starched polar white, so bright it must be new.

 

Hair fluffed high with pomade, I detect

expensive cologne,

yet a solemn expression

perhaps to discount his idle nickname:

“The frivolous prince.”

 

On his left wrist, a twisted string,

one of those devices to remember which day it is,

which appointment to keep, when

other Bohemians, his coterie of friends,

will meet at his favorite bar,

Le Boeuf sur le Toit.

 

In the blurred background, bust on a pedestal,

nondescript, an unknown face

a prop?

Is everything in art intentional?

 

Perhaps shadow to his persona; hidden brilliance

creating a “beast house”

where door knockers grimace and latches grin.

 

I saw La Belle et la Bête around 1979.

Is this the same young man who designed

screaming keyholes, animated portraits?

 

___

Jeanine Stevens studied poetry at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento. She has advanced degrees in Anthropology and Education. Her second poetry collection, Inheritor, was published by Future Cycle Press, 2016. Recent winner of the WOMR Cape Cod National Poetry Competition and the Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Award, 2017. She just received her fifth Pushcart Nomination. Poems have been published in South Dakota Review, Pearl, Evansville Review, Valparaiso Poetry Journal, Forge, Rosebud, Verse Wisconsin, Stoneboat and others. Jeanine also enjoys collage and Tai Chi. Raised in Indiana, she now divides her time between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.

Winter Coat Tinged Platinum

By Jeanine Stevens

  South Lake Tahoe

 

To the city yard for sand bags to plug

the hole where the raccoon dug under the cabin.

Between flurries, a walk in the pines.

 

Ahead, 100 yards, a coyote crosses the road,

fluffy white, yellow, gray like a big blond fox.

I stop, raise my arm in salute

not sure if this is a right gesture.

 

Watching, turning

toward me, a long time.

 

(Something familiar, head and shoulders foreshortened

like the giraffe pictograph, the Fezzan,

North Africa, 100 B.C.

Same stance, hesitation,

no threat, something beyond,      curiosity?)

 

I look back to see if I’m being followed.

No.

He trots on, probably to trash bins

behind Safeway,

winter coat tinged platinum,

curved back mimics

Mount Rose in the distance.

 

Later, sitting by the woodstove snapping cedar,

what to make of contact with topaz eyes,

wild fur, the edge of things?

I think artifact

look at my Washoe basket, buck saw,

map of prehistoric game trails.

 

The cabin warms; ice chunks slide

from the tin roof.

On the Tamarack, a Red-headed woodpecker

chisels out another unwritten code.

 

___

Jeanine Stevens studied poetry at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento. She has advanced degrees in Anthropology and Education. Her second poetry collection, Inheritor, was published by Future Cycle Press, 2016. Recent winner of the WOMR Cape Cod National Poetry Competition and the Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Award, 2017. She just received her fifth Pushcart Nomination. Poems have been published in South Dakota Review, Pearl, Evansville Review, Valparaiso Poetry Journal, Forge, Rosebud, Verse Wisconsin, Stoneboat and others. Jeanine also enjoys collage and Tai Chi. Raised in Indiana, she now divides her time between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.

Ornate Persona

By Jeanine Stevens

Bow lips burnished bronze, lids violet or sable,

Is face the body’s icon? colorized

flesh: blue, red, black,

eyes swimming in gold flecks?

 

On stalwart stems, face of the rose

rests her head above threadlike roots,

black tangles resembling witches’ hair.

 

The real body—turbulent, defiant.

In grief, feelers find their way to epidermis

—wince, sunken eye, pursed lips,

universal grimace,

universal prosopon.

 

A mystic once said, “Wear a mask too long,

find you have no face.”

 

The ornate Venetian: Salome, Scaramouche,

Capricornus— how many years will they last,

peeling, sloughing through time?

 

___

Jeanine Stevens studied poetry at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento. She has advanced degrees in Anthropology and Education. Her second poetry collection, Inheritor, was published by Future Cycle Press, 2016. Recent winner of the WOMR Cape Cod National Poetry Competition and the Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Award, 2017. She just received her fifth Pushcart Nomination. Poems have been published in South Dakota Review, Pearl, Evansville Review, Valparaiso Poetry Journal, Forge, Rosebud, Verse Wisconsin, Stoneboat and others. Jeanine also enjoys collage and Tai Chi. Raised in Indiana, she now divides her time between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.

Firestorm in the House of Birds

By Jeanine Stevens

 Coventry Cathedral

 

Blistered pinnacles rise from the perimeter,

shattered, yet delicate as mica.

Like up-ended swallows tails they elongate, reach

toward the sun.

Inside, puddles of rain reflect

a collage of shreds, war’s fallen flock.

 

And I am back in 1940 with parishioners

on wooden pews for song, then

Sunday lunch and later,

near the radio for the weekly newscast.

Another cloudburst creates

a dazzling mirror image

in the gutted grater; glittering glassine

embellishing the earth.

Resting under a lintel, I consume

my sack lunch, grateful

for cheese, bread and hard green apple.

 

I recall recent attempts to blow up gods

and deities in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

Not so easily shattered—

do they patiently wait

for a new a plinth, a new cornerstone?

 

Leaving, I note a raven’s nest

high on a damaged spire—birds watchful,

birds in no hurry.

 

At the exit, souvenir pin, a cross—

twisted nails salvaged

from splintered beams.

 

___

Jeanine Stevens studied poetry at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento. She has advanced degrees in Anthropology and Education. Her second poetry collection, Inheritor, was published by Future Cycle Press, 2016. Recent winner of the WOMR Cape Cod National Poetry Competition and the Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Award, 2017. She just received her fifth Pushcart Nomination. Poems have been published in South Dakota Review, Pearl, Evansville Review, Valparaiso Poetry Journal, Forge, Rosebud, Verse Wisconsin, Stoneboat and others. Jeanine also enjoys collage and Tai Chi. Raised in Indiana, she now divides her time between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.

Caught Summer

By Jeanine Stevens

  ~a Cento

 

 

People are forever leaving Proust

behind in summer cottages.

 

I sit in my suntan oil alone,

a jay chirks news of impending drouth.

But under my feet as I tan,

a light brown paisley made of seed wings.

 

Parallels of color

on bare canvas of time-by-the-sea.

Fishes float with new-repaired scale.

 

Linen-clean

the air… serpentine

swipe of the sea.

 

A smoky rain batters the panes

of the shore hotel and the hope-for summer

chills and fails.

 

The summer people sigh,

“Is this July?”

 

And next summer they find

someone else’s Proust

in the new place they rent

 

Caught summer

…always an imagined time.

 

 

 

From: Roy Blount Jr. “Summer and the Reading is Easy.”

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, “The Sweet Season.”

Mona Van Duyn, “The End of May.” May Swenson,

“Flag of Summer.” Richard Wilbur, “My Father Paints the Summer.”

 

___

Jeanine Stevens studied poetry at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento. She has advanced degrees in Anthropology and Education. Her second poetry collection, Inheritor, was published by Future Cycle Press, 2016. Recent winner of the WOMR Cape Cod National Poetry Competition and the Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Award, 2017. She just received her fifth Pushcart Nomination. Poems have been published in South Dakota Review, Pearl, Evansville Review, Valparaiso Poetry Journal, Forge, Rosebud, Verse Wisconsin, Stoneboat and others. Jeanine also enjoys collage and Tai Chi. Raised in Indiana, she now divides her time between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.