Issue 9.1

Legion

By Nancy Hightower

I am the funny man

I am the sad man

I am the face

with a thousand voices.

 

My laughter fuels the sun,

hews the moon into teardrops.

This world, a stage where

the funny man jokes

and the mad man rages. Neither

can be chained in their delirious glory.

 

I am the naked man

with a grin as wide as the sky,

the haunted man with a tomb-dark heart.

The village priest tries to divine

my name; the country doctor

wants me to try the pink pill.

I take it, crawl out once more

onto the rocks, into the spotlight.

Below, the herds gather.

 

——————–

Nancy Hightower has published short fiction and poetry in journals such as storySouth, Gargoyle, Prick of the Spindle, and Word RiotKinds of Leaving, her short story collection currently under submission, was shortlisted for the Flann O’Brien Award for Innovative Fiction in 2014. Currently, she reviews science fiction and fantasy for The Washington Post and was featured in the 100 Top Creatives feature in Paul Miller’s Origin Magazine. This summer Port Yonder Press will publish The Acolyte, her first book of poetry.

My Mother’s Madness

By Nancy Hightower

The memory returns
every January, blurred
like rain on a cracked window.
The ground around us shifting
as narratives were bent and tilted,
Hades ascending.

You left with him,
just before the witching hour,
Silty loam and mud freezing solid for the winter.
I summoned Lazarus
for his official position on the matter,
gummed pomegranate seeds
and asked Orpheus for the handbook
on calling back lost ones.
This was no abduction, they cried,
no death but your own.
Nonetheless, every year
my hands grow numb, turn into
clumsy birds fluttering against
our burial, a frantic clawing
of fingers raked in dirt,
stained beyond recognition.
By dusk I curl up, rooted to the spot
and wait for summer,
for a torrent of suns to unleash
and wash me clean.

 

——————–

Nancy Hightower has published short fiction and poetry in journals such as storySouth, Gargoyle, Prick of the Spindle, and Word RiotKinds of Leaving, her short story collection currently under submission, was shortlisted for the Flann O’Brien Award for Innovative Fiction in 2014. Currently, she reviews science fiction and fantasy for The Washington Post and was featured in the 100 Top Creatives feature in Paul Miller’s Origin Magazine. This summer Port Yonder Press will publish The Acolyte, her first book of poetry.

On a Morning After We Only Slide Past Each Other in the Room of Young Babes

By Lyn Lifshin

where even the blonde beauty

is half Chinese tho I never

dreamt it. I’m too numb

to care I’m not young, not

Asian, not the one you’d

cheat on your wife with.

These young girls, like

peonies, pink and white,

skin pale as those flowers

opening, tumbling and

heavy. Hanging their heads

but not yet spoiled. Petals,

musky. Thick July air.

Who wouldn’t want to pick

them. Young skin in bare

armed summer dresses.

Their sweetness like

broken cake

 

——————–

Lyn Lifshin has published  over 130 books and chapbooks including 3 from Black Sparrow Press: Cold Comfort, Before It’s Light and Another Woman Who Looks Like Me. Before Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle, Lifshin published her prize winning book about the short lived beautiful race horse Ruffian, The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian and  Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness.  Recent books include Ballroom, All the Poets Who Have Touched Me, Living and Dead. All True, Especially The Lies, Light At the End: The Jesus Poems, Katrina, Mirrors, Persphone, Lost In The Fog,  Knife Edge Absinthe: The Tango Poems .  NYQ books published A Girl Goes into The Woods. Also  just out: For the Roses poems after Joni Mitchell and Hitchcock Hotel from Danse Macabre.Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle.  And Tangled as the Alphabet,– The Istanbul Poems from NightBallet Press Just released as well  Malala,   the dvd ofLyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. The Marilyn Poems was just released from Rubber Boots Press. An update to her Gale Research Autobiography is out: Lips, Blues, Blue Lace: On The Outside. Also just out is a dvd of the documentary film about her: Lyn Lifshin: Not Made Of Glass. Just out: Femme Eterna and Moving Through Stained Glass: the Maple Poems. Forthcoming: Degas Little Dancer and Winter Poems from Kind of a Hurricane press

When I Lose the Envelope of What Matters

By Lyn Lifshin

those Black Sparrow postcards,

then the card from Bill Press.

How he showed my Black

Sparrow books on cable

TV and I knew I had the

publisher of my dreams,

for a bit. You can’t hold anything

long. The love notes from men

who wrote poem after poem

about me after an hour over coffee.

The one who cared for the hunt

and always, because he had

not caught me, longed to take me

down. Poems, good ones, lost

now. In some landfill, or archives

by mistake. For months, the house,

chaos, but this envelope, safe in a

file with less exciting things

that mattered. But then, like for the

moment we had that seemed

right, seemed they could be, just

space from what’s truly gone

 

——————–

Lyn Lifshin has published  over 130 books and chapbooks including 3 from Black Sparrow Press: Cold Comfort, Before It’s Light and Another Woman Who Looks Like Me. Before Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle, Lifshin published her prize winning book about the short lived beautiful race horse Ruffian, The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian and  Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness.  Recent books include Ballroom, All the Poets Who Have Touched Me, Living and Dead. All True, Especially The Lies, Light At the End: The Jesus Poems, Katrina, Mirrors, Persphone, Lost In The Fog,  Knife Edge Absinthe: The Tango Poems .  NYQ books published A Girl Goes into The Woods. Also  just out: For the Roses poems after Joni Mitchell and Hitchcock Hotel from Danse Macabre.Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle.  And Tangled as the Alphabet,– The Istanbul Poems from NightBallet Press Just released as well  Malala,   the dvd ofLyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. The Marilyn Poems was just released from Rubber Boots Press. An update to her Gale Research Autobiography is out: Lips, Blues, Blue Lace: On The Outside. Also just out is a dvd of the documentary film about her: Lyn Lifshin: Not Made Of Glass. Just out: Femme Eterna and Moving Through Stained Glass: the Maple Poems. Forthcoming: Degas Little Dancer and Winter Poems from Kind of a Hurricane press

“In the Violet Hour” on a Page, Maybe in a Poetry Book Someone Was Reading on the Metro

By Lyn Lifshin

“the violet hour” mid

July and especially

yesterday. Blues band

playing. Dupont Circle,

heavy with roses.
Cappuccino in the out

side café. The violet

hour. The slash of page

I saw and something

about getting up from

the desk and I wonder,

did he go out to wait

for the moon or the

musk of peonies, ferns

or walk into the room

where a woman waited,

her legs, her everything

open to him

 

——————–

Lyn Lifshin has published  over 130 books and chapbooks including 3 from Black Sparrow Press: Cold Comfort, Before It’s Light and Another Woman Who Looks Like Me. Before Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle, Lifshin published her prize winning book about the short lived beautiful race horse Ruffian, The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian and  Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness.  Recent books include Ballroom, All the Poets Who Have Touched Me, Living and Dead. All True, Especially The Lies, Light At the End: The Jesus Poems, Katrina, Mirrors, Persphone, Lost In The Fog,  Knife Edge Absinthe: The Tango Poems .  NYQ books published A Girl Goes into The Woods. Also  just out: For the Roses poems after Joni Mitchell and Hitchcock Hotel from Danse Macabre.Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle.  And Tangled as the Alphabet,– The Istanbul Poems from NightBallet Press Just released as well  Malala,   the dvd ofLyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. The Marilyn Poems was just released from Rubber Boots Press. An update to her Gale Research Autobiography is out: Lips, Blues, Blue Lace: On The Outside. Also just out is a dvd of the documentary film about her: Lyn Lifshin: Not Made Of Glass. Just out: Femme Eterna and Moving Through Stained Glass: the Maple Poems. Forthcoming: Degas Little Dancer and Winter Poems from Kind of a Hurricane press

After Too Many Nights Drugged

By Lyn Lifshin

the clear calm startles.

How many years since

sleep held me like a

lover, faithfully, not

the kind who says show

more skin and vanishes,

but velvety, lush as a

night we were all young

and the darkness was

a surprise. Lights

going on and outside,

the fireflies, diamonds

and rhinestones studded

the blackness, signaling

for a mate and we

were too, under a

slash, the pale new

moon

 

——————–

Lyn Lifshin has published  over 130 books and chapbooks including 3 from Black Sparrow Press: Cold Comfort, Before It’s Light and Another Woman Who Looks Like Me. Before Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle, Lifshin published her prize winning book about the short lived beautiful race horse Ruffian, The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian and  Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness.  Recent books include Ballroom, All the Poets Who Have Touched Me, Living and Dead. All True, Especially The Lies, Light At the End: The Jesus Poems, Katrina, Mirrors, Persphone, Lost In The Fog,  Knife Edge Absinthe: The Tango Poems .  NYQ books published A Girl Goes into The Woods. Also  just out: For the Roses poems after Joni Mitchell and Hitchcock Hotel from Danse Macabre.Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle.  And Tangled as the Alphabet,– The Istanbul Poems from NightBallet Press Just released as well  Malala,   the dvd ofLyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. The Marilyn Poems was just released from Rubber Boots Press. An update to her Gale Research Autobiography is out: Lips, Blues, Blue Lace: On The Outside. Also just out is a dvd of the documentary film about her: Lyn Lifshin: Not Made Of Glass. Just out: Femme Eterna and Moving Through Stained Glass: the Maple Poems. Forthcoming: Degas Little Dancer and Winter Poems from Kind of a Hurricane press

“Never,” Someone on TV Says “Compete Against 25 Year Olds”

By Lyn Lifshin

Wanting you, anyway, there

can’t be an end of the

story since there won’t be

a story. Call it “you know

it’s an old song” you

can’t compete with

25 year old beauties.

But he did love my poems,

read everything the first

few months. I’m your

# 1 fan he whispered, his

mouth in my hair. Are

you shocked? I bought

clothes I didn’t need

for him, made hair

appointments for the day

of my class in his arms,

felt like so long I hadn’t.

When he kissed me

I dreamed it meant some

thing more, that “that was

a good class,” his “we’ll

have to go out and talk

about movies and your poems,”

meant we might. Once I

almost bought a coat

because he loved it, didn’t

then spent weeks when

it was gone, hunting it down

as I have him, elusive,

even in dreams. No,

I can’t, even with a 19 inch

waist and long good legs,

long blond hair compete

with 25 year olds. But

unlike the young girls with

beautiful skin, their elbows

if you look just beginning

to be kissed by earth

I can, as they never could,

with a few words,

make him

immortal

 

——————–

Lyn Lifshin has published  over 130 books and chapbooks including 3 from Black Sparrow Press: Cold Comfort, Before It’s Light and Another Woman Who Looks Like Me. Before Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle, Lifshin published her prize winning book about the short lived beautiful race horse Ruffian, The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian and  Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness.  Recent books include Ballroom, All the Poets Who Have Touched Me, Living and Dead. All True, Especially The Lies, Light At the End: The Jesus Poems, Katrina, Mirrors, Persphone, Lost In The Fog,  Knife Edge Absinthe: The Tango Poems .  NYQ books published A Girl Goes into The Woods. Also  just out: For the Roses poems after Joni Mitchell and Hitchcock Hotel from Danse Macabre.Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle.  And Tangled as the Alphabet,– The Istanbul Poems from NightBallet Press Just released as well  Malala,   the dvd ofLyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. The Marilyn Poems was just released from Rubber Boots Press. An update to her Gale Research Autobiography is out: Lips, Blues, Blue Lace: On The Outside. Also just out is a dvd of the documentary film about her: Lyn Lifshin: Not Made Of Glass. Just out: Femme Eterna and Moving Through Stained Glass: the Maple Poems. Forthcoming: Degas Little Dancer and Winter Poems from Kind of a Hurricane press

Like Falling Madly in Lust When Just Hearing a Death Sentence

By Lyn Lifshin

it’s that way with

him. I think of

mothers starting

to fade as their

daughters blossom

where time is

churned and

telescoped and

someone in 2009

can fall in love

with a man born

in 1620. In

another life, I’d

be your muse

as you’ve been

mine but then,

without this

wild longing

for what

isn’t, what

can’t be, no

poems

would happen

 

——————–

Lyn Lifshin has published  over 130 books and chapbooks including 3 from Black Sparrow Press: Cold Comfort, Before It’s Light and Another Woman Who Looks Like Me. Before Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle, Lifshin published her prize winning book about the short lived beautiful race horse Ruffian, The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian and  Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness.  Recent books include Ballroom, All the Poets Who Have Touched Me, Living and Dead. All True, Especially The Lies, Light At the End: The Jesus Poems, Katrina, Mirrors, Persphone, Lost In The Fog,  Knife Edge Absinthe: The Tango Poems .  NYQ books published A Girl Goes into The Woods. Also  just out: For the Roses poems after Joni Mitchell and Hitchcock Hotel from Danse Macabre.Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle.  And Tangled as the Alphabet,– The Istanbul Poems from NightBallet Press Just released as well  Malala,   the dvd ofLyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. The Marilyn Poems was just released from Rubber Boots Press. An update to her Gale Research Autobiography is out: Lips, Blues, Blue Lace: On The Outside. Also just out is a dvd of the documentary film about her: Lyn Lifshin: Not Made Of Glass. Just out: Femme Eterna and Moving Through Stained Glass: the Maple Poems. Forthcoming: Degas Little Dancer and Winter Poems from Kind of a Hurricane press

12 Poems—Summer 2015

By Simon Perchik

*

The rock that sparked a supernova

circles this lamp no longer moving

stays dark though every star

 

is hunted down by a crack in the wall

or someone else’s window till one by one

they become a reef that smells from salt

 

–every headstone here is lit

with a smaller stone set off at night

with a boatman as dew and losing itself.

 

 

*

This usher is used to the night shift

–heading you left to right

where the bigger numbers are

 

points to a seat that will open

when moonlight appears

still licking its broken shell

 

and where in the balcony

it’s darkening from kisses

though the actors too

 

are in on it –the woman

uncovers her breasts –you can see

he’s a captain, has his orders

 

is no longer taking tickets

though the mouth inside you

is gobbling its placenta

 

tries to cry out in the credits

among all the names

what happened to the others?

 

 

*

You wait for the curb

the way a man from loneliness

looks down at the water

 

–have one leg in the air

and though the light will change

the road would carry it along

 

–it’s how you mourn

one foot holding on, the other

worn out from asking where

 

–you point –it’s simpler

then tears or the sound

a splash makes after it dries

 

–it’s how you drown

step by step pulling you under

as the cry years later

 

encased in bottom stones

dripping over the dead

over your eyes as dew

 

 

*

You become an acrobat, a night

–whose darkness is the only color

with both its knees kept folded

 

for the deep breath and summersault

–trained the way the moon

in a few hours will orbit the sun

 

be heated for a single cup

where there should be two

to count hand over hand and not let go

 

till the cry caught in your fist

melts, blackens the water

this close to the window and your throat

 

 

*

Then everything else for winter

you plant in your arm

though whatever it reaches for

 

is here, circles slowly down

the way all bones

become what they touch

 

and without a trace are burned

when your arm grows a heaviness

is bending the Earth, surrounding it

 

with the dirt it needs

to bury the dead an in your arm

make room for water

 

that no longer is invisible

except as a shore named for her

and the waves –it’s all water

 

rowing and rowing :loosening

till nothing puts out the fires

or covers the holes in your arm.

 

 

*

This sidewalk was laid down for the dead

the way a great wall falling on its side

still hopes to last –why else would you walk

 

where even stone is anxious, was left behind

in a dilapidated neighborhood

smelling from someone you still love

 

–with one shoe reaching down for the other

you set fire to the one that’s empty

letting it melt into rivers and pails.

 

 

*

Then the lag :a year, afterthoughts

when your wrinkled arms and this shovel

make a hole in the sun for your shadow

 

that once would lift itself, could reach

from behind, gather up a darkness

no longer weightless or water

 

–after all this time what’s left

is flowing between one day and another

the way this well was dug –you drink

 

from both your hands as if they were taken

and afterward have to be returned

lower and lower, over and over again.

 

 

*

We dead are always listening for chimes

as the small steps mourners still leave

for the gentle tap that echoes from each stone

 

–this cemetery is building a barricade

grave by grave still facing west

covering it with grass though each thus

 

is starting to move between the soft tones

eased along on tears that are too heavy

have your eyes, don’t want to wait anymore.

 

 

*

Side by side a planet that has no star

you wander for years

which means remorse has taken hold

 

the way this dried love note

never lets go its warmth

though the afternoon becomes a place

 

for constellations, is wobbling

as silence and the end

–where else can it hide

 

is more forgiving than a period

left where a well-meaning sentence

gave all it had and for the first time

 

a darkness was falling from above

bird-like, spreading out as far away

around and around, over and over again.

 

 

*

Gradually, you can tell from its silence

this fence was building a bridge

though it’s the rust spreading out

 

that makes it so –you think it’s plankton

and how hurried was the river

when each afternoon still reaches out

 

becomes a sea again, heating the sun

with the same shadow

that leans against this iron gate

 

lets its great weight open the Earth

though nothing is left in your arms

is held anymore –you think it’s raining

 

as if that’s all there is in the water

that could help you breathe

without leaning over.

 

 

*

You clam though it’s the sea falling away

lets this rake threaten it yet go free

taking you along –knows all about going off

 

disguised as a night that reeks from salt

to keep from sinking –you reach for the bottom

the way your casket disappeared with a candle

 

made from paper –it was an old love note

in pencil, with nothing on the back

then folded over and over to fit into your hands

 

as moonlight –even now this long, wood handle

ties you dead to water –you hear the splash

giving up, lying down, at last what it wanted.

 

 

*

This paint is wet though when you weep

it flakes –the wall knows close

is too close, starts to turn away which means

 

it’s breaking open for steam, somehow

a few sparks and after that your tears

will cool, at last a hilltop lake, far off

 

still making its final decent as a second sky

–two skies and what you breathe in

are the pieces broken off those stars

 

that would become the sea and never dry

let you witness each wave slowly going off alone

from your eyes that have forgotten how.

 

 ——————–

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Osiris, Poetry, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013). For more information, free e-books and his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.

On Call

By Alison Stone and Eric Greinke

The problem with old friends

was that they always resurfaced

on sunny mornings when his craving

for a human connection

temporarily blinded him

to their mercurial shadows.

He always dove back in,

opening too much, surprised

when they showed

the same old callous regard,

same shallow values, yet

mysteriously appealing smile.

How long could he overlook

their droning about ex-wives

and hot conquests, their need

for a magic mirror

to reflect their brilliance

and royal entitlement?

How had he ended up back

in a supporting role, murmuring

“Rhubarb, rhubarb” while

wolves disguised as sheep

eyed him as potential prey?

Where did he lose the old

grudge-holding, self protective

self that saw through

pretty wool and witty repartee?

Though tortured by doubt,

he snatched up the phone.

“Good to hear from you.” he said.

 

——————–

Alison Stone is the author of Dangerous Enough (Presa Press 2014), Borrowed Logic (Dancing Girl Press 2014), From the Fool to the World: Poems in the Voices of the Major Arcana of the Tarot (Parallel Press 2012) and They Sing at Midnight, which won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award and was published by Many Mountains Moving Press. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, Barrow Street, Poet Lore, and a variety of other journals and anthologies. She has been awarded Poetry’s Frederick Bock Prize and New York Quarterly’s Madeline Sadin award. She is also a painter and the creator of The Stone Tarot. A licensed psychotherapist, she has private practices in NYC and Nyack. She is currently editing an anthology of poems on the Persephone/Demeter myth.

Eric Greinke’s work has appeared in the Abraxas, California Quarterly, The Delaware Poetry Review, Gargoyle, Ginyu (Japan), The Green Door (Belgium),The Journal (UK), Main Street Rag, the New York Quarterly, the Paterson Literary Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Poem, Prosopisia (India), The South Carolina Review, The University of Tampa Review and many others. He is the Featured Poet in the current issue of the Aurorean.  He is a book reviewer for The Pedestal Magazine.  His book For The Living Dead – New & Selected Poems has achieved a large international audience.  He is one of twenty American poets included in the international anthology The Second Genesis: An Anthology of Contemporary World Poetry (India; 2014).