There is a not a cell in
this body unwilling to
do what it must. Falling
Is fate. Failure is attitude.
The altitude adjusts with
each tick, the marker of you.
Risk is just the proof of poems.
The purity of attempt
is a sword to obstacle.
The details of love can drench
the damned with all dancing rain
this rain that pools in puddles
And asks for fanciful boots.
This rain that patters lightly like
a tender, motherly touch.
This is rain from the clouds of
doubt, clearing finally like
a puzzle solved of its’ steps.
This is rain of light response
to the order of devils.
This rain cleared over a cliff.
I spent years climbing for such
silly reviews. This rain was
the sign to jump over all.
Review of the Ridiculous
Funny that there should be
in this house of loneliness
For the past can’t be a fruitless flood
what of its’ damning darkness?
Hilarity, fresh prose,
a process of optical adjustment.
I inhale hope
like an asthmatic
To tie together
For watching has wrinkled!
I must act in defiance
and carve out a painterly premise.
Chasing A Blackbird
In the cherry pepper trees
Beyond the blowing trumpets of grass
Lies the blackbird I seek
Who sits in belting song
Upon those brutal branches.
I spring toward this oaky behemoth
Grab hold of those branches
Bravely bring myself toward
Those black feathers of prophecy
Like a child of impulse
As the birds bellowing turns
Into a squawk
Before bringing its’ widened wings out
For a frightful flight of freedom
Out toward the horizon.
Like a farce of weakness
I sit bawling of impotence and incompletion.
The teardrops fall to the branch
And become a billion blackbirds
Decorating the sky with me.
God Never Picks Up The Telephone
My eyes are reborn
in the bending waters.
Sent to rage and decompose
they have let go.
Conditions have not changed
they have been seen beyond time.
When the desire to pray dissolves,
the prayer is answered.
This is the clockwork
of spontaneous vegetables.
This is the spirit of possibly leaving
like a laughing rainbow of powerless power.
the prophet and the poetess
i dissolve into my elements my
seeds and singing, fear and flowers and
in whispers i weave gold thread
from a haystack.
inspiration is meaningless. my hands
craft their desires
on the other side of the river, a prophet offers potions,
selling shame that tastes like
scripture on whiskey-painted lips not
unfamiliar. like cold clenched fists bursting the soft
sunset-redness of a peach.
i worship the sanctity of the fruit before
i bother with prophecies or potions
too bitter to swallow,
sugar and sinfulness bound in red threads
which bear no horns but yield too many seeds.
too many secrets.
i crack the pits one by one.
and the grass grows in the field and
dries in the sun.
the wheel turns and in your song
the prophet sees the shimmering of something
so beautifully unforgivable.
mother of all things
i can never forget the morning
that sent me into the light, cursing
the unforgivable fury of
alarm clocks, the cruel dance of bath robes
& shower shoes, the stab of a mascara wand into
my right eye, the
unjust exodus that fit the fairytale.
you saw me there
in the garden, my grief
a wedding gown i married every day because
at least one of us kept our promises. the man
caught my wrist and it bruised and now
you know who ate the fruit. now you know why
i line up lavender pills in that plastic box, why
i take my tea with a teaspoon of vinegar. now you know
why they lay me bare on that white table. why i am unable to get up
break apart the rocks
to say i
am not yet or no longer dead.
The Voice in the Temple
We are all scarred and there’s nothing romantic about it
but we are still beautiful.
I used to feel defiled when hands
left their mark on my skin, as if everyone could see
the fingerprints, now
I feel holy in the arms that hold me. If this
body is a temple,
my wrists are the sacred pillars withstanding
so many crusades against this soul
and you and I
we are the humble pilgrims searching
for sanctuary. We do not leave our fingerprints
on the walls. We leave the rooms
in better condition than we found them.
I am no saint, but I know
what worship is it is
praising God by holding His children without
leaving bruises on their backs. It is the way
you fold me into your arms, gently, carefully,
as if you are afraid of breaking me, as if
I am worth putting back together.
The Art of Staying
I have been both. The leaver and the left behind.
I have watched old “best friends” fall like sand between my fingers,
strong bonds and good times
too good, too quickly over. I have faded into memories
and candle wax, into purple smoke that curls above matches,
that settles unbidden into dreams. I see everything. Bonfires and
futures we discussed like they were certain, all the love
we had, that we thought we had, that
I feel so intensely that at times I must feel nothing at all.
I love and I let go. Pull in and push away. Old memories turn to ghosts
turn into monsters that remind us the people we keep
in our hearts are not the same people we see
in the hallways, remind us we aren’t always the ones
we see in bathroom mirrors. And you can know that one day
things are supposed to get better, but how
do you stay
when you see façades instead of faces, how
do you accept love when you could swear
you don’t deserve it?
i always knew i wanted to stumble into love in
the early stages of bloom, a mid-spring
of season. i was too green all
clammed up but with the fresh innocence
of morning like
dewdrops glistening in constellations across
scar-marked forehead too dangerously
awkwardly elegant and
i wanted the backseat kind of secret
cherry red and delightfully sour
sugared up with youthful confection
poems you pluck from unsuspecting pomegranate grins.
bite the seed. bide your time. strike softly
while the iron is hot. i blossomed upstairs outside
my father’s house before
the tides got in the way
i’ve had my share of warnings all
in blushing shades of scarlet.
all i’ve learned from Proserpine is eat the seed
and spit the wine; summer wanes and heat
Earth shall heal,
The vaccine is already here
And what is to be,
Death shall still weave
Its subtle poetry
And Life shall still make of us
Slaves of its consciousness
Even if it realises not
That it is,
A slave of its own!
Earth shall heal though,
At least, it shall, in its own ways,
Even if nature shall still be destroyed,
Even if its resources shall still be abused of,
Even if some strata of the society shall
Still be disadvantaged,
Even if diseases warn not before they strike,
Earth shall heal,
And it shall keep revolving
For as long as the subtle forces
Guiding her, will want her to!
Isn't such the very essence of life,
To keep going regardless of
The stones pelted at it?
My only companions are solitude and music
In the first one, I find time to forge my inspiration
And in the second one, I channel my art
Into powerful notes moving enough
As to stir up the sleeping soul of Earth itself!
Music remains my passion, that form of art
Which paints sunny days in my darkest nights
And which bids me to embrace life
In a comforting embrace,
Even if all it offers me are the thorns
Of flowers which have been plucked
By some lucky hands!
When I indulge in my own solo symphony
I shrug off the weight hanging over my head,
Constantly pushing me into the bottomless
Pits which pave up the paths that have been set
For me and I become, the mighty Apollo,
With my notes, so emotional at times,
And yet, so moving and enticing at others!
I know, lovers listening to me hug and kiss each other
I know, the lost souls listening to me, shed some
While those basking in happiness,
Whistle along to my tunes,
Feeling my art pulsate in their own hearts!
Solitude and music shall remain my only companions
For as long as my breath would live in me,
As I feel like I live only in them!
The state of being dead scares me not
It has been written in holy books,
That being in this state
Requires being made of another nature,
Having forgotten everything
That makes up the human and physical essence!
What scares me
Is what comes before being dead;
Going through long term disease
Or suffering the blows of an accident,
Or even undergoing the horror of
Crime and abuse!
The world is a most scary place
And I keep making of my hymn up:
My imminent departure,
But since life is stronger and mightier
I do wonder
If I shall be allowed a smooth exit
Or if I shall have to go through
My destined path, with the heart
Of mighty lioness having grown
Way too old to fight
Mighty creatures of the forest,
Hungry for what remains of my flesh!
Lois Greene Stone, writer and poet, has been syndicated worldwide. Poetry and personal essays have been included in hard & softcover book anthologies. Collections of her personal items/ photos/ memorabilia are in major museums including twelve different divisions of The Smithsonian. The Smithsonian selected her photo to represent all teens from a specific decade.
white coat with pockets
Petri dish droplet; E-Coli
was the unknown.
college, and I was
satisfied I’d revealed
the mystery. Coronavirus
currently confuses me;
now, decades later, labs
worldwide are playing
detective but not for a
university grade. Our
current tech sophistication
and 21st century bragging
has been mocked by
Cynthia Pitman, a retired Advanced Placement English teacher from Orlando, Florida, has been published in Scarlet Leaf, Vita Brevis, Pain and Renewal Anthology, Third Wednesday (One Sentence Poem Contest finalist), Saw Palm (Pushcart Prize nominee, 2019), Amethyst Review, Adelaide, Right Hand Pointing, Red Fez (Story of the Week), and others. Her first poetry collection, The White Room, was recently published by Kelsay Books.
Dr. Emory D. Jones is a retired English teacher who has taught in high schools and various community colleges. He has four hundred and seventy-five credits including publication in such journals as Writer’s Digest, Pegasus, Free Xpressions Magazine, The Storyteller, Modern Poetry Quarterly Review, Gravel, Pasques Petals, The Pink Chameleon, and Encore: Journal of the NFSPS. He is retired and lives in Iuka, Mississippi.
WHAT COLOR IS THE WIND?
When the breeze rustles trees
And the leaves dance a quadrille
In the warmth of sun.
It is yellow when the pollen blows
Bringing the stuffy nose
A golden patina over all of nature.
It is brown with the twirl of maple flyers
Fluttering through the air
Like tiny helicopters.
It is clear as water
Kissing your cheek
When you lean over a brook
While standing in my living room
I watch a regiment of rain. It sweeps
Across the hills like infantry,
Attacking the dusty crests and tumbling down
Valleys to pause and climb the other sides.
Nearer it approaches with its steady drum,
Marching in ranks and files--
It batters across the asphalt road,
Each drop a shattered diamond in the wind.
My flowers flutter and dance a wild fandango
As it now stalks across my yard
And smashes against my picture window,
A blurry meld of liquid rainbow
It prances on my roof and then is gone.
I walk outside and smell the breath
Of grateful, moist earth--
Greens, yellows, reds, pinks and blues
Are richer for the assault of rain.
“Yet Do I Marvel” by Countee Cullen
I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind,
And did He stoop to quibble could tell why
The little buried mole continues blind,
Why flesh that mirrors Him must some day die….)
I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind,
And, led by His Holy Spirit, we will find
Blessed happiness, a soul of peace,
And in the middle of our strife release
From struggle and a joyful, peaceful mind--
I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind.
And did He stoop to quibble could tell why
The worm must come before the butterfly
Or human hearts, when softening, must break
And flood the eyes. But then how could he take
Notice of all the little hurts we cry
Unless He stoops to quibble and tell why?
The little buried mole continues blind
With little cares of what he leaves behind
Because within his world there are none who see
Or strive to rise out of the earth. But we
Still question Nature that would forever bind
The little buried mole to continue blind.
Why flesh that mirrors Him must some day die,
Invade the realm of mole, in earth to lie
While all above us continues as before,
Not knowing, until then, that death’s a door?
But then we understand God’s reason why,
Why flesh that mirrors Him must some day die.
Flitting across green meadows
Like dancing sunshine
The insect monarchs
Skimming with orange and black wings
Holding court in spring.
In the shade of the oak trees
Like forest jewels.
Spring sunshine warms
The cocoon on the tree branch
Butterfly will hatch.
“The Eolian Harp”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Not to love all things in a world so filled;
Where the breeze warbles and the mute still air
Is Music slumbering on her instrument.)
Not to feel the rhythm of the spheres,
The joyous music of the Lord’s which still
In undertones so permeates our ears--
Methinks it should have been impossible
Not to love all things in a world so filled
With symphonies of His created score
With chords so firm and melody that’s trilled
By every living thing that we adore--
Not to love all things in a world so filled
Where the breeze warbles, and the mute still air
Is but the pause before the music swells
Again in great crescendo of our prayer
Of praise to Him from everyone who dwells
Where the breeze warbles, and the mute still air
Is Music slumbering on her instrument
In dreams of the eternal song to Him
Who orchestrates the harmonies He meant
To elevate our souls--our silent hymn
Is Music slumbering on her instrument.
We Are Old
on display in a museum,
only to be stared at.
Once you filled me up
with your laughter,
your potato pancakes, you
sprinkling sugar on top,
to satisfy my hunger
your fingers in my mouth.
Once you held my youth,
but it disappeared inside my bones,
your reassuring hands, smooth
as our first kiss,
fragile as glazed teacups
from the local potter's son,
how he took over the business
after his father's death,
how he passes us by
each day on his way,
we, two ignored vessels
the potter might have once fashioned
had he been a kinder god.
like the Angel Gabriel blowing
his horn, signaling retreat
to get the fuck outta there.
Then I seen the body
in that alley where I shoot up.
Then I seen the cop, same alley
where he gets blowjobs.
The body black. The cop blue.
Over the fence the body hung.
No trees in this hood,
just burned out buildings
from the '67 riot.
Tells all about it in history books
kids can't read
the writing on the billboards
for joining the National Guard.
At the shelter I watched the news.
No one interviewed me,
invisible as a garbage can.
Some lady cried. Mom
warned me, the straight and narrow
alleyways always end
up at dead ends.
The chief of police at the podium.
He could have taken his hat off,
like in church, the confessional box full
of empty words and promises
broken, like the watch I stole.
Dead men tell no time.
The crowd/mob, I never
choose words good/good words,
they pissed off, shouting, cursing.
Read lips, not books.
The battered TV, all black and blue.
I gotta go. You know.
Low, low profile. You know.
At least I know the times.
Would You Mind, Jesus, if I Hang with You?
To shame us, our enemies
(I know I have to love them),
they parade us through a mob
of people we know
who know better than to lynch.
They strip us of our clothes,
our bodies, spat on, whipped,
and pierced to their delight.
Sorrowful that Your momma watches.
A blessing my momma does not
have to bury me. Maybe someone will
fetch what remains of me sometime
after the murderers (I know
I have to bless them) and their children
eat supper, breaking bread
in Your name.
You forgive them because they do
not know what they are doing.
My executioners (I know I have
to forgive them) know the ropes,
experiment with variations:
riddling my body with bullets,
perhaps cutting off souvenirs,
ears, fingers, toes, genitals,
perhaps kindling a fire below,
me, a backdrop to the show.
Would you mind, Jesus, if I hang with You?
I hear You say it is finished,
but I have to disagree.
We black folk continue to find our way
to Golgotha, and there never seems an end
for us that does not begin with a tree.
Lidia Chiarelli is one of the Charter Members of Immagine & Poesia, the art literary Movement founded in Torino (Italy) in 2007 with Aeronwy Thomas, Dylan Thomas’ daughter.
Installation artist and collagist. Coordinator of #DylanDay in Italy (Turin).
She has become an award-winning poet since 2011 and she was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from The First International Poetry Festival of Swansea (U.K.) for her broadside poetry and art contribution. Awarded with the Cross-Cultural Communications Medal 2020.
Six Pushcart Prize (USA) nominations.
Her writing has been translated into different languages and published in Poetry magazines, and on web-sites in many countries.
Rhapsody in Gray
… I mark
On the horizon walking like the trees
The wordy shapes of women
on the canvas caressing
women behind steering wheels
an enigma inside
melancholy and distracted eyes.
in bold vertical lines.
Reflections of alabaster
a road in the night
and new geometries.
The modulated sounds of a saxophone
come from afar
while in the light
of street lamps
shadows descend in
long variegated spirals of
Letters Into Compost
have turned into compost.
Most of them were full
Promises as dark as
old banana peels,
pledges so eloquently
your letters were frauds,
their stench like some unknown
food going bad in the refrigerator.
your letters have decayed,
but I don’t think anything
will grow from them.
on the back roof again.
My son is afraid.
He has heard them before
And thinks they are ghosts.
I try to erase his fears,
but I am afraid
of the soft murmurings,
and the other fears that fly
in from the night into the morning
to settle above our heads.
Folks, spoons, and knives
engaging in a ménage a trois?
Seducing each other
over plates of shrimp and grits?
Spoons do fit into each other
like bed-bound lovers.
Folks do thrust their prongs.
But knives, always erect,
have too many cutting, maiming,
to be seductive.
After the Red Clay Hills
the flat black winter fields
of small-town Illinois
You startled me,
arriving one night
with grocery bags
filled with food
for dinner that you fixed
in my never used kitchen.
I could not refuse you,
a man who fed me
But by the end of summer,
I wanted the red clay hills
and my virginity back.
I would have never
known that her new husband
had paid me a compliment
at their wedding,
but she let the green cat
out of that green bag
to slink around the room,
to slip in and out
of our conversation,
the green cat was out,
it could not be put back.
Nnadi Samuel holds a B.A in English & literature from the University of Benin. His works have been previously published in Suburban Review, Seventh Wave Magazine, North Dakota Quarterly, PORT Magazine, The Cordite Poetry Review, Gordon Square Review, Rough Cut press, Trampset, Rigorous Magazine, Blue Nib journal, Stonecrop Review, The Elephant Magazine, Lunaris Review, Inverse Journal, Canyon Voices, The Collidescope, Journal Nine, Liquid Imagination, Subterranean blue poetry, The Quills, Eunoia Review & elsewhere. He won the Canadian Open Drawer contest 2020. He won the Splendor of Dawn Poetry Contest April 2020, got shortlisted in the annual Poet's Choice award & was the second-prize winner of the EOPP 2019 contest. A longlist of the NSPP 2020 prize, & Pushcart Nominee. He is the author of "Reopening of Wounds" & "Subject Lessons" (forthcoming). He reads for U-Right Magazine. He tweets @Samuelsamba10.
Hope for a blind Cartographer
a thumb pressed to my bone, i know an ink when it holds watery depth.
i know my downfall as i know a fact,
& choose when to put all hit tracks of my life on repeat.
this is not an interview, i have featured on life's track before.
fleshed things that has made loss so significant it was mistaken for grief,
& i never relented in airing it as a gift,
as my father when he says he'll be back before sunrise, but we never get to see him.
as the tap when it vomits it's last lyric,
before running out of breath like a trash poet.
as a candle when it islands into a bath tub before stamping out,
before the accident that claimed the darker part of me.
before i chewed a firework to make me blush.
i didn't die, i was only lucky to have survived the blackout.
until this moment, flesh knew no colours.
everything here attest to the fact that a bracelet pressed to the wrist of a black man is slave trade.
so i bear this mark for justice & our greed, knowing it cost a mother to afford this body.
knowing the earth only rewinds where the universe can skip us as bonus tracks.
nothing holds more scarcity than a breaking news,
but where i come from we make headlines this way, without first rehearsing the scripts.
i guess it all starts with owning up to my faults,
knowing i listen to my idiot box so often i crack the best of my rib.
it almost feels like my neighbor's curse words to know how my darkness returns.
but, what is there to be afraid of?
what if i am part of this darkness & the light in here wouldn't just flicker.?
my mother should have a remedy for this.
i think myself a blind cartographer mapping out plans for the world.
no, this is not jumanji,
not even superpowers can rid us out of this.
most times, i flash through these moments,
to live in another timezone & see my father stranded.
his shirt bruised to the storm, with his head wearing a basin of dust.
he seemed without troubles
& i loved him for all that he carried as wind.
my darkness claims me now,
to resemble my father's ego foregoing boundaries,
like demons foregoing the howls of the people they possess.
i owe no one an explanation as to how i feel right now-- a villain in my own story,
with a badass plot in a world sick as this.
my sister got so sick of me & passed the night lonely.
a century was my death wish, but i guess I'll live past this too.
my father-- a tree breathing in the middle of nowhere,
sometimes, he stings like my shadow,
& most days unsheathes him like a sore with a room for fainting.
he made me who i am today-- a blind cartographer stealing lumens to bake my sight.
the stars blared inside of me is a tincture,
i carry it for the doubt making airwaves in my sister's bones.
A Room with faulty Memories
i warm the night with vallium & tuck my body into the belly of a candle.
only late-nights & a colourful crusade scares this body far away from it's grief.
before now, everything claws so much like a stranded ghost,
& the holes here are too small not to swallow their howls.
I tax my breath for the last hurricane that blent my brother.
there are so many bills to pay for affording a luxury in a body that stinks like an house chore.
i plait my broken spine into a book that bends to survive every day on my shelve.
this is how i know my dreams in hardcovers, in sutures & just poetry.
pain reshuffle my bloodline,
to know that i have a father who sits with the night to monitor God's heart beats.
a brother who sells his body for pleasure & watery semen,
a cousin whose gloom roars into her thigh & dyes her body with blood & thunder,
a sister whose shadows fosters grief in me more than my mother,
a mother who soils the air with screams & her empty shadow--
the walls only survives her cancer in tears & tiny beads of sweat.
I am not proud to call them names.
i live my life picking light rubbles from the sky,
that alone should leave the night with a severe heartburn.
in between my fingernail is a spacing cauldron that hangs everything.
i watch as my mother's body hibernate,
like a video game trapped in a room with faulty memories.
her skin do not weave into a fancy mascot.
i draw near to catch a glimpse;
to know how it feels like for a body to be talented with hard luck.
her smile oiled her pores, & she threaded her pube into a brand new wick.
Portrait of a Mother & her son glistened on a paring knife
than been caught in a trance--
a wild stain of blotted images blurring into my scalp.
i called a mother in there "mad!" & she sweet-tongued me into her past.
i held her hands, too scared of the dark,
blood gurgling down the crevices i call home.
i toned mad-- a nun's cassock mopping the air with prayer.
my nails of transparent beauty,
another glass to mirror my undoing.
i think of that last blade filing it,
a blunt knife unsheathing the most of my furs,
till it becomes like naked sin: a surname bruised on me.
the cloud above the cosmetic store lies in cross-dressing.
nature shops there like too much of bad luck--
boys warming their loins,
girls wearing dreads shaved off a grey mop that tangles
or combing will rid it off it's style.
a lump of days circumvents through clime,
with all it's bareness gushing into the mouth of space.
little things brings this planet to it's knees.
same breath it took to house my brother's death,
is same breath it takes to scare this thought away,
& watch tiny beads of sweat string into a forum,
soothing as a casual debate doused on my father's back to toughen his loin.
i made this same mistake healing my country.
too many things holds me dear to bear the risk of taking in a paring knife.
i see my mother skinning herself,
& her loins slaving along my paring knife and it's little blunt of ray.
Mantra for the Boy hailing a mother that wasn't so full of Grace
a woman learning not to become my mother,
with a keen appetite for unforgiving--
like my father dying by a paring knife in a meal accident.
in fairness, my father owned a garage to his thoughts.
it harbored so much, & unpacked into the lawn of a neighbouring store.
we traced this scar to the sleeve of an open space,
where mushrooms filter into the woods as dusk.
my mother in the paws of the night weaves her colorful brown skin into a knifing sofa,
drowned in the belly of dust--
blood & water barging through each other,
for all of it's watery seizure to handle her boy child to sleep.
in her quiet moment unrobing her rude verses,
her skin necks blu--
a brief commitment with the stretchmarks dyeing her tissue in white & native hue.
wounded to her back, we identify as stars & moons stripped off her breast,
rare breeds to offend this world with our familiar glory.
for those death i didn't die, i rubbed her shadow on my skin.
so, when i run out of darkness,
i stamp my whole body out, knowing there is a street light in heaven,
& i carry a portion of it's weak lens.
even the pet with a meowing sound do not know my mother enough to catwalk into a hole,
folding a runway with her feet.
many things drinks into her youth.
sizing her up,
you would know what doesn't drown her leaves her thirstier that she was.
DR. EMORY D. JONES
EG TED DAVIS
LOIS GREENE STONE