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christopher suda poet

Christopher Suda

Wonder is a Wooden Leg

 

Tonight, beneath pores of steam I sat
still in a pond imagining your lungs.
(we can not wait on science to show
us something scientific) there’s just

too many sprigs to gnaw in twos and threes.
(If we’re not too careful heaven will
leave us low, or worse) in beautiful

ripe fields where rulers rip
at explanations. You bend mystery with slivers
built on both of us. Strangers told us we

could never handle another fall; so God
please know we can’t just be your sweet
mistakes.

Caterpillars

 

The vein caterpillars up,
sucks it down through a glass

straw, then we vanish. Its bliss,
by the mean of memory can not

be resurrected, only performed.
Perhaps no different from death

since itself, too is unimaginable. Others pick
and choose but I can’t.

Angels visit through the doors, observe
the war, (discuss the next) then move

on by foot—wingless as always. While
leaving, one articulates ‘effort’. Farther

wins out each stretch. The photograph is said
to depict a sturdy image of time—So will I.

BIO

christopher sudaChristopher Suda’s poetry has been published in blazeVOX, Wilderness House Literary Review, The Aura Literary Review, Poetry Super Highway, The Wayfarer, Danse Macabre, Drunk Monkeys, and other literary journals. Christopher is currently a twenty-four year old undergraduate at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a musician involved in three current music projects: Philos Moore (singer-songwriter) In Snow (Instrumental), and Loveislight (Experimental Hip-Hop).

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Robert Lavett Smith

Robert Lavett Smith

 

SABLE

       “Out of darkness, to begin again…”
Charles Simic

W. B. Yeats, the story goes,
young and impecunious in London,
rubbed lampblack into his stockings
to hide the rends in his boots.
Barely a century earlier, sailors
burned cauldrons of pitch on deck
to keep water-sprites at bay,
and I’m assured the India ink
generations have counted on
is nothing more than midnight’s tallow
fat with the leavings of guttered fires.
In the middle ages, sable showed—
dare we say it?—its darker side:
blood pooling beneath fevered skin
lent a name to the scourge
that tested the piety of saints.
Notwithstanding, I trust the darkness:
moist flannel enfolding a summer night,
stars pinned like disappointments
to its unblemished mystery.


 

AFTER THIRTY YEARS

        Helmer’s, Washington Avenue, Hoboken

Carved wooden bar darkened by the weight
of a ponderous century, ornate scroll work
to which the grime of the late Victorian era
still clings: how little changed it all seems
since I lived nearby decades ago, although
the pert, twenty-something bartender says
everything was refurbished after a fire upstairs,
smoke and water having scarred the walls.

I savor again familiar smells of old varnish
and sunlight. The same elegant antique mirror,
silvered crystal brimming with shadows,
runs the length of the counter, behind the bar.
But whose is this stranger’s face, skin wrinkled
and loosening, that peers incredulously back
through the glittering bottles of aged whiskey,
imported tequila, Fernet and Tanqueray?

 

 

AN ACCIDENT OF WEATHER

        A.T. S., Oberlin, Fall 1977

Try, if you must, to persuade me
that this street so slick the asphalt
shouldering the morning mist
shines as it might after rain,

this street where a cataract sky
is mirrored, featureless
as though it secreted some meaning
beyond an accident of weather,
cannot possibly lead us to any future
save for the one that you foresee.

I will listen to what you tell me
without speaking, perspiration chill
on my face in the breaking dawn.
I will contradict nothing.

And when you’ve said your piece
and turn to go, I will study the way
your footprints linger an instant
on a film of oily moisture
before they disappear, healing
behind your retreat like wounds.

 

 

BIO

Robert Lavett SmithRaised in New Jersey, Robert Lavett Smith has lived since 1987 in San Francisco, where for the past fifteen years he has worked as a Special Education Paraprofessional. He has studied with Charles Simic and Galway Kinnell. He is the author of several chapbooks and two full-length poetry collections, the most recent of which is Smoke in Cold Weather: A Gathering of Sonnets (Full Court Press, 2013).

 

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John Ronan

John Ronan

 

Every Day is Garbage Day, Somewhere

 

Garbage Guy
Stops, spots
A red sticker
And hauls off
The wasted week,
Full remission
A buck a bag:
The usual suet
And newspapers,
Bluster, bromides,
Embarrassment
Of bottles, rinds
Of every kind.

 

 

Hanky Panky

(A love song.)

 

Loopy looks,
proximate hips,
a clumsy hook,
insisting lips.

        Mannered mores sum with tact:
        hanky panky, the marriage act.

Slip of tongue,
Jack-in-the-box,
A lecherous yawn,
“Ahhh” at the doc’s.

        Mannered mores sum with tact:
        hanky panky, the marriage act.

Frantic round’s
lust abrupt,
pleasure-bound,
headboard butt:

        Mannered mores sum with tact:
        hanky panky, the marriage act.

Second’s affection,
lazy play,
aging attrition,
slow matinee.

        Mannered mores sum with tact:
        hanky panky, the marriage act.

Impeach of reason,
love apart,
gender’s engine,
driven heart.

        Mannered mores sum with tact:
        hanky panky, the marriage act.

 

 

 

BIO

John J. Ronan is a poet, playwright, movie producer, and journalist.  He has received national honors for his poetry and was named a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow for 1999-2000.

In 2009 John published a new book of poems, Marrowbone Lane.  He is also a former poet laureate of Gloucester, MA, and remains committed to the importance of civic poetry. Also a playwright, his works include The Yeats Game and The Tease of Eden.  A pioneer in electronic publishing, in 2002 he introduced Damned If I Dotagea humorous e-book on the trials of turning 50.

John is also the founder of the media production company American Storyboard, a teacher of film, and host of the cable talk show The Writer’s Block with John Ronan which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in the 2014-15 season.

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Kim Suttell

Kim Suttell

AS A SKINNY GIRL

My father showed his love
with Indian burns
on a dish-rag arm I pretend to pull away,
a downy chicken-foot arm wrung raw
to even the ulna.

To love him back I perched
dollish hands in a struggle grip,
scrunched all my weight for nothing.
His skin stanch against my tiny twists
while his love for me still stinging pink.

He finds fun this ineffectiveness
and makes me run away.
Eventually I skirt his reach,
learn the feebleness of trying.
I wait for many years
to match his earnest clench.

 

PIERRE

Wet and fine weather depend on him now.
Or so it seems to me and my feet.
I have such trouble with boots

that are never warm enough. He’d demand
my coat unzip, his suede grip
accord weightlessness to me,

with free, spreading toes and flaps of coat.
I’d look down on leaded clouds
begging to rain.

Daisies and hot grass sway above.
There is nothing
like the heat of grass
that is still so cool
I pull my coat closer.

 

ACCEPTANCE

She doesn’t need you now.

She has a mesh bag for razors
and facial scrubs,

a comforter set, and

hooks affixed with
removable adhesive.

 

PIECES

Teeth, tongue, gums, gullet,
palate, lips, spit. Kiss.

Palms, arms, muscles, knuckles,
nails, wrists, pits. Hug.

Skin, kidneys, knees, nerves,
veins, brains, breath. Love.

 

 

 

BIO

A poet for the pleasure of it, Kim Suttell lives in New York City where she likes not having to drive.  She writes poems in the subway.  Some of her poems have found homes in Right Hand Pointing, The Cortland Review, Forth Magazine and other journals. They are compiled for you at page48.weebly.com.

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New Work by R.A. Allen

 

      Disclaimer

 

the objects of your desire
may be more distant
than they appear

across-the-room eye contact
holds no guarantee
of future performance

levels of requited attention
are subject to change
without notice

your views on life and love
are not necessarily the views
of this attraction,

who assumes no responsibility
or liability for your stunned hopes
or lovelorn suicide

play at your own risk.

 

      Future Bright

 

Dying at the sidewalk’s edge
beneath the Tuscaloosa sun,
the young entrepreneur
is persuaded by mom & dad
to man a lemonade stand.
Old Mrs. Grandberry
from next door
bought one glass,
but proclaimed it piss
and poured it into
the gutter.
His aunt Candy sent him
to buy sanitary napkins,
—whatever they were. Death
may have snickered at
Prufrock, but that’s nothing
next to a hooting chorus
of Jitney Jungle cashiers.
For confessing to onanism
the penance from Father O’Grady
was ten Stations of the Cross.
The sarge always put him on point.
A shrink triple-charged him
for a visit to his inner-self.
He was cuckolded by
his cable guy’s wife.
Browsing bookshelves for the answer,
he considers at length
The Power of Positive Thinking
but ultimately settles on
The Wit and Wisdom of Charlie Manson.

 

 

      Side Work Sonatina

 

Afterhours
I water down a top shelf Bourbon
with speed rail hooch
while watching you
marry the condiments—
mustard to mustard,
the salt, and the pepper,
respectively.
(Heinz is the only ketchup
worthy of the term.)
You roll your flatware
in black linen napkins.
Your waitress legs ache for me, I like to think,
but then, they might just be tired,
or maybe you’ll be wrapping them
around someone else tonight
in the TV light
as it dulls into
dawn.

 

 

BIO

RA AllenR.A. Allen’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in New York Quarterly, Night Train, Mantis, RHINO Poetry, Gargoyle, The Recusant (UK), and elsewhere. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He lives in Memphis for the humidity. More at http://poets.nyq.org/poet/raallen

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poetry of Adeyeye

Untitled

by Adefisayo Adeyeye

 

there are tiny ants all over their shoes
they are stepping on all of the ants
they are waiting for something to step on them

the earth is saying ‘there are dead bodies in me’
there are microbes moving through my veins
my umbilical cord is wrapped around
my tender neck

and also ants
whose little bodies break if you breathe too hard
who have seen all the dead bodies rotting in my blood
who are the strongest things in me

 

 

Untitled

 

i was okay when i was a fetus maybe
i had tiny crumpled feet and wet mouths
blue submarine sinkholes that said ‘help’ without any oxygen
this was the greatest thing

in the soup all my oceans poured out my mouths
i breathed them back in and became the moon again

became the tiny frenzies of miniature scientists
consulting topographic charts to
study consciousness

how it can be used to make several bodies of things
whole again

i am often dreaming bleached

and boneless bodies of whales
the ones rotting on all of the beaches

the ones rotting midst
the ribbed out carcasses of sailboats

 

 

Untitled

 

whale bodies graffitied
with hieroglyphics
whale bodies graffitied
with anchor burns
and kindness

a whale dissection
but also foreclosure auction

a summer house inside the decaying corpse
of a blue whale

a group of bookshelves carved
into the baleen
a sitting room arranged
inside the mouth

a pair of bedrooms within the arteries
of the heart

a kitchen
in the stomach
for irony

 

 

BIO

Adefisayo AdeyeyeAdefisayo Adeyeye lives and works in Southern California. He enjoys the connections between the cosmically large and the infinitely small. He has had works published by Petrichor Machine, Ohio Edit, and Near Rhyme, and he is the editor-in-chief of a literary magazine named Ant vs. Whale.

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Discordant Song

by Sharon Rothenfluch Cooper

 

My currents defied gravity,
wallowing fingers of thought
dazzled the discordant silence,
washed out the urgency
and freed themselves.

I lost the way and my voice
was just leftover dregs
and gums bled from grinding,
tasted only the bitterness of silence.
An unzipped brain draped
those tumbled feelings,
wicked silhouettes brushed
the corners of my mind
leaving emotions dulled and murky.

A fool to not pry thoughts open,
I never wished them to see daylight.
Hope struggled in a tight dark space
in those hours of silence.

 

 

Fever

 

We became attentive to needs that tumbled
as pale fingers stroked with vibration.

Efforts were wrapped in extensions
of ourselves and hands tangled hair
as we drank with fevered yearning.

Awareness climbed higher,
clenched my muscles and passion
was just a stroke of the brush.

We linked fingers teasing in their touch
and my song was a gift of giving
that burst forth at last.

What a voyage it was – riding high
on the crest then slipping over the falls
into oblivion.

 

 

 

Tracings

 

I wore his anger…
envisioned my hair smelling of violets

his words were a windstorm…
I wanted my voice to break into song

a tunnel of noise erupted…
I hungered for the fringe of daisies
in the meadow

we lived where continents divided…
I needed to run and catch
fireflies to tease my senses

sound bruised my ears…
I longed to swim in the patter of rain

mangled pulses belched…
I yearned for a warm breeze
to touch my face.

An imp of fate alive in a storm drain
rose – my fury now my cudgel.

 

 

Reflections

 

Pieces of me disintegrate
like flakes of paint,
shards ground to dust
devoured into quiet flatness.

Drops map a path
weightless and inevitable
my countenance washed bare.

The days peel away
worn and indistinct
and the ancient pain broods.

 

 

Fall’s Bright Flush

 

Wind song flutters
through clinging leaves

as they slowly lose their grip
and are whisked away to strafe
the windows with pure bright images,
whisper secrets in my ear
and breathe sweet smells
with autumn’s breath
in the days of dying.

Fluid breezes brighten
me and brush away the sound
that sweeps a faded summer.

Downy seeds fill the air
and drop into warm earth
to lie dormant
under a forecast of snow

a sampler of a season
losing its vibrant flush.

 

 

Sweeping Gestures

 

Seasons push us back and forth
like a giant swing with highs that gleam
like a crystal cylinder – lows that are
mud-spattered after long solitude.

Time’s skin perspires
long and languorous, wishes tangled
and leftover dregs blown asunder
then – up again with a radiating smile
that blinks away dusk and flickers
into flame.
Rain raises its curtain
and nostrils breathe the splintered air.

In clear silence and anticipation
I lean forward with a sweeping gesture
and bring my song with perfect timing
toward the fallow season.

 

 

BIO

Sharon Rothenfluch Cooper is an active member of the Friends of the Oregon Symphony, an active participant in the Well Arts Institute devoted to mental health, poet-in-residence at The Argonauts’ boat and soldiersheart.org, and is very much a today’s woman.  An astrological Leo, this lady thrives on poetry and music.

Sharon has been published in ‘lingerings’, Horsethief Journal, Wired Art from Wired Hearts, The Foliate Oak, Painted Poet Literary and Art Journal, Fluid Ink Press, Ophelia’s Muse, Poetry Magazine, Vinland Journal, Poetry Niederngasse, Poetic Reflections, Wilmington Blues,  Rustlings Of The Wind,  Erosha Literary Journal, Tamafyhr Mountain Poetry, The Informant, Short Stuff, Creations of Today,  Mi Poesias E-Zine, Swan Dive, Wicked Alice, Verse Libre, La Rosa Blanca, Muse Whispers, The Circle of Addiction, Sound and Silence Magazine, Mosaic Minds, Sol Magazine, Australian Poetic Society, Poetic Voices, Women Beat Poetic Journal, Epiphany Journal, Ascent Magazine, The Flaneur, L’Intrigue, Tryst, Le Zine Poetique, Maegara, Reflections, Skyline Magazine, Earth Echoes Galleries, Perigee Publication for the Arts, Petals, Subtle Tea, Blue Frederick, The Prose Toad, Interpoetry, The Moonwort Review, Miller’s Pond, Scorched Earth Productions, TMQ OnLine, TPQ OnLine, The Argonauts’ boat, Soldier’s Heart, Mannequin Envy Quarterly, The Other Voices International Project, The Ultimate Hallucination, Poetry Quarterly, Voices In Wartime, International Poetry & Art, Purple Dream, Falling Star Magazine, BluePrint Review, Interpoetry, ‘remark’, Kritya, Cracked Lenses…, Underground Window, Ancient Heart Magazine, Sage Of Consciousness, The Arabesques Review online, Taj Mahal Review, Falling Star Magazine, LYNX, Flutter, Alameda PDX.org,  Stride Magazine and many others.

Hard copy: The SP Quill Quarterly, In The Eyes Of The Wild, Emerging from Twilight – Vol. 2, Before the Last Shadow Fades, Vol. 3, Panda Poetry Magazine, Aesthetica Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, Battle Stars’, Backstreet Poets Quarterly, Providers in Partnership for Kids, MiPo~Print, WRITE ON!!, Ancient Heart Magazine, Book of Remembrance Poetry Anthology Vol. 2, Peshekee River Poetry, and The Arabesques Review.

Two e-chapbooks of her poetry, Mood Magic and A Slice Of Life, were hosted by Tamafyhr Mountain Poetry and also archived on Origami Condom. Her chapbook, Reach Beyond, was the winner of the International Chapbook competition by MAG Press. Three poems published in mo(nu)ment, and twenty-three of her poems performed in the play ‘Soldier’s Heart’ to sold out audiences with the performance recorded on DVD. Her latest poems can be found featured in the Summer issue of Poetry Quarterly and also in the October issue of Flutter.

 

 

 

 

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by Simon Perchik

 

*

This bird must hear the blood
all day nesting in its gut
slit open to catch rainwater

draining some roof the way your hand
dries from the balcony half feathers
half seaweed—it listens

for waves, each one now motionless
bending over the other
—two deaths from one botched egg

though there are no leaves to fall
to gather more sky for the flight back
and you are singing alone, slow

getting the words wrong
caressing its belly with the same breeze
now bathing it—you rinse the blade

still sharpening itself on its shadow
back and forth till the sea
no longer reflects just one sky

stranded, unshapely—a monster
covered with wings already stone
clinging to you even over water.

 

 

*

When this clock holds back
its scent has meaning
—even dogs are trained

for lies or no lies—truth
has a calm to it, by instinct
soothes this kitchen wall

flows underneath as bone
and sleeplessness—you wait
for night to reset the hands

teach them honesty
practice till the weak one
hardens solid, smells

the way an invisible stone
can be trusted
lets you lower your head

against this darkness
falling out your skin
as silence and the nights to come.

 

 

*

And the sun by a single stroke
broken into rain and forgetfulness
—you lift a child’s bat

that still has heat to it, a ball
overgrown and against this mangy glove
stumbles headlong as further on

—this attic needs more room
the bases are full though you try
to remember the route stretching out

to dry the air Vaughn will need again
but not just now—what you store
is drought, drought under drought

—your brain half rock, half
drilled for this dust all these years
falling from thirst and leaving go

—tell me, who would come here
except to climb forever, not sure
why your steps won’t go away

as if it takes all that time
to be remembered
and softly by its name.

 

 

*

As if they once had teeth, your hands
nibble on apples half mud, half worms
—you eat only what falls to the ground

rotted, serene, made dark
by the welcoming slope into evening
—you pick the way every stone

points where to rest, has this urge
to be useful, calms your arms
still attached to the same mouth

and milky breath, holding on
—you share these twins with the sun
stretching out on your forehead

shining in its darkness from the start
and in your arms the word
for offering, for stillness, pieces.

 

 

BIO

Simon PerchikSimon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, 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.

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Joe Ferguson

Rain on the Lake

by Joseph Ferguson

 

The rainy wall of strident silence

popping craters in the flat lake,

steams the world sepia,

sizzling yellow trees

to a crackling corona

about the black hole pool.

 

 

 

The Hawk

 

All wings and silence,

The hawk dropped

Onto thin air,

Adjusted her flight

An inch to the left,

Then sailed

Between two trees,

With nothing to spare.

 

 

 

Goose Woman*

 

Backpack brimming cheap

Bread,

Engulfed by hungry fowl

Honking,

She coddles like babies.

“Don’t worry,”

Her voice soft down,

“It’s just a noise.”

Behind her

A great dam

Built before the divorce

Of beauty and function,

Looms like

Aztec stone, and.

Above,

The churning

Gray nebul

Of autumn skies.

 

* “Goose Woman” previously published in The Write Room (2010).

 

 

BIO

Joe FergusonJoseph Ferguson is an author, poet, and journalist appearing in a variety of small press, regional and national publications. He wrote propaganda for a living for a variety of entities for some 25 years. He is a former editor and critic for Hudson Valley, ran the Fiction Workshop for the Poughkeepsie Library District, and regularly reviews books and videos for Climbing, The American Book Review, Kirkus Indie, and a number of other publications.

He also sells rock climbing t-shirts through his website: http://www.bumluckhome.com/

 

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dan fitzgerald

Dust Storm

by Dan Fitzgerald

 

A shifting origami of dirt and air,
beseeching bent-willed wind
to settle on a shape.

 


 

Caress

 

Her fingers brought
the sky to my skin.
Caressed, I wander in clouds,
unafraid of rain or sun.

 


 

Professional Courtesy

 

Jesus said,
please don’t hit me
on the head,
use the hammer and nails instead.
I’m a carpenter.

 

 

 

BIO

dan fitzgerald poetDan Fitzgerald started writing a number of years ago. It has only been in the last few years that he has been published. He worked for a long time in the prepress print industry but technology has taken those jobs away. He is currently employed in the meat and bakery departments of a local grocer in Pontiac, Ill. He is hoping that they will open a candle department to further his career.

Dan has been published in Poet Band Company, Nomads Choir, Writers’ Journal, and The Advocate among others.

 

 

 

 

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Persephone Abbott

A Bucket of Water

by Persephone Abbott

 

Better warm up the Nutella on the radiator this morning,
Mandela died, the saint who was nobody’s wife,
They’re still trying to make him wash the floors
When what the small boy craved was to be able to think exactly
About the words he wanted to say out loud,
Taking a part along with a smaller part of the world.
Maybe it was privilege
But it must have been so lonely, extending love over
The masses and celebrated for having walked in prison
During thirty years of our lives, exiled from ourselves,
Our little grace period, while he took up
A crowbar adamant at prying open the crypt.

 

 

The Pear in Her Lap

 

She held the green pear
Steadily within her fist,
She had carried it around
To many appointments
Just in case she got hungry.

She decided it was time
To remove it from her bag
Before, unused, it’d be split into two
By mistake. Dusk was coming
It would become too dark
To see the colour of the pear.

In the twilight under closed eyes,
Shaken gently by the train ride,
She longed to awaken
Peeled to touch and odour
To lily bottom rocking,
In rough sand, abrasive grit,
No horizons.

 

 

I Want for Powder

 

In your agenda hours, open slots,
I want for powder to blow
Up the bridge under which two swans
Preen in the frigid waters,
Their necks twisted,
Not looking at each other

 


Rambunctious Love Fix Me

 

Saw some sugar off of me
From coagulated bones
Attempting to hide the holes,
Drilled chasms,
Cowering in the depths.

 

You know you’ve got it.
Sand the ivory,
Make powdery love dust
Prime me, fix me,
Rambunctious turn me
Upside down.

 

 

Short Florida Saga

 

Hot weather
Lounging around
Boiled shrimp.

 

 

 

BIO

Persephone Abbott poetPersephone Abbott has been composing poems in her head for years. In this way, before they have the opportunity to meet paper, many poems have already been lost, or heavily edited. A book of her short stories, A Sample of Gouda (2014), as well as an alternative walking guidebook, The Bee’s Tour of Gouda, Buzzing Though Vinita’s Lens (2012), have been published and she is currently working on a chapbook, Flowers of Amsterdam. This last item is a result of her recent move from Gouda to Amsterdam, both situated in the Netherlands. Persephone finds poetically she prefers urban vines to rural pastures.

 

 

 

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ADORATION #109

by Darren Demaree

 

for the delivery guy from Jimmy Johns

 

When anyone says
have a great fuck-
ing day, it makes

you think you can
have a great fuck-
ing day. Plus, now

you have some chips
& a sandwich.
This can be good.

 

 

 

ADORATION #110

 

for my son

 

Absent
teeth, now
present,

like gravel
between
two ponds,

I un-
derstand
your cry.

 

 

 

ADORATION #111

 

for Nik De Dominic

 

I know all of the different
ways to hold gravel in a drive-
way in Ohio, but I think

I learned what to do with those rocks
in Alabama, how to toss
them casually near train tracks

most of the time because you can
only throw a few of them through
windows without dropping your smoke.

 

 

BIO

darren demareeDarren C. Demaree is the author of “As We Refer to Our Bodies” (8th House, 2013), “Temporary Champions” (Main Street Rag, 2014), and “Not For Art Nor Prayer” (8th House, 2015). He is the recipient of three Pushcart Prize nominations and a Best of the Net Nomination. He is currently living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.

 

 

 

 

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author Shelby Stephenson

Chapter 14, from Country

 by Shelby Stephenson

 

 

Now back to the ballgame, as they say, near the

green fields of home, the frat-boys singing songs the

 

college crowd loved during those early 1960’s

when “Green Leaves of Summer” rose over the

 

airwaves and boys and girls starred in Mitch Miller’s

Sing Along showering spaces popularly

 

elegiac until MM’s demise at ninety-nine

in 2011; meanwhile, the LP output of the Brothers

 

Four was a real gas. Sparkman, Arkansas, home of

Jim Ed Brown and Bonnie Brown and Maxine,

 

Louisianan. Their biggest song, “Jimmy Brown,”

not “Jimmy Brown, the Newsboy,” that A.P. Carter

 

lament: the Browns’s “Jimmy Brown” was based

on the folksong, “Three Bells”: Roy Orbison sings my

 

favorite version: the old songs gave The Browns popular

sellers like “Scarlet Ribbons” and “The Old Lamplighter.”

 

Jim Ed, Maxine, and Bonnie sang off and on until Jim Ed

kept singing when the trio stopped: “Pop-A-Top Again,

 

I Think I’ll Have Just One More Round.” Before I

forget I want you to know that Tom Brumley’s

 

one of my favorite steel-guitarists; Boudleaux and

Felice Bryant, two of my special songwriters, wrote

 

Little Jimmy Dickens’s first hit. I learned it because I

am a “Country Boy”: “I’m just a plain old country boy,

 

a cornbread loving country boy; I raise cane on

Saturday but I go to church on Sunday.” Isn’t

 

childhood the works? Read Dylan Thomas or

Theodore Roethke: I figure I’m not a failure,

 

trying to make something out of local

stuff, my years as a boy in the country, the

 

road not yet paved in my mind, the huge, red-tailed

hawk circling easily out over the five-acre field,

 

instead of drafting near the house to stir the baby

bluebirds: clearly trouble comes in phases of the

 

early years; if I do not succeed, I lose the brilliance

of the dwelling I was born in: inviting you, too, to

 

come, sit a spell, while we talk about words in these

B’s, for example. The Bryants wrote songs on the

 

funny-side of life−like “Hey Joe.” I learned it from

Carl Smith. The Everlys recorded the Bryants’

 

“Bye Bye Love.” The Osborne Brothers released

“Rocky Top.” Jim Reeves named his band for “Blue

 

Boy”: “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.” My blades get

chummed with black-green, pussle-gutting wads.

 

The spindles crank under my seat, stalling my

John Deere LT 155 until it chokes down. I

 

smell a thicket of fishbait. I am no mechanic

want-to-be: I use wheel-chocks when I transport the

 

mower. I want to learn how to doctor a ratchet; that

is, actually use one. The manual does not say:

 

Warning: pull strap all the way through slot of

short-hooked end and then hook both ends, ratcheting

 

the tie-downs three times. Oh those tie-downs −

like the whiskers of Toonces the Driving Cat − they

 

flow until they almost flap loose from their

moorings meowing along the wind’s road

 

Immortal Dorkman’s major tune. There is a

lot of bucking, too, especially when I drive over

 

railroad tracks slow enough to bounce the little

tractor or the Scag, hoping and praying wheels

 

will not roll, wondering if I locked the brakes. I

perspire. Will the unblocked tires (forgot those

 

chocks) show me off to Someone Who Knows,

dressed in JD Green − or Scag Orange with that

 

Tiger Cat logo across the shirt? The cash-register

pings and I pay this time the woman at the

 

Quality Equipment Company (the John Deere place)

and she says: “Honey, your mower has been

 

ready since July 20 − we called you and left a

message on your voice-mail machine.” The

 

burden’s on the payee, isn’t it, the tutee,

underdog. Cricket does not know she’s one:

 

weighs ten pounds, Long Valley Norwich Terrier,

born, June 22, 2002, breeder, Georgia Rose Crompton:

 

Cricket’s ten years old on her birthday, 2012: what

beautiful and loyal companion she is: never

 

smiles, just rolls her eyes around, like that Lucky

Old Sun, waiting for me to come home,

 

staying by my side without straying, until she

smells an animal and she’s gone, like Don Rich,

 

that guitar-playing fiddler whose motorcycle did

him in and under: Buck Owens said his “right arm

 

was gone”: O sleep good and rise, you Buckaroo.

Nin and I saw Buck Owens and the Buckaroos

 

once at a theatre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

When I was fourteen at Cleveland School, by the

 

way, I was in the chorale just long enough to sing

“There’s a pawnshop on the corner in Pittsburgh,

 

Pennsylvania, and we stroll hand in hand beneath

the clock!” The Buckaroos were dressed in yellow:

 

Buck looked like Big Bird. To fly you must feel the

fuzz under your armpits and hold on to your seat: it’s

 

lonely there, hero-worship a far cry from Tom Brumley’s

steeling-glow. Tom’s Albert Brumley’s son. His bar

 

swoops the neck of his guitar toward

Doyle Holley, Rich, and all the Buckaroos.

 

 

 

Chapter 28, from Country

 

 

I don’t want to surf Imagination for any

chronology: surfeit withers like

 

Saran Cling Plus Wrap with its sharp-cutting

edge, no Hallmark attendance, no Phuns; yet,

 

pshaw − clear the throat and Hawkshaw Hawkins

appears as a given. Harold Hawkins, the singer

 

from Huntington, died in the plane crash with

Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, and Randy Hughes,

 

the pilot. I wonder if Hawkshaw of “Dry September”

could sing:   I’ll bet he hummed some amid the

 

powder and the pomade, hemming and hawing, trying

to make a difference among cowards ganging up

 

on Will Mayes: Hawk knew Mayes did not harm

Miss Minnie Cooper; yet he went along with the

 

lynching party, maybe hoping to help throw off

balance the whole bunch − Butch, McLendon, and the

 

hot-heads − faithful their rage might pummel evil into

bigotries too many to matter, Will calling Hawk,

 

Mr. Henry. Like a sharp-eyed detective

Hawkshaw Hawkins was a hunter in his youth. Why,

 

he might have been called “Hare,” I suppose, for

I’ve read he traded some rabbits he shot for a guitar: since

 

Wheeling was near, he was close to the WWVA

Jamboree, starred there, regularly, in the early 50’s,

 

appearing also on Red Foley’s Jubilee on ABC-TV:

my junior year at Cleveland High he joined the

 

Opry, 1955: Saturday nights I’d hear him on WSM,

650 A.M., the Air Castle of the South: “Sunny Side of the

 

Mountain,” “Barbara Allen”; “The Little White-washed

Chimney” he sang his heart out on, gathering in the

 

boy he was, born 1921, died 1963 near Camden,

Tennessee, in that airplane which fell into pieces

 

approaching Nashville: the troupe had done a

benefit in Kansas City, Kansas, for the widow of

 

“Cactus” Jack Wesley Call, a local DJ, who died in

a car crash, the chain of wrecks continuing after the

 

plane scattered on the ground, when Jack Anglin,

tenor singer of Johnny and Jack, got killed in a

 

highway wreck on his way home near Nashville,

after attending a memorial service for Patsy Cline:

 

to eulogize his friends in his song Tex Ritter rewrote

his “Hillbilly Heaven.” I’ve levitated in lofts as a

 

boy − you could say without much pretense I could

have been the Billy in the Low Ground, for I have

 

pronged hay with forks and pitched it; in the fall

when brown leaves call, I have set my fields on fire;

 

I have showered sparkles, too, with the folks at

PoetrySpark, at a Sizzle in Raleigh, reading with

 

poet David Rigsbee: we did not let the flame get

out of hand in the room we were in, a dressed-up

 

backend of a bar and grill, money exchanging in

front, but one − to be heard − did kiss a microphone

 

which smelled like a breath birthing breadthways

so the audience could hear: I could feel Poetry Central

 

lowering its bar to carry on without me: first reciting

Emily’s “Hope is the thing with feathers” and an

 

Ammons ditty from Sphere about verse dithering

among loose vowels or “sun-thing” like that, I

presented “Etching” from my Possum and finished off

with “Refrain” from Family Matters: Homage to July,

 

the Slave Girl in part about that ten-year-old

who took me away; art quailed, images fell

 

amuck, trucks on the streets ran into man-holes

withering to size and fed the underground metaphors

 

Stevens’s angels could have mixed, my underwear

shifting, the mike outright stinking: I could tell

 

the audience might not have come there to hear me

imagine what life’s like on my greatgreatgranddad’s

 

plantation: or, maybe I am wrong and some are

right: certainly, by jostling history to Poetry Personal, I

 

did not usurp the drinkers listening to “I’ll Take You

Home Again, Kathleen”: I lend and lean PoetrySpark from

 

this terrace under D’s Canopy, the same old place Nin

fell into a depression for the I-don’t-know-what-time.

 

The mockingbird’s singing in the Nellie Stevens holly.

Cricket’s watching the shadows for wings leafing the

 

hollering geese: the tulip poplar’s leaves fill the lawn

right where I ran the Scag and made the grass pretty; yet

 

the eye, my pupil, most of all, must find me, as I

evoke George D. Hay again, radio-station executive, announcer,

 

reporter, editor, Indiana-born, 1895, died, Virginia, 1968,

elected Country Music Hall of Fame, same year: I have brought up

 

the rear of multiple careers all my life: at first all I

knew was singing − and maybe that’s the last thing I know:

 

when I was fifteen I ordered from WSM A Story of the

Grand Ole Opry by George D. Hay, “The Solemn Old Judge”

 

(Copyright, 1953, by George D. Hay); after all these

years I’ve lived with the book − a pamphlet

 

sixty-three pages, first edition, price, $1.00,

privately printed. I took it off the shelf and a

 

cut-out fell out, a paper microphone, WSM, I

crafted for Miss Galloway’s typing classes I

 

took in 1954 and 1955: no “strikeovers,” she’d say:

now what can I say: that there were three books

 

in our house in ’53 − the Big Family Bible

(Southwestern Publishing House, Nashville, Tennessee),

 

a Sears Roebuck Catalogue, and A Story of the Grand Ole Opry:

life’s more than a bunch of crows cawing over western

 

Johnston County: doesn’t a life of poetry fill with the

marvelous and the shaky, solid rays of suns the world

 

over, with rags and children in them, fashions sparkling

bold and arrogant; ravens tagging the tops of sycamores

 

as one settles in the tip of a very slim-needled stem atop

a pine in Danny Langdon’s meadow, Danny, walking

 

up to me, cicada’s hull in his beard, while Nin

waits to come out, be counted and courted again.

 

George D. Hay started in real estate, taking a

job with the Memphis Commercial Appeal, then

 

turning to Radio, his birthday radiating between the

births of Paul Green (1894) and William Faulkner (1897):

 

I can see my father’s Philco on the little vanity by the

kitchen-sittingroom window, the radio’s top hot from the

 

blue-green-rose tubes in the casing, the noise a crackle, some

snaps, pops, rattle: I’ve read that Hay was the first to report the

 

death of President Harding, 1923: more people knew Hay’s

name after that; he became main announcer for WLS,

 

Chicago: my namesake Shelby Jean Davis he must have

known: by 1925 Tennessee got WSM, owned by

 

The National Life and Accident Insurance Company:

Hay put fiddling Uncle Jimmy Thompson on the

 

radio, called the show The WSM Barn Dance,

November, 1925, probably not a rainbow in sight, Hay

 

saying something like The clouds are grand with

opera; now the land’s full of grasshoppers hopping and

 

hoot owls hooting; cotton blooms a shindig and so

do we: Welcome to the Grand Ole Opry! The Dixie Dew Drop,

 

Uncle Dave Macon, came on in ’26: the Fruit Jar Drinkers,

the Gully Jumpers, the Possum Hunters, Delmore Brothers:

 

Sam and Kirk McGee from Tennessee: Hay brought in

there, on stage, a real steamboat whistle and he

 

blew that thing; the clear channel station went out

into the land, all over here near Benson: I listened:

 

peripheries found me, the long rows without end − go to

the end and turn around, a through and a round: feed the hogs,

 

water the mules, and watch out for snakes in the corncrib: the

people said You will wither with the wheat and the corn in

 

fall and shocks shall stand tall and you shall still miss the

image seeking you all the more, life and death informing life

 

and death, the living and the dying, the call of the payment and the

pavement in the central empire of the marginal: dirt roads and

 

woods shall celebrate triumph and return, as sorrow’s

by your side and memory your foundation.

 

 

 

Chapter 47, from Country

 

From Paul’s Hill for my country all the songs in the book

for the singers and the songwriter-poets I sing −

 

“If That’s the Fashion” and “If You Ain’t Loving, You Ain’t Living.”

Songwriter: Tommy Collins (Leonard Sikes). Like a Bird of Dawning

 

I’ll chant all night long for the Pythian Home − and for orphans − for

Leon Payne’s “I Love You Because” and let the

 

pages record Gene Autry’s rendition of Ted Daffan’s “I’m a Fool to Care.”

Marty Robbins just about weeps “I’ll Go On Alone.” “Is It Too Late Now?”

 

Listen to my brother Brown and me perform a Flatt & Scruggs Songbook.

Picture me crooning “I’ve Always Wanted you,” one of the first

 

country songs I heard Sonny James smooth seemingly out of drops

bubbling tears in his throat. I’m prepared to sing Marty’s

 

“I’ve Got a Woman’s Love” he sang for his wife Marizona. I shall sing it for

Nin: no longer impatient with scores and chords, I’ll ford the river: “I Won’t

 

Have to Cross Jordan Alone,” my Dell laptop changing and moving

words − Salute! − the Esterbrook Fountain Pen I wrote in flowery permanence

 

the songs in my book (ink was less expensive than the Ball Point, invented the year

I was born): the long run stretches “Just Out of Reach of My Two Open Arms,”

 

V. F. (Pappy) Stewart waiting for Faron Young to tune body and soul, as I

make that creation the origin of my teen years: Ferlin Husky:

 

I bought the album-turned CD − “Among My Souvenirs”: Ferlin

died, March, 2011. Merle Haggard said: “There were a lot of years

 

when nobody in the business could follow Ferlin Husky.

He was the big live act of the day. A great entertainer.”

 

Now stand up for Nelda Fairchild, the real author of “Kisses on Paper”:

May Ned (her pen-name − reap heaps): “Kiss Me Big,”

 

Ernie Ford’s novelty, breaks out of Speedy West’s steel and

Jimmy Bryant’s strings. Catch the sound of Wade Ray’s lament against

 

that Devil Booze (“Let Me Go, Devil”). “Letters Have No Arms”−Ernest Tubb

had a hand in writing − I learned it from Wade Ray and the Cow Town Five,

 

D-J-ing my life away, part-time, WMPM, Smithfield, North Carolina.

Sense in Ray’s version of “It’s All Your Fault” the poetry Cindy Walker pens.

 

May I remember the first stanza of “Look What Followed Me Home Tonight,”

lost from the little book: deliver Newt Richardson’s and Vic McAlpin’s lyrics

 

for “A Lover’s Quarrel.”   “Mister Sandman!” Popular in the 50’s when I made

my book while Webb Pierce sang Merle Kilgore’s “More and More” and Carl Smith

 

cried out for all tomorrows Leon Payne’s “More Than Anything Else in The World.”

Like most of Payne’s songs, this one feels like a poem and

 

a love-story: “More than anything else in the world I want to hold

you in my arms, darling, when you are near, then everything seems

 

all right.” “One Has My Name, the Other Has My Heart”

(Eddie Dean, Dearest Dean, Hal Blair) I learned from my

 

brother Paul who sang it in the late 1940’s as part of the Campus Playboys when

he was a student at Louisburg College, Louisburg, North Carolina.

 

Paul also sang and played rhythm guitar with The Moonliters,

a band which played around Raleigh, North Carolina.

 

Jim Fleenor played clarinet in the Campus Playboys

band, after college, returning home to Abingdon, Virginia, where

 

he presented full craftily for decades his clarinet in The Highland Quintet − east

Tennessee, southwest Virginia, and western North Carolina:

 

Freddie Hart’s “Loose Talk” I learned from Carl Smith: Buck Owens and

Rose Maddox recorded a blazing version of the song, a real country feel in it,

 

a smell of pending divorce court and family matters, gossip, deceit:

“We have to leave here to find peace of mind, dear, some place where we

 

can live a life of our own, for I know you love me and happy we could be

if some folks would leave us alone”: “Pretty Words,” Marty Robbins: one

 

of my mother’s favorite songs and mine, too: “Pretty words were like heaven to me”:

“Release Me,” Eddie Miller, Dub Williams, Robert Yount, listed

 

as writers: my favorite version: Ray Price’s: everybody

recorded it, just about: “Rosetta” I got from Wade Ray. Earl Hines

 

and Henri Woode, writers: Bob Wills sang it too, recorded it. He loved the song,

named a daughter − Rosetta. Leon Rausch recorded it with Tom Morrell and

 

the Time-Warped Top Hats: “San Antonio Rose” − Bob Wills − one of

the all-time classic swings: Nin and I sing it often to hear the players play:

 

“Someone to Care,” one of my favorite sacred songs, “Jimmie Davis”:

“That’s the Good Lord Saying Good Morning,” “Tex Williams”:

 

I must have liked the song for the pop-poetry: the world as

Nature, I would learn later: “When the meadowlark sings at dawning

 

and the wind’s in the willow trees, that’s the Good Lord saying good

morning, good morning to you and me”: “That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine,”

 

written, Gene Autry, a standard I sing. How many more! “A Place for Girls Like You,”

Red Hays, writer, Faron Young, singer. On this hill, through the fields,

 

Brown and I harmonize “Talk of the Town,” one we learned from

Don Reno and Red Smiley, early 50’s: I remember

 

they had the song on King: O Songs of King! When the last breath

I take among days of shadows and desert-rattling water, “Then I’ll

 

Stop Loving You?” I’ll bow to Jim Reeves who’ll sing it, while Wade Ray

bows his fiddle and wails “Too Late to Cry.” Noel Boggs shall play his steel guitar;

 

Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” bless the flakes as Eddy Arnold falls for all

who’ll listen. I’ll take your hand, Lord, and my brother’s banjo shall roll out

 

“I’m Using My Bible for a Roadmap” and “The Wiggle Worm Wiggle.”

Jim Eanes’s melodies shall sprindge from his hand burned when he was a

 

child, a bad fire inspiring with ardor “Down Among the Budding Roses.” Shoots

shall shower Little Jimmy Dickens jumping backwards through a hula-hoop,

 

simultaneously pantomiming “Thank You” in rhythm to Thank You! painted on the

back of his acoustic Gibson guitar twirling amid the crowd’s rousing music’s

 

waves, rescuing you and me, O Reader, from the Hand of Many Falsehoods: I

exclaim to the Boy back there on the Hill, “You’re Under Arrest (for Stealing My Heart),”

 

Autry Inman and Bill Foster hoping Ray Price and the Drifting Cowboys

might turn good bad verse into frogskins and liverwurst, leaving the

 

image of theft and scary, sorry lines in corncribs for the rats and

mice that’ll bring back corn they stole last winter: George Washington’s

 

picture shall show supreme! “You’ll find that crime doesn’t pay;

your sentence is life, darling, here by my side, this is the price you must pay.”

 

 

 

BIO

Shelby StephensonShelby Stephenson’s Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl won the 2008 Bellday Poetry Prize, Allen Grossman, judge. Shelby Stephenson’s The Hunger of Freedom (2014) was published by Red Dashboard.

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