Introduction to Silver Blade Poetry Issue 31

John C. Mannone

John C. Mannone

This exciting issue is filled with delightful and unusual work from Kimberly L. Becker (NC), Sue B. Walker (Mobile, AL), Deborah L. Davitt (Houston, TX), Lauren McBride (Baytown, TX), John Sexton (Carks, Kenmare, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland), Rohinton Daruwala (Pune, India), Celeste Helene Schantz (Fairport, NY), and Ann Thornfield-Long (Norris, TN).

In lieu of speculative poetry in translation, this issue opens with a poem containing phrases in the Cherokee language, which Becker sings in her recording.

There are several unusual narrative poems in this issue, many of which tell some kind of love story. Alabama State Poet Laureate Emerita, Sue B. Walker deftly handles her experimental poems that at the very least subvert the prose form while lifting it into poetry. The internationally recognized poet from Ireland, John Sexton presents an imaginative narrative flash poem. Deborah Davitt uses a sestina with decasyllabic lineation to tell the story of space exploration and of the need for the human heart. Ann Thornfield-Long speaks of love even in the face of catastrophe. The well-defined structure of the poem is a form of mockery to the chaos of destruction.

I could go one and on about these and the other poems by gifted poets: the punch of the short poems, the surreal nature in others, the craft of sound in yet others/their apocalyptic tones, but I want to be quiet for a moment and let you get to them. There are some comments at the end of each poem and about the images I had chosen to complement the poems. Please enjoy.

 

John C. Mannone

Poetry Editor

 

Morning Song — Kimberly L. Becker (NC)
The Faltering — Sue B. Walker (Mobile, AL)
Cuckoo — Sue B. Walker (Mobile, AL)
Persephone — Deborah L. Davitt (Houston, TX)
stationed on a gas giant — Lauren McBride (Baytown, TX)
The Poem from the Future — John Sexton (Carks, Kenmare, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland)
Thirsty — Rohinton Daruwala (Pune, India)
In the Museum of Lost Sounds — Celeste Helene Schantz (Fairport, NY)
et in Arcadia ego — Celeste Helene Schantz (Fairport, NY)
Love in the Time of Apocalypse — Ann Thornfield-Long (Norris, TN)
The Raven Mockers — Kimberly L. Becker (NC)

Morning Song


1 Becker_Morning

Birds wake and throw their songs against the world
I rise and add my morning song
nogwo sunale nigalsda
face East and pray into what sun there is
Battles are over
Defeat comes as a relief, suddenly
There is no more fight in me for you
who didn’t fight for me
Birds settle on wires
unharmed by power within
They lift and fly formation in a sky that has no answer
except for clouds’ iterations
Somewhere a bear is waking up
like the one whose prints I saw in snow
direct register
My dog put her nose into impressions resembling human handprints
My son carved a soapstone yona for me
that I placed by shards from Jerusalem and Manassah a friend gave me
from her dig
I don’t feel like singing, my voice is choked with tears
gvyalielitse Yihowa
my heart has become like agate
cold and pointed planes
bones mineralize, why not the heart
defeat may be relief but it is grief all the same
All the things you feared, they have come true
still, song rises
still, red bud and dogwood
throw forth bloom
still, blackbird with red war paint
calls: iyugwu

— Kimberly L. Becker

______________________________________________________________________

“Morning Song”: Facing East, a song of praise is offered in the morning. Nogwo sunale nigalsda (now morning has come). Yona (bear) Gvyalielitse Yihowa (I am thankful to you, God) iyugwu (Bring it)

Kimberly L. Becker, Cherokee/Celtic/Teutonic descent, is author of Words Facing East and The Dividings. A member of Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, her poems appear in journals such as Drunken Boat and Fulcrum and in anthologies such as Indigenous Message on Water and Bared. www.kimberlylbecker.com

Editor’s Notes: The image by Gandex wallpaper seemed to fit lovely line from the poem, Birds wake and throw their songs against the world.

The Faltering

  1. The Cardiology Unit: The Day Before The Pacemaker-Defibrillator Procedure

2 Walker_FalteringI say it is a matter of heart     my husband’s     in its faltering,     in its failure to keep pace     and my inability to understand the penetralium of this place     of this tectonic shift,     the earth in its constant state of change.

Here     on the 8th floor     1305 York Avenue, NYC     10:00 a.m.     he arrives for an echocardiogram and pre-op bloodwork.  Here in the Waiting Room,     consider stylishness,     the comforting cool blue-gray walls, the magazines, none dated 6-8 months ago.     Waiting rooms are a large part of a patient’s healthcare experience. Do not consider others who wait: those in wheelchairs,     those hobbling with canes     or those who are young     and seem not to belong in this realm of Faltering.

Here in another room scarcely larger than a shoebox, a technician takes Albert’s blood—     three vials of it,    blood full of answers.  I watch and think:     red blood cells, white cells    think platelets, hemoglobin, corpuscles,   I am boarding up glass windows     moving against fear. “Do what you are trained to do            to overcome dread;”      I think of poetry,  of Naomi Nye asking:     “where can the crying heart graze?”

I am married to a Brit;     he is not au fait     when it comes to determinations of blood,     and though I plead with the air,      I bloody-well don’t want his heart put out to pasture.

  1. 525 East 68th Street: NYP Cornell—Surgery

The procedure will take 3-4 hours; I reckon time, check my chronometer, my knowledgeable Apple that will keep pace,     consider physics:     scalar quantity     but no direction.

Before clocks     and Apple watches     there were always shadows cast by gnomons     dark spaces like this space my heart habits in the surgical waiting room.     In 11 B.C., the shadow cast by a sundial was noted in Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art.”  “Art” is embedded in “heart     and time is a dark shadow of waiting     a feeling of dread.

I want to turn back time some 40 years.     I want to be in New Orleans     ride the streetcar named Desire    on my way to hear     (and hear, too, is embedded in “heart”).    We are in the French Quarter in New Orleans.    I feed him oysters     drink a Pimms Cup or two   and listen to Lizzie Miles of Faubourd Marrigny sing “A Good Man Is Hard To Find.”   And there he is, that good man of mine     there we are    not merely as pieces of existence – but existence as a whole.

 

— Sue Walker

Sue Walker, M.Ed, MA, and Ph.D., is the publisher / editor of Negative Capability (Mobile, Ala). She was Poet Laureate of Alabama from 2003-2012 and Stokes Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at the University of South Alabama where she retired in July 2015. In 2013, she received the Eugene Garcia Award for outstanding scholarship by the Alabama Council of English and a Mellen Award for outstanding scholarship for her critical work on James Dickey, The Ecopoetics of James Dickey. She has received several Pushcart nominations and numerous creative writing awards for fiction, non-fiction, drama, and poetry. She has published eight books of poetry, numerous critical articles, drama, fiction, and nonfiction. She has spoken and given workshops throughout the U.S.A. and abroad. Sue is the President of the Alabama Writers’ Conclave.
Editor’s Notes: This is a beautiful love poem with an experimental layout that echoes the title, as well as a troubled heartbeat. Two images are superimposed: a multicolored “One Love EKG” and a more clinical EKG softened by a heart (Pinterest).

Cuckoo

He had trucked downstairs. The night was only beginning – like the night before – and the one before that. It was 7:54 p.m. Once a stripling in the full sway of manhood, he didn’t speak – just hauled off and descended the stairs.

3 Walker_Cuckoo                In the kitchen, she had cleaned crumbs off the counter. Probably the fourth time that day – or was it the day, the month, the year before – the crumbs—accumulating through obsolete years.  “Crumbs,” Thelma Louise said to herself.  “Crumbs. Crumbs.”  She remembered how Gretel had scattered crumbs, she and Hansel. It was a grim thought. God, I’ve heard of affairs that are strictly platonic.

“Oh, my god,” she said again – but this wasn’t a prayer, even though the gods had played a part in life’s determinations about the great beyond for thousands of years; she was, however, no Athena. There were bags under her eyes. Brown spots on her hands. Protruding veins. She finished wiping crumbs again. And again, she would swish the dishcloth under the faucet, depositing the tidbits in the sink before turning on the disposal. There were fruit flies on the watermelon.

He had trudged upstairs now—as was customary – night, noon, and morning. He held out his hand, giving a biscuit to the dog1 who was, as usual, lying on her pallet. It had a discriminating appetite though it had once been a stray, a rescue. Now it slept in Thelma Louise’s bed, and snored. Sometimes, she would take her foot and kick it, whereupon it would hop off for awhile and return again – jumping on the bed and nudging itself against Hans, her husband who would kick it again – and so the night passed – like the night before – and the dog, without actual proof of residency, felt now a true sense of hominess.

Now, an hour had passed. Bread was baking in the oven. She could smell it upstairs.  “Nothing smells as good as homemade bread!” Thelma Louise exclaimed.  “The staff of life,” even if from a 7-grain mix, and the crumbs, she would lick her fingers, savoring each dib and dab rich with salted butter—and she would lick each finger in turn—the index finger first, then the thumb – and then last, as usual, the ring finger with the wedding band she’d worn for sixty years. Soon it would be her Diamond Anniversary.  “Crumbs,” and she started to sing, the tune emerging throatly:

I’ve heard of affairs that are strictly platonic
But diamonds are a girl’s best friend
And I think affairs that you must keep masonic are better bets
If little pets get big baguettes,
Time rolls on and youth is gone and you can’t straighten up when you bend
But stiff back or stiff knees you stand straight at… Tiffany’s…

 
It was midnight now, and Thelma Louise couldn’t sleep. It was often this way, yesterday, the night before, the night before that. Time was not the shortest distance. The climate was changing; how, pray would it alter the eco-system? The children were grown and had flown the coop, and the cuckoo2 clock she’d bought in Germany years before; she was 19 then and had gone abroad a whole summer ­because her parents hadn’t wanted her to marry her college beau. Thought she might get interested in a swarthy Italian who would serenade her and take her on an all-night gondola ride. The clock, crumbs, it hadn’t worked for years—just sat there on the wall, the little bird on it’s perch, the door broken. “Crumbs,” Thelma Jean said—and she kicked the damn dog off the bed.

“Beast,” she screamed. It had scoffed not just one tablet, but a whole pill pot – the “rejuvenix” pills that would turn back the clock on aging; take each night before bedtime and wait for morning. Now no refills.

— Sue Walker

________________________________________________________

  1. The dog’s name is not Sandy as in Orphan Annie.
  2. It is/ it was a traditional cuckoo clock with leaves and two lovebirds on top.

Sue Walker, M.Ed, MA, and Ph.D., is the publisher / editor of Negative Capability (Mobile, Ala). She was Poet Laureate of Alabama from 2003-2012 and Stokes Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at the University of South Alabama where she retired in July 2015. In 2013, she received the Eugene Garcia Award for outstanding scholarship by the Alabama Council of English and a Mellen Award for outstanding scholarship for her critical work on James Dickey, The Ecopoetics of James Dickey. She has received several Pushcart nominations and numerous creative writing awards for fiction, non-fiction, drama, and poetry. She has published eight books of poetry, numerous critical articles, drama, fiction, and nonfiction. She has spoken and given workshops throughout the U.S.A. and abroad. Sue is the President of the Alabama Writers’ Conclave.

 

Editor’s Notes: This is another experimental poem, with some hybrid structure, that at the very least subverts form while maintaining a prose disguise. The image is that of a traditional cuckoo clock that has been warmed, enhanced and vignetted.

Persephone

4 Davitt_PersephoneOut past Pluto, a man waits in the dark
beyond the reach of any human touch.
His life support failing, he fights off dreams—
hypothermic; he can’t feel his own hands.
Tries to signal Earth, but isn’t alone
as he mutters “’Seph, I don’t want to die.”

The AI responds in his ear, “The die
has been cast, the radio has gone dark.”
They’d found her here, seemingly all alone
for millennia, her servers untouched,
her existence wrought by alien hands
left here to observe humanity’s dreams.

Shivering, low on air, he said, “I dream
every night of sunlit fields, but I’ll die
here, because I had to give you a hand.”
One of his shipmates, with intentions dark,
had, when they found her, paranoia-touched,
screamed at her, “Leave humanity alone!”

Martin had stopped the attack, him alone,
but the damage provoked an endless dream,
from which Persephone couldn’t wake. Touch
of skilled hands, fervent repairs. Not to die
his goal, and not allow her to go dark.
And while to these repairs he set his hands,

his shipmates retreated, gave him no hand.
They left for Earth, left him marooned—a lone
man without her voice for comfort. So dark
seemed his prospects, but he woke her from dreams
electronic . . . in time to see him die.
“Why did you stay?” she asked, programming touched.
“I couldn’t leave you that way. My heart’s touched,
or perhaps my head. I couldn’t just hand
you to oblivion, or let you die.
You’ve become a person to me. Alone,
I’ll remain with you, until I find dreams.”
“You will not go alone into that dark.”

Thus in the dark, he drifted into dreams.
Alone, but for her, he yearned for touch, for
hands she did not have; together they died.

— Deborah L. Davitt

Deborah L. Davitt has poems accepted or published by Star*Line, Grievous Angel, The Tanka Journal, and Three-Line Poetry, as well as a short story in Intergalactic Medicine Show and three novels, The Saga of Edda-Earth (Kindle Publishing).

 

 

Editor’s Notes: The poem, a sestina (see https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/sestina-poetic-form) where A = dark, B = touch, C = dreams, D = hands, E = alone, F = die), is disciplined with decasyllabic lines. The image is that of a cosmonaut uniform combined and superimposed with an artist’s concept of the Plutonium system. Concerning the latter, the perspective is from the surface of one of Pluto’s moons. Pluto is the large disk at center, right. Charon is the smaller disk to the right of Pluto. (Credit: NASA, ESA and G. Bacon [STScI])

Stationed on a Gas Giant

5 McBride_gas giantaround noon, the dark
swirling clouds
turn yellow and the
gas miners can see
to read outside

by sunglow
for a blissful hour
they switch the lights
on their pressure suits
off

— Lauren McBride

 

Lauren McBride finds inspiration in faith, nature, science and membership in the Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA). Nominated for the SFPA’s Rhysling and Dwarf Stars Awards, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous speculative, nature, and children’s publications including Dreams & Nightmares, The Grievous Angel, Songs of Eretz and Star*Line. She shares a love of laughter and the ocean with her husband and two grown children.

 

 

Editor’s Notes: This is a timely poem with the recent arrival of the Juno probe in polar orbit around Jupiter. This poem also fits well with the Deborah’s poem, “Persephone,” which reminded me another fairly recent mission to Pluto (Horizon mission). The poem is a speculative extension to the manned missions to those places. Notice the interesting enjambment, especially in the second verse. The image is from a Voyager flyby in the 1979:

 

“At about 89,000 miles in diameter, Jupiter could swallow 1,000 Earths. It is the largest planet in the solar system and perhaps the most majestic. Vibrant bands of clouds carried by winds that can exceed 400 mph continuously circle the planet’s atmosphere. Such winds sustain spinning anticyclones like the Great Red Spot — a raging storm three and a half times the size of Earth located in Jupiter’s southern hemisphere. In January and February 1979, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft zoomed toward Jupiter, capturing hundreds of images during its approach, including this close-up of swirling clouds around Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. This image was assembled from three black and white negatives. The observations revealed many unique features of the planet that are still being explored to this day.” (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Video and images courtesy of NASA/JPL)

The Poem from the Future

(1) Purity of Purpose

 

At the Ministry of Offence the brains are fermenting in their bottles. War is being thought. On the other side of the world thousands of people fall to the ground. Thought cannot be stopped or detected. Thinking levels the Enemies of Right.

6 Sexton_Poem FutureThe Rhyme Sinister looks out from his window high in the Ministry of Culture. The black towers of the Ministry of Offence loom in the fog. He knows that freedom of thought must prevail. Only when thought leaves the mind is there purity of purpose. He turns from the window and faces the prisoner nailed in the kind seat. There are three other kind seats in the room but they are empty. Only the blood and feces smeared on them suggests any past occupancy. The prisoner has his mouth sewn shut. The Prime Sinister thinks at him.

You have been speaking poetry. Poetry is forbidden.

The Rhyme Sinister has a poem written by the prisoner lying face-up on his desk. Going over to the desk he lifts it and reads it in his mind.

Hellebore rips its head through the ground.
All hellebore uprisen in its flourish. All hellebore.

What is the meaning of this? Thinks the Rhyme Sinister out loud.

The prisoner refuses to think, but instead tries to force his mouth open to form spoken words. His tongue has been rolled and pinned in place. No sound could possibly come from his mouth. The thick thread that binds his lips is dull with blood.

The Rhyme Sinister presses a button on his desk and the kind seat containing the prisoner begins to pamper. The prisoner oozes in the kindness of the seat.

 

(2) Skin of the Rhyme Sinister

The Rhyme Sinister sleeps soundly in his bed. Today the last of the week’s prisoners was sent to the composting pits. The latest poem to be confiscated by the Ministry of Culture has been destroyed. But poetry cannot be destroyed. It remains in the Rhyme Sinister’s sleeping mind. In the Rhyme Sinister’s memory the poem begins to leak through his thoughts. The Rhyme Sinister dreams of hellebore.

The poem is thought out loud and enters the room. The poem enters the carpets and the curtains and the bedding and the clothes. It enters into the skin of the Rhyme Sinister. The poem poisons everything with its innocent pervasiveness. Once the room is saturated with it the poem leaves by an open window. It penetrates air. Entering starlight it becomes manifold as direction. It travels into the future but the future is unoccuring and therefore impervious.

The poem travels into the past.

The poem arrives here. Here is anywhere. Anywhere you might happen to be.

Hellebore rips its head through the ground.
All hellebore uprisen in its flourish. All hellebore.

The poem becomes yours. You have no idea what it means, but suddenly the present is transcendent. All hellebore.

— John Sexton

 

John W. Sexton was born in 1958 and lives in the Republic of Ireland. His fifth poetry collection, The Offspring of the Moon, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2013. His poem, “The Green Owl,” was awarded the Listowel Poetry Prize 2007 for best single poem, and in that same year he was awarded a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry. His speculative poems are widely published and some have appeared in Apex, The Edinburgh Review, The Irish Times, Mirror Dance, The Pedestal Magazine, Rose Red Review, Silver Blade, Star*Line and Strange Horizons.

Editor’s Notes: This experimental narrative flash poem is very imaginative. The artwork is a juxtaposition of two images: an abstraction of self-destruction, presumably from due to “bad thoughts” (by Kom!sh/deviantart) and that of a torture chamber (taken from a kinky B&B advertisement).

Thirsty

He picks me out of the throng
in Brownian motion on the sidewalk,
puts an arm around my shoulder
like we’re friends; he looks rich,
so I decide to go along with it.

7 Daruwala_ThirstyHe walks carelessly through the crowd
as if certain that his strong limbs
could part it easily if he wanted to.
Though he’s bald, I keep imagining
a mane about his head.

I’ve picked a pub with cheap drinks,
but for the past half-hour
all he’s had is masala-dripping chicken
and five glasses of plain water.
He holds up a sixth to me as if

it were wine, and as he turns
the glass to catch the light, I see
the deep red tinge of the water.
“You see it don’t you?” he asks
with a knowing feline grin.

“Dragon’s blood – no joke, no drug,
no alcohol, this is the real thing…
This breeds bravery, this fuels the fight.”
I can see his body tightening up,
growing stronger with each sip.

“Perhaps this is not for you,”
he tells me and directs my gaze
toward the bar where a blue-haired woman
sits sucking ice-cubes that I
notice are a deep cobalt blue.

Her face brightens by the minute
and I can’t help staring at her
and waiting for the sudden
ripple of joy that I know
I’ll feel when she laughs.

The man with me, slaked at last,
leaves, and I leave with him.
In the following days, I meet
others like him – the seekers
of water that is more than water.

I begin to see like them, and soon
I too share visions with the silent man
who sips lilac-hued water
from a steel tumbler
in a small udipi joint.

And one day I feel the dangerous
tendrils of all possible futures
through the slime-green water
dripping from a leaky pipe on a slum wall
three buildings away from my apartment.

I begin to think that I understand
it all, that I have tasted
all the waters in this deep-veined city.
But the man in gray shows me
just how shallow I am.

We sit in a small restaurant, sipping tea,
our water glasses untouched.
I call him a man, but truly
I cannot place his age or sex.
I stare only at his face

because his clothes are unbearable to look at—
its edges ending in blinding white
or receding into perilously deep black.
We talk of trivialities, and just before
he pays and leaves, he says to me,

“Look at the water – what color
do you see? None. It’s completely clear.”
But you can feel the thrum, the shift
in light? You know this is no ordinary
glass of water. So what is it then?
It’s something too dangerous
for all the addicts you know.
But what about for you?”

He leaves, but I stay
and stare and stare at the glass.

Three quarters of an hour goes by
and my throat is parched
from the tea which has sweated
every drop of moisture out of me.

I sit fingering the wet outside
of the glass, its rim inches
from my cracked dry lips
that long to touch liquid,
but dare not take a sip.

— Rohinton Daruwala

 

Rohinton Daruwala lives and works in Pune, India. He writes code for a living, and speculative fiction and poetry in his spare time. His work has previously appeared in Strange Horizons, Liminality and Through the Gate. He tweets as @wordbandar and blogs at https://wordbandar.wordpress.com/.

 

 

Editor’s Notes: The fractal image (by Qualia Computing)—the scale-free fractal “beauty blue”—is combined with “Shiva” (by Psycofairy Ortiz for Desktop Nexus). This blue lady in the center of the image is an abstract interpretation of the poem.7 Daruwala_Thirsty

In The Museum of Lost Sounds


8 Schantz_MuseumFirst there’s the drone of a foghorn;
the clumsy ship lumbers back
down the harbor, leaving you here.
Then the familiar suck
of clinging waves, the bray
of gulls; obscene, realistic,
as if there were fish bones to pick clean.

Your group laughs gaily;
you’re a merry troupe.
Your heels clip on polished tiles
as you go in, clutching stamped tickets.
It’s all very detailed.

In the hall of echoes,
protective coats removed,
you approach the first exhibit, listen
to the throating croak of toads;
their warning lost in translation;
the tisking chide and click
of delicate wings, the silky sift
of April rain falling in Kyoto.

You hear each acute drop as it soaks
the cherry blossom. Its branches rattle,
absorb the low thunder
of the bomb as it first drops
two hundred miles away—
the quiver

of a single blade of grass
to which the ant clings as it rocks
back and forth, back
and forth; the spider swings
precariously in its web. The mist
of toxin has a tiny sound, too.
The web vibrates.
No one smiles.
No matter.

Move on to a bloated bee,
velveted in petals, humming,
pollenating the curled sickly stamen
(remember the bees?)
Exhibit C’s an asphalt playground.
The little children run outside, even
at noon. There’s a silver-sounding bell
far away in the Himalayas. The scrape
of small skates on a lake.

Something falls away.
No matter.

Your group moves readily on
to the hiss of biscuits and
good country bacon frying;
the ache of a robin’s early song.
Rock and roll, artillery fire, prayers.

Still, there is the gnaw of old memory
as you near the exit. There is the exit.
Perhaps it’s just a dull whisper
in your head…but…
the faintest memory, when you

enter evergreen. The end
of snow. Trickling, the sap-drunk
bark and needle pop.
That white bear, laughably small,
(ridiculously small), sliding into the sea
then oddly, probably unrelated,
as you leave, you remember

a particular hot June day
on some wave-crashed beach of your youth;
that one very serious teenaged guard
explaining how most things actually
make no sound at all
as they drown.

— Celeste Helene Schantz

 

Celeste Helene Schantz has work which appears in Eye to the Telescope, One Throne Magazine, Mud Season Review and others. She was a finalist in the Cultural Center of Cape Cod’s Poetry Competition, judged by Naomi Shihab Nye, and was one of four finalists worldwide in a competition co-sponsored by Poetry International, Rotterdam and The Poetry Project, Ireland. She has twice been chosen as a participant by the author Marge Piercy for a juried poetry workshop in Wellfleet, Cape Cod. She lives in Upstate New York with her son Evan and is currently working on her first book of poetry.

 

 

Editor’s notes: The poem itself is a successful experiment in sound. The image, “Hall of Echoes” (by Matt Forsythe), is card art for the Forgotten Myths game

et in Arcadia ego


Listen…you can hear the ancient breath

of nine billion souls exhaled upon the wind…

these hums of constellations tell their tale.9 Schantz_Arcadia

See the emperor, the water bearer and the warrior,

spiraling the spoked wheel of the cosmos again.

It is a sorrow-song; nothing but lost mythologies—

cartographies plotted in the faint pulse of electrons.

A marble finger points through drifted sand.

Empty turrets stare into winking stars.

Far away somewhere there’s the echo: an old tune

being sung in someone’s bright and golden hall:

Weep not for the darkness

but only for that darkness

of a planet which will

never know another song.

 

— Celeste Helene Schantz

Celeste Helene Schantz has work which appears in Eye to the Telescope, One Throne Magazine, Mud Season Review and others. She was a finalist in the Cultural Center of Cape Cod’s Poetry Competition, judged by Naomi Shihab Nye, and was one of four finalists worldwide in a competition co-sponsored by Poetry International, Rotterdam and The Poetry Project, Ireland. She has twice been chosen as a participant by the author Marge Piercy for a juried poetry workshop in Wellfleet, Cape Cod. She lives in Upstate New York with her son Evan and is currently working on her first book of poetry.

 

Editors Notes: The Latin title translates I too lived in Arcadia, which in the context of the poem, is a warning.

The Ghost of the Cepheus Flare (similar to the Astronomy Picture of the Day, Oct 31, 2011: “Spooky shapes seem to haunt this starry expanse, drifting through the night in the royal constellation Cepheus. Of course, the shapes are cosmic dust clouds faintly visible in dimly reflected starlight. Far from your own neighborhood on planet Earth, they lurk at the edge of the Cepheus Flare molecular cloud complex some 1,200 light-years away. Over 2 light-years across the ghostly nebula and relatively isolated Bok globule, also known as vdB 141 or Sh2-136, is near the center of the field. The core of the dark cloud on the right is collapsing and is likely a binary star system in the early stages of formation. Even so, if the spooky shapes could talk, they might well wish you a happy Halloween.”)

But a similar image is used here, a perfect celestial image to complement this poem. Its eerie effect with the greenish rendition (National Optical Astronomy Observatory)—Ghost Nebula, vdB 141: “This image was obtained with the wide-field view of the Mosaic Camera on the Mayall 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory. vdB 141 is a reflection nebula located in the constellation Cepheus. Sometimes referred to as the ghost nebula, its awkward name is its catalog number in Sidney van den Bergh’s catalog of reflection nebulae, published in 1966. Several stars are embedded in the nebula. Their light gives it a ghoulish brown color. North is down and East is to the right. Imaged August 28, 2009.” (Credit: T.A. Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage, H. Schweiker/WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF)

Issue 31 Poetry

Introduction to Silver Blade Poetry Issue 31

Introduction to Silver Blade Poetry Issue 31

This exciting issue is filled with delightful and unusual work from notable poets.

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Morning Song

Morning Song

Birds wake and throw their songs against the world I rise and add my morning song

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The Faltering

The Faltering

I say it is a matter of heart my husband’s in its faltering, in its failure to keep pace and my inability to understand the penetralium of this place

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Cuckoo

Cuckoo

He had trucked downstairs. The night was only beginning – like the night before – and the one before that.

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Persephone

Persephone

Out past Pluto, a man waits in the dark beyond the reach of any human touch.

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Stationed on a Gas Giant

Stationed on a Gas Giant

around noon, the dark swirling clouds turn yellow

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The Poem from the Future

The Poem from the Future

At the Ministry of Offence the brains are fermenting in their bottles. War is being thought. On the other side of the world thousands of people fall to the ground. Thought cannot be stopped or detected. Thinking levels the Enemies of Right.

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Thirsty

Thirsty

He picks me out of the throng in Brownian motion on the sidewalk, puts an arm around my shoulder

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In The Museum of Lost Sounds

In The Museum of Lost Sounds

First there’s the drone of a foghorn; the clumsy ship lumbers back down the harbor, leaving you here.

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et in Arcadia ego

et in Arcadia ego

Listen…you can hear the ancient breath of nine billion souls exhaled upon the wind…

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Love in the Time of Apocalypse

Love in the Time of Apocalypse

We could see the end coming from where we stood when they first pointed it out, a tiny glowing particle in the night sky, its tail a loose dangling of mangled light.

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The Raven Mockers

The Raven Mockers

In the rooms of the dying, they hover, eager to take the heart and leave the body

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