Introduction to Silver Blade Issue 43

John Mannone

The fine slate of poets as Summer swings into Autumn:

 

The sequence begins with several fantasy horror pieces, passes through the surreal and the metaphysical before closing with the physical—a science poem. They all have something important to say beyond story. Please enjoy

 

The next issue (SB 44), which is scheduled for November, will be dedicated to the short poem (10 lines or less) with an eye on the 2020 Dwarf Stars Anthology. Look for an announcement on our website and in select social media and CRWROPPS emails. Silver Bade will pay $1 per line via PayPal. Normal submission requirements will resume for subsequent issues.

Elegy for Julius Gaw

Even though I’ve seen the scene well over thirty times 
& know how it ends, I still have hope 

percolating in the cells of my body that this time, 
some miracle will reach through the screen & save him, 

that though he faced death on the ashen clavicle of that Manhattan building
before the lone audience of the moon,

he would somehow will his exhausted body
into slipping that fatal Sunday punch & escape free, unsmudged & alive into the night

& perhaps it is just the world refusing to let me be, 
to stay out of my head for the runtime of the film,
those now forever anchored to being young who hail from families 
elected by the god of circumstance to carry the murders 

of their sons or fathers or brothers for the remainder of their days. 
 I cannot help but realize just how many times I have seen the soul of someone Black 

literally exit the pores of their tiny mosques of muscle & flesh & vacate this life 
& how each of their final moments was a horror film 

I did not pay to see & cannot let go of 
& in some way, isn’t this the nature of being Black in America?

Always residing so close to terror that we are wounded, but never surprised,
when it pitches one of us into the limbo of its maw?

Me, I want the alternate ending, not just for Julius, 
but for all the other young Black men buried in my brain since their passing,
Each one, the news tucked into the pink soil of my mind.
I want the alternate ending 
where a burst of lightning blossoms 
in the belly of the copious dark & brings them life again
& they gaze into the black eyes of their fates 
& say Take your best shot, motherfucker

before punching their hands bloody
& staving off the afterlife’s hungry invitation.

I want the alternate ending
where they each find their ways back 

into the company of those who loved them most 
& in the distance, night fades to morning 

& a brand new beginning sets upon them 
as the credits start cascading down the screen

& the language left on all their breath
is the antithesis of anything close to horror.

 

 

— Christian J. Collier

 

Christian J. Collier is a 2015 Loft Spoken Word Immersion Fellow. He is an accomplished artist, public speaker, and educator who has shared the stage with members of HBO’s Def Poetry cast, Rock& Roll Hall of Fame members The Impressions, and Grammy-nominee Minton Sparks. Some of his works have been featured on The Guardian, and published in such publications as The American Journal of Poetry, TAYO Literary Magazine, The Seven Hills Review, and Apogee Journal, to name a few.

 

 

Editor’s Comments: Julius Gaw was the hapless character (played by ) Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. Fandom/Wiki says, “[this movie] is a 1989 slasher film and is the seventh sequel to the original Friday the 13th. It was directed by Robert Hedden and written by Victor Miller and Robert Hedden. It was the last film in the franchise to be distributed by Paramount until the 2009 reboot.” The low resolution image is fair use in this context, but the copyright belongs to New Line Cinema (originally Paramount Pictures).

https://fridaythe13th.fandom.com/wiki/Friday_the_13th_Part_VIII:_Jason_Takes_Manhattan

 

The poem is literary piece with phrasing suitable for a performance poetry delivery.

What Devours Us

We leave home—

Wander the woods,

Lose the trail,

Find the cottage.

 

Hunger gnaws

In our bellies

Until we fill

The hollow places

 

With stale gingerbread

And crumbling icing.

We smell smoke

Like the memory

 

Of autumn: burnt meat

And charred leaves

And a wildfire sweeping

Through stubbled fields.

 

The witch returns,

Always, rage

Its own starvation,

Greed a compass

 

Pointing to flesh.

We brush crumbs

From our lips, hide

Behind trees—but

 

She traps us,

Winding our appetites

Like a web.

When we tip her

 

Into the oven,

Her screams stop

And she sizzles,

Dying. We forget

 

The taste of hunger

Because something

Takes its place:

The witch’s hat

 

Fits perfectly,

And her words

Slide off our tongues

Like hot grease

Or melting syrup.

 

— Jennifer Crow

 

Shy and nocturnal, Jennifer Crow has rarely been photographed in the wild, but it’s rumored that she lives near a waterfall in western New York. You can find her poetry on several websites and in various print magazines including Asimov’s Science Fiction, Uncanny Magazine, and The Future Fire. She’s always happy to connect with readers on her Facebook author page or on twitter @writerjencrow.

 

Editor’s Notes: The image is “Hansel and Gretel” (Angela De Reis, fairytalemood.tumblr.com on Pinterest).

NEET

Fear was out of fashion

and with it, the wolf

who once had the makings

of success, but strong lungs

and large claws no longer

cut it.

 

He joined the ranks

of bats and rats—

 

a distant howl

sometimes

not even that.

 

Black had to become

darker than itself; fear

needed a knife

in its belt. 

 

Oh, the irony of the wolf

crying wolf, huffing

and puffing

to be noticed

and paid again

for what he did best.

 

— Anne Carly Abad

 

Anne Carly Abad received the Poet of the Year Award in the 2017 Nick Joaquin Literary Awards. She has also received nominations for the Pushcart Prize and the Rhysling Award. Her work has appeared in Apex, Mythic Delirium, and Polu Texni, to name a few. She continues to write in between managing her business and taking care of her mischievous 2-year old son.

 

Editor’s Notes: NEET is an acronym that stands for “Not in Education, Employment, or Training.” It refers to a person who is unemployed, not in school or vocational training. The classification of a person as NEET was first used in the United Kingdom, but its use has spread to other countries and regions, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Canada and the United States.

 

The wolf image, “Side Step” (by Tatchit on deviantART) is impressed on a forest with a Little Red Riding Hood (from Fondos de pantalla y mucho más (muñecas infantiles))

Sword Basket

 

 

I weave baskets out of my thin bones,

attempting to conduct order

over my body.

 

            I remember a story that

            someone’s mother told

            someone’s daughter about

            a girl who ran away to become

            a basket weaver

 

                        The mother told it as a cautionary tale:

                        don’t fall in love with boys who do

                        senseless things like weaving baskets.

                        None of this advice applies because

                        I’m a black hole and I probably have

 

A mother but I probably ate her

a long time ago.

 

            There’s a magic trick where

            a woman (the daughter) gets into

            a woven basket

                       

                        And a man puts on the lid

                        And the man is magic because

                        men are always magic.

 

He then brings out

a bouquet of long swords

and sticks the basket

with the long swords

 

            while she screams.

            I might be one of the long swords

            or I might be the basket

            or I might be the scream

            and the audience experiencing

 

                        fear despite knowing

                        it’s just a trick.

 

I am most terrified

by violence when

it’s just a trick.

 

            All my violence

            is real and not as clean

            and the sword through

            the woman would be.

 

                        I’m tearing rifts

                        in the universe—how grandiose.

                       

I’m not the magician

because he believes

he can enact this

 

            and she will come out

            unscathed.

 

                        I believe though

                        that she must be carrying

                        phantom swords

 

crisscrossing

in her body

 

            from his suggestion

 

                        from the audiences

                        adrenaline and praise.

 

She gets out of the basket

with no visible wounds.

 

            He swallows a sword

            or two.

 

                        I weave another basket

                        and pretend there’s a woman

                        (the daughter) climbing inside.

 

I tell her at least,

I have no swords.

 


— Robin Gow

Robin Gow’s poetry has recently been published in POETRY, New Delta Review, and Roanoke Review. He is a graduate student and professor at Adelphi University pursing an MFA in Creative Writing. He is the Editor at Large for Village of Crickets and Social Media Coordinator for Oyster River Pages. He is an out and proud bisexual transgender man passionate about LGBT issues. He loves poetry that lilts in and out of reality and his queerness is also the central axis of his work.

Editor’s Notes: The image is a collage of a basket made by the Karen people in Northern Thailand (1986, Ethnological Museum, Berlin), an enhanced skeletal hand (Cool Silh), and a Celtic sword.

Equinox + Duck

This day, when eggs can stand and balance on their own
requires the courage to reconcile contradictions:

dim mornings as the sun shifts south pulling
warblers in its path, brown weasels’ thick fur

growing white, green squash gone gold,
new corn shucked from a withered stalk.

The silver iris re-blooms, its June fragrance
a living ghost.

***

The nun slips off her convent shoes and wades
the brook. Cold water shocks her feet.

A brown mallard dabbles for weeds.
Brood grown and gone, she shakes off

obligation, unwittingly
flinging drops of water on the nun

who watches the duck flap-flap up—up!
and feels her own large creaky wings unfold.


— Sara Backer

 

Sara Backer has a new book of poetry, Such Luck (Flowstone Press), and two poetry chapbooks: Scavenger Hunt (dancing girl press) and Bicycle Lotus (Left Fork). Recent and forthcoming poem publications include Bamboo Ridge, Crannóg, Qu, Nonbinary Review, The Pedestal, Moria, Noble/ Gas Qrtly, Tar River Review and Gargoyle. Web: sarabacker.com.

Editor’s Notes: The “Nun by Lily Pond” photo was commissioned by a Mrs Walsh of Catherine Street, Waterford, October6, 1926 and a female American Black Duck in flight (photograph by the U.S.F.W.S.) are both re-colorized and enhanced with contrast and transparency effects.

The Straight Road

Only through time time is conquered.
—“Burnt Norton,” T. S. Eliot

The captain knows the map that shows
The dappled flows is not the sea;
No bark may pass the darkling glass
To mark the vast reality.
But mastmen, hark—far past the sharks,
A last dim spark still glimmers free
To close the gap for those entrapped
In throes of captive curvity.

“O let us swear the tread the air
And dread that fairest god, the sky—
We’ll kneel and pray to steel or clay,
Or deal with fay-lords passing by.
The grey unyielding daily wheel
Has made us real but leeched us dry;
For shares of bread and careless beds,
We’ll bare our heads to any lie.”

Transcendence burns in men who yearn
To rend and spurn all but the stars;
The same who seek became too weak
To aim for peaks where seraphs are.
The secret flame will speak the names
Of meeker game, who cross the bar
To turn and wend diurnal bends
Till journey’s end—however far.


— James Blaise Toner

 

James Blaise Toner studied Literature at Thomas More College and holds a black belt in Ohana Kilohana Kenpo-Jujitsu. He’s published Hyperions with Quail Bell, Sunlight Press, Dappled Things, Aphelion, and Tales from the Moonlit Path.

Editor’s Notes: The Hyperion, a form developed by the poet, has three stanzas with eight lines each, and each line has eight syllables (specifically iambic tetrameter). Rhyming occurs at every 4th syllable, and each letter signifies that rhyme: aaaxbbbxcccxdddx.

The constellation, Argo, image (by Grant Boudin and Vita Technology) is combined with an angel image (InspiredImages from Pixabay).

How to Detect Solar Neutrinos

In memory of Raymond Davis, Jr.
[Oct 14, 1914-May 31, 2006]

A mile down the Homestake Mine,
delve for riches rarer than gold.

In darkness, in the hot depths,
search for evidence, a sign:

chlorine transforming to argon
in the alchemy of neutrinos.

Insubstantial, invisible,
unveiled by their actions.

Messengers born in brightness,
forged in the Sun’s fire.


— Mary Soon Lee

 

Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but now lives in Pittsburgh. She writes both fiction and poetry, and has won the Rhysling Award and the Elgin Award. Her book Elemental Haiku, containing haiku for each element of the periodic table, will be published by Ten Speed Press in October 2019. Her poetry has appeared in Analog, Asimov’s, F&SF, Science, and Strange Horizons. She has an antiquated website at http://www.marysoonlee.com and tweets at @MarySoonLee


Editor’s Notes: An experiment headed by astrophysicists Raymond Davis, Jr. and John N. Bahcall in the late 1960s at the Homestake Gold Mine in Lead, South Dakota, successfully collected and counted solar neutrinos emitted by nuclear fusion the Sun’s core using a 100,000 gallon tank of perchloroethylene (a dry-cleaning liquid) 4,850 feet underground to shield from cosmic neutrinos. Chlorine-37 interacts with a solar neutrino of the right energy and transforms into a radioactive argon-37 atom, which is extracted and counted. Davis’s detector was sensitive to only one type of neutrino; it was unknown at the time, but later discovered that neutrinos could change their flavor (a quantum mechanical state) via neutrino oscillations. Davis shared the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics with Masatoshi Koshiba of Japan and Riccardo Giacconi of the US.

The graph of the (long range) electron neutrino oscillations is superimposed on a colorful image of the sun (https://i.ytimg.com/vi/2U3ucaVzRqQ/maxresdefault.jpg). The three flavors are that of an electron neutrino (black), a muon neutrino (blue) and a tau neutrino (red).

September 2019 Poetry

  • Introduction to Silver Blade Issue 43

    Introduction to Silver Blade Issue 43

    The fine slate of poets as Summer swings into Autumn: Elegy for Julius Gaw by Christian J. Collier (Chattanooga, TN) What Devours Us by Jennifer Crow (Orchard Park, NY) NEET by Anne Carly Abad (Manila, Philippines) Sword Basket by Robin Gow (Mineola, NY) Equinox + Duck by Sara Backer (Hollis, NH) The Straight Road by James […]

    Read More
  • Elegy for Julius Gaw

    Elegy for Julius Gaw

    Even though I’ve seen the scene well over thirty times and know how it ends, I still have hope

    Read More
  • What Devours Us

    What Devours Us

    We leave home— Wander the woods, Lose the trail, Find the cottage.

    Read More
  • NEET

    NEET

    Fear was out of fashion and with it, the wolf who once had the makings of success

    Read More
  • Sword Basket

    Sword Basket

    I weave baskets out of my thin bones, attempting to conduct order over my body.

    Read More
  • Equinox + Duck

    Equinox + Duck

    This day, when eggs can stand and balance on their own requires the courage to reconcile contradictions:

    Read More
  • The Straight Road

    The Straight Road

    The captain knows the map that shows The dappled flows is not the sea;

    Read More
  • How to Detect Solar Neutrinos

    How to Detect Solar Neutrinos

    A mile down the Homestake Mine, delve for riches rarer than gold.

    Read More