Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

Ode to the Artistic Temperament

 

I

Awake at dawn, Medusa feeds her hair
With mice she raises specially beneath
The kitchen sink, her landlord unaware.

She sips her coffee, dons the mystic wreath
That keeps her form and features well disguised,
Ignites the spell, and goes to brush her teeth.

The mirror shows her plain and middle-sized,
A simple mortal hardly worth a glance.
Success, in other words. She’s unsurprised.

For magic always works, its lying dance
Detestable. It leaves her feeling stained,
Constricted, itchy, trapped by circumstance.

She slithers down the stairs, her self restrained,
And knows her true integrity’s maintained.


II

The cellar-level space she rents to work
Is cramped with statues—carved, she’s proud to say.
She hasn’t petrified a single jerk

In centuries, prefers the harder way,
The honesty it forces through the stone:
A slip, and all her effort’s gone astray.

She’s done with cheating, simply won’t condone
Abusive ways she formerly allowed
Although the choice has left her here alone.

Remembering, she blinks away the cloud
Across her vision, breathes and tries to shake
The thoughts that wrap her tight as any shroud.

Her sisters’ shouting, sure of her mistake,
Will ever echo, ever burn and ache.


III

It seems a hundred thousand years ago
That Euryale spat her sheer contempt
While Stheno grumbled, poisonous and low:

“Humanity’s a crutch, and we’re exempt
From all its false morality! Arise!
Embrace the curse! We’re meant to live unkempt!

“Destroy your shackles! Smash the yoke that tries
To grind the individual to dust!
If we’re the monsters, show the term applies!

“For every stab they aim at us, we must
Return the favor, practice what we preach,
And stoke their anger, gluttony, and lust!”

Her sisters flared their claws with every screech.
Medusa sneered and rose to hiss her speech:


IV

“Enough with all this stupid, useless talk!
It’s three against a billion mortal souls!
Our efforts won’t create the slightest shock!

“A true, successful monster harbors goals—
Attainable, deliberate, sincere—
And uses tools humanity controls!

“A true, successful monster reaches here”—
Medusa tapped her scaly, shapely chest—
“Attacks the heart, instilling honest fear!”

Naïve, they called her, feckless, weak, the rest
Of all the angry epithets they knew
Before they stalked away. “It’s for the best,”

Medusa mumbled, thinking it was true,
But swift as sparks, the spinning decades flew.


V

Poetic stories twice declared her slain.
In midnight fields of mud, she coiled and wept,
Her sisters bloody, mangled, soaked with rain.

As mortal cities spread, Medusa crept,
Enchanted, torn by wonder, grief, and hate.
Within their midst, she lived and ate and slept

And ran a scheme that let her aggregate
Sufficient funds to live in quietude:
She’d turn a random stranger into slate,

Then sell the statue, innocent or lewd.
Suspicious accusations came and went,
The Middle Ages moldy, dark, and rude—

Except the architecture, heaven sent
But breeding still a certain discontent.


VI

Cathedral stone would send her half-insane,
Ecstatic, moaning, crawling end to end,
Incredulous to think the human brain

For all its rush to blame and condescend,
Had harnessed such techniques, producing art!
She kept locating more to recommend,

Enraptured, finding statues full of heart,
Alive in ways she knew she couldn’t match.
She vowed she’d learn to carve, to make a start.

The decades passed again, and batch by batch,
Medusa grew to love the secret shape
A rock contained, awaiting strike and scratch,

Exposing truth with each revealing scrape,
Emotions frozen, longing to escape.


VII

Her hair begins to cough. She climbs the stairs,
Another dusk enveloping the sky
As lights illumine all the city’s squares.

The bistro down the block has pizza pie
And conversation: artists, writers, songs,
A panoply to fill and fortify.

Medusa rarely talks among the throngs
But nods to those whose faces through the years
Have made her understand that she belongs.

They ebb and flow, but still, she calls them peers,
Ephemeral but lasting, air and fire,
Creating joys and torments, hopes and fears.

Apart but still a part, she won’t retire
As long as mortals seethe with such desire.

 

— Michael H. Payne

 

Michael H. Payne’s poems have appeared in places like Silver Blade, Gathering Storm, the Civilized Beasts collection, and the Rhysling Award anthology. His short stories have appeared in places like Asimov’s SF, the Sword and Sorceress anthology, and the Writers of the Future contest collections. His novels have been published by Tor Books and Sofawolf Press. He updates his webcomics Monday through Friday, hosts a Sunday afternoon radio program at the local university, and both writes and helps curate My Little Pony fanfiction for Equestria Daily and the Royal Canterlot Library. He would also like to thank the community at writeoff.me without whom this poem would not exist.

 

 

Editor’s Note: The terza rima is an Italian rhyming form of interlocked tercets (aba, bcb, cdc…zz) quite suitable for narrative poems. It’s a form first used by Dante Alighieri. Typical Medussa images are gruesome, here, a more seductive version fits this poem. It is from Medusa wallpaper by Jooomshaper (WDF-68709).

*

 

At the end this sand coming by
covers you with soft flowers
that long ago dried as footsteps

still treading inside some shallow grave
smothered as afterward and dust
–you loved her the way the Earth

keeps warm and between two suns
place to place what’s left
you walk without looking down

though your arms are closing
have grown together a single fingertip
touching these shells and pebbles.

 

— Simon Perchik

 

Simon Perchik also has poetry appearing in Partisan Review, The Nation, The New Yorker and elsewhere.

 

Editor’s note: This imagistic and surreal poem might have many interpretations. One of them is suggested here with an image of a mysterious cross encrusted with marine sediment and organisms that was washed up on a Ft. Lauderdale beach (https://www.travelandleisure.com/syndication/fort-lauderdale-beach-cross-washed-up ) bordered by roses from clip art—life contrasting death.

the NHK guy

 

the NHK guy comes
through the electric
security fence
that hovers
around my door—

(they have
access like that)

—and tramples
across the tatami
of my dining room

he taps at the
dynacurtain
that i have my
holoprojector
hidden under

“get rid of that”
he says
and i comply
with a nod
seeing the
social taser
he has set

i can’t lose
my peer-credibility
value—i need to
refinance this tiny 1DK
of a cubbyhole next month

i draw the dynacurtain open
and reveal a glimmering
set of holos

magnificent and glorious
with stereo-display
and dual destabilizing
reflective image compressors

he neither cares nor
awes, his mustache straight
his eyes neutral

he counts the voxels
rote, impassive

and deducts
the fare
from my
cred
account

with a
ding

there is no love
for the holoprojector
it is not a thing of beauty
as i see it to be,
as impressive as my
deluxe selfdriver or
chrome vertebrae drone

to him, it’s just another
bit to count, a numerical
figure attached to
a ledger

 

— D.A. Xiaolin Spires

 

D.A. Xiaolin Spires is a female writer of color conducting research in Asian anthropology funded by a National Science Foundation fellowship. Some of her poems feature Japanese cultural elements understood by her having lived, and conducted research, in Japan. Her work appears in publications such as Liquid Imagination, Star*Line and Eye to the Telescope.

 

Editor’s Note: The 1DK image, Asian lingo for a Japanese traditional home—“Take Your Shoes Off Minka, or typical Japanese homes, are defined by tatami floor covering flooring, gliding doors, and wooden engawa outdoor patios. Another aspect that lingers also in Western-style…” (ApecEdu apecaccelerator.org) is combined with an abstract image of a robo-entity and its aircraft on its investigation of the narrator in the poem. An mp3 recording of Spires’ poem is performed by Dafydd McKimm:

 

Dafydd McKimm was born and grew up in the glove-shaped valleys of South Wales but now lives in the East Asian metropolis of Taipei, Taiwan. His short fiction has appeared in publications such as Deep Magic, Daily Science Fiction, Syntax & Salt, and Flash Fiction Online. You can out more about him and his work at www.dafyddmckimm.com.

 

 

Martian Snow


Though new data now suggests
snowstorms may rage on Mars

at night, microbursts
of fluffed-up ice particles

rarely survive, subliming before
they hit the ground,

draining away into equally invisible
canals of Schiaparelli.

They leave behind only the unborn
ghosts of snow angels never meant to be.

 

— Robert Borski

Robert Borski did not start writing poetry until he was in his middle 50s, but since then has had well over three hundred poems published and in such venues as Asimov’s, Strange HorizonsDreams and Nightmares, and Star*Line, garnering along the way 14 Rhysling Award nominations. As a lifelong native of Wisconsin with its prolonged winters, he’s often fantasized about living offworld, on a planet where there is no snow. Unfortunately, as recent observations have demonstrated (see poem), it appears Mars will no longer be an option.

 

Editor’s Note:  The image of a snow crystal and snow angel represents the poem. Snow crystals have actually been discovered on Mars, but of course, the snow angel is imagined. https://www.iflscience.com/space/we-just-discovered-snow-on-mars/all/

The Reel

 

On midnight shadows he floats with the loons,
pitching and casting his baited hook overboard,
a bobber twitching as catfish nibble his mind,
fiddle strung under his chin, a fishtailing grin
in the ripples, he warbles maniacally. The sky
drips moonshine into the pools in his eyes as
he casts, spinning, flying on the spool, twisting
as he loses grip and flutters away on currents,
jigging in the depths while I weigh anchor.
I smile as we laugh and reel down the river
and he winks until only a grin remains in the stars.

 

— Alex Pickens

 

Alex Pickens has lived over 20 years in southern Appalachia, where he spends much of his time hiking, reading the Classics, and fingerpicking the blues. His work has recently been accepted by The Inkwell Journal, Maudlin House, Mad Scientist Journal (4 times), Gone Lawn, Pretty Owl Poetry, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Eastern Iowa Review, Jersey Devil Press, Crack the Spine, and Moonpark Review, while his flash fiction has been nominated for a Best Microfiction, 2018 anthology. He is a direct descendent of a Revolutionary War general nicknamed “The Wizard Owl.”

 

Editor’s Note: The silhouette of a man with his son in a boat fishing (pngtree) on the lake/moonlit waters (flyclip art).

The One Who Was Lost

They found him on the riverbank,
full of holes, full of dark spaces.
They found him on a Sunday morning,
rolling in the arms of Jesus,
a husk being absorbed back into earth,
a shell the soul discarded.

 

Angels hovered in the morning light.
They bathed his unquenchable wounds.
They ran their fingers through his hair.
They pressed the good light upon him–
the one who walked away from life,
who joined in the sleep of the once living.
Who shut his eyes and saw everything.

 

— Bruce McRae

 

Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with well over a thousand poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press), An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy (Cawing Crow Press) and Like As If (Pskis Porch), and Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).

 

 

Editor’s Notes: The image is from the Spiritual Inspiration blog (spiritual-awakening.net). The poem is arguably a highly subverted sonnet.

Tomorrow the Scarecrow


Nothing’s afraid of him.
Look at the blue jay stealing
his straw for the nest.

No reason to be scared of tomorrow
while today grows sky high.

Then they mow his field.
Set fire to his forest.
Disappear down a maze of streets
hidden in the haze.

Now the mountain looms
beyond charcoal trees
and time unwinds tomorrow’s ties.

Crying with laughter he stands,
walks, jogs through the blister.
Vanishes in the smog.

I want to call out to him
but my voice is tinder.
I want to give chase
but my limbs would catch fire.

Maybe his tears will save him.

Paul Sherman is a recluse living in the mountains of western North Carolina. He reads his poetry to the forest that creeps close to his house. He carries binoculars to view the warblers that sometimes appear in the trees to listen. His work has yet to be found.

Editor’s Note: A scarecrow (pngtree)is combined with an apocalyptic scene from a French site: L’apocalypse. La fin du monde.

http://www.canald.com/decouvertes/tops/le-top-des-apocalypses-possibles-1.1411130

Edge


From a dense blue jungle
the seed from which I grew
was transported by a wandering bird
to a place where I could be, alone.
Stones continually roll from above
creating with the rustle of my leaves
a false sound of voices.
 
I imagine another, brothersister,
with me here on the steep edge of winter.
But storm and snow break my branches;
my leaning and reaching are unrequited,
and my flowers die sterile.
 
I wait for each sunrise
on a cliff whose cracks are widening.
Every gust of wind deconstructs
my departure and the hunger of roots
thins toward an impenetrable cistern
of dreams. I come nearer
to the abyss.
 
 
J. Bergmann edits poetry for Mobius: The Journal of Social Change (mobiusmagazine.com), and imagines tragedies on or near exoplanets. She has competed at National Poetry Slam as a member of the Madison, WI, Urban Spoken Word team. Her work appears irregularly in Abyss & Apex, Analog, Asimov’s SF, and elsewhere in the alphabet. A Catalogue of the Further Suns won the 2017 Gold Line Press poetry chapbook contest and the 2018 SFPA Elgin Chapbook Award.
 
 
Editor’s Note: Image of blue forest is from Desktop Nexus.

To Io

The name you share with Zeus’s concubine

And Galileo’s seismic moon conveys
Our keen belief that children’s traits align
With names their sires assign. If with one phrase
Your namesake set a Greek god’s heart ablaze
And reigned as Jove’s volcanic satellite,
We know her name will likewise raise
You toward unparalleled allure and might.

May magma stir your blood and gadflies never bite.

— Mindy Watson

Mindy Watson is a Washington, DC/Northern Virginia-based formal verse poet who holds an MA in Nonfiction Writing from The Johns Hopkins University. Her poems have appeared in venues including Eastern Structures, Quarterday Review, Poetry Porch, Snakeskin, Star*Line, Think Journal, and many others. You may read her work at: https://mindywatson.wixsite.com/poetryprosesite

Editor’s Note: This homage to the Galilean moon, Io, is written as a Spenserian stanza (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spenserian_stanza). The accompanying image is a superposition of an active volcano and Jupiter as viewed from Io (with some artistic license), both from Pinterest. Io is the most volcanically active body in our solar system.

Escape from Zero

Our last star went out so long ago.
The night sky misses her diamonds.
 
We huddle around the gnawing
radiation of a dying black hole,
final relics of life, spindly sentinels
to stand vigil over the corpse
of the universe
 
There is only enough fuel
to light our furnace once.
All the fire that remains in the universe
can ignite a single star for a little while,
or burn our escape from pitiless night.
 
The pearls all begin to glow
along our necklace of 500 million miles.
And as one, the lasers fire from every link.
Gold chains all come together
at a single point in the center
of the black velvet—
all the beams growing so hot and so bright
that no wall can withstand
our final breath.
 
Zero clicks to one
and we are born again
as whispers in a new universe
filled with light.
 
 
— Vanessa Kittle
 
Vanessa Kittle is a former chef and lawyer, who now teaches English. She lives in New York with her partner and two cats. Vanessa recently was published by Akashic Books, and has two collections with the March Street Press. She has appeared in magazines such as the Rhysling Anthology, Abyss and Apex, Contemporary American Voices, Dreams and Nightmares, Star*Line, and Silver Blade.
 
Vanessa edits the Abramelin Poetry Journal. She enjoys watching cheesy movies, cooking, gardening, and Star Trek!
 
 
Editor’s Note: The notion that the singularity at the “bottom” of a black hole might actually be a white hole spewing matter into a new universe is not new and the subject for much imaginative writing. I speculated about it in my poem “Black and Gold” in While the Morning Stars Sing, An Anthology of Spiritually Infused Speculative Fiction (ResAliens Press Publishing, 2010). The wormhole wallpaper is from http://csolsqs.com.