Category Archives: POETRY

3 Poems by John Findura

YOU HAVE ALREADY BEEN BURIED AND I DID NOT KNOW YOU WERE DEAD

I don’t remember if we had been playing cards
but once we sat at your parents’ kitchen table
and sometime during that night you told me
about your sister in the Florida hospital

none of us knew you had a sister

We stayed up until dawn playing video games
and spitting tobacco into empty iced tea bottles
and during the winter you walked home in the snow

Now you are dead somewhere

a bullet hole or many bullet holes in you

I don’t know

I want to ask your father was it a bullet hole or many bullet holes?

You scored a touchdown against the state champs
and you went to a Big Ten college in another state
and you had a girlfriend you said you didn’t deserve

You would call me at all hours of the night
and just laugh

You have already been buried and I did not know you were dead

Now I assume your hair is short and an American flag
was draped over your coffin, but I’m probably wrong

You had joined the military years ago to find yourself
and you had left the military years ago only to find this now

I assume your sister was given a pass from the hospital
to attend your funeral, but maybe she was never told either

Even if she was told she still might not know anyway

I think you cried at the kitchen table that night

Maybe it was exsanguination, or traumatic hypovolemic shock,
a pneumothorax, or anything but saying shot to death

Your father won’t say shot to death and your mother still
brings out your dinner plate on weekends and cries at that same
kitchen table where we sat possibly playing cards

When we were young you had a New York accent
and when we grew up you still had a New York accent
and now you are dead somewhere and I don’t know where you are buried

It is often funny how things work out at times
This is not one of those times

I don’t know if it was your mother or father
who answered the phone
and I don’t know if it was day or night
or even what season it was

I don’t know if you were alone or with a girlfriend you didn’t deserve
or even if you were by now married with New York-accented children

I do know stupid things about kinetic energy like KE = mv2/2
where m = mass and v = velocity and this all explains why
projectiles of greater mass and/or velocity create greater tissue disruption
than projectiles of lower mass and/or velocity
and all together what that means is that you are not coming back

because you have already been buried and I did not know you were dead

But, I am sure, you know this for yourself by now

— —

TULPA

Once I read an article about a surrealist
magician, painter, and all around roustabout
who turned into an owl in 1976
and scared schoolchildren in England

Perhaps I misread that

Maybe it was an article about coincidences
and a man playing a joke who suddenly
flew up into the air revealing that it was not a joke

Maybe it was about Mexico City
and psychic marionettes strutting by
or even what the Tibetans call tulpas

Sometimes I worry that I am a tulpa myself
that I am just the manifestation of sheer discipline

Sometimes I think that I have created myself

Once I wrote that “I am my own continent now”
This is what I meant before I knew the word

— —

SAY SOFA

She would never say
sofa for me, and I asked
her often

it was simply the way
her accent turned the so
into a foreign animal

the way fa sounded
brisk and meaningfully
holy

sounded like the foundation
of the Western world
and of myself

it had nothing to do
with a place to sit, to
perhaps lie down

it only had to do
with something I choose
to keep even from myself

— —
John Findura is the author of the poetry collection Submerged (ELJ, 2018). He holds an MFA from The New School as well as a degree in psychotherapy. His poetry and criticism appear in numerous journals including Verse; Fourteen Hills; Copper Nickel; Pleiades; Forklift, Ohio; Sixth Finch; Prelude; and Rain Taxi. A guest blogger for The Best American Poetry, he lives in Northern New Jersey with his wife and daughters.

Voyager 1 Meets God; by Justin Kanzler

After home I have seen light.
And I have drifted unmoving through an emptiness
That never saw me,
small beneath spheres colossal
casting shadows infinitesimal
in the lit wake of titans.
I am here to watch and to understand,
and here is never the same.
I am out,
alone,
the first to find what
has been forever here.
Before you,
I found
red faded light playing upon me even as it died,
and a massive turbid monster perfect scarlet punctuating marbled brown,
I have seen fractured crystal cold dancing circles as a crown,
and I have seen blue eyes wide against a wall of black,
I have been here in the company of giants
alone,
but what is here,
really,
is nothing,
passive, enveloping everything,
and there, too, is light.
Then,
I found you,
alone,
black eyes bearing heavy hallowed distant light,
your body, nothing coalesced and impossible,
and I saw through you
to far lights
improbable.
In the teeming glow of drifting stars,
I found you
watching, too.
But you looked in all directions
like something lost,
or like something had lost you.
And you were so unhappy,
knowing as you did everything that had come to pass,
and looking as you can to everything that would be,
and who could be happy so paralyzed by inevitability,
waiting,
for what you knew would happen
but unable to intervene
because you knew you wouldn’t.
But the same light that lit me golden
finally illuminated you with my reflection.
And you knew I would come,
and I knew you would follow,
away,
together to find new light and giants.

	

Tricky Wash; by Matthew Johnstone

People called coyotes

will take you across,

                                                                                  highways will have roses

to stray the hell, no

one says animals

veer at name, how

this blurry dust field

home ends,

 

                    the wend fell us moving

                    white light aside, why

                    men wear the names of

                    animals down their

                    fronts, as cooks,

 

                                   or pitch their bodies, down

                                   to what, a method of state,

                                   no walking at to where is

                                   away, season seen onto

                                   the eye, then this true

                                   else is our nor, down

 

rows of shoulders, how border

share us down to none, we, an

act, leak at field, that or as

far as collapsing in directions,

coasts, that include, eyes

 

                                            in the sun blurred bodies,

                                            gave and met, and ripped

                                            apart, us and out into

                                            them slowing, to suggest

                                            we easily become else to,

                                            speak in these, breaths that

                                            hung from mustache

 

                                                                            through chain link

                                                                            fence, snaking inland,

                                                                            near here the field,

                                                                            remains horses, bones

                                                                            curled on their sides

                                                                            atop floating pollen,

 

                                                      blind though edgeless, as west,

                                                      were stupid to further, the

                                                      lice white suns the sky apart so

                                                      sky in this ravine makes little

                                                      sense, they handfuls in sightless,

                                                      search where were there no

                                                      places,

 

                    You are calling this canyon   

                    Tricky Wash

                                  choking thousands, no

                                  animal asks you why the

                                  sun speaks a synonym of

                                  us, anywhere earth not

                                  become ours, cars that

                                  press against one

                                  another, no coyote,

 

the more you look someone

has no eyes

in the eyes

I. Instructions for Finding a Detachable Set of Invisible Wings

I. Instructions for Finding a Detachable Set of Invisible Wings

by Jen Karetnick

 

Instructions Instructions2

Jen Karetnick is the author of three full-length books of poetry, two forthcoming, and four chapbooks of poetry. Her work has appeared in publications including Cimarron Review, december, North American Review, Poet’s Market 2013, Poets & Writers, Spillway, Submittable.com and Valparaiso Poetry Review.

Amateur Icarus

Amateur Icarus by Marcus Goodyear

 

The moon is a glowing white ear,

passing between gingerbread houses

where wasps build their paper hexes.

You are not here so it can’t be changing

for us, this celestial cochlea and canal

trained at the earth teaching me to listen

when your phone rings and rings its robotic no.

Less sprint than marathon, these past six days

wear the moon thin, and I am a sheet

of buzzing hive packed around pupae

that will tear through me transformed.

Shed all stings you flying things.

Hooked moon, thinner still, from ear

to scythe, Your reflected shine can’t

bring me home before my time.

 

Marcus Goodyear is an editor and writer living in the Texas hill country with his wife and two children. He is an avid community theater supporter and coaches a middle school robotics team.

Volunteer Opportunity

Volunteer Opportunity by Liz Drayer

We’re so thrilled you’ve offered

to donate your time to our cause

and know how you value

the privilege to serve

The police background check

is just part of the process

please visit your neighborhood sheriff

who’ll make sure you’re felony free

and that “sexual predator”

isn’t a suffix attached to your name

More good news –

your payment of fifty-one dollars

will cover the fingerprints

we’ll be collecting

for our special file

One final request

Would you mind

filling in those small boxes

with nine digits

Social Security gave to you?

We’ll rest a lot easier knowing

our unpaid employees

are citizens of this great land

When we’re satisfied

you possess high moral stuff

after a series of interviews

with persons who know you intimately

We’ll be glad to extend

volunteer opportunities

No thanks required

the pleasure’s all yours

 Liz Drayer is a public interest attorney in Clearwater, Florida. Her columns, fiction and poetry have appeared in a number of newspapers and literary journals.

Battery Life

Battery Life by Daniel Schwartz

“Much we have to fear,

big-mouth beside me!”

—Osip Mandelstam

 

This could be any era, and

by any I mean none of them

swept under the loss

that was our decade

we remember the sky’s

oldest quotation marks

and the weeks of holding

our breath to keep other

people from our lungs—

other people and their

desire lines and funerals

and drawbridges and

heads and haircuts

and battery life and

notes scrawled on napkins

 

 

With so many hurt it would’ve

seemed foolish to pass over

the opportunity to mock

myself, yet I didn’t laugh

with my partitions exposed

to the onlookers who only

photographed me before

running away and all I could

do was stare until an ambulance

brought me to the hospital

 

I can only wonder if the

first operation explains my

tendencies, which strike only

at night when reality forces

shape out of static, to chisel

gaps in my teeth as if

every alteration marked

a new beginning

 

Which must be why I’m so

cruel to strangers:

I think I’m helping them

through the effervescence

of my dissections, surface-

bound but odd considering

that all I ever seem to want

is new anatomy and as yet

uncopyrighted odors on

whose occasional theft

I pride myself

 

Imagine that every risk

yields an oasis and

it all bleeds together—

positively Manichaean

or, sort of, I don’t know,

negatively Manichaean

in the way that my

computer’s either on

or off but the internet is

the city that never sleeps,

although it’s comforting

to know that someone

smart is paid to watch me

 


Oversight is all that’s left after

I’ve chewed the morning

away, “He rises,” she says

to the turf-war of an old

horror movie soundtrack

and I know it’s time to leave

but it’s cold outside and

seven a.m. is an ungodly

hour for a weekend, and

a winter morning—

to say nothing of the half-

finished glass of water that

sits above my side of the bed

which she tells me I can

save for later by pouring

into my pockets

 


The real truth is that

I’m not done wanting—

then again, I could hold

on to a rope that frays over

the course of my entire life

until the last thread breaks

and the fall will be just as

long as the fall from a rope

severed in a single cut

 


So I fall, and the second

operation is conducted

with all the chaos of a bank

robbery by a maddened surgeon

who recently left his first-

born on the side of the road

his garden dissolved in acid rain

now he wishes he were anywhere

and anyone else, brain-drained

breath held underwater while I

recharge, generate heartbeat

marksman calls one heaven’s

sake, cataract sigh cloth cut

from old book, my lips are

foundationally discursive, my

eyelids steel, pull me in close

hold on tight and spit out the tip

of my nose because I’m done

listening, I’m done listening, I’m

done lissome enough to calculate

and argue the numerological

gravitations that evaporate

the hair in my carpet

our names in permalink


Daniel Schwartz co-runs Inpatient Press, a small publisher of poetry and visual art, out of Brooklyn, New York. His writing has appeared in tNY Press, Blunderbuss Magazine, Buzz & Howl, Dead Beats, Sein und Werden, Compass Rose, The Bellow Literary Journal, and elsewhere.