Issue #3

Honor Vincent

Lee and the marsh


Lee Sherman casts a spell on the marsh:
checks soul is alone
feels with his face the wind’s direction
and with the barrel beside him
makes a cloud appear thirty feet away

today something interrupts
(bat? bird? bug?)
flies through the cloud
and falls,
bewitched into stone by Lee’s wall

Lee puts his wand down.
He builds a bridge of shovel heads and
Bones, old pants and a baseball glove,
to cross the sweet sucking mud to where the
creature lays

grey and white, a bird
half the length of his forearm when cradling her
a cold sack of soft spasms
clawed feet and dinosaur eyes
he tries not to vomit

nearly drops her; reconfigures
one hand to head and one over chest,
Lee places his mouth over her beak.
His mother taught him this when he was a boy
first given dominion over their chickens

sometimes a bird will need air,
or for you to pump its chest with two thumbs
this way he makes her breathe again
her eyes disappear, appear, disappear
and she makes a thin noise

Lee puts her on his truck’s warm hood
and returns to his barrel, which has finished its
work, and has shut itself off.
As he collects his bridge a thought comes
unbidden to him:

In an explosion at the plant
a knob turned in error left him
coated in carbon tet
a chewing marzipan heat that disappeared
his clothes and shoes

he was alive, he borrowed his friend’s jumpsuit
and went home to scrub his burning parts:
armpits, asscrack, kneebacks, toe webs
and buy a new pair of boots

another one comes:
His mom is a corpse on fire at an illegal funeral
His mom is a set of bone fragments the bayou
takes swipes at
thirty feet under the marsh

when he is back to his truck,
the bird has gone, and left
a w-shaped mark in the dirt on the hood
and he feels a hum begin
at having saved a life

Part of Lee Sherman’s job is to roll a tar buggy
full of plate glass waste to the Calcasieu slip and
blow a cloud of chlorinated hydrocarbon vapor
out over the marsh, where no one will see him.
This is illegal.

The chemicals hang over the canal as a mist
before precipitating into the water. A female
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel feels her wings stop
moving as though she has died, though she can
still smell the plankton she was after.

Lee did not want to touch the mud or the water
within it, as the canal had recently begun to
return fish relieved of most of their skin, and its
stench already sank too deeply into his hair and
skin.

The petrel goes into shock as Lee picks her up:
she still cannot move, but her heart beats so
quickly it hurts her, and her temperature begins
to drop. As she breathes, her beak clicks, and
she makes new little moaning sounds.

“In…chlorinated hydrocarbon poisoning,
af ected birds are weak and uncoordinated and
may show convulsions…such poisons produce
hypersensitivity and a continuous overall
tremor as well as fits.” (Cooper, 2008)

When animals go into shock, the first thing to
do is put them in a warm, quiet place where
they cannot see or hear you.
In most cases they will either recover or die
within thirty minutes.

“Exposure to chlorinated aliphatic solvents
(methanes, ethanes, and ethenes) has been
associated with… adverse health effects,
including CNS, reproductive, liver, and kidney
toxicity, and carcinogenicity.” (Ruder, 2006)

Many lethal chemicals, including carbon
tetrachloride, smell sweet. The plant used
carbon tet to smooth ribbons of glass into
plates.
 
 
One manager, when pointing out the vat on
Lee’s first day, told him that it is also used in
fire extinguishers.

 
 
Lee’s plant refused to reimburse him for the
clothing and shoes that were destroyed in his
accident.
 
 
 
Lee’s mother was cremated and spread at the
shore of the Bayou d’Inde, illegal in the state
of Louisiana, but was what she wanted. 27
years later, the place is under shallow water.

 
 
 
 
Lee’s mother liked birds very much.

 

Little dirge

It once would have been a strange quick curse
pains in your leg that would have taken you
before one season lifted into the next
 
Today it is a named thing
cancer that we watched weave through your
twenty three
twenty four
twenty five
twenty six year old body
 
doctors peeled apart your bones like reliquary
makers
to replace your blood with venom like alchemists
to remove your bedeviled lung like embalmers
 
when you died, you were not whole
you went bearing many people’s best efforts
in the rod in your shin,
your sternum scars
and missing hair
 
we don’t have tombs anymore
we won’t wrap you with charms of protection
we won’t carve our goodbyes in stone
 
we write them on your wall
those are our canopic jars, our amulets
this time’s marks of love
 
if our forebears were correct in their estimates
of the cost of a soul’s divorce from its body
then I hope we have spent enough to carry you
home
 

Naoto on the farm

 
Naoto returned home
 
their town had been flooded,
and a great tide of things
–boats
wood
bodies
mud
electronics–
came around the nearby reactor in a monster’s
heavy embrace
tumbled its catwalks, crushed its silos,
let spill its invisible core
 
when people were told to leave, they thought
they’d be back
(so they said)
and they left their cats and dogs and rabbits and
chickens and cows and pigs and ostriches
a children’s book worth of animals whose
lifespans would not be much wounded by
radiation
 
what would kill them was starvation, and wolves
 
Naoto returned home
because he once ran squalling to the cowpen
after his father had beaten him for sneaking an
early taste of dinner
and a calf looked at him from under her cartoon
harlot lashes
and nuzzled his soft wet cheek
 
for this kindness,
he was willing to collect them, to reset their
fences
and to be awake a few years less

Honor Vincent is a writer who was born and raised in New York. She works at a place best described as a writer’s retreat for programmers, and is currently working on a graphic novel. These are her first published poems.

Jon Riccio

Fragmented Armageddon with Galena

Psychics unstuffed,
slivers of coupons near
a church bulletin’s silhouette.
Angels on end-
of-world walls, widowhood
between wax fruit.
Meal assistance at the door,
skewers separated from
the toothpicks
that make martinis complete.
Swiffer taken to a simulacrum.
As many harbingers
as there are detergents.

Linoleum no chapel,
papal the credenza
on which a deliverance
transacts its dust.
It’s a sin to steam
clean a saint.

The Lipoflavinoid Hour with Montel

  • So has-been the witching hour won’t touch them—
  • the almost ingénues,
  • marplots with a pond’s-eye view of Ricki Lake.
  • For every Suzanne Somers who strikes salvation through a Thigh-
  • Master, there’s a Montel consigned to the tinnitus aisle of infomercials
  • at 4 in the morning—
  • the lipoflavinoid pills he espouses with all the gallantry of a Maury…
  • We, the cable spongers,
  • inner-ear disturbed.
  • I’ve had it since 2003,
  • the noise a ringing that flotsams me to reruns of the imperial unbidden—
  • deep down we’re all a little Scarecrow and Mrs. King
  • seeking an audience with Montel.
  • For every Selleck there’s a Tom,
  • Sizemore or Lasorda
  • clamoring the re-cast,
  • the spokes-product,
  • the assuagement of public access TV.
  • Lipoflavinoids—
  • something gooey about the time slot they percolate.
  • We’ll have him as long as ears ring and pills take their a.m. leave.
  • Montel, your 90s a raking of muck while this millennium’s gone cotton candy.
  • The zeitgeist never sounds a lie.


Editor’s note: Montel Williams hosted a talk show from 1991 to 2008. Since 2009, he’s hosted infomercials. Interesting person; you’ll read about another one further down the page.

Jon Riccio is a PhD candidate and composition instructor at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers. Recent poems have appeared in Jazz Cigarette, Muse /A Journal, Sick Lit Magazine, Steel Toe Review, Visitant, and Zombie Logic Review. He received his MFA from the University of Arizona.
 

Stephen Mead

Chords

Your face is sound. While looking I hear
something which feels, steadies, a proficient
radiometer. Cymbals clash. Textures reflect
intensification. Read flesh, a science of
 
sensuality. Beneath, there is land
being strip-mined, detonations at sea,
a submarine lost, the green deaths of Fathers.
Water walled them in, eely grasses, fathoms
of sand, all membranous here, the molecular
nuclei of saline. Orchestrate
 
droplets, residuum, & scores reverberate.
Maestro, step forth. Now our eyes
 
our quite like Da Vinci’s.
Birth & decay are the same, an instantaneous
foundation for a universe synchronic. Only
motion matters. We live in our heads, spirits
 
expanding like cellophane, bodies, translucent
glass. The music box chimes.
 
As a child I imagined my house
was a satellite. It would lift from the cellar,
take the front porch, the back steps & hurl up.
Remember dreams of flying, then waking on the bed
with a little earth-thudding bounce?
 
Picture generations of kites transcribing clouds,
Next; ozone, next; stars.
Oh lines, lines, lines reel
From your palms, about your mouth & your stare.
They are certainly tapestries to be listened to,
a surreal sort of sonar while we float
in these breezes, simple rays learning light
as another cathedral, forgetting heaviness, gongs
song.
 
Love, conduct the din of all this, & some
crescendo will bridge, a timpani, a flute,
heard in the mind of dying Mozart.
 
A resident of NY, Stephen Mead is a published Outsider artist, writer, maker of short-collage films and sound-collage downloads. In 2014 he began a webpage to gather links of his poetry being published in such zines as Great Works, Unlikely Stories, Quill & Parchment, etc., in one place: (his website). His latest Amazon release is titled Our Spirit Life, a poetry/art meditation on family heritage, love, and the evanescence of time.
 

Yuan Changming

 

On the Monterey Beach

 
The wave has retreated farther, and
Father back, the shell left straddled
On itself, and all its dehydrated memories
 
It whistles like a night traveler: I have a dream
And I cannot wait to see what lies ahead
As if the content were fully sponged with
 
Consciousness, ready to evaporate into the sky
Along with the wind, it keeps rolling up ashore
Approaching human footprints, behind itself
 
The shell left a broken line, almost invisible
Like a trail left by another wave, trying
To accomplish a couplet or a marine stanza
 
Giving sense to wind:
How it came to be, and
Be here

 
Yuan Changming, nine-time Pushcart and one-time Best of Net nominee, published monographs on translation before moving out of China. Currently, Yuan edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver; credits include Best of Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), BestNewPoemsOnline, Cincinnati Review, Threepenny Review and 1319 others.

Joe Hess

Behind my blood-shot
eyes, we could’ve lived in peace
before I opened
 
the bedroom door on
their shadow in the blue. They
turned pale under a
 
sliver of hall light
that widened as they folded
like a night lotus
 
not facing the day.
Maybe the headlights were hers
in my rearview mirror.
 
Joe Hess received his MA in Poetry from Miami University and his MFA from Ashland University.You can find his work in The Ekphrastic Review, Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective, and in two 2017released anthologies: one from Shabda Press entitled, Nuclear Impact: Broken Atoms in Our Hands, and the other, an ekphrastic collection released by Ohio Poetry Association, A Rustling and Waking Within. His personal website has access to more of his publications.

David Lohrey

She’s the One Who
wears a navy-blue beanie cap pulled down tight in the summer,
a low-slung bag at her side, and a bright red, ankle-high socks under
her black sandals. She calls herself a poet but everyone knows her as
the bubble lady.
 
She is known for blowing bubbles on Telegraph Avenue. She
doesn’t blow kisses. She’s an explainer. She never misses the chance
to speak at People’s Park. She was born with a seat in the Roman Senate.
 
She eschews the Socratic method. She’s not too interested
in what others have to say. She likes instead to deliver
monologues. She’s a born instructor. She’d like to go
to the podium and talk nonstop like Fidel, her hero.
 
She’d like to take over. She would happily bake a cake, but
what she really wants is to talk to the congregation. She’d prefer to
harangue the masses, speak at Hyde Park, grab the microphone
and carry on well past mid-night, really hold forth.
 
Other women, but surely not all, like to nibble on men’s earlobes.
They like their inner thighs stroked, and that’s nice. She doesn’t knock it,
but it is not for her. She’d prefer to command the Pacific fleet. If
anything turns her on it is the sight of thousands looking up to her.
 
She could have been an actress but she is not as keen on the stage
as she is on the park. Washington Square appeals more than the Shubert.
And she never wears make-up. She has a lot in common with Glenda Jackson
after her retirement from stage and screen. She cares. She’d like to be Lear.
 
The bubble lady uses Telegraph Avenue as her stage. Just what all the bubbles are
about is up for grabs. Who the hell knows? They don’t instill confidence and few
would pay to listen to her. One reason is that she is one to wag a finger.
She wants you to feel bad. The state of the world hangs in the balance,
so you’d better listen.
 
The bubble lady is a wreck. She doesn’t bathe. Her teeth are bad. She’s so fat
she waddles, but she won’t give up. She’s bent on world domination. Her strategy
is to wear people down. She talks nonstop about her personal friendship
with President Obama and his wife, Michelle.
 
She’s on to the Israel spies in the White House. She’s invented an alternative
energy source. She’d be happy to counsel your unemployed children.
You can find her in People’s Park in Berkeley. She lives between two rocks,
but she always wears house slippers on the grass.
 
Editor’s note: I enjoyed learning about this poem’s subject. Click the link for an article about her.
 
David Lohrey’s poetry can be found in Poetry Circle, Sudden Denouement, Otoliths, and FRiGG. In addition, recent poems have been published by the University of Alabama (Dewpoint), Illinois State University (Obsidian) and Michigan State University (The Offbeat). His book The Other Is Oneself, a study of 20th century literature, was published in 2016. David’s first poetry collection, Machiavelli’s Backyard, is being released this month by Sudden Denouement Publishers (Houston). He teaches in Tokyo.