My Night’s Two Hands

A poem by Paul Brookes


against exits and entrances,
eyes cornered by sleepdust.
 
Riff raff cast offs witter
as they’ve seen better.
 
Day is two rats in a bag
snotting one another.
 
Light, light against the living of the rage.
Life measured out in how many
plastic carry bags for your shopping.


Paul Brookes was and is a shop assistant. He was previously employed as a security guard, postman, administrative assistant, lecturer, and performer in the Rats for Love poetry troupe. (His poetry has been included in Rats for Love: The Book (Bristol Broadsides, 1990).)

His first chapbook, The Fabulous Invention of Barnsley, was published by Dearne Community Arts in 1993; his second chapbook, The Headpoke And Firewedding, was published by Alien Buddha Press; his third, A World Where, was published by Nixes Mate Press; and his fourth, The Spermbot Blues, was published by OpPRESS.

Brookes has read his work on BBC Radio Bristol, and hosted a creative writing workshop for sixth formers (grades 11-12 high schoolers) on BBC Radio Five Live. Some of his written work has recently appeared in Clear Poetry, Nixes Mate Review, Live Nude Poems, The Bezine, The Bees Are Dead, and other publications.

Feel free to visit his website!

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Latvia, 1861

A poem by Matt Dennison


A cord of blood sausage wrapped
within his throat, he spat a suet pile
and slipped into the sod-house unseen
by his wife. Never having tried to fire
the crockeries of their time, he squinted
through the mud-slots as she lumbered
about, finally to settle beside a sickly
calf to study its urine pool for signs.
They worked for different sovereigns:
hers a cauldron of entrailed darkness
imbued with bleak idiocy—that biblical
humbug hung fast about their necks—
his a vodka panacea for the pigsties of
their lives, never raised upon the same pike
as the other’s. Nearby, the boy stood
stupid in the sunflowers as an eel-slide
of curses welled his loins to burst upon
them from the sod-house. Fury spent,
he stopped counting and swam into
the sun. Remembering he once had dined
on lobster while his fishwife, frightened
by the cutlery, keened for chum, the sight
of old lemons on the sod-shelf roused him,
crouched behind the serving girl, tonguing
her fresh mustards: delicious, faint, ripe.


After a rather extended and varied second childhood in New Orleans, Matt Dennison’s work has appeared in Rattle, Bayou Magazine, Redivider, Natural Bridge, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and Cider Press Review, among others. He has also developed short films alongside Michael Dickes, Swoon (Marc Neys), and Marie Craven.

The Postman Does Not Deliver

A poem by Paul Brookes


insists she break the law,
stuffs his heavy, packed bags

around their home, under the stairs,
in the loft. Other folk’s messages

and parcels never arrive
as he sups pints in the local,

pots balls over the green baize.
She sees him chat up lasses

in the pub, online, changes
his FB profile to single,

She coddles their new bairn
till he returns to her why.


Paul Brookes was and is a shop assistant. He was previously employed as a security guard, postman, administrative assistant, lecturer, and performer in the Rats for Love poetry troupe. (His poetry has been included in Rats for Love: The Book (Bristol Broadsides, 1990).)

His first chapbook, The Fabulous Invention of Barnsley, was published by Dearne Community Arts in 1993; his second chapbook, The Headpoke And Firewedding, was published by Alien Buddha Press; his third, A World Where, was published by Nixes Mate Press; and his fourth, The Spermbot Blues, was published by OpPRESS.

Brookes has read his work on BBC Radio Bristol, and hosted a creative writing workshop for sixth formers (grades 11-12 high schoolers) on BBC Radio Five Live. Some of his written work has recently appeared in Clear Poetry, Nixes Mate Review, Live Nude Poems, The Bezine, The Bees Are Dead, and other publications.

Feel free to visit his website!

Baltimore City, 2016

A poem by William C. Blome


Sparrows pompous, pompous, on a granite ledge
and green willows clutching silver trunks—
hugging the shit out of the mothers—
as circus elephants’ll surely panic methodically
if you keep stuffing your tits in my nostrils again
and again. Yet a truly much-feared rainstorm
simply doesn’t get here close to lunchtime,
and I’m pressured big-time by your girl friend
to quit pulling on my own sugary peter,
as some tomato growers from the Eastern Shore
take turns pissing in the privacy of their truck.


William C. Blome writes poetry and short fiction. He lives wedged between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and he is a master’s degree graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. His work has previously seen the light of day in such fine little mags as Poetry London, PRISM International, Fiction Southeast, Roanoke Review, Salted Feathers, and The California Quarterly.

Hammer Face

A poem by Matt Dennison


One night after dinner
our father rose from the table
walked into the parlor
sat before the piano
pulled two packs
of thumbtacks
from his pants
slit the packs
with stiletto slid
from shirtsleeve
into hand and back
opened the piano top
worked a tack into every hammer face
ragtime’d wild for twenty minutes
and never played again.


After a rather extended and varied second childhood in New Orleans, Matt Dennison’s work has appeared in Rattle, Bayou Magazine, Redivider, Natural Bridge, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and Cider Press Review, among others. He has also developed short films alongside Michael Dickes, Swoon (Marc Neys), and Marie Craven.

Down in the Country

A poem by Jack D. Harvey

(Published in The RavensPerch, September, 2017.)


I found dancing does,
roses waving on their stems,
hobos, vagrants of all sorts
roving around my back forty.
The does ate the roses, the rogues
kicked the does to kingdom come or
into the woods, I think.

Who knows?

Yesterday, a gorbellied tramp
came to my door or
knocked on my window.

Who remembers?

He said “Jesus, you’ve got some
sweet setup here, pal o’ mine,
wait’ll the nosy distant neighbors
see and hear about it,
look over the fences,
listen at the door,
tell the authorities.”

“Oh, go to hell, I don’t care,”
I said to him,
I am the god of
my house, my garden.

“Hell is my god,” said the tramp,
bursting into tears;
“my dear old dead dad
went there in a handbasket.
Pot Riley, they called him,
he drank a lot and
now I carry his pack,
on my back,
a sort of monument,
an empty sack of nothing
you can touch;
just memories and
paradigmatic gestures.”

After that lost unraveled language,
a locution, a fancy word,
I had to give him something;
something for nothing
is always nice.

I gave him a rose.


Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, Mind In Motion, The Comstock Review, The Antioch Review, Bay Area Poets Coalition, the University of Texas Review, the Beloit Poetry Journal, and a number of other on-line and in print poetry magazines over the years, many of which are probably kaput by now, given the high mortality rate of poetry magazines.The author has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, New York. He was born and worked in upstate New York. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired. He once owned a cat that could whistle “Sweet Adeline”, use a knife and fork, and killed a postman.

Superman

A creative essay by G. David Schwartz


My eight-year-old son goes into a frenzy each time Clark Kent leaves Lois Lane and returns as Superman. The child is sufficiently wise, or sufficiently naive, to know that clothes do not make the person.

Clothes occasionally, however, unmake the person.

People should not be fooled by the removal of glasses or a slight modification in the way a person wears a hat or carries a glove. My son, at such a tender age, is capable of cutting through the superficiality of appearance in order to reach the ontology of identity.

He knows that Clark Kent is Superman and Superman is Clark Kent. He is not yet, at age eight, to the stage where he knows that Superman is Steve Rieves, or George Reeves.

The identities of Clark Kent and the Man of Steel are frequent topics of conversation in our house. Why doesn’t Lois notice the obvious?

Why doesn’t Jimmy? Lois claims to have a romantic interest in Superman and to resist the supposed romantic intentions of Kent. Jimmy claims to be Clark’s best friend.

To complicate matters, these people are reporters, trained with a critical eye. Perhaps the Superman series, movie, and television revival are a collective satire?

In each of the venues through which Superman has made an incarnation, including the comic book, Superman engages our willing suspension of disbelief against the hard and newsworthy evidence of our eyes. Or, as Dan puts it, they are stupid. Neither of us are convinced that the issue of putting on or taking off glasses as a disguise of identity is a secret meant to be shared between the “actors” and the audience. Dan might say the “actors” want us to be as daft as Lois and Jimmy.

In my opinion, the writers and producers are propagating the obviously false idea that small changes betoken major events, a notion that might help them sell mascara or hair coloring, ointments and creams.

I have to admit that I enjoy Dan’s agony or, more correctly, the fact that his mild disturbance results in our continually talking about the issue.

The television, movie, and comic book’s loss of recognition is our gain. I also enjoy the fact that when I was Dan’s age I, too, shouted at the television for Lois to get a little critical distance and notice that Clark was Superman.

I phrased it thus: “Don’t be so stupid.”

Being privy to secrets of one kind or another can be a burdensome thing.

Perhaps Dan, as I once did, nourishes the hope that Lois, too, has a secret. Perhaps she will turn to Clark at some point or another and say, “Hey, Clark. Want to hear something really funny? I’ve known for years you’re Superman. That’s right. I’ve known it all along. But I’ve done the decent thing, the human thing, and kept your secret because you’ve wanted it that way. But here’s the funny part. Here’s the really funny part. I have a secret, too. You see, I’m not Lois Lane. I’m…”

But I go astray.

Attributing to Lois a moral stance, the secret that she has never betrayed Clark’s secret, has the advantage of allowing us to see her in some way other than stupid. In fact, if my hypothesis is correct, Lois did such an outstanding job of keeping the secret and buttressing her knowledge by playing the utter fool that she needs to be designated the very best actor on the show—possibly in history.

Lois not only knew and did not tell; she did not behave in any manner that would have led her co-workers to know she knew. Jimmy, I assume, is just stupid.

Perhaps that’s the point of fantasy and fancy, miracle stories and other culture-bound inspiring work: to enkindle us with questions and statements of what we know to be obvious.

What is obvious to one person is a deep mystery to the next. What can best be done in those situations is to arrange conversations not between those who know it all and those who know nothing… The conversations that need be arranged are between those who know the obvious and those who know the obvious as mysterious. Each will gain by being informed by the other.

I did not understand the fact that the identity issue was a charade until I was older. Not Lois, but Clark, was in a predicament about expressing character issues.

It was, after all, Superman who purchased glasses—a symbol of seeing clearly—he did not need. Superman clothed himself in conventional clothing and hid his functional suit. Superman was the one who wanted to look like less than what he was.

I did not understand this until I had to purchase glasses. Until I purchased them, I not only did not recognize their benefits and virtues, but claimed I did not need them.

Perhaps the refusal to change appearance is vanity. Perhaps dressing in style is a vane conceit. Perhaps switching glasses, or clothing, or hair styles, is to engage in the ebb and flow of appearance.

Perhaps the becoming and changing of reality occurs, as it were, through the vessels of our clothing. Or, perhaps the identity, not the duality, of Clark and Superman is more real than any of the “spectators'” concentration on glasses in one scene and removal in the next. Perhaps consistency of change is more important than identity. Or perhaps not.

That’s the way it is with “perhaps”.

I knew my eyes were bad for some time, but thought I could live without the sheer anguish of glasses; I had been accustomed to wearing glasses to see into the distance, but slowly, ever so slowly, the lenses deteriorated—they didn’t work as well as they once had. The fact of faulty lenses did not bother me; all it meant was that I was becoming accustomed to not seeing as many things, a condition I rationalized as acceptable given some alternatives.

Well, it was acceptable until those other cars on the highway suddenly began appearing in lanes where they had not been moments before.

So I needed new glasses. So what! I would get them. Some day. In the mean time, I’ll just drive a little slower. You’ve wanted me to drive slower for years.

And now I will. So there!

What was most annoying was that I noticed, faster than a speeding bullet, that I could not see things up close.

I could not read as easily as I had so recently been able to do: When I first became aware of it, I was curious to know if the economy was so horribly bad that all books were now being printed in a fuzzy, obviously cheap, ink.

Then I began to notice that the economy was so terribly bad that even books I had possessed for years had retrospectively been affected.

“Why are you holding that book so close to your face?”

I resisted the urge to say the reason was because I was convinced it was a razor.

I thought that perhaps, just perhaps, such a statement would not make my reasonable defense against getting new glasses so reasonable. I do not know who first uttered the word “bifocal”, but I adamantly refused to purchase glasses that would make me look like my grandmother.

Split lenses, indeed! I already was bi-focal. Some things I could see, and some I could not see.

So I ended up getting two pairs of glasses. One pair was simply for seeing (which, as suggested above, I was accustomed to doing); the other, which had a secondary purpose, bore the less obnoxious name “reading glasses”.

I despise the very concept of bifocals, with their smug suggestion of growing old and their self-complacent suggestion of double vision. It suggests indecisiveness, and the one thing I am not is indecisive, I think.

So I made an appointment with the optometrist and explained sadly to Dan, “I can no longer see through these things.” I grew instantly accustomed to the reading glasses. I could see what I was reading without squinting or straining my eyes.

Reading was enjoyable again.

Because my long-distance vision was corrected perfectly with the glasses I had, and would remain so for a solid week after I received my new reading glasses, I chose to have two pairs of glasses.

Consequently, I grew accustomed to switching back and forth between corrective lenses. I grew accustomed, that is, to taking off one identity (one set of circumstances, requirements, and modes of being) and putting on another.

I became, in a phrase, a virtual Superman of the visceral world.

I felt great. I felt like I was able to leap tall buildings in a single bound—if I was standing atop their roofs and had overcome my fear of heights.

Now, if I could only break the habit of whipping off a pair of glasses and staring into my son’s eyes—or an imaginary camera if he is not available—and saying, “I’m Batman.”


G. David Schwartz is the former president of Seedhouse, an online interfaith committee. Schwartz is the author of A Jewish Appraisal of Dialogue (1994) and Midrash and Working Out of the Book (2004). He is currently a volunteer at Cincinnati, Ohio’s community center, the J (Mayerson JCC); and Meals On Wheels. His newest book, Shards And Verse (2011) is now in stores, and can be ordered online.

Invictus

A poem by Jack D. Harvey


The coolness of night chills;
from the frail body
the rasp of night scours
dreams, visions like rotten iron.
Fires are burning in
hell that would hold
even the infinity
of God;

Satan has conceptions.


Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, Mind In Motion, The Comstock Review, The Antioch Review, Bay Area Poets Coalition, the University of Texas Review, the Beloit Poetry Journal, and a number of other on-line and in print poetry magazines over the years, many of which are probably kaput by now, given the high mortality rate of poetry magazines.

The author has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, New York. He was born and worked in upstate New York. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired. He once owned a cat that could whistle “Sweet Adeline”, use a knife and fork, and killed a postman.

My Character’s Death

A poem by Alyssa Trivett


Record relaying to needle
blood seeping in
room top-spins and my head
kicks the coffee-burned throat
half scowl up again. Circus tumbles
and words water-slide down my arms into cement.
Made conversation in sample cup wisps
with the electric fan blades whirring.
Fingernails chomped off like a wine cork, obliterated.
Someone is calling my name from the other room, or maybe,
it is the neighbors’ ghosts who never introduced themselves
yelling get off my lawn kids insults through the vents.
The last movie-thought displays in my head.
and piano neck wires snap,
this is death, this is death!
I can’t tap dance off the stage,
I never had the correct shoes to begin with.


Alyssa Trivett is a wandering soul from America’s Midwest. When not working two jobs, she listens to music and scrawls lines on the back of gas station receipts. Her work has recently appeared online at VerseWrights, In Between Hangovers, and Hidden Constellation. She has fifteen poems featured in an anthology entitled Ambrosia, a collaboration with eight other poets, released by OWS Ink, LLC.

Jealousy

A poem by Allison Grayhurst


The deep yawn of night
follows this. Follows into a strong fire
of orange and blue rhythms
that destroys all but blame. I blame no one
but my heart that twists on
this precipice. I have chosen
this intractable devotion for you –
you who can take the gravity from my walk,
leave me a fugitive, limping
for unholy escape.
What follows this is the street
at three in the morning, starved of children,
agitated and cruel.
What follows this is nothing
I can cope with, is my imagination
bent on the morbid decay of love,
is my faith underfoot
and you as someone other
who would steal the lyric and bone
from our good tomorrow.


Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three times nominated for Sundress Publications’ “Best of the Net” in 2015, she has over 1100 poems published in over 430 international journals. She has had sixteen books of her poetry published—seven collections and nine chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay… Visit her website!