Uche Ogbuji, “Sunlight stealing over the ragged edges of scar” -poetry


Lashed

Your insouciant lashes of black spiral,
Wound-up, cheeky veiling invades our opened lips,
Bluffed off high-brow, sweeps in to garnish tongue-tie-up.
Laughing, you marshal

Your insurgent springing of wild-grained impulse,
Breaching lives of / mouths of the poets, whispering salt,
Brushed off, rebuffed, bitten, yet still stuffing goosed
Klatsch with the carnal,

Ginseng-spiked polite-coiffed head-cock («upstairs»),
Gimlet-stirred blend of your hips with mine, as I
Pattern breaths to sip this deluge of embrace,
Pacing that last gasp.

Your wild coils grow themselves into my weirding
Voice, betraying all suaviter in modo,
Plucking out a fortiori claims to cool,
Fringe-framing the ruined mask.

Shyness ever follicle-foiled, recedes, what’s
Left’s the gag, insisting on grit, no grinned jest.

Swept along in white water I’m bent, buried,
Bound up in silk sedge.

***

Fire Next Time

It’s as if that vengeful god has called;
He’s up the sky soon to be burst with terrors
That serve us right for existential crime;
Not satisfied with nasty, brutish, short,
He’s fashioned out a fathomless device
And rigged it to the doomsday clock’s last chime.
They sing: ‘God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
Warning: No more water, but fire next time!’

What was our error? Skulls have sealed it out!
The cosmic imperfection marked by matter?
Revenge for particles that botched their rhyme?
Did that blemish in the firmament
Mean God spent six days cleaning up the mess?
Were snakes and apples wrath from lost sublime?
They sing: ‘God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
Warning: No more water, but fire next time!’

The tracts claim proof from a Russian borehole:
Shrieks of the dead awaiting late invention
To remind us hell prefers us in our prime;
And yet they talk of purifying fire—
Though Heracles was superman it took
The burning shirt to stage his gospel mime.
They sing: ‘God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
Warning: No more water, but fire next time!’

***

Zounds

Accumulation of stuffing,
Peep of royal blue background,
Opacity fifty per cent,
Diaphanous shift of Cybele,
Red for sacrifice, blue for nobility,
Tight knot of clinging zero,
And a fairy foreground of sandy flat;
Lumpy grid of leathered farm plots,
Fleshly insistence of cloud,
Numinous nubile in coy caress, withdrawal,
And endless depth once broken,
Sunlight stealing over the ragged edges of scar,
A pooling of blood into the crease,
A blinding upturn in the sea-surface cipher,
Inversion of the firmament,
Immediate the Aphrodite foam
Like forelocks on a young victim,
Immediate the fruit pulp
Like blanch of votive dress,
And even more immediate, the breach,
The cirrus to stratus to cumulus drop,
The telescoping to bone-hard ground,
Air drawn from the gut like a summoned salve,
The cloud-bound burn-curled
Like edge of injured flesh,
Abrupt tent of scabbed defense from sunbeam,
White blood cell pallor and serum yellow of storm top,
Stalactite chill of inexorable vector,
Raindrop of milky chalk descent.
Safeguard from indistinction below
Is the burst of your memory;
The splash of shrinking warmth in expectation,
intercession of your clay-grace divine,
God body indistinct in its aerie height,
From which eye ichor, blue sea of light,
From which duct salve of slate-shade rain
Low pressure dressing of gods’ own pain.
Ilu Igwe is my vehicle
Anyanwu my regard for you
And all fresh wholeness of my love—
Ala, approaching, overdue.

——————–Notes: Ilu Igwe, Anyanwu and AlaIgbo gods & goddesses of, respectively, heavens, sun and earth.

*
Brandy Lève Tôt

Crack of dawn by thunderous signal: Train comes
Soon and she unzips the burden of night time
Baggage, Spills herself into day, the first class
Carriage of moment.

***

Twit Jug

Twit twit twit, so rude the force,
Looted lineaments of torse:
That old tale of Philomel
Who from her cell, snared and hoarse,

Wove Tereus’ outrageous course,
Hark his hoop-cry of remorse,
Moan over the eaten child,
The line defiled, royal divorce.

Jug, jug, the sound sometime coarse,
In mythic context even worse,
From Thracian Greek to Cockney,
Songs for Procne haunt the gorse.

*
©Uche Ogbuji
photo©Stratos Fountoulis, Summer 2008

bio
Uche Ogbuji (@uogbuji) was born in Calabar, Nigeria. He lived, among other places, in Egypt and England before settling near Boulder, Colorado. A computer engineer and entrepreneur by trade, his collection of poetry, Ndewo, Colorado is forthcoming in 2014 from Kelsay Books. His poems, fusing Igbo culture, European Classicism, U.S. Mountain West setting, and Hip-Hop influences, have appeared widely, most recently in IthacaLit, String Poet, The Raintown Review, Featherlit, Outside In Journal, Don’t Just Sit There, Qarrtsiluni, and Leveler. He is editor at Kin Poetry Journal and The Nervous breakdown, founder and curator at the @ColoradoPoetry Twitter project.

Learn more about Uche’s forthcoming book!

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Andy N, «of a stuttering train» -poetry

 
Noir Scene

For only a few seconds
He was stood outside
Next to where she waited
In the heart of the moonlight,
Peeling back her unknown promises
Behind the hiss
Of a stuttering train
In a mystery of bleached hair,

And bright red lipstick
Tangled up in each others footsteps
On a uneven texture
In the mist
Before tossing her cigarette
Back into the
Middle of the river,

And with it
The last remaining evidence
Of the crime
They’d just committed
In black and white.

*
Refugee from the Past

The hills that followed her
To the edge of the waves
Followed her like a keyhole to a door
And the waves that kissed her feet
Reminded her of her long dead cat.

The stars turned into bush fires
Mirroring the blue like breeze
Before declaring war with the sunrise
And the sand stuck to her hair
Like a refugee from the past,

And the slight fog which disappeared
As she walked slowly into the waves
Washing away her demons,

Like a spider cutting away
From it’s own web.

*
Land’s End

Over the cliff I can see
The sea choking itself
Before scattering itself
Over the rocks.

I can see the sun
Jumping up and down
The tip of the horizon
And it’s rays
Drawing the waves in
Like mermaids,

Swaying across broken flowers
And dense, un-scattered sand
Before bleeding countlessly
On the bay
In a blood soaked sunset.

Arrow drive
At Land’s end.

*

©Andy N
photo©Stratos Fountoulis, Gare du Midi5 –Bruxelles, 2009

Andrew Nicholson has published in a variety of online and paper magazines such as Other Voices Poetry, Kritya, Thanalonline, Taj Mahal Review, Remark, Unquietdesperation, Spleen, Undone since 2006. He has published in several collections ‘Emergency Verse’ and ‘Robin Hood’, (Both published by therecusant) ‘Spleen’ and, ‘Best of Manchester Poets Volume 1’ and 3 (Puppywolf Press) to name but five.

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Supurna Dasgupta, «They say margin gives the privilege of freedom» -poetry

 
‘Old Masters’

The night History slept with Fate, Tragedy died.
At least through its other, history had been distanced, in comedy et al.
But in this unequal match- history stood triumphant, deified.

But History knows its cunning turncoat ways,
Knows that it will die with the many,
And live commemorated in singular eternal royal days.

When I read Auden I shivered
like one among a pack of newborn cubs just out of the caves;
For until then I was looking for Icarus in the painting, and looking, and not finding him.
Auden pointed him out- those dying calves raised out of the waves.
I thought of those two legs still thrashing against fate.
Is it because that artisan’s son dared not aspire?
Did Sun burn his wings, or history with destiny did mate?

They say margin gives the privilege of freedom.

What freedom, when nearly not seen?
What margin, when it keeps closing in?

*
Another ****poem

I had a blueprint in my hands-
A book of quotes that told me what to say and where to go.
But they stretched like a skein of threads of different shades
All knotted and wound about one lonely reel.
So I took to the paper-boats that recall Tempest, Helen, World War II
And the many affections therein.
Sat and chained them together in a string of paper-sails,
A veritable army
From Yeats’ launching of a thousand ships
To the elegy on my captain.

And I wrote a letter of your name on each boat,
Such that when they drown down below,
Swimming backwards and forwards they will coagulate and name you
Paddling in a puddle of mush.

Then the world will have a new blueprint:
Of boats and corals fusing fair in **** and war
In the said and unsaid
In the named and the unnamed
In time and without
Glowing through those fishbones from the riverbed.

*
(…)

death is mundane. it makes you pick up your phone first and become a grapevine curtly letting the circuit know. Next you switch the wifi on and send letters through the clouds across the seas. Then you sit and talk until you are too tired for words. And in the middle of the night in a dark room your phone flashes with a message from the dead. in that moment of mundane presence you apprehend a spirit. then you press buttons to call back and gather more tidbits- death, bills, body, cremation. then you gasp for water and air drowning in a bad nightmare. you sink and sink and hit the seabed and bury bits of you in the sand with the shells and forget poetry and think of stories.
it is only when you are sucked dry of words and poetry
That Death comes to you:
Silently
Making eyes burn and throb
Throats ache
And sleep flee.
That
is
when
Death
C(onnives)
O(gles)
M(asticates)
E(nters)
S(mirks)
.
Puts you in parenthesis.
Elliptically
To kill language.

*
©Supurna Dasgupta
photo © Stratos Fountoulis, «Paris café» -May 2012

*

Supurna Dasgupta, 22, is a student of English literature from Delhi University

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Bill Yarrow, “Expose those for whom freedom is greed” -poetry

 

THE CITY RISES IN ME

Cities! Cities! I have lived
in cities: habitual, arrogant,
cities circumscribed by cities,

on the alert for alacrity,
filled with false vitality,
rising revised out of history,

burgeoning cities bloated
with stoic pride, notorious
for hope, filled with ethical travail.

These cities, yes, but also
cities reticent, inferential,
embedded with desuetude.

A decade here, a decade there,
to what end? Position. Man needs
locus, not looseness, in his life.

What’s a road? A swift excuse
for a city at each end. What is
not a city? Nothing.

Socrates lived in a city.
So did Meyer Lansky. The city
rose against them. That’s what

cities do; they rise,
sometimes in us,
sometimes against us.

The city rises in me.
I hear it whisper.
I ignore its roar.

*
TARIFF HAPPY

Be subversive in your chores.
Knock at the door of indecency and demand to be let in.
Factor in your final calculations the weight of longing among the self-assured.
Do not fob off.
Keep a second set of books for Raphael.
Inculcate imprudence.
Wash with emotion, then with good soap.
Expose those for whom freedom is greed.
Scour the future so as to inure it.
Keep lists.
Change the air in your protocol every time you crave a tattoo.
Lock your knees before you do anything wily.
Wear linen at funerals.
Hands off the secret levers of the world.
Watch out for the kids of Narcissus.

*
THE BEAUTIFUL MERCEDES

No one who saw the beautiful Mercedes
in the summer of 1966 could ever forget her.
When she walked into Café Danglars, heads turned.

I was sent upstate for two years for passing unpopular
checks, but when I got out, I went back to the Café
just to catch a glimpse of her again. It took a month
but she did return. I was there that day, sitting at
the counter in my Bermuda shorts, sucking a 7-Up.

The screen door slowly opened. I was expecting the second
coming of perfection. Not quite. She was bloated like a
bagel. Her thighs looked like freezer bags filled with dimes.
There was no necklace anywhere that could fit around that neck.

Two years earlier, she was real money, a class investment.
When she ate up all her principal, well, we lost interest.

*
RESURRECTION HAPPENS

The doctor diagnosed it as walking pneumonia
but Cid knew better. He had (hadn’t he?)
suffered trauma when Marguerite died of AIDS.

Jesus, he was in a coma. Except he could see.
And hear. And feel. Walk around. And talk.
Damn it, it was. A kind of walking coma.

One where he could remember but not
exactly remember, communicate but not really
communicate, exist but not fully exist.

Then one day all the symptoms just vanished.
He stopped using, got his CDL, drove to Reno,
married a dealer, agreed to raise her kid.

It’s possible to forgive the past its trespasses
stop seeing the future as a threat, reimagine
the present as a goal. Yes, resurrection happens.

*

© Bill Yarrow
Photo © Stratos Fountoulis, “Plateia Derveni, August 2011”

Bill Yarrow is the author of Pointed Sentences, a full-length collection of poems published by BlazeVOX in 2012 and two chapbooks–Wrench published by Erbacce Press in 2009 and Fourteen, published by Naked Mannekin Press in 2011. He has been published in many print and online journals including Poetry International, PANK, Thrush, DIAGRAM, Contrary, and RHINO. He is a Professor of English at Joliet Junior College where he teaches creative writing, film, and Shakespeare, all online. Two chapbooks (Twenty from MadHat Press and Incompetent Translations and Inept Haiku from Červená Barva Press) are forthcoming in 2013.

Felino A. Soriano, “… in the apparitional momentum of memory” -poetry

from Of isolated limning

of Wednesday, the oddity of this summer’s rain becoming subsequent

I found thunder
its thickened wrap in
the apparitional momentum of memory——————-when
whole fruition exercises space into
wealth and the body’s building of
tonal silences ——————————————- this
surprise of amalgamated loudness
reinvents angles’
and
—-their
————-fundamental
—-exposure to
positional freedom of fear-articulation of
physiognomy’s vocal
clarification

*
of watching the mother-daughter mirror’s interaction

in the silent combing a hand
commits solace, tooth-silk
————-slide
afterward the tonal clarity
of reflection rests
in the purpose of self’s
time of added
interactions

*
an endeavor of watching a contour

when rising acclimates its meaning
beyond sun and the body of becoming

a tiredness must rest across page and plural
of the unmarked lassitude

this rest burgeons beyond fiction of the
unbelieving and

casts width of a moment’s quickened disposition
lasting then when or if favor is in the mood

moderating a glass’ shard mixture of sharpened
shaped light, the devotional fixation of light,

insinuating all interaction oscillates, asking when
motion invents an altered interrogation

*
© Felino A. Soriano
Photo © Stratos Fountoulis, «Polytechneio, 2009» -Athens.Gr. 

Felino A. Soriano is the founding editor and publisher of Counterexample Poetics, an online journal of experimental artistry, and the founder of Differentia Press, an electronic-book press dedicated to publishing experimental poetry. He is also a contributing editor at Sugar Mule.
Over 4,100 of his poems have been accepted for publication in over 500 online and print journals since 2006, including experiential-experimental-literature, BlazeVOX, 3:AM, Humanimalz Literary Journal, indefinite space, Full of Crow, Otoliths, Clockwise Cat, Unlikely 2.0, and others. Also, he has 60 print and electronic collections of poetry accepted for publication since January, 2008, including Extolment in the praising exhalation of jazz (Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2013), the collaborative volume with poet, Heller Levinson and visual artist, Linda Lynch, Hinge Trio (La Alameda Press, 2012) and rhythm:s (Fowlpox Press, 2012).

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Patrick Lodge, “under the painted gaze of long dead bishops and saints” -poetry

 
VESPERS AT AGIOS CHARALAMBOS

At the top of the village, at the top of the day,
the caldera below is a cooling skillet in the sinking sun.
In Agios Charalambos a white-robed priest flits
between ikons, lighting the lamps.

Each gutter and flare of candle flame
reveals miracles performed anew:
hollow-eyed and churlish a corpse is raised to a second chance,
a dragon flinches before Agios Georgio’s sword.
Between lectern and ikonostasis,
word and flesh,
the priest chants this joyful mourning of the dying day
eleison…eleison…eleison…

He looks at me, narrow-eyed and questing;
“Catholiki”, I mouth, as if this explains anything
about our shared presence here; we are
priest, chanters and people together.
Call and response have elided, have become one
under the painted gaze of long dead bishops and saints

A single bell chimes, the so und palpable,
a measuring–rod for the space between silences.
My steps echo its rhythm into the yard,
down the cobbled slope to the village;
For the congregation below the day is ending
in bars and tavernas,
in hopes of wonders to be worked
before next day break.

*
TRISAGION

1
Tiresias the seer comes towards me,
stands in sun-faded red flowered dress,
transparent bag stuffed
with gleanings of street and shore.
He holds out a present of driftwood
bleached and salty, entwined like albino snakes.
Tells me what the birds have said today,
in couplets I cannot understand;
reclaiming this temple mound

from saints and sinners,
he dances off.

2
In the Café Caryatids an old man rests,
chair tilted in the doorway.
He sat there yesterday,
will be there tomorrow.
Teeth and pullover holed and brown,
he stares mute at the road,
a drone of tourists passing.
Bacchants and satyrs
they follow the umbrella thyrsos
snake through café chairs
and shop front T-shirts,
short-stepping in rhythm after a guide;
yellow tights, black ankle boots,
she is a queen,
finding honey in the columns and slabs
littering the temple site of Apollo.
The resid ue, a carved henge,
faces westwards, leads nowhere now,
admits to nothing – a lizard’s eye
unblinking red, through which
shutters click and cameras flash;
the moment when light folds
into darkness remains elusive.

3
The kouros at Apollonas reclines obtuse against the hillside,
breathes out asphodels in wave-froth to the edge of the cliff.
Tourists climb and slither in search of the shot
to validate memory’s convivial hyperbole.
Unrealised Dionysus, a marble moraine,
a black smudge against the darker quarry wall,
suffers them; but dreams of standing free of this rock umbilical –
the headland a plinth floating between sea and bluer sky,
arms raised in welcome to sail and oar.

When the gods went, villagers dropped hammers,
stopped chipping against the hard grain
returned to their goats and groves – their piss-poor soil.
Those terraces, tribal scars cut into the mountain-sides,
in turn abandoned for easier fleeces
each Summer boat disgorged;
a new mythology of excess is today’s orthodoxy.
Dionysus, be content to lie,
weeping ferns into the pockmark pools.

*
 
THE LOOKY-LOOKY MEN

You can’t see the looky-looky men;
they are translucent, a slight
disturbance of light at table edge,
through which the bay can still be seen.

Shadow figures on clockwork rounds,
they flip-flop ceaselessly around tourist
cafes and beaches like waves rolling in from
Africa to break against a barren shore.

Wound up in some warehouse, circuited,
set off, staggered; each convinced they will
sell something – blinkered to the one a few
tables on, the one a few tables behind.

Specialists in cheap tat – headband
torches, fake DVDs, plastic souvenirs
that glow malevolently green in the dark –
their black faces take on a grave mien.

These men speak but are not heard;
“good stuff, looky looky, give best price”.
Knock off Prada, Chanel, Vuitton hang off
arms and neck dragging down like shackles.

Thousand yard stares quarantine them; they
learn a thousand ways of saying no. Still,
pour another glass of wine, fork the Caesar
salad, admire the view from the terrace.

***

© Patrick Lodge
© Santorini Caldera, photo by Josh Trefethen

bio

Patrick Lodge was born in Wales, lives in Yorkshire and travels on an Irish passport. He travels as much as he can and his poems are inspired by visits to many countries. He does not, though, write travel poems as Patrick uses the dislocation produced by travel to reflect his own displacements of growing up, family life and adult relationships – his own search for an understanding of a “home” that might be lived in comfortably and at ease. His prizewinning poems – which have been published in magazines and anthologies in Australia, New Zealand, USA, Wales and England – have been described as enjoyable for their relish of language and their ample sense of what poetry might accommodate. Often the poems work across a variety of deeper meanings, images and allusions which underwrite the commitment to emotional honesty. The poems have a wide range of subject matter embracing memories of seaside picnics as a child, immigrant deaths, cremations, his Irish roots, working as a tea-boy, convict settlements in Australia and holidays in Italy, Greece and, Spain. Always though he comes back to the same question – how am I different from when I started off and does it matter? His debut collection – An Anniversary Of Flight – is published by Valley Press in October 2013.

Michael Magee, “In this twilight, he waxed and waned the beard that weighed him down” -poetry

 
ODYSSEUS AND THE ECLIPSE
Homecoming of Odysseus may have been in Eclipse.”
The New York Times

As Odysseus traveled, the world
got darker
all along the path of his eclipse
evening deepened
left in tatters all the worse
his warrior’s heart was broken.

No longer beating for war
he dreamed of Penelope, Telemachus
his only son
his words unstrung, his ship and crew
destroyed
he wandered the Aegean like a swallow
off its course.

Looking for stars to guide him
his bribed, borrowed and battered crew
cut loose
across the Ionian sea with a new moon
to mark this verse.
Come stay awhile to hear my sorrow.

Except for war Odysseus would be home
no more ambrosia, no more Circe
no more siren-song,or the giant Cyclops
not on the rocks, just a memory
meandering his way home to Ithaca.

The birds no longer sang
their Mixolydian melodies, depressed
at so many ill omens, prophecy
that filled him with dread
a penumbra filled his head
craving,his heart ached.

In this twilight, he waxed and waned
the beard that weighed him down
his hair filled with eels,
eyes always staring ahead
toward a flat-screen horizon.

ODYSSEUS ON HYDRA

On a Greek Island floating
in the Saronic gulf
the hydra-headed monster
has been replaced by windmills
and the donkeys bray to us at sunrise.

Tourists swim like sea-turtles,
sunning themselves naked
on the rocks while below
the white walls of Hydra tell us
we have all been lost.

Bouginavillea follows us
flourish of the slipper parade at dusk,
dolphins, lovers of Zeus
sport in the sea, banished
long ago by Hera.

While grey-eyed Pallas Athena still
watches, patron of Athens to keep
us from falling overboard as we ride
on the Flying Dolphin.

I’ve come here wanting to drift
across the Peloponnesus
no does to write, no loom to mend,
so I’m not ready to be found out yet.
Still looking for a few good goddesses.

ODYSSEUS AT REST

I sit in my seaweed chair
looking out the window
daydreaming about Circe,
my lost shipmates, the Cyclops.

Since I have slain the suitors
Penelope won’t speak to me,
my loyal dog died of happiness
and Telemachus has gone back to Rodos.

While I sleep deep in my cups
wish only for Lethe or Crete.
I am no longer seasick.
I dream creme-de-menthe.

My clothes tumble dry
in the sunlight. I long for
another journey. With my webbed
hands I close this book.

*

© Michael Magee
Photo ©Stratos Fountoulis “A stadium stroll”, Athens, 2011

Laura Cracknell, poetry

A pickle of passion 

It’s my problem, not yours.
I’d hate to be the cause
of a dispute, or a row.

«What a cow!»
I can hear you cry,
but why
me?

I’m thinking,
sinking
in my own thoughts-again;

of men,
of the unobtainable,
inconceivable.

Unbelievable,

the audacity!
My own dignity
is at stake.

My imagination
keeps me awake
with reveries
of him
and me-
which will ever be.

Unless…

No, wait that’s just
Wrong. On
oh
So
Many
Levels.

But I’d revel,
In your company,
In your arms

Like she does
Like she can
and will do.

So, it’s my problem,
not yours.
Take your smiling eyes of blue,

unaware that you,
are the cause of my wandering mind.
I’m sure I’ll find, someone like you

But not you…ever.

*
Siren 

She graces the waves,
The currents, the cliff-edge
And the gorge.

The sun gleams down
on her glistening skin
and her fin.

Her hair, flaxen, and flaccid
Rolls down
Her torso,

Sweeps and swathes
As she bathes and
Basks in the embracing sun.

No feet, but fin
to glide her in
to the water before her.

Her song, a toxic yet saintly serenade:
from the heart
mesmerizes all within range:

Beyond her, the horizon,
The blood-stained skies
And gulls fleeing,

screeching warning cries.
On her rocks,
Reeling in the unsuspecting
Sailors .

Her voice is a weapon,
A sultry sweet haven
For them to be entranced in
It’s a risk they take without thinking

Transfixed, they see her, without blinking
singing baiting, preening and waiting
unaware of the web which she is spinning.

The men and their boats, crashing into the rocks,
Steered by their cocks and can’t believe the cataclysm ahead.

Why couldn’t they steer away instead?
Instead to their death, from one stone to another,

They’ll die together as the crew whose curiosity grew, the closer they gained to the siren on the rock of grey-blue.

For whomever dares sail on the river of the Rhein , they too should be warned of their fate in due time,

Should they hear a honey voice
calling them nigh,
Be cautious,

be careful
it may be the Siren of the Rhein;
the lovely Lorelei.

***

©Laura Cracknell
Photo© Stratos Fountoulis «Druivenfestival Hoeilaart, 2012»