Monday, March 30, 2015

Richard King Perkins II: To Blur The Night And The Fear Of Number #13


 I fall asleep in a wreath of pain.
 The ground is compressing like
 greedy hands, green-grey as
 a split avocado left overnight
 on the kitchen island. Disbelievers
 in my injury quickly become
 haters. I am miserable. Try not
 to notice my stammering. It is
 encoded with a message meant
 for someone else’s relief. The
 ground responds by ignoring me

Black Harvest

 I could be a philanthropist, a giving woman, a patron;
 if I released the poor children in my palms
 and freely gave the strychnine welling in my eyes
 should it ever left my purse string lids.
 Little Luke with glasses tried running from me at first,
 breaking all the rules
 of our cost/benefit arrangement.
 Starving in my three and a half car garage
 eating unaccounted ants creeping across the floor;
 an education beyond price and value.
 Crying in the thick dust—getting punched by bigger kids;
 doesn’t want to tangle with their cold lashes.
 And if he doesn’t watch the little ones,
 he won’t see that danger when it comes.
 Little Luke with glasses loses his easy personality.
 He’s a rich woman’s dying child; kind of mine,
 and he’s afraid of the music fluting through the air.
 He’s a poorly given thing
 and his will is almost gone.
 He’s the descendant of black cats and triskaidekaphobia
 trying so hard not to send his fourth mother
 deeper into the mire of a black harvest cornfield.

 Blur the Night

 Blur the night when I last forgot
 that I was imaginary.

 So what if I blurred the night
 when I first gave in to the certainty
 that dying was real but momentary?

 And the night old man Kenton
 gave me a toolbox of hasps and files
 and I laughed on the rooftops
 because it hurt so much either way.

 And that it made me sadder than
 a swan twisting its own neck to breaking.

 And when towheaded Sarah heard me
 strangling myself, she asked me to
 go away and took back her salutations
 and native song. Such cruelty.

 I still remember the greeting—
 her hazel eyes holding back
 six possible futures
 and the promise of a danse macabre.

Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL with his wife Vickie and daughter Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee whose work has appeared in hundreds of publications including The Louisiana Review, Bluestem, Emrys Journal, Sierra Nevada Review, Two Thirds North, The Red Cedar Review and The William and Mary Review. He has poems forthcoming in the Roanoke Review, The Alembic and Milkfist. His poem “Distillery of the Sun” was awarded second place in the 2014 Bacopa Literary Review poetry contest.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

John Grey--Lucid Among Snow and Snakes--Do Not Ask If He Or She Still Loves You....


Kitchen table. Mid-January.
Sugar dissolves in coffee.
Sweetens the bitterness.

Your face. Your mouth.
They aren't going to the same lengths any more.
They're content to occasionally toss out an opinion.

Snow smothers the yard and beyond.
It's day out but it creeps around like darkness.
It's as if we haven't woken yet.
As if life is one long delayed reaction to being born.

I will need to make tracks in that snow.
The perfect surface can't last forever.

I have a job to do.
Chop wood. Sweep up the shadows.
You will merely muse.
Spend the day basically philosophical.

I’ll be up to my knees in that white stuff.
It turns the simplest sprint into a marathon.
I will not ask myself
"Do you still love me?"
Not with the wind so bitter.
Not with the details buried,
the temperature imprudent.


night of the roach invasion
brown army
your disgust yanked tight,
our sacred goods profaned -
my love of all living things giving ground
even before the first spray,
the volley of rolled-up newspaper -

kitchen tiles like living mosaics -
I stomped,
you swatted -
an hour's glimpse at what we're both prepared to do

we swept up the bodies -
you're all invited to our house-warming party -
just picture the battles behind all this -
imagine the brooms.


Faint hissing from an unknown path;
a snake - the hunger of the body
that never questions.

I close my eyes.
I listen. I hear.
The snake moves its secret mass.
In tall grass, I hail shudder and glide.

Don't worry.
I won't give you away.
Besides, you grip me between your jaws.
You show me glimpses
of the long dark tunnel to your stomach,
I feel your breath,
the acids of down below.

So let our shared compassion on this night
relax the both of us.
Your slither is no dagger.
My long blue shadow bears no axe.

John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in Oyez Review, Rockhurst Review and Spindrift with work upcoming in New Plains Review, Big Muddy Review, Willow Review and Louisiana Literature.   

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Anne Whitehouse--Loosening the Phylactery, But Keeping the Sanctity


Cooking berries with sugar,
I stand over a hot stove on a hot day.
Steam of summer’s sweet essence
curls up my nostrils.

I stir my jam,
and in the mind’s inner eye
I see a procession
of brightly-colored gliders
like human butterflies
climbing the thermals
over Brace Field,
soaring over Oblong Valley,

where the crickets deepen their song
as the morning advances,
and fields of corn and hay
are growing dark and ripening.
Vines tangle in the wetlands,
fireflies glimmer after twilight,
and the deer are watchful.

High in the Green Mountains,
surrounded by forest, open to the sky,
underground springs feed the crystal lake.
On the surface swims a loon.
We float on our backs,
gazing at the clouds and sky,
cradled by water caressing us like silk.

Here, where the forest keeps the secrets
of our younger selves.


I remember how Cora said fiercely,
concerned for her daughter,
“Well, her mother has cancer,”
as if it were her failing
instead of affliction.
The family tragedy,
her brother’s malady,
was turning her bones
to cottage cheese.
Her skeleton self-destructed,
but her spirit soared far away
to the Rockies and the Sierras,
to Florence, Paris, and Rome.
“Cora was fun, and I was along
for the ride,” said her husband
of the only non-lawyer
who’d bested him in argument.
She knew how to respond
to a challenge,
ruthlessly rallying her forces
with chemotherapy’s
destructive weapons.
But God had other plans.
And her daughter sat at the shiva 
with bent head bearing her grief,
her long legs twisted around each other,
her feet huddled for comfort
in fuzzy slippers.


After the storm passed,
and the rain stopped,
and the wind at last died down,
night fell, warm, velvety,
and moonless.
                        In the morning,
the sun gilded all it touched
in cleansed and glistening air,
and the plants of the earth
sprang back to life.
                        Lying about
were fallen trees and broken branches,
downed power lines and wrecked buildings.
The waters no longer raged,
the floods were receding.
We went about repairing the damage,
finding what was essential,
how to survive.


The decisive moment, it is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms, which gives that event its proper expression.
                                                                                    -Henri Cartier-Bresson

On a glorious June evening
after the retrospective exhibit
of Cartier-Bresson’s world-spanning art,
I strolled into Central Park,
and left the path to climb the rock.

Below me, a woman approached the arch under a bridge
trailing two leashes connected to twin beagles.
The heightened perspective, the swirls of motion
made a picture Henri might have taken.

Early summer light, bright but not blinding,
warm but not hot. It went through me,
tinting my mind like wine through water.

My vision created frames as I walked,
keeping violent emotions at bay,
where what seems threatening
can be studied from an inner distance,
like the way one walks around a sculpture
to view it from all angles.

No matter how tenuous I think are the ties
that bind me to the miserable past,
I am not deceived;
heartstrings can be played on,
and twist and tighten
at a moment’s notice,
like a devilish phylactery
strangling the life out of me.

Surprising the pain that endures
or perhaps not strange—
enmeshed in desperate, unequal trials
I had no chance of winning,
I buried my feelings so deep
I couldn’t find them
and turned my heart to stone,
that slowly is softening.

Anne Whitehouse is the author of five poetry collections—THE SURVEYOR’S HAND, BLESSINGS AND CURSES, BEAR IN MIND, ONE SUNDAY MORNING, and THE REFRAIN, as well as a novel, FALL LOVE. I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, and live in New York City. My poetry, fiction, reviews, and articles are published widely. www.annewhitehouse.com

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Christina Murphy: Palominos by Starlight



an affirmation originating in starlight
and sometimes staying all night

the here and now from the then and there—
unified, more or less, or flying

away in the wind, a structure of time
situated in a puzzle of monumental changes


metallic city weather, halos on the pavement;
the simple remorse of torrential rain cresting

identity adds up the losses merging into
the long blue hum of a highway dawn

a deserted pasture in morning light, a quiet breeze
suggesting anything, even freedom, might be possible


The false edges of sympathy frequently ask questions and map the scene of the accident. The old painter’s still life obscures the angels in the background like kewpie dolls, ripe for the kissing.

Faith is glossy and durable and spins both ways on a moment’s notice. If you ride a palomino into the wilderness, you might mix champagne with moonlight and drink golden tears.

No matter how many times wrought iron circles offer sanctuary, only anomalies of form and spirit will be protected.

Resist the urge to gaze into glistening water. The glass slipper in the wishing well is seldom the answer to unanswered prayers.

Christina Murphy’s poetry is an exploration of consciousness as subjective experience, and her poems appear in a wide range of journals and anthologies, including, in PANK, La Fovea, Dali’s Lovechild, and Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, and in the anthologies Let the Sea Find its Edges and Remaking Moby-Dick. Her work has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and for the Best of the Net Anthology.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Joey Madia, Ornithomancer Masquerading as Playwright

Soul Sutra

Hunkered down
In the mid-winter clay
My soul aligns
With the fire-pit flame.

 A Poem for Proserpines

The ragged stone angel
patiently at prayer
looks homeward
and away
from the patiently prowling wolf
rabid at her feet.

Its psychic stare
no longer piercing
its slack-jawed patty-cake
within the sanctuary
of her plump
and plastered

She moans in Heaven's rapture



ever, ever sighing.

Then sighing

She turns her marble gaze
to the Proserpines
of pomegranates.

To the Beatrices and Magadalens
to the Annabels and Helens
(only Goethe's—
never Faust's)

To the Lolitas and Lauras
nursing sanguine wounds.

She flutters her pitted, seeded wings
in the subtle motions of stone
and gazes onward
toward the temple of the Mystics
New and barely known.

Where Anastasia awakens
to the mind-locked remembrance
of a mad, en-trancing monk
tracing whispered mantras
upon her sanguine thighs.

Is she weeping for the child?
Will the child weep for her?

Alchemy IV 

Passage thru to yellow shores.
Coves resplendent. Irregular. Transcendent.

A traveler on island plains awakes.
He will once again arise, un-nesting the new mystics—
a baptism in branches—
Elliptical. Concealed. Re-formed.

Borne on high, the eagled, ancient hawk-rite
dances a glittered shaman’s trance.
Icarus in a wax stance.
Constructing molten mantra magic for the meek ones,
Westward falling.

The candles which they lit.

Worlds within a carbon tip.

Clean to burn.


Messengers carry the birth words on smoke wings
to the far-earth islands, seeking new rhythms,
tribal meanings.
Rituals elaborate. Convex. Tantric
in their bean/corn/cocoa symbologies.

The simplicity of birth
 is a breath    a wish      a death.

Kali, in her manner, lends the love blade to carve the optic wound—
(a thought     a bird      a groove).
Imbedded/emplaced remains embrace brain-game embolisms,
fraying in the air—
Wistful and Alone.

Fast, but eat the Logos.
There is no scent but cinnamon;
no fatted calf
but you, yourself, sacrificed.

The tangy sting we taste is winter ginger’s folly.

Gone at last are the sickly, whimsical wishes of elder enemy kings.
The Regent’s humble design is neatly knotted pine—

Resplendent. Irregular. Transcendent.


The stone road offers clues to sacral, yellow shores.

A crow’s mask guides the mast.

Soft, to pay for passage.

Time now to Embark.

Joey Madia is a teaching-artist, writer, director, and actor. His poetry, essays, and short stories have been widely published and have earned him several awards. He is the Artistic Director/Resident Playwright of Seven Stories Theatre Company, Inc. (which just celebrated its tenth anniversary) and Resident Playwright at Youth Stages, LLC. Although he has written several main stage musicals and dramas, he specializes in social justice theatre and participatory plays for youth. His 17 plays for young audiences have been produced across the United States and he has two plays in the Dramatic Publishing catalog. He is the author of four books on using theatre in the classroom (The Stage Learning Series, Accompany Publishing, 2007). He has written and performed pieces about Civil War captains Louis Emilio and Thomas Maulsby and is a Chautauqua Scholar for Voices from the Earth, which does symposia and performances on the African American experience in the Civil War.  As a teaching-artist he has taught and mentored thousands of students in both theatre and creative writing and has spoken at many schools and national conferences. He has worked with organizations including The Epilepsy Foundation of NJ and Camp NOVA to bring theatre to students with disabilities and has won three writing awards from Very Special Arts of NJ. He has appeared in or directed over 100 plays and in a dozen projects on camera, including the 2014 remake of White Zombie. His first novel, Jester-Knight, was published in February 2009 (New Mystics Enterprises). His second novel, Minor Confessions of an Angel Falling Upward was published in September 2012 (Burning Bulb Publishing). He is a book and music reviewer and the founding editor of www.newmystics.com, a literary site.