Fall/Winter 2017/2018: Memento Mori

fall winter 2017 2018 cover

Poetry for Disaster Relief (September 2017)

Josh Medsker will be reading the poems posted to the current Fall/Winter 2017/2018 issue in September 2017. We got talking about how poetry does nothing and so came up with this collaboration to make a donation fund for disaster relief. When Josh eventually makes the donation he will post a receipt so you know exactly where your money goes.

The first poetry reading was posted on Facebook on Tues, 5 September 2017, 4pm (Eastern Standard Time). We are posting the poetry reading links as and when they happen. The links are provided below. Stay tuned.

Josh Medsker Reading Poems.

Josh reading poems by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Josh reading poems by Marilyn Braendeholm, Debi Swim and Barbara Young

Josh reading poems by Martin Willitts Jr and Irene Toh

Josh reading poems by Dah

Josh reading poems by Howie Good

You may donate here.

A poem will be posted daily on this site in September 2017. (Keep submitting!) You can like our Facebook page to keep track of the postings and of the poem readings by Josh.

Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song;
–Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress”

Memento mori–you know what it means. Transitory things. Perishable people. When you are in transit you seem to fit into some kind of plan but then find yourself in an empty space. In a parking lot. Sitting on a staircase in the middle of a social event. On a park bench under a chestnut tree. There’re really lots of empty spaces in between when you seem to be waiting for something or someone. Forever waiting.

On a mortal note, you’ve noticed too, “the body’s decrease/Of power and repair as these begin/The ultimate indications of old age.” (A D Hope, “Memento Mori”). When I was thirty I wrote about my mother’s ageing lament, noticing her slower gait, graying hair, spots and all. And tried to mythologize. Well now I am the exact same age that my mother was at the time of writing. Time’s winged chariot, kiss my ass!

Where did all the time go?

All the more then, shouldn’t it be that, as Andrew Marvell said, “the last age should show your heart”? We are bound to our hearts. That is truth. Back to Marvell’s famous first line.

“Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.’

Time enough to love. We still have time, and if we cared not for Marvell’s conceit, then even to be coy, awaiting love to ripen.

So by all means write about love. Write about happiness in the living. Because existence is predicated on life and death. What is life if we’ve not loved? What is life’s meaning if we do not die? What is death if not the end of living? And the end of writing, if I may boldly add. If you’re entranced by an author’s work, and had secretly read all her work, you’d weep when the said author has died. I know I did, read a postage stamp size of her obituary, and wept. Isn’t it by reading that we kind of enter another person’s soul? Pray, let me enter your soul.

Love, it would appear, is the ageless thing. If love is redemption where does it come from? Are there different kinds of adulthood other than the standard romance/sex/happily ever after? Why is that the main narrative? Surely there are other sorts of narratives, romantic or otherwise, that are equally true. Are you even going to surface them? Write about places where people find solace. What about the lack of solace, the limits of love?

And then there’s God, to whom most will eternally cling to. How do you deal with the concept of God, and are there other ways of godliness? Write about the mystery that is at the heart of human existence.

And then there’s eternity itself. Surely it’s not a “desert” as Marvell put it?
What is eternity, dear poets? Can eternity exist if there’s no concept of mortality? Or the converse, what is mortality without the concept of eternity? Are these purely rhetorical questions, like a blast of hot air?

On that mighty dubious note, let your mythologizing begin then.

Submissions are open for the Fall/Winter 2017/2018 issue. Closing date: 25 February 2018. Please read our submission guidelines before submitting.

Selected poems will be posted on this site from September 2017 to February 2018.

Our journal has a sister site, Red Wolf Poems. You are encouraged to write to the prompts over at the site, if you so wish.

Irene Toh & Tawnya Smith
Fall/Winter 2017/2018 Editors
Red Wolf Journal


Motivation, by Christopher Hileman

by Christopher Hileman

I’m certainly not
one who gives two fucks about
who likes poetry
and who doesn’t or
even care much who might read
some scrawl of my heart.
Very few acknowledge
passing through my collections
and that’s fine with me.

I write because there’s
no freaking choice. My heart aches
if I don’t write some
most days and my brain
starts spilling out my damn ears,
staining my tee shirts
on my left shoulder
above the hole where my heart
used to lurk before.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 329.

Christopher Hileman moved to Oregon in 1973. He has retired to live on the volcanic bluff overlooking Willamette Falls in Oregon City, Oregon. He ascends the stairs from his basement digs to improvise on his Yamaha keyboard or the house Playel grand when the calico cat releases him from below. The part-Irish Wolfhound here likes him.

wise audiences, by Sergio A. Ortiz

wise audiences
by Sergio A. Ortiz

when you’re inside me
i don’t know if you laugh

or if you come from boredom
if your tongue freshens

or arrives from fever
i don’t know

if what you search for
on weekends exists inside me

i know life stretched out
beneath your abs

is the same as snakes
and concurrent solitudes

that correspond to the twinkling
light where I can see you

Sergio A. Ortiz is a two-time Pushcart nominee, a four-time Best of the Web nominee, and 2016 Best of the Net nominee. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Loch Raven Review, Drunk Monkeys, Algebra Of Owls, Free State Review, and The Paragon Journal. He is currently working on his first full-length collection of poems, Elephant Graveyard.

C’est la meme chose, by Joseph M. Felser

C’est la meme chose
by Joseph M. Felser

No sun
turns moon
I forget
to remember
your face
to tears
your fire
warms me
in time

Process notes: One of my chief inspirations (apart from personal experience) is the philosophical theme of the unity or dynamic complementarity of opposites. Apart from Lao Tzu and the Taoist view of Yin and Yang, quantum physics etc., two of my sources in particular are Heraclitus and Hermann Hesse. In one of my favorite Hesse novels, Narcissus and Goldmund, in a key passage, Narcissus tells Goldmund: “We are sun and moon, dear friend: we are sea and land . . . each the other’s opposite and complement.” In Heraclitus this is the concept of enantiodromia: “It is one and the same thing to be living or dead, awake or asleep, young or old. The former aspect I each case becomes the latter, and the latter again the former, by sudden unexpected reversal.” (logion 113)

Joseph M. Felser is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Boston University, and received his Ph.D. in philosophy from The University of Chicago. On the faculty at Kingsborough Community College/CUNY in Brooklyn since 1997, he is on the Board of Directors of the renowned Monroe Institute (Faber, VA), the author of two non-fiction books, The Way Back to Paradise (2005) and The Myth of the Great Ending (2011) as well as numerous articles published in both popular and scholarly journals. He recently began writing poetry.

Lover’s Tale, by Arthur Lamar Mitchell

Lover’s Tale
by Arthur Lamar Mitchell

   Early evening in the town
      A light rain falls
   On boulevards renown,
Famous sights, painted dolls.

   Lovers stroll hand in hand,
        And under a leafy tree
Hear distant strains of a band,
      They pause and kiss,
      To hold this moment
Uncomplicated bliss.

   On winding streets,
            music begins to fade
The evening star appears
        But no false promise made
   Before the dawn, growing fears:
                  Together in victory,
                                  Alone in defeat.

            As lovers often torn apart,
A memory of love, though fleet
Despite passions that rule the heart.
            All the glories dimmed by years,
   When a little tune resurrects buried tears.

Arthur Lamar Mitchell’s poems have been set to music for voice, and by several composers, and performed by small groups to orchestra. He composed all lyrics for a environmental concept album – Garden of Eden. Recent poems have been published in Remembered Arts, Winterwolf, and Nature Writing.

What to Eat When Someone Dies, by Howie Good

What to Eat When Someone Dies
by Howie Good

I’m really having a hard time understanding today right now. None of us even tried to step outside. Dave put a shotgun to his chest so we could study his brain. I didn’t like him staring at me. He often talked to himself. Now we’re kind of like: How do we know if he was telling the truth or not? I’m not a big fan of dialogue. What I fill it with will only be known when it comes spilling out. People are left wondering if it’s going to be a disaster. There will be others out there who will make connections we haven’t seen. To be honest, we just cook bacon and eggs. But sometimes you need bacon and eggs.

Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize for Poetry from Thoughtcrime Press. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.

The Detritus of Dreams, by Howie Good

The Detritus of Dreams
by Howie Good

You probably won’t look like the real you.
Chances are you’ll be in somewhat of a panic.
That’s why you must educate your nerves.
You won’t know what you’re breathing.
You won’t know what’s in your house.
Check that the doors and windows are locked.
Start naming the things in the room.
Think, “Hahaha that’s so funny!”
and then hope something like the thought
“OMFG what am I laughing at?” occurs to you.

Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize for Poetry from Thoughtcrime Press. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.

Theater Of The Void, by Howie Good

Theater Of The Void
by Howie Good

There was a lot of screaming and praying to Jesus. I guess I’m very confused about why this scene. What might make sense in one place might not be recommended in another. It was all night of slam, bang, boom. It bubbled up from the doors, seeped in from the windows. People always want to know is it climate change or is it not? You just look around and see things are totally gone. I’m composing, if not music, sounds like waves on the beach or perhaps wind in the forest.
At one point I couldn’t see for about five minutes. It was the first time that I’ve lost everything. I just let everything go. We don’t know where we are going to sleep tonight. We don’t know anything. The only thing we all cared about was the sun, the moon, and the sky. These are the things that we need to make sure we have in place. I dream of standing ovations. First thing Monday morning, I want to find out why.
All the shops are empty. What’s disappearing in front of our eyes is the history of this terrible war. It’s like a tornado went in and swept everything up. I was shocked. I didn’t think it would happen. Even birds and animals have nowhere to drink water. I saw blood coming out of the seal. People started yelling “Shark!” They told us to keep inside, to be ready for anything. It’s had me spooked for years. Now we’re also worried about our houses blowing up. You know how they say you hear the train noise? I heard it.

Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize for Poetry from Thoughtcrime Press. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.

The Really Bad Stuff, by Howie Good

The Really Bad Stuff
by Howie Good

I’ve seen the really bad stuff on television. But actually experience it? No. Never. I’m not used to this. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Everything is thrown everywhere. We don’t have anything to stop it. I just feel so sad and empty. She was brought to the hospital in the bed of a dump truck, soaking wet. You press a button, an alarm goes off. A lot of laughter, crying, yelling, tears. So few seem to pay any attention. I don’t care what they do as long as fire doesn’t start coming out the windows.

Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize for Poetry from Thoughtcrime Press. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.

Sex Without Love Is Just Exercise, by Howie Good

Sex Without Love Is Just Exercise
by Howie Good

There was
an explosion
so loud
that it shook
our insides
and all
the windows
burst out.

isn’t it?

But unless
the island
is sinking
into the ocean,
I think
I’ve made
my point.

Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize for Poetry from Thoughtcrime Press. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.

Pulsar, by Dah

by Dah

‘We can only be
as close as we can touch
until the Eye
stares, until the Eye
finds us, again’

I look through the grille
of bare trees
through the mineshafts
of shadows

then you say:
‘The Eye finds its way
when the sun sets its mouth
to earth’

I am motionless
like a broken shell

You continue:
‘I believe that
we are at the beginning and
in this deadly universe
we are nothing sacred nothing
more than matter caught
in a surge of light

Then you whisper:
‘You can make me happy
but it won’t change the way I feel’

I finish another night
without tears or repentance
without promises or sleep
watching stars traveling south
your black hair
bobbing and bending
like the weight of crows
on thin branches

your twin nipples glowing, expanding
pulsing, like dark radiation,
the morning-milk of kisses
flooding my mouth

Dah’s forthcoming fifth poetry book is due in late-spring 2018 from Transcendent Zero Press. His poems have been published in the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, China, Spain, Australia, Africa, Philippines and India. Dah is a Pushcart nominee and the lead editor of The Lounge (a poetry critique group).