Fall/Winter 2017/2018: Memento Mori

fall winter 2017 2018 cover

Poetry for Disaster Relief (September 2017)

Josh Medsker read 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). The links are provided below.

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

Josh reading poems by Howie Good, Arthur Mitchell and Joseph Felser

Josh reading poems by Sergio Otiz and Christopher Hileman

Josh reading poems by Alan Toltzis

You may donate here.

A poem was posted daily on this site in September 2017. You may still donate to Josh’s paypal. The donation window is open till the current issue ends in February 2018. Even a dollar would do, if we add up all the dollars. Who can’t afford a dollar? In a way this is an experiment to see if poetry can bring in any bucks at all. It’ll be donated to help Puerto Rico, folks.

Here’s the first donation. If there’re any more donations we’ll update.

HURRICANE RELIEF DONATION

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 prompt site, Red Wolf Prompts. 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

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Burden Of Life, by Debi Swim

Burden Of Life
by Debi Swim

How much does it weigh
that uncertainty
as it settles around your shoulders
like a puma?
You carry it gingerly
trying to sooth the underlying growl
into a purr of contentment.
There is no way to know
when the claws will come out
(if there are any claws at all)
when the teeth honed on bone
(if they’re not worn to a nub)
will sink into the jugular.

Uncertainty has heft.
Everything is uncertain.
We live with it like gravity
balance it like scales
and keep on hoping
to tame the beast.

Note: “I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” Keats
Written in response to Red Wolf Prompt 353.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and persistent WV poet.

Drumming Up Blood, by Keith Moul

Drumming Up Blood
by Keith Moul

A church group sings sweetly at the bandstand,
drumming business in souls, without percussions,
but with gentle faith. It’s Sunday. The wide plain
expands and enlarges in summer heat, animals still,
few signs of habitation save cars nearing for music.

One thinks of the old awakenings, comings to Christ
in the flower, in the leaf, in caressing breeze on cheeks;
or remembered spirit now coursing through the blood
as people lift arms in praise and jubilation. Some lives
have endured deceptions and miseries until the moment;
others see their children submit to mystery long adhered.

No single voice provokes their vision or font of peace.

Wind carries song out beneath sun’s beneficence; fowl
still at rest take notice by their eyes, but do not stir.
They have witnessed God’s presence many times before.

Keith Moul’s poems and photos are published widely. Finishing Line Press released a chap called The Future as a Picnic Lunch in 2015. Aldrich Press published Naked Among Possibilities in 2016; Finishing Line Press has just released (1/17) Investment in Idolatry. In August, 2017, Aldrich Press released Not on Any Map, a collection of earlier poems. These poems are from a new work about prairie life through U.S. history, including regional trials, character, and attachment to the land.

The Reality Of Intangibles, by Joseph Felser

The Reality Of Intangibles
by Joseph Felser

Did you come
to me
last night
as I lay
asleep
whispering
of things
long past?
I remember
everything
the sly smiling
delicate curve
of your words
the musky perfume
of your mind
hunting ideas
asking questions
poking holes
in musty theories
forging links
with me
astonished
by the
boldfaced
signature
of your
soul

Joseph M. Felser, Ph.D. received his doctorate from The University of Chicago and teaches philosophy in Brooklyn, New York. The author of numerous articles and two books on philosophy, religion, myth, and parapsychology, he recently began writing poetry, which has appeared in both print and online journals.

As Father Lay Dying, by Milton P. Ehrlich

As Father Lay Dying
by Milton P. Ehrlich

As Father lay dying
restrained in bed,
he wanted to go home,
but he clung to a phone
grunting orders to his broker
about trades of puts and calls.
Family maintained a vigil,
reading Barons, Business Week
and the Wall Street Journal
to keep him alive.
His quivering voice, a pinhole
of light in the emerging darkness.
Clinging to the last of his breath
he was determined to secure
a vault of safety for Mother.
While the forces of Darkness
tugged at his soul, relentless
in his sense of responsibility,
his withered body focused on
tallying up the numbers
like a good accountant should.
Father taught me to be responsible.
When I lay dying, I’ll revise my poems,
making sure the alliteration,
enjambment and internal rhymes
work well enough for publication.
I’ll keep reading what old Ez taught me
at Ezuversity about how to write poetry
until my eyes give out and I disappear.
Entwined by blood of my blood,
a strike price of love endures.
Father will always be my King
even though we walk divergent roads.

Milton P. Ehrlich, Ph.D. is an 86-year-old psychologist. He is also a Korean War veteran who has published many poems in periodicals such as the Wisconsin Review, Descant, Toronto Quarterly Review, Chariton Review, Vox Poetica, Red Wheelbarrow, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, and The New York Times.

Perrin’s Marine Villa, by Milton P. Ehrlich

Perrin’s Marine Villa
by Milton P. Ehrlich

Mabel is sequestered
in a well vacuumed room.
There’s not even a handful of mirth
in this house.

A whiff of flatulent air greets her guests.

Her glittering faux diamond earrings
make her look like a frumpy old woman
holding court as she sits on a stuffed chair
with her swollen feet elevated
on a Moroccan hassock.

She wants to go home,
not play any more bingo,
but forgot where she lives,
though an aerial photo of her house
hangs on the wall.

Neighbors who visit, still tease her
for being “from away”.

A young Nova Scotia soldier,
once a fine mate
peers down from her dresser in a resolute gaze.

Jesus hangs nearby rising
from the dead
behind rolling white-caps in a turquoise sea.

No one wants a one-way ticket
for the parting of flesh,
waiting for your name
to be written in stone.

Sent to their rooms
like misbehaving children,
they wait for an announcement
for their hour of departure,
a journey to the world beyond.

Milton P. Ehrlich, Ph.D. is an 86-year-old psychologist. He is also a Korean War veteran who has published many poems in periodicals such as the Wisconsin Review, Descant, Toronto Quarterly Review, Chariton Review, Vox Poetica, Red Wheelbarrow, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, and The New York Times.

I’ll Eat When I’m Dead, by Milton P. Ehrlich

I’ll Eat When I’m Dead
by Milton P. Ehrlich

Who has time to eat?
Ravenous for feeling alive,
I leap out of bed
at the first ray of light
to catch the rising sun—
see as many falling stars,
Northern Lights
and rainbow omens
that I can see,
and delight
in toddler’s laughter—
let alone all the books
I haven’t yet read.
And don’t forget
the touches and caresses—
the magnificence
of creative lovemaking—
there’s still positions
in the Kama Sutra
I want to try,
and countries to visit,
seas to sail,
bubbly prosecco sips,
honeysuckle sniffs,
and music—
don’t get me started—
I’ll be blowing my trumpet
instead of ringing the bell
when I reach the locked door
to the world beyond.

Milton P. Ehrlich, Ph.D. is an 86-year-old psychologist. He is also a Korean War veteran who has published many poems in periodicals such as the Wisconsin Review, Descant, Toronto Quarterly Review, Chariton Review, Vox Poetica, Red Wheelbarrow, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, and The New York Times.

I Practice Dying, by Milton P. Ehrlich

I Practice Dying
by Milton P. Ehrlich

Every time I suffer a bout of pneumonia,
I begin to count my last breaths.
In the army I cooled my feverish head
on the cold iron bar of the infirmary bed.

Since most of my friends
are dying, dead or demented,
I figure it will soon be time
for me to be getting cemented.

My family nags me to consult doctors,
but I’m a follower of Voltaire,
who proclaimed: The art of medicine
is to amuse the patient while nature
cures the disease and the Doctor collects the fee
.

I knock on the door of Mother Nature’s home.
A neatly-dressed guard from the penguin corp
informs me Mother Nature is tired and worried.
She wears a secondhand housedress
revealing two warm moons of breasts.

She warns me:
Swarming stars have been squawking all night:
OUR EARTH IS FOR SALE!

If she’s anything like my mother,
I can charm her with a pair of chocolate eclairs
and a montage of all whoever loved me.
I rhapsodize her with my best poems.

Since there’s no way to get out of here alive,
I carry a lifetime supply of plasma for my soul.
My plan is to never be fully dead after I die.

As Father wrestled with a lymphoma-ravaged body,
I remember how cold his hands became
as soon as he breathed his final breath.

I monitor the declining temperature of my hands.

Milton P. Ehrlich, Ph.D. is an 86-year-old psychologist. He is also a Korean War veteran who has published many poems in periodicals such as the Wisconsin Review, Descant, Toronto Quarterly Review, Chariton Review, Vox Poetica, Red Wheelbarrow, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, and The New York Times.

HOW I FEEL ABOUT MY LIFE COMING TO AN END WHEN IT’S COMING TO AN END, by Milton P. Ehrlich

HOW I FEEL ABOUT MY LIFE
COMING TO AN END
WHEN IT’S COMING TO AN END

by Milton P. Ehrlich

At the age of 85,
it feels like my life is over.
The rest is just gravy—
nothing but an encore.
My audience can’t stop
yelling Bravo!, Bravissimo!
I’ve taken my final bows,
saunter off stage to take
a peek and catch a glimpse
of those who still
remain standing and
can’t stop applauding.

Milton P. Ehrlich, Ph.D. is an 86-year-old psychologist. He is also a Korean War veteran who has published many poems in periodicals such as the Wisconsin Review, Descant, Toronto Quarterly Review, Chariton Review, Vox Poetica, Red Wheelbarrow, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, and The New York Times.

I, flounder, by Joseph Felser

I, flounder
by Joseph Felser

Flat fish
I drift
aimlessly
floating in
turbid blues
carried by cross
currents
you left
in your
wake

I sink
to bottom
holy abyss
gaze fixed
eyes locked
upward
scanning
blind to
golden treasure
buried deep
in wet black
sand
beneath me

the world
is flat
one sided
all over
even if
everything
tries to be
round
my hoop
is broken

Joseph M. Felser, Ph.D. received his doctorate in philosophy from The University of Chicago. He is is on the faculty at Kingsborough Community College/CUNY in Brooklyn, New York, where he has taught since 1997. The author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as two books, The Way Back to Paradise (2004) and The Myth of the Great Ending (2011), he also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of The Monroe Institute in Faber, Virginia. He recently began writing poetry, which has appeared in both print and online journals, including Whatever Our Souls, Wildflower Muse, Ordinary Madness, Joey and the Black Boots ReBoot, Red Wolf Journal, Ariel Chart, and The Mystic Blue Review.

Oh World, by Debi Swim

Oh World
by Debi Swim

Have I seen enough sunsets,
enough pale dawns, ample
waves rushing to shore?
Have I listened to sufficient
hoots, trills, sweet melodies
and followed the flight of
hawks and geese and stars?
Oh, world, tell me true will
I rue these days of visits with you
or will I more regret those times
I bent dutifully to my tasks not noting
the honeysuckled scent of summer breezes,
the way it teases butterflies and bees.

Then, at the day of reckoning
will I, sated, sigh that I
have lived to full balance
of work and rest, blessed
with memories for eternity
of all creation’s glories?
Will I, world? Will I?

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Prompt 343.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and happy WV poet.