Say This In A Whisper, by Dah

dah gauguin cover1

Dah’s poetry collection, Say This In A Whisper, should perhaps come with an advisory: there are sexually charged poems such as “How To Love A Lover”, “Summer, Ocean”, “Pulsar” and “Underwater, Still Breathing”.

Their nexus is the relationship between lovers which leaves you in no doubt about where the potency lies. “Summer, Ocean” carves out physical intensity in an almost predictable way yet doesn’t strike you as being facile:

“You, the matador
drinking the bull’s blood
Me, the bull goring you into ecstasy
until we lay finished off
our bodies trembling
smelling of ocean summers”

The collection’s first poem, “Oceans Of Rain”, sets a kind of framework by disavowing religion. The speaker is “an old inmate” with the gravitas of age:

“Now, I’ve seasoned
to this gray winter
an old inmate
waiting for light
to reap darkness
waiting for darkness
to bear down

Dah writes with disarming physical candor in his love poems. There is so much light and shadow in them, that it’s most certainly spiritual while being physical. But after the ecstasy comes the agony. The lover’s absence leaves the speaker emotionally stranded. The poems segue to a requiem. Every poem shines a different light on the grieving process of remembering. There is savagery in “you were the feathers/plucked from my mouth” (“A Missing Story”) to distraction where “we drink wine each night/to reach that neon glow/in the dark of a cloistered room” (“Pictures of You”).

Sure, there’s pathos there, but someone has said, if you haven’t loved deeply enough, haven’t had that kind of physical experience, you don’t know anything much. Such pathos may be another path to transcendence, if not through religion. Why, to speak of eternity as “a strange fracture/always breaking/before one reaches the line/the mood variations, another farewell” in “Another Picture of You” to the discernment of trees in “Pulsar”:

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

A tender, riveting read for all lovers!

Download the collection here.

Say This In A Whisper by Dah

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Red Wolf Journal’s digital collections has a dedicated new site
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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

Getting Away, by Christopher Hileman

Getting Away
by Christopher Hileman

Things evolve, she said.
Makes me want to peek under
rocks and seek causes.
Or else get away
quickly, ducking low and tight.

I hoped to head out
by now – on the asphalt road
only so long as
is necessary –
then across the ripe wheat fields
to the south of town.
But I keep going
back for stuff I think I want
knowing all the while
I’ll dump half of it
in the heat of the damn day
and the wheaten dust.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Prompt 330.

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.

Count Down, by Debi Swim

Count Down
by Debi Swim

Grandpa got it at the green stamp store.
He built a small shelf on the wall
in the living room and placed upon it
the black and faux gold clock. I would
watch the pendulum swing back and forth
unaware of time ticking away, unaware
that this moment wouldn’t last,
nor Grandpa, nor my youth.

A clock sits on the bookshelf
in my reading room.
I listen to its steady beat,
faint, droning under the din of life.
Its rhythm keeps me grounded
with its steady tic-tic- tic
setting the pace, reminding me
with every second-hand lurch
I live one second at a time,
until the last …
tic-tic toc.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 320.

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

Language Of Lies, by Roslyn Ross

Language Of Lies
by Roslyn Ross

It was the first lie which led the way,
like an orange beacon on the hill of
deceit, beginning that march into evil,
which left love hanging on the broken

gate of betrayal, where more lies stood
as statues, carved in sad facts of denial,
and right, kneeled, whimpering in the
skirts of yesterday; adultery’s hood had

defined my truth, hidden your face in such
blackness, that no amount of torches could
ever bring enough light to bear upon what
now was an impossible, searing, darkness.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 321.

Roslyn Ross is a former journalist, who has worked in newspapers and magazines around Australia. In recent years she has worked as a freelance manuscript editor. Born in Adelaide, she has spent much of her time living overseas, including Antwerp, Belgium; Bombay, India; Luanda, Angola; Cape Town, South Africa; Johannesburg, South Africa; Lusaka, Zambia; Vancouver, Canada; London, United Kingdom and Lilongwe, Malawi. She has also spent extended periods in Russia, Portugal and the United States, as well as living across Australia, including Adelaide, Port Pirie, Wagga Wagga, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane, and is now settled in the Adelaide Hills. She began writing poetry at the age of twelve and has had work published in a number of anthologies, mainly in the US, but also more recently, in When Anzac Day Comes Around, 100 Years from Gallipoli Poetry Project, edited by Graeme Lindsay.

Computer Chess, by Jared Pearce

Computer Chess
by Jared Pearce

I keep clicking undo
to trace my losing
streak, to find out

All my mistakes.
If I go another way,
if I had allowed my brother

To tag along more often,
or if I had not lied to my friends
to protect my embarrassment,

Or if I had been more subtle
or more striking, would the children
be happy then? And with her,

What could I have done
better to love? I’m not sure
I can find my way past those bishops

Of self-deceit or the surprising leap
from revelatory knights
to hold that Queen

So she’ll see me and want me.
I’m always back at the game’s beginning,
fretting over the pawns of diet

And so many hours slept, holding
dear to my rooks for the endgame—
the end that comes no matter

How far back I go or how
much I can erase of where
I started or how I got here.

Some of Jared Pearce’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Marathon, Peacock, Poetic Diversity, DIAGRAM, and Red Fez. His first collection is forthcoming from Aubade Press next year. He lives in Iowa.

Cutting, by Jared Pearce

Cutting
by Jared Pearce

One would have her leg
hacked off, another an arm—
such appendages seem easy
to divide. But others went
for fashion: buttocks
and trim the thighs, or my head
must be ten percent my body
mass. And some for bits to cheat
loss by removing every other toe,
one ear, the incisors, hair.

Until she said her
too big breasts, worthless
lobes, too in-the-way,
too defining, the two great balls
chaining me to womanhood,
making me a sex—these stones
strapping me in a drowning
when what I want is to be held
with a light grace, apart
from what I am or am not.

Some of Jared Pearce’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Marathon, Peacock, Poetic Diversity, DIAGRAM, and Red Fez. His first collection is forthcoming from Aubade Press next year. He lives in Iowa.

Portals, by Jared Pearce

Portals
by Jared Pearce

The contractor came to see about
where I wanted a hole punched
in the back brick wall to make
a closet and keep the pantry.

We measured, we bartered,
we shook hands, until on the front path
he told me both his parents died
within a month of each other:

He hadn’t shed a tear, he said,
though his pastor encouraged his grief;
He’s been having trouble getting back
to work, he said, he can’t handle

The somewhere revving saw
to cut into a lighted room from
a darkened passage, a blueprint
showing where the load and stress

Should be anchored to rest.
There’s no point in crying,
he said; now that they’re gone,
what tears could cut like diamonds?

Some of Jared Pearce’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Marathon, Peacock, Poetic Diversity, DIAGRAM, and Red Fez. His first collection is forthcoming from Aubade Press next year. He lives in Iowa.

Skeleton, by Jared Pearce

Skeleton
by Jared Pearce

How could it have happened,
toad, you dead and left a perfect
skeleton on the campus walk?

How could the hungry birds
or hustling student feed have passed
your crunchy morsel, mistaken

For a scrunched cupcake wrapper?
And how could I have found you,
complete, except your eyes,

The skinny leather of your hide
tanning itself on your brittle frame,
a frame perfect inside its sack

sucked dry, a series of sticks that shift
our gears upon the planet, a bundle
like a lodge, a lever that lets us roll the Earth.

That’s all the machinery we’ve got:
what good is a scrambled-egg brain
or spider-nest nerves against

The arm’s hatchet or quarterstaff
swung of the hip. You were right,
toad, we’re built for valor

And making grace before
our long rest where we hand it back
in its dustcloth, worn and happy.

Some of Jared Pearce’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Marathon, Peacock, Poetic Diversity, DIAGRAM, and Red Fez. His first collection is forthcoming from Aubade Press next year. He lives in Iowa.

Endangered, by Jared Pearce

Endangered
by Jared Pearce

Tiny frog, remnant
of your dying race,
enjoy this garden,
this cricket feast,
where those weeds
that began their war
last year have invaded
most areas, holding
no prisoners, never
counting their populace
or hassling with birth
control or stopping
the kids from eating
too much.
       Frog, learn
from these weeds:
we can all thrive
if we’ve got someone
to care for and
someone to kill.

Process: I look at something, it looks at me, and as I wonder about it, a poem shows up.

Some of Jared Pearce’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Marathon, Peacock, Poetic Diversity, DIAGRAM, and Red Fez. His first collection is forthcoming from Aubade Press next year. He lives in Iowa.

Predecessor, by Laurinda Lind

Predecessor
by Laurinda Lind

There is so much I don’t know
about my father’s first marriage,
how they met, what she was like,

though last year I saw their wedding
photo. I’d been shielded as if this
would somehow shame me. My
whole family shone out around

them, all my aunts and uncles
who were hers first, and she held
onto my father’s hand in the center
of them with both of hers, her sailor
she anchored to her out from a war

that couldn’t have him anymore
and now her life could start,
the next eight years before she
learned she was someone else

and before she let me know
him next. At least the half
I have had after her.

Process notes: People rarely talked about my father’s first wife, whom I never met while she was alive; now that both are gone, trying to get to know her is like getting another piece of him back, and poetry opens the door for that.

Laurinda Lind is waiting out the weather in New York’s North Country. She is not any good at alcohol. Some poetry acceptances/publications were in Anima, Comstock Review, The Cortland Review, Liminality, Main Street Rag, Metaphor, Paterson Literary Review, and Timeless Tales.

Snapshot, by Laurinda Lind

Snapshot
by Laurinda Lind

A neighbor boy came over every night
so we could throw grass at each other
on the cement steps that led to the road
& after a few weeks we went out into
boats on the lake while he told me I
was pretty when I wasn’t & I told him
he wasn’t fat but he was. Once he lost
one hundred thirty pounds, the whole
weight of the woman he later married
& he looked so good I was glad we’d
had those twenty years as friends

without lust to screw it up. The spring
before his heart sprung him, when he
was in & out of the bariatric ward &
able to get there only in the bed of
their truck, he saw me take my camera
out & looked into it with such informed
intelligence after our long skeins of
shared secrets that I think he knew
it was what he would leave me with.
& that nothing else would ever ease
the weight of him off my world.

Process notes: It has been such a shock to lose a friend I was close with since the beginning of our teen years that it was inevitable he would come storming into a poem like the force of nature he was, and try to get me to figure out how I am going to go the rest of the way without him.

Laurinda Lind is waiting out the weather in New York’s North Country. She is not any good at alcohol. Some poetry acceptances/publications were in Anima, Comstock Review, The Cortland Review, Liminality, Main Street Rag, Metaphor, Paterson Literary Review, and Timeless Tales.