Conflicted Excitement, by LindaAnn LoSchiavo

 

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Conflicted Excitement by LindaAnn Loschiavo

LindaAnn LoSchiavo’s debut collection is an Italian memoir about coming to America. It traces the first footsteps to a country that would become home. The sense of belonging proved to be elusive for her immigrant grandparents.

“Fit in!” advised her husband. Neither did,
Unnoticed by America’s embrace.
–Merletto [Lace]

Setting up roots would be reflected in the efforts of her grandfather, affectionately called “il nonno mio”, growing fig trees in Brooklyn. In fact the poems about her grandparents endearingly anchor this collection.

Her poems—peopled by her grandparents, parents, her sister, her relatives, her friends–engage us in an effusive warp of story-telling. Sometimes one gets the feeling of being wrapped in a cocoon of Italian babble but thankfully there’re translations to get us through them. For of course one brings one’s own language along with oneself, and LindaAnn’s poems reflect that. We also learn where she got her gift of narrative from…her father! (See “The Wizard of Words”).

Along with her native language, religion is weaved through her personal rite of passage, enabling her to cope with death and the question of eternity.

Where Jesus, spotless, guiltless, is then beaten
For others’ sins returns me to my oyster
Shell, hard home where I dwell with grains of sand,
Intruders I coat with a glaze to make their
Existence not so scratchy, making it
All easier to slip around till I’m good
And ready for that opening up.
–A Little Choir Girl at Passiontide

For us then, the poems are secret musings of oneself, but it is when she makes leaps towards the sublime that “Like death’s jewels, feathers fell from pelicans.” (“Aboard S.S. Guiseppe Verdi”).

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I am here, by Diane Jackman

I am here
by Diane Jackman

Here among the trees, the city smoke fades
to a distant memory, purple wreaths
beyond the hills and out of sight.

Slipping into unaccustomed ways,
embracing the new landscape, people,
fitting in snug as a bespoke jacket.

Home is not always where we first saw light.
We can find it elsewhere, in a place
of sudden welcome, of deep belonging.

Diane Jackman’s poetry has been published widely in magazines and anthologies. Starting as a children’s writer, she now concentrates on poetry and researching lives in the Breckland, England’s desert. Last year she started a poetry café in Brandon, Suffolk.

Sonnet to My Former Dance Partner, by LindaAnn LoSchiavo

Sonnet to My Former Dance Partner
by LindaAnn LoSchiavo

How perfect was your choreography:
Those steps that led away from me, the waltz
Of loss. You shed your youth, which didn’t halt
Your appetite for living. Legs slowly
Refused your body’s gracefulness. Your knees
Rebelled. Bright hoping failed to see assaults,
Damage within. A dance card filled up, no fault
Of nurses. Healers bowed apologies.

Assigning places to emotions, you
Would spin around the numbers: the hours
Remaining for your performance.
A dress rehearsal, a final curtain drew
Closer. Time had me fooled. Love lost power,
Escaped routines. Youth never learns this dance.

Process Notes: When the most graceful individual in your life dies, you give your sorrow to the paper and pray the Petrarchan sonnet becomes a hyphen between the silences.
.
Native New Yorker LindaAnn LoSchiavo has work forthcoming in Literary Manhattan, Flatbush Review, Indian River Review, and Adversus Press. Her chapbook, Conflicted Excitement, is a forthcoming release by Red Wolf Editions. Blog: https://MaeWest.blogspot.com

Death of a Poet, by Debi Swim

Death of a Poet
by Debi Swim

I have become an empty cistern
A dry river bed, bleached bones
Have forgotten the smell of rain

I am words stuck in the throat
A horse without a whisperer
A pot untended, boiled away

I am parched, athirst, panting
Where is the well that I may sip
Where is my Erato?

Am I singing my swan song?

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

And Only Infrequently, by Holly Day

And Only Infrequently
by Holly Day

We exchange pictures through the mail because words
aren’t good enough. The passage of time is explained
through the faces of strangers, in the pictures of children
only known in person as tiny, warm babies
coiled and asleep, newly born. The envelopes

also contain pictures of people I know
but older, grayer, tired. My sister’s gap-toothed smile
has been replaced by the tight grin
of a woman with perfect teeth
standing next to her own family—her goofy college sweetheart
is now a man holding hands with a toddler.
I put pictures of me, my children, their father
in a similar envelope
seal it without looking

without wanting to look
still in denial that time
has passed at this end as well.

Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in The Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, and Gargoyle. Her nonfiction publications include Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar All-in-One for Dummies, Piano and Keyboard All-in-One for Dummies, Walking Twin Cities, Nordeast Minneapolis: A History, and Stillwater, Minnesota: A History. Her newest poetry collections, A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press), I’m in a Place Where Reason Went Missing (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.), and Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing) will be out mid-2018, with The Yellow Dot of a Daisy already out on Alien Buddha Press.

Floating Away, by Holly Day

       Floating Away
by Holly Day

I put the tiny boat
in the water and watch it
float away. Somewhere,
someday,

someone
will pull it out of the water,
either intact
or as a sodden, soggy newspaper mess, find

a tiny plastic bag
full of ashes
a sprig of dead lavender
your photograph, our wedding rings

and wonder

what it all means.

Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in The Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, and Gargoyle. Her nonfiction publications include Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar All-in-One for Dummies, Piano and Keyboard All-in-One for Dummies, Walking Twin Cities, Nordeast Minneapolis: A History, and Stillwater, Minnesota: A History. Her newest poetry collections, A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press), I’m in a Place Where Reason Went Missing (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.), and Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing) will be out mid-2018, with The Yellow Dot of a Daisy already out on Alien Buddha Press.

Heading Home, by Alan Walowitz

Heading Home
by Alan Walowitz

Call off your dogs.
A seller I’ll be and happy–
or whatever you want–
if you give me a moment to think.

The highways of America stare
open and ready. And potholed,
you might say. But life is entrapment
avoiding being trapped in them.

Let me rodeo a moment.
I’ll convince Uncle Harry or anyone
that a cow’s life is just as my own,
waiting to be hoist and weighed.

I won’t wait on your reply.
for I don’t fear as you grow closer
and I grow old
we might emit some same syllables.

I’ll be ugly only
when our mouths move the same.
Uglier,
I’ll be home soon.

Process note: This is an old poem, from around 1972. I think I wrote it when I was convinced I wanted to be a Jewish cowboy; or perhaps I was just going through some extra, late-adolescent rebellion–which has continued right through today.

Alan Walowitz has been published in various places on the web–and off. He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an online journal, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and St. John’s University in Queens. Alan’s chapbook, Exactly Like Love, was published by Osedax Press in 2016 and is now in its second printing. For more see alanwalowitz.com.

It is the Nature of the Beast, by Debi Swim

It is the Nature of the Beast
by Debi Swim

See the wisteria’s jumbled limbs? Their tightly clasped leaves just beginning to unfurl makes a green lacy pattern against a clear sky. Soon it will be a jungle, a maze of hidey holes and perches for the birds. The feeder hangs from a low branch. All day juncos, grackles, jays, cardinals and their cousins dash and jostle, scrabble and fuss for a place on the ledge. A woodpecker swoops in, hangs by its claws, half its body underneath dangling like an acrobat. The nuthatches fling seed hither and yon – picky eaters – while below on the ground heavy, clumsy doves clean up their mess. Turkeys come early morning and late evening scratching the spot beneath the feeder for leftovers furrowing a patch that will become a muddy mess with the next rain.
Marvel at the chipmunk as he climbs the thick, twining base and gracefully, agilely jumps to the feeder, the squirrel, too. Deer come, mostly fall and winter and butt the feeder with their heads, then munch on the splatter at their leisure.

                In every season the feeder an oasis, a cheery café.

And yet, this happy scene is marred by an ominous shadow. A circling hawk is attracted by the activity below. His keen eyes on the prize, he waits for his chance, sees a careless chipmunk scampering across the lawn and with a noiseless plunge scoops his prey in deathly grip of talons and carries the limp bundle away. Imagine the calamity of it on a peaceful, ordinary day. The swiftness of the attack, the scurrying of the creatures and then the waiting, with trembling and skipping hearts till one brave bird dares the feeder again and all becomes normal again.
It is the way of nature and of the world. But, at least nature is not malicious. It does not attack out of hate and erroneous ideology. It is only survival. Let man take notice.

                Greed, terrorism, hate, ways of the human order, nature’s greatest foe.

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

Nest Building, by Alan Toltzis

Nest Building
by Alan Toltzis

The first few years, mud and struggle
filled our yard. Longing for birdsong,
you played tapes of songbirds,
and kept a cage of finches.

Now, magnetite, DNA, scent, and star,
faithfully guide our sparrows.

Flitting
                              darting

       from

             sycamore

                                           to cherry

       to deck,
                              back

they
gather up bits of chickweed,
oak twig, twine, cedar scrap,
grass, and bark,
constructing yet another nest
under the retracted awning,
and the air sings
crescendos of lilting reassurance
that biology and fate
will lift us homeward.

Process Notes: The poem tells the back story. The sparrows arrived a couple weeks ago this year too.

Alan Toltzis is the author of The Last Commandment; his second book, 49 Aspects of Human Emotion, will be released this summer. Alan has been nominated for a Pushcart and his work has appeared in numerous print and online publications including Hummingbird, Right Hand Pointing, IthacaLit, r.k.v.r.y. Quarterly, and North of Oxford. alantoltzis.com.

Feathers In Your Hair, by Christopher Hileman

Feathers In Your Hair
by Christopher Hileman

Something has happened.
It shows on you like feathers
in your tangled hair.

I wish to devour
your soul salted and peppered,
braised to medium
rare and sliced thin on
a garden salad with lime.

I hope you take this
dream in morning’s light
as I fondle you awake
and raise your heart to
full maturity
in the long sweep of all things
possible and true.

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.