Alien Hand Syndrome, by Jo Angela Edwins

Alien Hand Syndrome
by Jo Angela Edwins

“Alien Hand Syndrome sees woman attacked by her own hand.”—headline to story on BBC News Health website

We may laugh at first,
and as usual, our laughter
disguises our horror.
There is nothing funny about
the woman’s bruised face,
her mouth gaping in fatigue
and confusion. This is
both less and more than metaphor
for the ways we damage ourselves, the ways
we never learn our own minds.

The brain, that mad hermit
hidden in his house of bone,
is no more than twins attached
at the middle. They think alike, until
some skillful surgeon cleaves them
to remedy electric flares, until
a stroke builds walls between them.
Then the figurative turns literal:
the left hand doesn’t know
what the right one is doing,
and worse yet, doesn’t care,
might drop your credit card
in the mailbox, might unbutton
your blouse in the crowded lobby,
might blindly slide itself across
the blade of a butcher knife.

Who can help but wonder why
the wild one chooses cruelty
over kindness, chooses chaos
over calm? Or is it that
bad hands get all the press?
Perhaps somewhere, a quiet woman
finds her left hand picking flowers
for her table, sorting laundry,
gently stroking a sleeping cat.
Her right hand, stunned at first
to stillness, cannot help
but be changed by the stranger hand’s
example. Soon enough,
its own intentions may improve.
It may learn to help the other
in its tender, errant ways.

All this is silly fantasy.
There is true illness here.
There is true suffering.
Nonetheless, fantasy—
like laughter—is a thing
we turn to when reality
is too horrible to watch,
hard slaps to battered cheeks,
a grainy image gone permanent,
too seared to us to be erased
by the swipe of anyone’s hand.

“Alien Hand Syndrome” was inspired by a story and headline appearing on BBC.com. Here is the link to the story: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-12225163.

Jo Angela Edwins has published poems in various venues including Calyx, New South, Naugatuck River Review, Zone 3, and other journals and anthologies. Her chapbook, Play, was published in 2016 by Finishing Line Press. She has received poetry awards from the SC Academy of Authors and Poetry Super Highway and is a Pushcart Prize, Forward Prize, and Bettering American Poetry nominee. She lives and teaches in Florence, SC.

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Small Love, by Jo Angela Edwins

Small Love
by Jo Angela Edwins

Love and a cough
cannot be concealed.
Even a small cough.
Even a small love.

                                                  –Anne Sexton, “Small Wire”

A small cough is easy enough
to imagine, although even the very
smallest is often voluntary,
the sort people make in assembly halls,
school-desk rows, or church pews, to catch
a friend’s attention, or hide a rumbling
belly. A small love
is another thing entirely,
less explicable, less exact.
What makes love small?
The size of the thing loved?
You love your Cadillac
more than your cup of tea. Maybe,
but do you love your St. Bernard
more than your newborn baby?
Or is it the size of what does the loving?
Do elephants love more intently than field mice,
whales than goldfish,
linebackers than jockeys?
When gnats mate, do they create
the smallest love of all?
And what of love unprofessed?
The timid lover, unsuspected, uncaressed,
held hostage to his fevered dreams
cannot rightly be called small.
In fact, his love looms giant,
cast like a shadow on a celestial screen
of what could be, or what might have been
had fate been more compliant.
Still, there lies something almost holy
in the thought of a small love
when love by nature seems immense,
essentially intense,
in no way quiet or reserved.
If love can be small, it becomes
something everyone can aspire to,
the sort of thing the humblest among us
can somehow claim at some time to deserve.
If it’s never too small to hear or see,
it cannot be asking too much
to taste, or touch,
or hold lightly in our hands this fragrant seed.
Feed it. It can do no less than grow.

“Small Love” was inspired by Anne Sexton’s poem “Small Wire.” The version I read was included in Anne Sexton: The Complete Poems.

Jo Angela Edwins has published poems in various venues including Calyx, New South, Naugatuck River Review, Zone 3, and other journals and anthologies. Her chapbook, Play, was published in 2016 by Finishing Line Press. She has received poetry awards from the SC Academy of Authors and Poetry Super Highway and is a Pushcart Prize, Forward Prize, and Bettering American Poetry nominee. She lives and teaches in Florence, SC.

Blue Sleeved Time, by Debi Swim

Blue Sleeved Time
by Debi Swim

Later I caught him, Time hurrying by, by
the blue sleeve, and I harangued him
For his impertinence of rushing me along
For letting me think there was a measure ahead
not noticing the bulk was behind

I berated his poor proffered gift
that he shoved in my face on a golden
platter. Memories of tender moments…
and what good are they? I ranted

Where is the touch, scent, substance?
Nothing to grasp, to cling to, dust,
it is all just fairy dust, all sparkle
no heft. I scolded his second rate
offering as cheap. A trinket. Carny trick.

Time jerked the blue sleeve from my grip
and whispered, what more do I owe you?
You took every second I gave and if you
didn’t understand the repercussions…
He smoothed his cuff, smirked and said,
well, do you want your money back?

Source Note:

Rhapsody, Mary Oliver
“Later I caught him, Time hurrying by, by
the blue sleeve, and I harangued him’

Written in response to prompt 426.

Debi Swim writes poetry in West Virginia, mostly to fabulous prompts.

Mourning Song, by Martin Willitts Jr

Mourning Song
by Martin Willitts Jr
           An aubade is a song from a door or window to a sleeping woman

The night has such a sleepless longing.
The heart-shaped moon peers through your window
as tree branches tap on your window
with nervous fingers. I cannot get enough of you
and your dreams, the finality of church hour bells.

Wake. Come to me like ecstatic music.
My arms of absence need filling
with the shape of morning doves murmuring
their immense sadness,
endless ocean waves drowning me in loss.

Some say, the day is over,
but not when two lovers embrace and cannot let go.
Window shades should be opening.
Traffic should be stopping and beeping
as trumpets scattering the night
into a thousand awakening eyes of love.

But sleep has you calming lover,
cooing doves in your ear, hushing you
into a softness of music of silence.

All I can do is stand out here,
the wretchedness of stars exploding.

Here is a process note:

I am trying to capture the regretful language of Neruda and Lora. That overwhelming unfulfilled desire or extreme loss associated with seeing the end results of war. I am also thinking of Romeo and Juliet. An unrequited love staring at a window, A troubadour ready to sing to a woman in a room. To me, the best line of lamentation is from Lora’s play, Blood Wedding: “Ah! What glass splinters are on my tongue!”

Written in response to prompt 429.

Martin Willitts Jr has 24 chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 11 full-length collections including The Uncertain Lover (Dos Madres Press, 2018) and Coming Home Celebration (FutureCycle Press, 2019).

Arrakis, by Christopher Hileman

Arrakis
by Christopher Hileman

My worm exhales spice
In a tumble of gold sand
And leaves me behind.
I slide down the slope
To the fold at the bottom,
The crease of two dunes.

I shall wait near here
For you to come and lift me
Off this hellish land,
Hoping my water
Recycles without hitches

And that my brothers
Will still lift my soul.

Arrakis is the planet also known as Dune and is the creation of Frank Herbert, a first-rate science fiction novelist. Dune is the first in a sequence of novels and stories that takes place primarily on Arrakis but also on several other planets in the universe of the Dune stories. Other authors took over the production of the series as time went by.

Dune was a work in a sociological vein, telling the story of a planet in jihad, or holy war, similar to the breakout of Islam after the rise of Mohammad in the middle of the first millennium AD. Other science fiction works created after the mid-nineteen sixties explored other religious traditions, such as the Christian, Hindu and Buddhist traditions but Dune and Islam was first and in the opinion of many, including me, the best of them. As Wikipedia notes: “1965’s Dune, is popularly considered one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time, and it is sometimes cited as the best-selling science fiction novel in history.”

Christopher Hileman moved to Oregon in 1973. He has retired for some years and lives on the north bank of the McKenzie River in Vida, Oregon. He moved recently from his basement digs in Oregon City, emerging into the riverine sunshine on the eastbound highway out of the Eugene/Springfield area of Oregon.

Yeats’ Diggers, by Diane Jackman

Yeats’ Diggers
by Diane Jackman

At night they disappear,
starshine too weak
to show their contours
in the black envelope.

In daylight they work,
gouging out the ground,
spitting gravel down chutes
to clattering lorries
rattling in country lanes,
an orange assault
through the budding hedgerows.

But in the half-light,
arrayed along the ridge
like prehistoric beasts,
their grey bulk looms
menacing the landscape.
Then fantasy conjures
primeval shrieks and thunderings
bellows of pain as the monsters
turn their strength upon each other
in the re-fought twilight battle.

Source:
“Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” by W B Yeats. You may read it here.

Process:
“Of night and light and the half-light”– These words referring to the cloths of heaven in the fourth line of Yeats’ poem, inspired me to write about a completely different subject, observed in the three phases of night and day.

Diane Jackman’s poetry has appeared in Rialto, Spillway, optimum, snakeskin, small press magazines and anthologies. Starting out as a children’s writer with seven books and 100 published stories, she now concentrates on poetry. She has just had a microchap, On the frayed rope of my imagination published by Origami Poems.

Grounded: Seventh Day, by Gabriella Brand

Grounded: Seventh Day
by Gabriella Brand

Complacencies of the sweatpants,
and a late latte, and those really good blood
oranges from Trader Joe’s.
Stretched out on the couch, pecking at the tablet
like a cockatoo, in the holy hush
of NPR, with the news shrunk and week-end withered,
and then, later, after the laundry’s done, a few
hours along the river, barely a jog,
the day like wide water
without sound, not even church bells or a call to prayer,
disinterested in sacrifice or sepulcher,
just grounded on the soft moist earth
holding the entire bickering planet in the Light.

Note: My source is “Sunday Morning” by Wallace Stevens. You can read it here.

Gabriella Brand’s writing has appeared in over fifty literary magazines. Her most recent work appears this spring in the Gyroscope Review and the Willawau Journal. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee.
Gabriella divides her time between Connecticut, where she teaches foreign languages and Quebec, where she volunteers with Middle Eastern refugees, runs writing groups, and paddles her own canoe.
Website: gabriellabrand.net

A Bedpan for Icarus, by Gabriella Brand

A Bedpan for Icarus
by Gabriella Brand

About suffering they were never wrong.
The Old Masters. How well they understood
its human position, how it takes place
when someone else is just scarfing down a burrito,
or adjusting their earbuds.

When my mother lay dying, her heart skipping beats,
her pulse losing rhythm,the nurses stood in the hallway,
outside her room, chatting normally,
taking bets on “Dancing With the Stars”,
ordering Mexican food for dinner.

Mother could have been Icarus, falling
from the sky, Icarus needing a bedpan.
I shook my fist at the nurses through the hospital curtain.
And yet, I should have known, we all turn away, quite leisurely,
from disaster, just as Breughel drew.

We run our eyes down the screen,
clicking even as the typhoon hits
the mosque is bombed, the small child drowns in the Rio Grande.
We hear the splash. We gulp and shake our heads, maybe
mutter a prayer, And then, quite calmly, we move on.

Note: My source is Musée des Beaux Arts by W.H.Auden.

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Gabriella Brand’s writing has appeared in over fifty literary magazines. Her most recent work appears this spring in the Gyroscope Review and the Willawau Journal. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee.
Gabriella divides her time between Connecticut, where she teaches foreign languages and Quebec, where she volunteers with Middle Eastern refugees, runs writing groups, and paddles her own canoe.
Website: gabriellabrand.net

Starry night over the Rhone, by Jonathan Beale

Starry night over the Rhone
by Jonathan Beale

The clock is now sleeping….
Time is absent here. That uninvited guest, is away.
Socrates sits in silence, on a distant bank
(Invisible to you and, I) unable to fathom.
What or why is going on.
his sophisticated words: now dumb.
He can reason not the need.
I paint in a joy from my window’s frame.
As they experience their human pleasure of
Touch, they feel each other mingled with the night.
The city distant city: blind and far enough away –
Those wedding guests who stay too long.
Encapsulating a beauty of its own (hopper never pasted this way)
As the light dances a demonic reel
The bluest blueness projects the mood
As only black can everywhere else.
The sodden waters edge’s
Handed over from the mornings
Silver woven tidal cloth
…of what, what are they doing, or have done.
A quiet dyad under the stars – becoming…something enchanting.
Momentarily awakening to this…
strange trinity of which I’m an invisible fraction.
the gentle ripple of the tide
cradling the delicate dinghies
time is absent there, but not here
a moment grabbed before, before, before…
they can feel, touch and be one, once more
can I capture that moment of joy?
time will awake again soon….

Starry_Night_Over_the_Rhone

By Vincent Van Gogh Sept 1st, 1888

Jonathan Beale is published in numerous journals around the globe he is most recently published in Bluepepper, mad swirl and ygrilsil. He has one volume of poetry the destinations of Raxiera published by Hammer and Anvil. He lives in Surrey U.K.

After Goya, by Jonathan Beale

After Goya
by Jonathan Beale

From still life: ‘Pieces of rib, loin, and a head of mutton.’
Francisco de Goya. Musée du Louvre.

The once learnt: now gone.
Deeds are done and form to dust –
That “when” – when youth is too young
Led easily by any anthems dream
Ringing out a hollow heartless tune.
Their always beating black hearts at work
They live between the lines.
Behind the actions dead weight:
Now this deadweight leaving life for the few –
Still steering freight for the butchers block.

They find this tripartite game
Impossible from field to abattoir to butcher
As the weighted cleavers chops the blood and bone –
The pure rain so easily washes this unholy mixture away.

still-life-of-sheeps-ribs-and-head-francisco-jose-de-goya-y-lucientes

Jonathan Beale is published in numerous journals around the globe he is most recently published in Bluepepper, mad swirl and ygrilsil. He has one volume of poetry the destinations of Raxiera published by Hammer and Anvil. He lives in Surrey U.K.