A Chalice of Champagne, by Ivor Steven

A Chalice of Champagne
by Ivor Steven

Once upon a time
In the days of rhyme
When learning to climb
I saw my neon sign
Slowly die by design

An angel’s teardrop fell
Ringing the church bell
And filling my empty well
From the tower of song, I wanted to yell
But life doesn’t let you dwell

During the monsoon rains
I trekked over flooded plains
Avoiding delta swamps of pain
Scaling the same old mountain again
Searching for that chalice of champagne

Ivor Steven was formerly an Industrial Chemist, then a Plumber, and has been writing poetry for 19 years. He has had numerous poems published in on-line magazines. He is an active member of the Geelong Writers Inc.(Australia), and is a team member/barista with the on-line magazine Go Dog Go Cafe (America).

Travel, by Alan Cohen

Travel
by Alan Cohen

This early morning
When things were not yet quite themselves
Some fuzz of the infinite still on them
Birds threw themselves from cliffs like lovers
And found themselves flying
Cows paced their yards like troubled princes
Churches and watchtowers halted and stared
Bakery doors opened, releasing a night’s accumulated pheromones
And a flock of dogs, barking, bounded along a cactus fence
Then started up the hill toward breakfast

But once the gray fields had turned yellow or red or brown
And the last city light faded on the horizon
Sun climbing out of its nightdress of clouds
The cows were back to huddling again
Bending together, chewing
Birds once more perched on eaves, rooftops, churchtowers
Making short purposeful flights
The dog pack broke up to prowl the narrow streets
And a few rocks on the hillside, sheep moments ago
Relapsed into stone.
Spain, despite the commanding view
Just a familiar place
Like home

Alan Cohen, poet first, then PCMD, teacher, manager, wrote an average of three poems a month for 60 years, and is beginning now to share some of his poems. He’s married to Anita and lives in Eugene, Oregon.

The Sun Arose Again, by Ivor Steven

The Sun Arose Again
by Ivor Steven

There must be a number of silent masks around
Yesterday an old mask flew away at the speed of sound
From behind, the real pieces of what we perceive
Are leftover bones, bleached by sky and sea
Where the worn pebbles lingering in the hand
Fall gently upon lines drawn in the sand
And these new beginnings could be a heavenly gift
As white doves soar above the mourning cliffs

Perhaps the next awakening will be a peaceful one
Full of friendly compassion and wisdom
I’m lucky today, the sun arose again
To light up the hallway, despite the rain
I’ll be the first one to walk out the door
And the only one left here, to see her valour

Ivor Steven was formerly an Industrial Chemist, then a Plumber, and has been writing poetry for 19 years. He has had numerous poems published in on-line magazines. He is an active member of the Geelong Writers Inc.(Australia), and is a team member/barista with the on-line magazine Go Dog Go Cafe (America).

The Universe and My Backyard, by Ivor Steven

The Universe and My Backyard
by Ivor Steven

Outside alone, stoically I stand
Old toes gripping into cold sand
Here my lawn cover is sparse
But I see the universe in a blade of grass

Under my feet I feel our planet’s ground
Above I see a grey sky swirling around
As the sun hides behind trees and clouds
And my backyard garden grows lush and proud

Inside, I’m surrounded by a world of sound
Old fingers typing a rhyme of words yet to be found
As the studio rhythm inspires my pen to speak
And my writers haven is where dreams flow vivid and sweet

Ivor Steven was formerly an Industrial Chemist, then a Plumber, and has been writing poetry for 19 years. He has had numerous poems published in on-line magazines. He is an active member of the Geelong Writers Inc.(Australia), and is a team member/barista with the on-line magazine Go Dog Go Cafe (America).

Life Is A Journey, by Debi Swim

Life Is A Journey
by Debi Swim

I can make it sound redundant
cause it has been done before.
I can make it sound necessary
cause people must be born.
I can make it sound inadequate
cause humanity doesn’t change.
I guess I could call it lots of things
but it’s been going on so long…

Adam, look around you
and help me understand
the expedience of life.
I heard it’s all about the journey
and a destination at the end.
But, the question still remains
is this journey only labor pains?

Debi Swim is a persistent West Virginia poet.

There’s No Time, by Emil Sinclair

There’s No Time
by Emil Sinclair

There’s no time
like the present
to make amends
for the past;
to stop lying
to the face
in the mirror.
I no longer shave
my beard each day,
but I still shave
so much truth,
to keep myself
hidden from me.

If character is
really destiny,
then I wish
I were a bullfrog,
singing harmony
in the rushes
by the pond.
Or a robin,
digging worms
in soft, dark earth
moistened by a
light spring rain.

Their beauty
is their nature;
feathers and
frog skin,
their poetry.
Even chameleons
cannot help
but change
their colors.
There is no
subterfuge,
no lie
in the soul—
the root of all
evil, said Plato.

If I could only be
like them,
I would fly, swim,
or crawl
to you,
through the rubble
of now,
without delay.
I would find you
in no time,
wherever you are,
to beg your
forgiveness,
and the gentle
mercy of one
sweet kiss,
to turn me
into a fat,
happy frog,
now and
forever.

Emil Sinclair is the pseudonym of a sometime poet and longtime philosophy professor in New York City.

There Is A River, by Emil Sinclair

There Is A River
by Emil Sinclair

There is a river
by the river
you can’t step in twice.
A place where time
must have a stop,
and the hooded monks
in sackcloth robes
the color of
pomegranates
chant these words;
“Holy, Holy, Holy.”
The air is electric
there; it crackles
and sings with life
in all its colors.

I have been there twice:
once, by accident,
by myself entranced;
and once, by design,
just to gaze at you,
from the yonder side
of the riverbank.
It took me eight years
to make that journey,
across blazing deserts
and the perilous seas
of my moth-eaten soul.

Our eyes met,
and you smiled at me,
knowing that, at last,
I’d found the courage
to make the trip.
Much was given up,
and even more
forgiven.
The air buzzed
with aquamarine,
and tasted of late
Beethoven quartets,
as the monks chanted
in synchronous rounds:
“Holy, Holy, Holy.”
And I knew then,
in that timeless now,
that we would never
be parted again.

Emil Sinclair is the pseudonym of a sometime poet and longtime philosophy professor in New York City.

No Heroics, Please, by Emil Sinclair

No Heroics, Please
by Emil Sinclair

No heroics, please.
I do not yearn
to go on a quest
to save the world,
a people, an idea,
or even myself.
I have no desire
to fight battles,
slay dragons,
have visions,
or return from
an adventure
with boons
to bestow.

I have no wish
to conquer anyone
or anything;
to venture forth
into mysteries,
merely in order
to solve them.
I refuse to steal
the ambrosia
of immortality
from arrogant gods
or lethargic giants,
too lazy or foolish
to guard their own
dearest treasure.
Pass the holy grail
to someone else,
and let them take
the hero’s journey.

No, I would rather
invite the dragon
to my house
for high tea,
served in the parlor.
We will share
the Victorian loveseat,
sip Earl Grey from
fine bone china cups,
and feast on hot
buttered scones
and watercress
finger sandwiches.
We will discuss
my looming death,
and how she might
incinerate the cancer
of my self-regard,
with but a single blast
of her fiery breath,
in due preparation
for my final
metamorphosis.

If she should reciprocate
and invite me to her lair,
I will go down
into the darkness,
where the shadow lives
in ashes, dust, and grief.
I will go as a suppliant,
bearing gifts of fine wines—
sauternes and tawny ports—
smoked meats and fishes,
dried fruits and baguettes.
I will bring with me
no torch to light the way;
only a single candle,
so easily extinguished.

Process notes: When the first line came to me, I recognized it as the title of a poem by Raymond Carver, which appeared in a collection of his posthuma, also titled, No Heroics, Please. My other chief inspiration is Joseph Campbell, especially his seminal work, The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

Emil Sinclair is the pseudonym of a sometime poet and a longtime philosophy professor in New York City.

April, May, May Day May Day, by Debi Swim

April, May, May Day May Day
by Debi Swim

Day follows day
insipid as cold oatmeal
I choke them down
fall into bed at night
hoping for a dream
but awake to morning
another day, another day
and hunger grows in me
for something but I’ve
forgotten the taste
of life my taste buds
have dementia and
long for the sound
dingdongding bells
of palsy that drags
half my outlook down
and everything
and nothing
is normal.

Debi Swim poems in West Virginia mostly to prompts from around the net. https://poetrybydebi.wordpress.com/

Burning Down the House      (for Orfeo Angelucci) by Emil Sinclair

Burning Down the House
     (for Orfeo Angelucci)

by Emil Sinclair

How did I survive
the fire so intense
it melts glass and steel?
My old life in ruins
I am a bewildered tourist
gawking at the rubble
of a terminal moraine.
At glaciers end,
where nothing moves,
my nostrils burn
from acrid smoke
and arctic air.
Fire and ice:
I am Shiva, dancing;
a plague for Athens
in its twilight hours.

Water logged shingles
drop like rotted teeth
from an old man’s gums,
through charred cross
beams and empty air
(no ceilings or floors),
to land in heaping piles
of Wednesday’s ashes.

I survey the debris:
certificates of security,
burned beyond recognition;
keepsakes of friendship,
brittle and broken;
memories of joy,
twisted into grotesque
masks of mourning
and mordant self-pity.

Fragments of lost souls—
crescent moon-shaped
curls of iridescent ectoplasm—
swim blindly around my feet,
squiggling like headless tadpoles
in a turgid pond,
lamenting their dire fate
with shrill cries of anguish.
A Greek chorus of woe.

With an angry groan
the floor collapses;
the cellar cracks open,
as if by earthquake split
into a deep depression
ringed by sheer rock cliffs.
I am caught by a ledge
altogether too narrow
to sit, or stand, or lie;
my right ankle grabbed
by the outstretched crook
of an ancient gnarled limb.
I dangle precariously
over the dark abyss,
strung upside down
on the thinnest of threads.

From the dim vale below,
the voices call up to me
in a sonorous echo:
“Orfeo! Orfeo!
Orfeo of the bright angels!
Come down to us!
Descend to our kingdom
of restless shades
to reclaim your lost life!”

The call goes unanswered.
For I am The Hanged Man,
suspended in space,
my perspective askew—
caught between worlds—
unable to move, nor
take a full breath.
I am King Minos,
trapped in my palace of doom,
avoiding my Minotaur,
who sleeps,
dreaming fitfully,
alone in his labyrinth.
I am The Fisher King,
with nowhere to go
in the land of waste,
and no hope for the grail
to cure what ails me.

How do I survive
the six degrees
of separation,
the sixth extinction,
the six feet apart,
with no seventh to rest?
I wait for a miracle.
Where is the mothership
to ferry me home?

Process notes:
Orfeo M. Angelucci was an early member of the club of UFO contractees in the 1950s. His case and its archetypal aspects was analyzed by C.G. Jung, in his late, classic work, Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies (1958). Other works referenced include those of Joseph Campbell, T.S. Eliot, and, of course, Talking Heads.

Emil Sinclair is the pseudonym of a sometime poet and longtime philosophy professor (teaching at a distance) in New York City.