October 31, 2016

Poets of Issue Ten 

W H A T ' S  B E Y O N D  T H E   B E N D ? 
(In alphabetical order)

Aremu Adams Adebisi
David Tuvell
Gary Beck
Hem Raj Bastola
James G. Piatt
John Grey
Lee Evans
Michael Lee Johnson
Richard Luftig
Saloni Kaul
Sudeep Adhikari
Todd Mercer

One poem by Aremu Adams Adebisi

Book and Love

We started our love with prefaces
without a table where contentment
could be listed with priorities —
a table of contents

we love in crystal leaves,
white as delight, transparent,
bound together with a hard cover —
the shell of our hearts

we put love into action
in the chasms betwixt parallel lines
as she moans in sprawled alphabets
and in knotted contextual meanings

we smile in acts and fight in sequels
to be seen as the cast in scenes
at the end of every chapter

as each page flips and drags
till the antagonist is the protagonist
and the latter soon is the former,
we take the climax for a coin;
a head or a tail —
a comedy or a tragedy

and when it ends with a tail
we'd see it to be a drama
written by our hearts
with a beginning
and an end

AREMU ADAMS ADEBISI is an undergraduate of Economics at the University of Ilorin. He is a poet whose works are in varying poetical outlets. He blogs at artmosterrific.wordpress.com

One poem by David Tuvell

12th Round Boxing Theory

So you started drinking
again? Well, I started writing, and one 
of us is a fool. So according to 
the best laid plans of mousy men, 
and for all intensive purposes, 
I write our requiem.

Summer slips away this time, all mimosas 
on idle noons. The sun boils fight and desire to a syrup. 
Carpenter bees bump into us, fat on porch wood, 
ignoring or ignorant of our rocking in blue, weathered chairs. 
Squash grows shoulder-high, and the fridge is flush 
with Jamaican Red Stripe. Locusts never haunt us.

“Your invention doesn't do anything,” we complain.
“It's as if death is to be mankind's achievement.
Plus, death’s visage seems severe, like a scorned
drug dealer, or a home ec. teacher,
and everyone's left with the composer's tragedy:
a lifetime of would-be speech muffled into Einstein on the Beach.”

We're in the market for muscle memory, for days 
we can figure out purely from context. We want to hear that punk 
band Degenerate that we never started with that beautiful boy 
whose Escher tattoo was drawing itself, to drink
all that wine. But no, you can never find the lovely ones
the day after, when you remember to remember.

We have to hear Karen's words forever:
Feeling froggy? 
Shh. C'mere. 
Dismantle and 
You might need me tomorrow.

And we know that her poetry is the final band 
playing the Titanic, 
and that everything’s fine
until dignity becomes a luxury. 
She was just a Vietnam. 
We were an American Embassy.

There's nothing for you here, Karen. It's amazing 
what can end up as okay. One day we'll all get fresh
tattoos. We'll steal time to read each other's minds in silence. 
Then you can drink all the wine. It was never up to us. 
Something did happen. It left marks, bestial and copper.
Somewhere there's a dartboard scored with dreams and hypodermic needles.

You’ll find that here it's easier to be a criminal than a victim, 
and easier still to be both. You’ll find us talking about doing 
something---self-indulgent, and sad all the time.
So cheer when we die, because we're the bad guys.
With no time, no idea, and no excuse,
we're the excitable morons who loudly misspell salvation.

DAVID TUVELL has written poems for the /New Orleans Review/, /The Steel Toe Review/, NYU's /Minetta Review/, KSU’s /Share/, /Eyedrum Periodically/, and other publications. His English B.A. comes from Kennesaw State University, and he studied substantially at the University of Florida. Outside of poetry, his path has been quite various, and he's made his way through things like software engineering, information science, and labor.

One poem by Gary Beck

Lingering Life

Aged women walk the streets
clad in their daughter's overcoats,
shrunken bodies swimming
in oversize garments
dwarfing shriveled bodies
groping for their hands
in cavernous sleeves
swallowing remnants
of clutching fingers
that once reached out
for the pleasures of life.

GARY BECK spent most of his life as a theater director. He has 11 published chapbooks and 3 accepted, 10 published poetry collections, 5 accepted for publication. He has 3 novels and 3 accepted for publication. 1 short story collection and 1 accepted for publication. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary publications. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. He lives in NYC.

One poem by Hem Raj Bastola

Beside the kiln

To catch
The hurricane
In a saddle
Of the folded mountains
Sleeping horizon
Unseen valley

Thoughts of
Steel mind baked
In the kiln of bricks
Toasted hard served
A Bread, too vague
Difficult to digest
The coal.

A baker
Exploring dark
His de-mattered future
Struggling so hard
Whose futile job
To get the food
To live.

The kiln a poet
Along with assaulted
Sulphuric nostrils
Breathing to cook
His words.

HEM RAJ BASTOLA is currently working as a freelance local tour guide in and around Pokhara Valley, Nepal. He has worked as a Guest Service Agent at the Hotel Pokhara Grande, as a cave guide, inside the cave area for all tourists as well as office assistance in Guptshor Mahadev Cave, as a substitute representative for Sita Travels, as a freelance trekking guide for tourists to the surrounding Annapurna range and as a book salesman in Annapurna Stationary Center.

Hem also enjoys writing poetry, listening to music and collecting stamps.

One poem by James G. Piatt

The Forest

For many years I walked the forest’s trail, through flowered meadows, under Sycamore, Birch, And Alder trees, atop small boulders crossing the stream, 
Mused upon the beauty and tranquility of nature, as I traveled up and down the verdant fields searching for a subtle silence in the stillness of the morn.

I observed the mysteries of life, the Crawling insects, flying bugs and Butterflies, the raspy croaking frogs hiding in the reeds alongside the softly flowing stream watching trout swimming in a pond, the multitude of various Species of birds, the small rodents Racing over the meadow, the deer Silently eating grass with a wary eye open for intruders, all part of the wonders of our existence.

As I now sit beside a deep blue pond with ripples like old blue parchment on its skin caused by a balmy summer breeze, I watch The apricot dawn flowing lazily down the hills, listen to the bird-songs of downy birds sitting in the trees composing melodies. The orange and yellow tinged leaves of the Sycamore trees painted by summer’s heat, dance in the warm air casting flickering shadows like old memories dancing upon the earth’s soul. 

A multitude of memories caress my mind filling my soul with the aroma of sweet hours, and the odor of bitter hours to come. I worry about the time when my days in the forest will end, a sudden hour when I will no longer be able to safely walk the quiet paths, no longer hear the birds singing, the frogs croaking, dip my body into cool ponds, or watch animals quietly walking across the grasslands. As the Hours of my life start to fade, such thoughts cause my mind to sadden. 

JAMES G. PIATT's poems have been nominated for Pushcart and Best of Web awards, and his poems were published in The 100 Best Poems of 2015 & 2014 Anthologies. He has published 2 poetry books “The Silent Pond” (2012), and “Ancient Rhythms,” (2014), and over 665 poems in over 90 different magazine, anthologies, and poetry books. His third poetry book is scheduled for release in January. His books are available on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Two poems by John Grey

Winter Landscape

Cold out
and yet, like a cat on a sill,
he hugs tight to the window,
watches wind glide in and out
of frozen tree trunks
like a slalom skier.

He hums a tune
that writes itself on the pane,
an arranger in glass
capturing the notes
before they're lost forever.

His thoughts are for the woman
with hair longer and blacker
than a highway
but his eyes fill with
what cannot leave
even if it had the urge to.

In winter stillness,
landscape fills
with all that possibly could be there.
It's up to him
to supply the rest.

Spring Morning with Egret

A fluffy white egret emerges
from the cattails,
wings pressed to its side
as it scours the edges of the pond.

Nature, romance,
a contented combination
for as long as I live,
as we watch from the veranda,
sipping coffee on a warm May morning,
my arm around your waist.
your head drifting slowly toward my shoulder
even as your eyes blink in time
to the doings of the birdlife.

Mist rises from the water's surface.
the dew on the grass,
even in my head
where the caffeine fights back
against the deeper wishes of your nearness.

I wonder why he doesn't fly,
But the stillness is a kind of soaring.

JOHN GREY is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.   

One poem by Lee Evans

If only I were I and You were You

It bothers me that I can’t see what you see,
And I would say vice versa—
But I don’t know if it bothers you.

Sometimes I wonder if we’re really conversing,
You know, with the reciprocity they say folks do.

I told you about my day,
You told me about yours;
And I’m sure it all got processed somehow,
But was there anyone involved?

I don’t like to be too introspective.

If only I could step around the corner
To see what’s on the next street,
But I’m always on the street I’m on.

If only I could get behind
The facades of the businesses,
The residences, the historic buildings,
The faces of the madding crowds,
The advertising signs, the sky, the sun.

If only all I ever knew,
Was that you felt the same way too.

LEE EVANS lives in Bath, Maine and works for the local YMCA. In to his literary pursuits, he is currently engaged in studying Pali and early Buddhism.

One poem by Michael Lee Johnson

Hazy Arizona Sky (V4)

Sonoran Desert,
sleep, baby talk, dust covering my eyelids.
No need for covers, blankets,
sunscreen, sand is my pillow.
morning fireball
hurls into Arizona sky,
survival shifts gears,
momentum becomes a racecar driver
baking down on cracked,
crusted earth-
makes Prickly Pear cactus
open to visitors just a mirage,
cactus naked spit and slice
rubbery skull, glut open
dreams, flood dry.
Western cowboy wishes, whistles, and movies
valley one cup of cool, clear, fool's desert gold
dust refreshing poison of the valley.
Bring desert sunflowers, sand dunes, bandanas,
leave your cell phone at home.

MICHAEL LEE JOHNSON lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era: now known as the Illinois poet, from Itasca, IL. Today he is a poet, freelance writer, photographer who experiments with poetography (blending poetry with photography), and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois, who has been published in more than 875 small press magazines in 27 countries. He edits 10 poetry sites. Michael is the author of The Lost American: "From Exile to Freedom", several chapbooks of poetry, including "From Which Place the Morning Rises" and "Challenge of Night and Day", and "Chicago Poems". He also has over 74 poetry videos on YouTube.

Two poems by Richard Luftig

What Remains

Winter seems intent
on overstaying its welcome
and the ice grasping

the last open water,
has taken full control.
Mist and smoke from chimneys

mingle in counterpoint
while the dull-gray
sky hovers in dusk

in order to ply its trade.
But the weeds
between the boarded-up

houses know what to do:
they raise their chins,
to keep their heads above

the snow line.
those masters

of light, flatten
and fade. Keep
 they whisper

in my ear. This wind
will cut you like a poet
paring, always paring

word after word,
eliminating everything
bare to the bone.


(A  poem in the shi Tradition)

It is still; all day here.
Same, planted land, stitched
Together. Towns too shy
To announce themselves.

It is still; this skyscape.
Clouds of satin pillows.
This barn, this bale
That stand no-where.

There are tractors in a field.
There are combines on the land.
There are scars plowed into this soil.
Nothing lasts longer than these days in July.

RICHARD LUFTIG is a former professor of educational psychology and special education at Miami University in Ohio now residing in Pomona, CA. He is a recipient of the Cincinnati Post-Corbett Foundation Award for Literature and a semi finalist for the Emily Dickinson Society Award. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals in the United States and internationally in Japan, Canada, Australia, Europe, Thailand, Hong Kong and India.

One poem by Saloni Kaul

Haphazard Revolutionaries Seek Leader

As though at the behest of some primeval thinking force
A distant sun’s haze is agleam
Vying with the shapechanging clouds for form
Like sharp forecasts, predictions fetched from dream.

When channeling sighs into thought tunnels that transform
Perhaps a cheerier brighter sound results anew.
The sheer yearning of those shapeless for form
Makes the gold sun spring into view. 

SALONI KAUL, author and poet, was first published at the age of ten and has been in print since. As critic and columnist Saloni has enjoyed thirty seven years of being published. Saloni Kaul's first volume, a fifty poem collection was published in the USA in 2009. Subsequent volumes include Universal One and Essentials All. Most recent Saloni Kaul poetic production has been published in Poetry Quarterly, Eye On Life Magazine, Tipton Poetry Journal, The Horrorzine, Poetry And Paint Anthology, Misty Mountain Review, Inwood Indiana and Mad Swirl. Upcoming publication acceptances include Sentinel Quarterly and The Voices Project. 

One poem by Sudeep Adhikari

Mountains are Memories

Borrowing few pints of green loneliness
from the mountains of Baitadi
The road winds-unwinds, like a drunk.   
It keeps folding unto itself, underneath
the shades of UFOs
made of silver and skeletal clouds.

A blanket of sad vapors
slowly ascends
from the sleepless Mahakali,
just before the ghosts of evening find me.  

An unknown longing, an ache you
can’t name. The road and the traveler,
we both are haunted. We both are shapes of
question-marks, anxieties and bends. 

My boss asks the driver:
"How far is Darchula now?” I don't  
even want to know, I don't want to
make a sound. The silence is too
God, too frail to touch.  

[Baitadi, Darchula: The far-western Nepal;
Mahakali: One of the largest rivers of Nepal]

SUDEEP ADHIKARI, from Kathmandu Nepal, is professionally a PhD in Structural-Engineering. He lives in Kathmandu with his wife and family and works as an Engineering-Consultant.  His poetry has found place in many online literary journals/ magazines, the recent being Kyoto (Japan), Scarlet Leaf Review (Canada), Red Fez (USA), Zombie Logic Review (USA), Uneven Floor (Australia), Dark Matter Journal (USA) and Open Mouse (Scotland).

One poem by Todd Mercer

Always Been a Lightweight

Left with a bowl, a book, the clothes
on my back. I carried confidence
in the good will of my fellow man. And woman.
It might have been unwarranted idealism
Walked my shoes through, and the next pair,
miles in service of the mildest breakthroughs.
I didn’t always know what to do. Unsure
which scale can weigh the wisdom
of those who chuck everything.
I lit out carefree, half-informed
but bound to find the best version
of each person, strangers on the path
as friends unmet yet. I left clean
and limber. Packed light, lit out,
been moving since then.


TODD MERCER won the Dyer-Ives Kent County Prize for Poetry in 2016, the National Writers Series Poetry Prize for 2016, and the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts Flash Fiction Award for 2015. His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, appeared at Right Hand Pointing. Mercer's recent poetry and fiction appear in: Bartleby Snopes, Blast Furnace, Cheap Pop, Eunoia Review, The Fib Review, Flash Frontier Magazine, Fried Chicken and Coffee, In-flight Literary Magazine, The Lake, The Magnolia Review, Softblow Journal, Star 82 Review and Two Cities Review.