Category: Poetry (Page 1 of 2)

Book Review: Kendra Tanacea’s “A Filament Burns in Blue Degrees”


BY: Catherine M. Darby

A Filament Burns in Blue Degrees by Kendra Tanacea is a haunting first collection of poems released this year by Lost Horse Press. Tanacea is a master of the moment—not straight-on moments, but rather, ones full of visuals and emotions that transport the reader into Tanacea’s world. In this world, the reader becomes a lover, beloved, betrayed, friend, child, and want-to-be-mother, all while ruminating about life and the fullness it can offer.

Her poems intelligently meander on corners of braided rugs and peep through keyholes to see what life is beyond that usual existence of life, her words intoning the mysteries and science of the universe.

In “Keyhole,” the narrator looks through the keyhole of a locked door, straining to see “what is out of sight.” The words deliver full sensory experiences of an ever-widening life:

There is the scent of man, of woman, of cedar.
The eye shifts, straining in its socket.
French doors open onto a veranda
overlooking an ivy-walled garden.
The round moon is rising, giant and yellow.
Star jasmine, star jasmine!
An eye can see far beyond
its scope: solar systems, galaxies,
the Milky Way’s skid of stars.
All atoms, revolving around one another.

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Two Poems by Bree A. Rolfe

In the Waiting Room of the Dell Children’s Hospital CF Clinic
at Age 40

The Disney princess pictures and Finding Nemo posters
haphazardly                  tacked up
at registration cubicles     where
nurses     wearing cartoon scrubs
remind you          of the fact that
you are supposed to be dead by now.

Even your medicine           reeks of     childhood:

Asian hamsters.

Imagine.                   A tiny syringe                     extracting
secretions         from their genetically         engineered ovaries.

Remember that fragile hamster
you owned for three days?
It caught
cold and died.

So many dead hamsters.
Their tiny bodies
cooling off,
water removed
from flame.

But that one death?

You cried. More than
all the others.
Not because you
knew it best.

You loved it best
because
it was the most
beautiful.

Is there some kind of strange beauty       in slowly      dying     of a child’s disease
but not knowing until decades later?

You never got out
of gym class or Made-A-Wish
or topped the other girls’
sob stories at Annie Katz’s
sleepover when they kept playing
Richard Marx’s Hold on to the Nights and crying.

How do we explain something that took us by surprise?

Now you can’t remember if you had nothing
to share     because
you’re not         really
a joiner    or because you walked in
late          and they were already
crying.

A Few Seconds to Answer

The sun came up with no conclusions—
spattering emptiness across our faces. I
gave up in the driving sand.

And what we felt was regret.

If we were lions, there would be
rules— postures we could mime.

We would play the game
and feel powerful. But in-between,
everything feels like Jeopardy, where
there is an impossible question and
only a few
seconds to answer it correctly.

We are useless, like cat massage,
living in the house where you grew up,
clinging to common calculations,
drowning in wall to wall what ifs.

But the day we climbed, like baby
birds, out of the sunroof
of my Toyota Corolla, listening
to Mazzy Star on repeat,
that day was something else.

 

Bree A. Rolfe holds an MFA from the Writing Seminars at Bennington College. Her work has appeared in Saul Williams’ poetry anthology Chorus: A Literary Mixtape, the Barefoot Muse Anthology Forgetting Home: Poems About Alzheimer’s, the Redpaint Hill Anthology Mother is a Verb, and 5AM Magazine. Originally from Boston, she now lives in Austin, TX where she writes poetry and teaches. 

Go Ahead

Wren Tuatha

It’s a box that grins softly to be opened,
as if the last bite of chocolate were inside,
the bite I amble toward
as if I don’t need it,
as if I’m only finishing what I started…

It’s a box with the flaps lazing on one another,
squares with curved souls
and dark recesses,
lightweight, liftable folds.
Only paper…

And the lifting is a soundless opera
extolling the seven stages of indecision—
temptation/guilt/negotiation/guilt/resolve/renegotiation/squinting.

The folds peel
and the light advances like an army
following orders without flinching,
rolls in like an ocean obeying
the laws of water in dry places.
And the darkness, like a vampire’s cape,
like Peter Pan’s shadow grown up,
abandons the folds as they surrender,
fainting, hanging like laundry.

And there it is,
small for the box,
the dark, bittersweet
chocolate of truth.

 

Wren Tuatha’s poetry has appeared in Baltimore Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Loch Raven Review, Clover A Literary Rag, Driftwood Press, Lavender Review, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Avatar Review, Five2One Magazine, and the anthology Grease and Tears. Wren and her partner, author/activist C.T. Lawrence Butler, herd skeptical goats on a mountain in California.

Two Poems by Alexander Radison

I Cannot Dwell in Possibility

There is a theory that states
there are an infinite number
of parallel universes, each a mirror
of our own, but slightly different.
Each choice made creates another universe:
In this one, I went back to college,
in another, I stayed in the army.
Here, my mother picked up her first cigarette at 14
in the bitter cold, December 1975.
In another, she politely declined.
There is a world where she never worried
that she may have to bury her first son.
The version of me that she deserved
lives in that one.
There’s one where I could call her, right now.
Hear her voice, her laugh.
Tell her I love her. Tell her
Everything, anything at all.

 

Semantic Satiation

The first time I said it, it was as if I was speaking some foreign tongue that was similar to my own but different in one small way that made it so completely wrong, so alien, that it warped my sense of reality like a black hole. She was. I said it three more times: Was. Was. Was. Say a word enough times and your brain loses the ability to process it. It starts to lose its meaning, becomes an abstract concept, just letters with no real value: Was. Was. W / A / S. Originally wæs, past tense singular of wesan in Old English—to remain. Also derived from bēon— to be, from the Proto-Germanic biju. Was. The past tense of the most common yet irregular verb in the English language, described as a collection of semantically related paradigm fragments. Or, an accidental conglomeration from the different Old English dialects. 53 years on this Earth reduced to an accidental conglomeration of sounds. Sounds that clump deep in my throat before dripping from my lips like molasses, thick and slow and sticky. Sugar boiled bitter.

 

Alexander Radison is an MFA candidate in poetry at Queens College (CUNY), where he also teaches creative writing. His work has been previously published in Utopia Parkway Literary Magazine, Newtown Literary Journal, The Violet Hour, and was awarded the Making Work Visible poetry prize at www.laborarts.org.

 

Two Poems by Breeann Kyte

Translation

in the close dark causes tongues to catch
on knobbed spines. Unzippering
mouthfuls along the length of secret

sentences. One language to another
opens in a grin, a stutter
to a tentative translation
of this alphabet of four.

Now see,
her jaw lit.
Why sew ivy
cut for the sun? Let

barrel-folded fingers wring the kinks straight:
Staircased helices, the hidden yes.

 

Phages in Love 

Infection
Separates fuse in this commitment
to kill unless a mad moron. No dead
end here: pressure, coiled tight, crushed
in corners, quiet until now. When God
says to count stars, he has no idea
the amplitude of the viral flood.
Their collars fringed with feelers, pulsing
signals as legs snap to attention—
rapt in another—stories thrusted, spill,
remake cytosolic space.

Lysis
Replicate: this urge, primordial
code to send snipped ends in embrace;
tongues alter to single tale. Houdini
never vanished so completely, never
resurrected as a multitude.
No magic in heedless need stripping
away sense of self until a ripple,
a shiver through lipid walls—the hijack
fills to burst, seams split wide.

Lysogeny
A more temperate path: long life
shrunk small, tucked into, integrated—
part of the spiraled ladder of years.
The Cumean Sybil’s voice was not so
soft, not so persuasive, hushing. Replicate
with each divided daughter further
doubled, further repressed, suppressed
and snugged in cell. They looped through
wiry helix until induced to excise.

Annul this union.

 

 

Breeann Kyte is a research biologist, creative writer, and facilitates collaborations between scientists, writers and visual artists. She writes poetry as a fresh way to use language and images for her research and writing. Both poems are on the life cycles of viruses. Her creative work has been published in The Scientist, Sunshine Noir, the Eeel, Orion (online blog), Serving House Journal, and City Creatures (Center for Humans & Nature).

 

Two Poems by Natalie Crick

BY Natalie Crick

See

The moon hangs in utter darkness,
A smoldering black,

A crack of light
Disappearing almost,
The world paused outside.

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The Crossroads

By Danell Jones

 

Find yourself at crossroads
Stamp your feet
Shake the dust off your metaphor
Give thanks you are not Oedipus
Release your nightmares back to sleep

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Two Poems by Scot Siegel

Numerology of Silence

Is there any difference between the silence of two and three? —A. Molotkov

Silence between two, underlaid by celibacy
or monogamy, fidelity through menopause,
is intimacy; the negative potential is real.

Silence of three, in the boardroom or bedroom,
conspiracy or love-triangle, is intimate too;
a testing of allegiances.

Silence among four, your daughter’s suitor
comes for dinner, on the eve of graduation,
is kinship too; silence as makeshift survival raft.

Silence of five is like the silence of seven, or nine;
but the silence of millions, death of a prophet, or well-
loved musician, is different: not unlike the silence of one.

 

On Returning from the High Country

I need to find a different line of work, one that measures progress in
footfall, elevation gain and descent, progress through transects

of biome and microclimate, hurried season of bees, hummingbirds
holding summer’s frame still at eye-level; wildflower sex at the speed

of glacial till, and glaciers clinging still to the craggy roof of the world—
I could make a career of camp setup and takedown; scouting food cache

& unmapped spring; tracking huckleberries, morels, currents gathered
in a loose shirt; casting with Aengus’s brown topless girl, who divines

trout from an emerald lair with a cane pole and red berry—
I must begin and end each day like this, beside a ring of river stones,

feasting on a small, steely fire of my own making.

 

Scot Siegel, an Oregon poet and city planner, is the author of five books of poetry, most recently The Constellation of Extinct Stars and Other Poems (2016) and Thousands Flee California Wildflowers (2012), both published by Salmon Poetry of Ireland. His writing is part of the permanent art installation along the Portland-to-Milwaukie Light Rail Orange Line. Siegel has served as Artist-in-Residence with Playa at Summer Lake and the Oregon State University College of Liberal Arts Spring Creek Project.

Oracle

by dave caserio

Even until I die, hooked jawed, in bare breath gulp, rise
To leaf rotted air, above gulf of river bottom gravel,
May the ghost jiggle out, spread, over rut of sand
And egg to shear again toward being again a song.
May it leap as it squawks, as black-eyed swans
Who screech the air, or peasants who pipe,
Whistle and wail, bang at tin to startle crows.
Or the bark and cackled whine of arctic fox
In first fire of summer heat as they arc, nip.
Or a bubbled yip of marrow through the bone,
Syllabic hiss that fissures shell, stone,
To ask again, “Who will I love? What will I be?
When, shall the rain come?

 

 

Dave Caserio is the author of This Vanishing from CW Books, and Wisdom For A Dance In The Street, a CD of poetry and music from Gazoobi Tales. A recipient of a Fellowship in Poetry award from the New York State Foundation of the Arts, Dave has worked with various community outreach programs, the Humanities Montana Speakers Bureau, Arts Without Boundaries, the Billings YMCA/Writer’s Voice “Poets on the Prairie” and for the Billings Clinic Cancer Center conducting writing workshops for cancer survivors. He is a founding member of the writer’s collective, Big Sky Writing, and Producer of a series of poetry-in-performance events, A Feast For The Hunger Moon, WordSongs, Arc of the Communal, and I Conjure A Stubborn Faith, that combine poetry, music, dance and the visual arts.

Two Poems by Kathleen Boyle

Iztactépetl

In those years of heat and light we were on fire with syllabus,
we were grease-pummeled and sweated into ashen brown

with salt and human blood. The stain of health
coated our fingers as we inhaled the powder of it,

the smudge and smear of earth, while fate licked icy
beneath the ribs, fate, that cracked and broken

bean that turns to ooze. Is it true the Aztecs
believed hummingbirds represent the soul of warriors

died in battle? Meanwhile the wind blew like a mariachi playing
a trumpet at midnight. I lost you there. The season

was full of ice and the current flowed so fast.

 

The Difference Between Land and Ocean

The problem with cremation
is there’s nowhere to go
to be present with the dead

person. Call me old-fashioned,
but I want to know their very bones
are near. In the case of my father

I’ve returned to the lighthouse
but it is the place in reverse,
the vantage all wrong,

because we scattered the ashes
from the water not land, and also
because it was a day so foggy

we could barely see
our hands. Last time I was there
was unexpected, on a bike ride,

the day winter clear, windy
with the fear of not getting back
before dark. Still, I clomped

around the corner to look down
to where we had floated
in the boat, to where there was now

a small spout and arch close to shore
and people shouting “whale!”
My father’s is not like the graves

of Gary or Ruby or the baby
in Bodega, where you can go sit
on the green hillside

when you want to be with
them. The problem with the ocean
is not only that it is too cold

but also that it washes everything
away, although at least I can say I held
the last of him in my own hands.

 

Kathleen Boyle was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals including Zyzzyva, The Seattle Review, and Crab Creek Review.  

 

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