Other notable works by Collin Kelley, Beverly Jackson and Arlene Ang.
L. Ward Abel-
Wordless in Missouri
“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective
as a rightly timed pause.” Samuel Clemens
Upon his last visit to Hannibal,
I think it was in 1902,
Sam arrived the conquering hero.
The townsfolk displayed
their children as Huck Finn characters
and the author ate it up,
attending dinners, talks and teas.
At one such meeting
he laughed and talked
and just as quickly
Twain knew it was goodbye.
At that advanced age
his youth was finally
infused with God
don’t have to speak
anything to anyone.
They pass no eyes
they never leave,
as do so many crows
reading tea leaves
skies and faces,
just let me rest here.
may be possible,
Where Two Rivers Agree
Near Lumber City
a current forms
as wide as a mouth
(but hundreds of miles inland).
There is power here. Roiling
under-surface, one gets the sense
of dragons or whales. Red.
Red like blood-eroded foothills
that feed into flow, deep
with memory of storms.
Remains float to the surface,
ride fallen live oak, flee
to the dance.
(From the Movie)
After talking for a while, she led me up the stairs,
slowly at first, then frenzied. The sun was soon to come
after a night of bar-crawling and mischief. Her bed was
piled high, thick, as was she. Covers held imprints
of many prior travelers, and now me.
Engulfed in flame, sizzling, I heard sounds,
sounds filled with moisture and fruition. Was certain
that others heard us, as well. Morning came, a return to light,
to shower and our release.
The arrival had been in black and white,
From the bluff
a blanket long and bluegray
was just beyond hayrolls sloping down
to waters covered
by said fog,
but lower on the road
to the cut where Line Creek rolls
the bank of cloud was gone
as if magic does exist, and seeing is not
Even if the vanishing hadn’t portrayed
and opened my way to Thursday
I would have burst through regardless
not enough atoms
in the spray to impact more solidness
that is my ride, my honda, peacekeeper now
waxed with “what the hell” in her tank. Shrugging.
the haze was fearful of resisting clarity
this morning, fearful of me with my flashing eyes,
as they look
a little mad.
Poet, composer of music and spoken-word performer, L. Ward Abel lives in rural Georgia, and has been widely published in the U.S., Europe and Asia, including White Pelican Review, The Pedestal, Versal, Juked, Angel Face, OpenWide, Ink Pot, Texas Poetry Journal, Kritya , Words-Myth, others. His chapbook, Peach Box and Verge, is published by Little Poem Press. Twenty of his poems are featured, along with an interview, in a recent print issue of erbacce. His new full book of poems, Jonesing For Byzantium, has just been published at UK Authors Press.
Raise the Titanic
The Titanic is wrecked at the bottom
of my old toy box, red and black paint fading,
masts long gone, bridge smashed, stacks
cracked and listing between Big Bird
and Bionic Woman.
The night I built her, following badly drawn
instructions, I bit down on the glue tip,
poison gushing, seizing my teeth,
stilling my tongue, lips sealing,
my mother screaming, my father leaping
into action, grabbing a toothbrush,
scraping my mouth clean of crust.
The model would never float, it ran aground
on my dresser, until it went nose down
into toy graveyard, littered with the forgotten
and outgrown, settling into long dark.
Documentaries and blockbusters
could never raise her, but now that Lillian Asplund
is dead, age 99, only five when she huddled
in a lifeboat, her father and brothers sinking
un-cinematically into icy Atlantic,
I am searching. Hold my breath, dive
into the motionless sea of basement damp,
bring the ship back to surface.
I can almost see her there, waiting on deck,
breath hovering like a ghost, deciding
she will never speak of this again,
will disappear into the ether, take memories
hidden in drenched pockets into next lifetime,
to be stored in a cool, dry place.
From this depth, I can see my father,
looking down at me, his face rippling
and reflecting in the humid air, smiling,
telling me to go on ahead and not be afraid,
that he’ll be on the next boat.
We kiss as if nothing ever happened,
my arms encircle your expanded waist,
now thicker than mine, which was too much
flesh for your fantasies of skin and bone.
Everyone you paraded a camp survivor,
a binge and purge purveyor,
a pole for you to vault over my extremis.
You wanted to see their hearts race
at your touch, the membrane so thin between
surface and veins. Make them invisible
in your hands, an x-ray.
You could never make me invisible,
and it was more than fat dividing us.
That brain of yours a split fruit, one half
ripe with the need to explore beyond me,
the other juicy with nesting, the closest
we could get to marriage.
I watch Geraldine Page, round with age,
wearing pounds and years like a hard won badge,
making her final trip to Bountiful.
She summons emotions transcendent of mastered
craft and years in front of unforgiving cameras.
I never loved my husband, seeps
between gloved hands and rising sobs.
She’s telling about the one who got away,
a man who walked a mile every day
just to pass her porch,
his nod the only tangible passion.
On the porch today, your lips brushing mine,
going through the pantomime of ordinary,
as if your divisive 3 a.m. words
didn’t extract a pound of flesh,
I tell you I’m settling with someone else.
But I can’t help but wonder
if you would walk a mile for me,
now that I’ve mastered the craft of grace,
to nod in assent that you gave me up for less
because I was more.
Music transports me momentarily
as if I’ve slipped through a worm hole
between couch cushion cracks
so I’m suddenly on Boulevard St.-Germain
and a woman wails, making song
from her throat, a hymn of nonsense,
as a red sports car speeds past and I
cinematically turn my head to follow
the burn it leaves in the Paris air,
one hand beckoning me to chase in hope
that it might slow down long enough
to hitch a ride to wherever the driver
might be going, to be the passenger
for once, to let go of the wheel
to race away from where reverie
began, so I can no longer feel its pull
back across the ocean to this life,
a leash pulling me up short
two god fingers on the scruff of my neck,
reigned in for my own good.
20th Century Boy
The night I screamed you out of my life
for good, fed your confettied photo
to swirling toilet, a ticker tape parade
and dead fish burial rolled into one.
Later, I found the box, a jiffy popped
trove of forgotten snapshots, you
bursting in full color from every slick
surface, sulky, smirky, your mouth
issuing smoke, cigarette blurred
in your expressive hands.
If I hold them just right, I can make
a flip book of that last day,
bring you back to animated life,
the shots where you’re walking away
snapping through my fingers,
your back retreating in increments,
and if I flip the other way,
you coming back.
Collin Kelley is an award-winning poet and playwright from Atlanta. He is the author of Slow To Burn (2006, Metro Mania Press) and Better To Travel (2003), which was nominated for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and Lambda Literary Award. His spoken word CD, HalfLife Crisis, was recently re-issued by CD Baby. He is the recipient of the Georgia Author of the Year/Taran Memorial Award and a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Kelley’s poetry has appeared in many journals, including In Posse Review, Blue Fifth Review, Terminus, New Delta Review, Chiron Review, poeticdiversity, The Pedestal, Lily, Welter, SubtleTea and the critically acclaimed anthologies, Red Light: Superheroes, Sluts & Saints (Arsenal Pulp Press) and A Slice of Cherry Pie (The Private Press, UK). He is also co-editor of the award-winning Java Monkey Speaks Anthology series (Poetry Atlanta Press) and The Thrill & The Hurting: Poems and Art Inspired by the Music of Kate Bush (Morning Fog Press, UK).
God laid an egg
in her nest in the sky,
and the already hatched
called it the Moon.
The stars were mere
commas in her journal
of life. The Sun, a footnote
of last season’s brood.
The earth, when it cracked,
spilled out bigger fools
than dodos and dinosaurs—
creatures too human for love.
Their feet make woodcuts in the snow, wings flutter
at feeders, then puff for warmth, posed on drooping boughs.
I watch. I wonder. Where are their innumerable dead?
These myriad cardinals, jays, finches and titmice–all aflitter in the icy lace—
don’t outlive trees—their lives span but a few years. Where are the little
cadavers on their backs, stiffened legs, with blind beebee eyes?
The occasional mandala of feathers on the summer lawn, or piece of down
snagged on a bush, would be the wily work of cat. But where are all who sing
no more, too old to relish the tomato worm, to tend an egg, to build a nest?
No tiny tell-tale bones litter woods or fields or paths. The mourning doves
don’t really mourn. It’s as if birds, like souls, vanish into empty skies
while a simple chee or skirree obscures their goodbyes.
The therapist heard my recurring dream
of being in Pompeii, frozen in ashen
lava, standing in an arched recess,
holding the hand of my mother—
forgotten relics welded in magna,
Madonna and Child—clothed
in grimy grief, despair–
our lifetime legacy. “You love
her too much,” the Doctor said.
“You give her your life. See?
It’s right there in your dream.”
Who can say we are at choice?
The Hindenburg theories—sabotage,
lightning, static sparks—or maybe
incendiary doping compound painted
on fabric skin—flammable hydrogen,
another likely culprit— but who knows?
Over New Jersey, it caught fire and fell.
Longer than three 747’s placed end
to end, longer than four Goodyear Blimps,
a flying Titantic, it dissolved ablaze. Some
survived—even a Nazi acrobat with a dog
aboard. But the German shepherd didn’t make it.
Who can say there is a grand design?
My father rode tail gun in a B17. His ship was
the last of fifteen in formation when the Luftwaffe
attacked. The bombs on The Big Bitch exploded,
the plane spun and fell in pieces—fireworks
in a sky cluttered with steel birds, heavens grayed
by smoke while The Secretary of War expressed
his deep regret. Sixty years later, the fires still burn
in the hearts of the living. Not dice, but a million
little matches making universal mischief.
Who can say God doesn’t play with fire?
My mother clutched my hand, but her eyes stared
past the boundaries of this world into the next. Her
once brown pupils diluted to hoary glass, skin yellowed
as wax, she motioned me closer, her gaze never
wavering. “You’ve been a good daughter.” Her voice
distant, a gargled whisper lost in rumpled sheets.
As she went, a cold wind swept the room,
a tempest extinguishing every burning thing.
And I was dropped back into myself like a gift.
What can be learned might never be in books
but in ardor that burns up life and then consumes itself.
Who can say?
Beverly A. Jackson is a poet, short story writer and painter living in the mountains of N.C. She is the former founder, editor in chief, and publisher of Lit Pot Press, Inc. and lit journal, Ink Pot (1999-2005). Her work has appeared in approximately 60 venues, including Zoetrope All Story Extra, Melic Review, In Posse Review, Absinthe Review and Rattle. She was nominated for a BASS and won several contests with flash fiction.
Black Tar Girl
_sonnenizio on a line from Ros Barber_
Windows, if opened, explode onto the street,
as if the street itself injects a bomb. And no matter
how we board everything up, streetlight needles
the walls. She’s on the street corner, her hair
a street-gray bruise around her neck. She pretends
she’s waiting for the bus. We know street heroin
is her street — the way a bear stands on its hind legs
before swiping the face, camera and street clothes
off the antihero. A street like her can fit a planet
into a syringe. A street can cramp itself into a rush.
We say we won’t let her in. For a street, she hasn’t
any newspapers or street music for our dead.
Her street name shoots star galleries on our skin.
We keep the street sounds out. Then, we let her in.
Night, with Owls on Witch Trees
We never make love, but lie face up
as if we could float all the way to Andromeda.
The ceiling fan slashes shadows
into the oak armoire: a Jesus rib, quilted leaves,
a cusp from the Queen of Hearts.
We are bone-naked under flannel,
like too many positives shuffling into papers.
Outside, a car stalls. Mice scurry
through grass. The neighbor’s girl fumbles
with keys, the hand brake, buttons.
In the headlight across the room,
we spool breaths, hold out for an x-ray of sky.
the outside world;
windows quickly fog.
crumpled against each other,
it’s hard to tell
who’s alive and who
The zip from someone’s winter jacket
sticks a metallic muzzle
against my cheek.
I squeeze further to a corner,
and my head wipes
the glass of its mist.
Outside, the gray divides
into fractions of
neon signs, headlights.
In the back, an old man starts
Auschwitz to anyone
who would listen.
Arlene Ang lives in Spinea, Italy. She is the author of The Desecration of Doves (iUniverse, 2005). Her poetry has appeared In Posse Review, Magma, Poetry Ireland, Rattle and Smiths Knoll. She received the 2006 Frogmore Poetry Prize (UK) and serves as a poetry editor for The Pedestal Magazine and Press 1. More of her work can be viewed at leafscape.