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Other notable works by Corinne Bailey and Brenda Levy Tate.
Carol Lynn Grellas-
I’m giving you means to unmarked places.
Where will I go without a yearning?
You’ll go towards an inky-world, bruised
blue with madness where bedlam creeps.
But won’t I wonder which path to take?
Yes, you’ll wonder, but you’ll choose a way.
Will it be wrong?
Well, who will guide me to find my way back?
This is your journey, to find your way back.
But I’ll surely fail without halos and wings.
You won’t fail.
Will there be halos and wings?
Just look through the bluing of whitened clouds.
And I’ll find my way back?
You’re already here.
After Reading Neruda
Let it be the roistering sea
wakes the wind within me;
the moon a witness to the brokenness
of years gone by, where horses
danced to lullaby or soliloquy
of lapping shores, where old women
undressed and fell through ocean
floors; blueness to blueness upon
the eyes of waves calling for a placid
sea and the fisherman to appear
from heaven’s door
tiny lotus flowers of the deep
Once love made her cry
when she remembered the sound of pianos
in recital halls when she was twelve−
These were the blue days when she’d take
long walks in San Francisco, down 19th
avenue until she came to the gates
of the Zoo; a holy place with high bars,
and ornamental gates.
Shiny keys swung from every pen
surrounding beauteous creatures.
Sometimes she’d stay and watch
the Leopards, consider jumping in;
being suspended from a fig tree
on a cold day in June, as pigeons
cooed and examined the sidewalk
for miracles like hungry vagabonds
murmuring words from the bible.
No telephone rings nor songs
to sing over the warmth of candles
that beg the need for recall;
This is all that keeps me hostage
to a thing named love; an invisible
branding burned so deep the flesh
has worn to bone and I have known
one way to lose this weight
for a very long time; ignore the date
you hoped you’d hear my voice.
But I am here, inside my room; my brain
unkempt and carved upon the floor.
This is my ode to you, my private
lobotomy; all memory removed.
I’ve left a post-it on the door;
“From your neer do well. Please don’t
blame your children anymore.”
Carol Lynn Grellas is a three-time Pushcart nominee and the author of two chapbooks and one book of poems: Litany of Finger Prayers, from Pudding House Press, Object of Desire newly released from Finishing Line Press and A Thousand Tiny Sorrows soon to be released from March Street Press. She is widely published in magazines and online journals including most recently, The Centrifugal Eye, Oak Bend Review and deComp, with work upcoming in Breadcrumb Scabs, Past Simple and Best of Boston Literary Magazine. She lives with her husband, five children and a little blind dog who sleeps in the bathtub.
It’s in the flower arches made yellow-gold by light bending –
across the garden, through purple Japanese elms,
over the leaf-strewn path to nowhere: this is sanctuary.
We sit and wait, let the day wrap around us,
looking up now and then to your window
where heavy curtains force the night.
We wish you could feel this caress-skin-warmth,
wish you could witness this day in a city known for its summer chill.
It’s as if, for one day, the world is quietly listening
in rhythm with heartbeats around you.
They beat in purity. They beat with awareness of days ending.
They beat with love-light.
On Thirteen Ways of Looking at Cancer
In the garden, tulips call. There is time to gather them.
Today you walked to the edge of a sea bluff.
All fears have magically left; save the one.
There is nothing like Ben and Jerry’s against a dry tongue.
Perhaps it will be breakfast, lunch and supper.
Everyone is kind. Even when you are aren’t.
You are open to anything. Even acupuncture.
The heart’s beating is nearly always audible now.
It beats and that is all that matters. You listen.
You can smoke all the pot you want.
But you won’t.
Every goodbye is everything.
You have become a camera lens.
When the fog rolls in to take the sun away,
you feel the loss of something you can’t name.
Dreams are full of friends you have lost.
Sleep improves chances of survival.
Each season is a delight. Trees
are special; why didn’t you know that?
Your husband loves you.
Now you know.
So many opportunities to celebrate.
Good days. Bad days. Days.
Fly By Kite
A cloud briefly paints the day orange;
it rains wings. Ladies land on thistle,
sipping cosmos and blazing stars.
My eyes follow the air dance:
a fluttering feast of impulses.
A few stay: it’s time.
The puff kites northward to where you are,
hands plunged in artichoke flowers.
We share only sky.
Corinne Bailey lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two nearly-grown children. Corinne administers a poetry web site (criticalpoet.com) and an online journal (Triggerfish Critical Review). When not working on these projects, she manages to squeeze in a few poems. She’s been published in The Toronto Quarterly, Lopside Press, 48 Degrees North Sailing Magazine, Poets Against War, Poetry Super Highway & Poetry Magazine.
Brenda Levy Tate-
Landscape Painting in the 9B Common Room
I rest on the riverbank, folded lotus
in a torn sweater, hands open on rubbed
knees. No one will notice me here.
Starry water curves with recurrent light,
loops eastward toward greater glory,
switches back to yesterday’s dark.
I inhale sweet-fern and mist. Orb
spiders hang fresh cables between rushes,
hope for a rich morning harvest.
Two barred owls crisscross marshes,
anxious for blood-luck. Above silver hills,
Venus calls them home unsatisfied.
Deer cry to each other like French horns
in concert. Soft, then strident – blown grass
blades, taut between children’s thumbs.
Moths waver without self-awareness
in arc lamp spirals. Against predawn,
bats chitter their tiny introit to sleep.
Wild geese circle a bright meander,
whuff-whuff-whuff wingbeats low overhead.
This passing wraps me close as skin.
They are upstream, heading away. I stir
as someone sounds the code alarm. Whuff-
whuff-whuff. A straggle-bird falls out.
I follow their woodwind harmonies,
shiver at unexpected cold – legs, feet.
Soon my absence will be discovered.
The Annis River slips quietly, a water girl
in a silk dress. Wind tousles dry rushes, sniffs
along the bank, releases the last bluejays
into evening, their cries like ripped cotton.
I’ve made that sound, too, watching you break
the gate to some other where. Now my breath’s
a flicker, electrons dancing between two chords,
fzzzzt! I speak only if there’s no better choice.
Ain’t much money in words, you’d remind me.
I open wide as a fan-shell and listen for more
but you’re dead, aren’t you? Please say yes;
keep me from asking another stupid question.
Since you won’t answer, I retrace old shapes –
boot jabbing your kick-stand, hair snarling
against an upturned collar. You skid and surge
onto the one-lane bridge, while I wipe grit
off my faux fur coat. Rain blows into my face
and whirlpools me home: the known
universe, a narrow edge you’ve abandoned.
Years later, I stare at a wet moon and wonder
why I couldn’t steal blindness instead of fire.
She claimed to be a Buddhist, chain-smoking
with friends in my cousin’s farmyard. How
long did it take for her to lose her faith
in you, too? I’m here again, pulled along
an empty highway — a real highway — gummed
with leaves and frog skins. It crosses downstream,
loops like a cloth tape measure, brings fresh game
each night. Lights rise and dip, racing with deer
in their beams. Having endured the sky’s apathy,
I think about crueler things than smashed ditch-eyes.
Nobody’s ending is ever quite as expected.
But roads, rivers, and old women understand
each other very well.
You were an air dancer.
Now you spill feathers into wet
leaves beneath my window.
I watch while you mouth nothing,
open and close with jellyfish
persistence, as if a reaching
beak can unlock your chest
with its satin lining. You cannot
return to that overhead blue.
You must have believed in
altocumulus angels, light,
wayside tamaracks, sweet
buds and late-day rest.
How could you understand
the fakery of reflection?
You thought you’d seen a kind
horizon in the glass, but snapped
your neck against its illusion.
I, too, have battered myself
on another tossback sheen –
a paradise too bright for me.
You, little one, have the good
sense to die without protest.
I still strain toward an impossible
mirror. But its casement sky
will never admit my crinkled wings,
though I pretend to be taken in.
I only live to stun myself again
and fall, broken worse than you,
on the slick and careless ground.
The Flower Lover
Before they undress, she studies
his room, at first encouraged
by orchid pots on the windowsill.
But mealybugs speck his cattleyas:
pinkish lint, pointy-tailed. She knows
them well, has executed hundreds.
Scraped on toothpicks, they wave
thread-legged in a Minute Waltz.
Pressed with swabs, they melt
easily, as if they practice death
and embrace the sheer rightness
of a smoky-whiff finish. Bloom juice
will never make them too heavy.
She lifts the pale floral sheet,
curls toward him like a new fern.
He grazes her breasts with emery
finesse, buffs them till she shines,
then peels back the membrane
that covers her. His hands jangle
her bones and they burst apart,
ricochet, ribs to spine, all the way
down to her petal-nailed feet.
I’ll never walk again, she murmurs
afterwards. He yawns, fumbles
for his watch, casually brutalizes
a nightstand vase that dashes
green water over her hair. Crushed
moth orchids slump across the pillow,
one crepe blossom stuck to her cheek.
She’s surprised at how cold it feels.
He picks it off, rolls it between
his fingers like a spitball, flicks it away.
Brenda Levy Tate lives in rural Nova Scotia, Canada, surrounded by gardens and wildlife. She draws poetic inspiration from the natural world as well as from the people who have wandered through the pathways of her life. She has published two collections, Cleansing (Rising Tide Press 2005) and Beeline (Lopside Press 2007) and recently completed a Young Adult novel, which earned first place in the 2008 Atlantic Writing Competition.
Brenda’s work has attracted a growing audience in both the US and Canada. Her poems have placed or been named as finalists in several competitions, among them the Glimmer Train Poetry Open, Winning Writers War Poetry Contest, Poetry Superhighway Annual Competition and Interboard Poetry Competition (IBPC) sponsored by Web del Sol. In 2008, she was the only poet to have two of her poems included among the six IBPC finalists for Poem of the Year. Her work has also been published in various print journals such as Houston Panhandler, Epicenter, Halifax Magazine. One of her sonnets, “The Last Mate”, was selected for inclusion in Jailbreaks: 99 (Biblioasis 2008), an anthology of Canadian sonnets written over the past hundred years.
Besides writing and photography, Brenda also enjoys fossil collecting, singing and gardening.