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Other notable work by Charles Fishman and Norbert Krapf.

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Sheri Vandermolen-

Artful Garden

The Picasso heads
perched, boldly,
atop bird-of-paradise stems
wear their blue eyes
on the side of their angular
orange noses, maroon chins,
satisfied with their askew
view of the burgeoning world.

All the while,
the eccentric heliconias
suspend static, multi-lipped
Chagall smiles,
in brilliant vermilion,
from their waxy green aspects,
parasoled by big-top fronds
that shelter them
from the silvery notes
dripping off the bow
of the blue-sky violinist.

Although the sunflowers’
saw-toothed girasoles
and desiccated stalks
were tilled up ages ago,
their nutrients still infuse
the fertile soil,
out of which grow
stalks of Matisse bamboo.

Fluidly mercurial,
their paper-cutout leaves stir,
in the slow breeze,
dancing, with fragile unawareness,
to music of the spheres,
even as waning day
daubs a Miro-red orb
upon the western horizon.

Old-school points of view
glibly espoused by day-Jatters
wither on the vine,
while wilting cubes of time
theatrically scatter their pollen
into surreal expanses
of the twilit post-modern sky.

_______________

Ganesha Chaturthi

A Macy’s-sponsored gay-pride parade
would be tragically subdued,
in comparison to the pageantry created
by the legionary rows of rainbow-boisterous idols
stationed, under makeshift tarp-tents,
in prodigious Pottery Town.

Ranging from a few centimeters
to nearly five meters high,
the playfully vivid Ganeshas (Ganeshi?)
loom in numerous plaster-of-Paris poses —
sitting, standing, leaning, twisting
in dreadlocked, crowned, turbaned forms
of Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna,
Sai Baba, Gandhi, Chhota Bheem,
Tarzan, possibly Yoda too.

The craftsmen spend nap-inducing hours
applying layers of neon basecoats, glazes,
hand-painting Ganesha’s trunk, ears, nails,
with glittery accents and Om symbols,
laboring to perfect their masterpieces,
which customers size up, admire, haggle over,
then cart to their homes, for worship.

Days later, the statues boomerang back
to Ulsoor Lake, just a few streets away.

The fenced perimeter is brimming with devotees,
each family performing a lush puja —
burning incense, smearing kumkum powder,
sprinkling coconut water,
offering ghee, fruits, and flowers —
before handing off the smiling elephant god
to an eager-grabbing orange-vested city worker,
who steps knee-, thigh-, waist-deep, into the flow,
dunks the statue, ritually, and then casts it adrift,
returning with a tray of the now-blessed water.

Processions of six, ten, twenty, more,
chant “Ganapati Bappa Morya,”
whistling, pumping their fists, and beating drums
as they haul large statues through the side gate,
while police clear paths, usher the groups
to a metal platform dangling from a crane,
so that their multimeter sculptures
can be placed on the tilting edge,
swung to the basin’s hazel-hued center,
and then ceremoniously tipped into the depths.

As night dilates, activity reaches fever-pitch,
with carnivaled sound-and-sight delights
caroming in every frantic direction —
auto-rickshaws disgorging eight customers at a time;
families posing for phone photos;
posses of children coursing through,
waving their arms, roaring their joy,
smiles gleaming through their face-paint;
vendors roasting corn, stringing jasmine garlands,
selling heart-cluster hydrogen-filled balloons;
news crews conducting TV and print interviews.

The crowd disperses, upon city curfew,
leaving the chemical-laden god figures
to dissolve into cadmium and mercury plumes,
which diffuse throughout
the heady waters of the vast tank.
The pollution is an obstacle left for Ganesha to question.

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Harmony

February 2, 2014, U.S.A.:
Coca-Cola airs its daring game-day ad —
sixty diversity-embracing seconds,
featuring a gay couple
and a seven-language take
on iconic “America, the Beautiful,”
penned by Katharine Lee Bates,
who shared twenty-five years
with life-partner Katharine Coman.
Reaction is swift and harsh,
the tweets derisive, bitterly divisive.

February 2, 2014, India:
Bright-tipped wicks
send their illuminated dirge to the night sky,
in remembrance of Nido Taniam,
a young Arunachal Pradesh student
who was beaten to death,
January 29,
with sticks and iron rods,
by five men who mocked his hair, his style,
his very face, into which they hurled
their bruising racial taunts.

The world awaits the day
we’ll stand in perfect harmony.

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Into the Slipstream

Pulsating constellations
fade into esoteric black-drop,
rendered androgynous, darkling,
by the implausibly bright moon,
even as ageless silver stardust
falls from the milky slipstream,
drifting into the nebulous musings
of the anonymous few
who night-stroll the banks
of the shimmering Kabini River.

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Sheri Vandermolen is editor in chief of Time Being Books. From 2008 to 2014, she resided in India, exploring the subcontinent via camera and pen until her repatriation to California. Her verse has appeared in various journals, including Ashvamegh, Camel Saloon,Contemporary Literary Review India, Earthen Lamp Journal, Foliate Oak, Muse India, Jersey Devil Press, Papercuts, Taj Mahal Review, and Verse-Virtual, as well as in the anthology Veils, Halos and Shackles: International Poetry on the Oppression and Empowerment of Women.

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Charles Fishman-

Through the Ice, 1953
in memory of Skipper Broich

I think of you now: how your short life ended,
as if on schedule. While you lived,
something invisible seemed to batter you —

a demon or force field that smashed you
against every wall. Yet it’s not the car crashes
or concussions I recall

but a scene, like a circle of ice, sawn
from the frozen past, its edges jagged, its hues,
even then, minimal, now bleached to a dwindling fire

of colors. Do you remember how you almost died

late on that winter evening? how the thin crust
of blacker ice broke under you

and you dropped in the dark so deep on your downward journey?
We’d been coasting all day on some white-dark hill
between trees that brushed our faces

and were walking quickly toward the shortcut
through the woods that lay on the bank of the lake
we trekked over like travelers in the Arctic.

In our triple-knotted boots, our wool scarves
and scuffed bomber jackets, we trudged toward home,
toward the dim light over familiar doorways

and the rich aromas of food our mothers cooked
at the first tinge of twilight. The January sun sank
in slow gradations, each slight hint of darkening a tick

on the clock of childhood. Skipper, you must have been
more hungry, more tired, or just plain younger,
and ran ahead of us to where the thin fabric of ice

ripped into sheer strips of translucent frost.
Shocked to stillness, we held back, then rushed
to where you’d vanished and then returned.

It must have been your brother who calmed you,
who begged you to settle deeper into coldness,
to trust his high and broken voice. Yes,

it must have been Dave who promised
we’d rescue you, who slid his Red Ranger sled
into that gaping hole in the universe

where it found your hands.

_______________

Paul Granger’s Wound

You were the smallest, Paul —
the shortest, leanest, blondest, bravest
in our crew — and you have retreated less far
into darkness. I remember the day
that would etch your wound into my mind,
each catch and notch of memory glistening
with your blood. There was bright sunlight
and deep blue sky a blaze of white roses
and the dark gray haze of the new state road
the highway commission had bulldozed
into our lives.
You were wearing a round-necked
polo shirt and rolled-up jeans, a black leather belt
and high-backed sneakers. Zigzag stripes crested
on your chest in vertical waves that flowed
from neck to groin: a map of some watery terrain
no friend or parent could decipher. I remember
how the dark blue denim rippled over your thighs,
the lapping rivulets at your knees, the way
your gold-brown hair was parted.
At our water hole
between parkway and woods, your clothes dropped off
and you dove into the cold spring water all of us knew
to be sacred: a dark pool released from the dictates
of nature where we could breathe without constraint
without the harsh odor of fear stinging our nostrils.
You dove and we cheered, living for the moment
in the rare oxygen of the underlife you had plunged into
feeling again the icy waters of time wash over us.

And then you broke the spell, bursting the surface
as you held up your hand, gashed open with that raw
diagonal slash that even now, five decades later,
wildly pulses — that wound written deep in your flesh
with the jagged edge of glass from a smashed beer bottle —
your ruined hand held up for us to witness
in all its bloody splendor your wound, Paul: the sky
ripped open just when we needed it whole.

_______________

My Father on a Sled, Smoking
winter 1953

There he is on the sled, which is parked
on the front lawn. He’s going nowhere fast,
yet the reins are in his hands — no, not
the reins but the rope this small vehicle
is towed with. And he’s a happy man —
anyone who motors by can see that:
the way he sits erect, his knees jutting
but not quite skyward, his feet in rubber
boots, jammed to the rudder and ready
to steer. The weather is mild and clear.

Now look at the lit cigarette that droops
from his lips that resist speaking, at his
ungloved hands that revel in their strength
and will not heed the cold. My father
is not yet old though, unknown to him,
he is dying: if he continues to smoke
like this, his lungs will wither and blacken
his hands fall open in his lap. Though the day
is frozen in memory, his world is rushing
forward. Father, this is no time to relax.
Stand up now: you need to wrest control

from this poisoned future. Pitch the fresh pack
hidden in your jacket into the glitter of ice
and snow. Take off your cap and let it go.
Breathe in the sweet chill of this undreamt of
moment when life offers you a choice. Father,
listen to my voice that calls out to you
across the snow-bound void: you will swerve
at the last jolting second, and death’s branches
will scar your face but, five decades later,
you will sit, knees wrapped in a white wool blanket:
a dear scared frail old man, dozing to Frank Sinatra
and almost at peace as sleep drags you down.

_______________

She Remembers Winter
for Kathleen Horan

1
She remembers the overpass
along Sunrise Highway
where she would sled all day
with friends in that winter
of 1970: how the sled would freeze
in late December coldness
making it hard to steer, the way
her feet extended over the wooden slats
and her stomach and chest pressed
flat to them so she could breathe
only in shallow gasps as the wet snow
raced under her, how she would put
her whole being into turning
as momentum built and each small
adjustment became necessary.

She remembers that downhill rush
as her first lesson in freedom:
how her heart raced with the sled
and beat with a frantic pleasure
that opened gates inside her.
It was heaven to let go, to feel
briefly supported yet unable
to control speed or direction,
to be lifted in a gentle rocking flow
or bumped along roughly
but released from confinement
and stricture, bruised and cold
but brushed with glittering whiteness.

She remembers how she played
all day with friends that winter
at ease with herself and the weather,
proud of her white snow jacket and its
black buckles, in love with her
stocking cap and its rainbow colors,
and at one with the fleece-lined boots
whose scuffed toes she dug
into the hard-packed snow: how
the boots, cap and jacket — and cupfuls
of hot chocolate — had kept her
from totally freezing.

2
It all comes back like a rush
down a long white hill and she
remembers, two decades later,
mothering her own children
as if they’d been precious jewels
she’d misplaced in winter snow,
as if they’d been snow angels
whose ice-cold toes and fingers
she would hold to her racing heart
to her stove-warm body.

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Forgotten Songs
for Glory Sasikala Franklin

1
What links us together? Isn’t it untrammeled
energy, affinity, green shoots of the body?

Not long ago in India, the rare home radio
marked the passing of time. In Kolkata,
you had a small Telerad with a winking green eye
and started each day with the All Asia Service
of the Sri Lanka BC. At noon, you’d switch
to Burma Broadcasting and listen for a single
delicious hour, then jump to Yuvavani in Calcutta
for Lunch Time Variety.

The day would fly like that: to Vividh Bharati
for Hindi songs, then back to Yuvavani again.

Never mind the distances: each station zinged in
with true fidelity, so that Cliff Richard, John Denver,
Glen Campbell, the Everly Brothers, Elvis, George Baker,
and Susan Raye all seemed to sing just for you.
Their voices spilled into your body and took up residence there.

Your favorite was Pussycat’s “Broken Souvenir”
and you still hum that song. And you still hear “Listen
to the rhythm of the falling rain . . .” You, too,
are on your own again. “Good evening, sorrow.”

2
Glory, you were so taken by the radio’s power,
by the songs that poured from it, you named your daughter
“Rimona” after Wolfe Gilbert’s “Ramona,” respun
by the Blue Diamonds in 1960. Remember the Carpenters’ song,
“Those were such happy times / And not so long ago”?
For you “Every sha-la-la-la, / Every wo-wo-wo /
Still shines.”

3
Before he died, your father taught you songs
and had you sing the words while he strummed his guitar.
You were not yet ten, but not a nerve in your body
has relinquished them.

There was “Lonely Cowboy,” “Goodbye Hawaii,” “Oh, Susannah”
and “Queen of My Heart.” Your father was gone too early,
but you recall each tune. “Beautiful dreamer,” he sang, “wake
unto me, / Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee.”

And you sang along with him.

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Charles Adès Fishman is poetry editor of PRISM: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Holocaust Educators. His books include Mortal Companions (1977); The Death Mazurka (1989), an American Library Association Outstanding Book of the Year; Chopin’s Piano (2006); Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust (2007), his world-renowned anthology; In the Language of Women (2011); and In the Path of Lightning: Selected Poems (2012). He is Emeritus Distinguished Professor of English & Humanities in the State University of New York.

Note from the author: Since Time Being Books is folding in December, and will not be replenishing stocks for online booksellers or distributors, readers who are interested in purchasing a copy or two of In the Path of Lightning may not be able to find it. I encourage readers to contact me if they would like signed copies of the book. The easiest way to reach me is via my main email address: carolus@optimum.net.

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Norbert Krapf-

Last Sunset: Ida’s Father Ben Hagan, Jr.
Is Buried in the Pinkston Cemetery

On November 30, 1939, Matt Durcholz
borrowed two white horses from neighbors
and hitched them to Ben Hagan’s spring wagon
from which he had sold vegetables in Huntingburg

and Ferdinand. Matt and his son Raymond rode
on the wagon carrying Ben’s wooden casket,
followed by Larkin Pinkston, friend and brother-in-law,
on foot behind, to the cemetery on the knoll bordered

by cedar trees. Following them also were black relatives
from near Dale and Grandview on the banks of the Ohio.
“It was a blustery day,” Matt said. “Even the rabbits
were in their holes.” Ben’s relatives sang “Last Sunset”:

Nighting as the day ends
take it slow as we can.
You never know it might be
The last sunset we’ll ever see.

Ben and Matt had hunted many hours together,
Matt said, and Ben taught him how to plant
watermelons “by punching the seeds in the right
kind of soil.” This was the end of the Settlement.

Nighting as the day ends
take it slow as we can.
You never know it might be
The last sunset we’ll ever see.

Some of the residents worked for the Airline Railroad,
laying the tracks for the first train from Rockport
to Ferdinand Junction at Johnsburg, not far
down the road from St. Henry where my father

was born and grew up. Ben’s friend and brother-in-law
Larkin Pinkston tried living in a house left standing
in the Pinkston Settlement but grew too lonely
to stay and moved to the Providence Home, Jasper.

And all I possess
Blows away in this wind.
And as I came in
So I’m leaving.

Larkin died in the Providence Home in 1940.
Matt Durcholz bought Ben’s property and most
of what was the Pinkston Settlement is now
part of the Huntingburg Conservation Club.

Larkin was buried in the old Jasper City
Cemetery overlooking the Patoka River.
Even the rabbits stayed in their holes.
It was a cold and blustery day.

Nighting as the day ends
take it slow as we can.
You never know it might be
The last sunset we’ll ever see.

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Ida and a Gemini Twin

Ida, I have learned you share a Gemini
birthday with a man who has devoted
his life to starting over, being reborn,
to making himself find new ways

and means of expression as a songwriter,
of pushing himself beyond where
the familiar no longer satisfies. In your
seventies, you must have been aware

of his prophetic cry that the times
were changing, that a new order
was raging, that the executioner’s
face is always well hidden and asked

how many roads a man must walk
down before they call him a man,
before he turned his attention
to the inner life of the individual

self and spiritual growth, a Jew
who converted to Christianity
thereby alienating his followers
for not the first or last time ever.

Did you hear him sing in the mountains
that he saw his life come shining,
from the West down to the East?
If so, this song must have sounded

familiar to a woman who grew up
in a Freedom Settlement, pushed
herself to new levels of achievement
and accomplishments, learned a new

language, converted to a new faith,
learned how to help people heal,
moved on and away from where
she grew up, became a city girl

who devoted herself to helping
her people while remaining true
to the call of the life of the spirit.
You must have heard him ask

how it feels to be on your own,
no road left to lead you back home.
If you didn’t listen to his songs,
you must have been aware that

she who’s not busy being born is busy
dying, as you were ever being born
and reborn, ever striking out anew,
pushing onward to new possibility.

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Hearing the Blues in the Pinkston Cemetery

When I look at this light
falling on the broken stones

meant to mark the lives
of those whose names

are lost to us now I hear
Jimmie Duck Holmes

thumb and pick his thumping
blues with a deep bass line

and sing in the high and lonely
Bentonia style about how one day

he’ll grow old, though we know
his primal blues will never die.

I savor this light that shines
in these far woods where

the Pinkston Settlement once was,
a few miles from where my father

grew up but which I did not know
about as it was deserted a few years

before I was born. Jimmie sits
on a plain old chair in front of

a back door swung and propped open
as the sunlight comes in and kisses

his guitar as both the guitar and his voice
keen, keen the primal songs that spill out

of him nonstop in his Blue Front Café.
Ida Hagan, I would listen with you

here in the woods as Jimmie plays
and sings the Mississippi hard-time

blues that keep coming out of him
from the same spot where my brother

and I once sat listening to him
make his music as we sipped beer

and late afternoon sunlight light
came to play on our faces,

as we three sat on the front porch
and he played his Epiphone and sang

with light sinking into evening as the sun
set and a train passed us by on the tracks.

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Norbert Krapf, former Indiana Poet Laureate, lives in Indianapolis. His latest
of eleven poetry collections, is Catholic Boy Blues: A Poet’s Journal of Healing and
this year his prose memoir, Shrinking the Monster: Recovering from Clergy Abuse,
appears this year. Norbert believes that song and poetry are kissing kin and he has
been in love with the blues for about fifty years.

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Masthead

Editor, Lisa Zaran

ISSN: 1095-732x

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2007

January - Roger Humes
February - Jimmy Santiago Baca
March - Graham Burchell
April - Ruth Daigon
May - Anne Fraser
June - Corey Mesler
July - Scott Malby
August - James Keane
September - Maurice Oliver
October - Robert Pinsky
November - Louis Daniel Brodsky
December - Bill Duvall

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2008

January - Kelley White
February - L. Ward Abel
March - Maura Stanton
April - Dr. Charles Frederickson
May - Peter Magliocco
June - Penny Harter
July - Gary Beck
August - Jéanpaul Ferro
September - Fish and Shushan
October - Kenneth Gurney
November - John Gallaher
December - Carmen Alexandra

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2009

January - Karen Rigby
February - A.D. Winans
March - Donald Illich
April - Stephen Ferreira
May - Tracee Coleman
June - Ernest Williamson
July - Sally Van Doren
August - Nanette Rayman Rivera
September - Gianina Opris
October - Judson Mitcham
November - Joel Solonche
December - Peycho Kanev

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2010

January - Louis Gallo
February - Buxton Wells
March - Labi Siffre
April - Regina Green
May - Howard Good
June - Carol Lynn Grellas
July - William Doreski
August - Sari Krosinsky
September - Ben Nardolilli
October - James Piatt
November - Robert Lietz
December - John Grey

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2011

January - Robert Philbin
February - iolanda scripca
March - Tad Richards
April - Katie Kopin
May - Jacob Newberry
June - George Moore
July - Rae Spencer
August - Jim Richards
September - Antonia Clark
October - Tannen Dell
November - Christina Matthews
December - Charles Clifford Brooks III

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2012

January - Anniversary Issue
February - Jim Davis
March - Ivy Page
April - Maurice Oliver
May - Lori Desrosiers
June - Ray Sharp
July - Nathan Prince
August - Robert Klein Engler
September - Jenn Monroe
October - John Grey
November - Andrea Potos
December - Christina M. Rau

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2013

January - Maria Luisa Arroyo
February - Journal on haitus

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2014

April - Rebirth
May - Timothy Walsh
June - Brian Fanelli
July - Carol Smallwood
August - Elizabeth P. Glixman
September - Sally Van Doren
October - Sherry O'Keefe
November - Robert McDonald
December - Gerry McFarland

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2015

January - James Keane
February - Liza Hyatt
March - Joseph Reich
April - Charles Thielman
May - Norbert Krapf
June - Lynne Knight
July - Sarah Brown Weitzman
August - Tom Montag
September - Susan Palmer
October - Holly Day
November - A.J. Huffman
December - Tom Pescatore

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2016

January - Richard Perin
February - Linne Ebbrecht
March - Sheri Vandermolen
April - Molly Cappiello
May - Caleb Coy
June - Paul Lubenkov
July - Domenic Scopa
August - Adam Phillips
September - Timothy Gager
October - Bruce Lader
November - Holly Day
December - Al Rocheleau

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2017

January - Robert Lietz
February - Jocelyn Heaney
March - David Brinkman
April - Lana Bella
May - Kaitlyn O'Malley
June - Ruth Kessler
July - Chanel Brenner
August - Darren Demaree
September - George Moore
October - Joshua Medsker
November - Ralph Monday
December - Howie Good

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2018

January - Simon Perchik

Artwork

Image of bird by contemporary artist, Courtney Smith
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