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Other notable work by Ruth Titus, Mary Marcelle and Jane Peterson.

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Al Rocheleau-

THE DEATH IN THE ROOM

Is not always a palpable thing,
yet there it is—

I shall call it a him, crouched
on a stool in the corner, always present,
and obsequious in his negating way
as if to say, pay no attention.
He wears, for me, just now,
black pants and a black sweatshirt with a hood,
and he shades his eyes
against the contrast
of the colored TV. He is slight,
I mean his build is slight
like, what’s his name, the young actor,
always young, Sal Mineo.
He is a panther of conflicting emotion.

I see as redbirds flock and blow
in Italian breeze about the screen
and around the coffin
of a dead pope, he takes notice.
The scene that comes in threes.

Down the hall,
he is playing jacks with a comatose
child. And he follows at some distance
happy couples down walks
of the April snow
who couldn’t, couldn’t possibly imagine—
he dabs the darling eyes
of the survivors, second
and the seventeenth
to know.

Occasionally
he settles to dinner
in the extra chair, eats nothing, drinks
only water.
He is the one common relative.
More identical
in his difference
than the African prototype of man,
or the glowingest apostle
of the light. Centurion at the cross,
imported swordsman who takes the head
of Anne Boleyn, barrower
of plague-dead mothers and their kin.
The death in the room

serves a tallied clock
of the veiled god; he is not bad, not unpleasant,
not necessarily, by his smile, grim.
He is
what is that was, and what
will be in each dark corner
of each lit square, of each
soft footing of our imaginings
to get to him. Please, we say, please
must it be, or could it be, or no,
we most often forget about him.

He grants us in the majority of our moments
that silent wish,
the blind longevity
of the single, long, second of our lives
never to intrude, secondary player
without a line, and waiting

to begin.

_______________

TEAR

Rimbaud: a translation

Far from the birds, the herds, village girls,
I was drinking, kneeling in some heath
Surrounded by clusts of hazel wood
In afternoon mists of tepid green.

What could I have drunk of that young Oise—
Voiceless elms, flowerless grass, covered sky.
What did I draw from the colocasian gourd?
What gold of pale liquor made me sweat?

As it was, I should have made a poor inn-sign.
Then the storms transformed the sky toward night.
There were dark lands, lakes, poles,
Columns under the blue night, the stations.

Water from woods lost itself in virgin sand,
The wind, the sky, threw icings to the ponds,
And I, as fisher of gold or gold in shells,
Say I lacked the worry of that drink!

_______________

LARME

Loin des oiseaux, des troupeaux, des villageoises,
Je buvais, accroupi dans quelque bruyère
Entourée de tendres bois de noisetiers,
Par un brouillard d’après-midi tiède et vert.

Que pouvais-je boire dans cette jeune Oise,
Ormeaux sans voix, gazon sans fleurs, ciel couvert.
Que tirais-je à la gourde de colocase ?
Quelque liqueur d’or, fade et qui fait suer.

Tel, j’eusse été mauvaise enseigne d’auberge.
Puis l’orage changea le ciel, jusq’au soir.
Ce furent des pays noirs, des lacs, des perches,
Des colonnades sous la nuit bleue, des gares.

L’eau des bois se perdait sur des sables vierges
Le vent, du ciel, jetait des glaçons aux mares…
Or ! tel qu’un pêcheur d’or ou de coquillages,
Dire que je n’ai pas eu souci de boire !

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MY POEMS ARE LITTLE CRIPPLES

Tootling along in a black space,
here and there a hum and squeak,
a quelled bellow, nervous laughter;

they preen in a mirror under matchlight—
jealous of one another they jostle,
love an audience of shut-ins;

they marshal themselves, motley
in a phalanx full of weaknesses,
are blown apart with the first volley;

they pick up their arms again,
their legs, prop their holey torsos
and speak with a silly hope,

go home sheepily to the deaf ears
as if already dead and the diners
talked around them and above them

wallowing in the stiff, prosy song
of the day, always the same—
more war for fodder, price of cheese,

addicts poised among sunflowers.

Close the poem! There’s tired newness
to it, that will fade with the hours.

_______________

YOU NEED NOT FEAR THE CATHOLICS, MARIANNE

I know the wryness tips comport to the wind—
we are devils before you, Marianne. But cardinal
is not our color, it was Torquemada’s,
and we are just as interested in your pendulum
and crossed cups as any irreligious squanderer
regardless of upbringing. I love your green agate,
your amethyst, your cockscomb and marigold,

they are better than the sameness of the host,
the wine that belittles in its dilution, the square
prance of the stations. But at our best, Marianne,
when the censer calls the smoke out of Purgatory,
when the nuns reach their highnotes, and the brother
scrapes a floor of humility, we approximate
your witch’s list with a zealot’s cast, kindred

to the last drawn hanged man, rune unwrapped
like a saint’s rib-bone, the flames at Beltane
mirrored in bright novenas of other women.
We are together on the night-air of Protestant
conversion Marianne, tickling ourselves with delight
of the true miscreant, the made-men of Zoroaster,
corporals of a Jesus-king, we mystics, we maids

of May, the singing things mattering, sing
good goodness into a morning of missionaries
who forget their orders, drawn like martyrs, merry
to the orange celebration of sky and surrender,
to understanding of the general, end of the specific,
where cherries are sweet, the water cold, glass-pure
and where any number of sacraments flash, awonder.

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THE LANGUAGE OF THE ROLL

Keats to Woodhouse, December, 1818

Woodhouse, Richard, look.

As I said, the poet seeks the interior
as he smiles at the surface.

He disappears as he becomes.

The ivory, smooth to polish,
pregnant and solid,
the magnet of the elephant’s pride,
indulging the exotic, the India of its origin,
attracts to the ferrule, the shim’ring sheath
of its translation at the moment of
impact, tense to the sweet reaction
of the clack, self-speaks the language of the roll
steady and voluble in its rotation,
in its new preparation, the knock and bounding,
making a geometry no less complex to follow,
computing Io’s union
with the spotted orb.

This is us, this is what I mean!
Who would deny the billiard and its balls
our life, survivable for them,
for their context, their politics, not ours,
their religion of the never
inanimate life, even as they wait,
within our story to comment or relate,
I am of billiards in their bright majesty—
you are, we, they of us, they are, in the angles
of their love and their posterity,

what we are.

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Al Rocheleau’s work has appeared in more than fifty publications in the U.S. and abroad. Journals include Confrontation, Potomac Review, Van Gogh’s Ear, Evansville Review, Pennsylvania English, Illuminations, Studio One, Slant, Ship of Fools, Iodine Poetry Journal, and Poetry Salzburg Review. In 2004, he received the Thomas Burnett Swann Poetry Prize. A manual, On Writing Poetry, was published by Shantih Press in 2010. In 2012, he founded the Twelve Chairs Advanced Poetry Seminars, a 180-hour course that offers full scholarships to high school students; it is accredited by the Florida State Poets Association. He lives in Orlando, Florida.
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Ruth Titus-

OF GREEN MOUNTAIN MEN

Ninety-four years
grounded by Holstein farms,
horses’ hames, maple sap,
a man reclused
in a Georgian-style home
where portraits peer at every step,
too many, long down the hall.

Snow cradles barn turrets
and gambrel curves
of salvaged wood and strong skill.

He recalls his labor
but cannot relive his antics.
“Keep me… “
Persists in asking women to keep him warm.
Old age, and its parasite, pain.

He moans his wish for a long walk
with a straight back to the stones’ end,
settles for stoked embers

and a stone heart.

_______________

COLD SNAP

Stillness beyond dusk;
deer have come, grasped
at frozen apples
from branches as reluctant to give
as a miser,
and gone.

The shroud of night
unlamps the landscape
before moonrise— navy night,
color-painted plein-air
still as a stone.

North star
emerges
through a one-way glass;
Mars specks red
without pulse.

Orion’s belt flickers a pale trail
now broken by signature of jet lights.

Silence is shattered.

I watch till my hands are consumed
by frigid degrees.
Time to retreat—
back through creaking hinges

where warm wood floors
and artificial day
arrives
at thoughts

in moon-filled windows.

_______________

THE DEATH PRINTS

Sirens plaint their wail at speed of light.
Angel wings will wax as breath slows flight,
called out in the middle of the night.

The younger auctioneer drives up the bid
on what surrenders of a waning life.
Sirens plaint their wail at speed of light.

Dürer’s block of death-prints strike a price
as angels fly around in coats of white,
called out in the middle of the night.

A shivered sea has given up its cries
to will of fate’s predestined time of sighs.
Sirens plaint their wail at speed of light.

Dürer’s reaper grimly holds his scythe
aside the ancient Bell Toller’s demise,
called out in the middle of the night.

The shimmery moon has lent its white to wing
on supple silver newness in its rise.
Sirens plaint their wail at speed of light,
called out in the middle of the night.

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Ruth Titus is a graduate of the Twelve Chairs Advanced Poetry Course, a 180-hour program accredited by the Florida State Poets Association. (Al was her teacher.) My work has appeared several editions of in FSPA Anthology series, in CHB Anthology # 3 (with Al Rocheleau and Peter Meinke), and as part of the K9’s for Veterans Poetry and Music series, performed in major cites in Florida in 2014. I live in Oviedo, FL.

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Mary Marcelle-

I went to the movies with my sister instead of waiting for Steve

He’s glue.

Stuck to that vinyl couch like naked, fat thighs on a humid day
discussing outings we will never take –
The concert we won’t attend
The movie we will never see
The stroll around the park never walked.

Hermiting in his cinderblock cabin in Colonialtown
making plans for never.

I could have waited, insisted, cajoled, kidnapped –
but his emotions are already as malleable as clay
and I fear his further injury.

_______________

Storm

Gathering in a sea-glass sky
attended by a surly sun
are the intermittent clouds
bringing darkness into the inlet.
The peace and calm of this evening
will collapse under their weight.
Their gray advance closes the day
against the sun’s protests.
The water mirrors the golden bright orb
while giggling random waves.

_______________

Castaway

I float in winter, tethered to the world by U.S. 1,
missing the sun that bleached my bones
in a new-world walled city.
Writers and writers’ widows walled in enclaves,
names and numbers listed like old friends in the book.
Unknowns wear tie-dyed T-shirts sporting
peace symbols missing the vertical line
from center to bottom,
unknowingly symbolizing “Mercedes-Benz.”
Hemingway started it all
(or was it John Dos Passos?)
surrounding his yard with that rough
wall of bricks taken from the street.
This is an island of castaway bones,
scattered wherever there’s room –
under concrete and wobbly sidewalks
sinking under the weight of it all
into a wall of water.
In this current Cayo Hueso,
I dance with words
on a language made of mercury.
The beaches have all been sold.
And it’s the same as if by sea.
Waiters, way too thin,
bring breakfast and liquor.
Cuban cigar-colored chunks
splayed like sunflowers on the sidewalk.
“Is that Hemingway’s vomit?”
Papa called to me from the steps of a new vinyl
clapboard-covered shopping mall.
He was wrapped in a green blanket
like a wall around his writers soul.
I wouldn’t give him any money, and
he declared all women bitches.
Some years ago, in summer,
secrets seeped through cracks in the old walls
and love got lost where every plant needs a permit.
Cayo Hueso, take my troubles
and keep them there,
for tourists to sniff and touch.

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Mary Marcelle published her first poetry at age 12. Her career in Journalism included working at both the Orlando Magazine and the Orlando Weekly newspaper, where she was entertainment editor. Currently, she is Membership Chair of the Florida State Poets Association. In Spring of 2016 her poem, “Genetic Engineering,” was included in “Revelry,” the literary magazine of the Gwendolyn Brooks Writers Association.

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Jane Peterson-

THE BIRD LADY

The bird lady stands the church square
a little muddled;
her hat droops of a rain shower,
jaunty magenta rose on brim that
faded pink, now falsely dark.

She finds a bench smeared
of aster petals and melts
onto a seat of iron slats,
still bird waiting worm.
Twits and flutters
eddy the air. Wrens warble
in their scrum nearby.

They know the bird lady.

They expect her at ten, each ten
of morning timed by tolls
and bread. The wrens wren-dance,
legs tapping, head abob,
gabbling together till they eat
and leave.

She rises, hat akimbo,
shoes bedragged
to the cathedral, open door
candled with dusky light.

There is a trill inside,
above the fine marble
and wood, somewhere high
in that inner sky,
the melody of the organ
spinning a practice for vespers.

Near the vanishing point
of the far altar, she gazes up
to the stained image of God creating
a world of sevens.

Mumbling this: “let the birds
fly above the earth, across the firmament
of the heavens,” she retires
in the incense of a reverie.

We see her walking across
St. Paul’s Square, sad hat,
shabby as our own souls,
God’s peace resting
for a time on her shoulders,
birds in her heart.

_______________

HOLE IN THE WATER

There—
under the bed of lily pads.
Silver and gold sparks dart
like arcs of a blowtorch
reflected in the water.
A school of shiners in a deadly serious game
of life or death.
For now they elude the black bass
that stalk them for supper.
They escape the man in the boat
whose net is poised for a throw
over the hole in the water.
Drama! Fate!
Three are vying, each of private arena:
bubbles of story in a lake of chaos.
Will the bass catch the shiners?
Will the net snag them?
Or will they skirt free for another
chance at the game
they don’t know they’re playing.

_______________

MANDALA

The world sits in your perfect circle.

Quadrants of possibilities

dissect your space:

wind to walk backward in;

fire to stoke the muses;

water to wash the soul clean;

earth to magnetize us.

A pole star balances your universe;

helps us find peace in your belly.

Images lead thought

toward holy acceptance

and appreciation for being.

Mandala, map of the cosmos,

hypnotize me; release me;

calm my sizzling mind.

Bring harmony

to this chaotic existence.

Let me descend into your spiritual essence,

be absorbed into this refuge of peace.

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Jane Peterson won first prize in the 2015 Thomas Burnett Swann Poetry Contest sponsored by the Gwendolyn Brooks Association of Florida. Her poems have appeared in  Revelry and Looking Life in the Eye.  She was invited to read her poem in the K9 for Warriors program in honor of Veterans’ Day, 2014.  Ms. Peterson is a member of Al    Rocheleleau’s Twelve Chairs Advanced Poetry Seminars, a 180-hour course that is accredited by the Florida State Poets Association.

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