Reverse Cowboy Hexapod Viking (by William Merricle)

 

Reverse Cowboy Hexapod Viking

Fragments of goodness and mercy glare blue,
sad for having wasted my despair. Don Juan
Quixote’s flirting at windmills again. Thunder
has no need to rehearse. Life carries cancerous
specifications. Bend the rod while it’s still hot.
The graveyard’s made from the alphabet. The fact
that the cockroaches are uneasy is cold comfort.
The tide knows I’m innocent, but it doesn’t care.
The flagellum has Gnostic overtones. I hear
my heart is shameless. A calving glacier groans
a verse. Oh new season, help me sleep less badly.
I’ll never forget the night we huffed the mildew

remover and jumped over a series of candlesticks.
Please try to look like you aren’t hiding
a tray of nightcrawlers in your smile.
Lunchmeat hunts for the nature of truth
in the back of the fridge. Yonder lies the fodder
of my cattle. No one could tell if it was the end
of the funeral. Knowledge says anything to show
besides that crust of dried blood? As with all myths,
the stains are downright creepy. Under the bed,
the pods have plans for us. In the Greyhound,
the comedian silently weeps. The seashore
tersely shreds documents relating to our origin.

 

* * *
William Merricle lives in Lima, Ohio. His poetry has been published in PuddingSlipstream, ZeroCity, and many other publications. His chapbooks include Heimlich The Donut [Pudding House], Grace, You Let the Screen Door Slam [Crisis Chronicles] and, most recently, Chaos Theory [NightBallet].

“Reverse Cowboy Hexapod Viking” © 2015 by William Merricle, used with permission

 

Romance Is a Problem Too Massive to Fix (by William Merricle)

 

Romance Is a Problem Too Massive to Fix

Nobody’s saying
we ought to slow down.
All we’re saying is
we ought to turn and run.
Tears fall into spilled milk.
Redemption policy available upon request.
For a time I wished everything would die

in a state of joy.
Circumstances changed and now I’m naked
and trussed on the warm hood of an Impala
heading home to a wall.
Romance is a corporate entity too big to fail.
I was dreaming about cloud design
and lost my love again.

At the back of the crowd
someone was saying,
“Let’s dress the emperor.”
Once the facts had been established
the records were destroyed.
We desired a desire
that would stick to the ribs.

Ruthless in El Paso
wraps her legs around my skull
so hard I can see the abyss of heaven
but not quite reach it.
Sometimes the heart needs
to be told to shut up
and run.

God says I must forego my last quarter
of a century
and thanks me for being
part of the team.
As a loyal follower,
I must say I was disappointed
when his final tweet

consisted of 140 interrobangs.
Nobody’s saying
this existence is a road kill restaurant
in the parking lot of a mobius strip mall
but the primal forces of the universe
are not well pleased
when I ask for extra ketchup.

 

* * *
William Merricle lives in Lima, Ohio. His poetry has been published in PuddingSlipstream, ZeroCity, and many other publications. His chapbooks include Heimlich The Donut [Pudding House], Grace, You Let the Screen Door Slam [Crisis Chronicles] and, most recently, Chaos Theory [NightBallet].

Romance Is a Problem Too Massive to Fix © 2015 by William Merricle, used with permission

 

Xanax for Xmas (by William Merricle)

 

Xanax for Xmas

 

I’m dreaming of suggesting
in the strongest possible terms
that a white Christmas
get lost

Is tenderness legal
tender? As a child
I didn’t know everybody
was hurt

Tree branches and blood
vessels glisten with gifts
never opened

I’m scheming with
a brain stuck
on merry and bright

The meds kick in
like sleigh bells
packed with mud

Loneliness is my favorite
window to watch the snow from
the luxury of hell

 

 

* * *
William Merricle lives in Lima, Ohio. His poetry has been published in PuddingSlipstream, ZeroCity, and many other publications. His chapbooks include Heimlich The Donut [Pudding House], Grace, You Let the Screen Door Slam [Crisis Chronicles] and, most recently, Chaos Theory [NightBallet].

Xanax for Xmas © 2015 by William Merricle, used with permission

 

Trusting That the Heart Will Know the Way (by D.R. Wagner)

D.R. Wagner [photo by Glenda Drew]

D.R. Wagner [photo by Glenda Drew]

TRUSTING THAT THE HEART WILL KNOW THE WAY

We came upon a pale landscape plain
Made paler by the moon, white past
The white of death with bushes white,
Upon which horses roamed, whiter than the
Whole of what we saw.

For most of night we were a silent crew,
Tired from too many mountain passes,
Descents into forgotten valleys, then up
Again toward snowy peaks that gleamed
Like teeth and drifted white with snow,
Borne by the coarsest wind
That tore into our skin and face for days.

Yet here, upon this night, the landscape
All seemed careful to our eyes.
We knew that we belonged to another world

And took a curious comfort in our own
Shadows. It was as if we walked upon
Detritus of some senseless time, that archeology
Could not undo or yet explain.

Still there was a sweetness there that
We felt resembled eternity or what
We thought eternity might be. It trembled
And looked to protect secrets.

Our dreams and half-dreams flooded
With so many yesterdays we could, at times,
Move only by following echoes and paths
From one another’s memories.

These places did not depend on us
To reckon their distances and plains.
We finally trusted that the heart would
Know the way, bring our sweetest bliss
Back to our stories and our now frozen lips.

And so, we traveled on, imagining ourselves
Cold historians, transforming all we
Saw into fantastic tales that we
Could tell to one another, hoping
That each one would tell us who we were.

* * * * *

“Trusting That the Heart Will Know the Way” ©2014 by D.R. Wagner, from The Night Market [Crisis Chronicles Press]

The Night Market [cover/art by ReBecca Gozion]

The Night Market [cover/art by ReBecca Gozion]


D.R. Wagner
is the author of over twenty books and chapbooks of poetry and letters. He founded press : today : niagara in Niagara Falls, New York, in 1965 and later Runcible Spoon (press) in the late 1960’s and produced over fifty magazines and chapbooks. He co-wrote The Egyptian Stroboscope with d.a. levy in the late 1960’s. He read with Jim Morrison of the Doors in a legendary reading with Morrison and Michael McClure. and has read with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Al Winans, Viola Weinberg, d.a. levy, E.R. Baxter III, Ed Sanders, Anne Waldman and many, many other poets over the past 40 years.

His work is much published and has appeared in numerous translations. He has exhibited visual poetry with the likes of William Burroughs, Byron Gysin, Ian Hamilton Finlay, bpNichol, bill bissett, J.F. Bory and John Furnival in venues ranging from The Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, at the Louvre to the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.

He is also a visual artist, producing miniature needle-made tapestries that have been exhibited internationally and are included in numerous publications and museum collections. He is, further, a professional musician, working as a singer-songwriter and playing guitar and keyboards.

Teaching Design at the University of California at Davis since 1988, he also teaches in the Honors program at the University conducting classes in Poetry by Design. He continues to design interior carpeting and tapestry as well as write, perform and publish poetry regularly.

He currently lives in Locke, California.

The Housekeeper (by Robert Frost)

Robert_Frost_NYWTS.jpg picture by insightoutside

The Housekeeper
by Robert Frost
[from North of Boston (1914)]

I let myself in at the kitchen door.
“It’s you,” she said. “I can’t get up. Forgive me
Not answering your knock. I can no more
Let people in than I can keep them out.
I’m getting too old for my size, I tell them.
My fingers are about all I’ve the use of
So’s to take any comfort. I can sew:
I help out with this beadwork what I can.”
“That’s a smart pair of pumps you’re beading there.
Who are they for?”
“You mean?—oh, for some miss.
I can’t keep track of other people’s daughters.
Lord, if I were to dream of everyone
Whose shoes I primped to dance in!”
“And where’s John?”
“Haven’t you seen him? Strange what set you off
To come to his house when he’s gone to yours.
You can’t have passed each other. I know what:
He must have changed his mind and gone to Garlands.
He won’t be long in that case. You can wait.
Though what good you can be, or anyone—
It’s gone so far. You’ve heard? Estelle’s run off.”
“Yes, what’s it all about? When did she go?”
“Two weeks since.”
“She’s in earnest, it appears.”
“I’m sure she won’t come back. She’s hiding somewhere.
I don’t know where myself. John thinks I do.
He thinks I only have to say the word,
And she’ll come back. But, bless you, I’m her mother—
I can’t talk to her, and, Lord, if I could!”
“It will go hard with John. What will he do?
He can’t find anyone to take her place.”
“Oh, if you ask me that, what will he do?
He gets some sort of bakeshop meals together,
With me to sit and tell him everything,
What’s wanted and how much and where it is.
But when I’m gone—of course I can’t stay here:
Estelle’s to take me when she’s settled down.
He and I only hinder one another.
I tell them they can’t get me through the door, though:
I’ve been built in here like a big church organ.
We’ve been here fifteen years.”
“That’s a long time
To live together and then pull apart.
How do you see him living when you’re gone?
Two of you out will leave an empty house.”
“I don’t just see him living many years,
Left here with nothing but the furniture.
I hate to think of the old place when we’re gone,
With the brook going by below the yard,
And no one here but hens blowing about.
If he could sell the place, but then, he can’t:
No one will ever live on it again.
It’s too run down. This is the last of it.
What I think he will do, is let things smash.
He’ll sort of swear the time away. He’s awful!
I never saw a man let family troubles
Make so much difference in his man’s affairs.
He’s just dropped everything. He’s like a child.
I blame his being brought up by his mother.
He’s got hay down that’s been rained on three times.
He hoed a little yesterday for me:
I thought the growing things would do him good.
Something went wrong. I saw him throw the hoe
Sky-high with both hands. I can see it now—
Come here—I’ll show you—in that apple tree.
That’s no way for a man to do at his age:
He’s fifty-five, you know, if he’s a day.”
“Aren’t you afraid of him? What’s that gun for?”
“Oh, that’s been there for hawks since chicken-time.
John Hall touch me! Not if he knows his friends.
I’ll say that for him, John’s no threatener
Like some men folk. No one’s afraid of him;
All is, he’s made up his mind not to stand
What he has got to stand.”
“Where is Estelle?
Couldn’t one talk to her? What does she say?
You say you don’t know where she is.”
“Nor want to!
She thinks if it was bad to live with him,
It must be right to leave him.”
“Which is wrong!”
“Yes, but he should have married her.”
“I know.”
“The strain’s been too much for her all these years:
I can’t explain it any other way.
It’s different with a man, at least with John:
He knows he’s kinder than the run of men.
Better than married ought to be as good
As married—that’s what he has always said.
I know the way he’s felt—but all the same!”
“I wonder why he doesn’t marry her
And end it.”
“Too late now: she wouldn’t have him.
He’s given her time to think of something else.
That’s his mistake. The dear knows my interest
Has been to keep the thing from breaking up.
This is a good home: I don’t ask for better.
But when I’ve said, ‘Why shouldn’t they be married,’
He’d say, ‘Why should they?’—no more words than that.”
“And after all why should they? John’s been fair
I take it. What was his was always hers.
There was no quarrel about property.”
“Reason enough, there was no property.
A friend or two as good as own the farm,
Such as it is. It isn’t worth the mortgage.”
“I mean Estelle has always held the purse.”
“The rights of that are harder to get at.
I guess Estelle and I have filled the purse.
‘Twas we let him have money, not he us.
John’s a bad farmer. I’m not blaming him.
Take it year in, year out, he doesn’t make much.
We came here for a home for me, you know,
Estelle to do the housework for the board
Of both of us. But look how it turns out:
She seems to have the housework, and besides,
Half of the outdoor work, though as for that,
He’d say she does it more because she likes it.
You see our pretty things are all outdoors.
Our hens and cows and pigs are always better
Than folks like us have any business with.
Farmers around twice as well off as we
Haven’t as good. They don’t go with the farm.
One thing you can’t help liking about John,
He’s fond of nice things—too fond, some would say.
But Estelle don’t complain: she’s like him there.
She wants our hens to be the best there are.
You never saw this room before a show,
Full of lank, shivery, half-drowned birds
In separate coops, having their plumage done.
The smell of the wet feathers in the heat!
You spoke of John’s not being safe to stay with.
You don’t know what a gentle lot we are:
We wouldn’t hurt a hen! You ought to see us
Moving a flock of hens from place to place.
We’re not allowed to take them upside down,
All we can hold together by the legs.
Two at a time’s the rule, one on each arm,
No matter how far and how many times
We have to go.”
“You mean that’s John’s idea.”
“And we live up to it; or I don’t know
What childishness he wouldn’t give way to.
He manages to keep the upper hand
On his own farm. He’s boss. But as to hens:
We fence our flowers in and the hens range.
Nothing’s too good for them. We say it pays.
John likes to tell the offers he has had,
Twenty for this cock, twenty-five for that.
He never takes the money. If they’re worth
That much to sell, they’re worth as much to keep.
Bless you, it’s all expense, though. Reach me down
The little tin box on the cupboard shelf—
The upper shelf, the tin box. That’s the one.
I’ll show you. Here you are.”
“What’s this?”
“A bill—
For fifty dollars for one Langshang cock—
Receipted. And the cock is in the yard.”
“Not in a glass case, then?”
“He’d need a tall one:
He can eat off a barrel from the ground.
He’s been in a glass case, as you may say,
The Crystal Palace, London. He’s imported.
John bought him, and we paid the bill with beads—
Wampum, I call it. Mind, we don’t complain.
But you see, don’t you, we take care of him.”
“And like it, too. It makes it all the worse.”
“It seems as if. And that’s not all: he’s helpless
In ways that I can hardly tell you of.
Sometimes he gets possessed to keep accounts
To see where all the money goes so fast.
You know how men will be ridiculous.
But it’s just fun the way he gets bedeviled—
If he’s untidy now, what will he be——?
“It makes it all the worse. You must be blind.”
“Estelle’s the one. You needn’t talk to me.”
“Can’t you and I get to the root of it?
What’s the real trouble? What will satisfy her?”
“It’s as I say: she’s turned from him, that’s all.”
“But why, when she’s well off? Is it the neighbors,
Being cut off from friends?”
“We have our friends.
That isn’t it. Folks aren’t afraid of us.”
“She’s let it worry her. You stood the strain,
And you’re her mother.”
“But I didn’t always.
I didn’t relish it along at first.
But I got wonted to it. And besides—
John said I was too old to have grandchildren.
But what’s the use of talking when it’s done?
She won’t come back–it’s worse than that–she can’t.”
“Why do you speak like that? What do you know?
What do you mean?—she’s done harm to herself?”
“I mean she’s married—married someone else.”
“Oho, oho!”
“You don’t believe me.”
“Yes, I do,
Only too well. I knew there must be something!
So that was what was back. She’s bad, that’s all!”
“Bad to get married when she had the chance?”
“Nonsense! See what’s she done! But who, who——”
“Who’d marry her straight out of such a mess?
Say it right out—no matter for her mother.
The man was found. I’d better name no names.
John himself won’t imagine who he is.”
“Then it’s all up. I think I’ll get away.
You’ll be expecting John. I pity Estelle;
I suppose she deserves some pity, too.
You ought to have the kitchen to yourself
To break it to him. You may have the job.”
“You needn’t think you’re going to get away.
John’s almost here. I’ve had my eye on someone
Coming down Ryan’s Hill. I thought ’twas him.
Here he is now. This box! Put it away.
And this bill.”
“What’s the hurry? He’ll unhitch.”
“No, he won’t, either. He’ll just drop the reins
And turn Doll out to pasture, rig and all.
She won’t get far before the wheels hang up
On something—there’s no harm. See, there he is!
My, but he looks as if he must have heard!”
John threw the door wide but he didn’t enter.
“How are you, neighbor? Just the man I’m after.
Isn’t it Hell,” he said. “I want to know.
Come out here if you want to hear me talk.—
I’ll talk to you, old woman, afterward.—
I’ve got some news that maybe isn’t news.
What are they trying to do to me, these two?”
“Do go along with him and stop his shouting.”
She raised her voice against the closing door:
“Who wants to hear your news, you—dreadful fool?”

anti-mold momentum (by j/j hastain and Juliet Cook)

jj hastain author pic
Juliet Cook and j/j hastain

 

anti-mold momentum

The phantom tries to mold me
into amber embryos
and as I gather pictures
along
the brink I break
cigarettes
little binkies
in a mouth unfinished

Unfinished or not
the mold won’t work
I’ll scream and break
glass
and then drink
what I broke out of.
It’s been done before
chew the contents

then chew the form
as a way of making
both more content. Mysterious
risks. Glass grows stronger
and we pour our sea salt
into the glass cabinet.
Will it melt or crack or
break another mold

release the latest specimen
racy and with crisp
momentum. A silo
a spillway being swallowed
in sallow halos will lead
towards self-created flying things.
It doesn’t matter how far down
you throw me.

Even if I break again and again
I will re-grow, re-birth,
create
new shapes
new directions.
Redefine this fodder.
Fold me out of the line,
not into it.

* * * * *

 

j/j hastain is a queer, mystic, seer, singer, photographer, lover, priest/ess, and writer. As artist and activist of the audible, j/j is the author of several cross-genre books and enjoys ceremonial performances in an ongoing project regarding gender, shamanism, eros and embodiments. That project is called: you make yourself your own tilted stage.  j/j is the author of several cross-genre books including the trans-genre book libertine monk (Scrambler Press), anti-memoir a vigorous (Black Coffee Press/ Eight Ball Press), Secret Letters (Crisis Chronicles Press) and The Xyr Trilogy: a Metaphysical Romance. j/j’s writing has most recently appeared in Caketrain, Trickhouse, The Collagist, Housefire, Bombay Gin, Aufgabe and Tarpaulin Sky. j/j has been a guest lecturer at Naropa University, University of Colorado and University of Denver.

Juliet Cook is a grotesque glitter witch medusa hybrid brimming with black, grey, silver and purple explosions.  Her poetry has appeared in a peculiar multitude of literary publications, most recently including Arsenic Lobster, Menacing Hedge, Mojave River Review, and Tarpaulin Sky. She is the author of more than thirteen published poetry chapbooks, most recently including FONDANT PIG ANGST (Slash Pine Press), Tongue Like a Stinger (Wheelhouse), POST-STROKE (Blood Pudding Press for Dusie Kollektiv 5), Thirteen Designer Vaginas (Hyacinth Girl Press), POISONOUS BEAUTYSKULL LOLLIPOP (Grey Book Press) and RED DEMOLITION (Shirt Pocket Press). A new collaborative poetry chapbook created by Juliet Cook and Robert Cole, MUTANT NEURON CODEX SWARM, is forthcoming from Hyacinth Girl Press in 2014. Juliet’s first full-length poetry book, Horrific Confection, was published by BlazeVOX. In addition to her own writing, Juliet is the editor/publisher of Blood Pudding Press (print) and Thirteen Myna Birds (online). You can find out more at www.JulietCook.weebly.com.

Concrete Dandelion (by Christian O’Keeffe) – video


Video permalink: http://youtu.be/ESgjzcgvf28
video courtesy of Mathias Peralta

Christian O’Keeffe reads his poem “Concrete Dandelion” on November 22nd, 2011 in the Wick Poetry Corner of the Kent State University library. Some of Christian’s influences included the river, Jim Carroll, Maj Ragain, Jack Micheline, Bob Kaufman, moths, deer, blue heron, Kurt Cobain, Arthur Rimbaud, and that ecstatic act of walking. Christian died on 27 May 2012 at age 20.  In 2014, his chapbook Irises Made of Moth Wings was published by Crisis Chronicles Press.

The Generations of Men (by Robert Frost)

Robert_Frost_NYWTS.jpg picture by insightoutside

The Generations of Men
by Robert Frost
[from North of Boston (1914)]

A governor it was proclaimed this time,
When all who would come seeking in New Hampshire
Ancestral memories might come together.
And those of the name Stark gathered in Bow,
A rock-strewn town where farming has fallen off,
And sprout-lands flourish where the axe has gone.
Someone had literally run to earth
In an old cellar hole in a by-road
The origin of all the family there.
Thence they were sprung, so numerous a tribe
That now not all the houses left in town
Made shift to shelter them without the help
Of here and there a tent in grove and orchard.
They were at Bow, but that was not enough:
Nothing would do but they must fix a day
To stand together on the crater’s verge
That turned them on the world, and try to fathom
The past and get some strangeness out of it.
But rain spoiled all. The day began uncertain,
With clouds low trailing and moments of rain that misted.
The young folk held some hope out to each other
Till well toward noon when the storm settled down
With a swish in the grass. “What if the others
Are there,” they said. “It isn’t going to rain.”
Only one from a farm not far away
Strolled thither, not expecting he would find
Anyone else, but out of idleness.
One, and one other, yes, for there were two.
The second round the curving hillside road
Was a girl; and she halted some way off
To reconnoiter, and then made up her mind
At least to pass by and see who he was,
And perhaps hear some word about the weather.
This was some Stark she didn’t know. He nodded.
“No fête to-day,” he said.
“It looks that way.”
She swept the heavens, turning on her heel.
“I only idled down.”
“I idled down.”
Provision there had been for just such meeting
Of stranger cousins, in a family tree
Drawn on a sort of passport with the branch
Of the one bearing it done in detail—
Some zealous one’s laborious device.
She made a sudden movement toward her bodice,
As one who clasps her heart. They laughed together.
“Stark?” he inquired. “No matter for the proof.”
“Yes, Stark. And you?”
“I’m Stark.” He drew his passport.
“You know we might not be and still be cousins:
The town is full of Chases, Lowes, and Baileys,
All claiming some priority in Starkness.
My mother was a Lane, yet might have married
Anyone upon earth and still her children
Would have been Starks, and doubtless here to-day.”
“You riddle with your genealogy
Like a Viola. I don’t follow you.”
“I only mean my mother was a Stark
Several times over, and by marrying father
No more than brought us back into the name.”
“One ought not to be thrown into confusion
By a plain statement of relationship,
But I own what you say makes my head spin.
You take my card—you seem so good at such things—
And see if you can reckon our cousinship.
Why not take seats here on the cellar wall
And dangle feet among the raspberry vines?”
“Under the shelter of the family tree.”
“Just soth—at ought to be enough protection.”
“Not from the rain. I think it’s going to rain.”
“It’s raining.”
“No, it’s misting; let’s be fair.
Does the rain seem to you to cool the eyes?”
The situation was like this: the road
Bowed outward on the mountain halfway up,
And disappeared and ended not far off.
No one went home that way. The only house
Beyond where they were was a shattered seedpod.
And below roared a brook hidden in trees,
The sound of which was silence for the place.
This he sat listening to till she gave judgment.
“On father’s side, it seems, we’re—let me see——”
“Don’t be too technical.—You have three cards.”
“Four cards, one yours, three mine, one for each branch
Of the Stark family I’m a member of.”
“D’you know a person so related to herself
Is supposed to be mad.”
“I may be mad.”
“You look so, sitting out here in the rain
Studying genealogy with me
You never saw before. What will we come to
With all this pride of ancestry, we Yankees?
I think we’re all mad. Tell me why we’re here
Drawn into town about this cellar hole
Like wild geese on a lake before a storm?
What do we see in such a hole, I wonder.”
“The Indians had a myth of Chicamoztoc,
Which means The-Seven-Caves-That-We-Came-Out-Of.
This is the pit from which we Starks were digged.”
“You must be learned. That’s what you see in it?”
“And what do you see?”
“Yes, what do I see?
First let me look. I see raspberry vines——”
“Oh, if you’re going to use your eyes, just hear
What I see. It’s a little, little boy,
As pale and dim as a match flame in the sun;
He’s groping in the cellar after jam,
He thinks it’s dark and it’s flooded with daylight.”
“He’s nothing. Listen. When I lean like this
I can make out old Grandsir Stark distinctly,—
With his pipe in his mouth and his brown jug—
Bless you, it isn’t Grandsir Stark, it’s Granny,
But the pipe’s there and smoking and the jug.
She’s after cider, the old girl, she’s thirsty;
Here’s hoping she gets her drink and gets out safely.”
“Tell me about her. Does she look like me?”
“She should, shouldn’t she, you’re so many times
Over descended from her. I believe
She does look like you. Stay the way you are.
The nose is just the same, and so’s the chin–
Making allowance, making due allowance.”
“You poor, dear, great, great, great, great Granny!”
“See that you get her greatness right. Don’t stint her.”
“Yes, it’s important, though you think it isn’t.
I won’t be teased. But see how wet I am.”
“Yes, you must go; we can’t stay here for ever.
But wait until I give you a hand up.
A bead of silver water more or less
Strung on your hair won’t hurt your summer looks.
I wanted to try something with the noise
That the brook raises in the empty valley.
We have seen visions—now consult the voices.
Something I must have learned riding in trains
When I was young. I used the roar
To set the voices speaking out of it,
Speaking or singing, and the band-music playing.
Perhaps you have the art of what I mean.
I’ve never listened in among the sounds
That a brook makes in such a wild descent.
It ought to give a purer oracle.”
“It’s as you throw a picture on a screen:
The meaning of it all is out of you;
The voices give you what you wish to hear.”
“Strangely, it’s anything they wish to give.”
“Then I don’t know. It must be strange enough.
I wonder if it’s not your make-believe.
What do you think you’re like to hear to-day?”
“From the sense of our having been together—
But why take time for what I’m like to hear?
I’ll tell you what the voices really say.
You will do very well right where you are
A little longer. I mustn’t feel too hurried,
Or I can’t give myself to hear the voices.”
“Is this some trance you are withdrawing into?”
“You must be very still; you mustn’t talk.”
“I’ll hardly breathe.”
“The voices seem to say——”
“I’m waiting.”
“Don’t! The voices seem to say:
Call her Nausicaa, the unafraid
Of an acquaintance made adventurously.”
“I let you say that—on consideration.”
“I don’t see very well how you can help it.
You want the truth. I speak but by the voices.
You see they know I haven’t had your name,
Though what a name should matter between us——”
“I shall suspect——”
“Be good. The voices say:
Call her Nausicaa, and take a timber
That you shall find lies in the cellar charred
Among the raspberries, and hew and shape it
For a door-sill or other corner piece
In a new cottage on the ancient spot.
The life is not yet all gone out of it.
And come and make your summer dwelling here,
And perhaps she will come, still unafraid,
And sit before you in the open door
With flowers in her lap until they fade,
But not come in across the sacred sill——”
“I wonder where your oracle is tending.
You can see that there’s something wrong with it,
Or it would speak in dialect. Whose voice
Does it purport to speak in? Not old Grandsir’s
Nor Granny’s, surely. Call up one of them.
They have best right to be heard in this place.”
“You seem so partial to our great-grandmother
(Nine times removed. Correct me if I err.)
You will be likely to regard as sacred
Anything she may say. But let me warn you,
Folks in her day were given to plain speaking.
You think you’d best tempt her at such a time?”
“It rests with us always to cut her off.”
“Well then, it’s Granny speaking: ‘I dunnow!
Mebbe I’m wrong to take it as I do.
There ain’t no names quite like the old ones though,
Nor never will be to my way of thinking.
One mustn’t bear too hard on the newcomers,
But there’s a dite too many of them for comfort.
I should feel easier if I could see
More of the salt wherewith they’re to be salted.
Son, you do as you’re told! You take the timber—
It’s as sound as the day when it was cut—
And begin over——’ There, she’d better stop.
You can see what is troubling Granny, though.
But don’t you think we sometimes make too much
Of the old stock? What counts is the ideals,
And those will bear some keeping still about.”
“I can see we are going to be good friends.”
“I like your ‘going to be.’ You said just now
It’s going to rain.”
“I know, and it was raining.
I let you say all that. But I must go now.”
“You let me say it? on consideration?
How shall we say good-by in such a case?”
“How shall we?”
“Will you leave the way to me?”
“No, I don’t trust your eyes. You’ve said enough.
Now give me your hand up.—Pick me that flower.”
“Where shall we meet again?”
“Nowhere but here
Once more before we meet elsewhere.”
“In rain?”
“It ought to be in rain. Sometime in rain.
In rain to-morrow, shall we, if it rains?
But if we must, in sunshine.” So she went.

This is Gonna Hurt Me (by Jami Tillis)

jami larger

Jami Tillis

“This Is Gonna Hurt Me

more than it hurts you,”
is what Mama used to say
when I misbehaved or didn’t
listen to the admonition I was
given by my “loved ones.”
After the lashing, I fell fast
asleep. Before the lashing,
I pretended to be asleep—
attempting to escape hurting
Mama more than she hurt me,
as she said, my brother
giggling like a little school
girl and, to my surprise, my
Grandma too. There are two
sides to every story, and I wasn’t
always wrong, like when my Peeps
were tossed into the wind from
a moving car because McDonald’s
wasn’t junk food and my Peeps were.

* * *

“This Is Gonna Hurt Me” by Jami Tillis comes from her 2014 chapbook In Bold Blackness: Selections published by Crisis Chronicles Press.

Jami Tillis is 24 years old. She graduated from Northeastern Illinois University in May 2012. Her field of study is Secondary Education with a concentration in English and history. In college, she belonged to a variety of groups—Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society, and Pi Alpha Theta History Honors Society.

Jami has a 6 year old daughter named Chayse who is her current inspiration for writing. “All of my poetry and other written works are derived from real life experiences that I have witnessed and survived before and after she came along.”

Jami lives in Chicago and works as a 5th and 6th grade reading and writing teacher in Chicago Public Schools.

In Bold Blackness cover image

Cover features a Steven Smith photo of an Edward McKnight Kauffer illustration in the Borzoi Poe

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