At Carnoy (by Siegfried Sassoon)

Image

At Carnoy
by Siegfried Sassoon
[from The Old Huntsman and Other Poems, 1918]

Down in the hollow there’s the whole Brigade
Camped in four groups: through twilight falling slow
I hear a sound of mouth-organs, ill-played,
And murmur of voices, gruff, confused, and low.
Crouched among thistle-tufts I’ve watched the glow
Of a blurred orange sunset flare and fade;
And I’m content. To-morrow we must go
To take some cursèd Wood … O world God made!

   July 3rd, 1916


*

Cleveland Spiritual (by Dianne Borsenik)

Dianne Borsenik during her award winning performance in the Best Cleveland Poem Competition held 1 June 2014 at the Willoughby Brewing Company [photo by John Burroughs]

Dianne Borsenik during her award winning performance of “Cleveland Spiritual” in the Best Cleveland Poem Competition held 1 June 2014 at the Willoughby Brewing Company and sponsored by Tim Misny [photo by John Burroughs]

 

Cleveland Spiritual

Are you thirsty?
Well, we have what you’re thirsty for.
Push open the door, pull up a stool,
and order a draught of Cuyahoga River’s
burnished Cleveland Spirit,
distilled right here
in the Best Location in the Nation.

This Cleveland Spirit pumps
through tap-houses of poetry
and museums of history, Playhouse stages
and West Side Market stalls. It swells
through Nighttown jazz and House of Blues,
Severance Hall and Beachland Ballroom,
it floods the rooms of Gordon Square Arts
and Tremont restaurants, it sweeps into
FirstEnergy Stadium and Progressive Field—
everywhere you go, there’s ”Dog Pound”
and “Go Tribe,” Spirit enough
to fill the televisions of grills and pubs
and bars, Spirit enough to fill the seats
and paint this city in brown and orange,
red, white, and navy blue.

This is Cleveland,
come slake your thirst; make yourself at home.
Pour another draught and drink deeply
of the music that inspired, invited
and inveigled the Rock Hall of Fame:

Michael Stanley, Eric Carmen, Tracy Chapman,
Machine Gun Kelly and Bone Thugs N Harmony,
Steve Adler, The Dead Boys, Nine Inch Nails, and
that “Skinny Little Boy from Cleveland, Ohio.”

Quaff that Cleveland Spirit driving the special
personalities who’ve called this city “home”:

Daniel Thompson and his Alley way,
Carnegie and his Avenue,
Daffy Dan and his tee shirts,
Dick Goddard and his wooly bears,
Neil Zurcher and his One-Tank Trips,
Les Roberts and his Milan Jacovich mysteries,
Lanigan and his mornings,
Ghoulardi and his “aaaaaaaaamraaaaaap”,
Hoolihan, Big Chuck and Little John, Barnaby,
Captain Penny and Halle’s Mr. Jingaling.

Down another fine draught of Cleveland Spirit:

Great Lakes Brewing,
Home of the Buzzard,
It’s Live on Five,
See the USA. in Your C. Miller Chevrolet
World-Class Care Close to Home,
Garfield One Two Three Two Three,
I’ll Make Them Pay.

We’re here to intoxicate your senses
and blow down your fences!
Kick back, hook your heels in this city’s rungs,
relax and stay awhile. Hold out your hand
for another round of Cleveland’s finest.

This is Cleveland—my home,
and when you’re here, it belongs to you, too.
This is Cleveland;
come as you are—
but do come thirsty.

 

* * *

“Cleveland Spriritual” by Dianne Borsenik will appear in the book #ThisIsCLE: An Anthology of the 2014 Best Cleveland Poem Competition, to be published in January 2015 by Crisis Chronicles Press.

Dianne Borsenik is active in the Cleveland poetry scene and regional reading circuit. Her work has been widely published in journals and anthologies, including Slipstream, Rosebud, Lilliput Review, The Magnetic Poetry Book of Poetry, and Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac. Recent books include Corpus Lingua (Poet’s Haven), Fortune Cookie (Kattywompus), and Blue Graffiti (Crisis Chronicles). She is founder of NightBallet Press, and lives in Elyria with husband James and dogsons Bodhisattva and Michael-Angelo. Find her on Facebook, or at www.dianneborsenik.com.

There’s something quieter than sleep (by Emily Dickinson)

emily-dickinson

There’s something quieter than sleep
Within this inner room!
It wears a sprig upon its breast —
And will not tell its name.

Some touch it, and some kiss it —
Some chafe its idle hand —
It has a simple gravity
I do not understand!

I would not weep if I were they —
How rude in one to sob!
Might scare the quiet fairy
Back to her native wood!

While simple-hearted neighbors
Chat of the “Early dead” —
We — prone to periphrasis
Remark that Birds have fled!

[1859]

The Vigil (by Shelley Chernin)

2012 (05.24) The Vigil by Shelley Chernin

The Vigil
by Shelley Chernin

The Vigil © 2012 by Shelley Chernin
front cover art © 2012 by Jessie Herzfeld
first published 5/24/2012 as a small chapbook
(CC#24) by Crisis Chronicles Press

 

1

Lord Buddha attained enlightenment in Bihar
near ISM, the Indian School of Mines, in Dhanbad,
eastern Jharkhand state, Damodar River valley,

“The Coal Capital of India.” A city at the heart
of the coalfields of Jharia, its pulmonary veins
carry blood money to Tata Iron and Steel Company

Ltd. Its ground exhales the smoke of coal fires,
burning in the viscera, perpetual dyspepsia in
the second most polluted place in India.

2

In West Virginia, the Sago Baptist Church was founded in 1856 by Lucy Henderson, Hester Summerville, and others. Seventy years later, historian E.R. Grose would write:

This church has wielded a large influence in the lives of the Sago people. It has never been large in numbers but has stood faithfully for the best things in life; and only eternity can tell the influence it has exerted.

That’s a long time to wait, congregate. Youngsters in the first Sunday school competed to memorize scripture. L.B. Moore once recited two chapters of Matthew, left no time for the other children. At age twenty, Moore entered the Union Army, fought with Company B of the Tenth West Virginia Volunteer Infantry for three years. Wounded on the last day of the Siege of Petersburg, he returned home on crutches, joined the Baptist ministry ten years later. Company B lost fourteen to injuries and disease in the war. Moore founded a temperance society, preached against hard cider. Others went out as ministers from Sago Baptist, which first held services in the old log schoolhouse, on the river bank, at the chestnut tree. Many hearts beat there, and in the 1873 white painted church-house that became Mr. Burner’s barn twenty years later.

3

Rutajit studies mining engineering at ISM, plays
cricket on collegiate fields. His stomach growls
on fasting days; he snacks on sabudana khichdi

made from sago, pith of cycas revoluta, pearls of flour
leached of natural toxins. The recipe is simple:
Soak the sago overnight, melt ghee, brown chiles

and cumin seeds and maybe potatoes too, add soaked sago,
cook until crisp. Garnish with coconut and cilantro.
Do not cover the pan or the sago conglomerates

into one lump. Sago thickens like tapioca and plots.
Despite popular myths, white sago is no purer
than the light cream variety. Rutajit feels full. 

4

Sago Baptist Church is the point where trapped miners’ families gathered on pins and needles to wait for their loved ones to surface. Neighbors brought glazed hams, potato salad, and homemade black walnut apple cake with vanilla icing. The children ate. Red Cross workers brought cots, blankets, and Tylenol. Pastors Day and Barker, joined by Pastor Murrell of The Way of Holiness Church of Buckhannon brought hymns and scriptures, read Romans 8:28:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Families watched the mine entrance across the street. President Bush offered his prayer: May God bless those who are trapped below the earth, and may God bless those who are concerned about those trapped below the earth. Bush, Murrell, and Day asked us all to pray, so prayers circulated like oxygenated blood down through the national arteries, branched into our capillaries, in search of miners’ cells.

5

Rutajit’s name means “Conqueror of Truth.” Hindus permit
debate on the existence of God. His parents congratulate
their future mine safety expert. A “mining accident”

is any accident that happens in a mine. If five or more
people die, the accident is called a “mining disaster.”
Rutajit loves science and his girlfriend, not words. His heart

pounds, but he does not pray the first time
his class enters Bagdigi Mine. Twenty-nine men died
in a flood there in 2001, he learns. Inside the mine are signs

of concern: Coal dust hai kahtray ki naani, is mein chheeto
hardam paani. (Coal dust is the grandmother of all dangers,
always sprinkle water on it.) Dust and ashes

are cognate. If footprints are visible on the mine floor,
fine particles can explode, produce 200 mile per hour winds,
dispersing additional dust from walls and overhead

beams. There can be secondary explosions, fires. Anything
that can burn in bulk can explode when powdered
and mixed with air. Coal, wood. Churches.

6

Westboro Baptist Church is down in the basement of Reverend Fred Phelps’ home in Topeka. Twenty members trekked to West Virginia for the miners’ memorial service. A holy pilgrimage. Their leaflets blasted Sago Baptist Church

for blasphemously misrepresenting the sovereign, predestined providences of The Almighty in the Sago Mine matter.

They proclaimed God’s absolute power to cause or prevent tragedy, abused the bereaved for the sin of failure to rejoice in God’s tragedies. Human compassion ignores the logic. At the core, faith is thick and dark as a coal mine, burns like fossil fuel. When the dead miners’ families misbelieved that all but one lived, they celebrated their miracle, danced and sang. Pastor Murrell said after that it was like they had experienced The Resurrection.

7

In the month after the Sago disaster, four more
miners died in mining accidents in West Virginia.
Like miscooked sago, the flow of names congeals.

Rutajit knows a story. On May 28, 1965, an explosion
and fire in the Dhori Colliery in Dhanbad killed
more than 400 miners. Deep inside, heat blasted the mine

to darkness, blew off eyeglasses, burned off brows. The air
coagulated. The men died in denseness, unable to see
their own hands. Thick in prayer.

head shot back cover The Vigil

Shelley Chernin is a 59-year-old freelance researcher, writer, and editor of legal reference books. She lives in Russell, Ohio (aka Novelty, proving that the US Postal Service once had a sense of irony). Her poems have appeared in Scrivener Creative Review, Rhapsoidia, What I Knew Before I Knew: Poems from the Pudding House Salon-Cleveland, the Heights Observer, the 2010 through 2012 Hessler Street Fair poetry anthologies and the Cuyahoga Burning edition of Big Bridge. She received the 2nd Place award in the 2011 Hessler Street Fair Poetry Contest and Honorable Mentions in the Akron Art Museum’s New Words Poetry Contest in 2009 and 2010. Her latest book, Oct Tongue -1, (2014, Crisis Chronicles Press) is a collaboration with Mary Weems, John Swain, Steven Smith, Lady, John Burroughs and Steve Brightman,  Yes, of course, Shelley plays the ukulele. Who doesn’t?

Silet (by Ezra Pound)

Ezra Pound by EO Hoppe 1920Silet
by Ezra Pound
(from Ripostes, 1912)

When I behold how black, immortal ink
Drips from my deathless pen—ah, well-away!
Why should we stop at all for what I think?
There is enough in what I chance to say.

It is enough that we once came together;
What is the use of setting it to rime?
When it is autumn do we get spring weather,
Or gather may of harsh northwindish time?

It is enough that we once came together;
What if the wind have turned against the rain?
It is enough that we once came together;
Time has seen this, and will not turn again;

And who are we, who know that last intent,
To plague to-morrow with a testament!

Verona 1911

Tomorrow (by Alan Kleiman)

Kleiman with Grand Slam proof

Tomorrow
by Alan Kleiman

Tomorrow never comes
but it’s here right now
in the living room with me
right next to my chair
the grayish one with the stripes
from the old days in the office
when sitting in the corner
in the cushy chair
was like taking a holiday
in Spain or Paris
even before the airlines needed
to whisk you away
to St. Tropez.

I had a trophy there
an award performance
remembered fondly by the walls,
the sheet rock
even the window
the fluorescent lights
that watched
from their off position
the whole dance
played out against gray carpet
a few chairs
and a table or two.

Well there it was in this setting
where those miraculous 40’s passed by
where the power of our life
was realized
where the strength of mature adulthood
took its mark and left it
in strength
as powerful as
we were going to be

That’s where we made our mark
That’s where we became
from our 30’s
boy wonders on the move
to our 40’s
boy wonders having moved life,
art, music, sex, divorce, children,
partnerships, new cars, new homes,
all these things took shape in the 40’s
so rich, so strident, so full
of taste buds’ delight,
yet filled with the lack of self awareness
that only hindsight brings to bear.

Here the 50’s redound
what do they speak of
but futures with a different sense of self
futures with a less powerful push
with less oomph than “I can do it”
Oh, I can do it, Oh yes,
but sometimes in the mirror
of my shadow on the walk
or just watching the flip
of a leg over a bike
I see the movement
of an old man
the stiffness that places
the fluid movements of youth
into old man categories
and straightens the curves
and makes the leg less swoopier
It’s a hint but it’s there.

We have all seen old men
and old women dance
It’s that dance that wants to audition now
for the new part that smiles
that says Polident instead of Crest
We see it as not bad or sad –
But changed so much
that even Autumn
can be tolerated now
even Autumn
that hurt me so in the past
that made me cry with its meanness
its stealing of the warmth
of the long days,
of the chirping nights,

That mean harsh Autumn
all dressed up in fancy clothes
never fooled me
I hated its mean endings
and its gifts
of ice cold gray streets
that Autumn, that same Autumn
comes now like an old non-friend
almost tolerable
sometimes showing
its good side
its sweetness smirking
behind its flash
and I can say, Ha –
Here’s old Autumn again –
He’ll be gone before the night is up
Let’s see his dress and his swank this year
because Spring, our beloved,
will be here before you can say blink.

Because with age comes speed
comes life as a roller blade wheel
that spins and circles
at its own momentum
with no rhyme or reason
and that’s how it is today
Some say hooray?

 

[“Tomorrow” comes from Alan Kleiman’s book Grand Slam, published in 2013 by Crisis Chronicles Press.]

 

Alan Kleiman’s poetry has appeared in The Criterion, Verse Wisconsin, Right Hand Pointing, Blue Fifth Review, The Bicycle Review, Pyrta, Eskimo Pie, The Montucky Review, Kinship of Rivers, Stone Path Review and other journals. He lives in New York City and works as an attorney.

The Code (by Robert Frost)

Robert_Frost_NYWTS.jpg picture by insightoutside

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

There were three in the meadow by the brook
Gathering up windrows, piling cocks of hay,
With an eye always lifted toward the west
Where an irregular sun-bordered cloud
Darkly advanced with a perpetual dagger
Flickering across its bosom. Suddenly
One helper, thrusting pitchfork in the ground,
Marched himself off the field and home. One stayed.
The town-bred farmer failed to understand.

“What is there wrong?”

                                     “Something you just now said.”

“What did I say?”

                              “About our taking pains.”

“To cock the hay?—because it’s going to shower?
I said that more than half an hour ago.
I said it to myself as much as you.”
“You didn’t know. But James is one big fool.
He thought you meant to find fault with his work.
That’s what the average farmer would have meant.
James would take time, of course, to chew it over
Before he acted: he’s just got round to act.”

“He is a fool if that’s the way he takes me.”

“Don’t let it bother you. You’ve found out something.
The hand that knows his business won’t be told
To do work better or faster—those two things.
I’m as particular as anyone:
Most likely I’d have served you just the same.
But I know you don’t understand our ways.
You were just talking what was in your mind,
What was in all our minds, and you weren’t hinting.
Tell you a story of what happened once:
I was up here in Salem at a man’s
Named Sanders with a gang of four or five
Doing the haying. No one liked the boss.
He was one of the kind sports call a spider,
All wiry arms and legs that spread out wavy
From a humped body nigh as big’s a biscuit.
But work! that man could work, especially
If by so doing he could get more work
Out of his hired help. I’m not denying
He was hard on himself. I couldn’t find
That he kept any hours—not for himself.
Daylight and lantern-light were one to him:
I’ve heard him pounding in the barn all night.
But what he liked was someone to encourage.
Them that he couldn’t lead he’d get behind
And drive, the way you can, you know, in mowing—
Keep at their heels and threaten to mow their legs off.
I’d seen about enough of his bulling tricks
(We call that bulling). I’d been watching him.
So when he paired off with me in the hayfield
To load the load, thinks I, Look out for trouble.
I built the load and topped it off; old Sanders
Combed it down with a rake and says, ‘O.K.’
Everything went well till we reached the barn
With a big catch to empty in a bay.
You understand that meant the easy job
For the man up on top of throwing down
The hay and rolling it off wholesale,
Where on a mow it would have been slow lifting.
You wouldn’t think a fellow’d need much urging
Under these circumstances, would you now?
But the old fool seizes his fork in both hands,
And looking up bewhiskered out of the pit,
Shouts like an army captain, ‘Let her come!’
Thinks I, D’ye mean it? ‘What was that you said?’
I asked out loud, so’s there’d be no mistake,
‘Did you say, Let her come?’ ‘Yes, let her come.’
He said it over, but he said it softer.
Never you say a thing like that to a man,
Not if he values what he is. God, I’d as soon
Murdered him as left out his middle name.
I’d built the load and knew right where to find it.
Two or three forkfuls I picked lightly round for
Like meditating, and then I just dug in
And dumped the rackful on him in ten lots.
I looked over the side once in the dust
And caught sight of him treading-water-like,
Keeping his head above. ‘Damn ye,’ I says,
‘That gets ye!’ He squeaked like a squeezed rat.
That was the last I saw or heard of him.
I cleaned the rack and drove out to cool off.
As I sat mopping hayseed from my neck,
And sort of waiting to be asked about it,
One of the boys sings out, ‘Where’s the old man?’
‘I left him in the barn under the hay.
If ye want him, ye can go and dig him out.’
They realized from the way I swobbed my neck
More than was needed something must be up.
They headed for the barn; I stayed where I was.
They told me afterward. First they forked hay,
A lot of it, out into the barn floor.
Nothing! They listened for him. Not a rustle.
I guess they thought I’d spiked him in the temple
Before I buried him, or I couldn’t have managed.
They excavated more. ‘Go keep his wife
Out of the barn.’ Someone looked in a window,
And curse me if he wasn’t in the kitchen
Slumped way down in a chair, with both his feet
Stuck in the oven, the hottest day that summer.
He looked so clean disgusted from behind
There was no one that dared to stir him up,
Or let him know that he was being looked at.
Apparently I hadn’t buried him
(I may have knocked him down); but my just trying
To bury him had hurt his dignity.
He had gone to the house so’s not to meet me.
He kept away from us all afternoon.
We tended to his hay. We saw him out
After a while picking peas in his garden:
He couldn’t keep away from doing something.”

“Weren’t you relieved to find he wasn’t dead?”

“No! and yet I don’t know—it’s hard to say.
I went about to kill him fair enough.”

“You took an awkward way. Did he discharge you?”

“Discharge me? No! He knew I did just right.”

*

‘Blighters’ (by Siegfried Sassoon)

Image

‘Blighters’
by Siegfried Sassoon
[from The Old Huntsman and Other Poems, 1918]

The House is crammed: tier beyond tier they grin    
And cackle at the Show, while prancing ranks    
Of harlots shrill the chorus, drunk with din;    
‘We’re sure the Kaiser loves our dear old Tanks!’    
 
I’d like to see a Tank come down the stalls,
Lurching to rag-time tunes, or ‘Home, sweet Home,’    
And there’d be no more jokes in Music-halls    
To mock the riddled corpses round Bapaume.


*

Goop (by j/j hastain and Juliet Cook)

jj hastain author pic
Juliet Cook and j/j hastain

 

Goop

Again I awoke from this dream.

You were grossed out
by my words
then suddenly changed
your mind. You wanted to take
a chance,
to lie
down
surrounded
by shit.

You wanted to get stuck
in it,
your hair
ripped out,
watch it grow

wet soil
transplants. Hair a navigational
comrade. The words
were boulders
mossy pits, wounds
the words were mutating
crows, cawing through
every socket,
every crawlspace

with new sounds
the words were extensions
the place where the bridge is
beginning
to separate
the loam foams
and spurts out
a tiny volcano

flipped so the cone tip
is at the bottom. It is leaking. Honey,
lay down here beside me. I think
it is time to dream again.

 

* * * * *

 

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) 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), and POISONOUS BEAUTYSKULL LOLLIPOP (Grey Book 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.

Portland Blues (by Ryan Swofford)

Ryan SwoffordPortland Blues

The ones living, tipping brown
paper hats, ripped white T
shirts and Saturday afternoon
hippie markets of beer
of railroad tracks of
crazy raving mad
boys, girls in mini-shorts, black
lip-stick with sharpie marks
on stop-signs and subway cars
riding with wet hot arms
to wherever
is hip

Ah, spilling smoke-guts
of wordiness, of nirvana
speaking in screaming
monster tongues

Portland, OR, is full of saints
anti-Christ angelheads of
real red aura, halobrained
smokers cough felling today
with beerbreath

Pretty girls in girl dresses
kissing
and spitting
on the bubbling sidewalk
just pretty rainbows

Steam and sunset sunsetting
smoke cinnamon ice cream truck
rolling on by with a tune almost to say
this is the end but
this is also
the beginning of your mad desolate blues—journey
into the desert of people
stop signs
subway cars
fedora-capped cats
too much
to get
too loose

 

* * * * *

“Portland Blues” (c) 2014 by Ryan Swofford from his chapbook Sunshine Liar, published by Crisis Chronicles Press.

Ryan Swofford lives in the Pacific Northwest and edits The Weekenders Magazine. He has a young adult novel, The Ducks, forthcoming in 2014.