Madrid Sleeps by Donna Pucciani

Madrid Sleeps

in the bull’s bloodshot eye,
in the empty bull ring,
in the crowds’ wave of sound
muffled in a matador’s hat.

Dust rises above the past,
over the city’s crooked pavements
where old women walk their dogs
and smoke, their steps deliberate.
Sometimes two link arms.
They are carefully coiffed,
with earrings of real gold.

A door of ironwork and glass
abuts the sidewalk. Keys are retrieved
from black leather purses. Together
they’ll enter the tiny lift,
sip chamomile tea on the divan
five flights up, their dogs
curled in their laps. Then, siesta.

Trees line the curbs, their roots
and leaves birthed in this hard city.
One learns to sleep
through the nightly caterwaul
of garbage trucks and revelers.

In the morning, when the bars close,
the city slips into daylight
as if nothing has happened—
a civil war, museums
filled with elongated madonnas
and the royal family in wigs,
their sloe-eyed children and spaniels.

In an hour or two,
heat will embrace the city
with unbearable breath, the metro
will stink of piss, the banks and offices
unlock for the commerce of the workers
who clutch their cell phones,
forgetting the library that holds
maps on parchment, notation
for the trembling strings of a guitar,
hospitals full of the dying,
families living atop one another in small apartments
filled with the smell of cheese and ham.

The children next door can be heard
clattering through rooms, and soon the afternoon
bakes in the inescapable sun
while cathedral bells toll the hour.
Shops close for sleep; it is simply too hot to do anything
but shut one’s eyes and sit until the dark closes in.

Supper seizes the tired mass of humanity,
their tapas carrying them into the dark
where ghosts rise over churches
and statues of famous men. Above the plazas,
babies are scrubbed and tucked into their beds
with perhaps a story of princes and charms
in a whole world of silvery sweetness,
except for the hungry, the beaten, and
the ancient bellowing of bulls.

 

Donna Pucciani, a Chicago-based writer, has published poetry worldwide in such diverse journals as Shi Chao Poetry, Poetry Salzburg, nebulab, Istanbul Literary Review, Gradiva, and Agenda. Her most recent book of poems is EDGES.

Tantrum in the Gallery by Winston Plowes

Tantrum in the Gallery

Enter a mother and child, on the brink of war
he’s an aeroplane of arms dodging bullets
stomping on cracks in the pavement
emotions, a tight knot unravelling.

Eyes filling, over two poppy cheeks
soft fists pounding on the glass drum of reason
a thousand silvers spoons of tears drip through the silence
sticky fingers reaching for anything.

With a yawn drawn out like a wire
they both leave, worn as thin as a photograph –
Like a kiss falling from the end of a piece of string.

(Every line above contains a reference to or title of an exhibit in the Cornelia Parker exhibition, The Whitworth Art Gallery Manchester. March 2015.)

 

Winston Plowes lives aboard his floating home in Calderdale, West Yorkshire. He was Poet in Residence for the Rochdale Canal Festival in 2012 and The Hebden Bridge Arts Festival 2012-14 and his first solo collection of surrealist poetry, Telephones, Love Hearts & Jellyfish (Electric Press) was launched last year. Winston is a regular teacher of creative writing in schools and for local groups and is the proud inventor of the worlds first (and possibly last) Random Poetry Generating Bicycle, the ‘Spoke-n-Word’.   

www.winstonplowes.co.uk

Four poems by Chella Courington

Jeopardy

My father built biceps working for US Steel
smelting iron in heat that humbled men.

Now I could break his arm
over my knee, brittle as kindling.

My father used to let me walk up his body
balancing my hands on his fingertips

till I flew from his shoulders. They began to sag
after my mother passed. Rising at night, no moon out,

she collapsed in the dark and never woke
as once my father fell when a clot in his head

tossed him down. He speaks of my mother
rubbing his back with eucalyptus oil and saves hair

from her brush, strands he wraps in Kleenex.
At night with his whiskey, facing Jeopardy, my father

drifts off to Kargasok.
In the Russian mountains women live to be 105.

So do their men, eating dried cod with mushroom tea,
making love last forever.

(Originally appeared in Avatar Review, Spring 2010)

 

 

Queen’s Bird

Two of each—cup, saucer, bread plate
in lukewarm water, I wash away

thirty years of dust since Mother died.
At 42, ovarian cancer like Queen Mary.

Bloody Mary quite contrary
why leave your subjects crushed?

I thought I’d run into Mother if I traveled:
Chicago, Barbados, Edinburgh.

Against the sun, I raise the porcelain
eyeing it for chips and cracks. Bone china

fired from bone ash like Mother’s gray powder
handed me in a bronze urn.

Or is this cup with songbird glazed in blue
mere clay: my lips where once were hers.

 
Forty

Dust devils swirl to Beethoven’s Fifth and sun
burns my eyes between Albuquerque and Grants.
Living in this forsaken land is unimaginable
until I see shadows on desert hills
and think of Georgia O’Keeffe

traveling across New Mexico—water colors
dislodging dark New York her lover old
enough to be her father posing her
day after day in his studio
infatuations in black and white.

Stieglitz dies. She escapes to open plains
cloud vistas where nothing presses
no camera traps no skyscraper blocks
her stretching into whiteness—
bone on red hills.

 
Poland

It was April again. It rained every day
floating seeds downstream.
Cold white sheets covered cold
white skin & you said it was useless
caring whether hands met at night.
You said in Poland lovers lost
sleep over other things. We lay unspeaking
like the couple in Sunday’s LA Times.
She slept with his silence ten years & two
children. After coffee one morning
he burrowed a kitchen knife in her heart.

(Originally appeared in Spillway 13, Spring 2007)

 

Chella Courington is a writer and teacher. With a Ph.D. in American and British Literature and an MFA in Poetry, she is the author of five poetry and four flash fiction chapbooks. Her poetry appears in numerous anthologies and journals including Non-Binary Review, Spillway, Pirene’s Fountain, and The Los Angeles Review. Originally from the Appalachian South, Courington lives in California with another writer and two cats. For more information: chellacourington.net

Thinly Veiled by Bekah Steimel

Thinly Veiled

I want to be
thinly veiled
for you
so you can
detect movement
under my surface
where my skin
is what
I speak
and my blood
is what
I mean
your x-ray vision
revealing
the connection
in between

(First appeared in Milk Sugar 2013)

 

Bekah Steimel is a poet whose work has been published globally. Recent poems have appeared in Impossible Archetype, Paper and Ink Zine, and Memoryhouse Magazine. She lives in St. Louis and can be found online at bekahsteimel.com and followed on Twitter and Instagram @BekahSteimel.

Slender Secrets by Kristin Garth

Slender Secrets
(first published in Anti-Heroin Chic, July 12th, 2017)

He thinks I had a choice. This grandpa cop
in hipster glasses, ironed shirt who writes
my words like tendrils, mansion, doesn’t stop
to question that they might be true. First night,
seduced, at six, into your sly service,
the circles drawn on dolls you say are meant
for me unless I listen. Go from nervous
to abject fear by twelve years old. You send
by then your pixie proxy, swimming pools
with slender secrets. Sharp sacrifice we
surmise because we both see. Two tools,
who’ll slice, like air, for you, a strawberry.
You taught me that a knife is but a key;
to kill a friend, not choice, necessity.

 

Kristin Garth is a poet from Pensacola and a sonnet stalker. In addition to Chantarelle’s Notebook, her sonnets have stalked magazines like Five: 2: One, Glass, Anti-Heroin Chic, Occulum, Drunk Monkeys, Luna Luna and many more. Her chapbook Pink Plastic House is available from Maverick Duck Press, and she has two forthcoming: Pensacola Girls (Bone & Ink Press, Sept 2018) and Shakespeare for Sociopaths (The Hedgehog Poetry Press Jan 2019). Follow her kneesocks and new Slenderman anthology project with @justin_karcher on Twitter: @lolaandjolie

Two poems by David Bankson

Construct of Wood & Glass

As I die, I find myself manufactured
Of reclaimed wood & disbelief, fractured
Fingerbones & electricity.
The horizon is my plasticity,
Trees grown in cities making long shadows
Of my existence: I am fallow,
Grown in backwoods bars & utter batshit,
& buried nowhere, as luck would have it;
Stained glass cuts me to the quick, I mean,
At a young age it imprinted & stained me,
Clouding my vision with its stonewalling.
They said I’m flying, but I must be falling.
Before I die, I lie in grass & look
At what’s above me: open like a book.

 

Poem
(a cento-pantoum)

A writer is essentially a spy;
Many whisper lies to the dead.
Believe me, they’ll bury you in it.
It gets lost in the chatter of typewriters.

Many whisper lies to the dead.
One does not write well in one’s sleep.
It gets lost in the chatter of typewriters.
One is to words always an outsider.

One does not write well in one’s sleep.
Most poets don’t have the cash anyway.
One is to words always an outsider.
The code consists in noticing the particular.

Most poets don’t have the cash anyway.
Believe me, they’ll bury you in it.
The code consists in noticing the particular.
A writer is essentially a spy.
——–
A – Anne Sexton, “The Black Art”
B – Rae Armantrout, “Djinn”
C – Sylvia Plath, “The Applicant”
D – John Ashbery, “Paradoxes and Oxymorons”
E – Kenneth Koch, “The Art of Poetry”
F – Ron Silliman, “From Non”
G – Bernadette Mayer, “After Catullus and Horace”
H – Barbara Guest, “The Blue Stairs”

 

David Bankson lives in Texas. He was finalist in the 2017 Concīs Pith of Prose and Poem, and his poetry and microfiction can be found in concis, (b)oink, Thank You for Swallowing, Artifact Nouveau, Riggwelter Press, Five 2 One Magazine, etc.

Three poems by Adrian Ernesto Cepeda

When Rosa Exhales Me

Sitting so near, we matched
in the dark, Rosa made it seem
like our tiny spark would never
go out and we could relight us—
all the times we glared at each
other, she… waiting for me but
despite the flame that kept torching
from inside, outside on our wall
I couldn’t make the move, she
craved. While lighting new
cigarettes hand-rolled in my presence,
I loved the way Rosa’s eyes lit up
always undressing, her most
wishful skin leaning over softly
revealing even more while letting
down her hair, Her way of teasing—
Rosa sinfully passing smokes
with fingers untouched. Some nights
I am still fiery on that wall, I picture
Rosa effortlessly exhaling me
from the side of her lips, past
crickets simmering, I am always
the one blinking back, and she, still
reaches with her hungriest eyelashes.

 

Anaïs Nin Invites Me

Although I am the one
holding her volume,
Nin knows how to read
me, she loves stroking
my senses while taking me
on every page, she unzips
my attention with each
elongated sentence, Anaïs
flashes the most curvaceous
body paragraphs, with chapter
legs that go on forever, every
line from lips that spread
tempting text like flesh
I repeat, she tantalizes my mind.
seducing with every word I feel
her devouring voice, I must
confess, my Delta, my Venus
knows how to read me wanting
to explore so much more volume,
clinging unfinished Nin takes over
my mind, slipping off the book
cover, articulating tongues… so
inviting Anaïs loves to leave me—
afterword, gripping beyond her spine.

 

She Loves to Feel Every Scar

Like grooves
on a record,
but these sizzle
not with feedback
of tremolos, each one
are self-created calls,
and responses etched
by needles, not looking
for sounds on vinyl
but seeking out verses,
refrains oozing with cuts
that seep inside reverbing
through her stockings, always
passing the skin, leaving
scratches in the same place—
when the needle glides
over these spiraling moods
stinging spins, pulsating
again, from riffs
surfacing deep
every cut feels like
a gift, no matter
how brief the blistering
her blood surrounds,
addicted to the quivers—
each release hooks her
skin, reverberating like speakers,
always scratching on repeat.

 

Adrian Ernesto Cepeda is the author of the full-length poetry collection Flashbacks & Verses… Becoming Attractions from Unsolicited Press and the poetry chapbook So Many Flowers, So Little Time from Red Mare Press.

His poetry has been featured in The Yellow Chair Review,poeticdiversity, The Wild Word, The Fem, Rigorous, Palette Poetry and Lunch Ticket’s Special Issue: Celebrating 20 Years of Antioch University Los Angeles MFA in Creative Writing.

One of his poems was named the winner of Subterranean Blue Poetry’s 2016 “The Children of Orpheus” Anthology Contest and two of his poems “Buzz Me” and “Estranged Fruit” were nominated for Best of the Net in 2015 and 2016.

Adrian is an LA Poet who has a BA from the University of Texas at San Antonio and he is also a graduate of the MFA program at Antioch University in Los Angeles where he lives with his wife and their cat Woody Gold. You can connect with Adrian on his website: http://www.adrianerne stocepeda.com/