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New Poetry, Fiction, Essays

Selected poems from submitted chapbooks – 1: Seanin Hughes, Liz Balise, Patrick Murphy, Naomi Tate Maghen, Alfred Booth and Klipschutz

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The Miracle of Lady Macbeth

Every Tuesday, this woman comes
and lights a candle under
Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

I saw her once on the bus
beside a pot-bellied, pale girl
with a black eye.

Jane at the bingo says there’s no da –
wraps her mouth around the scandal
like it’s apple tart, smacks her lips –
the ma bate the child out of her
with her bare fists.

There she is, now. See? Praying.
The flame licks her fingers clean.

Seanin Hughes

 

 

The Mayor of Wesson Street

Not the lone glory of an orange
basking in Depression’s dusk—
its fluted bowl of purple glass

Not the fall ways of amber
Leaves burned by roadside
curling smoke’s sun-lit sash

Not tree-lined streets
rabid leaves’ raspy voices
whirling giddy in the wind—

…in none of these

But in the moments I filled with fixing
a lamp shade
painting this place
to a stern perfection

…I thought of you
ordering the tyranny of me
the glass of me
the concrete conscience
I must be right! Mustn’t I?

__________

The religion of our lives
Driving through Sundays with Polkas blaring
feeding the ducks
and a roast at noon
Waffles and TV later
Lassie and You Asked For It!
Wiping my mouth on a Sunday sleeve

I asked for it, alright

He came and went
to the smell of Ice Blue Aqua Velva
He came and went larger than life and first on the scene
to hurricanes, fires, muggings, and races
and—THE SHOP!
in an amazing array of uniforms and vehicles
Ambulances, wreckers, pickups, and police cars

He was terrifying! Wonderful!
We would love at a pained distance

_______

His cabinet in the cellar was always locked

But now, just suppose—
if a kid were to haul on its handles…
supposedly—the sheet metal would heave and roar
with the thunder of him!

And those late nights
those harsh bookie lights
lidded hundred watt cones
in the spotlight of THERE
where I wasn’t
in the odor of oils too noxious to dare
beyond the girlish shadows—

he cleaned his guns
_________

I waited and watched where everything seemed
to be what…?
it seems—he just pushed her against a wall!
I step from girlhood
with my two-cents worth
and it seems I will not be Queen for a Day!

I take my vows!
I swear I will not scrape wax
from the corner of the kitchen floor with a knife!
I have waited. I have watched
the routines of his mornings
He’s brushing his teeth; he’s combing his hair
He’s tying his shoes while he chats with the cat
I can tell you the creak of the stairs
and the sound of his footsteps rounding the house

…the routine of his return at supper
the routine of anger
My routine of being late—
and as good as dead
squeezing behind—
HIS CHAIR

Praying he wouldn’t notice the mud
Praying for the epiphany of his good mood
when the TV and me

wouldn’t be blamed for the downfall of the nation

American television shows of the 1950s:
“Lassie,” “You Asked For It,” “Queen for a Day”

Liz Balise

 

 

 death overcomes

 

days grow past nights sometimes
looking for a simple tone.
as people stare at the clocks
tilted in the sky.
searching to fly and soar
looking for the guidance we all want
on crippled days where the clouds
overtake the air
light is all but gone
through the mist on each
crowded view,
where kids lay on hilltops
“hey, these clouds look like Berry”
with Berry being their dead friend
who couldn’t climb the hill that time

 

Patrick Murphy

 

 

THE GUILT OF PADDED LIMBS

 

it wasn’t for a lack of money,
the creaky taps
above the mud brown bathtub
barely dribbled,
as if admonishing
my need for comfort,
my need for warmth

 

there was a severity
to being naked
in this room,

 

the plastic under my feet
had rows of anti-slip stickers,
like the rough slats his father
lay on in auschwitz,
five men deep

 

I couldn’t lie in this tub,
my padded limbs
displacing so much water,
as his frail frame
demanded so little space
from the world

 

I would stand just above the plug,
where his feet must have been
when he bathed
and I’d pay penance
for my thick, healthy hair

 

shivering in a half hour
prayer
that the shampoo would
release me from my reflection
in their mirror,
mingling with denture cream
and the rows of bottles
like little gravestones,
naming their dead

 

I always felt a little dirtier,
as I dressed

 

Naomi Tate Maghen

 

 

(Gentle Reader:
Please be indulgent with this eccentric poet
who places titles after poems,
and not before. )

 

when screeching tires turn laughter into screams
is this a lesson in forgiveness?
//
we are the forest of Las Ramblas
shading an arrow pointing towards heaven
now thousands of candles shine
for the lost children
and others trying not to lose their way
this month no torrid heat
hastens our shedding leaves
they are not burnt by the light
pouring forth from these other worlds
of angels
hate has singed us with a dying throw of power
love says checkmate to its king
//
I am La Sagrada Familia
an unending tower touching the sun
a beacon chastising your impious
inquisition
/ /
our waves sweep clean only the surface
the sea’s salt gives no dignity to tears shed in mourning
sun-ripened joy
of beaches cannot cauterize this much bloodshed
death parades along the circumference of beyond
//
postcards to grandparents
received after funerals
colorful fiestas of youth
       did you know
       Freddy Mercury and Monserrat Caballé
       once sang “just close your eyes
       and let’s pretend we were dancing
       in the streets”
those last smiles
//
what happens to the future when battery rams plunge into the hearts
of those too soon sleeping against marble?
.
can poems mourn enough?
 .
Barcelona, 17 August, 2017

 

Author’s note: quotes from Ed Sheeran’s song “Barcelona.”

 

Alfred Booth

 

V

 

I breezed along
until I came
to

 

v anity
v ictory
v ictimhood
v a-va-va-voom

 

Load above
I am violently in love!

 

I will put no letter
before thee
only u

 

Should devotion wane
or even waver
I can’t envision . . .

 

We will evade
avoid

 

deploy voodoo

 

shape-shift
(cf., Ovid)

 

bob & weave
& vote

 

them off the island
via iPhone

 

Slouching toward
Ventura in a Volvo

 

Vim & Vigor
veer in vain

 

 
Klipschutz

 

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