02 Jul

Poetry – Corinne Shearer

Drafts
by Corinne Shearer

They ordered you like new furniture,
picked out your delivery date by jabbing a finger at a pocket calendar.
You came out unclean. Offended by the fluorescents,
you were subjected to the airy speculations of the doctor
that ended up being true- those limbs were made for movement.

The family cat did not like you.
He avoided your sticky, probing fingers and the gaping
vacuum that was your mouth- a door always left ajar
which let loose from its basement a human’s cry ancient
as the ribbon corridors of bowels.
But someday, sooner rather than later,
the crotchety Maine Coon would entrust you with its sorrow-
cast up at you its dying gaze that flickered on and off,
like the orange porch light you will kiss your high school boyfriend under,
as the maggots set up their suburbia inside its lower intestines.

When you were one there was a snowstorm.
The world welcomed you with ice and a full body
rash, made you wait years for the luscious little girl hair
you would become known for. When you were three
you unlearned how to breathe, began turning blue when overly-excited.
They told them your clothes were too tight, but it’d be years before you’d have
the weight problem, and subsequently the eating problem, but much later
you’ll invest in Thich Nhat Hahn and the inspirational tags
on Yogi tea, realizing how “just fine” you grew up to be.
You’ll remember too nostalgically the timbre of self-hatred,
the illusion that clenched fists can feel like a grip
on a wheel you know doesn’t exist- but you hold your hands
at ten and two anyway, just on the off-chance there is a God.

But before all that you turn six and learn what momentum feels like.
You beg to be spun from anywhere on anything
until your vision and stomach flip on its side.
You’ll crave disorientation all your life,
you’ll make a career out of falling.
At eleven you understand what it is to be lonely,
filling her absence with self-sufficiency,
and quiet, and a hunger for excellence.
But this is around the time you grasp the concept
of mortality and nothing can make you forget the imminence of death.
Even when you visit the expensive sunlit café you can’t shake off the dread,
can’t look at your mother’s face without seeing it white-lipped and dead.
You’ll feel something similar at thirteen,
lying awake in amber shadows (you still use a nightlight,
not subscribing yet to the salvation of ignorance)
suffocated in equal parts by the way people can break one another
and the irony of existing at all.

Looking back you’re still transfixed by your first kiss
At fourteen during truth or dare at dusk behind a half-
crumbling historical site. You hone your love of contradiction,
betting the Moravians would never guess that their meeting house
would someday be reborn as the place where
your tongue met Dominic Fetter’s, which was too big
but impossibly warm and soft like bubblegum.
At sixteen you get high.
The scope of your existence is as narrow as the creek
where you will negotiate barefoot between rocks as you search
for a glimpse of those iridescent tricks of the eye- fish.

You fall in love somewhere along the way,
you will break each other’s heart at more distinct points.
Almost twenty, you leave on a plane
fourteen hours and a horizon away.
Home dissolves in your wake
but you will still cling to those few months as
a glittering gift; sweet, dense and messy like mochi.
You come to know that he needs you to say it more than
you need it to be true, and how not all loss feels like losing.

When you return
you’ll move away, following through on a threat for the first time.
You hide out in a city of 8.5 million,
dissolving into the rusts of the Harlem skyline.
You learn how solitary a thing freedom can be.

At twenty-one you write poems.

 

 

Villanelle
by Corinne Shearer

Your palms like valleys catch the rain.
These hands turn over empty,
there’s no refrain.

These are the things that remain:
The tenor of your voice and labyrinths for fingerprints,
your palms like valleys that catch the rain.

You waited but I never came,
too preoccupied with speculation, why
there’s no refrain.

You are this thing I scrub out over and over like a stain,
but I’m not one for self-restraint; I visit this place often just to watch
your palms like valleys catching the rain.

It’s not well maintained,
all the houses are overgrown, their insides spilling out across the lawn;
there’s no refrain.

What did I gain–
the blaze of this city pales in comparison to
your palms like valleys that catch the rain.

 

 

______________
Corinne Shearer is a recent BFA graduate from SUNY Purchase. Freelance writer, dancer and choreographer currently based in NYC.

02 Jul

Poetry – Iris Litt

THE DOG AND THE STREAM
by Iris Litt

When my neighbor told me
that his sweet dog
was seriously sick, I was sad, very sad

but when he told me
he takes her to the stream
that runs through my land
and she gratefully lies down
as the rushing water soothes the itch and pain

I moved beyond sadness. Something about
how the stream washes away all pain

and I pictured her dog dream:
the stream, cool against her hot skin,
will carry her to a dog heaven where she can
romp eternally with her kind and devoted friend
and catch the Frisbee again

 
SNOW IN THE COUNTRY
by Iris Litt

Snow, which is supposed to hide, reveals
the bootmarks in my woods
and tiretracks which, like fingerprints,
can be examined by the curious one.
Snow in its phony white innocence
serves loud testimony in this incredible silence.
Whereas summergrass cooperates,
bounces back conspiratorially after walkers,
snow in its alleged peace
squats on my land and, in ungrateful betrayal,
shouts of the inevitable unpeace of my life:
the friends who’ve fled to the central heating
of cities and tropical suns
and the one who stayed
yet examines the tracks of the suspected ones

until I, at the many-paned window
by the voracious woodstove, ask:
In this deep mountain winter with its hundred snows
does it matter who comes and goes?

 

_______________
Iris Litt had two books of poetry published: What I Wanted to Say (Shivastan Publications) and Word Love (Cosmic Trend Publications). Her poems, short stories, and articles have been published in many magazines, including Confrontation, Onthebus, Central Park, Pearl, The Ledge, Earth’s Daughters, The Avatar Review, Bryant Literary Review, Poet Lore, and Hiram Poetry Review, as well as the Saturday Evening Post 2016 Great American Fiction Contest Anthology. She won first prize in the Virtual Press Annual Writer’s Contest and honorable mention in the short story contest of Writer’s Digest.

02 Jul

Poetry – Alejandra Castillo

A Weekend Getaway
by Alejandra Castillo

Back to Tijuana,
the United States’ lousy neighbor.
The one that knocks on your door at 3am
asking for a glass of water
and you don’t give it to him
because you are the United States of America
and your neighbor is dirty
and ultimately you don’t fucking have
to quench his thirst.
So you take your rifle and scare your neighbor away
but he keeps coming back
because he really is that goddamn thirsty
and his house has no running water
and—you get the point.

As the migra escorted you outside you felt a little infamous
among hundreds of women with blisters on their hands.
You’re holding your breath with your mechanized arms.
Exiled for working without permission from Uncle Sam.

Once again in TJ, where it all began.
Except now you’re 23 y en la edad del desmadre.
La migra asks you and your girlfriends your names.
Carmela suggests you all give fake ones.
You take it further and suggest celebrities.

When the gringo asks you to identify yourself,
you say you are Angélica María.
Your friend Roselva is now Lucero
and Carmela is now Thalía.

So when the factory owner tries to import you all back
he can’t find any of you. You pay a coyote to guide you home
to the glasses factory and the East L.A. dance hall.

Deported on a Friday night.
Spent the weekend in Mexico.
Crossed the crumbling desert on Sunday.
Showed up to work promptly on Monday.

That’s the kind of girl you are.

 

180
by Alejandra Castillo
by

Nomad
by Alejandra Castillo

The lawlessness of the river
runs through my veins.
I don’t know how to swim,
I know how not to drown.
It’s easy to run away from home
when there’s over a dozen kids
crawling along the mud like pigs.

My daughter asks, who do you miss?
I say, I never was too close to anybody,
but I remember the butcher and his son,
who raped me.

Daughter, we are gypsies.

Home is a dream we had one day.

 

Lex as Persephone
by Alejandra Castillo

I wanted to die and reincarnate
as the Brody Dalle
of a parallel universe.

One without the arrogance of her green eyes, glazed.
To be punk without the needles.
To be punk without the meds.

My soft lips pressed against the microphone one day
and I felt nothing.
Fixed my dumb stare straight across an ocean
of bodies who wanted to fuck
everything, myself included,
each other.

I ate the microphone.
My lips were bleeding.
Brody, I tried

to be a better version of you.
But I found myself bored with fame.
Singing the same old songs
to the same demented crowd.
Even nudity gets dull.

You and I, Brody, we’re not bad people.
When we signed our souls away
we didn’t do it for the fame.
You and I never wanted to be
goddesses of any underworld.
We never wanted gutter punks
to scream our names.

I paid the price, bound to this machine
that feeds me.

My manager preps me every night, he says
he’s never known a rockstar with no pain.
Lex as Trinity Part II
by Alejandra Castillo

She woke up in the middle
of the night gasping for air.
She had forgotten how to breathe.
Poor thing. One hour sleeps.
Foodless days. Singing
“God, help the outcasts”
on her midnight walks
to churches that were never
goddamn open.

Lex wasn’t religious,
only when she ached.
But Lex was still Lex. Performed
exquisitely. Fans by the handful. All
was good onstage. Backstage was hell.
Her manager said, Lex, you are dead,
you are queen of your underworld.

One day she almost died.
Crowd surfed into a hole of stupid
bodies. Cracked
her head in two. Cried
with primal gratitude. Clung.

Surprise. You didn’t want to die.

 

__________________
Alejandra Castillo is a poet from East LA and Guadalajara. Her poetry has appeared in ONE: Body, Mind, Spirit and Hinchas de Poesia.

04 Jun

Poetry Book Review: “Babbage’s Dream” by Neil Aitken

Babbage’s Dream Book Review
by Julianne Carew, Fiction Editor
The East Jasmine Review

Full of quotations, Bible verses, definitions, and intimate portrayals of the man who can arguably be hailed the founder of the digital age, Babbage’s Dream, written by Neil Aitken, is no ordinary collection of poetry. It is a poetic testament to the interdisciplinary studies of mathematics and humanity, religion and technology, and one man’s revolutionary passion in quantifying a seemingly intangible universe.

In today’s digitized world of instantaneous communication and innumerable social media platforms, it is easy to get lost in the vast coding of data that we have come to know as cyberspace. But before there was Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, there was Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first mechanical computer. It is through the influence of Babbage’s life and work that Aitken draws his poetic inspiration.

Before the collection’s opening poem, “Begin,” Neil Aitken introduces readers to a quote by William Carlos Williams that summarizes his take on the work that follows. “A poem is a large, (or small) machine made out of words.” Beginning with this opening statement, Aitken is already emphasizing a close relationship between artistic expression and technological advances. He is making it clear that throughout his collection of poetry, each word is, in itself, a piece of a greater whole, a small, yet essential part of a literary machine that works to make sense of man’s relationship with that which he has created.  

In his poem, “Binary,” Aitken juxtaposes computer code, a combination of zeros and ones, with language, in a successful attempt to display how seemingly random, inconsequential patterns create the blueprint for the computerized world. “0000,” becomes, “Absence stretched to extremity, nothingness in all quarters.” “0001,” becomes, “at the far reaches of a void, a glimmer.” By personifying data code with descriptive human emotions, Aitken bridges the gap between man and machine, art and technological discovery, and gives precedence to the system on whose back the modern world operates.

In addition to drawing parallels between a wide range of topics, Neil Aitken uses a variety of literary techniques to further solidify his idea that art and science, religion and culture, are each mechanisms through which man creates meaning out of the chaos of the universe. In his poem, “Void,” Aitken utilizes an alteration on the cut-up technique, first introduced by the early 1960’s writer, William S. Burroughs.

“Of those machines  //the mind of gears, the heart, a spring

by which we produce power//ever-winding, a chorus of marionettes…”

By using two different columns that can be read both independently, and as two pieces of a whole, Aitken reiterates the crucial emotional and physical space technology has overtaken in our modern world.

Due to its broad subject matter and harmonious artistic rhythm, Babbage’s Dream can easily be devoured in one sitting. Much like the spark of genius that propelled the centuries’ subsequent scientific breakthroughs, Aitken’s poems are each a blazing testament to the elasticity of the human mind, the seamlessness through which various fields of study attribute within themselves, and an invaluable reminder that all people, thoughts, and ideas are each a crucial piece, solidifying a never-ending whole.  

_________________
Relevant Links

13 May

Poetry: By Ann Schlotzhauer

Guadalquivir, by night

A thin man, bathed in unperturbed night,
Walks across a bridge
Spanning a river older than time
He has gray eyes
Like the sky
Over the ocean
After a storm has only just passed
And he walks, as I watch, hand in hand
With a boundless void in a bright sundress
And he smiles with his slightly crooked teeth
And his slightly too-large nose
As he tucks his arm around her so knowingly
And it pains me to watch but I cannot look away
As he is sucked in by the void
And I know in that instant that it is too late
But is the void to blame?
If it only wished to be near the people with the kind gray eyes
Is the void to blame?
If it warned him of the danger long before this moment
Is the void to blame?
He was thin, with gray eyes set in tanned smile lines
And his nose with that slight hook that he so hated
And the void so loved
And his teeth, once straight, just perfectly crooked
I set his face in my memory
I set it there to stay forever
To commemorate what happened
And now, because the tragedy has already passed,
I can pull my eyes from the bridge
And scanning the indolent river
My eyes alight on each pair of stars
That are commuters rushing home after a too-long day

Pasta Water and Music

You stand in the kitchen cooking
All the windows open
Pushing air from behind me toward you
As I watch you let the pasta boil over
Always the pasta boils over
And you let it
Like a ritual
And I breathe in the sweet air of springtime
But I wish I could smell you too
Over dogwood blossoms and pasta water
And there’s music playing
Because you can’t cook without music
I always forget music
When you’re away
I forget this simple pleasure
And believe I have to live my life in silence
Awaiting your return
I don’t know the song but it’s rhythmic
And interwoven now in the spring air that fights to enter our windows
And all I know
In this moment
Is contentment
I remember all the times before when such happy things hid from me
And all those harder, sharper memories
Make this new life even sweeter
I fill my lungs
To the roots
With this air and this moment
Hoping I can breathe deeply enough to infuse it in my bones
I want to be made of this moment
With pasta water on the stove
And spring air pushing music in to every corner
I want it to shield me from the darkness that I know will come again

Morning Tide

In the morning the tide comes in
And sweeps us away
And we let it
We let it carry us around the world
And back again when the sandwiches are ready
We bathe in the water that has touched all mankind
And returned lovingly to tell the tale
We are one with it all
Because it allows us to be
We are thankful

Guadalquivir, by afternoon

In the afternoons, when our classes were done
When we’d returned from the stone-faced university
And eaten a hearty lunch of fish we never could identify
When the sun became too hot to stay inside
Luring us, like long-lost lovers, to its rays
We’d walk along narrow sidewalks
Always pointed toward the water
Like birds with metal in our noses
Always pointed
We dodged past schoolchildren skipping home in uniform
And we talked so fast
Interweaving air with words
It’s a wonder our lungs kept up
And when almost to the water’s edge
We stopped
Because our trip needed something more
And we debated and argued and weighed pros and cons
But there were always only the two options
Churros con chocolate o helado
And once we’d decided
We’d rush to the nearest
The tingle of metal guiding us there
And we’d fill our hands with treats we’d done so little to earn
And then, finally, the river
Because there’s always been something about masses of water
Something about its slow, steady movement
That makes you believe your own life is marked by progress
That makes you believe worry is unnecessary
And all is as it should be
We’d sit in the shade of gently dancing willows
Then move to the sun then back when the sun offended
And our talking slowed and our breathing slowed
And in those afternoons that stretched longer than any others
All was as it should be

_______________
Ann Schlotzhauer is a Kansas City native currently residing in Wichita, Kansas with a small gray cat. She enjoys creative expression of all kinds and her fiction and poetry can be found in Junto, Foliate Oak, Cardinal Sins, and more. 

13 May

Poetry: Up From Small by Patricia L Meek

UP FROM SMALL
by Patricia L. Meek

For Emily Carr

I was born enlarged,
more complete

than my polite culture
could contain.

In order to survive,
I consented to fit
into a teacup.

I dwelled in that dark,
as small as I could
for one having such an ancient heart—
a mighty drum, drum.

It was my father
who cracked the china
when I was nine.
I was safe no more.

Then, in some slip of day,
I drew MY rage.
Allowed myself to step into BIG.
Up from small.

Up from small
the mighty oak cracked
the acorn of its knowing
that it must push upward
or die.

Up from small,
I pushed upward
until I became the entire mountain
of my destiny.

Up from small.
Let no man constrain, tether, or tie
that which is God’s bidding to grow.

Up from small.
The grasshopper must leap forward
every day into blinding light.

That sunspot.
The quickening face of God.

______________
Patricia L. Meek
won AWP Intro for Fiction, “The Crucified Bird,” and “Weather” was a 2016 finalist for Rita Dove Award in Poetry. Author of Noah: a supernatural eco thriller, All Things Matter Press. Other work published by Natural Bridge, University of Missouri; Euphony Journal, University of Chicago, Puerto del Sol; REDUX #59; Sunstone Press; and The Penman Review. She taught English composition and creative writing, and holds a BA in Creative Writing from Louisiana State University, an MFA in Creative Writing from Wichita State University, and an MA in Counseling from Southwestern College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is currently a medical integration clinician (LPC) in Southern Colorado.

Website: patricialmeek.com

13 May

Poetry: By Biman Roy

BLUES QUEEN

When they moved her down the stairwell
Step by step, halting and panting, on a stretcher,
The pavement was heated up by then.

Jimmy was playing the lonesome blues somewhere.
A note from the wayward sax kept rolling down
As she moaned in pain—
A sharp stab at the edge of her rib cage
That holds at bay a mottled liver,
An estranged spleen
And a love-struck heart as well, for years.

When she was lifted into the ambulance
Droplets of sweat clustered around the lids,
The street empty of desire,

The howling of blue wind made her lips crack
And as she entered the ER with sunken cheeks
And half-closed eyes, she wanted two things dearly,

A sip of cold white rum
And Jimmy playing Leroy Carr—
“How long, how long has every train been gone?”

A FERRY RIDE ON THE CIRCLE LINE

On the shiny breast of undulating water
A shadow green and broken up
The iconic Mother of Exiles

The boat shifts in its passage
We lean back on the seats in taut air
And clutch at the edge of our jackets

There has to be an Ellis Island in heaven—
You say
Yes I nod as long as there are
Refugees of heart
You smile lavender scented

Beyond the ultramarine shores
Of Lesbos in olive gardens
Immigrants become migrants
And their despair runs into the streets
As blood runs into sand

How the words change their meaning
When you choose to be silent
Known becomes unknown

Yet we know grief is not a winch
And a groggy unkind night
Is safer than a shrapneled day
As they wait near the gate

With anger spreading in the chest
To guard against
A vainly barking tongue

Now we have come full circle
Stepping on the West Side Highway
You say
As you cut rose bushes harder
They blossom more

ONLY HERE

Superheroes are born in New York
Because of skyscrapers and elevated rails
As I have been told

Most of them have Jewish immigrant parents
And a phosphorescent crowd hunting excitement

When I walk in the shade of a side street
A pizza deliveryman bicycles past my dreaming self
With a red-and-blue cape and a young woman
Wearing a blooming magnolia blouse bends over
Through her second-floor window and reads
From Finnegans Wake loudly to the crowd below

A man walking in front of me calls his dog Robin
And waits until he is done and wraps it in polythene
Like precious Kryptonite and at Union Square
The new mayor promises the world to his citizens
Despite war and Washington

The boy is Albanian and the girl only speaks Creole
And they meet for the first time in the E train from Queens
And on a day when trees on the sidewalk turn color
He holds her close looks up at the sky and says
Help us Superman
And the girl’s singing breasts

Far more sweetsounding than a lyre

Golder than gold

**(Editor’s Note: Due to the formatting of our website template, the last lines of this poem were unable to be printed in the format that they were submitted.  Included below is a photograph of the last stanza in the format that the author intended.)

POET AND THE PREGNANT WOMAN

Across from the Plaza Hotel
Where a bronze horse leaps into air
A boy in blue jeans maps the sky.

Lifting up their rears
Black ants take shelter
Under pages of the New York Post,
On its top a homeless man darkens the cloud.

Soon it will rain.
A very pregnant woman
Flaunts her belly swollen as Hudson Bay
And waits for the light to change,
So also a poet,
Who does not have to cross
This street or any street for that matter—
Waits for words to rain
In thunderous silence
That will run wild and naked
Through their veins
Giving birth to another Apollinaire.

THAT SEPTEMBER

At Ferry’s Landing—
Cranks of machines cracking marrows
Of American lindens
Fill the air
And at Ground Zero, the eternal digging.

No one knows
Who tends the cattle in Ithaca
Or who serves coffee in the downtown Starbucks
At these hours,
When wind is still as a stroke victim.

The soggy September trench coat
Folded as memory of troubadours
Left close to the street sign bent backward
And a stench pooled around the hydrant.

Walking into the troubled night
Under a traffic-less sky,
I notice on dank pavement a half-rotted root
Sinking its teeth into the marrow of Manhattan.

______________
Biman Roy has been writing poetry for past three decades and has been published in various literary journals in US, UK, Canada and India. These poems are taken from his manuscript, “Geography Of Bliss”, a collection of poems based on his interactions/reflections/interpretations of New York City, both as a physical and mental space/entity.
13 May

Poetry: By Stephen Massimilla

ASCENT
-After Neruda

On the ladder of the earth, I clambered
through the atrocious thicket of forsaken forests
up to you, Machu Picchu.

Lofty city of stone stairways,
finally a dwelling where the terrestrial being
did not hide in her nightclothes.
In you, as in two parallel lineages,
the cradle of lightning and that of man
rocked together in the bristling wind.

Mother of stone, spindrift of the condors.

High reef of the human aurora.

Trowel abandoned in primordial sand.

This was the dwelling, this is the place:
Here the large grains of maize swelled
and fell again like roseate hail.

Here the golden wool of the vicuña was spun
to cover the loved ones, the barrows, the mothers,
the king, the worshippers, the warriors.

Here the feet of man found rest by night,
beside the talons of the eagle in the high
meat-strewn aeries, and at dawn
they stepped thunder-shod through the rarefied fog
and touched the soil and the stones
until they recognized them in the night or in death.

I gaze at the rags and the hands,
the trickle of water in the sonorous hollow,
the wall softened by the touch of a face
that with my eyes gazed at the earthly lanterns,
that with my hands oiled the vanished
planks: Because everything—clothing, skin, pots,
words, wine, loaves—
was gone, fallen to earth.

And the air entered with its orange-blossom fingers
over all the sleeping dead:
a thousand years of air—months, weeks of air—
of azure wind, of iron cordillera,
that were like soft hurricanes of footfalls
polishing this solitary precinct of the rock.

WHAT ENDURES
-After Neruda

Oh you dead of the lone abysm, shadows of one chasm,
of such depth, as if rising to the measure
of your magnitude—
the true, the most consuming
death, and from the quarried rocks,
from the scarlet turrets,
from the staggered stairways of the aqueducts,
you tumbled down as in the autumn
of a single death.
Today the hollow air no longer cries,
no longer acquainted with your feet of clay;
the pitchers that filtered the firmament
when the blades of a sunburst spilled forth
are already forgotten,
and the mighty tree was swallowed
by fog, struck down by gusts.

Suddenly, from the highest summits, the hand
that it held up toppled
to the end of time.
You are gone now, spidery fingers, delicate
filaments, interwoven mesh;
all that you were has dropped away: customs, unraveled
syllables, masks of resplendent light.

But there was a permanence of stone and word:
The city, like a cup, was uplifted in the hands
of all—the quick, the dead, the silenced—sustained
by so much death, a wall; out of so much life, a hard blow
of stone petals; the sempiternal rose, the traveler’s abode,
this Andean breakwater of glacial colonies.

When the clay-colored hand
turned to clay; when the diminutive eyelids closed,
crammed with coarse walls, crowded with castles,
and when the whole of man lay ensnared in his small hole,
exactitude remained there waving like a flag:
the high site of the human dawn.
The loftiest vessel ever to contain the silence;
a life of stone after so many lives.

CLIMB UP WITH ME, AMERICAN LOVE
-After Neruda

Kiss the secret stones with me.
The torrential silver of Urubamba
sends pollen flying to its yellow cup.

Emptiness flies from the creeping vine,
the petrified plant, the hardened garland,
over the silence of the mountain coffin.
Come, miniscule life, between the wings
of the earth while—cold and crystalline in the pounded air,
extracting battered emeralds—
wild water, you gush down from the snow.

Love, love, until the sudden night,
from the reverberant Andean flint
down to the red knees of the dawn,
contemplates the blind child of the snow.

Willkamayu of resonant threads,
when you whip your linear thunder
into white foam like wounded snow,
when your precipitous storm winds
sing and flagellate, waking up the sky,
what language do you bring to the ear
hardly uprooted from your Andean froth?

Who seized the lightning from the cold
and left it chained in the heights
divided into glacial tears,
shaken into choppy rapids,
striking its embattled stamens,
carried on its warrior bed,
bound to its rock-tumbled finality?

What do your injured flashes say?
Your secret rebel lightning:
Did it once travel thronged with words?
Who keeps smashing gelid syllables,
black languages, gold banners,
fathomless mouths, muffled cries,
in your tenuous arterial waters?

Who goes reaping floral eyelids
that arise from the earth to gaze?
Who hurls down the dead clusters
that dropped into your cascading hands
to thresh their threshed night
into geologic coal?

Who flings down the linking branch?
Who again entombs the last goodbyes?

Love: Don’t touch the border,
don’t worship the sunken head:
Let time fulfill its high stature
in its salon of broken fountains,
and between quick water and the great walls,
gather the air from the narrow pass,
the parallel plates of the wind,
the blind channel of the cordilleras,
the crude greeting of the dew,
and climb, flower after flower, through the thicket,
treading on the serpent hurled from the cliff.

In this precipitous region of crag and forest,
green stardust, clear jungle,
the Mantaro valley explodes like a living lake
or like a fresh level of silence.

Come to my very own being, to my dawn,
up to the crowning solitudes.
The dead dominion still lives.

And over the sundial, like a black ship,
the predatory shadow of the condor crosses.

THROUGH ME
-After Neruda

Rise up to be born with me, my brother.

Give me your hand out of the most profound
reaches of your wide-sown sorrow.
You will not return from the rocky bottom.
You will not return from subterranean time,
You will not return with your hardened voice.
You will not return with your deep-drilled eyes.

Look at me from the depths of the earth,
farm laborer, weaver, silent shepherd,
keeper of the tutelary guanacos,
mason of the faithless scaffold,
water-carrier of Andean tears,
lapidary with well-worn fingers,
farmer trembling over the seed,
potter fallen into your own clay,
bring your ancient buried sorrows
to the cup of this new life.
Show me your blood and your furrow;
tell me: Here I was whipped
because the gem didn’t sparkle or the earth
didn’t yield the stone or the grain on time.
Point out to me the rock on which you fell
and the wood on which they crucified you;
spark up the old flints for me,
the old lamps, the whip-lashes stuck
to your wounds across the centuries,
and the axes with their glitter of brilliant blood.
I come to speak for your dead mouth.
Across the earth, unite
all the silent wasted lips,
and from the depths speak to me this whole night long
as if I were anchored here with you.
Tell me everything, chain by chain,
link by link, and step by step,
sharpen the knives you kept below,
thrust them in my chest and in my hand
like a river of flashing yellow rapids,
like a river of buried jaguars,
and let me weep: hours, days, years,
blind ages, stellar centuries.

Grant me silence, water, hope.

Grant me struggle, iron, volcanoes.

Cling to me, bodies, like magnets.

Hasten to my veins and to my mouth.

Speak through my words and my blood.

 _________________
Stephen Massimilla
A poet, scholar, professor, and painter. His multi-genre volume Cooking with the Muse (Tupelo, 2016) won the Eric Hoffer Book Award, the IAN Book of the Year Award, and several others. Previous poetry books include the The Plague Doctor in His Hull-Shaped Hat (an SFASU Press Prize selection); Forty Floors from Yesterday (winner of the Bordighera/CUNY Prize); Later on Aiaia (winner of the Grolier Poetry Prize); and a critical study of myth in modern poetry. He has recent work in hundreds of publications ranging from Agni to Poetry Daily. Massimilla holds an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. from Columbia University and teaches at Columbia University and The New School. For more info: www.stephenmassimilla.com and www.cookingwiththemuse.com
19 Apr

National Poetry Month 2018: Our Women Poets Featured at The Ovitt Family Library

This year, The Ovitt Family Library in Ontario, California asked The East Jasmine Review to collaborate on a National Poetry Month project to feature work done by poets in the geographical area adjacent to the library. With this in mind, East Jasmine Review chose poets with ties to Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley, The Inland Empire, and Palm Desert. On the heels of Women’s History Month, we also decided to feature women poets with strong times to community organizing and grassroots activism. The library asked us to select poems along the theme of “Lost & Found,” which gave us room to include transnational work, disability justice work, and work around self-discovery. We hope you enjoy the poems we have selected in partnership with the library. We’d also like to thank our favorite librarian Lauren Candia Salerno for reaching out to us for this special project. Read the poems below the cut.

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15 Jun

Poetry: ‘If We Travel To A City’ & ‘The Thing About Snowflakes’ by Marc J. Cid

If We Travel to a City

If we travel to a city
I will not want to leave
until my bones ring
with the rhythm of its streets
the cadence of its concrete
the chatter of its cobblestones
Until four corner skylines tattoo
the inside of my eyelids
Until I’ve tasted a city’s morning breath
cold, coughing, the calligraphy
of its awakening
the lullaby litanies
of its sunset shuffle

If we travel to a city
I will want to stay until
my heart files its name
under “Home”

 

The Thing About Snowflakes

The thing about snowflakes
is that when we are stepped on
we get flatten-packed into solidarity,
become aerodynamic substance amassing inertia.

When they try to crush snowflakes, we gather
side by side and back to back and face to face,
merging into snowballs. And the thing about snowballs
is that we ferment momentum, generate acceleration, grow gargantuan.

When they stomp down on snowflakes
they call down the blizzard,
and soon they will reap the avalanche.

So let them clench their tiny hands around crybaby sized ski poles
and try to ride this storm out.

Maybe they’ll make it to the bottom of the mountain.
I doubt it, but even if they manage that much,
our white powder demolition stampede
will swallow the streets and drown the town.

And the thing about snow is that it’s H20
by a particular name and physical state,
and the thing about H20 is that whether
raindrop or ice crystal or snowflake,
H20 when flying free deconstructs light,
reveals white light is comprised of every color.

And the thing about people, is that we aren’t photons,
and when you combine us together we do not blend into white.
We are a hundred thousand shades of brown,
an earthen gradient, a topsoil mosaic, every stratum stacked
atop the previous ever more vibrant, ever more diverse, howling with the sound
of bitten back words finally freed, intergenerational grievances given voice spiraling skywards
where they have taken away so many stars from the night, but have you ever driven
out from under the excess umbrella of domesticated lightning, have you ever seen
the creamy glean of infinity in the Milky Way, will multitudes and myriads
and countless totalities of stars, of cultures clashing clinking combining frighten you like it does
these jackbooted snowflake stompers, unheeding, being swallowed
by the shadows of storm clouds they have summoned with their self-servicing, dead-end dance?
Or will you and I and all of us remember this time, when the thaw begins,
that none of our colors fade, all these colors of ours do not run.

Or will you and I and all of us remember this time, when the thaw begins,
that none of our colors fade, all these colors of ours do not run.

________________
Marc Cid
is a poet currently living in Downey, California. He tends to write and perform poetry that leaves his listeners split on if they’re supposed to laugh or not, and to feel kind of bad if they do laugh. This is intentional. The trick to doing this without being a stereotypical offensive comedian is in taking care to note who is placed at the end of the punchline.