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.

Read More

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.

09 Jun

Book Review: Clifton Snider’s “The Beatle Bump”

Book: The Beatle Bump by Clifton Snider
Genre: Poetry
Reviewer: K. Andrew Turner
The Beatle Bump, by Clifton Snider (Los Nietos Press), is a work of adoration, contemplation, and emulation. Written mostly after the murder of John Lennon, Snider explores the playful lyrical style of the Beatles in his own songs. He digs into the roots of the Beatles, how they started and who influenced them. But above all, this is an ode from a fan to the musicians themselves.

 

Through exploration, Snider brings up letters that would not be out of place in the here and now. Love letters to Ringo and George, by fans that want nothing more than recognition and that ardor returned. Perhaps looking into our pop culture boy bands of the last few years: One Direction, N’Sync, Backstreet Boys, Boyz II Men, etc will yield similar letters. All these bands have their loyal followers, their fans that scream and shout and oftentimes lay bare their feelings freely, and some say excessively. Perhaps the only thing that has changed is our attitude for those women (in particular) that simply throw themselves at these stars. Snider never judges these Beatlemaniacs, as his poetry feels right on the edge of the precipice. He understands why we fawn over such innocent-seeming men and why they pull us in with magnetism.

 

Each poem reflects hours of listening to music, absorbing, jamming along, and feeling in those deep moments spent late at night wondering just how someone so far away, so distant could “get” you. In some of the song forms, he playful enters the arena of lyrics riffing on some of the nonsense but provocative stylistic choices.

 

And Snider reflects on the darkness that follows each Beatle around, from drugs to loss, and death. He explores, throughout the book, how he was affected by each Beatle, by the band as a whole, and by the world-wide impact the band had. In the later poems, when he explores Liverpool, with each snap of the camera and each line of the poem, the reader comes to understand, full-circle, the brilliance and the nostalgic pangs of a young man desperate to connect to something that so powerfully impacted him.

 

This work is phenomenal in and of itself, and any fan of the Beatles, or music history in general, should pick up a copy. Those who have been transfixed by music or any fan of a band will understand the deeper meanings here as well.

 

____________
K. Andrew Turner
@KAndrewTurner
Publisher, East Jasmine Review
writes literary and speculative fiction, poetry, and dabbles in nonfiction as well. Growing up in the foothills of San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California has influenced his writing style and outlook on life. So far, his writing has appeared in Chiron Review, Carnival Magazine, Creepy Gnome, Lummox, A Few Lines Magazine, and publications by Bank-Heavy Press. K. Andrew Turner is a creative mentor and freelance editor, teaches creative writing, and is the publisher and founder of East Jasmine Review. www.kandrewturner.com
15 Dec

Wild Flowers on a Table

AJ Huffman

seem wrong, a specifically heinous sacrilege
against their animalistic nature.
Buds that bloom in the darkest corners,
intrusively force eyes to take notice

of their beauty, should maintain the right of root,
should be granted reprieve from any potential

removal, should never know the meaning
of cut or pluck or pick, should have the right

to request a stone to shatter glass
vases that far too closely resemble prisons.

Bio: A.J. Huffman has published eleven solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. her new poetry collections, Another Blood Jet (Eldritch Press), A Few Bullets Short of Home (mgv2>publishing), and Butchery of the Innocent (Scars Publications) are now available from their respective publishers. She has two additional poetry collections forthcoming: Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink) and A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press). She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2300 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, and Kritya. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. www.kindofahurricanepress.com.

16 Jul

Poetry: 6 études for Chopin

Stephanie Barbé Hammer

1.
whatever you want to say about Chopin —
he was gay or he wasn’t or he just didn’t
do sex because he was too frail —
he made his best work at George Sand’s house;
he sat at the piano at her place in Nohant
and the notes fell out of him, they streamed
down the staircase
as painters and prostitutes drank their tea.

2.
I can hear the music, Delacroix said. I can hear
him practicing. D. painted in the library while
in another room George Sand was writing
those terrible potboilers to keep the house paid for and the
food coming in – she was the guy in this gang, in
case you didn’t know that, the person making the money
and sweating the cash flow —
and there was the 19th century unspooling all around them with
its uprising disappointments its flags and
flaneurs — so

3.
when you think of love and when you think of revolution
relaxing romanticism sex and death
you have to think about his notes spilling out through her salon doors
leaking down through the roof and windows — impossible
fantastical
progressions

4.
for example, the Polonaise in A flat major – the “heroic” —
Chopin wrote it in Nohant
how ridiculously hard it is
to play
yet he threw it together like it was nothing, performing it
just for friends –
(he hated big audiences [he was shy]).

5.
there he is upstairs: that queer (?) going-to-die-young genius
doing things with the piano that no one has ever even thought to do –
so incredible that people hear the work online now and do wild
runs up and down the
scales of their emotions, texting
I love it what is it, who’s chopin and what’s a polonaise? an instrument or a song or what? it makes me do my homework. it makes me have an orgasm, I listen to it over and over again – it makes me so happy –
all coming from that house in Nohant.

6.
That’s when you realize that
genius is about the people who take care of you:
you can make anything
tackle anything –
the hardest art is a pleasure if you’re upstairs from your friends and lovers
knowing they are listening
but not too hard, not expecting, making their own
explorations
while some beloved person – just as creative —
sits at a desk churns out words
pays the bills.

10461470_10152478785294720_6406735845484478127_nStephanie Barbé Hammer has published fiction in The Bellevue Literary Review, Pearl, and Hayden’s Ferry Review. A 4-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize, she also writes poetry; her 2014 collection, How Formal? is available from Spout Hill Press.

 

 

Purchase the issue here: http://eastjasminereview.com/issues/issues/volume-2-issue-1/