Announcements, Updates, and Thoughts
whimsical chaos–introduction by Krysia Jopek
The poems and flash fiction of published American novelist and poet Jon Wesick–create intricately-scaffolded/layered worlds/microcosms. His acute linguistic precision (his language is highly “textured”), rendered in colloquial American English that is (misleadingly) readily accessible/seemingly “transparent” to readers– startles/surprises/arrests–with bizarre turns of whimsy, logic, political commentary, and “poetic density.”
Please enjoy this diaphanous micro issue, 3.4–finally an answer by Jon Wesick!
< < < new poetry by Jon Wesick
ITALO CALVINO EXPLAINS DOGEN’S MOUNTAINS AND WATER’S SUTRA
I don’t mind green mountains
wearing fedoras of clouds
or eastern peaks dipping toes in the surf.
But when they play basketball,
they slam the full moon against the backboard
sending my terrified dachshund
scampering under the bed.
For centuries the wise have escaped
this racket by moving to the river.
While some see water
as a smorgasbord for sushi lovers
or bachelor pad for horny dolphins,
the sage knows it as a raw ingredient
* * *
between the pancakes, recriminations
in the coffee. She pours suspicion
in a juice glass. He spreads excuses
on the toast, passes the butter dish of abuse.
Eggs stare in awkward silence.
Heaping home fries of denial.
* * *
An inventor modified AR-15s to accept
PEZ dispensers in their magazine feeds.
Fighters traded boxing gloves
for teddy bears; doctors
discovered chocolate and espresso
worked better than surgery; and Cuddle Ryu,
a new martial art, swept the nation.
Cops traded pistols for squirt guns
loaded with craft beer and disarmed
suspects with the phrase,
“You look like you need a hug.”
States converted prisons to animal shelters
burying inmates in squirming puppies.
The military joined in. Cruisers
bombarded shores with blueberry muffins.
The Air Force dyed its uniforms purple
and re-purposed Minuteman II missiles
to deliver pizza in thirty minutes or less.
with SS-19s loaded with kasha and pirozhki.
Not to be outdone, North Korea sent bottles
of fiery soju marching across the DMZ
after exploding its largest rice-and-kimchi bomb yet.
Smallpox and Ebola mutated
so the worst that sufferers could expect
would be a mild, paisley rash.”
so the worst sufferers could expect
was a mild, paisley rash.
Hurricanes apologized, dropping granola bars
and bottled water in their paths.
The San Andreas Fault
worked off its aggression
by swaying to the Grateful Dead.
in a fiction writer’s mind
swarthy terrorists kidnapped
the president’s daughter
and forced her to pole dance
on a burning American flag.
Noting the remote control’s power button
existed for just such an emergency
a top CIA analyst acted.
to a glowing, white dot
on the TV screen.
* * *
In the beginning was nothing
and nothing was carefree.
Then nothing thought
it would be nice to have something.
Then came rocks and stars
along with the responsibility
of obeying the laws of physics.
And the rocks and stars thought
“This is boring.”
Then came life
along with the responsibility
of eating, excreting,
And life thought
“This is boring.”
Then came intelligence
along with the responsibility
of paying student loans
and saving for retirement.
And intelligence thought
“This is boring”
and longed again to be
* * *
PLAINS OF ABRAHAM
With macaroons, duck confit, and maple syrup at stake,
I reenact General Wolfe’s conquest of French Canada.
Backed by divisions of tourist dollars and a robust
exchange rate, my anglais marches north
toward the français’ fortress atop a fifty-meter cliff
(but anglais doesn’t know what a meter is).
A fusillade of unintelligible vocabulary
repels my attempted landing at Tim Hortons.
Grilled cheese and two-dollar coin in hand,
I flee to my voiture, abandoning my latte
in a panicked retreat.
My anglais gains a foothold in a hotel.
Behind makeshift defenses of cable TV
streaming CBC news and old reruns
of Murder She Wrote, my ego prefers
the blood-soaked glove of genocide
to the shame of standing carp-mouthed
at some incomprehensible phrase.
Scouts report parapets of unpronounced consonants,
howitzers of passé composé, mortars of gendered nouns,
muskets of strange accent marks, and field guns
of adjectives following nouns. I know
what I must do.
In dress uniform
I march to the nearest pâtisserie
and stammering my first, halting
words in a foreign tongue,
lay down my sword.
* * *
atop two hundred tons of explosives
that will rocket them free
from gravity’s hidebound views.
A martial-arts master
shifts his body millimeters,
dodging a razor-sharp
whirlwind of steel
that barely ruffles
his silk kimono.
Scientists focus massive lasers
on a peppercorn of hydrogen
and bring a star to earth.
A Zen master’s thoughts still,
in the anechoic chamber of his mind,
revealing the motherboard
(as perhaps fitting)
are only my stuffy nose,
bursitis, tattered blue couch,
and unpacked moving boxes.
The sun sets
in the winter, gray sky
while a frozen burrito warms
in the microwave.
< < <
from Jon Wesick's full-length book of poetry
Words of Power, Dances of Freedom
(Garden Oak Press 2015)
WORDS OF POWER, DANCES OF FREEDOM
A woman sets a plastic bag in front of the stage
and puts her purse inside. Her gray hair hangs
to the small of her back and her blue, summer dress
covers a body that is slender but losing the curves at its hips.
Arms now free she dances when the band begins.
Her right foot touches. She lifts it, then plants,
and pivots her body one full turn.
Touch, plant, pivot, touch, plant, pivot.
Uninhibited by onlookers and at ease
she glides across Pioneer Square.
A crippled man in a motorized wheelchair is there too.
His body is a wreck – slumped posture, tongue protruding,
and neck bent locking ear to shoulder. The woman
takes his twisted hand, moves in and away
shortening and extending her arm to keep contact
dancing a modified Western Swing. The crippled man
fingers the controls. His chair dances forward and back.
She twirls. The chair circles. The two orbit
and for a moment infirmity is forgotten
first published in Magee Park Poets Anthology
* * *
DILETTANTE ZEN POEM
The real Zen students were sitting in full lotus before dawn
wearing their black robes and rakusu1.
I stayed up too late watching TV.
Real Zen students don’t have TV’s.
Eventually I wake up,
light a candle on the altar,
and kneel on my meditation bench.
A gasoline powered edger begins its serenade,
and a lawnmower joins in the chorus.
By now the real Zen students are constructing monastery buildings,
working with the dying, or reaching out to the homeless.
I drive to my wrong livelihood job,
where I’m harassed by my wrong livelihood boss.
Real Zen students call this “good training.”
I call it a pain in the ass.
Real Zen students vow to return to this world of patience
for countless lifetimes to save all beings.
I wonder how I’ll get through another day.
I’ve given up trying to be a real Zen student.
I think I’ll become a dilettante instead.
If you’d like to be one too,
we meet at 7:00 most nights in the meditation hall.
1. A rakusu is the bib like garment worn by Zen teachers and students.
This poem appeared in the Three Treasures Zen Community News in December 1998, The Thinking Post Anthology of Haiku and Zen Poetry in October 1998, PATHS, Vol 1/2007, and in the Sounds of Solace Anthology edited by Nick Haler of Local Gems Press, November 2013. It also appeared on Art and Zen Today April 23, 2016.
< < <
photography by Jon Wesick
images of quebec city 2018
< < < new flash fiction by Jon Wesick
Commodity of Dreams
The white noise of background conversations flooded the exhibit hall, drowning out all other sound. All the major publishers were there from the big, New York houses to the university presses and independents. D. Comm Press had a huge display with wall-high shelves and Chester A. Author signed copies of his fantasy series for eager customers to take to the cash registers. With his shaved head and gold earring, he looked like Mr. Clean with a fountain pen. I wanted to look at the latest in the Skateboard Armageddon series but couldn’t elbow my way through the crowd. I suppose it was a good thing. People were reading, after all. I put a catalog in my canvas, tote bag and moved on.
The book displays consisted of a dozen rows each fifty exhibits deep. I stopped at stands offering free book marks, pens, and even cookies. A small press out of Iowa offered free copies of its magazine. I took two. I passed up a historian hyping his new biography of Millard Fillmore and briefly thought of re-subscribing to a comic I used to get.
I was about to make another circuit when I spotted a poster with my name on it in the far corner by the bathrooms and water fountain. Underneath sat a thin man with a single paperback lying on the cloth-covered table. Wrinkled, translucent skin that showed the veins underneath betrayed his age as did his threadbare shirt and graying beard. Since my name is unique, it couldn’t be a mistake. It had to be some kind of joke. Expecting my laughing friends to spring out from behind the curtains, I approached.
“Now that I’ve found you, I can finally return to my wife and family.” The thin man’s voice was high and reedy, almost as if it came from another world.
“What is this?” The cover showed a picture of me as I might look in twenty years. I turned the book over in my hands. There were no reviews or plot summary on the back.
“A book written only for you.”
“You don’t understand how the publishing business works.” I chuckled. “You need to print more copies, man!”
“Anyone else would find this work boring and incomprehensible. For you, it is a magic spell. The first pages will enter your bloodstream like a slow-acting poison. If you reach the antidote in the final chapter, you will attain your deepest, most secret wish.”
“How much?” I asked.
The thin man wrote the price on a notepad and showed it to me.
“That’s very expensive.”
“It barely compensates for my toil. Do you know how many hours I spent reading public records and interviewing your friends and family to get insight into your character? Or how many months I struggled to craft a premise that would unlock your heart? I suffered a dozen false starts and spent years at a lonely desk before I had a rough draft. It took three more revisions to forge the plot into something plausible yet surprising. Another two to get the characters right. And then ten more to make the language sing. Then there were months of painstaking editing, not to mention the cost of cover art and printing.”
I didn’t buy it. For what the thin man was asking, I could get a hundred books. Besides, I was in the mood for something lighter, maybe an adventure. Vampires are really hot right now. And teen romances.
* * *
Finally, an Answer
After a painful, lingering death, you anticipate God’s revelation. Why was Joanie taken from you? Why did your career flounder after reporting Mr. Blumtrapster’s fraud while he went on to become CEO with a private jet and photo on the cover of Forbes magazine? Your life had to have meant something.
You wake in a waiting room. Gray carpet. Gray walls. The comfortable chairs are cloth-covered and gray. A coffee machine and bowl of plastic K-cups sit on a table in the corner. You stand to get a cup but the instructions are in Aramaic. It’s just as well because each of the two-dozen K-cups is marshmallow-cinnamon mocha.
You’re not alone. A disembodied, scarlet-robed monk sits in lotus position on the opposite side of the room and a receptionist types on a laptop at a standing desk behind a bowl of chocolate-covered, marshmallow Easter eggs.
“His meeting’s running a little late,” she says.
“How much longer?” you ask.
“Time means nothing here.”
“Is He even real?” You look around and realize there’s no exit.
“Do you believe He’s real?”
* * *
When teaching at the London School of Economics, Karl Popper noticed a strange undergraduate student auditing his lectures. One day the student lingered after class and spoke to Popper.
“I am not an undergraduate student. In reality, I am the Endowed Professor of Buddhist Epistemology at the East Lhasa Community College. When a student asked me if karma, the law of moral cause and effect, was falsifiable, I said it was. Because of my error, I have been forced to spend five hundred semesters repeating Philosophy of Science 101. Can you utter a turning word that will free me from this tedium?”
“I can,” Popper said.
“Is karma, with its past causes coming even before birth, falsifiable?” the undergraduate asked.
“No,” Popper replied. “As Wolfgang Pauli would say such a theory is not even wrong.”
“Thank you. I am now free.” The undergraduate handed Popper a textbook. “I’d appreciate it if you would return this to the campus bookstore. You may keep the deposit.”
Popper returned the book and related the undergraduate’s story to the staff.
Kurt Gödel asked, “Is the story you told falsifiable?”
“Stand still and I’ll show you.” Popper reached for the Colt 1911 under his robe.
Sensing deception, Gödel drew his Heckler and Koch 9mm and fired two rounds into Popper’s chest.
“2001: A Space Odyssey, Monte Python’s Holy Grail.” Popper clutched his chest. “It sucks when writers substitute distraction for a proper conclusion.”
Innocents suffer while the guilty
grow rich? Past lives.
Sideswiped by a bus?
You must have fibbed in kindergarten.
Einstein shuffles Tarot cards.
Carl Sagan reads his horoscope.
Karl Popper was a well-known philosopher of science. The cornerstone of his thinking was the idea of “falsifiability.” That is, one can never prove a theory because one can never test everything. However, a scientific theory must make specific predictions that can be proven wrong. If tests confirm these predictions, we gain confidence in the theory. Kurt Gödel was a mathematician who proved the famous Incompleteness Theorem. As such he here symbolizes knowledge outside the realm of mathematical proof and logic.
< < <
Ontology of Dreams
artist statement by Jon Wesick
Twenty years ago none of the stories I saw in media reflected the reality I experienced. For example, why was it so hard to find a job after I spent ten years in college studying physics? I was on my career plan C or D, when I developed carpal-tunnel-like injuries. At the time, it was impossible for me to type on the computer for more than a few minutes a day, and thus impossible to keep my job. Doctors treated me with suspicion, and the insurance company thought one paycheck was enough to compensate me for a ruined career.
I couldn’t do much at my martial arts class, so I filled my time with poetry. I’d had a few experiences with poems exploding out of me after Zen meditation, and I remember watching a PBS documentary about Beat writers, outcasts really, riding around in Jack Kerouac’s car. It was the only place they found acceptance. Not long after that when meditating, I got an image of Allen Ginsberg saying, “I’ll help you.”
I took my poems to open mics in San Diego and discovered a vibrant community of eccentric writers. I owe special gratitude to Chris Vannoy. He was THE MAN in San Diego poetry, and he treated me as an equal. These were heady days. I’d stay up until 4:00 AM filling legal pads, drinking green tea, and reading Bukowski. Eventually, I wrote a story or two. Then I had perhaps the silliest, most wrong-headed idea I’d ever had. If I could write a novel, then fame and money were sure to follow.
I consider myself a servant of the idea. Much of my writing consists of exploring the consequences of some goofy concept. I like to somehow make these inspirations real by writing them down. My other mode of writing is a kind of reporting. My interests and experiences are different than most people’s. This is my way of coming back and telling about them. You’ll find both in this micro issue. Thanks to Krysia Jopek for putting it together.
< < < biographical note
Jon Wesick is a regional editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual and host of the Gelato Poetry Series, “the best ice cream parlor poetry reading” in Southern California. He’s published hundreds of poems and stories in journals, such as the Atlanta Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, Metal Scratches, Pearl, Slipstream, Space and Time, Tales of the Talisman, and Zahir. His poem “Bread and Circuses” won second place in the 2007 African-American Writers and Artists Contest. The editors of Knot Magazine nominated his story “The Visitor” for a Pushcart Prize in Short Fiction in 2015. His poem “Meditation Instruction” won the Editor’s Choice Award in the 2016 Spirit First Contest. “Richard Feynman’s Commute” shared third place in the 2017 Rhysling Award’s Short Poem category. Krysia Jopek nominated “Tee Time at Aleppo” for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry 2018. Jon is the author of the full-length poetry collection Words of Power, Dances of Freedom, several novels, as well as (most recently) the short-story collection The Alchemist’s Grandson Changes His Name. Please feel free to visit Jon’s website to learn more about him–Jon Wesick’s website
< < <
to more publications by Jon Wesick
< < < author photo0
art and political exile
micro intro by krysia jopek
august 15, 2019
Christine Karapetian collages a wide range of materials, including wood, material, paint, and fabric in her exquisite paintings. Her visual art immediately spoke to me on spiritual [Kandinskian Considering the Spiritual in Art], emotional, psychological, aesthetic, and sublime levels. The title of this amazing virtual show that I am honored to feature–also resonates deeply with me. Like Christine, I had a deep connection to my late father who shaped me as a literary artist/human being.
On a personal note, which explains the founding of Diaphanous in February, 2017 and diaphanous micro in 2018-, this free platform for visual and literary artists to share their work with an engaged and captivated audience–
I was determined to be a painter as a child and also, like Christine, have fond memories that go back to kindergarten of creating art, painting, gluing, cutting, drawing. . . . However, my non-artist father who was deported with his family for two long years in Siberia–put a kibosh on any plans of mine to pursue a non-lucrative art degree. They had almost starved many times, so why would he permit his daughter to become a starving artist?
As a result of my father and his peers losing their right to continue their educations for two years, he emphasized education and literally afforded me quite an extensive one in the esoteric field of twentieth-century American poetry and poetics. A large part of my research and focus was/is on the symbiotic relationship of visual artists and poets. In my own poetry, I treat the page like a canvas, often a collage or sculpture–and perceive the composition of the poem, short fiction, or novel– as its own world that incorporates/utilizes light, color, tone, image, fragment, found cultural objects, etc. Instead of using paint and other visual media like visual artists such as Christine–my brushstrokes are composed of deconstructivist morphemes and phonemes [because of the Language poets that went before me]–gathered into syntactical (though I often play around with/break syntax to define it–as Christine plays with the syntax of her visual compositions) string necklaces of syllables, phrases, sentences. . . .
Because of Christine’s father’s cultured love of all the arts (see her biographical note) and Armenian background with which he was in dialogue with against the American backdrop/culture [like my own father’s connection to Poland and the world through his post-Siberia exile/wandering before settling in the United States]–she was free/given “permission” to explore her creativity and dual cultural identity, attend college to study painting, and in doing so–create visual objects that function as testaments to her/and by extension the viewer’s complex human experience.
During our troubling current times and the ongoing “mess” at the US-Mexican border where impoverished political refugees, separated from their own family members (so many of whom are young children), await their fate while sandwiched in unsanitary cages, the theme of emigration (from a violent homeland) and exile in Christine’s work should resonate with all of us.
Special thanks to Mark Blickley, NYC renowned text-based artist (writer of very short fiction/visual artist, depending how he feels at the moment), for introducing me to Christine’s visual masterpieces. It was a pleasure getting to know her as we collaborated together on this issue of diaphanous micro.
Please enjoy this stunning virtual art show of Christine’s latest work: my father was to tell me something.
My paintings are visual fictions. They are non-narrative tales that are
deciphered by the subconscious. When my work is successful, it conveys
an intimacy that is mysterious and not easily defined because these fictions
are not telling a specific story; they are the actions and reactions to
experience and observation.
I paint on and use found objects and collage because the elements of
chance and the accidental mirror the process of discovery in how I work.
The process of adding and removing, painting and scraping, takes the
pieces through multiple stages that leads to discovery. My job is to witness
that moment of insight and rescue it, not unlike the method I employ when I
decide what piece of trash I salvage from the street, or along my way.
I am Armenian-American, the offspring of a people whose history is rooted
in Diaspora. My intuitive response to this lack of place and the negation of
history, by some, is to make objects that trace to, and build onto, a
shows of Christine Karapetian’s art
Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ, 1986
“Creative Mosaic”, curated by Osman Can Yerebakan, Plaxall Gallery, LIC, NY 2019
“Flushing Bound”, Flushing Town Hall Gallery, NY, 2018
“Rock, Paper, Scissors”, Plaxall Gallery, LIC, NY, 2018
“Making Connections II Selections”, Henry De Ford Gallery, LIC, NY, 2017-2018
“Making Connections: Artists Working in Queens”, Plaxall Gallery, LIC, NY, 2017
“International Painting NYC III”, Jeffrey Leder Gallery, LIC, NY, 2014
“Curate NYC Top 150”, Rush Arts Gallery, New York, NY, 2013
“Selected Entries from Curate NYC” Gallery at 139 Bay, Staten Island, NY, 2013
“Small Works”, 80 Washington Square East Galleries, New York, NY, 1986
“Mixed Media”, Tweed Arts Group, Plainfield, NJ, 1986
“Constructed in Jersey City”, Summit Art Center, Summit, NJ, 1986
“New Jersey Biennial”, Newark Museum, Newark, NJ, 1985
“Metro Show”, City Without Walls Gallery, Newark, NJ, 1985
“Surrealism in the 80’s”, Tweed Arts Group, Plainfield, NJ, 1985
“Small Works”, 80 Washington Square Galleries, New York, NY, 1985
“School of Visual Arts Moroccan Study Exhibit”, Tangier, Morocco 1980
“Recent Acquisitions”, Montgomery County, MD, 1980
“Invitational Alumni Exhibit”, Maryland College of Art & Design, Maryland, 1976
“Alternative To”, Market Five Gallery, Washington, DC, 1975
“Group Exhibit”, Bridge Gallery, Washington, DC, 1973
book jacket/poster art
“Return & Tiger”, Hakob Karapents, Blue Crane Books, Watertown, MA, 1994
“American Rondo”, Hakob Karapents, Voskedar Publishing Co., New York, NY, 1986
“Fresh Fatigues & The World’s Greatest Saxophone Player” poster, American
Theatre of Actors, New York, NY 1985
“Intermission”, Hakop Karapents, Mashdotz Press, New York, NY, 1981
“Old Sowers of the New World”, Hakob Karapents, Atlas Press, Washington, DC, 1975
“Daughter of Carthage”, Hakob Karapents, Atlas Press, Washington, DC, 1972
BFA, Painting, The Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD, 1977 School of Visual Arts
Summer Study in Tangier, Morocco, 1980
Fellowship Grant, New Jersey State Council of the Arts,1985-86
Juror’s Award, selected by Allan Stone, “Small Works”, New York, NY, 1985
$5000. First Prize National Competition, Eberhard Faber, Inc.,1975
Accomplished Armenian-American visual artist Christine Karapetian was born in the Bronx and raised in Maryland. She was a painting major at MICA primarily because her beloved father “loved Beethoven, Paul Taylor, Matisse, and theater–thereby exposing her to glimpses of the sublime.” After a BFA in painting/art, she moved back to NYC, “place of family lore–home to possibilities, love,” a one-person museum exhibit–followed by “sporadic creative output, motherhood, and the eventual escape to the center of the country to find what was always there, like Dorothy.” Now, truly back to her art, her “spiritual calling”–living and working in Jackson Heights. Her most vivid childhood memory still–is of making collages in kindergarten. “I snip, I glue, I scrape, I paint, I make things—things that, when they work, remain a lovely mystery to me.”
Christine can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Her works of art are for sale.
links to more of Christine’s art:
link to The Sketchbook Project
I think what I love most about Stroffolino’s poetry—is that every single poem seems directly engaged with its own “philosophy of composition,” its own construct-ion/poetics. It’s as if I’m experiencing the poem as the poet figures out a way to write it. — krysia jopek, founding editor of diaphanous micro
for Krysia Jopek
Forsythia is Syringa. Scabiosa the pincushion flower…
Echinacea the cornflower. Delphinium Larkspur
Helenium the sneeze weed. Nemophilia, baby blue eyes!
“I may forget your name, but not your face.” I may not read
music on the page, but I know that the white keys
only have one name, but F Sharp is also Gb,
as the Hummingbird Vine is also the Trumpet Vine,
the Yellow Bell the Golden Trumpet, & Watsonia is the Bugle Lily
& there’s more women named for flowers than men
(impatiens is the Busy Lizzie, and Erica is Heather!)
& there’s more flowers named for animals than vice versa
(The Flamingo Flower is Anthurium & Astilbe is the False
Goat’s Beard… is the goat false? or just it beard?)
Butterfly bush! Cardinal flower! Cuckoo Flower!
(who needs Oreo Ice Cream Flavored Cereal?)
Looking at a book of Anglo-Saxon words for flower names
evokes what a medieval (or renaissance faire) must’ve felt like.
Would you rather be known as a Cornflower, or a Bachelor’s Button?
&, of course, Sweet William is in the carnation family.
Would you rather be Johnny Jump Up, a Dicenta’s
Bleeding Heart, or Heartease? Does it not elevate the wild carrot
To call it Queen Anne’s Lace (no doubt worth more
Than the mere Amaranthus of a Prince’s Feather….)
Or does “Houstonia” sound more beautiful than “Quaker Ladies?”
Does it honor a Fuschia to call it Lady’s Eardrop,
The Alchemilla a Lady’s Mantle? (dogbane desert rose)
Or serve a lady to name her slipper a Greco-Roman Cypridium
as beautiful as the chance meeting of a Showy Speedwell (Hebe)
& the Wishbone Flower on a spread out Blanket flower in a field
of Lunaria some call Honesty & others call the Money Plant
& if the Narcissus is the Daffodil, am I but daffodilistic (duck)
to rescue the Ptecarya Fraxifolia from the Caucasian Wingnut
who names the Stargazer the Oriental Lily or the Agapanthus
the Star of Bethlehem, while Baby’s Breath loves “gypsies”
more than the people who named it Gypsophilia. Does
the sweetest parsley, sage, & rosemary (for rue)
become placeholder anguish for precision engendering vision
when heavenly gutterals in la-la land carry gorgeous evangelical
spine-tingling sounds? Yellow Archangel is the Aluminium Plant!
We begin to detect more commercial tie-ins, and 360 degree marketing
When the Heliotrope becomes the Cherry Pie plant,
Ibiris the Candy Tuft, & the Bouvardia the Firecracker Plant!
Loosestrife loosens strife, or could we rescue Granny’s Bonnet
from the Columbine Massacre? & the Bellflower from the toxic
masculinity implied in Black-Eyed Susan (also a drink like Bloody Mary):
no wonder the Mimosa’s named “Touch Me Not!”
Not too hard to imagine a think-tank… “second-cousin’s foot?”
“great aunt’s trouble?” “an extended matriarch’s coral,”
“President’s toothache,” “History’s chokehold.” “worker’s defiant pride.”
“Angela Davis’s censored wisdom…” “Talker’s Reprieve….”
In the meantime, Angelonia is the Summer Snapdragon, Clarkia
Farewell to Spring, Anemone the Windflower but it could also be
the Conjure Flower… Can we trade in the Aconitum of the Monk’s Hood
for the Nigella of Love in this Mist? The Evening Primrose is the sun cup,
or the sun drop, Zenobia the Honeycup near the Bee Balm Flower
(& maybe someday I can match these names with faces. . .)
* * *
excerpt from Healer’s Squeal
“you should write a sequel called Healer’s Squeal”—Michael Gizzi
Surely the rigorous poem refers to no life outside itself, but we could note
that this body of water is called a sound. Seabirds carrying brushes paint themselves
into the sky, & unheard sounds are sweaters that would never be caught dead
oppressing a poodle! &, after being diagnosed with the crime of despair, we doggy paddle
into Poe’s parrot in raven’s clothes, and figured we’d game it. “Will I always be poor,
crippled, underused?” Nevermore! “Will human brutality continue?” Nevermore.
“Can I at least look in the mirror & say I’ve never been a burden to woman?”
& I guess a poet should entertain the notion that chanting certain words, or phrases,
every day has the power to heal, whether it’s “I’m set free to find a new illusion,”
“I chide no breather but myself,” “able-bodied liberty angles,” or even “one person’s
syncretic religion is another’s spiritual dilettantism.” But what of the high words
of humanism? Coleridge calls reason “the sword of the spirit!” Damn, the whole
Euro-idealist tradition is violence! But should we try to rescue reason if the irrational
proved just as irrational as the irrational that gets crowned as reason? & I doubt
the word G-d is strong enough to oppose what’s corrupt about money,
but soul could work with reason as an introvert musician & an extroverted socialist
can have as harmonious a relationship as any couple are wondering to be in
the same mansion (proletarian housing collective) to cut through layers of
complexities to find the soul’s simplicity, like we need it to communicate from,
like it’s already there, but only if we build it precisely so they don’t come, as data
analysts at least (or you just have to be ready for death to be ready for life….)
* * *
I’m Your Captcha
when we touch a locked door
but don’t see it as a locked door
until we find an open one
locking the others
(or giving us language
as curse & blessing)….
when existence is only form
to essence’s content
if beauty is only an extension
of comfort, the double
meaning of “boring”
cancelling each other out
for kindship…how something
we thought becomes did
into the solution that made us
problems precisely for that
purpose, and it’s too fluid
to be final….
the (next time is the best) time
“whatever you do, don’t take
‘symphony of snakes’ the wrong way!
like when I went out
of my way for them. “
“what was this way again?”
(or was he
just being anti-social to create
an aura of mystery?) Certainly,
mystery has been used
to inflict misery, Mercy!
“Just let the thought
be a voice, we can
sort it out when we’re together.”
* * *
For Yvonne Henderson
Eye drops tear from
A bottle made of ears
After the dancer’s injury, she tried
To feel more like a painter instead—
Or at least a couple (of) Brushes
On the black and white chessboard
Floor hung on the Eastern wall
That really faces South
Like civic dizziness chopped
Into the Appendages
That language wants me to other
Like a war on the Canvas
(the canvas started, the wet brush
just the Defense department…)
And I’m lost in a drip,
And when the tears dry,
They will have once been sweat
Was I just too busy seeing
My reflection in you, & then
Everything not you, to truly see?
Or is that like chiding the wet
Brush for not being seen
By the finished canvas?
* * *
Therapeutic Anti-Performance Bias
for Stuart Wood
“Though the doors will always remain open for the musical expression of personal feelings, what will more and more come through is the pleasures of conviviality. And beyond that a non-intentional expressivity, a being together of sound & people (where sounds are sound, and people are people). A walk, so to speak, in the woods of music, or in the world itself….”———John Cage, 1989
“Democracy…is going to come up in expected ways from the stuff we think are junk,”—Leonard Cohen (337)
Among “people (who) have had this illness or disability that isolates them socially”
Wood’s interested in furthering “(re)creation as social beings against the losses of their illness.”—
Conventional therapists will tell you “putting on a performance”–“acting out,” “being
inauthentic, or hiding behind a persona” is what they’re trying to treat, not encourage.”
Wood’s interested in furthering “(re)creation as social beings against the losses of their illness.”
Her neurological tremor…had ended….job, relationships. It felt like being on a scrap heap
“being inauthentic, or hiding behind a persona” is what they’re trying to treat, not encourage.
She felt useless, scrap…. we could….Make instruments out of scrap! Typewriter, three pails!
Her neurological tremor…had ended….job, relationships. It was like being on a scrap heap
“Failing performance on one level needs performance at another as its remedy.’”
She felt useless, scrap…. we could….Make instruments out of scrap! Typewriter, three pails!
They interrogated the junk they found until they found the music in it (156)
“Failing performance on one level needs performance at another as its remedy.’”
The performance, for instance, of our immune system or motor coordination
They interrogated the junk they found until they found the music in it (156)
“rehearsing, composing, dancing are all part of the performance
The performance, for instance, of our immune system or motor coordination
As an actor moves from “not me” to “not not me”…(irreducible to product)
“rehearsing, composing, dancing are all part of the performance
Among “people (who) have had this illness or disability that isolates them socially”
As an actor moves from “not me” to “not not me”…(irreducible to product)
Conventional therapists will tell you “putting on a performance”–“acting out”…
* * *
Matter Over Mind
Every bird has known their place in fools who cross the line
And you walk the streets singing “mind fast body slow mind loud body soft”
Or when I kissed a cop down at 34th & Vine he broke my little bottle of love potion #9
For the hosts have known their guests as ghosts until undressed.
So, when knowledge becomes a sea, will you reach for a life boat
Of revolution, a raft of love, a continent of wet-naps
To do away with excess moisture, like the sleep dreamed during naps
When the words that circle roofs in silence walk the line
Or swim the sea of whim until my body becomes a boat
And I cross the sweet muttering “loud and slow” under “fast and soft”
Because you feel you can only be real as a host when undressed,
A host who would never judge her guests, a host who would give me a 9
On a scale of 10, or 100. Does it matter? A meaningless 9
But kind of cute and vertical, even when it naps.
Maybe a little bloodless on the human side, but, undressed,
It leaves me speechless in key changing songs about the line
Where the moon is the ocean and the sky but a boat
Because you have to be lost to wonder, though hard is only loud if soft
Is soft, which is disproved by the roar of the cat and its soft, soft
Fur, or the fact that I rarely wake before 9
Which would mean we’re not all in the same boat
Until the sea of winking blinks rivers when we nap
Blind as the sign I read in the unemployment line
Or the one way street we’ve gone the wrong way on (until it’s undressed).
Ah, where will this lead the already naked nations (who’ve never been undressed)?
Do I have to amplify the quiet to harden the soft?
And why would I want to flatter or flatten, the same old line
Unless I was so doped up on love potion #9
I’d run free like the mouse while the cat of self-consciousness naps?
And this, at last, could mean we’re all in the same boat
Where the birds don’t sink or swim but float until a boat
Of wonder alienates the greed it wears when undressed
For the only reason she always walks in while he naps
Is because she always runs out when he’s awake, but soft,
“I hear the lonesome whip-poor-will.” It peaked at 9
On the country charts. So I’m grounded where once I was out of line
But now I know the line can be soft, the nine undressed
And the boat may win the vote while the rest of me naps.
from Drinking from What I Once Wore
Crisis Chronicles, 2018–John Burroughs, Founding Editor
* * *
Red Tape Sale
You may feel free
to distrust your happiness
what may very well be
an exemplary action
like, when finding
one of your cassette tapes
in the bag
of a friend
who is crashing
on your sofa
but who is out
roaming the town
you may get angry
at a violation of trust
& take it back
but soon you mellow
“honor among thieves”
& decide to copy it
and place the copy
in his bag without a word
so when he returns
he may not even know
that you have given him
what he thought he stole
and you may tell yourself
it was just his way
of asking for a gift
and run the risk
of feeling too proud
as if it is actions like these
that most characterize you
& not quite see
that it was he
the greater gift
(and why were you
snooping around in his bag
to begin with?)
from Drinking What I Once Wore
Crisis Chronicles, 2018–John Burroughs, Founding Editor
chris stroffolino “talks poetics!” with krysia jopek –August, 2019
What is your process when you sit down to write a poem?
I never quite understand the poets on Facebook who post, “I wrote a poem today” on a regular basis. I generally need to “sleep on” something for at least a day to feel it might really be a poem. . . . I often start in/find a pre-genre (I think, though it could be merely post-genre) place. “I set out to write poems once, and it turned into a memoir. . . ” I’m a big believer in the brainstorm and revision. I mean, sure, there’s those rare moments when I know right away, “this is a poem!”—but more often not. . . often the “vision” doesn’t emerge until a few days after the “brainstorm” or the “first draft” that gets called the “vision.”
On a nuts & bolts level, one salience (for like 30 years now) is that I begin on paper at least 99% of the time, sometimes with “something on my mind,” & other times with an illusion of blankness with a book (not necessarily of poetry—could even be a student paper on “tech addiction”) as a jump-start, a backseat driver in the car of love, let the book set the terms or the tone, or argue with it, or try to connect it with something totally petty & personal, and seemingly unrelated. Then later, sometimes the next day, or sometimes not for a few months, I go through the tedious process of typing what I wrote by hand onto a computer file—almost everything—lines that seem great, lines that seem weak—still not worrying whether it’s a publishable poem yet. Then I type that up, and go through a protracted phase of “trying to read myself as I read another”– this “recollection in perfunctory which may or may not be tranquil” takes patience & discipline (I’ve definitely erred on the side—-especially when I’m wrapped up in student papers, etc—of posting things clearly not ready yet on FB or sending some half-baked MS…).
Perhaps because being largely a hermit (aside from the job), I went through a (too) long phase where my poems were occasioned by facebook quips (which, even if by poets, were often not poems; still, it influenced my sense of form & neo-personism)—but I tend to need more room to stretch out….(could I send a 5 page poem to Facebook?) so I began to find that thinking in terms of a book helps me revise the poem better.
So collecting poems into a manuscript, and getting excited by the flow and (diachronic) narrative elements that seem to magically appear by placement of (synchronic) lyric moments, but then realizing you have 130 pages and will have to make difficult decisions to get it down to under 100—and then the next day read it again with a more critically severe eye and dump some into the outtake file, shorten others, or discover ways to combine a few…but feeling strangely secure coz now you know you have “more than enough” and “the leaving out business” can begin….swimming in your own words so intensely can be a maddening experience if you don’t have some other activity going on….…I wouldn’t necessarily advise this method for anybody, but it seems to suit my attention deficit disorder well, if time permits….a funny thing about time…. The way a present will dress up like a past to talk to another present? & in the past year, I’ve been attempting to do more “(soma)tic rituals (CA Conrad’s term) and listen to my body more (though putting it that way probably is self-defeating insofar as it implies an “I” always already alienated from an othered body…).
When did you become a serious poem? A published poet?
I probably became a published poet, before I was a serious poet. Ah, am I serious yet? Perhaps that’s the most serious question I can ask. But, more prosaically, early 20s; 1990 was perhaps a watershed year when New American Writing and Sulfur (& soon O*Blek & APR) published me & suddenly others were open to taking me more “seriously”…..but that was long ago….& I guess I “unbecome” a serious poet for a decade, after my third full-length book and a life-changing disability in 2005.
How much has John Ashbery influenced your work? Can you talk about your personal and poetic relationship with him? I personally see him as THE American poet of the second half of the twentieth century.
Perhaps the most important poetic influence/affinity for me (I would’ve said that 30 years ago,–20 (but not 10) years ago, and now in 2018. Spending a year reading all his books after he died certainly helped temper—if not totally wean—my addiction to social media, and helped channel my temptations for strident evangelism. Even when I was a Creative Writing student, people like Mark Halliday and Sharon Olds (& even Tate, who I know loved Ashbery dearly) told me I was reading too much John Ashbery—and it’s hard to find a review of one of my books (90-2004) that doesn’t mention Ashbery’s influence, but John himself was gracious enough not to mind. He put things in poetry that most other poets didn’t call poetic—and that many of today’s poetic gate keepers still are trying to keep out. I still feel I have an unpaid debt to him. And a year later (August 2019), I find myself in a very different place than the pleasures & wonders of getting lost in Ashbery, where living writers are more important to me—and I can relate in many ways to the voice of moral fervor that emerges in Eileen Tabios’ beautiful intense post-mortem to Ashbery: Witness in A Convex Mirror.
Can you speak to your relationship with the New York School and Language School of poetry?
These days, there is none (unless you count reading their books & facebook), though I miss many of those folks. When I lived in New York, I used to joke “I was a New York School poet until I moved to New York.”……Anyway, Back when I was “starting out” as they say (late 80s/early 90s), there was much more antagonism towards the “New York School” from The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets (I should specify, more the east coast-based Language Poets, if not as much the West Coast ones who were more critical of the scene “around Duncan” or what was left of the Beats). And though I was in Philly first—and very associated with a spoken word scene with more of a Black Arts Movement aesthetic, and trying to avoid cultural co-optation— I was more identified as a New York School (with affinities to the what seemed very vital in the Chicago School—mostly women– it seemed New American Writing). Frank & Ashes were like the “twin towers” with a side dish of Kenneth & Berrigan (never quite got into Schuyler as devoutly as Moxley & Peter Gizzi, for instance, though that could change). It was John Yau who first turned me on to these writers. If he was second generation, would I have been third? fourth?
I think I’m a brief entry in that encyclopedia. Is Bernadette Mayer second generation? Ann Lauterbach? David Shapiro has been extremely important to me. I really liked Crase’s The Revisionist. Star Black? Do people consider Alice Notley New York School? I’ve been reading Disobedience again, and it doesn’t seem fair (& probably sexist) to reduce her to the New York School. Still the term has a human warmth I never found in terms like “Black Mountain” (I love Creeley!), & I certainly don’t mind being called that, but I don’t think I’ve earned it.
But I remember there was a time when Mark Wallace coined the term, “post-language poetry” and was including me in that, and indeed, I loved Harryman & Perelman in particular. Never Without One! Scalapino, Fanny Howe & Armantrout (are they language poets?). Andrews could get me to play despite myself. Bernstein and Watten’s critical prose inspired me to argue (despite some scorn that I liked James Tate & did a dissertation on Shakespeare instead of, say, Pound or Zukofsky) —that “intimidating” masculine authority thing. Sometimes I wonder if I’m nostalgic for those poetry wars from my Rip Van Winkle 20-year vantage point.
How much does visual art and music influence your work?
Didn’t Pound say a successful poem should excel at all three—phanopiea, melopiea, and logopiea? I’m generally guilty of too much logo-piea and not enough images and/or a tin ear (even though I’ve played music off the page). I was toying with titling my new MS From Phanophobia to Musicophilia– when I lived in NYC I loved making regular visits to artists’ studios to see them work (and playing piano while my girlfriend painted). Those experiences confirmed for me how painters can help poets remember what a poem isn’t! You know, perhaps poets writing about art (again, thinking New York School—Yau, Ashbery, O’Hara, Shapiro….) has influenced my writing more than the art itself. I feel I’d have to make a concerted effort to develop the word-eye coordination those writers have. I loved seeing John Yau, one of my multi-genre heroes, give slideshows; he regularly posts collaborative poems done with visual artists (at least as good as Clark Coolidge & Phillip Guston’s Baffling Means) & I’d love to collaborate with visual artists…(though not so much by being a model in a portrait!
As for music, how can we tell the feeling from the sound? And I disagree with Pound. I like the metronome. Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business” should be taught in post-World War II late 20th-century poetry courses alongside of, say, “Howl,” the poem that “changed America.” But the question that has always fascinated and troubled me is how does one translate across those genres on a neurological, aesthetic and social level? (Is a mordantly recursive post-Ashberian sentence doing “something similar” to a Coltrane sheet of sound, though he would prefer classical?). Insofar as my new manuscript may be said to have a theme aside from trying to cope with, or reinvent myself after, a disability & trauma(s), my existential relationship between the genre of poetry and the genre of music is one of the big themes (: music as water).
I was unable to make music for 5 years (the longest stretch without it), but I’ve been able to slowly reawaken to it in the last 8 months (in private), and I don’t know if it’s making my poetry on the page more or less “musical”—but I feel it’s changing my writing (making it a little more porous, letting sun and fresh air in away from stuffy job mind & hermit tech addiction) even if it runs the risk of being more “vulgar quotidian” (“I do this, I do that” Frank O’Hara New York school) mode as if that’s needed to balance the “heady” stuff like evangelical homages to community music therapists in times of crisis.
I know I’d definitely like to be more involved in multi-media art spaces and at this juncture, I’d much rather lend whatever musical talents I have to record instrumental accompaniment (or even perform a one-off reading/show on occasion) if any of the great poets I love reading on the page would like it—than read my own poetry on stage (though maybe I’ll get over my shyness to read). I did a few recordings a decade ago—with Beme the Rapper, and Delia Tramontina (more on her in the next question—I could send an MP3 if interested).
Who are your primary influences or poets you read again and again?
I hate lists! I always miss a few obvious ones! Even if I sleep on it…. Well, aside from the names I already dropped, Dickinson has been fairly salient for over 30 years, Laura (Riding) Jackson, Gil-Scott Heron, even Leonard Cohen. After Baraka’s death in 2014, I went through a few years where I was so disgusted by the hypocrisies of the white literary establishment and feeling ignorant because of my training in the mono-culture, that I only read non-white authors like Ishmael Reed, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin Audre Lorde, jessica Care moore, John Keene, Craig Santos Perez, Tyehimba Jess, Langston Hughes, Paul Beatty, Judy Juanita, Danez Smith, d. Scott Miller, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Timothy Yu, Claudia Rankine, Tongo Eisen Martin; The Breakbeat Poets Anthology worked great in the college intro to lit course and many more), but in the last few years I’ve been trying to catch up with more contemporary poetry—and feel I’ve been especially helped by writing by women—Brenda Hillman’s Extra Hidden Life, Among The Days, Nikki Wallschlager’s Houses, Sandra Simonds’ last few books, Anne Boyers’ Garments Against Women, Jennifer Moxley’s Druthers, Lisa Robertson, Noelle Kocot, Jasmine Dreame Wagner, Nada Gordon, Virginia Konchon, Christine Howey, Maw Shein Win, Wendy Trevino, Ivy Johnson.
This year a few books of poetry are blowing me away in their brilliant, beautiful, fierce, and playful but deeply serious critiques of what could be called “toxic masculinity,” compelling me to confront how I’m implicated in it. The two books simultaneously released by Danielle Pafunda (The Book of Scab and Beshrew!), Eileen Tabios’ aforementioned Witness, as well as Delia Tramontina’s Constraint. These writers, and more I have neglected to mention here, have given me hope in the possibility of poetry outside of the very white-male dominated 20th-century scenes (not that I didn’t enjoy Anselm Berrigan’s new book, too). So, will I regret saying any of this?
I’m glad you like the poems you’ve selected for this issue of diaphanous micro, Kyrsia. One is dedicated to you.
Chris Stroffolino is a renowned American poet, musician, performer (former NYC performance artist), scholar of literary and cultural theory, and college professor. He is the author of 12 books of poetry and theoretical criticism of poetry, poetics, and the American poetic literary tradition in the twentieth-century. Born in Reading, Pennsylvania (like American modernist Wallace Stevens) on March 20, 1963, Stroffolino attended Albright College, Temple University and Bard College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, before receiving a Ph.D. in Poetics at SUNY Albany–with a dissertation on William Shakespeare in 1998. His poems and scholarly work on poetry have been published in many literary journals. His latest book of poetry, Drinking from What I Once Wore, was published by Crisis Chronicles in 2018. Chris resides and teaches poetry and writing at Laney College in California.
links to recent “literary”/scholarly reviews by Chris Stroffolino
poetry & music
Drinking From What I Once Wore (Crisis Chronicles, 2018)—poetry book
“Slumming It” In White Culture (Iniquity Press, 2018)—poetry book
The Griffith Park Sessions (Broken Horse, 2013), music, produced by Jeff Feuerzeig
Predator Drone (self-released, 2012), music, available for free on bandcamp
Single Sided Doubles (Pop Snob, 2010), music LP/CD, produced by Greg Ashley
Speculative Primitive (Tougher Disguises, 2005) poetry book
Scratch Vocals (Potato Clock Editions, 2003) poetry chapbook
Stealer’s Wheel (Hard Press, 1999), poetry book
Light as a Fetter (Situations, 1997), poetry chapbook (republished 207 as ebook by….)
Cusps (1995, Aerial/Edge), poetry chapbook
Oops (1994, Pavement Saw), poetry book
Incidents (1990, Iniquity Press) poetry chapbook
Death of a Selfish Altruist (Iniquity Press, 2017)–memoir
Notes to a MFA in Non-Poetry (Spuyten Duyvil, 2015)–essays
Shakespeare’s 12th Night (with Dave Rosenthal) (IDG Books, 2001) prose
Spin Cycle (Spuyten Duyvil, 2000) selected reviews and essays
Paulette Claire Turcotte
mixed media print on archival paper 14 x 16.43 inches
[featured in Diaphanous Fall 2017]
* * *
FALSETTO PITCH | SIX POEMS — SHEIKHA A
Paper Skins on Onions
Spiders have the bulbs in a clean plastic
rack misrepresented, spinning cages.
The months of the moths are far yet
to come, but was the same chilly
coolness balancing off chain lamps
last year, causing us to abandon the light
for moths to find their last rites
(of passages) under stored vegetables
we keep by the wooden door
away from another wooden door
home to the moths, crawling beneath
the pre-supposed shelters – paper skins –
served to their bodies scuffing
across marble to their last breath.
We were quick to sweep them into a dustpan
knowing of other predators inhabiting crevices
to save their becoming first feast
of an opening summer, but spiders know
empty pans really mean anatomies,
sharpening their feet for better grip
on the new threads they loom, instincts
knowing onions are the toadstools
growing above tiny bodies.
* * *
In my part of the world, ants are
associated with nahoos – jinx.
My house turned into a cautious
rimmed bowl of sweet water
the day an invisible woman cried
by the door of a room’s bathroom.
She dragged her manacles across
the floor: to what she was bound –
shar, evil is the nullification of good;
dutiful recitations overlook
in their devoutness the incline
of a spirit’s wish to follow a house,
wherever they move, finding
a body of ants to home. An hour
past midnight, ceilings begin to
rumble, the arm from the right
shoulder going numb – ishara –
signs: ants in a single file
scaling the wall to where
the sounds meet the ceiling –
* * *
An-Nur Al-Ain: Ya Sayyedi
after An-Nur by Laura M. Kaminski (Halima Ayuba)
The mountains have eaten our towns
of grief; the night isn’t bathing. Give me
a little vial of sand from where salvation walks
in burnt shoes. I will collect that sand,
hold my hand out to the sun until the grains harden.
Do you know what it is to pray for a country’s death –
negating its bed soaked in blood? Mocking our
eyes savoured by a hawk. Tears that have
wet the domes of our shrines like rain
on our wooden doors with carved names.
Put us through the ambition – these mountains
have teeth behind their seals. Send us a draft
of wind to burrow behind our ears. We are home;
people are towns savaged as meals.
* * *
after An-Nur by Laura Kaminski (Halima Ayuba)
Remember this day as the aim you were;
drive out the words coming out from
the movie we promised each other
we would be; we have serenaded
our minds into love’s holocaust –
idealised the isolation like albino keys
in a mad song. I will offer my hand
to draw out water. Evenings are lit
with green incandescence. It looks
like a cove off a sole-glowing comet
that will promise us a crater. I am
telling you about what lies in the walking
between my steps: there are multiple beings
showing from detached lights.
I have memorised a code that will be
just for my calling. But, for the sure
knowing of the outcome of aging, I can
show you the spell-wound path
that will be free of fight.
* * *
The Love of a Djinn
In death, she molests my dream;
grabs my armpits and whispers the name
of my lover like a lost decree I must remember.
In life, I borrow from her house: her help
comes over a phone where I vent
my words like a(s)sailing biopic of people
I can no longer trace to the fulcrum of fault.
I tell her she helps me in backward motion,
begins at the end where I am farthest
from the start. She lowers her head side
ways, looks to her invisible lover who
has semblance of nothing but a shadow
of everything; he tells her he’s chosen
and her eyes lift to meet mine. He is a mass
of fire, too young for the aging wither
of her bluing blood; my skin’s his rage
of ripe splendour. She and I are a common
nature of difference. This is how it will be:
he shall burn like a forest higher than life,
I shall coax his embers into the mouth of
the sea. And she shall rest her ashen
loins unlatched from him.
* * *
How do I be?
That tanzanite light breaking through fissures
at the base of mountains before the sun drapes
over darkness, how do I be? The fleet of boats
cruising on waters of simple words, like a moonlight
so impalpable yet believable, steady paced
and offering ripples of hope to your shadows
in densely salty waters. I want to be the wall
surrounding your being, glittering like a cluster
of gems, eluding keen passersby approaching
the gates of your soul, so they can never know
your aloneness, so it stays mine to breach.
Tell me to be the eyes of your past lovers enriched
with memories of exotic sights locked in theirs.
I am tired of being without your favour,
a scribble on stones, a misdirected mirage.
Conjure me in hours of anxiousness
to ease your wandering mind that creases into
melancholic folds of anguish. Plough deep
rows of fear and plant fire. Make me the stem
from which a carnation blooms petals
of desire. How do I be, the carnal secrets
escaping your lips? Spoken like golden twilight,
engorging deflection over an indigo-flushed ocean,
spumes of entanglements locking with the shore.
* * *
INTERVIEW WITH SHEIKHA A
Describe your process in writing poetry.
My process is an odd one, at least what I think. I tend to have ideas erupting in my head like short bursts of sentences or a combination of words, sometimes coming in like an overflowing—or other times like bouts of suppressed air looking for release. And of all these ideas, there are very few that actually come to life in the form of a poem. The rest become shadows. Those that linger morph into new ideas; those that don’t probably leave me to find wanting space in someone else’s mind. I believe in out-of-the-body experiences, astral, “floating in a bubble from the real world” kind of processes that, I believe, are an enigmatic and predominant “culture” for writing poetry. Since I weigh heavily towards mystics, spiritualism, the fantastical and surreal, amongst my otherwise occasional breezy moments of lyrical and melodious,I write to balance moods.
Sometimes the exercise of writing a poem becomes so intense, I deliberately let it go, don’t finish it in one sitting (even though the thoughts are rolling), which results in a poem taking longer than a few days ranging into a week or maybe even a month to meet its last written line. I don’t have a disciplined process. It’s quite mad. Most times I don’t even know the direction I’d be taking with the poem I started. I rely on visual stimulation, grabbing an image or a motion picture scene, dwelling on it, and then finding direction. There was a time in my life when I started having strange dreams in my sleep, so vivid, I’d be able to recount it with perfection to its every detail. I began using those as material for my poetry—and since most of these dreams were obfuscating, I turned them into my own theories, giving me the liberty of molded creativity.
When did you start writing seriously?
I can’t remember the exact time. I know it began at some point in University. In high school we studied poetry as part of a Literature course quite extensively for three years (the O Level years). So, I wasn’t without background, though didn’t enjoy it as much, nor paid attention to the techniques or meters or purpose. I found it taxing, to be honest. It seemed like a thing to do as part of the syllabus in order to get a passable grade to be able to graduate to the next level. It was a robotic routine. Aside from poetry, we studied classic plays, novels, and a selection of short stories, which is why all of it seemed like a pile of work—filling up our ink pens and emptying pots of it to dish out pages and pages of summaries, essays, appreciations, etc. The real purpose came only a decade ago, when I was introduced to poetry in a completely new perspective after connecting with people on social sites and then started reading the writs and ramblings of emerging, struggling, established writers. The more I read, the more imaginative my mind became. I do recall writing and getting published in magazines for juniors in my growing up years in U.A.E. It was a pleasure to see my name in print at that young age, not out of some real emotional interest towards the dynamics of writing—but naturally, owing to age (years of pre-teen). So, I had been writing in generic form from a young age. But the seriousness came much, much after. Now, writing is me-space, me-time, me-zone—a much more serious and even possessive interest.
When were you first published?
Like I mentioned above, I was published a few times in my junior years in national magazines, but for poetry it was with Poetry Sans Frontier and eFiction India Magazine, the latter of which, I went on to serve as poetry editor for some three plus years.
Who are your favorite writers and artists?
I read so many on a daily basis, it’s hard to pick specifics. But, since I love the fantastical and spiritual, my current favorites are Clark Ashton Smith, Rumi, Khalil Gibran, Omar Khayyam as well as paintings by surrealists, abstract and landscape artists. I recently came upon work of Bosch and Bruegel and found them deeply fascinating. I even looked into some paintings of Rene Magritte. My current favorite in paintings is Tighe O’ Donoghue; his works are visually mesmerizing and mentally intellectual. I won’t say I am a connoisseur of art, but because my writing is prompted by visual stimulation, I enjoy looking at visual art a great deal. I find, for myself, that the best way to achieve innovative or interesting imagery in writing is through visual art. My list of favorites is otherwise everchanging; I don’t have fixed favorites—though Oscar Wilde is perennial.
What poets have influenced your poetry?
As mentioned, I read various writers and view works of many artists, I am under continuous influence. It can be a line or a couplet or even a fridge magnet quote that will move me in some way to inspire a poem or two; or even a casual conversation of nothing. Last year I joined with seven Nigerian poets in a response medley of metaphysical poetry on Facebook. It triggered with my reading of a response to a poem, piquing my curiosity to read the original, inducing my response to the response, that turned into a chain series as other poets kept joining the train with their responses. We managed to write about 30 poems in total in a matter of a week! I think it’s an inherent thing about artists; we are subconsciously receptive to the universe in general, so everything we read or see influences us in traces or swathes in some way or another. Sometimes, we aren’t even aware we’ve been influenced until we zone into our alone space. We like to call it inspiration, but maybe, inspiration and influence really are the same.
What advice would you give other writers?
Never kill the tiny voice in their ears arising from the pits of their being, telling them they can and are able. Flesh it into form through writing, art, speech, or do nothing about it in creative terms, but don’t kill it. With it, you will kill your intuition and your will. Every form of art began in some ordinary or bland or mundane or non-exquisite form. I know I cringe at my early writing when I go back to it, but, that’s because we are constantly evolving, and also because artists are generally excruciatingly self-critical by nature. But don’t turn that into a demotivating factor to stop. If you stop, you will never know how far you could’ve made it. Or lose all the opportunities of learning and developing from having decided you weren’t good and couldn’t get better. Read, read, read, read, read. As much as you can. Read with imagination. Read just one line if that is all you can manage for the day or read nothing but take the time to deliberate over what you read previously. It will increase curiosity and will coax you to read/search some more. Also, most importantly, be humble. Nobody is omniscient or omnipotent because there will always be something you don’t know or aren’t able to do that someone else has ability of over you.
Are you currently working on a collection of poetry?
Yes, I actually am. After the release of Nyctophiliac Confessions through Praxis Magazine, there is another collaborative venture with Suvojit Banerjee that I’m hoping to put together and see the light of its day soon (since being delayed by bounds and ends of either mundane, but cannot be neglected, chores/responsibilities or the fatal lethargy). Apart from that, I have an idea brewing in my head for a solo chapbook but haven’t assimilated the skeleton as yet–though I do have a fast-developing collection.
AUTHOR BIO: Sheikha A. is from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Over 300 of her poems have been published in a variety of literary venues, both print and online, including several anthologies by different presses. Recent and upcoming work are/will be with Polu Texni, Strange Horizons, SurVision, Pedestal Magazine, Mobius, Abyss and Apex, and elsewhere.0
Introduction by Krysia Jopek
I fell in love with Jonathan K. Rice’s paintings on facebook several years ago. He is one of my favorite contemporary Abstract Expressionists, whose paintings seem to be a contemporization and furthering of the paintings of Klee, Kandinsky, and Pollock. I admire his ability to create exquisite compositions of color, texture, and depth. He is a sculptor with acrylics on canvas.
Because he is a poet, his titles are quite beautiful and deepen the viewer’s perception of his work. I came to know his poetry also, especially his collection Killing Time (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2015).
I am the proud owner of four of Jonathan’s paintings. It is with great pleasure that I present this virtual art show and selection of his poetry: Adrift.
Image, color, composition, and texture are all informed by what I read, what I listen to, and that which surrounds me. I work with acrylics and mixed media, creating primarily abstract paintings and assemblage.
Through my art, I explore the relevance of the indescribable, and work toward the understanding of that which can’t always be understood. In this sense, creating art is a spiritual journey as I seek to connect the physical and nonphysical with the intention of drawing the viewer into a deeper understanding of him or herself in relation to the world and that which is physically beyond them.
When asked how I begin a new piece, I like to say that I let the canvas tell me what to do. I may start with a wash of one color and build layer upon layer of blended washes. I may take a palette knife or trowel and spread on a layer of thickly textured acrylic medium. I may begin by gluing various papers to canvas or wood panel. I like quiet time late in the evening. I often paint while I listen to music. On occasion I work on more than a few pieces at a time. In the end though, the canvas tells me when to stop as if crying out, “No more!” That’s when I step back and say, “It is finished.”
Jonathan K. Rice
* * * * *
There we were
in a bamboo
near a river
finding our way
as the afternoon
leaned into dusk,
yet nothing abides
and how earth
how the sun rises
how we find
* * * * *
lightly to the earth
it slowly turns
as you dance
upon its meadows
through forests and valleys
as dervishes in deserts
as dolphins and whales
leap, breach, do figure eights
through cresting waves,
dive gracefully to depths
where ancient anchors
lie and rust amid coral,
that gently move
in rhythm with currents,
the moon and tides,
salt and sand,
the sun that warms your face,
your hands that reach for mine
* * * * *
0 and 1,
0 and 2,
0 and 3,
and on and on
and how love
* * * * *
We take it
the stuff of taste,
in every kiss
venom of snakes
silk of caterpillars
glue of nests
for certain swifts
to heal the blind
our natural lubricant.
* * * * *
She teaches me the importance
of knowing where to cut the loose thread,
where it’s from, where it may lead.
She knows the secrets of fabric,
what cloth teaches us about ourselves,
how it hangs from our bodies,
learns from how we walk
from how children roll and tumble.
There behind a button or a zipper
underneath a hem or seam
like the meaning of a parable
it is there to understand.
from Killing Time (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2015)
* * * * *
You bashfully disrobe
by the settee
and coffee table
laden with flowers.
There is comfort
in the dim studio lighting,
a decorative pillow,
a knitted throw.
I direct your pose
but you rearrange yourself
as I explore the curve
of your being,
your half-closed eyes,
your mysterious smile.
At the easel I adjust
the small light to my side
where to begin.
Your horizon unknown,
your landscape unexplored.
from Killing Time (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2015) (
* * * * *
Jonathan K. Rice edited Iodine Poetry Journal for seventeen years and served as a co-editor for Kakalak in 2016. He most recently co-edited Of Burgers & Barrooms, an anthology published by Main Street Rag Publishing in 2017.
He is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Killing Time (2015), Ukulele and Other Poems (2006) and a chapbook, Shooting Pool with a Cellist (2003), all published by Main Street Rag Publishing. His poetry and art have appeared in numerous publications, including The Aurorean, Cold Mountain Review, Comstock Review, Empty Mirror, Gargoyle, Levure Litteraire, The Main Street Rag, Wild Goose Poetry Review and the anthologies, Hand in Hand: Poets Respond to Race and The Southern Poetry Anthology VII: North Carolina.
His art has appeared in a number of group and solo exhibits in the Carolinas. Most recently his show Excursions: Paintings by Jonathan K. Rice ran through June 2018 at the North Charleston City Gallery.
He is the recipient of the 2012 Irene Blair Honeycutt Legacy Award for outstanding service in support of local and regional writers, awarded by Central Piedmont Community College. Jonathan lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Jonathan K. Rice’s paintings, including the seventeen here in this virtual art show, are available to purchase. Please contact Jonathan via facebook, if interested!0
My Dead Boy – A Ghazal
Eleven years after, my boy’s still dead.
(I hold him in the rafters of my head.)
His photo’s propped at the side of my bed.
(I kiss it on the nightstand near my head.)
A letterman jacket hangs in his stead.
(I shelter him, deep inside my head.)
Are you over it? my heartless friend said.
(I nail her to a grim place in my head.)
Each night I tell myself that dead is dead.
(But there he is, the gallows of my head.)
Awake, I relive the terrible dread.
(I shut myself to sleep inside my head.)
I still can’t bear to hear his name said.
(It echoes in the chambers of my head.)
Sweet mama! Stop turning everything red.
(I want to shoot myself in the head.)
* * * * *
“Birds born in cages think that flying is an illness.” Alejandro Jodorowsky
He loves me because I look like his mother at 30.
I discover her photo in a secret drawer,
the same rounded hips,
and dark, wavy hair,
her pale, off-the-shoulder blouse an exact
duplicate of one he’s given me.
She has bigger breasts, deeper cleavage.
You eat like a bird! her son chastises,
passing me the cheesecake.
Suddenly it all makes sense.
Like when he cries Mama! in his dreams.
Awakens empty-armed. Abandoned.
He does not cry out for me.
Shoved under our door, a flyer:
“If you find a dead bird, call 1-877-WNV-BIRD.”
Lost between the bed and the mirror, I look and look.
He hides his obsession in a stack of magazines
in the bathroom. A blur of a girl, naked,
disappearing in a doorway. It could be his mother.
He locks the door.
Plump bird. Feathered nest.
Force-fed. Fois gras.
Fattened up for slaughter.
Someone’s dinner. Someone’s daughter.
When he hits me because I look like his mother,
he pulls back his fist, takes aim at her caged facsimile.
I hold perfectly still.
We both know he could never hit his mother.
* * * * *
Your open ‘fridge is the floodlight
at a Hollywood premiere,
a beacon for gourmands,
a newly-minted saint.
It lights up Sunset Blvd. from Olivera Street
to the beach.
Your smile is the blancmange of my sugar crave.
It bowls me over,
makes me gluttonous, ravenous,
makes me eat gelato, and pomme frites,
lick pasta with prosciutto in red sauce
from the hollow of your throat,
makes me want to eat pussy,
and cheesecake, and macaroons,
wash it all down with a robust Amorone,
tamp it down with unfiltered, brown, Sherman cigarettes,
makes me want to eat my way
down your menu.
So I went to Whole Foods to get a chicken,
cooked it just the way you like it,
with mushrooms and onions and truffle oil,
stuffed it with wild rice
and naked photos of Ursula Andress,
served it in the kitchen of my high-rise on Spring Street,
watched you eat it,
wolf it down, the same way
I’d like to eat you.
* * * * *
Gold Star Lesbian
Once, in a moment of recklessness, I fell in love with Phoebe, an older, yet still delicious lipstick lesbian, who swore she would spoil me for any man. My first ex-husband was shacked up with my ex-best friend; husband #2 was lurking, just around the corner. It was a window. Phoebe, a buyer for Bullocks Wilshire, that art deco building gleaming on Miracle Mile, used her employee discount to clothe me in style, bought me silk blouses, linen trousers, tailored suits. She liked her women sleek. Understated. Wild hair tamed into a lacquered updo, secured with antique Japanese combs. I was a whole new me. Squelched. Ladylike, but for the four-inch stilettos and the fuchsia corset sequestered inside my high-buttoned faux-modesty. I reveled in how it arched my back, my breasts thrust forward, an offering. Phoebe liked it, too. She’d trace the corset stays encircling my ribs with her index finger, her eyes glued to mine like Mesmer. Underneath all that polish and restraint beat a frenzied heart. You would not believe how fast that tailored suit hit the floor, stilettos kicked off like a pesky persona. She was a Gold Star lesbian, untouched by men, although plenty must have pursued her, her golden hair and haughty beauty an irresistible lure. I was all in, worshipful; I followed Phoebe around like a dog. She swore she’d been alone for years, that I was her re-awakening, that no one had ever made her come so good. But that night, at her favorite club, the fresh graffiti on the toilet stall wall told a different story:
vagina this side
of Saturn except
4 your mom
* * * * *
For The Russian Waitress at the Yorkshire Grill Who Reads Akhmatova on Her Break
She’s a sloe-eyed Madonna in a black uniform, refilling napkin holders, topping off salt shakers, funneling ketchup from one half-full bottle to another. I, among the faithful, come to worship at her station, always sitting in her section. I’m convinced she’s secretly the Virgin of Feodorovskaya, venerated icon of the upper Volga, the way she must have looked first thing in the morning, brewing coffee, sans Byzantine jewels and heavy crown.
She’s the patron saint of diners, the dispenser of special orders shimmering behind the counter, a saint tethered to the linoleum by tired booths and chipped Formica. When she takes my order, I bow my head, genuflect; her tangled, familiar accent a benediction. When she sees me eye her worn paperback, peeking out of her pocket, The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova, she fingers the author’s cover photo with reverence.
I want to remove the pins from her hair, loosen the tight bun, let the blunt wisps fall to her chin, narrowing her high-cheekboned visage. I want to worship at the pout of her lips, nuzzle at her neck’s altar. I want to slip her uniform off her shoulders, bury myself in her Russian-ness, pull her down next to me in the booth, feed her bits of brisket, dill pickle, baklava, give her sips of my tea.
You’re beautiful! I’ll tell her, but she’ll shake her head. She has no faith in platitudes. I’ll take her photo when she’s not looking. Print it as proof of faith, an 8×10 glossy, then bring it to her, an offering. I, too, am Russian (on my father’s side) I’ll say. I, too, carry Akhmatova in my pocket.
It will be the first time I’ve seen her smile.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Three Poems from JUNKIE WIFE
why i prefer injectable narcotics
(the truth that impales me each time i get straight.)
it’s all cake once i’ve found a good vein.
i surrender to the dazzling foreplay
loosen the belt, ease back the plunger
watch my blood flood the syringe.
the gasp, the breath-catch just before i jam
the plunger down, just like
you plunge into me (my cheeks flush)
and the rush? the ride? the afterglow?
better than sex. correction: better than sex with you (i mean).
first published in Public Pool, 2016
* * * * *
Divorce Court Barbie™ (Ken™ Drives Away With All of My Things)
I was no Fairytale Bride™ but
I came with a Barbie Daybed,™ A Bath Fun Playset,™
and a large, pink Desire Barbie Dildo Vibrator™
for when Ken™ forgot to come home.
But he couldn’t keep it in his Ken Fashionistas Trousers.™
He parked his Glam Convertible w/ Silver Rims™
in Skipper’s™ driveway,
stashed his GPS in her Long & Short of It Pants.™
Then he drove out of her Dinner Date Playset™ and back to
our Barbie Dream House,™ packed a few things in my
Store-It-All Carrying Case™
and dropped me at the Barbie Grand Hotel™ like I was
so much Euro-trash.
Look, Your Honor, nobody came with a warranty,
but unlike Ken,™ my intentions were pure; I lived up to my
Good Housekeeping Seal.
The Ken & Barbie Have Sex Before Marriage Playset™
made sure Ken knew what he was getting into.
Then he got into Skipper.™
I know what you must think, Your Honor.
There are names for dolls like me:
Bad Luck Barbie™
– the one Ken™ swears he wouldn’t love if I were the
Last Girl On Earth Barbie.™
The one who’s rendered worthless once you trash the box.
first published in Vox Populi, 2018
* * * * *
After you kicked me out,
and moved Vicki in,
I spilled my guts to the Armenian drug dealer
at the Glendale Galleria.
He told me he’d fix
my Porsche, pay off my credit cards, keep me
in cashmere and coke,
if I’d let him.
He’d dress me in silk that grazed my ass,
said he liked the whiteness
of my thighs, said if I were his, he’d keep me
out of the sun.
There I was, strung out on dope,
all lanky, pale-skinned
The Armenian drug dealer bought me
4-inch Louboutins and a leash,
a Stetson to shade my face.
I let him move me
into his condo in Glendale.
The Armenian drug dealer liked to drive
the freeways, had business
in San Diego and Oceanside
and San Juan Capistrano, liked the top down
on the Beamer, liked the way my hair whipped
in the wind. He liked fucking me
in his 3-car garage, pinned
against the hood. He could do it for hours
when I’d let him.
The Armenian drug dealer liked candy on his arm,
that was loud in the bedroom. He liked my ass
raised on a pillow, legs spread
like a Gullwing Mercedes.
I let him do anything he wanted.
He wanted me to tell him about you.
I told the Armenian drug dealer
how you wrapped Vicki in my mother’s embroidered shawl,
how you gave her my grandmother’s amethyst ring.
How you used a rifle to make your point.
How you could only come if you tied me up.
How you papered our bedroom with lies.
The Armenian drug dealer wanted to storm your house
wanted to tie you up with the same ropes you used on me
wanted to rip my mother’s shawl from Vicki’s shoulders
wanted to take the rifle out of your hands
wanted to bring back my grandmother’s amethyst ring.
So I let him.
first published in Plume, 2017
* * * * *
Statement of Poetics
My writing is predominantly confessional. I look at my life as material. Time as ammunition. I write daily, always at a computer or keyboard. Minimum 4 hours. I edit mercilessly. I think of my poems as product – as flash – as communication. As permission. As life raft.
Writing Influences: Dorianne Laux, Sharon Olds, Louise Gluck, Frank O’Hara, Michelle Bitting, H.D., Jack Grapes, Ellen Bass, Joseph Millar, Catullus, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Jack Gilbert, Rita Dove, Richard Jones, Anna Akhmatova.
I shot my first photos at age ten. My father thought I had talent and bought me a Nikon. I’ve always had a camera in my hand. Another way to interact with the world while keeping myself at len’s distance. I shoot “street” photos with my iPhone 10. In the studio I shoot formal portraits with my Nikon D810, using an 85mm lens. In both worlds, my focus is on revealing my subject, sourcing the humanity that connects us all.
Photographic Influences: Dorothea Lange, Mark Ellen Mark, Diane Arbus, Irving Penn, Lisette Model, WeeGee, Walker Evans, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Nan Golden, Herb Ritts, Helmut Newton, Jan Saudek, Cindy Sherman, Sebastian Salgado, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Arthur Tress.
Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry 2016, Rattle, Hobart, Verse Daily,
Plume, Tinderbox, Diode, Nashville Review, Duende, Wide Awake, Poets of Los Angeles, and
elsewhere. Her books include: How I Lost My Virginity to Michael Cohen & other heart stab
poems (Sybaritic Press, 2014), State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies (KYSO FLASH Press, 2015),
Enter Here (KYSO FLASH Press, 2017), and Junkie Wife (Moon Tide Press, 2018), the story of
her first, disastrous marriage. Her photographs have been published worldwide, including the
covers of Witness, Nerve Cowboy, Chiron Review, Heyday, and Pithead Chapel. A multiple
Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly. She lives
with her husband on the cliffs of San Pedro, California, a sleepy beach community, 20 miles
from her former digs in downtown L.A.
Now that you’re swimming the light, tell us
what you ink.
Are you fired up by the radiant mouth
of yesterday’s ashes? By the handheld thunder
amid ejected objects?
Oh, how we like your ubiquitous unpredictability!
In the court of awe, a gem losing its case.
The burnt umber of the day.
Magnets operate compasses.
“Don’t mind my stultitia,” says the purpose.
“Don’t mind course edits,” say the eddies.
Long time, no ask.
Now our “else” wants to be something else. Perhaps,
a thermal mystery. Or strawberry stars.
There’s more confusion underwater
than above the clouds, more history
in the mirrors than in the eyes.
* * * * *
Once in a Brazen Moon
Shadow of an arrogant ship…
How can I hear them speak? Not the dead
but the raucous pines.
Medusa would have been amused
by our hairy seaweeds. There would have been
many more hot air balloons
if it hadn’t been for this war.
What’s left in celestial clefts?
Collective mind is a giant grouper
that follows near-bottom flows;
individual mind, a suckerfish.
The draught of confusion, the warmth
of embarrassment. Give us all
or give us none. Who’s writing history
in spent ink?
I’d do it for the light in which a loss blossoms.
I’d do it for eww.
Only the rusted are trusted, why?
I pluck at loose dulse. The flooded bed,
the torn casing of time.
Then we all fall
through a rainbow of layers.
* * * * *
Scraping over a Sandbank
A boneless helicopter is always there
to pick you up. Hold on to your inner
It is summer. Some hairy souls smooch
At every crossroad,
the dust of the concrete Isle of Crete
relapses into a silent poem of adversity.
Criteria of crumbling are a labyrinth.
The Minotaur is a cloud, rigid
as a mammoth skeleton.
The kill bull bill has just sifted
through “as if”.
Shoreline is a shrine. The century
has been left dark side up;
doubts wing their way over it.
Pullulating fish mouths have all the answers.
* * * * *
An earthquake? It can be squeezed
out of your mind tremors.
Exaggerate your egg bubbles, agglutinate
a glowing necklet of spherules and satellites.
I tell you fear is blood,
we drank it all.
In your line of killing, life
already is a skeleton.
in ten lands. We’ve
1939ed our 2014.
As the garden shrinks
into a kernel, complacency
rocks itself in a chair.
Your day drowns trust
in lunar dust. Where the sky
plays possum, your hands blossom.
You are the exiled graphite
The world will rotate
around your rusty axis.
* * * * *
Having seen the fruits, we replant the roots,
a pretty scientist chants
into self-infused obscurity.
She’s a cleft squirrel, and there are
speech bubbles in her glass.
Other squirrels have shadows for tails; they’ve
cut themselves loose from the vine of cognition
aeons ago. Ideals surrender to necessity
(expect trumpets at every itchy moment.)
It’s a story of growth told by an axe.
Dr. Frankenstein, Head of Research,
scoops walnut brains with his silver spoon.
Trust them usefully in a narration.
Pale writing. Petals of a misty blue flower.
Mystery can never be amiss.
Ink-blot monsters are in no hurry to sink
into the ink-pot of oblivion. Background volcanoes
have spoken in the language of flame;
the sulfury breeze is infested with sugary voices.
So this is how it is going to be . . .
And yet again, somebody grabs the axe handle
covered with notes of praise and admiration.
all poems ©2018
* * * * *
Interview with Anatoly
Do you agree with Adam Zagajewski who once said the following: “While writing a poem I am a poet, whereas at other times I am an ordinary man”?
Is a poet an ordinary person? I would say, yes and no. When I write, I try to create an alternative reality, which sometimes results in me finding myself in some kind of “poetic space.” These periods of complete disconnection with real life leave an imprint on you, noticeable rather to others than to yourself. Sometimes you see astonishment in their eyes!
What triggers your writing process?
Sometimes a particular phrase gets me going, sometimes I mishear something, and the metamorphosed sentence, or a combination of words, sounds marvellously fresh and appealing. If I can’t come up with a good opening line, there’s no point in continuing. But if I do, I just try to develop it. Sometimes I have a feeling that the poem writes itself, I just need to jot it down on paper, or type it.
Surrealism, mainly. As Octavio Paz once put it, Surrealism is not a kind of poetry; it is a poetics and a world vision. In the 21st century, we know the meanings of words and things only too well. A surrealist cuts the ties between things and their meanings, and then rearranges such ties, or draws new ones. A Surrealist is always a creator, because for him there’s no given reality.
How do you frame a poem as in, what is the framework?
I am a former musician, and I know very well that a poem shapes itself; you just have to cut off the surplus. Then I put the first draft aside for a while—and come back to it later to look at it with fresh eyes. If it is the right moment, the poem shows me its flaws, and I begin to think how to improve it. Then I put aside the second draft – and so on. Finally, the moment comes when I realise that I am happy with this particular piece and don’t want to change anything in it. Like in music, the framework is the audible. I sometimes read my poem to myself, just to check if it sounds right.
Who are your influences / poets whose work you admire.
My influences? Almost everything you read affects your writing. I can go as far back as Shakespeare, William Blake, Saint-John Pearse, André Breton, Paul Celan, Gabriel Garcia Lorca, Samuel Beckett, Dylan Thomas, Zbigniew Herbert, Thomas Tranströmer, and the Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun; and on the other side of the Atlantic—Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Stephen Crane, Carl Sandberg, William Carlos Williams, Jack Spicer, Mark Strand, Philip Lamantia, James Tate. I would say, their works were examples for me rather than sources of stylistic borrowings. The poets I admire? All the aforementioned, and many more, including our contemporaries, such as Charles Simic, Stephen Dobins, and Dean Young.
How did you find out about Diaphanous?
I was trying to google Jennifer Juneau in search of her latest poems – and, as it happened, I found them in Diaphanous Review.
Anatoly Kudryavitsky is living in Dublin, Ireland. He has published a collection of his poetry titled Shadow of Time (Goldsmith Press, 2005) and three collections of his haiku, the latest being Horizon (Red Moon Press, USA, 2016). His poems have also appeared in Oxford Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, The Prague Revue, Plume, The American Journal of Poetry, The Honest Ulsterman, Cyphers, The SHOp, Stride, Otoliths, etc. His new (second) novel titled The Flying Dutchman has been published by Glagoslav Publications (UK) in July 2018. He was the recipient of the Maria Edgeworth Poetry Prize (Ireland, 2003), the Mihai Eminescu Academy Award for Poetry (Romania, 2017), and multiple international haiku awards. In 2016 and in 2017, his poems were nominated for the Pushcart Prize by The American Journal of Poetry and Shot Glass Journal. He is the editor of SurVision poetry magazine.0
Introduction by Krysia Jopek
I was introduced to Iranian painter Hiva Moazed’s amazing artwork by Stefan Bohdan after working with him on diaphanous micro 2.3. Hiva and Stefan are currently collaborating on a book of her paintings and his poetry.
Hiva’s paintings move on the two-dimensional plane with the buoyancy of dream and dance. She manages to balance semi-representational images and figures with an abstract background, usually imbued with bright colors. This sequence and the years each painting was created show her evolution from charcoal to bright colors.
She would like viewers to find pleasure when viewing her paintings and to be lifted up and happy. Her paintings pay homage to the tradition of painting—homage to Miro, Chagall, Matisse, Monet, Kandinsky, Kahlo, and Gaugain.
It’s been lovely working with Hiva who resides in Iran. Please enjoy this virtual show of her artwork.
Artist Statement — July, 2018
All my artwork is made completely impromptu. When I start to paint, I don’t know what it will be in the end. I communicate my thoughts and passions by painting.
Usually people have different reactions when looking at my paintings, which I like. I would like people to take their time in front of my art and have their own impressions.
My paintings come from my inner world, my soul and heart. I use some codes and symbols in my artwork to express my thoughts and emotions.
People ask me why I have fish in my work. Fish have a lot of meaning and interpretations. To me, fish signify the abundance of blessings in life, the flow of life with all its bitter and sweet elements, and reproduction. These themes sometimes appear with positive and sweet sides and sometimes, bitterness and protest. Fish also represent love, hope, happiness, and vitality in life, in addition to other possible meanings. In the end, I could say that fish are also a symbol of myself because I am a Pisces.
I hope that viewers experience pleasure when they see my paintings even if I am representing a problem in life. I don’t try to transfer a huge wave of sadness and despair to my audience. I think happiness and hope are the most important things in life. We need them to continue our lives with a positive attitude.
I appreciate all serious painters in the world and respect those who came before me for just one reason: I adore art—and painting, in particular. I especially love Chagall, Picasso, Dubuffet, Francis Bacon. Gauguin, and Miro. These artists and many others have worked so hard to follow their passion. Seeing artwork by all the painters I love is enjoyable and inspirational to me.
Usually I create my mixed media paintings with ink, acrylics, and pastels. I rarely use oil. The choice of materials, including paints and canvas, cardboard, or paper—depends on my emotions, my sense of subject for the work, and the result I want to create. It’s like your soul is thirsty for something and you should listen to that.
I always listen to my inner voice and emotions. I believe that painters paint to satisfy their souls.
Please feel free to leave comments expressing your impressions of my paintings and to contact me directly.
Civil engineering, Mazandaran University, 4 years, graduation date 2010
Free and private art courses date 2012‐2015
Certificate in coaching child painting and creativity, Tehran university,2018
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2.5: four variations of the same mood, and an afterthought | Miguel Escobar (poetry) and Sinaida Wolf (visual rt)
a promise to bring something home
— the middle of the ocean is
not where anything
the pleasant swell —
a consummate aphrodisiac
tattered map remnants with
points of departure many —
what is loved is not hemmed in
nor subject to aging
nor quiet, nor still
is blossoming beyond belief
or beliefs —
vine-like and hurried
the least likely answer
— the furthest premonitions
shadows of a lone figure
promise to care —
from well-placed light
to hold on
drained of most meaning
an unclassified style of cloud
you may not have known to
the truth — little more than mist,
it doesn’t run or even hide
to be asked
the right question
of grey, complicated
— there is nothing new
under the sun, meaning ever
but not that far back
somewhat watered down
a waterfall future —
clouded by passion
ones now on trial
the first year it could be said
we go back
meaning iron thread
peeking out a clearing
in the clouds
mistaken for sunlight
behind color, objects
underneath those, reasons
something like dreams
the shadow that grew
while no one watched
the thing laid bare
after so many chapters
— such comfort in numbers
sees certain senses dip in & out
when it’s all dry, the one remains
one, next life fills a vacuum
with the rhythm of train tracks
and endless scenery
by and by
buys the next conversation
one for keeps
within his head
she said the thing an intuition exists for
sound of a large coin hitting the floor
whirly birds in the sky
with no earthly use —
they’re tied to the single upward gaze
of each of a million
the dream exists
comfortable talking to herself
— go ahead
the voice a tool
the ear an antenna
the mind a sieve
life is a lark
the gun hanging on a wall
a living skyline —
repeating — just often enough
how both blow smoke
stand in for
the stark and bleak of
society’s big time
the measure of fruit ripening —
bid the good times something, anything
tilting the cut faces of a diamond
to catch light
all that we let stand in
the gun’s weight
having the nail cave
poetry, Miguel Escobar ©2018
Statement of Poetics – Miguel Escobar, June 2018
Mysterious as I might like these mysterious things to remain. . .
Robert M. Pirsig’s grand “metaphysics of quality,” as uncovered in his 1974 book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, together with the ghost of T.S. Eliot’s thought on the objective correlative in literature, how emotion is experienced in Art–both come to mind, and I believe work together, to explain my current writing process — a process of trying to discriminate and detect in, or craft into a verse object an artful taste. . . . Apply or merge that with the idea of experimentation in attempting to mimic styles of abstraction, impressionism, expressionism, surrealism — how those things might manifest in language and emanate outwards; this inside a stream of consciousness smattered with subconscious allusion or reference, even if it is only in the later discovery. . . . Is this how you come close to being able to objectify something as inherently subjective as this? Some kind of mist, smoke or invisible hand. . .
Artist Statement – Sinaida Wolf, July 2018
A rough sketch of the artist’s thoughts on her process, as described to the poet, from a very recent conversation.
The main artistic process I follow is one of layering. With digital work, as compared with painting alone, there seems to develop and manifest more of an element of surprise during the process of creation. Layers themselves are each highly individual expressions, and a relationship develops with each, between it and the artist. The surprise is felt as a sense of wonder at something new emerging from the process of layering. Patience can be said to be very much at work, as meaning is something that must be awaited, before then being able to follow or further develop that meaning, once it becomes clear enough. Concrete expression of the overall meaning is often revealed in the creation of a title or the inclusion of poetry.
Osmosis: Regarding the Influence of Sinaida Wolf’s Art on Mine – Miguel Escobar
I feel very happy and honored to share this space with Sinaida Wolf, my very close artist friend from Germany, whose works have been an influence on my art life for something over two years now. I want to share a few thoughts about that influence, since the context may be of interest when the reader is taking in and experiencing our works here.
The art of writing, like all art, stems and flows from mysterious places inside us, and staying true to that mystery, by trying to retain and reflect it in one’s art, is natural to some of us, even if it has taken a lifetime of work, or some part of it, to uncover some knowledge of that as a kind of truth, about the muse, and its process.
There has been only one work of Sinaida’s art that by itself ever moved me to write something specific, and it was, I think, because I imagined or discerned the piece of art as containing a gift. I felt moved to reflect on the piece directly, by creating a little story, as a poem, about an unusual gift being given directly to me. Interestingly, that poem has never been finished, and something about it has remained elusive to me, which I suspect is wrapped up in my own perfectionism. That particular work of hers that I associate thematically with a gift is one of the pieces I selected to include here, though my unfinished poem is not.
I mention this rather isolated artistic incident to underline the fact that the main influence her art has had on me, or mine, seems to be more of an osmosis — one of learning to work, give voice to, and trust the workings and expressions of the subconscious.
At some level, knowledge of Sinaida’s other life as a professor of art therapy, and the connection that has with psychology, made me seriously consider whether there was true, personal meaning to be searched for inside her works. Then, extrapolating that to my own writing, considering whether the same could be done with words — the creation of meaning, but by consciously trying to create and retain an abstract and impressionistic aura that might exude enigma, or mystery, and both invite and defy the discovery of meaning.
More recently I’ve begun to think, or realize, that if parts of one’s life, or psyche, needs to remain hidden, and yet there is a tension that develops because there is a natural desire to want to be open and share, then subconscious expression is a solution, and one’s art then acts as a bridge.
These particular rivers and the bridges over them operate at one level, but there is also the level of the work that is towards the perfecting of the artistic object, and operating at that level is more conscious, and in the thick of things. Both levels work in tandem as the process of creation, and may be a parallel to the kind of layering Sinaida describes as being the main feature of her artistic process.
Biographical Notes – Miguel Escobar
Miguel Escobar’s writing has appeared on-line at Luciole Press, Diaphanous Press Fall 2017 Issue, on Facebook since late 2015, in the WordPress blog community, and on MySpace circa 2007-2008. He resides in the northern California city of Sacramento, at the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers.
Miguel Escobar on facebook
Biographical notes – Sinaida Wolf
Sinaida Wolf (her artist name), German artist, studied art at the University Of Arts, Ottersberg, Germany. She has participated in various exhibitions in Germany and abroad, the last being a group exhibition: the Seoul, Korea International Photo Festival 2018, which ran 5/31 through 6/6/2018. In her other profession, she works as a professor of art therapy in Germany, teaching digital art and art therapy. She also teaches abroad in Malaysia, China and the Philippines.
Introduction by Krysia Jopek
In the summer of 2017, I had the privilege of seeing Kim (Howlett) Papa’s paintings for the first time. It was love at first sight, and I chose three of her paintings to be featured in the Fall 2017 issue of Diaphanous.
I’m drawn to her work because she paints poetry—combines sculpture with music and air; calligraphy, visual syntax, and aesthetic vocabulary; architectural space, emotional and psychological reality, and the unit of brushstroke.
I continue to be impressed by her paintings that embody her creative process. She is first-rate. Her paintings are a gift to viewers. Please enjoy eighteen of her works of art followed by her Artist Statement and bio.
Congratulations, Kim, on this amazing virtual show!
June 29, 2018
Kim’s philosophy of composition is to abstract a concept to the lowest denominator and reintroduce key images or strokes whose repetition expand upon the image. Much of her work is black and white, which she attributes to her Korean heritage—not as a conscious choice, but rather a genetic outcome. Hangul, the Korean alphabet is comprised of lines and circles; an either or; a yes or no. Kim’s art takes that and allows for variation; insists that lines are organic and circles are not static. Color is added sparingly more as punctuation.
Her art is conceptual. She began painting two years ago when it became clear to her that it was necessary to take that which she had secreted away so carefully would crumble and disappear – that she would disappear if not expressed.
Kim’s favorite artists are Henry Moore, Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, Franz Kline, Cy Twombly, Jackson Pollock, Joan Mitchell, William De Kooning, David Mankin, Struan Teague, Arshile Gorky, Gerhard Richter, Bernd Harke, Rothko, Kokichi Umezaki, Kitty Sabtier, Somluk Pantiboon, and Northwest Coast Indian art.
Kim is currently working on creating a collection of symbolic scars, which will generate into masks. It is her hope that the series will speak to a larger group of people that have survived major trauma.
Kim Papa was born in Long Beach, CA, lived in southern California for most of her life and moved to the northern part of the state 35 years ago. She lives with her husband Joe and two cats. She is the mother of two children, has four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
She has held various jobs ranging from work in a bakery, a bank, a computer company and was a graphic designer for two different state agencies. She now works for a state agency that manages diverse fish, wildlife and plant resources as well as the habitats they are dependent upon.
She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphic Design with a minor in Anthropology. She has an insatiable curiosity for language, writing systems, symbolism and masks that she used as the basis of a class she designed and taught at a northern California university.
Kim’s paintings are available for sale. If interested, email her at: email@example.com
At the end of us
we drop our manners,
don’t even stop for a proper
goodbye. Instead, we wander off
to all the places we would rather
be. We scale down to skeletons,
bare-boned, unhearted. The bodies
we were to each other lie rumpled
in a corner. We no longer need
them. Don’t know them.
They look like the yesterday
that is just about start.
from Café Crazy
Charley explains baseball to me
and how it’s about history,
game six and Gehrig and so many
stats. I tell Charley that history
hasn’t been kind to him and me,
and I remind him about the night
he hooked up with the ice cream girl,
and how I forgave him because booze
was already the other woman. Of course,
I say this only in my head. Charley stopped
listening long ago. And I think about leaving again,
and again, I think how easy life could be, how
just like the clean smack of the bat or a baseball
birding through the sky. And that’s when Charley
tells me how he could’ve gone pro. Star catcher
in the pee-wee league, and later scouted
in high school, but the damn drink hooked him
early, easy fish. He takes a deep breath
and says he’ll tell me more later, and
I settle back in for the evening, looking
at the boy that lives in Charley’s face.
from Café Crazy
Charley buys me three and even
names them – Agnes, Brunhilde, and Pearl.
I tell him flowers don’t live long enough
for names, and he just winks and says,
like love. Maybe he’s thinking our love
went nameless long ago, and these flowers
are marking its grave. No matter.
I like the aroma, the red, red fullness.
I put them in a vase, and they spread
apart, look like the top of the asterisk
I might someday put next to Charley’s
name. Yeah, it would say, he was
technically my lover, but really that
was me being broken. Later that week,
when the roses droop into the asterisk’s
bottom half, Charley says I depressed
them, especially Agnes, and couldn’t I
please be happy for once? I promise
to try harder, and when the girls finally die,
turn into rosecrumble scattered on the floor.
I sweep it up quick so no one has to see
the mess. Like love, I want to tell Charley,
almost exactly like love.
and how it’s about to ring. About to get this thing started. This thing called the workday. A part of this thing called a marriage.
So it rings, and the wife part of this thing called a marriage plops together a plate of food for the husband part. They chew and swallow in the same order. Eggs, then toast, then coffee gulp.
Then it’s the dress up part. Ties and pantyhose and who are you wearing cologne for?
Then it’s the out the door part. Kisses and mumbles and what will you do when I’m not watching?
Inside, and left behind, the kitchen fills with all their anger. It’s important not to take it out into the world. It’s important to leave it in the coffee maker, in the copper pots. It’s important not to take it to the jobs they hate more than the marriage. Important not to whisper it into the ears of their lovers. Important not to use it to drown out the alarm that will ring at some point, telling them it’s time to go home.
100 degrees, and when you ask Reynaldo what happened to his wife, he starts to zipper shut. You change the subject. “Do you like the Ferris Wheel at the amusement park?” you ask, trying to be light and funny. “They don’t let you on without a partner.”
“I killed her, okay?” Reynaldo says, his face flush behind the five o’clock shadow.
“Well, you must have had a good reason,” you say, determined to salvage the moment.
“No,” he says. “It was a ruthless act. I am almost a little proud.”
You like this about Reynaldo – his lack of melancholy and remorse. So refreshing after the bubble-wrap geeks you are used to.
Later that night, you shimmy over to the amusement park. You intend to keep this thing going and head straight for the Ferris Wheel.”
“Tell me, Reynaldo,” you say, “if I were to fall, would you try to capture me?”
You see the zipper closing again. You may have struck the wrong chord. You move up three spaces in line, and that’s when you see a young woman falling from the top of the Ferris Wheel, her legs in flowered tights forming a victory V.
“That’s how my wife died” Reynaldo says, his hand dancing near the small of your back, the thinnest film of sweat forming there, having nothing to do with July.
This is the story of 6:00 a.m. Not the 6:00 a.m. of clinking milk bottles or sun climbing the sky. This is the 6:00 a.m. of a house on fire, about to go up in smoke. You just wait.
See, this is the story of a 6:00 a.m. where you look over and love is lying next to you a stinky, rotten corpse.
The kind of 6:00 a.m. where you gotta change your address. Again.
That’ll make three times this year. Rudy always finds me. I gotta stop dropping crumbs.
It’s 6:03. I hate digital time. It just numbers your whole life away.
Not like back in Minnesota where mornings are wrapped in blankets of fresh snow. Back then, my clock had a face. I had a face.
These days, Rudy beats up my face. Welts it with big, fisty blows. I got a dime store full of makeup.
I’m grateful for the way booze chloroforms Rudy into a stupor. He’ll stay like this, but not forever. I gotta move. I gotta move slow and unnoticed as time.
I need two things. Katie and my ice skates. Katie’s my three-year-old. It’s cause of her I always leave. Rudy’s been gettin’ at her again. Oh yeah, I know. And he knows I know.
Problem is this. I need my ice skates. Back there in Minnesota, I was training for the Olympics. Spent hours each day at the rink. Trained and trained and along comes Rudy. Good-looking and such. You know. I know you know.
My skates are in the attic. Big old, musty room full of ghosts and all things banished from my pre-Rudy life. My skates were the first thing he got rid of.
Problem is it’s 6:30. Half hour before the digital begins blip-blipping it’s alarm, and Rudy fogs his way back to the surface.
I got Katie dressed and propped in a chair in the living room. She’s an angel. My half of is her winning. Thank God.
Up in the attic, I find my skates by feel. Only dark, morning light and that ain’t much. That’s okay. I’m know them anywhere.
Rudy stands in the doorway with a candle. He’s still blurred over by boozy sleep, but he looms like a monster.
“Maybe this will help.” he smirks.
I have no breath left to hold.
“Where’s Katie?” my first furious words.
“Bitch,” he says, “You bitch. You’ll never see her again.”
The candle is a missile flying out of Ruby’s hand. It misses me and starts a crown of fire. Tongues of white heat licking up the past.
From the soul of the living room, I hear Katie. She is waiting, just waiting. I work a chair against the attic door, run downstairs, and scoop Katie into my arms. I look back once, only once. My non-digital watch says 7:00 a.m. I have made it out alive.
I start up the Honda and aim myself towards the rest of my life. Meanwhile, in the upstairs window, Rudy goes out like a flame.
INTERVIEW WITH FRANCINE WITTE [most questions were conceived by the poet, what she wanted to talk about in the context of her work]
1. Do you have a particular subject you like to write about?
I like to write about love relationships, family memories, and the natural world.
2. What is the role of truth in your poems?
I try to make everything sound like the truth even though most of it never happened that way. I attempt this through throwing in enough real or detail, but the overall story is probably made up. In my book, Café Crazy, I have a running story about a person named Charley. People always ask me who he is. I tell them he’s no one in particular, but lots of pieces of people I’ve known. I don’t think people believe me.
3. Since you write both poetry and flash fiction, how do you know which form to use?
I usually decide which genre I’m going to write in. I’ll sit down and say, okay, I’m going to write a flash. I use a lot of poetic language in my flashes, but the main thing is that there is a story. A poem might or might not have a story, but a flash has to.
My process in writing flash is not that different from writing poetry. The way I approach language is always the same. I want to avoid clichés and tired phrases. I want to say something in a way that’s never been said before. That’s when I know it’s working. But there are a few differences. In poetry, you have to decide on form. Is it going to be written in long lines, short lines, couplets? The form is an important element of a poem. Couplets can undercut the seriousness of a poem, allowing too much air in. Similarly, a poem might need the air of couplets or the breeziness of very short lines. And you have to think about line breaks. A line break or a stanza break is another important moment. You don’t worry about this in prose.
Prose has its own concerns. What point of view do you use? Dialogue or no? If dialogue, do you use italics or quotation marks? How much description of a character do you need? Of course, flash is so compact that you just need a word or two to describe a character. I love compression in writing. That’s why I can’t write a novel.
4. How do other poets influence your writing?
I am very aware of voice in other people’s writing. I like to see what forms poets use. If I’m in a couplet-y mood, I might read a lot of couplet poems, just to see how they move. Also, I’m very impressed by how a poet uses language. Those things really make me think about my own voice and use of language.
5. Do you have particular journals you like to read? Why?
I like Rattle, the poems are fun and profound. I like the Southeast Review, Cloudbank, Barbaric Yawp, and South Florida Poetry Journal, among others. I like journals that publish the kinds of poems I like to write.
6. When did you start writing poetry?
I started writing when I was thirteen. Rhymes just came to me, and I liked writing them. My parents were so encouraging. I took a really long break from writing until my late twenties when I went back to college and took creative writing classes. My very first teacher was Julia Alvarez, who was great and taught me all about craft. I just kept writing and started getting published. I soon discovered poetry workshops, writing groups, and poetry readings. Now, this is a big part of my life.
7. What makes a poem good?
A good poem is both easy to understand but uses language to take the reader to another level beyond the words on the page. A good poem says what you can’t say in any other words but the words that are there, and yet your gut knows what’s being said; your inner ear hears the unspoken words.
8. How do you know when a poem is “working”
A poem that is working creates magic. This applies to poems I’m reading and writing. If a poem doesn’t go beyond the words on the page, if it doesn’t create another level of experience–it hasn’t created magic. A poem may succeed on a basic craft level. It might use metaphor or imagery correctly. That’s a good start.
9. What is the importance of going to poetry readings?
There are two types of readings. One you attend to hear a poet whom you admire. You might want to hear how their poems are presented, to see how a more accomplished poet reads and to hear their work, or simply to enjoy it. But in terms of the advantage to you as a poet, it’s the same as tennis; you only get better if you play with someone at a higher level. The other type of reading is the open mic. Open mic readings are important, so that you get reaction to your own work and develop your reading style–and to see what your peers are doing. I think it’s an important component to your life as a writer.
10. How did you feel having your book Café Crazy published?
It’s nothing less than a dream come true. I had had several chapbooks (both in poetry and flash fiction) published and was thrilled with that, but having the whole collection published was really another level of happiness. I am now trying to have the same thing happen with my flash fiction.
11. What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m working a bit more on flash fiction, but I’m still writing poetry. I really enjoy both. I’m looking to get my full-length collection of flash stories published.
12. How does reviewing influence your own writing? (You are a reviewer for South Florida Poetry Review and others on occasion)
Writing reviews allows me to analyze very closely how a collection is put together. What is the main message this collection is trying to communicate? What is the through line? Very often, when I read a book of poetry or flash, for that matter, I jump around, reading whatever appeals to me in no particular order. When I write a review, I read it front to back. I try to find what holds the poems together. Why are they in this order?, etc. I reviewed one book in which the poet kept returning to a theme, rather than grouping the poems together. I tried this technique in Café Crazy with the Charley poems, and it seemed to work better.
13. Is Facebook a good thing or a bad thing for writers?
I love Facebook. It’s given me opportunities I never would have otherwise had. I have connected with writers all over the country this way. I post my poems and people read them and comment on them. When I have a poem in a print journal, it’s very exciting, of course, but a lot of people don’t see it. If I take a photo of the poem and post it, now people see it. It also makes others aware of the journal.
14. Who are your favorite poets?
My favorite poets are George Wallace and Dorianne Laux.
15. Can you talk a little bit about your process of writing poetry and flash fiction? Is the process different for each genre or the same?
My process for writing both forms is pretty much the same. I write a half hour a day. No more. With short forms you can do this. I try to produce one new thing a day. Now, this is not to say that I come up with a good, publishable thing every day. But it’s a goal. If I work on something for more than three days, I know it isn’t working, and I might either abandon it or come back to it later. This is why I don’t write longer work. I like to keep moving. When I revise, I like to just cut a line or change a word. I don’t want to go back and look at Chapter 1 to see what I’ve missed.
I’m very receptive to prompts. I like to look at a photo or take a few random words and see what happens. I have developed a pretty good internal editor that tells me when something isn’t working. Whenever I try to slip something by, it keeps bumping around in the poem. It just look right.
16. What is the subject of your photography and why?
I walk around with my i-phone and take pictures of what I see that I want the world to see. I take photos mostly when I’m walking around Manhattan, but have gotten very interesting shots in Brooklyn and on Long Island. I am very attracted to the textures of things, the roughness of brick, the way light eats up a street. I love how trees and branches overlap and squiggle. I love the combination of trees and buildings. And I love the colors of things.
17. 14. How did you hear about Diaphanous?
I believe I saw it listed on Facebook, probably a call for submissions. I submitted, and I’m certainly glad that I did!
Francine Witte is the author of the poetry chapbooks Only, Not Only (Finishing Line Press, 2012) and First Rain (Pecan Grove Press, 2009), winner of the Pecan Grove Press competition, and the flash fiction chapbooks Cold June (Ropewalk Press), selected by Robert Olen Butler as the winner of the 2010 Thomas A. Wilhelmus Award, and The Wind Twirls Everything (MuscleHead Press). Her latest poetry chapbook, Not All Fires Burn the Same, won the 2016 Slipstream chapbook contest. Her poem “”My Dead Florida Mother Meets Gandhi” is the first prize winner of the 2015 Slippery Elm poetry award. Her full-length poetry collection, Cafe Crazy was published earlier this year by Kelsay Books. She has been nominated seven times for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry and once for Fiction. Her photographs have been published in South Florida Poetry Journal, Anti-Heroin Chic, Sourland Mountain Review, and other journals. She is an associate editor and staff poetry reviewer for South Florida Poetry Journal. She edits the weekly flash fiction column FLASH BOULEVARD on the Facebook blog, Poetrybay. https://www.facebook.com/poetrybay.1152611418123138/ A former English teacher, Francine lives in New York.0
The Lilith-feasting lamps bleed, to gather her colors for the gravity gates and the window of projectiles, the ancient wiles, raising light. A blueness among the ashes of a burnt-out illusion unravels the ape of identity, throwing black gloves and a still-warm conundrum riddled with golden spigots and invisible alarms. Nothing too serious for the weary calligrapher. A riddle for obsessive basalt and the fluorite of meaningful delights. A fable for crafting witches.
Mandragora piping, a dust-blown frame, a sputtering constellation that remembers your bodily presence as if it were only yesterday. A latent thread issuing that treason of uncommon attractions for a hidden communion, living text, a force-fed signing, in waves. The tide, face… She is a fawn-shaped, demon-quenching sister, a surrational schemer, this dawnspark and every dawnspark thereafter… dragged out into the desert to conceive.
To keep desire alive and shuddering, when the spine is bright, a starry debris. Handfuls of pollen gathered for a flash fire, outstretched by night vision of animal nature. She lowered her quails squirting pearls deep into a nameless shadow. A fierce mastery of a delicate nature to align a primal blood-gaze for the enraptured Coat of Melusine, for travel and sudden entrances. To leap. Light is the maze, darkness is an image of it…
Where the chameleon-weaver comes to fiddle with the phases of the moon… Scraping darkness off a mirror, pulling the threads of a dream from your mouth, clothing for a dance forced into déjà vu. It was deep into her eyes that drew the order and continuation of desirable proportions, extracting, polishing… spirit-bone tapping for a spark-rendering pose. The art of lunacy.
It all just comes naturally. I have no preconceived ideas when I write anything, or begin an image. Nothing visionary or trance-like, but I am always surprised by what happens in a nonlinear fashion, and transparency seems the normal point of access. Even from an early age, I couldn’t think of anything being correct without a corresponding opposite, which naturally drew me to alchemy and it’s magical resolution of opposites. Surrealism provided the necessary synthesis and the active movement of thought and being.
While I have been schooled in anthropology and photography, I am basically self-taught and have no real influences in what I do. My most favorite artists are, of course, those in and around surrealism: Yves Tanguy, Roberto Matta, Gorky, Carrington, Varo. I also find Da Vinci most curious. Favorite writers, also in and around surrealism, André Breton, early René Char, Carrington, Octavio Paz, Jacques Dupin, Alejandra Pizarnik, among others.
J. Karl Bogartte is both an artist and a poet, having been involved in international surrealism for almost 50 years. His writings and visual imagery, for all intents and purposes, is simply a means of exploration and a way of thinking and perceiving in non-traditional ways. He has published eight books of poetic texts and a bilingual novella “Antibodies.” He is co-founder of La Belle Inutile Éditions, a collective virtual press. More recently a book of his visual images, “Mythologies,” was published through Blurb books.
His writing has been included in Paraphilia Magazine, X- Peri, Peculiar Mormyrid, Analogon 65, la vertèbre et le rossignol… His most recent books are Auré, The Spindle’s Arc, And Still The Navigators…0
I thirst for water
in a paradise of fire
I am so parched
I seek the seven seas
in every grain of sand
I am too weak
to shake the date palm
so I eat
the fallen fruit
giving me visions
and last days
of the world to come
and my own death
weigh heavy upon my soul
the angels astray
revealed to me
is the opposite of
in this dreamland
I can see
I am a pile of bones
buried in a desert’s mirage
©2018 Stefan Bohdan
SMOKED A JOINT
AFRICAN ROOT SHAVINGS
AND ANGEL DUST
think I’m swallowing my tongue
think I’m having a heart attack
think I’m pissing myself
think I’m dying
think I’m not going to make it
think think think think think
think I’m thinking too much
Picasso’s sucking me off
sucking the marrow from my bone
the hemispheres of my brain
divided by a cocaine razor blade
I kissed God’s closed eyes
now I’m having visions
the sun is fucking with me
shining in my eyes
every direction my head turns
I ate her Persian triangle like a juicy pomegranate
and she loved it
images of you inside my mind
fading into bone white as skull
we have become one
life is an infinite haiku
my mind a mosaic of broken thoughts
my spinal cord is made of macrame
the geometry of my skull reveals
I’m emotionally retarded
yet a genius polymath
my slow stoned movements
an interpretative dance
of the Russian cosmonaut
floating in space
the most beautiful creature
I have ever seen
lives in the desert valley
none of this
is making any sense
I dream in haikus
nightmares of yellow butterflies
rust falling from the stars
prayers rising from my head
my tears run like watercolors
my blood circulating like tie-dye
the gay bar piano is tuning me out
music stretching and contracting without origin
moving too slow
thinking I’m moving too fast
my horizon tilting and overturning
my world spinning off axis
spinning the wrong way out of control
spinning spinning spinning spinning spinning
falling falling falling falling falling
moving in tiny increments
from God’s Breath
©2018 Stefan Bohdan
a colorful mosaic
of metallic scales and fins
reflecting golden hues
across patina-colored flesh
full of open wounds
exposing silver bones
echoing prison bars
drowned out in
a sky-blue ocean
as salty as
a wet dream
spewing syphilitic visions
from anatomically incorrect
like two dead pools
weeping gonorrhea-green lust
through worn-out glory holes
happy tears dripping down
upon you and me
sad tears dripping down
upon life and death
the floater floats above us
like a bloated corpse
dripping its incurable disease
into the contagious breeze . . .
O strange fish
the symbol of death
you make this life bittersweet!
©2018 Stefan Bohdan
chrysalis thoughts squirming
like angry wings
escaping silky dreams
my nightmare born
from God’s Breath
©2018 Stefan Bohdan
I am a self-taught author, poet, artist, draftsman, sculptor and photographer. I have no
inspiration to create, more of an internal urge to create–an urge that must be realized.
The arts I have chosen to pursue are the arts that I am not gifted in. This is the
challenge for me: to achieve success artistically–where there should have been a
failure. My latest poetry collection, God’s Breath (Alien Buddha Press, 2018), along
with all of my other poetry collections, anthologies, novellas and novels, can be found
on my Amazon author page (link below).
Favorite authors: Dostoevsky, Orwell and Rand.
Favorite poets: Hafez and Rumi.
Favorite artists: da Vinci and Picasso.
Favorite architects: Wright and Pei.
Favorite composers: Bach and Handel.
Stefan Bohdan lives in Orlando, Florida with his wife Margaret.
Stefan Bohdan was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, lived in Jamaica and Iran, and
has traveled the world. He currently lives in Central Florida with his wife Margaret and
their Giant Schnauzer, Standard Schnauzer, Mini Schnauzer, and Affenpinscher. He is
the father of five adult children: three females and two males. He is also a grandfather.
Stefan has been a construction laborer, a land/road surveyor, an estimator, a manual
draftsman, a CADD technician, a designer for state/national/international architectural
and engineering and construction firms, a licensed building contractor, and has owned
his own business designing custom homes. He has been a community college student
who received his AA degree, and is a university dropout: a former student of computer
Stefan enjoys creating abstract drawings, paintings, sculptures, and photographs. He
also enjoys writing unorthodox poetry, philosophy, screenplays, short stories, and dark
novels. Some of his favorite authors include Dostoevsky, Orwell, and Rand. He loves
collecting and reading Russian literature and dystopian novels: the older the better.
Retired from the architectural/engineering/construction world, Stefan now spends his
days and nights writing novels, off-center stories, and unorthodox poems on his iMac:
while guzzling sugary coffee nonstop and jamming and convulsing wildly to The Cure.
He is currently working on his next masterpiece.
His poems have been published in multiple books, anthologies, journals, e-zines–
and translated into Persian (Farsi), Arabic, Urdu, Nepali, Estonian, French and
Stefan can be contacted via facebook or email: StefanBohdan@yahoo.com0
Our reading period for our 2018 issue of Diaphanous is April 1 – July 1, 2018.
Please read our submission guidelines, mission statement, and first two issues of Diaphanous prior to submitting your original, unpublished work.
We look forward to viewing your art–and to reading your poetry and short fiction (under 750 words), micro-fiction (under 50 words), or hybrid writing!
SUBMISSION GUIDELINES [also posted on our website]
Please see our MISSION STATEMENT on www.diaphanouspress.com and inaugural issue of DIAPHANOUS (SPRING, 2017) before submitting work.
READING PERIOD: JULY 15 – AUGUST 31, 2017
We are unable to accept any submissions prior to July 15, 2017 but do welcome queries sent to
POETRY: Submit 2 – 5 poems (beginning a new page for each poem) in ONE Word document TITLED:
POETRY LAST NAME, FIRST NAME DIAPHANOUS FALL 2017
and a SECOND Word document with a short, third-person BIO TITLED: LAST NAME FIRST NAME POETRY BIO DIAPHANOUS FALL 2017
FICTION: Submit 2 – 5 very short fiction pieces (maximum 1000 words: flash, short shorts, micro fiction) in ONE Word document TITLED: FICTION LAST NAME FIRST NAME DIAPHANOUS FALL 2017
and a SECOND Word document with a short, third-person BIO TITLED: LAST NAME FIRST NAME FICTION BIO DIAPHANOUS FALL 2017
Please submit 2 – 5 images (a separate jpeg for each TITLED: TITLE OF WORK ARTIST LAST NAME FIRST NAME (images of original, unpublished paintings (traditional and digital), photography (traditional and digital), sculpture (traditional and digital). Minimum resolution 300wpi. Please note: we need to format in a minimum of 500 pixels for the journal.
With your submission, we need ONE Word document that lists the TITLE, ARTIST FIRST NAME, LAST NAME, MEDIA DIMENSIONS of each image submitted AND a short, third-person bio TITLED: LAST NAME FIRST NAME BIO ART DIAPHANOUS FALL 2017
MULTI-MEDIA [pieces that combine more than one visual medium): please query us first at
firstname.lastname@example.org to see if we can accommodate your submission in DIAPHANOUS (Fall, 2017)
We look forward to reading and seeing your latest and greatest, unpublished work! Thank you for your interest in Diaphanous Press.0
DIAPHANOUS PRESS: CALL FOR MANUSCRIPT SUBMISSIONS OF POETRY, NOVELLAS, & COLLECTIONS OF VERY SHORT FICTION
[THE ANGEL OF POETRY – ART BY MARK SAVAGE]
DIAPHANOUS PRESS: CALL FOR MANUSCRIPT SUBMISSIONS OF POETRY, NOVELLAS, & COLLECTIONS OF VERY SHORT FICTION
READING PERIOD: JULY 15 – AUGUST 31. 2017
WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FOR: AMAZING CONTEMPORARY LITERAY ART. Please see our MISSION STATEMENT ON THE DIAPHANOUS PRESS WEBSITE.
FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE LENGTH OF MANUSCRIPTS WE SEEK:
Wallace Stevens THE MAN WITH THE BLUE GUITAR, John Ashbery SOME TREES, Gertrude Stein TENDER BUTTONS, Michael Palmer SUN and NOTES FROM ECHO LAKE, Ann Lauterbach CLAMOR and ON A STIAR, Elizabeth Bishop QUESTIONS OF TRAVEL, Marguaritte Duras THE LOVER and TWO BY DURAS, Camus THE STRANGER, Rilke BOOK OF HOURS, SONNETS TO ORPHEUS, DUNIO ELEGIES, Neruda TWENTY LOVE SONGS AND A SONG OF DESPAIR, Calvino INVISIBLE CITIES, Tagore GITANJALI, Albom THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN, Kafka THE METAMORPHOSIS, Rosemarie [vs. husband Keith] Waldrop RELUCTANT GRAVITIES, Rabinowitz “words on the street,” Harding TINKERS, Oe A PERSONAL MATTER, Hughes [Langston not Ted] MONTAGE OF A DREAM DEFERRED, Bauby THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY, Rimbaud THE DRUNKEN BOAT, Abe WOMAN OF THE DUNES, Dosteovesky NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND, Sagan BONJOUR TRISTESSE, Baudelaire ILLUMINATIONS.
HOW TO SUBMIT:
Please submit ONE WORD DOCUMENT (Word only ) to
VERY IMPORTANT: TITLE, LAST NAME, FIRST NAME, GENRE (POETRY, NOVELLA, SHORT FICTION) MANUSCRIPT SUBMISSIONS SUMMER 2017.
Please use an 11-point font and have your Word document mimic what your book would look like should DIAPHANOUS PRESS select it for paperback publication for sale on Amazon.
YOU MUST HAVE A TABLE OF CONTENTS & PROPER PAGINATION.
POETRY 80 – 100 pages
NOVELLA 80 – 100 pages
COLLECTION OF VERY SHORT FICTION (Flash, micro-fiction, prose poetry/poetic fiction). 80 – 100 pages
Please feel free to contact us at email@example.com with any questions.
Visit our MISSION STATEMENT at www.diaphanouspress.com to learn more and our Diaphanous Press facebook page.
WE LOOK FORWARD TO READING YOUR FINEST CREATIVE WRITING.
PLEASE NOTE: We will be reading for DIAPHANOUS ISSUE 2 (FALL, 2017) September 1 – October 15, 2017.
Thank you so much for your interest in and support of Diaphanous Press.
THE ANGEL OF POETRY by MARK SAVAGE (a featured artist in DIAPHANOUS Volume 1 Issue 1)
DIAPHANOUS PRESS will be opening submissions soon for manuscripts of full-length collections of poetry–and short fiction. Our Contributing Editors will be selecting one book in the genre of Poetry and Short Fiction for paperback publication and sale on Amazon.
SPECIFIC SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR MANUSCRIPTS – FORTHCOMING SOON.
The reading period for DIAPHANOUS Volume 1 Issue 2 (Fall, 2017) will open on July 15, 2017.
I would like to thank everyone for the amazing reception of our debut issue of DIAPHANOUS.