Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Campo de’ Fiori

by Bryan Murphy

Filippo was in pretty good shape, until they burnt him.

Of course, seven years of imprisonment had taken a toll – his leg muscles had atrophied and his eyes would water in sunlight – but for a man past fifty, well, he looked as though he’d be around for years to come. And that voice: loud and level, a debater’s voice. Not to mention the man’s mind, sharp and lucid as his tongue. Ah, his tongue.  The weakest part of his whole body, the only part he couldn’t control.  Even that was healthy enough when I examined it. They brought the friar to us, to our hospital on the island in the river. Wanted to be sure he’d survive until the end of his holy inquisition. Some of his holy inquisitors looked more likely to snuff it than he did. Tortured consciences. Brought him here regularly over the years. Always me who examined him, until – Holy Father!

Yes, we talked. Mostly he talked and I listened. No, I didn’t absorb any of his heretical ideas, all that rubbish about life on other worlds. He did teach me some of his memory tricks. No, it’s not witchcraft. Believe me, I’ve seen a few witches in my time. Tell you one thing, I’ll never be able to forget him. Never forget a word he said. And he says plenty. Dominican, he is. Was. Intellectuals. Not like us plain John-of-God people. We just tend to the sick. It’s true we learn anatomy and cures, but mostly we just talk and listen to our charges. And pray for them.

So, memory and anatomy and obedience. I’ll get by with them in the secular world. Saecula saeculorum. What a world. Sixteen hundred years after Our Lord came to it. And left it. Poor, forsaken Filippo Bruno:  our Brother Giordano.


by Susie Sweetland Garay

Surely, she thinks, they will
believe that a woman
with nothing on
has nothing to hide.
That she is harmless.

But they only seem to find her
more sinister for her

Snow Falls in Kansas City

by Al Ortolani

You are sleeping when
the first flakes fall, not rising
until the paperboy swings by
in his squeaking Durango.
You have coffee in the morning,
reading yesterday’s news, drinking in
predictions of more snow.
In the afternoon you wade out
into the gray light. A calmness
descends, drifting
in swooping bales between
shut doors. Your peace, punctuated
only by crows, begins
in the belly, extends even to 87th Street
where a single taxi churns
to the edge of town.

The Visitor

by Laura Grodin

I call you the phoenix lights,
but they only see blues and reds
reflecting on crumbled soil. Nothing above but miles
of hollow air. You hover without touch,
the buzz of air pushed beneath you, floating
above a sand dune you’ve never known.

There’s something odd when I look up,
I can’t finish my cereal, the bowl in my hands
is unlike grey plates circling. Vibrations in
my slippers on the wet grass, a button undone
on my flannels, near my neck so I can open wide.
You’re coming down soon.

Flying in V’s like birds of another species,
There is a notable emptiness between earth and soil.
Tufts of air brush my cheeks, hair static.
Stricken from memory you’ll land, nestled
on moonlit craters, cracked from the constant
beating of breath.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Half Day in Moon-Tone Room

by Jacqueline Markowski

We lie together never really
knowing who's there between,
or within, or even why, but there,
in that room, moments break open
into tiny little spasms of liquid—

tears and sweat— viperous guilt.
The moment we reach the place we can't
define we are sudden. The sounds of the birds
screech in and out of the lost stillness
we've created—  here?  Where
we are least passive, least sedentary,
of all places to make one
quiet consciousness of two
racing alligators.

As the awkwardness breaths heavily
upward in the smoky room, white
walls darken like wood paneling,
pupils dilate, become round moons
absorbing each other's shine,
each other's light—
and then they are one
Vermont moon.

Gravity rakes fiercely with its waves, the feelings
that shook my nerves, offering up
to the beach (with its reject
sand castles and moldy, forgotten
beach bags) all losses of
conscientious objection,
paradoxical notions
incased in glowing antique renditions
of nature verses nurture.

Our moon rang out a silent truth,
spilling dialectics
of truth in/honesty of
emotion; a wave of premonitory
nostalgia swept us both
under the rugged, hateful tide.
I could feel it, like salt water slapping
at my ten year old back (sun-kissed,
damaged; but young skin heals nicely)
pulling at my torso
just at the moment
you hugged onto me quietly,
the man in the moon is
thinking about it, too,
you told me.

What you didn't say,
what I didn't think
ahead to was that,
inevitably, this violent, sibilant tide
will turn its sights to the next light
house, our nautical parable
interpolated amid
the skeletons and the other
forgotten jewels.

Night Town Eden

by David Mac

Black windows
Black heart
Black soul to look through
The masterpiece has changed
The painting’s not the same

Town night air swirls
Don’t know no better
Drives you crazy

Bleeding ghosts of girls
Lips like cigarettes
Smiles like stars
Rats betray the dream
We’ll never change
We’ll never get over a thing
The love of snakes
The fear of apples

We’re a force to be reckoned with
We do not stand a chance

the naked soul

by Moriah LaChapell

is a collection
of polished stones
from roadside ditches
slack rivers
and corridor forests

these stones become
encased in our viscera
until we someday decay
and some body else
finds them

Working Five-Tens at the Plant I Heard Safety Man’s Story

by Jason Braun

Juarez bound, one night he disappeared
for a week. He emerged like a baby
might, in his underwear.  His skin
shrunken and raw in the outline
of the jailhouse doorframe. His wife
bailed him out and must have know
he spent a wallet full, before selling
first his boots, then his hat, shirt
and finally the Levi’s for something
to drink and sex. They hadn’t gave
him water yet that day and his wife
didn’t stop driving until the car
was parked in their Odessa garage.
On a hot day, I think of him and drink.