Thursday, 22 February 2018

Overstaying by JD DeHart

Lightning over St-Laurent River on a stormy night in Quebec by JP Marquis


Poets know not to overstay
their welcome.

They linger on the page for just
a while,

a quick word, a brief description,
rhyme or no rhyme.

They say what they need to say,
sometimes veiled in metaphor,

then go skipping away.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Mystery by Dragos Niculescu

Photographer not credited


She was sitting on a golden stool,
in front of the mirror,
combing her long and black hair.
I was laying in bed, behind her,
and watching her I said:
You have an army,
somewhere you have a hidden army
and all obey you without protest,
soldiers and generals alike.
You are the master of life and death,
you, the one that pretends to know nothing,
you are able to rule the most bloody wars,
and all those soldiers are happy
to fall with the foreheads to the ground
at the smallest sign of your finger,
you, who betray yourself so little,
so as the world around you sees in you
the same beautiful child of drunkenness and despair.
Beautiful, that comb absent,
you are the great master
of a hidden army.

*****

Dragoş Niculescu is awarded in many national and international literary contests, his poems being published by many important Romanian and from abroad cultural magazines. He figures among the fifty most important contemporary Romanian poets (NOESIS Cultural Society’s Anthology, 2001). He has published until present three poetry volumes and he has in print four poetry volumes and one drama volume. He is also literary critic and cultural editor. 
He is an active presence at the book fairs and literary circles of the Writers Union of Romania.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Unmapping by Megan Mealor

World Globe by Joanne Hevel ca. 1696. Photographer Rosario Fiore


we finished in callous calligraphy
what we never felt the need to do
heart to heart
fire to frenzy to fracture
there were vast, luscious moments
we will remember in
agave Antigua whispers
Bavarian bread crumbs
winter-capped Norse summits
bleeding blue lyrics on Baltic beaches
crawling through granite and Greenland
deflowering Irish violet lullabies and
English rose sonnets in our shrieking wake
you manifested the anonymous almond shores
where I will one day overture my soul
these posturing postcards
will be our postscripts
those Nova Scotia steamship whitetips
our final coup de grâce

                                                                      First published in Sick Lit Magazine, February2017

*****

Megan Denese Mealor spins words into wares in Jacksonville, Florida, where she lives in imperfect harmony with her partner and son. Her work has appeared most recently or is forthcoming in Literally StoriesThe Ekphrastic ReviewLiquid ImaginationNeologism Poetry JournalFormer People, HaikuniverseDanse MacabreDegenerates: Voices for Peace, Right Hand PointingClockwise Cat, and Third Wednesday

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Dancing Became Poetry by Donal Mahoney

Celtic Choice (by Fays) Irish ghillies

It’s called the “Feis," a Gaelic word pronounced “fesh.” It’s a dance contest held annually in different cities in the United States. It’s the “Super Bowl” for young Irish step-dancers. When I competed in the Feis back in the Fifties, there were dancers there from the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland and other countries. They took planes, trains and buses to get there to compete, usually in a stadium or some other large venue.

The best Irish fiddlers provided the music. The judges were old men, retired dancers themselves, serious as clerics, sitting in trios at scoring tables in front of the platforms where the contestants competed.

The audience sat in the stands or on folding chairs out on the field near the dance platforms. They chatted when there was no music but were silent during the competition. All you could hear then was the beat of the feet and the fiddlers playing their hearts out.

The Feis began with the various solo dancing contests--reels, jigs, and hornpipes. Toward the end of the day, teams of dancers, male and female couples, competed in the three-hand reel, six-hand reel and the eight-hand jig. This was a serious competition. Dancers practiced all year, hoping to take home trophies and medals.

In 1956 I was 18 and had been dancing competitively for at least 10 years. I started taking lessons early in grammar school to please my father who had emigrated to Chicago from Ireland. In his part of Ireland, step-dancing was at least a sport if not a religion.

In the United States it was mostly girls who took Irish dancing. But my sister, try as she might, was unable to do it.

I happened to be in the basement the afternoon my father, once a fine dancer himself, tried to teach her the first step of the reel. To show her up, as brothers are sometimes wont to do, I danced the first step perfectly, just by watching my father do it, and from that moment on, I had to take Irish dancing lessons.

I can still hear him—after he saw me do the step my sister could not do--hollering up the basement stairs to my mother.

“Molly, he’s got it!”

I was in fourth grade then and danced competitively until the age of 21. Over the years I had come to love the music, the intricate footwork and the competition. And it didn’t hurt that the footwork helped in playing basketball.

From my father’s point of view, the goal of Irish dancing was two-fold—perfection, in that the feet were not to miss a beat, and victory, in that not a contest was to be lost.

Life being what it is, he was often disappointed.

The interesting thing is that the music of Irish reels, jigs, hornpipes instantly appealed to me. I felt it in my whole body right from the start even if I didn’t like all the practice time involved, time I would rather have spent playing ball.

The teacher, a man also from Ireland, not far from my father’s hometown, was a former boxer as was my father. Needless to say, they were of like mind. So we children had to train for a dancing contest as if for a championship fight or close to it. A lesson might take half an hour followed by two hours of practice. And there was no air-conditioning back then except in movie theaters.

It just so happened that in my class we had four boys, all the same age, myself included. We grew up together, dancing every year in contests when not playing ball or doing other things boys normally do.

In Irish dancing, boys were a rarity. No other dancing school had four boys so they could not field a “real” eight-hand jig, as it was called, with four boys and four girls. Most schools had eight girls in their eight-hand jig. But without boys, an all-girls team in 1956 probably lost points on optics alone if nothing else.

We had four boy/girl couples and we had been dancing as a team for years by the time the contest at Fordham University rolled around in 1956.

We figured we’d take the train to New York from Chicago and whip every team we competed against, no matter what state or country they were from. After all, we had beaten all the other teams from other Irish dancing schools in Chicago and some other mid-western cities.

That year the Feis was held in the August heat in Fordham's stadium and our eight-hand jig beat everybody, as we thought, except for an “old team” (four couples in their 30s) from Ireland we knew nothing about. 

We had seen them the night before in an Irish pub where fiddlers played nonstop the best of Irish music and everyone was dancing and hollering the way the Irish do when properly lubricated.

The four “old” men on the Irish eight-hand jig team had been drinking a bit, shall we say, and dancing with girls from other teams, including ours. And they were still dancing, finally with their own partners, long after our team had gone to our hotel rooms to get some sleep for the competition the next day.

But after watching that Irish team dance for fun in the pub that night, I realized that when the right feet were involved, dancing could be poetry.

Although the “old” Irish team had been drinking all night, they had sobered up by noon the next day when the competition began. We were dancing to win and they were still dancing for fun. We didn’t miss a beat and they didn’t either but they had literally an extra hop in their step, a leap if you will, that we had never seen.

What’s more, they smiled when they danced and demonstrated an unaffected grace.

In contrast, our team of boys and girls looked as serious as novices from a seminary and convent. We were kids trying hard and they were adult dancers having a wonderful time. They took the trophy and gold medals back to Ireland and we took our silver medals back to Chicago.

We had been trounced and we knew it. And there was nothing we could have done, before or after the contest, to beat that Irish team.

I can still see one of the men I had first seen in the pub the night before. He was as bald as the balls on the pool table and wore an Irish kilt. But that man could dance. He didn’t miss a beat, drunk or sober. His feet on the floor sounded like iambic pentameter with a little thunder added here and there for emphasis, especially at the end. 

Reels, jigs and hornpipes are still in my blood although it has been decades since I danced, for fun or competitively. When I hear the music now, I sometimes am moved almost to tears. It's the only music that ever really got to me.

That was a long time ago but every once in a while I wish I were young enough to get up on that platform at Fordham University and dance again, compete again, and then I remember that bald Irishman in his kilt and I know that once again I’d be taking home a silver medal.

Dancing for fun beats dancing to win. I learned that in 1956 watching a team from Ireland leap and not miss a beat as the fiddlers played their hearts out. The three judges knew the winners as soon as they saw that Irish team. They knew, in the heat of that August day, they had seen dancing suddenly become poetry.

*****

Long ago Donal Mahoney became an Irish dancer simply because the music was in his blood from birth apparently and his father discovered he could do the difficult steps. Music otherwise has never moved Mahoney except for hearing Frank Sinatra sing “Moonlight in Vermont” and just about anything else. One of many nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had poetry and fiction appear in various publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Cave Art by Megan Denese Mealor

A man being hunted by a beast, Bhimbetka Cave paintings
Photography by Raveesh Vyas

the runes remembered
this cliff face charnel house
harboring celibate snakes
feral pirates eroded by waterfalls
a porous pottery tomb
enameled with windows and reflection
arsenical bronze atonement
work-weary malachite odes
paleolithic princes chiseled
and chiding in charcoal
red ochre epochs outlined
with torch marks and eventide
megafauna manganese
bellowings of bison bones
whittled wartimes and reindeer relics
embroidered clashes with the sea
hematite harlots inciting
horseback holocausts
the extinction of aweless echoes
within this null necropolis
within this elegiac eve

                                                                            Published in Zombie Logic Review, July 2017

*****

Megan Denese Mealor spins words into wares in Jacksonville, Florida, where she lives in imperfect harmony with her partner and son. Her work has appeared most recently or is forthcoming in Literally Stories, The Ekphrastic Review, Liquid Imagination, Neologism Poetry Journal, Former People, Haikuniverse, Danse Macabre, Degenerates: Voices for Peace, Right Hand Pointing, Clockwise Cat, and Third Wednesday


Sunday, 5 November 2017

Killing the Brown Snake by John Grey

Western Brown Snake
By Andy (originally posted to Flickr as Western Brown)
via Wikimedia Commons


It was a hot summer’s day
and my father killed a snake,
smashed its head
with a shovel,
as two foot of brown body slithered
this way and that
as it lost all connection to its brain.

I wanted to bury the reptile
but he tossed it
into the woods behind the house
where the ants could make a meal of it
as it decomposed in the searing weather.

I checked it out later
when the insects had already moved in,
got close up with venomous fangs,
a flattened forked tongue.

“If one of them bites you,” my father said,
“you’d get very sick.”
He didn’t mention death
but, even at the age of eight,
the implication didn’t escape me.

I shuddered as I stood there.
imagining the snake
coiled around my body,
piercing my legs, my arms, my chest,
with those vampire teeth,
flooding my body with enough toxin
to drop me like a rifle shot.

But, that day,
the snake was the unfortunate boy,
my father was the viper.
I was just an ant
nibbling with my curious eyes.

*****

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident in Providence RI. Recently published in the Psaltery and Lyre.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Africa by Mitchell Grabois

Ebola virus by NIAID

I’m starving myself to death. I have quit my position in the Obese Liberation Army. I am a Deserter. I no longer eat desserts. I go from supermarket to supermarket, sabotaging ice cream freezers. The aisles are a soupy mess, but before the store managers have realized what’s happened, I am long gone.

Cheryl dreamed she was playing scrabble. She put down the word ‘zulu’ for thirty-two points. When she awoke, she lay in bed, her limbs sore, and heard the newspaper skid across her porch. She went to get it, barefoot, in her nightgown. Coolness announced that winter was coming. She bent to pick up the paper and the giant headline glared at her: Africans Extinct. Overnight a mutation of Ebola had killed them all.

Once the stench of the dead cleared, Cheryl realized, there would be vast resources to exploit, new countries to found and populate, with new, white Africans. Maybe, to dispel the bad luck, they would burn sage for weeks or months and rename the continent. She went to pack her bag. It would be like the Oklahoma Land Rush—the first to arrive would get the choice chunks of spiced goat meat.

*****

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over twelve-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including BEAKFUL. He has been nominated for numerous prizes.  His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. To see more of his work, google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver.