Thursday, July 19, 2018

"Coalescences" by Howard Stein

Howard Stein   

It was not love at first sight --
The main theme stated outright,
Unmistakable from the start.
No, it was hardly discernable
In old-fashioned correspondence,
Letters written on stationery
And mailed across half a continent.

Themes out of the news coalesced
Of our long and busy lives
From bits and pieces of thematic material
Like the beginning of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony,
From fragments of chaos
To the full-blown subject
That could never have been guessed.

Poet's Notes:  Although this poem is about love, it is more about how much of my life seems to work. That is, no big theme that marks a beginning followed by a set of variations. I love classical music, and many composers, such as Brahms, use the theme-and-variations form. On the other hand, Sibelius is the quintessential composer who often starts with fragments and hints and builds up to a climactic statement of the theme.

This poem traces the bits-and-pieces, incremental development of a love relationship in my life. What retrospectively could be construed as inevitability felt more like a surprise when love came to full flower.  It was as if I was the last to know! The poem is about my sense of wonder of how it all happened, and how equally wonderful was the full statement of the theme.

Editor’s Note:  The classical music motif in this poem works well, particularly in the more lyrical (hence musical) parts of the piece.  That the entire piece is not lyrical fits well with the speaker's chaos theory of love if you will.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

"At The Break Of Day" by Alessio Zanelli

At The Break Of Day
Alessio Zanelli

Reverie. And consciousness.
Creativity. And acquiescence.
Heedlessly on the knife’s edge:
revelation on one side,
oblivion on the other.
So the morning’s breaking—
train of thoughts out of control,
between mechanical gestures
and voluntary movements.
liable to derail any moment.
Until the gurgle from the moka pot
and the smell of buttered toast
restore the domain of the senses.
The day has just begun,
but among the swirls of the mind
it has been continuing forever,
with no beginning and no end.
It is no use conforming,
spotting four-leaf clover in the grass,
following contrails in the sky,
placing events in a logical sequence—
what happens is,
and what is happens.
All the rest is poppycock.
Nothing can be framed into any scheme,
simple or complex whatsoever.
Not the coffee spatters off the cup 
nor the burnt slices of bread.
Nothing better left unsaid.

Poet’s Notes: Really, I wouldn’t know what to think about this one.  I hope some reader will tell me!  I can only say that it came to my mind while on the threshold between awake and asleep, not long ago, and that it’s not a metaphysical piece, not in the least! At times poets don’t know what they’re writing, they simply feel like writing exactly what’s crossing their minds. Probably, that happens to me a bit too often.

Editor’s Note:  There are three states of consciousness that are widely recognized:  awake, asleep, and hypnagogia, a twilight state that is neither quite awake or asleep.  This poem captures a bit of the hypnagogic for me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

"Aftermath" by Sierra July

"Pendant" Watercolor on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon

A pendant hung from her neck
Matching the color of his eyes
When the fire in those eyes blew out
Clutching the pendant left her hand cold
And looking at it left her empty
Like she, the faux eye lacked emotion

--Sierra July

Poet's Notes:  This poem was inspired by Violet Evergarden, an anime about the importance of expressing your emotions to the ones you love. The plot seems simple, but as a writer, it speaks to me on a personal level, as I think it would to my fellow poets and readers. Another theme the show touches on is that flowery words can be beautiful, but sometimes simple words are best, and I wanted to convey that message in this poem while paying homage to the character's emotions, or lack thereof, after losing someone to war.

Monday, July 16, 2018

"Still Life" by Yoni Hammer-Kossoy

"Forest" Watercolor on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon
Still Life

The days and weeks
are ranks of planted pines.

Sunlight buzzes 
through open canopy.

In the understory
tight fists of seed

wait in vain
for a flame's caress.

--Yoni Hammer-Kossoy 

Poet’s Notes:  I love the specificity of the word “understory”, how it gives a name to the space between a forest’s floor and the tops of its trees. Yet there’s also something mysterious evoked by the word – as if there’s always another level of understanding waiting to be discovered below the surface of something, like a walk in the forest, like a poem.

Editor’s Note:  Successful short poems such as this one are difficult to compose, as every word must count at least once.  Some, as in "flame's" in the stunning final line, may carry double duty (flame as in the sun or the actual fire that some species of evergreens require for reproduction).

Friday, July 13, 2018

"the chicken in Juanita's taco" by Ross Balcom

"Evolved" Ink and Watercolor on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon
the chicken in Juanita's taco

descendant of dinosaurs,
fallen from Cretaceous splendor
to factory farm and misery,
ending as cooked flesh 
eaten by primate 
whose nimble hands
pressed corn tortilla

--Ross Balcom

Poet's Notes: The consensus among paleontologists today is that birds are descendants of dinosaurs. Clear fossil evidence supports this view. Contrary to popular opinion, chickens are not stupid; ethologists (scientists who study non-human animal behavior) have established that these birds are quite intelligent. They no doubt suffer acutely in the horrible confines of factory farms.

Artist's Notes: This ended up looking more "Dragon Ball Z" than intended. That only really makes it better in my opinion though.