Two Poems by Robert Knox

The Leaf Washers

“The plants eat light.” From Michael Pollan’s “How Smart are Plants?” in the New Yorker

 

Yesterday we washed the leaves

Today they salute us

Reaching out, waving their storybook lives

Like the pages of a book

Fluttering long fingers

Beckoning, or speaking the gesture language

Heavier creatures invent upon their fingers

They pulse their high wire stories through the air waves

 

The leaves live in the air, the air is home, shelter, food for them

The current of breath that fills my senses

Orders time for the dance of the hours

The leaves make time for us, filtering the world

The minutes emerge from pores and make sense for us,

Slow as the waves of the world

They save the voices of the children

They lie still before the whine of the engines

To still them is to deafen the magic

They droop like ears silenced by the humdrum of machines

They turn the salutes of the hours into triumphs of air

They sluice and filter the music of the world

They are the companionate senses of the wild green earth,

A bowering neighbor,

A grotto of tuned and tasted pleasure, pre-digested by fertility,

A porous protection, a second self

They guide the sun to my temple

I am—we are—within the village of the world,

Inside temples among the jungled cities

The leaves salute our fellow travelers in their journeys through the sky

As friends, superiors in life, elders, survivors of earlier days

They know where they situate is all the world

They mediate the base of things, the fundamentals,

Molecules, waves, atoms, energy-matter—the rain in Piccadilly,

The fountains of Beirut, the voices of the stars

 

 

 

As A Tree

 

 

Tannish tassels smudging the plants,

bedecking leaves like off-color tinsel,

a plague of dust tarnishing the green.

Mannish flowers these, gifts of the oak,

a thing made all of secrets.

You never see it sleep, or shout, or breathe, or blow, or natter

or rumble, or do anything.

The wind “does.” The birds leap and shout.

Leaves appear. Branches fall.

Catkins parachute softly in the spring,

a daring raid behind enemy lines; success assured by numbers.

The oak is ever that which is, not that which shows

in its becoming.

It is always being a tree.

Surely we all have heard this moralized explanation of “giving”—

these theatrically magical seeds

these time-lapse photographs of “stages”:

the seedling with the corny hat, a sproutling, a slender sapling (like a boy with a bat),

branches that shoot outward like crosses

held against the terrors of a world of fire, seething winds, clinging ice,

quaking thunder, shaking earth.

Time passes through the tree.

It perseveres in thereness, wise in the way of treeing.

We encounter, witness, regard, visit,

become what we will, in our endless evolutions.

The oak always was what it will be

whenever I behold it:  then is now.

 

 

 

 

Robert Knox is a Boston Globe correspondent, a poet and fiction writer, and the author of a recently published novel based on the Sacco and Vanzetti case, Suosso’s Lane. As a contributing editor for the online poetry journal, Verse-Virtual, his poems appear regularly on that site. They have also appeared in Every Day Poet, Off The Coast, Houseboat, Yellow Chair Review and other journals. His chapbook Gardeners Do It With Their Hands Dirty (Finishing Line Press) was published in May 2017.

A Poem by Jamie Lynn Heller

An Entire Life

 

There’s nothing like

 

going through Great Aunt Priscilla’s house

after hospice has removed its equipment

and you’ve donated the wheel chair,

found the walker, flushed the pills,

debated what to do with an opened package

of adult diapers and her prosthetic breasts,

opened the blinds and windows to let in light and air,

found her old set of dentures,

her package of hearing aid batteries,

her crazy beaded chain attached to her reading glasses,

 

and

 

discovering a

lacy red nightgown,

stuffed in the back of a drawer,

in a style a couple of decades old,

a couple of sizes too small,

 

to remind you of

her life

before

 

 

 

“An Entire Life” first appeared in Kansas City Voices: A Periodical of Writing and Art.

 

 

 

Jamie Lynn Heller uses poetry as her caffeine.  She is a Pushcart Prize nominee (Little Balkans Review 2014) and Best of the Net nominee (805 Lit + Art 2016). Her chapbook Domesticated was published in 2015 (Finishing Line Press). She received honorable mention awards in Whispering Prairie Press Writing Contest 2012, and Kansas Voices Contest 2017, 2011. For a complete list of publications see jamielynnheller.blogspot.com.

A Poem by Vincent Francone

Mud

 

Last night we painted our faces

with mud

to tighten the skin and remove dirt from pores.

We sat the required ten minutes

you with the dog

me with a drink

then washed our faces, looked over the results:

My god, the years are erased!

We never met, we never ate pizza, drank wine

in Lisbon,

ate oysters in Mexico and in New Orleans

before beignets,

got lost on our bicycles, played rummy in a bus station,

played hooky from work,

caught a midday movie, snuck into another,

walked San Francisco,

walked the

Champs-Élysées,

cried for days on end, got caught in the rain,

overslept and lied our way out of obligation,

watched so much TV we fell back asleep

and forgot to feed the cat,

ate take out food, made a snack at 2:00 AM

got drunk in the afternoon

you on wine

me on scotch

and walked until we sweat alcohol;

we never burned food because we forgot

it was cooking

or wasted all our money or gave away our clothes

or watched your nephew grow up

or drove through Chicago for hours

because

we couldn’t stand the apartment,

and we never kissed, laughed, never teased each other,

you never told me I steal the covers,

we never said the three words

much less the two,

we never broke a promise or bought flowers

or wrote poems or replaced the shabby coats

and shoes; we never tolerated the other’s

bad breath or prostrated at the feet

of our odd bodies, we never

subsisited off peanut butter sandwiches

and fretted over back accounts

or asked the other to read an email

before we sent it, or to borrow

money until payday

or trust each other

with each other.

None of it! We got the years back.

Lucky us.

 

 

“Mud” first appeared in The Penn Review.

 

 

 

Vincent Francone is a writer from Chicago whose memoir, Like a Dog, was published in the fall of 2015. He won first place in the 2009 Illinois Emerging Writers Competition (Gwendolyn Brooks Award) and is at work on a collection of poems and stories. Visit www.vincentfrancone.com to read his work or say hi.

A Poem by Rosalie Sanara Petrouske

Burnt

 

Everything withered, the pear flowers

shriveled like onion leaves.

The grass beneath my bare heels

crackles as if I were stepping

on sheaves of dried corn.

My prize lily, blooming madly in June,

when the fireflies dipped

into its abundant petals

has wilted to a few crumpled leaves,

an emaciated stalk.

Rain, rain,

the blue jay screeches.

Rain whispers

the willow,

even the river is too low

to paddle.

I am grateful for the moths

thumping at the midnight pane,

for the night-flying bat.

I almost hear the earth

absorbing darkness,

the distant whistle as the train

clatters over the bridge,

trusses creaking and swaying

beneath its weight.

No breath of wind stirs a leaf.

Dry, so dry,

my mouth

thirsts for a drink,

my lips

hurt,

sore and waiting

for the kiss of water,

and my heart beats

fast and hard.

I feel it sear

with all the longing,

all the want

of a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

Rosalie Sanara Petrouske received her M.A. in English and Writing from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan.  She is an Adjunct Professor in the English Department at Lansing Community College, where she currently teaches Freshman Composition and Creative writing classes.  Finishing Line Press published her second book of poems What We Keep in 2016.  She wrote the poem “Burnt” about an unusual long and hot Michigan summer, but it’s also about want, and about the things you might want, and never have.

A Poem by Barbara Knott

LUNA MOTHS

 

I stand at my front door waving goodbye to you.
It is still morning, the light above the door
still on, and as you drive away

my one foot follows the other down three steps
as if I might catch you
until I catch myself and turn and see

there on the door frame
two Luna Moths side by side in a green glide
wing tips touching when they stop to rest

and to arrest my eye
and say
in their lovely soundless way:

Hasten slowly through your life.
Lose no part of this miraculous
luna green morning.

 

 

 

In 2009 Barbara Knott’s poem “Boxwood” was selected by Judge Nikki Giovanni as first-prize winner of the New Millennium Writings Awards 28 prize for poetry. In 2010 Francois Camoin chose her short story “Song of the Goatman” as third-prize winner in the Writers at Work fiction competition. Barbara’s chapbook of poems Soul Mining was published in 2011 by Finishing Line Press. Another chapbook, MANTA Poems, came out in March 2015, also published by Finishing Line Press. Her short story “The Legend of Abigail Jones” received first prize in the wild card category of Atlanta Writers Club’s Spring 2014 competitions. Barbara was selected with a group of poets to represent FLP as readers at the Abroad Writers’ Conference in Dublin, December 2015.

She has a Ph.D from New York University’s drama therapy program. While in New York, she studied acting with William Hickey at the Herbert Berghof Studio in Greenwich Village and did extensive work in theater and in Montessori education for pre-schoolers. On her return to Atlanta, she became co-director of the Center for Archetypal Studies and served terms as program chair and then president of the C. G. Jung Society while practicing therapy for five years before entering a fulltime teaching career in English and humanities. Now retired, she gives full attention to writing and collaborative arts performances and to editing and publishing The Grapevine Art and Soul Salon, online literary/art journal at http://www.grapevineartandsoulsalon.com.

A Poem by Annette Langlois Grunseth

When Your Child Comes Out

 

I often think of the day you were born when
I held my sweet boy for the first time,
marveling where did you come from?
It’s a lot to take in, when your child comes out.

As I go upstairs to bed I stare at old photos in the hall,
your short-cropped hair, striped shirt, toddler jeans,
that little-boy smile. I walk past you in a suit and tie for
graduation. At Christmas tears still well up as
my fingers trace the “old” name on the stocking.
It’s a lot to take in, when your child comes out.

But now you walk with confidence,
meet new people with ease,
get together with women friends.
Your skin is soft like pink on a peach,
your blue eyes sparkle, your child-like humor has returned
and your familiar expressions are back.

You are the same person
only now that doubting discord is gone.
You live through yourself, instead of beside yourself.

You are the daughter I always wanted.

 

 

 

 

Annette Langlois Grunseth has a BA in Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a lifetime member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. Her poems have appeared in Wisconsin Academy Review, Midwest Prairie Review, SOUNDINGS: Door County in Poetry, The Poetry Box/Poeming Pigeons, The Ariel Anthology and other publications. Several of her nature poems were set to original music and performed at Acadia University in Nova Scotia. She is retired from a career in Marketing and Public Relations and lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with her husband John, where they both advocate for equal rights. She is the author of Becoming Trans-Parent, One Family’s Journey of Gender Transition (Finishing Line Press).

After the surprise of learning about their oldest child’s transition, Annette and her husband, John, offered immediate and unconditional love which has taken their family on an amazing journey of understanding, empathy and acceptance. Annette shares her poetry as a way to increase awareness, one audience at a time. To know someone first hand dealing with gender transition is to dispel myths and stereotypes about gender identity. John, a retired human resources professional, stays on top of employment, healthcare and human rights law. Together they tackle the issues essential to their daughter and other LBGTQIA citizens. Annette is also an avid outdoors woman who enjoys kayaking, bicycling, camping and exploring our national parks.

A Poem by Carol Dorf

On Definitions

 

With all the ways time loops in the quantum

foam definitions slide away. Her mother

could have said “a life defined by sorrow”

but it might have been sparrows or tomorrow

which is a problem when tomorrow loops

around today. Her physics teacher would

have said “don’t confuse your quantum world

with your mechanical space — no one

hoists anvils under an imaging machine.”

 

Though isn’t that the point: there is “no one”

on that infinitesimal scale so

we define life in the particle zoo:

Quarks — up and down bottom and strange

Leptons — neutrino, electron muon and tau

 

Imagine the first instants of the universe

where light and gravity interact

in long waves, when metaphors turn

upon themselves before they intersect

in hyperbolic geometries.

 

 

(From Theory Headed Dragon — first published in Antiphon/republished in Scientific American.)

 

 

 

Carol Dorf has two chapbooks available, Some Years Ask, (Moria Press) and Theory Headed Dragon, (Finishing Line Press.) Her poetry appears in E-ratio, Great Weather For Media, Glint, Slipstream, Sin Fronteras, Surreal Poetics, About Place, The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, Scientific American, and Maintenant. She is poetry editor of Talking Writing and teaches mathematics in Berkeley.

Visit talkingwriting.com

A Poem by Cecilia Martinez-Gil

Prewriting Exercise: fountain of ink

 

Fountain of ink

does not ploy deceptions, no.

Pen surges to create illusions,

so play in them, within,

dance at their beat

script your own scenes

enable yourself to animate infinity

in this timed timely second

within the utopian frame of these pages

where poems read your delights and my sins

without tricking the reader not to believe

without misleading the writer not to relive.

As words and writers and readers meet

in the promise and the pledge

the oath supped under our tongues

as poems swallow you

as you feast in your echo of my own patois

Cuming to Live

Coming to Life

Spoken verb

While this story becomes verve that thrives.

 

 

From a fix of ink ©Cecilia Martinez-Gil

(Finishing Line Press)

 

 

Cecilia Martinez-Gil is a poet, writer, translator, and former journalist. She has published two full- length poetry collections a fix of ink and Psaltery and Serpentines, and co-wrote the award-winning experimental video Itinerarios. Her poetry has been chosen finalist for the ForeWord Reviews’ Book of the Year Award, finalist in the USA National Best Books Award and Runner-Up for the Los Angeles Book Festival Award. Her poems have been published on Levure Littéraire, in Voices, A Santa Monica Women’s College Publication, Anthology of Latin American Writers in Los Angeles, Imaginarias: Antología de Poesía, and in her first chapbook Muecas de Fósforo. Her work as a journalist has been published in magazines and newspapers, in both Spanish and English. She has a B.A. in Comparative Literature, and two M.A.s, in Hispanic Languages and Literatures, and in English and Creative Writing. This fall, Cecilia will begin studies at Antioch University, pursuing a dual degree, an M.A. in Urban Sustainability combined with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. She teaches English and Latin American Literatures at Santa Monica College.

Learn more at www.ceciliamartinezgil.com

A poem from a fix of ink “Tranströmer’s Transmutations” Poetry (Martinez-Gil) Music (Barilari) Video (Jones)

Direct link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xg1ov-qiD4

Two Poems by Robert West

On Balance

 

A deeply
flawed person

you flail
fail

and fall

but stay
more or less
happy

to be
a person

at all

 

 

LATE

“Are you able to turn off thinking about work
in order to get an adequate amount of sleep?”
Psychology Today

It’s true I’m tired.
What else to say?
And uninspired,
it’s true: I’m tired.
And yet required
you, triolet.
It’s true I’m tired.
What else to say?

 

 

 

“Late” first appeared in The Bluestone Review.

 

 

 

 

 

Robert West’s chapbook Convalescent was published by Finishing Line Press in 2011. He’s co-editor of Succinct: The Broadstone Anthology of Short Poems (Broadstone Books, 2013) and editor of The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons, forthcoming in two volumes from W. W. Norton this fall. He teaches at Mississippi State University.

Learn more about Robert West at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/robert-west

A Poem by Donna Wolf-Palacio

Two If By Sea

 

1

Today, a man of no inspiring grace stands on a ship.

The visor of his cap covers his eyes.

This man is the emperor of big.

2

In 1775, a man on a horse says to his friend, “One if by land,

two if by sea,” points to the belfry arch of the North Church tower.

He silently rows to the Charlestown shore.

Hovering, phantom ship, huge black hulk, magnified

by its reflection in the tide.

His friend climbs the wooden stairs of the tower.

The man on the opposite side

sees two lamps in the North Church tower,

mounts his horse, rides through village and farm

to Lexington and Concord.

3

So who is who and what is what?

Can the Mystic River foresee the dimming of the light

and how it will rise in that land of mountains?

 

 

Donna Wolf-Palacio is author of What I Don’t Know and The Other Side, published by Finishing Line Press. She taught a poetry workshop at the University of the Arts and was editor/consultant of the UARTS Poetry Review. She has published her writing in Poetry, The Pennsylvania Gazette, The MusehouseJournal, Intro, The Interpreter, Poems ftom the Heart: Poems about Adoption, and Voices.

She has received grants from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the Leeway Foundation, and the Pennsyvania Council for the Arts.

Donna’s new collection STEP LIGHTLY is available for preorder at https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/step-lightly-by-donna-wolf-palacio/