I could write 100 letters of introduction for issues of The New Poet. I could find 200 poets and poems to source lines from to make some case on the everlasting appeal of poetry. I could write about 300 mundane tasks that somehow relate to where poems percolate from. But, at some point, the wheel of introductions would come back to where it started, and we'd be looking at the same spokes again.
Or, we can borrow a statement from Gibson Fay-LeBlanc's interview, the first featured interview in The New Poet:
"There’s nothing like the way a poem can grab you by the shirt collar and make you listen to it. A poem creates its own world, and we have to participate in that world—feel it in our bodies, taste it in our mouths, and add our own brains and hearts to it—for the poem to work. There are probably times when other kinds of great literature can make something similar happen, but a good poem has it in its DNA."
Happy New Year, everyone. And welcome to Issue 4 of The New Poet.
Celebration as it Rains
Each Monday makes its claim
on what is left. A birthday,
slips through the rain, a hum,
a chorus dressed in honest blue.
in rooms with many chairs, reveal
the glisten of wetness on the street.
the bravery of trees, celebration,
without wish or candles.
startle the branches into wings.
Pavements become softer, small
sported by surfers. Listen,
you can hear the wind, or
calling you. Umbrellas fashion
many-colored ways of saying
Peggy Aylsworth is a retired psychotherapist, living in Santa Monica, CA. Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals throughout the U.S. and abroad, including Beloit Poetry Journal, The MacGuffin, Poetry Salzburg Review. Her work was nominated for the 2012 Pushcart Prize by The Medulla Review.
Four Seasonal Walks
Between spring rains, I scout the blocks
Of Belmont, full of trees in bloom:
White dogwood, jolt of redbud,
Ruffle of cherry.
Peonies nod and bearded iris,
Taciturn neighbors in scented lace.
Droplets sparkle on leaves,
Light is liquid.
Thunder approaches from the west.
The sofa beckons, floral carpet,
Landscape in a gilded frame,
A tattered book.
A white cat walks the top rail
Of a wooden fence at dusk,
Meets me at the sidewalk,
Puts one paw on my shoulder,
And licks my nose by way of a kiss,
Sharing its fishy breath.
“Is this your yard, my beauty?”
The cat jumps to the ground
And rolls in the dust at my feet.
All this takes place in summer,
On Douglas Avenue, I swear,
The yellow moon my witness.
Leaves turn to flame, a wind starts up,
Birds cry on the wing, and biblical tales
Of fire and voices midair
Sound perfectly banal.
Camera-mad, I stalk the sun
On red brick walls, equestrian bronze,
Columns of pure white marble,
The ache of azure sky.
Past and future meet in dreams,
And who can tell the difference?
Flesh withers overnight,
Like plants stricken by frost.
The taste of snow is sharp,
However innocent it looks,
Knees sinking down on velvet like
Volcanic ash gone pious.
Day hardly registers,
Cloud-wrapped and sleepy, measureless
As caverns under Xanadu,
And worldview fades to whitescreen.
How chic to be alone,
Dressed in old rags, without a soul,
Eager to wander barefoot through
Fresh-fallen snow by starlight.
Robert Boucheron is an architect in Charlottesville, Virginia. He writes on housing, home improvement, communities, gardens, electric motorcycles, and love gone wrong. His work appears in Blue Lake Review, Cerise Press, Cossack Review, Dark Matter, Heavy Feather Review, Mouse Tales Press, New England Review, Niche, Piedmont Virginian, Rider, Streetlight, Talking Writing, 34th Parallel, Virginia Business, and Zodiac Review. Visit boucheronarch.com.
The Surface of Saturn
I was small, like everyone, when I first noticed it.
I thought every living being was the planet Saturn.
It was how I made sense of language
by realizing that the planet was one thing,
but the rings were quite another,
and the distance between the two
could hold a thousand galaxies.
I learned to be a bilingual astronomer,
translating first the actual spoken words
that emerged from the throat and hovered
in the air like intergalactic helium balloons.
Soon they would float away and mean nothing.
But the surface of Saturn, the subtle bedrock shifts
and atmospheric conditions of its planetary body
stayed with me, and I remember to this day
who really loved me and who didn't.
Donelle Dreese is the author of A Wild Turn (Finishing Line Press), and Looking for a Sunday Afternoon (Pudding House Publications). Her poetry and fiction have appeared in publications such as Quiddity International, Hospital Drive, Appalachian Heritage, Runes, Gulf Stream Magazine, Journal of Microliterature, Gadfly Online, and ISLE. She is an Associate Professor of English at Northern Kentucky University.
To My Heart
I will put you through the paces
with a second afternoon espresso
and a Camel on its back, then hump it
up the wooded battlements that wind
to seven startled church bells on the way
to gasp again the harbor air from high
above. And if you come to work
tomorrow, more strange coast to climb –
tomorrow, more surprises, efforts, salts
and oils – tomorrow and tomorrow,
long repentant jogs and bracing baths,
love and its lulls, wine and its dregs.
I’ll sail you like the sea that gapes
and narrows, all year sunstruck with
pretending there is nothing but your warm
enormity, nowhere but moon to run aground.
Noah Kucij’s work appears or is forthcoming in 32 Poems, Arc, StepAway, The Cortland Review, and elsewhere. He teaches at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, NY.
This I call home.
The sound of tides wrangling through
an ocean, or the sound of chimes above
a wreckage in the middle of nowhere,
the sound stirs you like a name
you cannot remember.
Whether it moves air or air moves it,
moves as the emptiness in a dark room
moves against the crawl of now.
I imagine all the prayers
swept under the pews where
the sermon is served on a blank piece of bread.
And my mother, bathed
in the spectral lines of a hydrogen atom
finds the noose seductive
like that single blush of rain
in a hanging sky.
I remember her naked in her bedroom,
putting on mascara, the smell of sex
was everywhere and I
at eleven would periodically hold my breath.
While now, I push the limits
of one more glass,
I say for sleep,
of wine, my mother’s limitless dream
to perfect that imperfection—
to slowly and promiscuously breathe in
the exhalation of disaster.
I would drag all of the Atlantic
to find her corpse,
scour an entire ocean to drag
to the surface her lifeless body
just to breathe a sigh of relief
that it is not my own.
Kelly Michels received her MFA from North Carolina State University. Her poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2012, Nimrod, Ruminate, The Medulla Review, Blue Fifth Review, Mad Poets Review, From the Depths, among others. Her chapbook, Mother and Child with Flowers, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.
Why I Don’t Set the Clock on My Car
The clock on my Honda
has been wrong for years,
from leaving on the lights.
Each time I am jumpstarted
the digital display is derelict
and my kids and I learn
to tell time by subtraction,
pretending that we exist
in other times and places:
wind jousting yellow cars,
dinosaurs asleep as hilltops,
songs rephrased as questions.
Time has been a ghost
since the split of houses,
the miasma of not knowing
all the laughter and tears.
There was one battery charge
when the clock was one hour
fast, a mythical almost
synch that can never be.
A former U.S Army interrogator, Martin Ott currently lives in Los Angles, where he writes poetry and fiction, often about his misunderstood city. His work appeared in more than 100 publications, including Harvard Review, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, and ZYZZYVA. His book Captive won the De Novo prize, C&R press. He is coauthor of Poets’ Guide to America (Brooklyn Arts Press). His Writeliving blog - writeliving.wordpress.com - has thousands of readers in more than 60 countries.
The Aurora Borealis reminds me
of the disappointed—
the bum on the street, the little girl
not invited to the party.
Early one fall I saw it.
I stood on the back patio at 3am
and made out, finally, the streaked sky—
washed out colors indistinct
against the dark.
3am for this, I thought, retuning to bed,
the magnetic flexure of air carrying on
its vexed dance without me.
The bum wakes from his cold nap
and the little girl turns on the TV.
I lie sleepless for the rest of the night.
What has become of the fullness
we have been promised?
In the wood lot, owls have left
the bones of mice—
so many under the green pines.
Day after day of enumeration.
The sun’s white disk behind early fog,
too weak to cast shadows—
so that things must stand for themselves,
frost-edged, claiming their own territory.
Mark Simpson’s work has appeared in a number of magazines, including Hiram Poetry Review, Cream City Review, Faultline, and A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. He works in Seattle as writer for an instructional design firm.
Essays on Heat and Light
The leaves against the windows crumble.
Black clouds, light from the doorway spooling out across the gray,
the starlings pass overhead –
a wake where the water bowed out.
I put my eye against the glass, shadows of the river slip within.
We are vessels harboring in a new ocean;
tipped against the eyepiece of the world stars rise and stretch
their backs across the sky. Outside the telescope it’s very dark.
I fall all the way to the other side.
I watch the world grow quiet.
Inside my beating skin, time breaks like a marble hitting
glass, a nail creasing a letter.
The sky is an ocean rising,
it breathes against the air that moves above.
Flowers push their heads through deadened growth.
What is my breath but the breath of trees?
All night I’ll climb these stairs, the stars fretting the night outside gold
and, gold leafed, my world is like a marble. It glows.
One morning I woke and the light was pooled around my window.
One morning I woke and it was dark all day.
One morning I woke, my candle still lit.
I swallowed the sun.
It was gold inside, it shone
through my eyes for weeks
each blink was brilliant night, the stars lived between my lashes.
I know the planets’ spin.
I am space and speed,
a cobweb drawn straight across the sun
I sang and the sky landed on me.
A bubble bursts in mid air, I float
a golden light, ballooning past
all atmosphere is light now,
fire drawn across the sky,
my eye a marble dropped.
Pressed against the glass, I burn air.
Behind my eye, a field of stars.
This is how the universe feels –
battered against some hardened rock
the air an arrow knocking out the sun.
Thera Webb enjoys people not pronouncing the silent H in her name. Her work can be found in Fiction (a Japanese journal), Forklift, Ohio, The 22 Magazine, and on the tumblrs of teenyboppers across the Internet. Her chapbook On The Shoulders of the Bear is available at some bookstores or online at fractiouspress.com. She recently moved to Boston from New York, and likes it.
It becomes harder
to lose your mind
twenty years later.
When good times,
come and go
in uncertain patterns.
When the heart,
now the drummer,
beats a path
to paint houses
in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Where wives and kids,
Because houses need paint
in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Charlie Weber lives in Scottsdale, AZ. He writes for hobby as part of a local poetry roundtable. His poems "Sunday Afternoon" and "Noticed" have been published by other journals.
The best part of getting an apartment
is not to live in it, as newlyweds know,
but persuading curtains
to complement bedspreads, then
entering that strategic harmony,
aria of migratory birds,
windows patiently eyeing
how long it will last. Grandma
would sleep away television chatter
in the afternoon, a breeze
parting curtains to invite sunlight
on her skin, her body
another surface to conquer,
another shelf of want—how
deliberate the spaces we have
emptied with ourselves.
Jerrold Yam is a first-year law undergraduate at University College London and the author of two poetry collections, Scattered Vertebrae (2013) and Chasing Curtained Suns (2012). His poems have appeared in Third Coast, fwriction : review, Mascara Literary Review, Quantum Poetry Magazine, Softblow, Washington Square Review, and elsewhere. He won the National University of Singapore’s Creative Writing Competition 2011, and has been nominated for a 2013 Pushcart Prize. Find him at jerroldyam.wordpress.com.