Simple and Strange

By Sarah White

Somewhere an astronomer
receives a picture
from across an unimaginable span
of space and time—
the cosmos in a phase
before it went all spherical
and orbital before matter
in this beautiful oval
was organized as stars comets
planets meteors before the satellite
we know cooled and was divided
by the great distinctions—dark
from light
dry from wet—
to suit amoebas anemones
coral forests warm
water clowns and other reasons
for a snorkel
or telescope to send
an astronomer a picture
of a universe still as simple
and strange as it was before
there were phones
before good or bad
news or numbers on the clock
in a waiting room
to measure whether
any creature no matter
how beloved
will breathe for a greater
or lesser span of hours
than her mother and father.

Spell

By Sarah White

Moon, by the bright, dry
      vowels of your seas, the dark
      vowels of your oceans,

by Mà-ria 
      intoned
      like a Polish woman’s name

lovely in Latin—
Crisium
Imbrium 
Tranquillitatis
circular threesome—

lovely in English—
      Sea of Crises,
      Sea of Rains,
Sea of Tranquility
eternally pocked
by human boots.

Moon,
      promise to keep
      your bodies
      musical,
      waterless, high,
      and visible to my
      naked eye.

Sarah White lives, writes, and paints in Manhattan. She is the author of Alice Ages and Ages (BlazeVox, 2010), a book of variations; Cleopatra Haunts the Hudson (Spuyten Duyvil, 2007), a poetry collection; “Mrs. Bliss and the Paper Spouses,” (Pudding House, 2007), a chapbook; and The Poem Has Reasons: a Story of Far Love, a book-length lyric essay on line at www.proempress.com.

Days

By John Grey

Interstellar Bedouins,
we rode all day on beezlebumps,
gripped tight their spiral horns.
Light years from a seismic cruise
down mid-west highways,
gunning my sports car, Samantha
in the seat beside me, taking up my arm and more.
At night, we slept under a dozen moons.
Felt like I was on a movie set,
some CGI netherworld
from boyhood wide-eyes lapping up the screen.
But these cold rocks were real enough,
even if their composition was not named yet
And we hunkered down like the locals do,
Primitive fire, our blankets few.
Civilization took a backseat to the chilly new.
Just keep telling yourself, I told my trembling bones,
we’re first to that rock cave, first to that rift.
Sure there’s hunters and gatherers in this savage place
but they don’t hunt the truth like we do,
they gather to eat, not to write it down for publication.
Beezlebumps snorted themselves to sleep.
I scribbled in a notebook, everything from
twinges in my shoulder to sparks on the horizon.
Though cameras clicked around me,
I sketched each twisted tree, every cliff formation..
Tomorrow, more knowledge.
Tonight, the body’s humblest gesture,
that drift off to sleep.
And dreams: chatting with an old friend on a busy city street,
scoring touchdowns, gripping a winning poker hand,
kissing a prideful twenty year old
with a mane of golden hair.
None of those space ships, alien worlds,
creatures whimpering or roaring,
life forms far removed from life.
For when reality overhauls the dream
where’s the dream to go but to realities gone by.
Tomorrow, a pressing question’s answered.
Tonight, a memory finds the sweet spot.

Exploding Star

By John Grey

For now it’s all disintegration
but it will construct itself again.

This time it has no more fire to give
but it is more than just a memory cloud.

So a star collapses, is squashed like a moth
in the universe’s hand.

Splattered wings of gas remain.
Likewise, battered nuclear fragments.

There’s a sun is a dead sun’s future.
The sky can never shine too much light.

Such a singularity to being
but only shape and content get it.

Once a red giant, always a red giant.
A billion year’s darkness is a small price to pay.

John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in International Poetry Review, Vallum and the science fiction anthology, “The Kennedy Curse” with work upcoming in Bryant Literary Magazine, Pennsylvania English and the Oyez Review.

Moment and Memory

By Ryan V. Stewart

I like long walks on the beach,
Total enlightenment,
Licorice, and whisky
I am one with the universe
In tossing the old bocce ball
Through the long stretch of crab grass
Knocked the kingpin off its hinges
The horse shoe head landing in the dirt
A sign of the times, reducing earth and god
And us to
Everything

Scotch Plains, New Jersey
Scotch indeed! Or was it wine
That spilled over and into the street
Like rain rattling and trailing in residual little
Momentary lines through leaf and dirt and
Into the gutters gurgling and glistening and

Crying out to the long-dead lights,
“I am here! I am here now!”
The stars, they say, hear even the muffled
Screams of water and earth and man and
Time, even the mean tabby cat that glides along
The carpet in the twilight

We played horse shoes and bocce and sometimes chess
We watched old family tapes
And walked on the beach, and I hated licorice
Never had whisky

But damn me if it’s no different now
Between the times and signs and then
Sitting in the crab grass, drinking and dying and seeing and
Being and living and lying and I
Imagine the fine engraving
Left by a horse shoe head

Stewart lives in Western Connecticut, where he works as a store clerk and attends Western Connecticut State University, studying in professional writing and a minor in philosophy.

DNR

By Dusty Wallace

I cry out to the universe but it doesn’t respond.
Particle­-accelerating physicists monitor its vitals;
temperature, pressure, entropy.
I plead for something simple,
a cosmic squeeze of the hand.

Nothing.
Not even a flutter of the eyelids.

It’s been like this for too long.
When will they pull the plug?

Just like John Friend’s Blues

By Eugene Goldin

My love
is caught in my own delusion
so, I can’t let her be.
She might be an angel
or a scoundrel.
Whatever – she is,
she frequently flummoxes me.
Yet, she might not even want me to learn
exactly who she might really be,
though, I’m not sure if even she knows
the answer to her own life’s mystery.

My love rides on waves of
pagan promises
not made specifically to me.
She won’t go there
in my presence.
She keeps me guessing
endlessly.
I fear she ridicules me
and wants to bring me misery
as karmic payback for her misfortunes -
leaves me twisting
on the rope
that hangs from
her own true lover’s tree.

Where the two of them
sit in sordid splendor
watching as the wind
twists my heart ‘round
again and then
drink a toast of pure green juices
mixed tart apple
and cinnamon.

The Shadow Sisters

By Eugene Goldin

I have come to know
The Shadow
Sisters.
They have struck me
between the eyes
leaving a tiny nearly
imperceptible scar
on my forehead by Ajna
exposing the entry point
to my inner wounds.

And, while others
play their dark, little
graceless games
to draw upon my
heartstrings,
these Shadow Sisters,
who fully get
the joke,
play the songs
of the great tragic operas
that I know
only too well.
They play them out
in stentorian cadence
driving me into the drink
that I keep in pill form
by my unsteady night
stand.

The Shadow Sisters
have maintained their
poise
by withdrawing my ego
as their own hearts
lay unzipped
and placed
in the palm of my right hand
in parity – for my tiny
wounded inspection -
as they and I have found
together
that remarkable state -
of grace.

Eugene Goldin was born in Manhattan and grew up in Queens. He is a professor of counseling at Long Island University and a Yoga teacher who appreciates a glass of good wine. He was most recently published in The Artistic Muse, The Gambler Literary Magazine and “eleven to seven.”

Starseed

By Bryan Merck

There is no conventual fall.
It is more of a shrouded awakening
and a not knowing who you are.
Knowing this. Such pain is egregious.

Then years and concupiscence,
a faulty heart, a weak will. There
is something to this original sin business.

I struck like a hammer foreboding concussion.
I am strung along a course of days. Evidence.

We came in force after Hiroshima.
Ours is a gentle mission. Every object
in the universe falls through spacetime.

My home is in good proximity to a binary star.
It is not a place you would define as place.
The scheme of my existence is flawless. I
am flawless and do not die in your sense.
I have no need of “Good News.”

With you, the thing simmers, the destruction.
It is almost inevitable. I have a technology
of the soul.

I live here, now, for a season, between the sleeps.
The portal is birth. The exit is death. Just your being, here,
changes the universe. Nothing is frivolous. Some things
matter, everywhere.

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Alien Slapstick

By Bryan Merck

I wake up for some reason,
and they are standing next to my bed,
in a knot, staring at me with a proprietary intent.
They come into my room on a beam of light.
I hear their thoughts.

Often at night, I discover myself up for no good reason.
This morning, in the wee hours, I found an uppercrust fellow, in a bathrobe,
sitting at my kitchen table. He asked me for Oolong tea.
I went back to bed.

My house has always been a fairway for this.

The little gray people with the big black eyes
appeared one night in my nursery room.
I got up and crossed the hall and climbed into my parents’ bed.
I put my hands on my father’s back and lay against him.
I felt I was safe there, surely.
Not so.

These beings tell me they were with me
all through my gestation and my indignant newborn wailing.

I started watching the Three Stooges when I was around 5.
This comforted me greatly. I began to encounter other people
in my house, late night, then, too.

I dearly wanted to be Batman. I had his comics.
He was human, so I could become him.
I really wanted to be Superman.
I knew this was not possible.

I wanted metamorphosis, a nuclear ray-gun
thing to happen to me, a transmutation away
from the human, like it did to Bruce Banner, or the Flash.
I became interested in chemistry.
I had chemistry sets.

I carried vague ideas of being safe in prison, or
even a hospital, sequestered, finally secure around so many
guards and nurses and orderlies who would watch me while I slept.

They come into my room on a beam of light. They
take me out through my wall on the same beam.
There are others on the ships, humans, hybrid women, beings
with white bleached skin and the eyes.
Insectoid.

Up there, we go through the “lab rat” scenario in
a room with metallic walls and tables and a corrugated-metal type floor.
There are pneumatic sounds.

Once, when I was 40, I found myself disembarking in like a bay area.
I had some friends there. We greeted each other.
One friend was naked. I found myself in a “philosophy class”.
A woman with a face like a blend of human and visitor was the teacher.
I had been drinking beer before I passed out on my sofa.
She knew this. She was not amused.

I am not in Kansas anymore
and I cannot go back there. All of this has a gimcrack immediacy.
They played Glen Campbell music the last time.
They are sort of pitiful, obtuse,
like the song they sang to me as a child.

Adam gave names to all the animals.

There is a replica of “the woman clothed with the sun” on a wall
of their examining room. I’ve met several Franciscans and Poor Clares
on the mother ship.

Once they showed me the nature of their workings
with humankind. “We have a similar relationship with you
as you have with cattle,” they said. And so on.

Some of them have a face like the Red Queen in Wonderland.

If I want this to scare me it does.
They showed me my adult body
when I was a very young child.

They often treat each other and me like Laurel and Hardy treat each other.
There is an obscure pedagogy in all this. They over-teach in obvious ways.
It reminds me of the 1st grade.

If I were a deer in the wild, and some humans came at me
with veterinary motives, it would just be my nature to be frightened of them.

One night I found a friend who had only lately died of drunkenness sitting
on my living room sofa. I sat down and we talked. Then he shook my hand and stood
and walked out through my closed and bolted front door.

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