New Poetry for a New Year

Fall Tenderly

Amidst the soft and muted light they glowed like burning embers,

dancing in the wind around the tombstones, as I recall;

it was an autumn rainbow of red and orange and gold to be remembered.

Fall tenderly like the leaves brushing against the graveyard wall.

 

You were placing flowers on a grave and you had been crying,

mourning someone very dear, and you looked so very small

in this granite-filled lot of incendiary leaves and so much dying.

Fall tenderly in my arms and make me stand up straight and tall.

 

When you gently took my arm it was an electric kind of sizzle,

and the rush of your touch made all of my skin crawl;

there were tears in our eyes as they met, and it began to drizzle.

Fall tenderly into the night as the whispering raindrops call.

 

I don’t care about the past, I no longer have misgivings;

I am here for the present, for now, and I am trying to stall,

because life is for us, it is for those who are here and still living.

Fall tenderly into my heart, and promise me your all.

 

Shari Jo LeKane-Yentumi       11/26/2012

Starry Night

Jupiter plays catch-up to the shiny Christmas Moon;

North Star of Big Dipper glows exceptionally bright;

signs this starry night that winter is coming soon.

 

Houses stand illuminated by sparkling holiday lights

surrounded in velvet darkness so quick and so cold.

North Star of Big Dipper glows exceptionally bright.

 

Events of this holiday season inevitably unfold.

Steal a sweet kiss from me under the mistletoe

surrounded in velvet darkness so quick and so cold.

 

Point to the sky because you wanted to show

how the night sky in winter has beautiful stars;

Steal a sweet kiss from me under the mistletoe.

 

It is hard to fathom eternity, or a light year so far.

Constellations, you say, are forever in motion,

and the night sky in winter has beautiful stars.

 

Celestial heavens are like a giant, spatial ocean,

and constellations, you say, are forever in motion.

Jupiter plays catch-up to the shiny, Christmas Moon,

signs this starry night that winter is coming soon.

 

 Shari Jo LeKane-Yentumi       12/05/2012

Shari Jo LeKane-Yentumi lives in St. Louis, Missouri, and holds a B.A.
in English and Spanish, and a Master of Arts in Spanish from Saint
Louis University in Madrid and St. Louis.  She specialized in
immigration and not-for-profit matters.  While recovering from brain
surgery, she is teaching creative writing to inmates in a maximum
security jail, and working on a poetry anthology, Surviving
Gracefully, and a novel, Poem to Follow.

Reason

I got the instinct impression that she invited me over just so I could watch her smoke cigarettes.

 She would call, and I would answer, and she would say

 Come over

 And I would.

 And we would sit in silence in her living room.

 And she would be smoking cigarettes

 one

 after

 another.

Eventually it would get late, and she would get tired, and I would go home.

 And a few days later the process would repeat.

 And we did this

 over

 and

 over

 and

 over.

 Until one day, as she was smoking her cigarettes, I said,

 Just tell me you love me.

 And she reached for the fan to clear the smoke from the room.

 And she said,

 I love you.

And I said,

Okay. Now I have a reason to be here.

 

 Heather Louise Harvey

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Non-fiction Abroad

On Living Behind the Queen’s Film Theatre
Kylie Pace

I arrived in Belfast knowing only I’d be staying with my boyfriend. “Do you live far from the bus station?” I asked, preparing myself for a trek out to the suburbs. I was relieved, then, when he told me that no, he didn’t live far, he lives near Queen’s – not that I knew where that is, either.

The walk from the bus stop took only fifteen minutes, and is a longer walk than I usually ever make from his apartment as he lives just off the nerdy yet trendy, affordably elegant Botanic Avenue, with its multiple grocers, bookshops, coffee shops, and thrift clothing stores. To walk farther than the length of this street would just be disappointing, unless if I turn in the opposite direction and walk through the university campus and into the botanic garden.

Of course, I need not turn in either direction. The rear of my boyfriend’s flat looks out at the back wall of the Queen’s Film Theatre, although at first I didn’t appreciate that this tall grey wall hid art on its interior side. But at first I didn’t realize so many things. Coming from Ethiopia, I found prices to be inflated, and while I understood how to dress for monsoons, the drizzle surprised me with its chill. When I finally splurged on the theatre, I chose a film set in Belfast and wrote it off as geographically-appropriate education.

The cinema, although operated in association with the university, has a bar in the place of a concession stand. The prices for wines, whiskeys, and local brews are written on a chalkboard above the student workers’ heads; I have not found a popcorn machine. The clientele – professors, middle aged women out for a girls’ night, well-dressed students out on dates – linger in the dimly-lit bar area until the last minute, and then find seats in one of the theatre’s two screening rooms.

I came to observe these locals many times due to my discovery of half-price Mondays. Over the course of my extended visit to Belfast I thus saw, in this cinema, the following movies: Take This Waltz, The Queen of Versailles, Samsara, and Tabu. All were excellent, although I won’t give any reviews, and somehow aided by the theatre itself although, returning to the drink-swilling procession into the chairs, the actual screening rooms should be detrimental.

The seats are plushy, covered in red velvet, with armrests that end in a cupholder that doesn’t fit any of the bar’s drinks. In fact, you’re not allowed to take alcohol into the screening room, although, this being Belfast, I can only imagine that rule is not strictly enforced or tolerated. The problem with the seats is that they are too low, in relation to both the ground and the screen. After only ten minutes my neck begins to suspect that the theory behind this theatre was to keep the seats at all one level, and raise the screen up along the wall for everyone to be able to see it equally uncomfortably. I have not sampled enough area cinemas to know if this problem is unique to this theatre, or a characteristic of most Northern Irish cinemas.

The patrons, so sophisticated at the bar, now begin to squawk and ruin the previews, if there were any. So far, advertisements for the following brands have run in the same order before each film: Linx shower gel, Peroni beer, a charity that lets cold runaways telephone their crying mums, San Miguel beer, Budweiser beer, Coors Light beer, pedestrian safety, Total Recall. You might mistake the final subject as a preview, but it is not. It is painfully long fake coverage of the Total Recall premier, featuring a scripted interview with Colin Farrell that makes me turn my attention to the personal conversations taking place all around me. Perhaps no one had a chance to catch up in the bar; perhaps this is a strategy to survive such flat pre-film content.

These complaints are quickly forgotten, though, once the film begins. No one talks. No one texts. No one seems drunk. This film theatre, we the audience know, would not – would not! – show us shit. Nor is this endorsement aided by alcohol, as the half-price offer, as well as my budget, extend only to admission.

There’s always some confusion at the end of the movie, or at least I always end up in the middle of a row bookended by people who want to have a seated chat that far outlasts the credits. I hop over their low chairs and into the rainy alleyway. I am inside my boyfriend’s apartment before the last of the audience has buttoned their coats. It’s a good location, but so cold for August.

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Related Talent!

I’m thrilled to be posting works by two sisters this time. Enjoy their beautiful prose and poetry!

 

Transcension

I keep seeing you,

walking on the shore,

so soaked in boyhood innocence and grief.

 

Where did you think of the idea to

grab the strings

and the rocks

and tie them to your

young, trandscending legs

and to wade out into the water until it

claimed you?

 

Jesus

I wanted to save you.

 

Why couldn’t I just stop you for a moment longer…

cradle you in the warmth of my chest tighter,

and pull you in a little closer.

 

Instead I let you walk out into that lake,

heavy with the weight of rocks that you

had been carrying with you your whole life… you took

all that you could carry and

you left me alone with some pebbles on the shore.

and maybe you found God at the bottom,

and maybe it’s better this way,

maybe you’re smiling in Heaven right now looking at me and saying, “come on over, it isn’t so bad,” and I just can’t hear you laugh because the sound of mourning is still suffocating my ears,

maybe.

 

Maybe you are happier now without rocks weighing you down,

 

but everyone here is still crawling around with the pieces you left behind draped over them like mismatched clothes and if they leave them on too long you will become a part of their skin like you have become a part of mine.

 

because no matter how many times I have thrown those pebbles after you, they just keep getting washed up next to me on this desolate shore.

 

So maybe I will find some string

and tie them to my legs

and swim out to heaven after you.

– Megan Kidder

 

 

The Tower

The tower didn’t appear overnight, though those who first noticed it would disagree. To them, one winter morning dawned where the white sun was caged by a complicated lattice of iron and steel. In fact, the tower had been under construction for many days, weeks even. But in a town where little happened, people didn’t always recognize something different, at first.

The tower was being constructed on the land of Jon Sanders, a local factory worker. The metal came from the scrap yard of the factory where he worked, and his job had given him enough experience in welding and construction, so little time was spent on how. The whispered question on everyone’s lips was why, why was Jon building the tower?

There was no mystery to him, not even the predictable mystery of town loners, old men in older houses who may or may not be dead. He had lived in this town all his life, like his father and mother before him. He’d gone to the local high school, graduated and went to work at the factory. After a number of years working to establish financial stability, and having reached a respectable level of maturity, he became engaged to his childhood sweetheart, Abigail Watson. Nothing about him suggested any tendencies toward eccentricity or tower building.

Because there was no question that it was anything but a tower. It couldn’t be mistaken for the frame of a grain silo, or a windmill. It looked like it would shake in a light breeze, yet it was undoubtedly well constructed, because didn’t they sometimes see Jon climbing and scaling the structure like it was nothing more than a playground jungle gym?

The town encased in winter offered little other diversion, and it became common to see a group of people huddled by the fence surrounding Jon’s property at noon, sipping hot drinks out of plastic thermoses, watching the construction. Occasionally they’d shout out to Jon as he dragged metal to the base of the tower, or hoisted it high, but he never shouted back. This didn’t discourage his viewers though. It gave his endeavor a sense of greater purpose, and a hush would settle on those gathered whenever he ascended the tower, for fear of distracting him.

Whenever Jon came into town, on lunch break from the factory, or on errands to the general store, he’d talk to others as though nothing had changed, but he spoke not one word about the tower, nor would he answer questions about it. He worked at the factory as usual, yet those around him would sometimes see him grasp a piece of worked metal more tightly, hold it longer, and his eyes would stare a thousand miles away. At the end of the day when he loaded up his pickup, it was no surprise to see that piece of metal in the truck bed with the other scraps.

One day Abigail came, and stood at the foot of the tower and called Jon’s name, once, softly. He heard, and descended, hands sure of their placement on the metal rungs. Then he stood before her, and she said nothing, but gestured to his house, and they both went inside. When she emerged from the house an hour later, not quite half the town was gathered outside the gate. When she reached them, the winter air was warm with repressed questions. She said simply, “He plans to have it finished by spring,” and went back home.

As the weather warmed, and the tower grew, word spread to surrounding towns, even reaching the city. Every so often a suited, bespectacled man would knock on Jon’s door, interested in the tower. Was it a statement? Was it art? What was he trying to prove? Jon would be hospitable, politely thanking the men for their travels, but still would answer no questions about the tower. It became common for the children, on their way home from school, to hop Jon’s fence to get closer to the tower, much to the disapproval of their mothers. But Jon did not send them away, and soon the bravest were walking around the base, even running their hands on the chilly metal. And all the while the tower grew, and everyone waited for spring.

The last night of winter, when the town was asleep, Abigail made her way to Jon’s. She found him standing in the center of his tower, and she easily navigated her way through the maze of metal to join him. They made love, quietly. Before she left, he gave her something, a wooden cigar box. His hands lingered on her face, on the strips of shadow cast by the tower. And then she left, clutching the box to her abdomen.

The first morning of spring dawned clear. The sun struck the tower and set it to a fiery brilliance that could be seen for miles. The whole town was gathered at the fence, the young sitting on the slats, the old leaning against the posts. They shielded their eyes from the tower like they would from a solar eclipse, where the fear of damaging your eyes is overridden by the unwillingness to miss a single moment.

The sun was halfway up the tower when Jon emerged from the house. A few overexcited people clapped at his arrival, but they quickly fell into silence, expectant. Then he began to climb. He did not pause to look out at the view, or at the tower to decide where to put his hand next. It was a tall tower though, so it still took him quite some time to climb it. As the sun sat inside the very last rungs of the tower, Jon reached the top. In the silent morning, those gathered heard him shout something, saw him slowly lift both arms and reach forward, hands open to receive something. No one could see his face, but all felt the fervor of his gaze, and they turned to see what had consumed him.

With their backs towards the tower, no one could ever say for sure what happened next. All anyone knew for sure was that a loud shriek, like a bird dying, split the sky, and as one the crowd turned back to see metal bending and tearing and rivets popping like gun shots, and a dying shudder that ran through the tower as it collapsed.

Of course everybody came running as the last girder settled in the heap of scrap metal, but they all knew it was too late, and they never found Jon’s body. When someone was sent to Abigail’s house to tell her the news, she was not there. She had left last night, boarded a train heading east with only a suitcase and a wooden cigar box.

Having conclusively proved unstable, the teetering pile of metal was roped off, and mothers forbade their children to play near it, for fear a piece of steel would twist aside and strike them. Jon and his tower became another mysterious legend, and nothing in Jon’s house or effects explained his motives.

Many years later, Abigail would show her son the contents of the cigar box – a fragile clump of flowers that had once been the boutonnière and corsage from his parents’ senior prom, the money saved from years of factory labor, in several faded white envelopes neatly wound with twine, and the drawings, all the drawings of a tower of iron and steel that turned to silver fire when it caged the sun.

 – Elizabeth Kidder

The Doe Leaves No Mark

At the edge of trees,

a doe steps into the field,

once tilled. There, a grove

of fallen apples

and a leaning broken barn.

 

Even the doe knows

the smell of domesticity.

Her hooves don’t disturb the shadows

When she noses a sun-softened apple.

 

There were horses here once,

coils of rope looped through the posts,

woven by hair and wind;

even now, the deep prints

in the grass where a hoof

kept the blades from growing back straight.

 

She knows she is deer, dappled and wet-nosed,

invisible among the trees and near flight.

Her hooves leave nothing behind.

But she straightens her neck, legs braced, and what if

long hairs, tough and glinting, sprang

from her spine and covered her tail. What if,

when she ran, she didn’t leave the earth,

but impacted,

collided

in a chorus of beats, dirt

flying around hooves that left

a trail, left

a mark.

– Elizabeth Kidder