Every morning in the cathedral the man
who might be a monk plays the organ,
sound streaming through stained glass
on dark angel wings. The music is like
the earth—ancient, scattered, metal sharp.
He must drink wine from old flasks,
red wine, burgundy as god’s beard—fingers
like nails driving each key as a note for
asphalt covering dirt, single arias for
the damned, unrequited love for those
who walk by and never hear.
In the evening he still plays, music less mad:
softer tones, twilight butter, crimson leaves
burnt clef notes that swirl like candle smoke.
Noises seeking salvation’s window,
he twists stories from the keys, light and dark,
black, white, narratives for the lost, forgotten,
for those soon to be absent, disremembered—
fingers sure as a ticking clock, wound backwards—
spring that cannot uncoil, he plays and plays
for those who do not listen.
Ralph Monday is an Associate Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN., where he teaches composition, literature, and creative writing courses. He has been published widely in over 50 journals including Agenda, The New Plains Review, New Liberties Review, Fiction Week Literary Review and many others. His poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Houghton Mifflin’s “Best of” Anthologies, as well as other awards. A chapbook, All American Girl and Other Poems, was published in July 2014. A book Lost Houses and American Renditions is scheduled for publication in May 2015 by Aldrich Press.
There is perfume on the table Federica,
Flowers, pressed and in the letter
There is an offer of marriage – the letter is red.
There is only the fountain, Federica,
Only water, gushing out hymns; it remits
The babies I hold in my mittens, their moons – the letter is red
There are Archangels in October leaves, Federica
In Eugene gardens, softer than the soft of softness
There is an offer of marriage – from me – the letter is red
Listen Federica, spring is pealing the leaflets – the juniper’s blue
Shadow in kisses of peace. The gusts shut out gusts
Over wuthering heights, the matchstick strikes – the letter is red
Our honey feet collide, each age an infant
Say yes – Federica – the letter is red – say yes.
Charlie Baylis lives and works in Nottingham. He reviews poetry for Stride. His own creative writing has most recently appeared in Stride, Agave and Litro, he has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (UK) and nominated for a Pushcart Prizes (US)Read More
The café radio coughs another tune,
all static and yeah-yeah,
as I brush salt from the table.
A woolly hat with greasy whiskers
clangs his fork against a plate,
tugging at the creases in my brow.
Your eyes land on my pursed lips
and I realise they’re green,
not blue, and have been all along.
A drip of condensation thumps the windowsill
as I mutter something about tomorrow—
and your bus is coming soon.
Michael Rush is a hidden poet. He strives to preserve his secrecy as he is most comfortable in the margins of life, and finds his muse most active when he remains there. Michael was recently published on Snakeskin and Napalm and Novocain. Twitter: @mrushpoetryRead More
Lincoln Center Subway
It’s Orpheus in the underground.
He’s working the downtown platform, playing a metal flute
from music propped on a stand. At his feet, a tenor sax
lies curled like a tamed beast.
In its case’s open lid lies a scatter of coins and bills
he’s dropped like a heavy hint.
The platform’s filling up with the end-of-the-opera crowd,
but his collection’s not. Orpheus isn’t pleased.
“Hey, people, give me a break. I’m playing here for nothing.
Spare me a couple of bucks, whatever you want to give.”
Would you believe it, a busker with attitude?
But as it’s New York, the crowd’s got attitude too.
The looks they give say it all.
This guy thinks he’s got rights?
Hell will freeze over before they’ll come through for him.
It’s not their fault he’s begging on the streets.
Who is he anyway? Some Julliard drop-out jerk,
who didn’t have the chops to make it
up there as far as the orchestra pit
and ended up hustling down here?
They think they’re still in heaven, or the gods,
reprising in their heads divine Mozart arias.
The Met was bliss tonight; they won’t let this loser spoil it.
Whatever he’s playing, it isn’t a magic flute.
They don’t give a damn about poverty right now,
not this guy’s, nor anyone’s, not even Mozart’s.
There’s a rumble; the platform shakes; a train appears.
Tough audience, Orpheus thinks, but there’ll be another one soon.
His head, still playing, bobs above the stand.
They look as if they’d like to tear him to bits.
Stephen Claughton’s poems have appeared in Agenda, The Interpreter’s House, Iota, London Grip, Other Poetry and The Warwick Review and are forthcoming in Poetry Salzburg Review . He has twice been nominated for the Forward Best Single Poem Prize. Twitter @claughton_sRead More
You taught me to be a meat-eater—
to chew carefully with flesh-shredding-bones—
but I wanted to be a bird, I suppose.
Something light and aloft, edible if I intended to be.
Or smashed against a window, bone-thin, hard-boiled,
chewing dust and flour in an alleyway; you’d rather I baked
an egg on the sidewalk than eat something that would never be alive.
Where is the soul in that, said a man with a dog, and ate his bone.
You wanted to farm corn on the cob, but butter doesn’t grow on trees,
and so you became a teacher. There was a stillness to your method:
look, there’s the stove, there’s the fridge, and over here the cow.
I had a hatchet and your hand, neither one very hard, no diamonds,
but how heavy steel can be in your back pocket I found out the hard way—
running against a glass door with a cleaver in my pocket, forgotten there
when I tried to swoop from the hill, spinning my arms in crop circles.
A promise in the pain: at dinner, we scratch at old wounds.
You and I, we sure were a team of knives, sharpening each other
until you found a bone to pick with the meat. I’d rather you didn’t eat that,
you said, teaching me: maggoty scraps of haunch, rib-eye rearing its ugly marrow.
Don’t dig your nose into somebody else’s meat, don’t trust flesh
that you didn’t see die. You said ‘meat’ like others said ‘love’ and ate the way
most people kill; all stealth and without motif, but always with aim and shot.
You taught me that meat begets a meal,
so I ate it all: the plate with the bones, the knife with the blood, the world
with all the living-bleeding-teaching. Aren’t you proud now that I
am a chink off your knife, all blade and no handle? Here I am,
teaching myself to eat grass with teeth that you gave me, all eyes for the birds,
I hold your weight, hoping to fuse to flesh to flesh in ways beyond digestion.
Marie-Aline Römer is studying Russian in Vladivostok, where she is trying to recover from the shock of recent university graduation. She is originally German, studied Chinese in London, and generally has no idea what is she doing where most of the time.Read More