Original Poetry: A Gathering of Four

This man (curled into
      himself) sits outside
the turnstiles of Washington Street Station
      right at the maw of the vast
subterranean Pedway
      moaning with errant winds.
His cardboard sign faces his lap.
      Dirt and thirst are kneaded
into the fibers of fleece.

***

Picasso’s old, blue
      guitarist is blocks away,
propped up
      by a cheap guitar.
His face – cadaverous,
      fallen forward;
sunken eyes –
      drawn shut as dry husks.
No warmth radiates
      from cyan skin draped
over gentle bones.
      No music escapes
this blind guitar.

***

As if trying to bow
her long-forgotten
cello, my grandmother
          full of grace
breaks the prayer circle,
starts to wail
in dissonance with
           blessed
winds at the window pane
           among women
Rosary beads dangle
           blessed
as two aunts
regather her hands
           of thy womb
These tendoned talons
           Mother, pray for us
pull and flex
with the banshee cries
           at the hour of our death.
She writhes;
her eyes dart. Her tongue
flicks
from her cavernous mouth.

***

Grandfather’s hands flutter;
      one gently, one not.
He speaks softly, too
      softly and too rapidly.
He rocks to propulse
      from the chair, to beat
those who would push him
      back into its cradle.
They’ll ask, what
      do you want? One
more time. Just say
      that again. Just one
more time.

 
 
 
[This poem was published by The Eunoia Review in mid-April 2015.]
 
 
[Check out other original poems here.]

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Original Poetry: Night Blossoms

. . . 4-something in the still, birdless morning;

Through glass doors across the room,
a dark outline of a bicycle,
the thin bars of the balcony,
I can see the deep fuchsias
of rhododendron dimly lit by building light
and the more generic urban light pollution.

I imagine that it is the moon’s doing.

Come daybreak, the blossoms
will be a bit less exotic—a bit
less lovely. They are not rhododendron.
For those, too, I left in the little park
clinging to Brynmill village.
 
 
 
 
 
[Check out other original poems here.]

Original Poetry: “And So”

Tie up your well-wishes with ribbons and bows
though a notary signature might ensure
your promises more to my liking. Who knows
less than me your truest intentions? An obscure
vision of security does less than a warmer
greeting of inaudible reference. It’s your silent
serenity massaging my anxiety, but I’ll endure
the turbulence a while longer without dissent.

Blame it on my emotionally masochistic bent,
but do, indeed, see me at my most pathetic
state. For soon’s the hour when I’ll repent
my weakness. I’ll grow cold and apathetic—
tired of waiting and hanging onto hollow
words. I’ll dance the lead without a follow.
 
 
 
 
 
[This old sonnet of mine stands as my own response to a previous sonnet I’d written, “And If”. Check out other original poems here.]

Original Poetry: “And If”

And for this moment I’ll choose to only believe
all of your whispered promises and the firm embrace
of my shoulders dispelling the fears that the nights conceive.
And if tomorrow I’ve no choice but to face
the day’s reality of being solitary, I’ll displace
the anxiety with thoughts of your lingering scent impressed
upon my cuffs and collar. And just in case
your words are true and I’ve second-guessed
your honest intentions, put my mind at rest
with nothing more than what you’ve already done.
Put my own convictions to the test
to see if for yourself, I’m the one.
And if I doubt everything you do and say,
leave me—quietly—to make my own way.
 
 
 
 
 
[Check out other original poems here.]

Poetry Review: There is a Storm in My Head by Jide Badmus

There Is a Storm in My HeadThere Is a Storm in My Head by Jide Badmus
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Hidden within the heart of this collection are a few poems with a true subject or a tangible event being referenced. A couple are about the shock and horror of specific airliner crashes; a few more are about the state of Nigerian politics and/or war. These are the strength of the collection. My favorite was “Mid-Night Sun” dedicated to the 2005 Bellview plane crash.

. . . We didn’t hear the metallic groans
Of the shattering aircraft
Nor the scared screams of loved ones
In the throes of death.

We won’t forget you
‘Cos in a moment’s flash
You lit up the dark night like a mid-night sun
Only to leave us gloomy days darkened by grief.

The bulk of the poems in the collection had no discernible specific subject. They spoke in allegory and in cliched metaphoric abstractions. More troubling was the overbearing rhymes wresting control of the poem from the poet.

It’s possible that “bombs” and “floods” referenced in the final poems are speaking to real events or specific occasions. However, after scores of allegorical poems, bombs and floods without specific references could be more hyperbole. It’s concerning that I cannot tell the difference.

I received my copy of this collection directly from the author.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

Poetry Review: The Watcher by Joshua Pantalleresco

The WatcherThe Watcher by Joshua Pantalleresco
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Building on a long history of narrative epic poetry, this tale follows a young human slave in a dystopian society as he makes his moves to escape the oppressive non-human regime. The interesting premise fights to play through the poetic structure, or lack thereof.

Traditionally, epic poetry is purely narrative with the speaker telling the story of a hero. The structure of the poem, whether it chooses to adeptly utilize rhyme or not, often employs rhythm providing momentum for the poem. In the English and Norse epics, the mid line break [caesura] also built a sub-structure into the poem. Rhythm and [optional] rhyme aided in memorizing the tale.

This tale is free verse since it opted for first person stream-of-consciousness rather than third person narrative. It also opts to eschew all punctuation to achieve the desired POV. That forces all structure onto the line breaks and stanza breaks to reflect the phrases. There is no win from this structural arrangement.

The stream-of-consciousness limitation to the narrative compromises the world building of the tale without third party characters introducing outside concepts. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, the narrow POV is meant to be highly filtered. But with such a tantalizing recent history lingering in the shadows of the tale, one could hope for a wider lens. Characters in the know, such as the speaker’s parents, are silenced by their effective absence.

With everything else stripped away [other characters, context, structure and even punctuation] the reader solely relies on the speaker and the interesting if sparse illustrations by Florence Chan. The speaker fails in consistency. Verb tenses flip from present tense to past tense and then double back again without a subsequent change of subject or time period. Either the speaker is giving the immediate tale that the reactionary rhetorical questions and present tense verbs would imply, or he has gained at least the limited understanding and context provided by the passage of time. Both cannot happen at once, and yet confoundingly here they do. And even the very passing of time is made contradictory. In the scene “The Hunt,” the speaker claims an “after-the-fact” advantage that time provides: “patience was the key to those early days / the times were tough / I had no idea what to look for . . . I’ve tried killing [the stag] every day since I came here . . .” After this the first successful hunt scene plays out in the present tense, despite the opening passage being after the tough times of unsuccessful hunts.

Perhaps the tale is relying on the missing graphic structure that illustrations can provide. Such as in Brian K. Vaughn’s Saga graphic series where scenes play out in the present tense, but the ultimate narrator is also able to apply meta commentary in the past tense from a far future POV. If that is the case, it hasn’t been established here.

I received my copy of the collection directly from the author through bookreviewdirectory.wordpress.com.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

Original Poetry: Urban Dwellers

Two fat brown rats
      harvest Wicker Park’s morsels:
community garden tomatoes,
      waste from pampered corgis,
an abandoned burrito.
      Their comings and goings
in the star-hiding glow
      of night reveal the despoilment
and entrance to a nest
      writhing with musky bodies.
It’s lined with sidewalk sale notices,
      wrappers, a commuter’s shredded
Starbucks venti cup.

           ***

Musty pigeons settle
      with concrete dust
beneath the elevated tracks—
      loitering. The birds
disperse like a newspaper
      caught in the wind.

           ***

The morning rush hour train
      is ripe with jostling commuters
intent on their i-Pods or feigning
      interest on ads
circumscribing the ceiling.
      The downtown stations scatter
and gather the people. Debris
      is pushed to the periphery.
 
 
 
 
 
[Check out other original poems here.]