the lost zest

143

Bella Moses

Brad Rose

C. T. Holte

Dawn Corrigan

George Burns

Heather Bourbeau

Howie Good

Ian Willey

James Swafford

Jeff King

Juan Pablo Mobili

Lorna Wood

Lyudmila Knyazeva

Mario Loprete

Neil Kennedy 

Peter J. King

Richard Coombes

Suzanne Verrall

Uri Rosenshine

Zhenya Yevtushenko

Mario Loprete

The Note

 


I’m writing this on my birthday (March 25. Now you have 350 shopping days until the next one.) Mid-way though the day, I cancelled it and moved it to Saturday. That’s because we had a terrible day in Alabama. Multiple tornadoes. Lots of property damage just a few miles south of us. We’re hearing 5 deaths, so far, but a few communities are hit so hard that we don’t even know yet how bad it is.  

Weather, right?  It’s the price we pay for having a local star and big bodies of water and an atmosphere.  All the changes in the weather, minute-to-minute, day-to-day, through the quadrant seasons. There is no adequate metaphor for what weather is to us. Over here, it’s a perfect day for a wedding or a picnic or a pick-up touch football game. Over there, black clouds swirl and drop out of the sky, funnel down, and destroy homes and lives with something like effortlessness.  

These events give us moments of problematic popular theology.  The man in front of his house, at 3032 Oak Wood Lane, untouched by the tornado, tells a reporter that God protected him and his family and his house and fails to address God’s failure to protect the family who occupies 3030 Oak Wood Lane.  It is easy to scoff but, really, I get it.

I try not to make The Note too inside-baseball, but I wanted to bring you up-to-date on the devastating literary juggernaut which is Ambidextrous Bloodhound Press. You got your Right Hand Pointing, your One Sentence Poems. (17 years and 7 years running, respectively.) Then we have Unbroken and Unlost journals, prose poems and found poems and art, again, respectively. 

Comes now our latest project, First Frost.  This is our upcoming print-only, twice-a-year journal of haiku and senryu.  The first issue is finished and, as I write, is being shipped to us from the printer.  We're mailing it out in April. Check out what we’re doing at www.firstfrostpoetry.com. Consider subscribing.

I thank all the editors who work on these journals. They are all volunteers with the only compensation being the third-rate dental insurance plan I offer them. Fortunately, no one has taken me up on the offer yet, sparing me the hassle of having to actually find a third-rate dental plan for them. However, I have talked to a dentist who FINALLY got his license back and he's willing to travel. In fairness, he's not third-rate. He's second-rate so don't worry about it.

F. John Sharp
Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco
Tony Press
F. J. Bergmann
Annie Stenzel
Bill McCloud
Eric Burke
Ina Roy-Faderman
Katherine DiBella Seluja
Kelli Goldsmith
Ken Chau
Michael Dylan Welch
Mike James
Steve Klepetar
Tom Fugali
Natalie Wolf
Hannah Tamizkar

 

Emeritus
 
Laura M Kaminski
Robert Scotellaro
Howie Good
José Angel Araguz

Enjoy issue 143!

Dale

Lorna Wood

 

Luminous

When we sit 
in the pottery room,
you are a little luminous—
a streak of blue glaze splashed
on a brown pot.

Howie Good

 

Something Classical

Snatches of Beethoven 
(or maybe it’s Schubert, 

something classical anyway)
drift through the window. 

A man with the forlorn look 
of an exile is seated under 

the window on a battered 
wooden chair. He doesn’t 

argue with the gods, just picks 
a flake of cigarette tobacco

off his tongue. There’s only 
so much life in the afterlife.

Howie Good

 

Birds of New England

1


These days I don’t always know where I am. I just know that wherever I am—island, isthmus, mainland—the sun reverberates like a Chinese gong, and there is scarcely a branch remaining for a bird to sit quietly on and think.

2


I bought a book a couple of weeks ago at Costco called "Birds of New England." The book contains drawings of different kinds of birds—you know, wading birds, songbirds, migratory birds—and brief descriptions of their habits. So what is the name of that screechy brown bird that wants to monopolize our feeder? I look from bird to book to bird, only to finally realize just how hopeless it is, like trying to identify a 70-year-old from his first-grade class picture.

3


A neighbor’s lawn statue of Saint Francis has gone missing, and now the birds are zigzagging through the sky as though disoriented. Meanwhile, patients are being sent home in hospital gowns shortly after surgery. The only advice they are given is to look for the tall weed whose milky white sap is said to relieve pain. And if they have to scream, to please scream silently.

 


 

Howie Good

 

Messiah

1


The German SS officer who had opened fire rolled the corpse over, and the girl saw the face of her teacher, with blood here and there. He had gone to fetch a ration of bread, and a loaf was sticking out of his coat. The girl drew closer. Her instinct was to grab the bread and run. Jews didn’t have enough to eat. She ate inedible things, soup that was mostly water with grass, and this looked like a serious piece of bread. But she left it. Yes. She left it because she saw his face, with blood here and there.

2


The shopping district was known locally as the “Street of Crocodiles.” Shop windows displayed artful arrangements of dismembered heads and hands. Inside, a party atmosphere prevailed. You could find whatever you wanted – if you wanted frayed wires, metal shards, or even the revolver used to kill polymath Bruno Schulz. He was working on a novel titled "The Messiah" at the time of his assassination. Only the first sentence survives: “Mother awakened me in the morning, saying, ‘Joseph, the Messiah is near, people have seen him in Sambor.’” God insists to this day that a lot that happened just sort of happened.

3


The city streets are deserted. Approaching sirens wail yoo-hoo, yoo-hoo, yoo-hoo, rattling windows, shaking the pictures on walls. At any moment the secret police could walk through the door, use a pair of handcuffs as brass knuckles on your face. You keep waiting. Times of war have their own laws.

Heather Bourbeau

 

The Cull

They are culling camels in Australia. 
Firings from helicopters kinder than smoke 
and starvation or rampages through towns,
water desperate. A billion animals gone in flames.

Tonight, I watch a mosquito fallen into candle wax,
wait-not-wait for the sizzle as new layers burn.
Legs folded in, wings pressed together
as if prepared, belly full of myrrh, for sarcophagus.

 

How can we now distinguish grace from carnage,
bramble from the poison?

Brad Rose

 

What I Loved About You

Just passed a bowling alley and two liquor stores. Now, I’m thinking of you. Unlike the others, I admired your careless voice, the way the judicial system kept trying to correct you. Like converting an abandoned parking lot to a Zen garden. Smooth grey stones, silent mouths. I recall how you’d say, "Just give me the damn cash." You were what you were. When I get home, I’ll turn on the shower. I love the sound of rain.

Brad Rose

 

Jackpot

That’s one scary elevator. At least no one was crushed twice. No, no, nothing serious. She was just a clown friend of mine. Eventually, she’ll be remembered fondly. Personally, I try to remain in the vicinity of my organs. One time, she was teaching me the right way to be a criminal, and I misheard her. I thought she’d said mutually assured "seduction." But I didn’t let that come between us. We nearly got away, too. Anyway, most of the time nothing happens around here. Nil, zilch, nada. Three-hundred-sixty-five days a year. Three hundred sixty-six—if you hit the jackpot.

Jeff King

 

Huddle House Deity 

The nightshift waitress 
with the pierced septum 
and Windex-blue hair 
stirs virtuousness into 
five cups of coffee 
then delivers the order 
with a Degas grace 
to the unruly drunks 
in the window booth 
whose crude remarks 
she brushes away 
like crumbs.

Bella Moses

 

Lucretius Says

Nothing springs miraculously
from nothing. The Romans had no name
for the elbow. They had arm and 
more arm. Time erodes the body
into smaller and smaller pieces.
Early one morning, after the fall
of Rome, a man trips over a fallen
wristwatch. Ouch! he shouts,
My elbow!

Mario Loprete

 

concrete sculpture (click for slide show)

 

 

C. T. Holte

 

Say What?

Even if you're not Hispanic,
you can quickly learn that Oaxaca
is pronounced Wa-HA-ca,
and stop scratching your head.

CARE-a-mel; CAR-mul: a tossup,
according to Merriam-Webster. 
But tuRmeric, fer cryin’ out loud:
the R is not silent!

Rolling your Rs, however,
is a physiological thing,
so you may ask forgiveness
if you canna say Edinburrrah.

 

 

C. T. Holte

 

Liturgical Hours

Clouds.  Some dark and threatening,
some white with blue sky-holes.
Two thunderclaps, far away.
Seventeen raindrops, by estimate.
Off-and-on breezes
rustle the tallest aspen leaves,
keep the wind chimes stuttering.

Bells in the tower near the plaza 
announce vespers for the righteous,
dinnertime for the hungry.
Appetite drives us:
we take our chances with the weather,
walk uphill seeking the benediction
of food and drink.

James Swafford

 

Comorbidities

High blood pressure, 
chronic inflammation, 
my ever-advancing age:

recreational alcohol 
leaky social bubbles 
palpitations of the heart

distrust of polling data
fear of high peaks and
curves that won’t flatten

bingewatching 
doomscrolling
gerrymandering

murder hornets
mask protests
hyperapophenia
QAnon 

and the lost
zest of caperberries.

Uri Rosenshine

 

Reader

The library is full of leaves
Blown in whenever anyone
Comes through the doors

Blast of dry air,
Smoke—spruce branches
Piled in a flame

Like the face of that reader
Resting on a sentence of—
What is it, Leibniz?

One and one and one
The burning branches going by

Put copper in his hair
Discernment in his eye

George Burns

 

Ellipsical

Oh frog, I've been sick and not wanted to get out of bed.
Oh frog, I've been blue and not had one worthwhile thought.

Six months ago, our planet ellipsed full gear into summer, 
your pond dried up and you, green-bean green 
beneath the drying mud, went to sleep.

Now half an orbit on, in this slow and cold half of the year,
oh frog, at four in the morning in the December dark,
your nocturnal celebrations announces your return.

Welcome back. I've almost forgotten how you cheer up the rain,
your little sound, zipping and unzipping our small cloth of night.

George Burns

 

Bryce Canyon

Hoodoo formations 
red and gray monks
surpliced with snow.

Stone gardens
cloistered by horizon 
and canyon walls.

The stillness of bones
and the quiet of sky.

I can take off the clothes 
of being human here
the very flesh of it.

George Burns

 

Quantum

Photons, when unobserved, might be anywhere.
Paris, the moon, even under this table.

But when someone looks, it's like the factory 
whistle. All the photons pack up 
their lunch boxes and go.

They have to stand on the subway, lie in the 
donut display case. Be somewhere. Even 
on the point of this pen.

Like you. Like me.
A second ago we were God.
Black ink in an inkwell of a black hole. 

Zhenya Yevtushenko

 

My Sins

I don’t want
my sins to
be blanketed by
the untouched white
of snow. Instead
let them stand
written with ash
and ask themselves
to forgive me.

Zhenya Yevtushenko

 

I lost myself

I once lost myself 
while staring at the moon
caught between frozen branches
like a spider waiting for a fly.

Lyudmila Knyazeva, translated by Richard Coombes 

 

I carry your kindness
Deep within myself
Inside my very fibres
Like a settling blight.
You are good
You are very good
Like a slap in the face
Like a stain.

Доброту твою,
Как тяжелую порчу,
Несу в себе
Основательно,
Глубоко.
Ты хорошая, 
Ты хорошая очень.
Как пощечина,
Как клеймо.

Dawn Corrigan

 

Dear Heart

I see now
I've always
taken you
for granted

fist of muscle
naked slug
motion machine
I assumed

was perpetual

 

and would
keep this
clown show

running
forever

please forgive
my rookie

mistake!

 

and accept
these berries
and an avocado

Peter J. King

 

Cut by My Own Dust

(an aura-only migraine)

                                   a jagged rainbow
                                              neon zigzag
                                                         bright and hard-edged
                                                                    shimmering

                                   there at the centre
                                              at the focus
                                                         light made knife blade —
                                                                    sharp and clear

                                   but then it slowly
                                              opens outward
                                                         tight and tautened
                                                                    glimmering

                                   and in expanding
                                              slices sightlines
                                                         right to the rim
                                                                    like diamonds

Juan Pablo Mobili

 

The Flights of Death

When I heard 
you were thrown
out of the airplane
flying low over 
our Río de la Plata,
I wonder if my tears
would take as long to dry 
as the marrow of your bones.

Ian Willey

 

Stuck

Me and this mite have been 
stuck on the same page for 
almost an hour now. 
It moves like a wandering 
planet in search of a star 
to latch onto, gliding over 
letters and punctuation marks 
and the bits of pulpy grit 
in the margins without
any understanding of 
the higher meaning. 
I don’t have the heart
to turn the page.

Neil Kennedy

 

The red upon the wing
of a red-winged blackbird
begins as black as ash,
then smolders like an ember,

and finally burns
so hot the trees could catch
on fire from the birds
in their kindling branches.

Neil Kennedy

 

Rain forms rivers
down sides of streets,
asphalt’s black water
changed for the real thing.

You could walk this water
like the path that it is,
but who has the faith
to go out in the rain?

Suzanne Verrall

 

Broken

the key has broken off in the lock 
I no longer have access 
to my mother’s house 
I have to wait in the street 
till she lets me in 
I could be anyone 

Contributors

143

 

Heather Bourbeau’s work has appeared or will appear in 100 Word Story, Alaska Quarterly Review, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, The MacGuffin, Meridian, and The Stockholm Review of Literature. She has worked with various UN agencies, including the UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia and UNICEF Somalia.

George Burns's first book of poems, If a Fish, was published in 2020 by Cathexis Norhwest Press and is available at directly from Cathexis Northwest Press. and through Amazon. His poems have appeared in the Comstock Review, and the Alaska Quarterly Review. In 2004, his poem, "Partly Heliotropic" won the Robinson Jeffers Tot House Prize.
You can see more of his work at his website: https://www.thepoetryofgeorgeburns.com.

Richard Coombes is a UK-based writer and literary translator (Russian to English). Recently-published translations include a novella (CUP), and short stories ("B O D Y" and "InTranslation").

 

Dawn Corrigan's poetry and prose have appeared widely in print and online. Her masthead credits include Western Humanities Review, Girls with Insurance, and Otis Nebula, where she currently serves as assistant editor. She works in the affordable housing industry and lives in Myrtle Grove, Florida. Find her online at www.dawncorrigan.com.

Howie Good is the author of more than two dozen poetry collections, including most recently The Death Row Shuffle (Finishing Line Press), The Trouble with Being Born (Ethel Micro Press), and Gunmetal Sky (Thirty West Publishing). Howie has been a regular contributor to Right Hand Pointing for 16 years.

C. T. Holte grew up in Minnesota without color TV; went to lots of school; has had gigs as teacher, editor, and less wordy things; found new love in old age and migrated to New Mexico with her. Recent publications include Months to Years, Pensive, Mediterranean Poetry, and The Daily Drunk.

Neil Kennedy is a poet and librarian. He is the author of A Jigsaw Puzzle, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

Jeff King is an electronics technician and wannabe woodworker in Arab, Alabama. His poetry has appeared in Plum Tree Tavern, Vita Brevis Press, Scarlet Leaf Review, Poetry Quarterly, and Three Line Poetry.

Peter J. King was born and brought up in Boston, Lincolnshire. Active on the London poetry scene in the 1970s, he returned to poetry in 2013, and has since been widely published. His currently available collections are Adding Colours to the Chameleon (Wisdom’s Bottom) and All What Larkin (Albion Beatnik).

Lyudmila Knyazeva is a writer who lives and works quietly and
privately in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

Photos of Mario Loprete's concrete sculptures appear in this issue. He applies plaster, resin, and cement to his personal clothing to create his work. Mario says, "The intended effect is that my DNA and my memory remain inside the concrete, so that the person who looks at these sculptures is transformed into a type of postmodern archeologist, studying my work as urban artefacts." Mario lives and works in Catanzaro, Italy.

Juan Pablo Mobili was born in Buenos Aires and adopted by New York, two cities that compelled to write poems, to make the world a more hospitable place. Recently, his poems have appeared in The Journal of American Poetry, The Worcester Review, and The Mason Street Review, among others. His poems have also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and The best of the Net in 2020.

 

Bella Moses is an editor at Inly Arts Collective. She is the recipient of the The Adam Gordon Poetry Prize for First-Year Students. Her recent work can be found in The Oakland Arts Review and Red Weather. She is currently pursuing a BA in creative writing from Hamilton College.

 

Brad Rose was born and raised in Los Angeles, and lives in Boston. He’s published five chapbooks with Right Hand Pointing/Ambidextrous Blood Hound Press. Brad’s website is: www.bradrosepoetry.com

 

Uri Rosenshine is a twenty-five year old indie scholar based in New Haven, Connecticut. His poetry has appeared in Nachleben One. He enjoys baking bread and hiking in the snow.

James Swafford taught other people’s poetry for forty years, mostly at Ithaca College in New York, and now in retirement is writing poems of his own. He is a permanent resident of Canada.

 

Suzanne Verrall lives in Adelaide, Australia. Her poetry, flash fiction and essays appear in various publications including The Interpreter’s House, Australian Poetry Journal and the Southampton Review. For links to her work go to www.suzanneverrall.com.

Lorna Wood is a violinist and writer in Auburn, Alabama. Her poetry has appeared in Escape Wheel (great weather for MEDIA), Coastal Shelf, and Poetry South (Pushcart nominee), among others. She has also published fiction, creative nonfiction, and scholarly essays.
 

Ian Willey, a teacher and researcher from Akron, Ohio, lives in the inland sea area of Japan. He has written textbooks, scholarly articles, newspaper columns, and hundreds of poems, some of which have appeared in The Japan Times, One Sentence Poems, and Mobius.

Zhenya Yevtushenko is one of the sons of the poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. He is managing editor of the Tulsa Review and a student at TCC. He owes his inspiration to his friends, his brothers, his mother, and to Olivia, the love of his life. His work appears in eMerge Literary Magazine.

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