New poems by James Downs

A CUT ABOVE

Stems lay flat when
first cut for display
.
we can play like it
is not a big deal
or it will grow to
full size of the sun
.
we tend to put
emphasis where
.
we already want
it to be…
within
all this change
.
it doesn’t and
then it does
.
it’s Shiva god-
head transcending
stems lay flat when
first cut for display
.
and then they don’t
and then they do

 

Day after day
Day after day
things fall from heights
and land with less or more force
and a light whoosh
.
something gets in the way
and we may have to
shove it aside
.
our hide is thick
indications of sterner stuff
inside
.
if we make a plan
and keep it close…to the
vest…we will know
what is best to do
.
the vines creep around the edge
of the river…its flow sustains
all it goes by
.
take a tip from nature
take a deep
breath in…then let it out again
.
Day after day
things fall from heights
and land in our
hearts

Exaltation

The larks exalt
around my head as if they
are not ready to leave
.
who said it was a lark
a gambol
to go off half-cocked
.
cattywumpus and
whomperjawed…a fool’s
errand if ever I’ve seen one
.
maybe if we do go away
it should be full cocked into
the  night…I assure you
.
it will be a big gamble then…
the larks exalt… fly with
praise and we must
.
follow fearlessly

Haiku
growing up fast like
……..summer grass sprouts ready to
grasp hold…give a shout
for my grandsons
Alex and John
OPEN
We go to a place that
makes sense
.
the sound it takes
is like deer god
and bear god banding together
.
open my heart with
a belly knife
.
find a thread—pull it
see what
is raveling…what
unravels
.
courses take courage and
answers ache
.
of wine
and remembrance
.
if you have a dime
spend
the time it takes
to use it
.
no regrets…everything
is fine.
Ophelia why
Ophelia
why did you throw yourself
in the river?
.
despair is so finalizing
.
couldn’t you have just
gone someplace
else
.
solutions present themselves
.
to those who see…you didn’t have to
relinquish control over your life
just because someone
.
couldn’t handle the arc of his own
.
knife cut sharpness of the waves
tore you up and water filled your lungs
no chance to heal
.
no chance to breath your secrets
.
or any other breathing cut short
.
Ophelia why did you throw
yourself in the river?

 

Rippled

one is brewing up {from the waves}
brace yourself
we are from stars and water
.
and nothing stays the same
and nothing
changes from the sky
.
if we choose from among
a spoon and
a fork and one sharp knife
.
it all depends upon the need
the want or
any aesthetics we may find
.
turn around and see what’s
coming…find
a building and build it
.
storm is here soon…one is
brewing up
{from the waves} brace
.
yourself….we are from
out there and
there be dragons in the sky

THE STORM

The short hills undulate
comprise a falling off as
well as rising up
.
we keep walking
upon the grass
.
the storm builds up
like a wall…like
poem pieces
.
if you dive in
one end of the pool
.
surely you will
come out the other
a  wet thing
.
get a handle on it
in your hand
.
what befuddles
you will wash
you clean
.
and you do not die
anytime soon
.
the short hill undulates
the storm builds up
and rains upon the grass

James Downs is this presses dear friend and my dear friend.  He lives with his wife Joyce in Sonora.
Soon we will have out another book of his poetry with these and other poems.  Find his first volume,
Merge with the river on our website and at Amazon.com.

Sandeep Kumar Mishra, India

Morning

Reluctant night after a brooding duty, slowly retreating

The earth in gray, some dim shades still hovering

Dawn strides out leisurely to wake every farm

The sleepy sun, in liquid light, making the sand warm

Morning nymph rising from the ocean of pearls

Wearing magic mist mantle if the wind swirls

Her gleaming bracelet borrowed from the sun rays

Swiftly up to the hilltop her glory sways

Her fragrance wakes up the slumbers of mortals

The crowing birds but break the silence acetals

I am eager to rise early than the bee,

Perhaps to feel the divine power if it be

Every home kindles its necessary fires

Sense morning incense, listen far sounding lyres

The soul feels fresh and rejuvenated

Healing light exhaled here, a divine incarnated

The bunches of roses, lily awaken

The wind hides in the trees, make them shaken

Shy maid advances with pitcher to fill in river

The peasants and herdsmen on their way as ever

All creatures must toilsome courses run hard

Because untrodden the path, bright is the reward

 

My City

My city has dazzling appearance

Its days are sweating labours

The nights are stiffly precarious

Malls, palaces, shops, skyscrapers

All things are but only a granite museum

People came from unknown places

Growing day by day like a mushroom

Horns, siren, music, pollution, buzz, silence

It never stops but crawl like a worm

Ten to five, nonstop work culture

To live here to live on term

Race to stay alive, no stop for nature

Morning walker and evening walker

As late sleepers, late risers, all machine made

Sofa, carpet, TV, air conditioner

There is light but no relief or shade

High ways are death ride way

I strive for a peaceful lee

Has city ruined me in any way?

No, it has marred better men than me

I stand alone amid a millions crowd

God was silent when I was suffering fast

I am ready to die unnoticed, but

I will build a new city before I breathe last

 

Romantic Dream

My love! My dream girl! Come with me,

We will go over the lea, beyond the sea.

Let’s build a palace among the stars

Far away from earthly strife and wars,

Look our rainbow friends -white rivers,

Slaty mountains, red roses, brown sparrows,

Bright glow worms, golden eagles, black bees,

Yellow sunflowers, scarlet macaw, green trees.

Showers drench the morning, nights glow with dew

Posy noon to dose, then evening linnets in the view,

Winter with warm sun, summer of moonlit nights,

I admire thy grace, your touch diminish all my frights.

When your shiny raven hair shade my head,

I repose in your lap, Night comes, and day becomes fade.

Your smiling glance and hazel eyes keep me at ease,

We will love till there are the seas and the skies.

 

Sandeep Kumar Mishra, India

BIO- He is a stage artist, painter, writer and a lecturer in English with Masters in English Literature and Political Science. He is in creative field since 1992 and has published poems both in Hindi and English languages. His first article published in 1992, first poem in 2003.He also worked as Sub-editor for a collection of poems (Pearls) 2003,which have many reputed poets

 

Clifford Browder

Use This Day

Use this day
For love, for friendship, for rage,
For justice, for hope,
For worship, if your gods are worthy of it.
Use it
To build, to create,
To bring meaning,
To fight the void and navigate the flux.
Don’t shirk, don’t slouch.
Use it.
It will never come again.

 

Earth

I love the smell of it
The black oozy thick of it
Wormy and rich
Harboring seeds and roots and bones
Graveyards and spores
In my next existence I will grow things
Coax them out of her hot muggy thighs
Into joy and exuberance
Into sustenance and life.

Of the other elements
I can’t relate to air
Too flimsy, too vague
And I’m scared of fire
That leaps and darts and scorches
Having seen whole buildings
Flame up in a blaze
And know that water wants to drown me
Learning to swim
I splashed and sputtered, hated it
And once saw the body of a woman
Washed up on the shore of a lake
So lost, so cold, so still.

Yes, I’ll stick with earth
Don’t think
You can wiggle out of the Old Girl’s embrace
You cannot
She’s in your blood and bone
We came out of her
We’ll go back into her
The vast, messy, loving
Ruthless and inescapable
Big Mama of us all.

 

My Wild, My Calm

There’s something wild in me
That wants to shake things up
A demonic spring that wants to pump
The green fire of his seed
Into multitudes of rapturous virgins
Who wants to break windows of snug little homes
To shout, to run, to fly
To leap over gaping chasms
And scale vertiginous cliffs
Who wants to slay dragons or better still become one
Who wants to eat rare earths, speak in tongues
And annex the secrets of the universe.

There’s something calm in me
That smiles at my demon
Like a loving mother
At the antics of her raucous little boy,
A seeker who needs no
Rare earths, strange tongues, gaping chasms
Who walks gently, looks and listens
Finds wisdom in silence
Strength in grasses
Truth in trees
Who relaxes into the rhythms
The mysteries
And daily ecstasies of life.

 

Love Better, Love Deeper

Love better, love deeper.
Cut the frills,
The gaudy promises, the tinsel.

The best love is simple, quiet, undemanding
Like a mountain or a seed.

Its beauty lies under the surface
Like a submarine reef of red coral
Jutting spires and candelabras
While blue fish drift and dart.

The best love grows silently
Like mushrooms in the woods,
Like ferns, like roots
And blooms mysteriously
Like white flowers opening in the night.

The best love thrives
Where least expected
Like green sprouts
In the rotten wood of piers
Or molds on ancient stumps.

Though it toughens with time, in the beginning
It is soft, not hard and jagged,
Easily hurt.

When you love,
Love with caution and quiet,
With wisdom, no razzmatazz.
Love with calm and care.

 

Sadness

Sadness
Is the adagios and mellow gray of twilight
A loving touch.

I have seen it
In smiles of resignation
In muted yearnings for the unattainable
In shattered loves, futile hopes, quiet defeats
Final good-byes.

It is the landscape of our living
Time’s music
The price of our awareness of transience.
Don’t fight it, accept it
Ease into it, I’d almost say
Enjoy it.
It is our essence, our aura
The mark of our humanity
The measure of our loss.

 

Clifford Browder

Bio: I am a writer living in New York City. I have published two biographies, a novel, and a selection of posts from my blog (see link below) that has won two awards. My poetry has appeared in numerous small reviews. cliffbrowder@verizon.net

 

 

Joe Bisicchia

Born

Some of this is make believe.
Or at least, it starts that way,
as a faraway dream,
a dream of all that we can be.
So it is inside every me.

Life ain’t always easy.
In fact, it’s often quite stinky
heartbreakingly.
Rhymes often fail at the line,
and the splendid sounds
often drift far out of bounds.

But, let this reality be—
win or lose,
now is now.

Let us feel the glory of purpose,
of worth,
of team.
This is far more than just sport.
Or, so it can seem.

Maybe it strikes deep at our core,
underneath our seams.
Maybe it’s love of life.
That pure.
Simple as life shared,
you and me.

Run

I am speed.

I want
to run

as if all I could do
is make earth move,
and all of its breeze
be what I breathe
down the street
toward home.

Catch Daddy!

We see each other.
Ball bounces.

Busy world
hard to hold,
hard to let go.

Me to him,
him to me,
again and again.

Again and again,
him to me,
me to him.

Hard to let go,
hard to hold
busy world.

Ball bounces.
We see each other.

Monte Carlo

In the mirage,
in sun’s bending of street,
when the racing stripe

warps wrinkled
as clouds pass as do all images,
as all ephemeral messages,

as all invitations do to inspire us to
look through penetrable haze
on the way to the sun and beyond,

we shield our face,
see our way,
and race.

Of Regret

If only this.
If only that.
If only
no regret.

Our errors,
our mistakes,
dreams,
mount the cold fact.

Game never stays still.
Such is life.
It goes as it will.
And we react.

It goes.
And we make.
We overcome.
And we make.

 
Joe Bisicchia writes of our shared spiritual dynamic. An Honorable Mention recipient for the Fernando Rielo XXXII World Prize for Mystical Poetry, his works have appeared in The Poet’s Haven, Sheepshead Review, Balloons Lit. Journal, The Inflectionist Review, Black Heart Magazine, Dark Matter Journal, Poets Collectives Anthologies, and others. The current public affairs professional in New Jersey is a former award winning television host who also taught high school English. His website is www.widewide.world and he is on Twitter @TheB_Line https://twitter.com/theb_line.

John Grey

NOW THAT I’VE MADE IT HERE

Pink sheets of pleasure
open like petals,
float across bare knees.

My head adrift in pillow,
yours warming my naked chest,
serenity keeps us in mind
for moments like this.

Love-making over,
I taste the wine of the results,
mouth the word “heaven”
to the lingering desire.

Can a moment be too iridescent?
Can it overtake, become the all-over mood?

I’ve heard that too much of a good thing
is as toxic as belladonna berries.
So if I grow too happy,
can sadness be my only cure?
If I have everything,
should I hold out for nothing?

They’d have me pray for an ache or two
to worry my smugness.
Or a lightning strike, an earthquake,
anything to singe or rumble
my contentment.

So have I need of disappointment, upset,
unwanted intrusion, disaster, grief, bitterness,
sickness, anger, disgrace, dementia or dread?
Quite frankly, no.
But thanks for never asking.

 

LANDLADY

Her apartment doesn’t pull rank.
It’s on the ground floor
hut, from what I’ve seen of it,
it’s no bigger, no smaller,
than mine at the top of the stairs.

She always complains
that she has no one to help her
and the handymen she hires
to fix a leaking tap.
to patch dry wall,
charge prices near to extortion.
I’m always cleaning, she says.
And when I’m done,
it’s time to start over.

She’s always up when I come home,
no matter the time of night.
And she leaves her door open.
The doings of her tenants
are her only joy.

Her couch is where she collapses
at the end of another tiring day.
Her favorite programs
keep watch over her
as she eats whatever’s handy
from crackers and cheese
to frosting straight from the can.

Tonight
on my way downstairs
I catch a glimpse of her
in the parlor, munching on potato chips.
the crumbs sticking to her robe like lint.

She sees me, says “this is the first chance
I’ve had to sit down all day.”
Her eyes are red, her moustache brown.
The blue glow of the television
unmasks her double chin.

 

YOUR JEANS

You’re comfortable in those jeans,
faded blue, coffee stained,
ragged at the knees,
frayed at the ankles.

You figure you can get
another year out of them at least.

It’s different with men.
When the shininess wears off,
there’s nothing keeping you
from tossing them in the garbage.

Not that you’re delusional.
You follow the abrading, tattering,
of your face, your body,
in the mirror.

You wear the inevitable well
but how many more years
do you give it?

And those men,
picking themselves up out
of the breakfast scraps
and stumbling for the door…
how long before you whisper
that dreaded word, “Stay.”

But, for now, those jeans
make for a body-hugging denim comfort zone.
They slip over your knees, your hips.
And they don’t give you away.

 

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Silkworm work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.

 

 

Silvia Marijuan

Bilingual hearts
In memory of Francisco X. Alarcónimage
 
From the East to the West
From the snow to the hills
where life becomes
a fairy tale
Your gentle eyes gave me peace
Your light kindled my voice
on a night when fatigue
rained down on me shamelessly
A scientist and a poet
laughing across the table
The wine is friendship,
Time, a burning sip
A few hours frozen in a marbled snapshot
Hoy descubro que has muerto
and I create images of dialogues that will never exist
I look closely at the desert behind your picture
and the arch of your subtle smile
the same smile you gave me on the night
when I felt most vulnerable
Bilingual hearts
You and I,
Chicano Orfeus
You would never have imagined
that you could tear a poem
from the heart of someone
who used to love them
No clogged spaces
No boundaries
Death has no wings
But love whispers
in all unimaginable languages

Silvia Marijuan

Silvia Marijuan is an applied linguist and an Assistant Professor at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, who enjoys connecting to language through both science and poetry. 
 

 

 

James Downs

Here are two poems that have similar subjects enough to be connected.

 

Speak it into being

I didn’t believe but
…….I spoke it into being

and ever infinitesimal
…….I became what I am

and that is what I was meant
…….to be

all this journeying time

 

Wait

long enough
and something will undo your certainty
the spectacular places
life itself

James Downs

Holly Day

Mermaids

we were going to take the boat out, sail
to the edge of the world, tease
the monsters waiting there with our
bare, dangling feet, toes tickling the ocean skin
like tiny pink fish

but you had to go and ruin it
chase shore-hugging mermaids instead
had to search clam-shell bikinis for pearls
find out where baby mermaids come from

we were going to become pirates
treasure hunters, world explorers
wrestle giant squid at the world’s edge
find the fountain of youth

but you had to go and spoil everything
in your search for suburban normalcy
chase dreams of apron-clad mermaids
who’d give up their kingdoms for you.

 

Brand New

I threw away
everything that came
before he
was in
my life so
I could pretend
that I was brand new
just like the baby
I held in
my arms, just
like the perfect
baby that somehow
came out of me

 

The New Place, The New Thing

it lies beneath a trapdoor in
the floor. the best way to find it is
to open the door. She
opened the door and entered
the room and was introduced to the thing that was
waiting inside. I watched as you
took her under your wings and erased her.

she woke up that morning
felt destiny stirring in her chest, flutter
in the pit of her stomach in a spot
that should have been empty. The butterflies
would not be still no matter how loud she yelled
no matter
how hard she beat against the growing
knot with her tiny, ineffectual hands. She
who had always required screaming at to
do the simplest things, she picked up the phone
and called me and told me I had to
come over and find away to make

it all go away. You, who sit at her bedside
you brush the hair back from her forehead and tell her things
will be much better now. I
hope you’re not lying.

 

Holly Day

Short bio: Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minnesota , since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Oyez Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, while her newest poetry book, Ugly Girl, just came out from Shoe Music Press.

 

FRANCISCO X. ALARCÓN

image

We have lost a rare and beautiful person.  To Francisco, my friend, my love to you on your new journey.  It has been my privilege and my joy to have gotten to know you and to work with you.  Thanks to James Downs for introducing us and thanks to Devon, my son, and Kiirsti, my daughter, for the good work we did on your book project.  And thanks to Javier, blessings to you.

Francisco is one of those special people, special poets, who in his life and in his poetry he showed us the best a person can be.  In his poetry you see the man and in the man you see his poetry, they are the same.  As James said to me tonight, “he is now the Borderless Butterfly flying over us all.”

Loco                                                            Crazy
mis puertas                                            I leave
las dejo                                                      my doors
sin cerrar                                                 unlocked
los extraños                                           strangers
me parecen                                            look to me
tan familiares                                      so familiar
a todos                                                      I would
los abrazaría                                         embrace and
y besaría                                                  kiss them all
cada día                                                    every day
en la calle                                                on the street
hallo a Dios                                            I run into God
en vez                                                        instead
de llorar                                                  of crying
ahora me río                                        now I laugh
quiero poner                                       I want to
el mundo                                               turn the world
al revés                                                    upside down
nada                                                          nothing
me convence –                                  sways me –
debo de estar loco                            I must be crazy
3 de agosto de 2009                        August 3, 2009

 

TWIXT 5 poems

Water Tactics

Drops’ jots and tittles form icicles
that lock up in temperature drops and yet
drip in more warm phenom clear and present
placebo venom.

 

Is Defines Is

This beautiful panorama of is
somehow has arrived at being what’s there,
and not whatever else might have, had it.

 

Reply

I can sympathize with what you have e-
mailed me, having to break off with someone
for whom you weren’t exclusive who was
for you just what you wanted hurts like hell
and leaves you cold and broken – that took strength
of purpose.  You wouldn’t drop your standard.
You held to what you know is real so good
for you, good for the too of you.

 

Brake-Fast Serial

The roads are full of white noise from tires
on snow, the sidewalks are full of the white
lies of flakes.

 

fertile bush

each berry a yolk
in a raindrop egg

 

“TWIXT is the mononym-onym of Peter Specker; he has had poetry published in Margie, The Indiana Review, Amelia, California State Quarterly, RE:AL, Pegasus, First Class, Pot-pourri, Art Times, The Iconoclast, Epicenter, Subtropics, Quest, Confrontation, Writers’ Journal, Rattle, Prairie Schooner and others.  He lives in Ithaca, New York.”