Saturday book feature – Transmissions from Bone House — Stephen Bunch

from “Second Life”

In First Life, Dr. Aribert Heim
collected Jüdische Schädel,
especially treasured the children’s skulls
in a line on a shelf
in his Matthausen office.
Somewhere they went missing,
as did he from the photograph
of his German champion hockey team,
ten years post-war.

The Khazars, he claimed, drove him
to the tennis court roof of the rundown hotel
in downtown Cairo. They forced him to hear
the muzzein’s call from Al Azhar mosque,
to which he walked fifteen miles each day,
“Tarek Hussein Farid,” with the check
from his sister in Baden-Baden
and his German Koran, gift
for “Uncle Tarek”
from his landlord’s children.

Seldom seen in Cairo’s streets and stalls
without his camera, he never appeared
in a photograph. His unpublished
book on the Zionists disappeared
in Second Life, as did his cancer-
ridden Aryan body.

by Stephen Bunch, from Transmissions from Bone House, Woodley Press

buy link: http://woodleypress.org/books#/transmissions-from-bone-house

From the archives – American Numerology — Stephen Bunch

American Numerology

52

A Mayan epoch, cards
in a deck, weeks
in a year, the atomic
weight of chromium,
not the Korean chrome
on the straight-eight
Pontiac, not the atomic
weight on Eniwetok,
while Nixon played
Checkers. Eisenhower’s
first, Lucy’s first, no
lynchings for the first
time since 1882,
but shortly Boeing’s
bombers excavating Vietnam,
back to the stone age, ivories
pounded, all the white
notes, shaking that love
shack, baby, the hexagram
that directs, “Keep still, no
blame,” shuffle and deal.

76

It’s a short drive to Whitman’s
bridge from the Liberty Bell
but a long haul to cheese-steak
independence, a declaration
of trombones on parade
in the hinterlands.
Longer still for Halley’s ellipse,
two countdown steps
from heaven, when homo
erectus intersected
string theory, and a nuclear peanut
farmer lusted in his heart
and said so. All the way,
the four-lane’s lined with signs
bearing freedom’s number,
promising petroleum
and clean restrooms forever.

49 (for Joy)

In Petaluma, poultry
emerged from Sutter’s golden
egg. Rushing miners modeled
Levi’s. A century later,
Hiroshima plus four, mon
amour, seven squared,
booming, genes
photogenic, we were born.

by Stephen Bunch

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, March 28, 2016

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Saturday book feature – Kissing the Long Face of the Greyhound— Yvonne Zipter

Elmer Almighty

My grandfather was a god to me, bronzed
from secret Ashkenazi blood and tattooed
with the scars of a workingman’s life.
Mechanical things perceived his supremacy
and did as he bid. Midas-like, he could transform
trash into treasure, turned Goodwill garbage
into a golden dresser graced with brass lion heads
the size of quarters biting the rings of the drawer pulls.
With his own hands, he built a house for his wife,
the pine door frames bleeding the resinous sap
of their marriage for years on end.

He rose from the hard-packed earth
of immigrant Milwaukee, an elm sapling
growing as beautiful as he was sturdy.
In the attic he shared with his brothers,
I see him breaking the glassy skin of ice
atop a chipped china bowl, mornings,
to splash glacial water on his callow cheeks.
It was so cold, he would say, with every telling,
you could see the frost on the heads of the nails,
which glinted, I imagine, like constellations
of frozen stars he could touch, so close
he was, always, to heaven.

by Yvonne Zipter, from Kissing the Long Face of the Greyhound, Terrapin Books

buy link: https://www.terrapinbooks.com/store/p32/Kissing_the_Long_Face_of_the_Greyhound.html

From the archives – Spiderwort — Marybeth Rua-Larsen

Spiderwort

I sit alone in your room, spinning all the things you touched
and wouldn’t let go of. Sea stars and periwinkle shells
arranged and rearranged on your bureau, lotion smoothed
and pressed on the inside of your tiny wrists like perfume,
the reek of vanilla everywhere. Sometimes, you’d twirl
and twirl and twirl, believing dizzy made you strong.

Two floors below, spiderwort blooms,
casting its deep bruising purple everywhere
and I remember, in our first home, when I named it weed,
spent an entire summer dragging it up by its roots
worried it would overcome the dahlias,
but true wildflowers don’t die, and I’ve grown

to love such intrepidness, watching each
three-petaled bloom close at sunset
while the next lies in wait for sunrise. Unstoppable,
like you, twirling, my arms outstretched
to catch you. Dangers lurk everywhere,
the worst we don’t see coming.

by Marybeth Rua-Larsen

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, June 8, 2016

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Saturday book feature – Fading into Focus— Joan Kantor

Back To Before
—with my mother at The New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT

She stares at the painting of an endless seascape,
her eyes and mind dimmed with age.
She’s moved way past the forbidden,
and as the glistening thick swirls of
deep blue-green brushstrokes
call her to touch,
she feels the texture with the tips of her fingers
and finally sees.
Her senses flare with the primitive thrill of sloshing sounds
in the dark,
as sinking into the surface she sways
to the distant reminiscence of gentle waves,
while slowly rocking and riding the softest of swells
to the undercurrent’s distant steady pulse.
There’s no point in telling her not to touch.
Compelled,
she’s rediscovering the beginning
at the end.

by Joan Kantor, from Fading into Focus

buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Fading-into-Focus-Alzheimers-Relationship/dp/1505633982

From the archives – Affidavit — Terri Muuss

Affidavit

My mother said, Pack your
bags. Your father doesn’t want us
here anymore. He had beat
my brother. I was the mistress. We boxed
what we could. The summer and the wet
heat. My brother cried. My hands. How little
they could carry. The callus on my pointer
finger. It could peel and be soft
again. My brother’s bruises. Father
was driving. He didn’t stop when he pushed my brother
from the car. I ran to him. How soft
my belly was after sleep. When my father
touched me, I flinched. I didn’t but wanted
to learn how. Later, I was raped. I didn’t scream.
My brother stopped talking and I knew
why. When I cut into my skin, no one asked. I dyed
my hair. I was raped on a dorm floor.
On the uptown subway platform. The wind rushed, knocked
breath into me. I had stopped breathing. I kept
breathing when I wanted to stop. I screamed
at my mother at the top
of the stairs. She wanted to know where
I had been. She didn’t want to know. When I was 3,
she held my head in the crook of her arm while
reading to me. She was warm and soft and felt
like bread dough. My father said she was a failure
and he my parachute. I drifted
from her. She had held me. She let go.
He pushed me naked from his lap. I ran as far
as possible. I kissed a beautiful
girl. I wanted to be a man. She invited me into her
mouth. Her tongue gave soft passage. At home, the backscratcher
was a stick. A whip. It was You will listen to me. It left
proof that I existed. I never existed. I let him push me
down. Father. The student in the dorm. The man
on the subway platform. The beautiful
girl said, “No, there. To stay you must
kneel.” And I did. She pushed me down.
I held her to my chest filled with birds. She
left. Returned to a girlfriend. I threw a glass against
the wall. It all shattered. My brother
was rocking. We were packing up. Moving
out. Someone was singing. I didn’t die. I died
slowly. I locked the door until
every voice was silent.

by Terri Muuss

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, November 7, 2016

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Saturday book feature – Hospice House— Joanne M. Clarkson

Bedside

I watched the body give up
its elastic grip. Its hungers dwindling
into sips of tepid water. The eyes,
so full of stories, looking beyond me.

How will I know death? I had asked.
How will I tell for sure? It was like
when I asked the midwife how I would know
labor and she laughed. You will know.
You will know. But it wasn’t as simple
as that for me, the body struggling
to free itself and now the soul.

The chest rises and stills for a beat, two,
three. Then suddenly inflates, rising
from a deep lake into lamplight.

Yet when it came, I did know. Some bodies
look young again, someone had told me.
Others as old as time can imagine.
All the air in the room had gone. The world
lay naked to ions of traveling starlight.
Even skin breathes, I had never realized.

Until now. No blood, just pale. The final
push as effortful as birth. The letting go
of flesh. Life never wholly mine.
Pain and what to name it. I did wonder
at the end about death. Death itself.
If I was dying. I put my hand
to my chest and felt the heaviness of loss,
the weight of a newborn.

by Joanne M. Clarkson, from Hospice House, MoonPath Press

Cover Art by Carolyn Clarkson (the poet’s daughter)

buy link: https://moonpathpress.com/JoanneClarkson.htm

From the archives – New Year’s Eve on the Moon — Ciaran Parkes

New Year’s Eve on the Moon

You’ve got telescopes. You can see more
than the Great Wall of China. You can measure
the moving coastlines like someone on a train

watching the landscape gliding by, imagining
themselves a tireless runner, leaping hedges,
trees and houses, or in your case, oceans,

continents. The night reveals much more,
like turning a light on, like x-ray. You can choose
a city to focus on. It’s almost New Year’s Day

or it’s already been for hours. For one whole day
you can watch the flare of fireworks in the darkness
as cities come alight and, in the distance,

the brighter sway of sunlight sweeping in
over the horizon. On the moon who knows
what time it is, what day or year or month?

What’s to celebrate? What slow tides are moved
by the earth in all those dried up seas?

by Ciaran Parkes

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, December 31, 2020

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Saturday book feature – Unforgetting— Christine Potter

Poem To Myself At 30

I see you change out of your whites
in the cooks’ bathroom where
a florescent tube, almost burnt-out
flickers like Charlie Chaplin. Garlic

stings your cuticles, a clingy musk
under the lavender hand soap
someone else brought in. Take off
your bandana, shake out your flat hair,

and open the door to the sudden
comfort of the wide black sky
overhead: no moon, but stars and
stars and stars. The bread order

is placed, tomorrow’s vegetables
safe in the dill-scented walk-in. Try
not to listen to your mother. It’s fine
to be happy with this. See? Your

old red car still runs smoothly.
Its radio is tuned to a friendly song,
and the drive uphill and home
shorter and kinder than you think.

by Christine Potter, from Unforgetting, Kelsay Books

buy link: https://kelsaybooks.com/products/unforgetting

Horoscope by Ciaran Parkes

Horoscope

I photograph your horoscope
from The Irish Independent
with my mobile phone
to send it to you miles away
along the coast in Enniscrone.

Now the stars
might as well be closer
than you are. On a good night
I can see them easily.
But I’m grateful for the magic
that brings me your voice

every day. I remember,
before sending, you don’t
look at the horoscopes
we used to read together
these Covid days, can’t even

bring yourself to look
at the crowded stars, the moon
in its solitary splendour.

by Ciaran Parkes

Editor’s Note: This poem’s stanza breaks (in between sentences) are carefully chosen to mirror the difficult distance between the speaker and their loved one, reinforcing the final image of a solitary moon in a crowded space.