Dr. Ralph Monday

Waking
 
Waking, at times the world seems a trick.
An angel locked in granite.
A yellow jacket sun poured like stone onto
the window.

All these things go by like a drunk searching
memory.

What were we before we became? How do we know
the past fragmented world, Dali’s mad dreams?
Then there are the blue mountains, dusty trails where
we walk with weak hands, think of Picasso’s
ripped geometrics.

History does not exist till read in books,
viewed as entertainment with the evening’s
beer.

We do not exist except as reflected back through
media: glossy covers that tell women how to have
the best sex, men how to rip a sixpack, as though
these are tender mercies needed to fill up days.

How then is truth.
There is always the mist, fog before us but what
else?

How thin is truth.
Not found in greased gears, clacking cogs.
Perhaps the Iroquois song in God-scented
forests,

Lakota love of plains grazing buffalo.

Spring is ambiguous but fall the fullness of
mystery taken as an unrequited lover,
where sometimes a diamond tipped carbide
blade is needed to cut into the core & see
what is hidden, whether there really is a
kingdom of fog, of rain, childhood astonishment,
of a spreading cinematography rolled out through
the mind, of Constantine’s Cross & Mr. Hyde, of
Mara Corday & Marilyn & Mamie, all tossed
together like a restaurant salad, snapshots through
the lens we spy, mere fragments in a fragmented
history.

To know that there is nothing to be
Known—not Ecclesiastes, not women with bare
feet, not the sun before dawn or the moon before
winter or a bird husking the last autumn seed—only
blank loneliness cradling us within its spell.

 

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Douglas Polk Returns

Christmas Errands 

only another day on the calendar,
Christmas much more work,
when the children grown and gone,
the ability to believe,
stretched and stressed a number of degrees,
salvation seems now,
no more than a dream,
peace and good will,
muttered wishes,
under the breath,
the days dark and cold,
Christmas errands almost unbearable,
until eyes lock with a child of five or six,
while at the grocery store,
hope and joy,
beaming brightly from dancing eyes,
young eyes,
full of belief,
and the ability to save.

 

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Nancy Scott-McBride

PORTRAIT

Her face?
Picture a sheet of ivory vellum with
nothing written on it.
Blank and and smooth, her face,
it waits for “experience” and “character”
to mar it, scar it, line and define it.
But impassive as the Buddha,
indifferent as the moon,
it remains calmly embalmed against the elements.

Like the faces of the mad, the saints, the stoned,
hers is a miracle of seeming serenity.

There are ulcers and migraines
and other things going on.
(She’s got a million of ‘em.)

But like a circus sideshow,
you have to go inside to catch the action.

 

FORGIVENESS

They say it’s not about
letting off the hook the one who hurt you,
but dropping a burden you’ve carried too long.
I don’t forgive because it would mean
losing the little I have left of you.

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Dr. Ralph Monday

Leaving

Desire is a thorny endeavor, the steaming of physical
wants borne nude in any number of dark corners.

How can one long keep held secrets?
Is it through living? No, not so much living,
but an airborne purpose without sense.

Flying about wanting to speak to not what
is critical commotion, but to the soft belly
underneath, to leave and say, “I am going
to the mountains.”

There the irregular autumn universe
will descend over one like an erotic,
squatting squaw.

This is the time to say I am parting now
as a wife whose husband has left for a
foreign land.

There among the strange trees and alien
streets, he will not pause to ask why she
weeps as she slices to ribbons his silk
shirts on the bedroom floor.

She will only know the many maddening
November days of broken stones, brittle
leaves, the grief of grass, bits of colored
glass.

Afterwards she will sit at the kitchen table
gossiping with forgotten enemies who
laugh at the ghosts of her lovers.

Little matter: nothing that is done or will be
done, nothing that will be made, outlasts
the rising moon passing from crescent to
bulging pregnancy, the setting, the waxing,
the waning, spinning white, round knuckle,
locked to one night after another

like yellowed leaves of a wild fruit tree
that has survived the rains, the cold ice
turned burgundy by a late sun, a cello
hemorrhaging out autumn’s lament,
blasting seeds not yet pecked away by
winter birds—an old narrative shot through
by an old exposition.

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Holly Day Returns

The Things I Know

I read headlines about cannibals living in
plain sight, drunk driving accidents,
children bringing guns and knives and drugs to school and

I wonder how I’m supposed to send him out there
when five years old seems much too young to see this world.
I read headlines about priests charged with raping boys

daycare providers caught with child pornography
school janitors hiding secret murders for years
trusted neighbors with basement torture chambers, and

I wonder how they can ask me to let him go
when it seems my whole life has been about hiding
from the monsters waiting for us just beyond the door.
 

Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Tampa Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, while her recently published books include Nordeast Minneapolis: A History, A Brief History of Stillwater Minnesota, and  Ugly Girl.

 

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Laura Zucca-Scott

Our Journey

Early in the morning
When all is quiet
I could hear the seagulls’ calls
Like old sailors lost at sea
After the storm

We ate our breakfast
As on a mission
Talking about our trip
Of all the smiles
Yours was always true

You had fought your battle
And came back victorious
Now on the ferry boat
I could see the early sun
Reflected in your eyes

Peace was simple
Peace was strong
We did not know
We could not know

We were saying goodbye

 

Mavericks

The umbrella like a maverick sun
They are looking at the bonfire
A tradition old as time

While a subtle rain falls
The slender church tower
Looks down in delight

A child and her father wait
For the flames to rise higher
And the night to get warmer

Their eyes meet for a moment
Reflecting the golden light
A truce long awaited
An ancient world

A new world

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Dr. Ralph Monday

The Girl in the White Dress

The mirror, a silver moon,
conjurs up the
girl from the settlement
town, scissored tan long legs
sweeping forward beneath the
thin, white dress, eating up the land,
the miles, dissolving behind her
whatever myth it is that she flees.

A stream of song lays her longing
behind her
like discarded lover’s clothes,
like an October without color,
enigma of knowing, of feeling
whether in the dark or light of
day.

Who loved who, or was there no love,
smear of truth, enigma of lies.
I can read her morse code mind, tap tap
as she flees: streaks of mental text
flashed across the glass, that hurt, that bruise,
that laugh over wine.

I see her other side, the one she left, tanglec
of truth & memory.
Pause & give me a moment. Pause but for
a clock tick. Then I would read your
iconography, your mythology.
I would know your landscape like no
other, the lines of you, architecture of
physical things, the terrible event
that tore you away.

This doesn’t have to remain in the deep
bone marrow. Let me give light,
the strange shimmer of the borealis.
Lie down in the road & let me kindle
the ashed fire.

Go with me to still waters and drink
mercy spun like silk from my fingertips.
 

Ralph Monday is Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN., and has published hundreds of poems in over 100 journals. A chapbook, All American Girl and Other Poems, was published in July 2014. A book Empty Houses and American Renditions was published May 2015 by Aldrich Press. A Kindle chapbook Narcissus the Sorcerer was published June 2015 by Odin Hill Press. An e-book, Bergman’s Island & Other Poems is scheduled for publication by Poetry Repairs in March of 2017, and a humanities text is scheduled for publication by Kendall/Hunt in 2018.

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