Categories
poetry

Linoleum By Stelios Mormoris

Linoleum | By Stelios Mormoris

It is clear we all need flooring
in our lives–something to keep
our traction with a modicum
of decorum and alacrity from
one appointment to the next,    
from the procession of infant to
child to man, far surer firmament
than skipping on the lily pads
of strangers to lovers to friends
with not enough time to sink.

I approach this corridor of old
linoleum with mild trepidation, 
as if it were an oil slick, easy 
to slip in its black fluorescence. 
Brazen ship, I slip into it anyway: 
the linoleum recomposed from 
some malleable matter like wax 
or asphalt, remnant of liquid,
puréed, re-formed, jaundiced
with age, hardened by lack of use.

I notice the linoleum is sweating.
It feels indecent to traverse it
as if someone dead is pressed
inside its board. I lift one corner.
The underside looks baked like 
dried brown mascara, the top side
black with bits of mustard, matching 
our old fridge, abused and familiar.
I swear my mother is still breathing
through it, and touch the beads

of lanolin seething through its 
pliant surface, then lift to my face
the tacky moisture, and smell the
putrid summer when we cried
with her on a set of swings, 
away in the Catskill mountains
and drowned in her sermons,  
four fatherless young children
gathering milkweed and thistle
on the shoulder of the interstate.

Even an acrid bouquet was a gift,
and she wept. Even a window open
and hearing a chorus of girls 
carry across the valley like puffs
of dandelion blown loose excited 
her as I picked the stiff white seeds
caught in her sweater. Even the 
footsteps of her son pressing
tentatively the vulnerable skin
to summon her out of her oculus

keeps her alive–as the priest would
say–like lights of candles passed
from the altar to the altar boys 
to the congregation. I decide to lie
down in the cradle of curling tile
to hear the pulse in my ear,
and set alight the crickets that
dry summer night when I heard 
her crying alone in a rented cabin,
to my delight, and to my peril.

About the Author:

Native of Boston and Martha’s Vineyard, MA., Stelios Mormoris is currently the C.E.O. of, EDGE BEAUTY, Inc..  Dual citizen of Greece and the U.S. and raised in New York, Stelios has spent most of his life living in Paris.  He received his undergraduate degree in architecture at Princeton and a M.B.A. from INSEAD in Paris. 

Stelios is a contemporary artist, specializing in abstract geometric oil painting [www.steliosmormoris.com].  Stelios was part of the Creative Writing Program at Princeton, as a student of William Meredith and later studied at Columbia with Stanley Kunitz, as well as with Nancy Schoenberger from the Academy of American Poets.  

He has published work in The Fourth River, Gargoyle, Humana Obscura, Midwest Poetry Review, the Nassau Literary Review, PRESS, South Road, Spillway, Sugar House Review, VERSE, The Whelk Walk Review and other literary journals.   

Stelios has held positions on the Boards of the French Cultural Center of Boston, Historic New England, The Fragrance Foundation, Symrise, ACT UP, and is a member of the Kytherian Society.

Categories
poetry

Standing Water in Central Nebraska By Tyler Jacobs

Standing Water in Central Nebraska | By Tyler Jacobs

A dragonfly swarms callow fields;
Paint on a calm, vast canvas.

About the Author:

Tyler Michael Jacobs currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of The Carillon. He is the recipient of the Wagner Family Writing Award Endowment. His poetry has appeared, or is slated to appear, in The Carillon, Poached Hare, The Hole in the Head Review, Runestone, The Magazine, Rumble Fish Quarterly, The Whorticulturalist, East by Northeast Literary Magazine, White Wall Review, HASH Journal, Funicular Magazine, and Aurora: The Allegory Ridge Poetry Anthology.

Categories
poetry

The Man Whose Face Was Stolen by Clif Mason

        

The Man Whose Face Was Stolen | By Clif Mason

         A man woke to find his face
                                                        on a gold doubloon,
                     & then it was his no more,
but was exchanged in a white water river
                                             of dream & contempt,
each person who touched it
                                             changed
by the long trail of barterings
                                             & dissemblings,
                                                                 palterings
                             & misgivings.

         To get what it must
was the first & foremost urge
                                of woodchuck
                                                        & woodpecker
                    & of the toad
                                 with the brilliantly elastic tongue,
rolled up in its mouth
                                 like a window blind. 

        The snail,
                                the quail,
the town’s thousand feral cats:
                                each a guileless opportunist,
not one with an ounce
                                            of human subterfuge,
                     not one with a shred of human obliquity.

         Everyone knew the man’s stolen face
but no one knew him.
        & when he begged them
                                                       to return his face,
                    they bruised his chest
                               & broke his hands. 

         Other people went to work
                                                                   & got married
                                             & had children,
         & pursued their ever-
retreating dreams,
                                 admitting,
                                            in moments of quiet clarity,
                     their grand goals were becoming
                                                                     thinner,
                                 more transparent,
more improbable & unlikely.
        His life was fixed
                                                     & unchanging.
       Soon no one remembered him.

         Yet everyone wanted
the coin bearing his face.
        When friends gathered,
                                                        they told stories of it.
       When lovers met,
                                they saw its gleaming silver face.
         Children dreamt of it.
         Old men & women spoke of it
with their dying breaths.
        It inspired poets
                                        & mathematicians,
                    homeless printers & magicians.
         Inmates held it in their hearts
during their long ordeal of crime & time
                            & parents passed it without thinking
                    to their children.

        One night the man dreamed
                                                         the most incredible 
& extravagant of dreams:
                                             His face came back to him.
        He could feel it
                                 & see it in the mirror.
        When he woke,          
the rest of the world
                                            could not see him at all.
        He had completely ceased to exist
                                                                 among them.

About the Author:

Clif Mason lives in Bellevue, Nebraska, with his wife, a visual artist. He is the author of one collection, Knocking the Stars Senseless (Stephen F. Austin State University Press), and three chapbooks: The Book of Night & Waking (won the Cathexis Northwest Press Chapbook Prize), Self-portraits in Which I Do Not Appear (Finishing Line Press), and From the Dead Before (Lone Willow Press). His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and he has been the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to Rwanda, Africa. He also writes magical realist and fantasy fiction. Twitter: @mason_clif

Categories
poetry

Blue Heron at the Lake

Blue Heron at the Lake  |  By Kim Sosin

That last day before moving on
I fish the shallows of the lake.
I stand regally,
stretch my long neck.
I see myself, a sculpted ice fountain
reflected in the surface,
sleek feathers more blue than the lake,
stiletto beak more gold than the rushes.

In the soft smell of recent rain
ducks kiss fertile lake beds.
I spot an underwater flash of light
and strike,
shattering my reflection.
I pull out a silvery minnow,
marveling at my fishing prowess
and savor spring’s bounty.

A cacophony of nasal quacks
warns me!
I hunker down, leap,
open azure wings, grab air in plumes,
rise with warm currents, but then remember
the minnow-rich slate pool
the whisper of rippling water.
I circle, splash home on feather parachutes.

This shallow fertile lake is my sojourn.
Tomorrow will be time to move on.

About the Author:

Kim McNealy Sosin is an Emerita Professor of Economics at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Her post-retirement interests include writing and photography. Her poems and photographs have appeared in Fine Lines, Failed Haiku, Daily Haiga, Voices from the Plains, Landscape Magazine, The Heron’s Nest, Wanderlust Journal, Raw Art Review, and Sandcutters.

Categories
poetry

Two Poems By Matt Mason

In the Packed Auditorium | By Matt Mason

Warren Buffett eats peanut brittle
live
on stage
in front of forty thousand faces, he
makes it look easy,
picks up a golden chip,
mid-sentence,
uses that same hand to gesture a point to life,
punctuates with a crunch.

You crane your neck for the video screen,
hoping to see the slo-mo replay,
but,
no,

it’s just some
monologue
about picking stocks,
making money.

Flash | By Matt Mason

—from an inch-long news story in the Omaha World-Herald

3am, naked man in Nebraska
drives his truck through a church,
sideswipes a school,
ends up spinning on the State Capitol’s lawn;

he’s wearing nothing but rain and spotlights, his skin
a living glitter ball across the grass,
stepped out a superstar,
blue-red paparazzi pulses flashing breakneck beats
around the streetlight city.

You can’t publicize a show like this.

Too much is the surprise of it,
that, otherwise, would keep you brewing coffee after bedtime
so you could sneak to the church halfway to dawn,
sit with the whole neighborhood; everybody here, the Presbyterians
the Baptists from the red house,
everybody squeezed in the balcony

meditating on the pair of candles
far away as stars
before the scene ignites,
before a choir of rubber and internal combustion blazes up the aisle,
slows like genuflection,
screeches left at the altar, tips the holy birdbath, and parts the side doors like a sea.

Mary just smiles. Jesus
doesn’t even turn his head.

Not a soul notices
how beautiful the Capitol building looks in this rain, confetti of light beams,
orange pickup spinning on the green,
tires spraying mud across the cosmos.

In such a Funkytown spectacle,
you’d think the officers would move more like the YMCA dancers,
leap like antelope, prowl like panthers instead of such
clumsy choreography where they fall on this slickfish naked highlight
and beat his chin into the muck; they lie to the rain, saying:
that’s it for the show,
nothing to see here,
get yourselves home.

About the Author:

Matt Mason is the Nebraska State Poet and Executive Director of the Nebraska Writers Collective. He has run poetry programs for the State Department in Nepal, Romania, Botswana and Belarus. Mason is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and his work can be found in magazines and anthologies including Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. Mason’s 3rd book, I Have a Poem the Size of the Moon, is due out from Stephen F. Austin University Press in late 2020. Matt is based out of Omaha with his wife, the poet Sarah McKinstry-Brown, and daughters Sophia and Lucia.

Categories
poetry

Uprooting A Tree By Jamie Wendt

Uprooting a Tree | By Jamie Wendt

There is always risk
when uprooting a tree.
Generation after generation,
we yank roots from the earth,
and no one can recall
the first seed, the place a root
splits. My tongue names a new species
that my sons can never understand.
I kiss their foreheads at night
and they grow into strangers,
laughing in their sleep.

I remember the lanky boy in Kove Guberdnia
who ate copper coins from his parents’ wallet
rather than be forced on a ship to America.
He ate half of their fortune.
His fingers were orange, smelled like dirt.
He swung from trees, a monkey-snake,
rushed to me one day across the road
where I often dug, pat soil,
grabbed weeds, planted flowers.
He shoved his splintered hand in my face.
I already sensed I would be a mother to sons.
I tweezed out the tiny wood with my black nails,
licked his red wound
slow and hot, prophesied
he would remain a boy
forever running from himself
without guilt in his chest,
without pages between his lips,
without an ocean to hold him steady.

 – Mena “Minnie” Pretcovitz, 1905

About the Author:

Jamie Wendt is the author of the poetry collection Fruit of the Earth (2018) and winner of the 2019 National Federation of Press Women Book Award. Her poetry, essays, and book reviews have been published in various literary journals and anthologies, including Feminine Rising: Voices of Power and Invisibility, Lilith, Literary Mama, The Forward, Third Wednesday, and Saranac Review. She holds an MFA from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She teaches high school English and lives in Chicago with her husband and two children.

Website: https://jamiewendt.wordpress.com/