November 26, 2014

Art by Ernest Williamson III

In Her Fashions

Soul of a Mannequin

After the Noon by Ernest Williamson III

in the aloe
I  reside
accosted by the ragweed
next to,
in congruence with,
cackle and  blandness of your bird songs. 
I've overcome the seeds of hate
but where were they?
what lies were in the basalts of my generalities?
if a canker sore fills the bowels of sanguine hurts,
why do I speak?
if a question answers its intent with flaccid way
why do I doubt?
perhaps I'm too adorned in the sunlight.
branded and perched,
residing with aloe;
a desiccant
is my heart;
for you are far from the streams.

Dr. Ernest Williamson III has published poetry and visual art in over 500 national and international online and print journals. Professor Williamson has published poetry in journals such as The Oklahoma Review, Review Americana: A Creative Writing Journal, and The Copperfield Review. Some of his visual artwork has appeared in journals such as The Columbia Review, The GW Review, and Fiction Fix. Many of his works have been published in journals representing over 50 colleges and universities around the world. Dr. Williamson is an Assistant Professor of English at Allen University and his poetry has been nominated three times for the Best of the Net Anthology. Williamson holds a B.A. and an M.A. in English/Creative Writing/Literature from the University of Memphis and a PhD in Higher Education Leadership from Seton Hall University.

November 24, 2014

Pageboy (detail) by Martin Willitts Jr.


            1979, Andrew Wyeth painting 

She cut her hair into the shadows of loss
and I cannot stand to look at her 
in the eye,

the eye of the closest detail,
staring into space,
where I am not

nor will I ever be there,
there wherever she stares
like she is looking death in the eye,

the kind of long range stare
across fields to the furthest town
where a crack in a wall gets attention

and I am not there
I am not in her line of vision
which drifts off to the vanishing horizon

This poem is from a collection of poems based on the Andrew Wythe "Helga" collection.  Martin Willitts Jr is the winner of the Dylan Thomas International Poetry Award, in honor of the 100 centennial. He is the author of 6 full-length collections including national ecological winner "Searching for What Is Not There" (Hiraeth Press. 2013) and 28 chapbooks including contest winner "William Blake, Not Blessed Angel But Restless Man" (Red Ochre Press, 2014). He has been in Poppy Road many times. 

November 21, 2014

Garden of Eden by Peggy Carter

The sun was hot that day – 
boiling out of a blue sky; no clouds survived

But we did.

I don’t even remember how we got there –
the open field, so isolated – 
a beautiful view, not that we saw it – 
a few trees as witness – 
endless grass – 
and the mountains, crisp and clear, for backdrop – 

His blue eyes weren’t the only thing to pierce me – 
a handful of flesh on the grass – 

I heard the voices of other lovers, past and future – 

That eden was ours.

As the sun burned through, we were branded – 

Peggy Carter came late in her life to poetry. She started writing in her early 60's and has been consumed with it ever since. Peggy has taken one college class in poetry. She's been taught by Brendan Constantine and Tresha Faye Haefner. Tobi Cogswell has also been influential. Peggy's had the good fortune to have been published in the Bellowing Ark, Decanto, The Stray Branch and Red Fez. She published a chapbook, Reach, in 2013.  


November 19, 2014

Two Poems by Ricki Mandeville

What Endures
The notions of trees when seasons turn, 
as even now, at half past fall, the sycamores 
have curled their leaves like old men’s hands. 
And the stubbornness of stars, though stars have 
always seemed too haughty with their faint, cold light. 
And wind—eternal mad sculptor—whisking crumbs
of pyramids across oceans, powdering
them against stark cliffs, blind skyscrapers. 
Does the soil in my garden hold a memory 
of roots, of rain, as I crumble it in my palm?
Trees, stars, mad wind, black earth all endure. 
And what of love; does it?  Even when 
the heartless wind empties my hands of it, 
does a bit of it remain—a taste, a trace?

At 5 a.m. rain wakes me, boughs outside
the window going wild in northwest wind: 
gnarled horses galloping crazily in place
while you twitch and murmur in dregs of sleep.
In an hour, the wind will lift my hair, trail it
like yellow paint across the sullen canvas sky. 
You’ll drag your hands through the damp wilds of it,  
weave it through your knuckles, hold it like pale rags 
next to my face, press your thumbs to my cheekbones, 
say everything but goodbye & my eyes will leak
rain enough to drown every poem I’ve written.
I will clench my teeth against the wind 
and watch your jacket, darkened at the shoulders, 
disappearing down the pot-holed road. 

Ricki Mandeville is an editor, poet and dreamer fortunate enough to live near the ocean in Huntington Beach, California, where, on the best days, the tide washes up a love sonnet which she has no choice but to write. Her poems have appeared in Comstock Review, San Pedro River Review, Pea River Journal and many other publications.

November 17, 2014

Interview w/ Poet Marianne Szlyk

1. Who or what inspired you to write poetry?

I’ve lived in a number of places where local identity is important (or used to be important): New England, Oregon, Indiana, one beautiful and terrible year in NYC, and even Washington, DC, as its poetry scene flourishes within the cracks of this city of transients.  When I was growing up in New England, I spent time in both the country and the city, so both places inspire me.  Music has always been important to me although the type of music I listen to has certainly changed over the years.  I have also come to terms with the fact that I am more interested in character and setting than in plot, so poetry is more natural to me than fiction would be.  Also, it is very hard for me to make terrible things happen to my characters.  In any case, I am enjoying poetry this time around.  I have worked with inspiring teachers (Reuben Jackson and Chris Goodrich), and the poetry communities online and off have been quite hospitable.   Dr. Michael Anthony Ingram and the D.C. Poetry Project have been most welcoming, especially given our different backgrounds and approaches to poetry.  (They are more performative, and I am more of a print poet.)

2. Do you have a favorite place to write?

I generally like writing (and grading papers and so forth) in our not-so-new addition.  It has skylights, a beautiful picture window, a stereo, comfortable furniture, and cats.  I’m not a café writer because I feel too self-conscious; probably I am a suburban homebody at heart.  However, I will do my handwritten first drafts elsewhere, often at a poetry workshop but sometimes in a café or on a train. 

3. Who are your favorite poets, alive or deceased?

When I was younger, I immersed myself in the confessional poets, especially Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, and Anne Sexton, but I also enjoyed more observational poets like e.e. cummings or William Carlos Williams.  As one of my early teachers (Jane Shore) was a great admirer of Elizabeth Bishop, I have been influenced by her, too.  I am not a rhyming poet at all, but now I admire what Gwendolyn Brooks has done, balancing craft and observation of her community.  At this point in my life, writing about community and place appeals to me far more interesting than writing about self does.  I enjoy the Chinese poets (Han Shan, Li Bo, etc.) in translation although I realize that translation is never the same as the original, especially, as my Chinese students have taught me, when it comes to their culture’s poetry.  John Donne has always been one of my favorites, too, although I must say that I prefer the secular poems to the holy ones.  I also enjoyed reading Yusef Komunyakaa and Daniel Nathan Terry’s poems this summer.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know Felino A. Soriano, Mary Jo Balistreri, and Joan McNerney.  Felino’s work ethic and dedication to poetic evolution are particularly inspiring!  Charles Clifford Brooks III has a fabulous voice.  I have been intrigued by Martin Willits, Jr.’s poems on Celtic astrology.  I have a love-hate relationship with astrology, but I like seeing the Celtic signs’ ties to nature.  And, of course, I’m looking forward to getting to know other poets, especially through Poppy Road Review and Flutter Poetry Journal.

4. What five words best sum up your personality?

Nostalgic, contradictory, reflective, optimistic, close-to-the-vest.

5. Other than writing, what else do you love to do?

My husband and I enjoy going to concerts and plays.  We manage to listen to quite a bit of jazz by old and new artists.  We like eating at small, ethnic restaurants when we can although that is difficult since I really have to watch my weight.  I love walking to work in the morning through the neighborhood.  I love doing yoga, playing pick-up Ultimate Frisbee with the over-40 crowd, and going to the gym as I would not be around today without either.  I love exploring new-to-me neighborhoods in Washington, DC and elsewhere.  We love spending time with our cats Callie and Thelma. 

6. What are your current, and/or next projects?

During the school year, I am focused on teaching, but I take time to work on my blog-zine, The Song Is… promoting it, recruiting new poets, and coming up with different contests.  The fall contests honor Thelonious Monk and singer-songwriter Gene Clark.  In the spring, the contests will focus on women in music as well as swing music.  I am open to suggestions as long as they don’t involve me listening to music I dislike too much. 

This fall I’ve also published my first chapbook, Listening to Electric Cambodia, Looking Up at Trees of Heaven, with Kind of a Hurricane Press (Barometric Pressures Authors Series).  I want to promote it a little more, especially once the semester is over. 

When I return to writing over break, I would like to revisit some of the themes that have inspired me.  The Camel Saloon recently published a series of photographs from Newfoundland, a place I’ve never quite made it to, and I’d like to respond to a few more.  I would also like to put together a second chapbook with some of the poems I’ve published recently, but this chapbook will be more focused around either geography or music.

I am also open to different themes and inspirations.  Poetry must keep evolving as the poet’s life evolves.

November 14, 2014

Beyond by Michael Keshigian

He felt himself in the gaze
of a more powerful one,
a force that hovered
somewhere above
the forest of shaded white pines 
that pricked the brightening sky.
He sensed judgment
from the elusive stars,
now hidden from view
and discerned scrutiny 
from the morning moon
after it was swallowed whole
by the sun which dispersed 
observations in focalized rays
regarding his life,
upon the backside of blue,
yet he continued to float
until the path diverged 
in opposite directions
well within his approaching view
and suddenly he hung suspended,
like a catatonic cloud,
awaiting a gust.

Michael Keshigian’s ninth poetry book, Dark Edges was recently released this September, 2014 by Flutter Press.  He has been widely published in numerous national and international journals and appeared as feature writer in over a dozen publications with 5 Pushcart Prize and 2 Best Of The Net nominations. (