Learning by Kim M. Baker
Issue Seven coming at you! So proud that we continue to publish talented poets. We learn as we go. And I have learned just how generous those talented poets and kindred spirits can be. They continue to submit and donate in their local communities. It never ceases to leave me with a sense of awe.
This issue is filled with published poets, as well as new voices. I am so proud to feature Carole Stasiowski, a fine poet from Cape Cod. Her verse is filled with story and imagery to which you can relate and that also leaves you thinking about the deeper meanings of human nature. Other seasoned poets, Diana Raab and Mark Danowsky, bring us the outer and inner workings of their worlds to consider. Catherine Glenday gives us the hunger of dreams, as well as food. And last, but not least, I am proud to introduce you to Michael Hammond Fisher, Jr. a D. C. poet, who writes it honest, raw, and poignant. Welcome to Word Soup, Michael!
Feast, dear ones. Let these words fill your poetic hunger and fuel your desire to love the world. These poets have donated generously in their communities, and an anonymous donor continues to make it possible for poets who do not have financial means to submit their work for consideration. Bless you, dear heart!
Falling in love with this autumn work,
Three Poems by Carole Stasiowski
The flat screen is stilled,
the little screens too,
all lights put out
except for vampires’
red and green eyes.
Air is thick
with spiders, bitcoins
that never cease searching.
One skittish street lamp
infiltrates the stillness
of the room, edges a dry foot.
How long tonight
before rest comes?
From some overlook
high in the white pine
a great horned calls,
two short, three long hoots,
again, again, again,
that sound opening into desire
or what remains
when desire falls
on a broken wing.
The waters of hearing
bend to the lament,
the inward hairs too.
The handiwork of stars
drowns in halide noise.
No angel listens here.
Square little house, five to squeeze
in two bedrooms
all those years of scrimping cash
to fix the attic
and send the children up. Those years
no prodigal love
beseeched its way into mirth or multiplied
into wiggly sprouts.
Those years the prim hall kept
father and son exiled to the blue room,
mother and girls
tucked off the kitchen, the crib shoved
against the bed, one
rail clamped down so baby sis
could clamber in
herself. Years went like that,
on either end of truce, kids glum
in the held breath
of impasse, denial. Anger. Maybe hurt.
the rick rack of aprons, choke weed,
bent heads of Saturday afternoon
pinochle with sarge and his wife, scotch sliding
amber on ice.
Laughter low and their smoky jokes.
We hugged our knees
on the rug, cornered the hot-breath
mutt in the chair,
pinned him down hard to quash
our twitchy hides.
The Cows of All Souls’ Eve
Unlike the beasts of childhood glimpsed from car windows,
calves frisking in spotted coats near the lumbering herd,
appetites clothed in inkblot bold or red russet brown,
or the whimsy-brushed Galways that browse in the painting at home,
oreo cows, black on either end, down the middle
a band of cream, painted just as they were, the artist swore,
these cows emerged from the morning fog – pale decarnations
not so much ambling across the low-cropped grass
as drifting between the dropping clouds and mist-feathered field,
unexpectedly white and rangy, and ethereally becalmed.
They came near, slowly, one by one, until we sawscuffed knees, tufts of ears and deep, untroubled eyes.
Spirit cows, we mused, come like longed-for dreams of our dead
with the spontaneity of grace. And its unpredictability –
because today they are gone, confined, reason says,
in some farmer’s barn down the road, making cud
in the piss-rank warmth of their stalls, their sideways jaws
mechanically filling their multiple guts, udders hard-packed
with milk. No matter. We want them to come back,
to prove we can summon what we need once it’s visited us
and as suddenly left us -- restless, famished and bereft.
Carole Stasiowski’s poems have been published in Cider Press Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Northeast Magazine, and other journals. A former poetry editor for The Connecticut Writer, she is grateful to have washed ashore on Cape Cod 20 years ago. When not working in healthcare marketing, she seeks to experience the wildness and beauty of the Cape, moments that enrich her writing and her life.
A Casual Encounter at the Community Garden: We All Bleed Red by Cathryn Glenday
Rastafarian Jesus with dreads,
Wearing hippie tie dye, tending free range herds.
I want to get back to my native, tribal roots,
Be a caballero like Eastern Oregon and be like Gene Autry,
Then be a lawyer, own my own home, and get my GED.
He stood square jawed, looking quite different than his stated goal,
More like a marine drill sergeant,
With his clenched fists and rigid posture.
I was peeling garlic in the community garden with
Other women preparing lunch.
Not sure what to say,
Not wanting to destroy his dreams,
Which were clearly out of reach,
I thought for a moment and asked,
What is your first step?
Only to be told I need to get my GED first
And move out of the foster home.
If only he knew how alike we were,
Me with my dreams of mattering too.
It was clear he has Asperger's syndrome and did not
Really know what to say to make friends or how to reach out
Any other way.
And so Rastafarian, hippie Jesus and I met
Amid the cold rain and wet soil,
Each lonely and poor,
While I peeled garlic and he,
Lost in a world without social awareness,
Ranted on and on about dreams that never will come to be.
Cathryn Glenday has been writing poetry and short stories since primary school when she moved away from her grandmother, who was a writer. She went on to enter the health professions only to be side-tracked into disability. A public health professional and psychotherapist, she spends her time writing about disability, women's and social justice issues and lives in Albuquerque, NM with her service dog. She is also a food and animal activist, who believes strongly that a plant-based diet is the only way to feed everyone on the planet.
The Things I’ve Lost by Diana Raab, Ph.D.
Yesterday the girl across the street
died of a tumor bigger than the
head she was born with, reminding
me of all I have lost, starting with
the parakeet who flew out the window,
the one mother wanted instead of me,
and my doll whose arms got eaten by the dog,
and then grandma who swallowed
too many sleeping pills,
in her room beside mine, sheer curtains
waving one final good-bye.
Then Pixie, the gray cat who ran away
and Mon Ami, another cat, black as the asphalt
flattened by a speeding car
and then the boy next door
who I had a crush on years before he
took his own life because his mother
hated him and then my best friend,
Nancy, fourteen with long silken blonde hair,
sprawled out on the pavement after being
tossed in the air by a bullet car,
only years before grandpa died on the operating
room table from a bleeding aorta while I sat
in a reticent room taking my nursing exams.
Then Lynda, my nursing mentor who
taught me how to give injections, the same
ones which killed her as she bolted
from a twenty-story building,
then dad, who taught me how to love.
May he rest in peace.
For fifteen years there’ve been no losses,
until yesterday when my friend Barbara,
the one who taught me how to be a mom,
died years before we were ready to
wave to her on the other side.
Life is unpredictable
It makes you move forward and stop at the same time.
Diana Raab, Ph.D., is a memoirist, blogger, psychologist, workshop leader, thought-provoker, and award-winning author of 8 books and over 500 articles and published poems. Her passion and expertise is writing for healing, transformation, and empowerment. She has been writing since the age of 10 when her mother gave her her first journal to cope with her grandmother’s suicide. She blogs for Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, BrainSpeak, and PsychAlive. For more information, visit: www.dianaraab.com.
Two Poems by Michael Hammond Fisher, Jr.
My neighborhood is plagued with poverty.
Dressed up and disguised, I didn't notice this, so it didn't bother me.
Somehow slowly on my rise, I opened up my eyes.
What's clear in my sight are the valuable lives .
This nation is thriving, but where I live, people are striving.
Families try their hardest, the same families are starving.
Unsure about the next meal, how is this parent supposed to feel?
It literally costs us money to live, but it was someone else's actions that brought us here.
United by the states, but I know families with empty plates.
Standing in line to apply for a program because your family needs help.
The case worker always has an attitude, so she is eager to yell next.
Back at square one, if this is what having life is about, this isn't fun.
I don't have the responsibility of mouths to feed.
Still, every morning I wake up, this is what I see.
A neighborhood that constantly bleeds, a neighborhood that constantly breeds,
backs to clothe and mouths to constantly feec.
Forefathers fought for the families' needs.
What grew to be great is this nation's greed.
Forty acres and a mule, don't be a fool.
High school diplomas don't qualify for a freezer full of food.
Children want to go to school but no cash to get there.
Mom hid her stash to get to work with her bus fare.
Her son had to drop out of school to care for six siblings and provide food.
Mom's twelve dollars an hour is only enough for two.
Poverty is real where I live.
Help me become a poetic winner, so I'll have something to give.
Hunger can be a plague.
Presented in different ways.
Some hungry for a hot plate.
Some hungry for even a cold place to stay.
Hungry for the hunger to end.
This is where desperation and thirst begins.
Hungry, suddenly life becomes serious.
Two weeks without solid food, feeling faint and delirious.
Hungry and tired and I've bruised my feet, but I'll keep trudging for I have nowhere to sleep.
I want to rest, but the bench is saturated with morning dew.
I usually sit right here, my regulars leave me leftover food.
So today I kept walking, letting the muddy water drain from the bottom of my trench coat.
With no means for a dollar, no fear and no hope.
I've been hungry all my life, been treated homeless all my life.
I used to be hungry for friends to be around, but where are they now?
Now, many mornings I hunger for food, after I clean my bench - I sit and wait for you.
I picked a whole tooth out of Ms. Wanda's sausage biscuit.
I ate the rest of his hot dog even though he laughed at my way of living.
Sometimes I dive and catch the trash before it reaches the bottom.
My problems, and I've been working on solving them.
Have you ever chewed someone else's chewing gum?
The taste of another's bad breath is not so fun.
But I've got to stay alive.
Bruised, battered, and broken but I still strive.
Michael Hammond Fisher, Jr. is a 30-year-old Washington D.C. native. He started writing as a personal outlet: "I let writing become my therapist instead of meeting with one. Michael has developed a fan base through poetry blogs: "I haven't reached the world yet, but I adamantly believe the world is waiting for me."
Two Poems by Mark Danowsky
Driving to work
from Northwest Philadelphia to the suburbs
I tear up listening to NPR’s Morning Edition
as Boston’s once homeless
and still homeless
relate tales of their struggle.
One writer says this opportunity to speak
is a newfound reason to persist.
Another does not downplay holiday season charity
explaining it imbues homeless with a sense of hope
that carries through the coldest months.
After the story ends
I pass rival steak shops
where if you ask for lager you always get the same beer
then hit traffic by a filling station
with time enough to watch a couple
pump $5 worth of fuel.
An hour or so away
a city is on fire
A senior center burns
Local fixtures burn
Cars are set aflame
Citizens rise up inflamed
With all this smoke
it is hard to breathe
With all this smoke
I can’t see right
I sit up late
an hour or so away
I sit up late
with the blue screen light
A city is on fire
I sit up late
An hour or so away
there is no silence tonight
Mark Danowsky’s poetry has appeared in Alba, Cordite, Grey Sparrow, Mobius, Shot Glass Journal, Third Wednesday and other journals. Mark is originally from the Philadelphia area, but currently resides in North-Central West Virginia. He works for a private detective agency and is Managing Editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.