September 24, 2014
A special night of poetry.
“Peninsula Poets Night.” The event features well published poets from southeast Michigan who published in “Peninsula Poets," the journal of the Poetry Society of Michigan. Co-sponsoring the event is the PSM.
Just Look At This Line-up
Laurence Goldstein’s fourth book of poems, A Room in California, appeared from Northwestern University Press in 2005. He published this spring a book of literary criticism, Poetry Los Angeles: Reading the Essential Poems of the City, from University of Michigan Press.
David James has published two books and five chapbooks of poetry; more than thirty of his one-act plays have been produced as well. He teaches at Oakland Community College.
Cynthia Nankee has had poetry published in Blue Unicorn, Coal City Review, Harp-Strings Poetry Journal, Poem, St. Anthony Messenger, the Aurorean, The Deronda Review, The Lyric, The MacGuffin, Time of Singing and elsewhere. She is the Corresponding Secretary for the Poetry Society of Michigan, and enjoys immersing herself in all things poetry.
Michael Lauchlan has lived in and around Detroit his entire life. His poems have appeared in many publications including New England Review, Coiurtalnd Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Apple Valley, Boxcar, Cider Press, Tampa Review, and Innisfree, and have been anthologized by Wayne State University Press (Abandon Automobile) and Oxford Press (A Mind Apart).
Saleem Peeradina is Emeritus Professor at Siena Heights U. He has published a memoir, The Ocean in My Yard, and four books of poetry, the most recent being,Slow Dance.His anthology, Contemporary Indian Poetry in English, is widely used as a classroom text.
Richard Solomon is a poet and developmental pediatrician whose writing has been shaped by Khrushchev’s shoe, the psychedelic Vietnam War era, spiritual demagoguery, and the resilient suffering of children. Poetry prizes include first prize in The 57th Street Bookstore Contest (Chicago), winning finalist in the national Wurgel Flomp comic poetry contest, 3rd Wednesday annual poetry contest and 2nd place in Ann Arbor Current Poetry contest. He has been published most recently in the Michigan Quarterly Review, 5am, 3rd Wednesday, and Krax.
Cody Walker is the author of Shuffle and Breakdown (Waywiser Press, 2008) and the co-editor of Alive at the Center: An Anthology of Poems from the Pacific Northwest (Ooligan Press, 2013). His second poetry collection, The Self-Styled No-Child, will be published by the Waywiser Press in 22016.
David Jibson is the author of Small Poems (Third Coast Press, 2013). His poetry has appeared in Third Wednesday, Peninsula Poets and Brasilia Review.
Bob Brill is a retired computer programmer and digital
artist. He is now devoting his energies to writing fiction and
poetry. His novellas, short stories and more than 125 poems have
appeared in over forty online magazines, print journals, and
OUR BELOVED UNIVERSE
Our universe has stars galore,
more than can be counted.
There must be some life out there
besides bacteria and mosquitoes.
I’m sure there are other planets
that feature love, movies, and flush toilets.
Are there standup comics on far distant worlds?
Are they watching game shows
among the scattered star fields of the Milky Way?
Do they have theme parks in the Andromeda Galaxy?
Or is it all taxes, lawyers, prisons, and homework?
We’ll never know the Shakespeare
who lived a billion years ago
in a galaxy at the edge of the universe
that appears in our strongest telescopes
as a tiny speck of light.
I’ve heard it said
we live in a wondrous universe,
but who knows?
Maybe it’s only second rate.
There could be better ones
where peace and plenty prevail
and weekends last for months.
But maybe it’s the best universe of all,
especially if it’s the only one.
If so, it can’t get any better than this,
so there’s no point in bitching.
Let’s go out for some Chinese food
and celebrate our good fortune.
“THE NEXT BEST THING USUALLY WINS”
(Edith Wharton, “The Daunt Diana”)
Why is that? If it’s a race at Pimlico
the prime thoroughbred, fidgety as a bride,
pulls up lame, may have to be shot.
Second best is speedy enough for fame,
and the champion’s bountiful purse.
If it’s an auction, the supreme portrait,
first ever for sale by Alpha Artist
scorns mortal reach; a corporation
hides it in a secret vault, to appreciate.
Second best goes to a friendly museum.
Next-best thing is tangible, ready to hand,
fondly petted, made more humane.
Not the mansion on the high hill but the house
rubbing front and back with the neighborhood—
a crossways, and for three million less.
No matter. We grasp for the best thing
or what’s a heaven for? “You settled for X,”
“You settled for Y.” How many insults
before the imperfect earns our love,
armless Venus, Apollo bereft of his foot?
“How can a girl get serious about Cajun
dancing when her man can’t even float?”
Turn on the music
he begins to drown,
Flailing with both arms and legs,
Gasping for air. While others
Swim gracefully through the notes,
Dipping, turning in unison
Like a school of tuna on the dance floor,
He is panicking, taking in water,
Eyes bulging to touch
The surface of anything.
Within minutes, he sinks into silence,
His stubborn body held still in clear, watery cement,
A statue on the row of folding chairs
Along the wall.
The music floats above him, untouchable.
From the bottom, wallowing in muck,
He glances up every now and then
And sees light flashing,
Bodies curving and bending,
A pale blue sky
Dancing just to spite him.
Like refugees, we forget
by force. Whole cities vanish,
block by block; jobs go undone
that kept folks alive. Schoolkids
climb from rusted vans and wave
to bleary parents who may
never work again. A gaunt man
slips past in the 7-11,
unable to buy a slice with what
he got for scrounged bottles.
Churlish clerk, why not
just feed this mute?
I follow his gray shape
across a road, then lose him
behind a hedge, trailing smoke,
face twisted away, clutching
tiny sausages in a greasy bag.
Metaphor, this is not. Nor
opera, theatre, or even,
apparently, news. Yet a wind
raving young maples recalls
our old elms—those titans
that laced branches above
the streets of childhood
and, when I fell in chase
or flight, held me rapt,
gaping into the strung web
of all things. No more.
Our hungry discards don’t
mass at Ford’s gates
facing Bennett’s goons,
demanding work and bread.
Ours only tangle traffic,
clutter parks and seem
in the bright day quite mad.
in memory of Mom
Into her stock of rolling celery,
and egg noodles cut by hand,
Into her stirrings of salt and pepper,
spare vegetable roots:
one crowning pinch of
dried herbal gold – threads
tweezed from an uncorked vial…
Mother, the alchemist, doctoring
our chicken soup.
Cynthia Weber Nankee
NEW AGE MEDICINE
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Add garlic each day; hold him further at bay.
Cynthia Weber Nankee
It pays no attention to rules, nor does it follow
Any creed. Random, relentless, unsparing, it defeats
Those looking for the logic of its actions.
It can never be even-handed, so calling it perverse
Is pointless. It has no need to be contrite.
Eyes closed, it operates with complete disinterest
In outcomes. Lacking motive, it is free of judgement.
It has a capricious sense of humor.
It wipes out entire populations with the sweep of
A broom. It haunts battlefields, epidemics, presides over
Natural disasters. An eruption registers high on the Richter
Scale – an island is swallowed up. In a final burst
Of light, a star is snuffed out. Seasoned runners
Entering the last lap never make it to the finish line.
It stalks the neighborhood to strike the house next door.
Or shuffles up the stairs, demanding entry.
It makes light work of worldly honors. When it appears
To have laid aside its club, it boomerangs to knock down
Your best friend, missing you by a hair. Entire teams
Of relatives go down like wickets falling.
The losing of family elders lies within the realm
Of expectations. The passing of peers leaves you
Exposed to the search light in the tower sweeping
The ground for escapees. Dodging the beam
Or hiding in the dark is not going to save you.
It will corner you, then strike. It plays many parts
But stands out for its penchant for farce.
For it is not even remotely interested
In complying with those who desperately seek
Its embrace. They design, plan, suffer, and wait
To catch its eye, but it will not be forced to reveal
Its hand. Death was born to steal the show.
I diagram the family tree
watch as the apples fall down
the generations like a prophecy.
I see the rifts, the faults, the falls—
his father’s tendency to brawl
his mother’s sad obsessive thirst—
predict the child. I’ve seen them cursed:
One eye, one huge mouth rooted
In the dry earth of his brain—and loved.
Even when the body’s right,
thought’s genogram remains
like drawings in the cave.
Fear’s chapter, boredom’s verse.
Predestined to absorb the worst.
There’s only one way out:
A fallen apple rolling to a stop.
June air transcendent
with lilacs. The last descendant.
THE GAMES CHILDREN PLAY
Allow them guns and they’ll use them.
That’s what guns are for. As children,
we explored the attics of our minds,
the basements of inventions, finding things
to do to fill our days. In empty lots,
our games evolved depending mostly on
whatever our equipment would allow.
If we could find a ball and bat, we played
a sort of baseball, basketball if we
could find a net, a post to hang it on.
On rainy days, we dressed ourselves for fun
in costumes from a trunk in our garage
pretending we were pirates, kings and queens,
such swash and posh beguiling us for hours.
Indoors, we played piano, Mozart, Bach
or records of Sinatra, Goodman, jazz
or crooning which, like sponges, we absorbed.
We did our homework, music turned up high.
In summer, beaches called with sailing boats
and swimming, campfires, hikes, and volleyball
as well as trips where we had never been:
Toronto, mountains, Denver, places in between.
In all, we filled the gaps between demands
of school and jobs with gainful occupations
always having fun. Those games remain with us
today to pass along for others to enjoy.
Laurence W. Thomas
I’m forty-six; Ann Arbor slicks over
with ice. I’ve blocked the Internet.
You think winter, OK, I get it,
the trees are dead, the mice are dead,
David Foster Wallace is dead,
and you can head down this alleyway,
way, way down, but it’s almost morning,
Zia’s busy being born, Polly, too,
and you, you feel this electric hum, not bad,
coming from the fake fireplace,
and the schools are closed, which makes
everyone happy, and the birds (at this
moment, I swear) start up, blaring
their bird-talk, which makes me feel
not quite ready for assisted suicide
or a twisted cane or an aluminum walker.
TWENTYSOMETHING POETS IN LOVE
You are not Sylvia Plath
and I am not Charles Bukowski.
Now please take your head out of the oven
so I can heat up this pizza
while you study for your biology final.
When I get home from my evening shift at Subway
I’d like to watch that Bergman film on Netflix
with my hand on your breast.
Then we’ll write disturbing eulogies for each other,
drink a pint of vodka and go to bed.
The walking stick is indistinguishable from his habitat,
as is the dead leaf butterfly, the pygmy seahorse,
the tawny frogmouth of Tasmania and the giant kelpfish.
So it is with the poet of a certain age, hidden in a corner booth
at the back of the cafe, as quiet as any snowshoe hare,
as still as the heron among the reeds.
THE OLD DICTATOR
The Old Dictator leans back in his chair,
Fatigued, with his boots on the desk,
And files his chin with a fingernail.
He worries about the revolution,
The arthritic fist of power, his infamy.
Through the window,
He notices the rain still Seems
not to have washed the dried blood
From the streets of the capital.
He glances over his shoulder
At his henchmen,
Lounging in obscure corners
Of the Presidential Palace
Like unemployed shadows
Awaiting his next move.
He sighs and shrugs—and worries
The hairs of his grizzled mustache.
The Old Dictator wipes his sweaty brow
And swills another tumbler-full of rum
While he mulls over the meaning of life.
He worries about God and the Devil,
In whom he no longer believes.
He worries even more about the people,
Who no longer believe in him.
He notices some rust, caked like dried blood,
On a nail in the wall from which his portrait hangs.
He fingers the pistol holstered on his hip
And gives it some consideration.
He worries about the sons and the daughters
Of those who were made to disappear
Before their time.
He worries about the artists and the literati—
What’s left of them.
He worries about Freedom,
Foreign and domestic.
He scratches that persistent itch
And notices the dried blood
Under his fingernail.
are black-winged acrobats
flitting over sage and juniper:
their white throats fill with gnats and flies
they catch all day above
the bright hot dunes of Lake Huron.
While siskins hide in cool pines
and preening kingbirds avoid the hunt,
two of these magnificent tricksters
squeak, flank, and sally like bats raiding
the beach where we tired fossil swimmers lie.
They take turns plunging scissor-trailed,
now you see me—now you don’t,” in under
the crest of a sand cliff, staying buried
just long enough to feed the young
without breathing much air inside,
then catapult out into blue sky.
Remember, love, our barefooted climb
in dry roots thin as hair, up the sliding,
steep sand hill? The nest’s double doors
are two holes shaped like half closed eyes,
too small to get a hand through.
The mates flutter and scold above us,
flashing sharp wings in the burning sun,
throwing shadows the size of hawks.
Our talk is being heard in somebody
else’s home. Everybody is scared.