Seeking Peace Through Darkness in “Appalachian Night”
“Appalachian Night” by Mark Jackley, 2014. 36 pages.
Published by a letterpress shop, Mark Jackley's chapbook “Appalachian Night” makes for ideal reading in the dark coziness of an open-air night (it doesn't have to be Appalachia, of course, it might be somewhere else, such as the Pine Barrens of New Jersey) with familiar scents of one's surroundings: tobacco, honeysuckle, or even a campfire. The first poem, “Appalachian Night”, is a bittersweet poem of a lonely man seeking love, willing to find it even if it lasts only one night. The train winding through the hills aptly represents the ride that every person must take through life, up and down the bumpy roads of love, for better or worse. Setting the stage for the rest of the poems in the book, it is not difficult to imagine wanting to be in a small house somewhere far away from the noise and commercialism of the mundane world, snuggled down in bed or an easy chair by the window with a cup of hot tea. The successive poems unwind in a natural rhythm yet allows the reader time to absorb and visualize each poem as an actual event taking place, if only as a brief image.
While many of the poems in “Appalachian Night” are about relationships, this poetry collection also contains the odd poem here and there, such as “Napping on a Cloudy Afternoon” where Mark decribes the weather conditions as being perfect for a midday dream, and “Lawn Flamingos”, a poem about plastic pink flamingos (like the kind Tyler Spencer of Electric Six wrote and sung about) that do not migrate but instead remain permanent residents. The only unique thing about these sometimes less-than-decorative birds is that they are freezing their behinds off, thus the need to make sure they have not lost any plumage on that part of the body. Needless to say, Mark has the non-relationship poems placed strategically throughout the collection to avoid repetition of subject matter in a stimulating manner.
One extensive poem that is particularly appealing is “Thanks for the Memories”, which brings the fictional television town of Mayberry to mind with its mention of the Chamber of Commerce, Garden Club biddy (is Mark referring to Clara Edwards?) not to mention the down-home simplistic style the poem is written in. In “Country Dance” Mark writes metaphorically an event taking place outside a dance hall, perhaps taking a break to enjoy a Camel cigarette and ruminate over the feeling experienced within – singing
out the darkness
while visualizing the rusty axles transform into an expensive car with which to drive his date away in. “Separated” is a simple four-line poem describing the hard coldness of being separated from one's lover, the temporary moving out into a motel room that represents purgatory in one's relationship. Can reconciliation take place? It seems not, for the poet states that walking away from the relationship does not guarantee a reunion, much less the pheromone-incited feeling that usually arises upon meeting someone special for the first time. In “Milk and Eggs”, the honeymoon is pretty much over, replaced with the mundane social roles of husband and wife, with the husband wanting his wife to mean what she is really trying to say. For the husband, it's more of a broken down love affair. As songwriters Clive Scott and Des Dyer wrote:
Sad to say it's all over baby
But that's the way it goes
Whether it is about a lost love or random memory of one's life, “Appalachian Night” is the kind of chapbook worth mentioning at a poetry reading or afternoon tea if only for its simple metaphorical beauty and longing for a cozy spot in darkness. A copy of “Appalachian Night” can be requested directly from Mark himself at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seferis' Shadow, by B. Z. Niditch
More of Seferis' shadow
in a nameless fire
among the docks
swerving against the sea
spaced clear what blows
in a light wind's fragrance
breathing in the tide
with two friends
who cannot decide
their assured fate
under a haunted sun
or desire to move
from the voice of rocks
in a naked vanished time
along the Corinthian canal
chanting in a blind light
an astonishment of words
you put down on paper
by a glass mountain
of sea birds.
They Don’t Know I’m Listening, by Donal Mahoney
So here I am, all decked out
in a new suit from Brooks Brothers,
haberdasher to corporate stars.
My wife just got here, rattled.
The kids have been here for hours,
flying in for the occasion.
My wife will make certain
I look as spiffy as possible.
The oldest boy just told her
a neighbor has agreed
to cut the grass, rake the leaves
and shovel the snow, chores
I performed for decades in return
for a mug of coffee and wedge of pie.
Now my wife is asking the undertaker
to puff out my tie, something she did
before I’d go to the office, armed
with a thermos and brown paper bag.
Beyond, by Michael Keshigian
He felt himself in the gaze
of a more powerful one,
a force that hovered
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.
A Cold March Night, by Michael Keshigian
The wood stove dims
in the darkness after midnight,
cackles of hunger
from its ashen gut
remind the one
who tends the heat
that the cast iron belly
craves another meal.
The metal has cooled to the touch
as the hand that feeds
the smoldering orifice
unlatches the soot stained glass door,
releasing a swirl of combusted breath,
then gropes for the cordwood splinters
to awaken and satiate
the firebox’s heated appetite,
wood of maple and oak
that no longer lingers
with the sweet stimulant of forest freshness,
instead odiferous with moss, mildew,
and spot droppings of curious field mice
once searching for warmth of their own,
except for the kindling,
small scraps of twigs and tinder
upon which the lighted match,
so strident in early morning stillness,
detonates with the aid of dingy, aged newspaper
with folded headlines
that receive a final read
before a bright flame bursts forth.
Michael Keshigian’s poetry collection, Eagle’s Perch, was recently released by Bellowing Ark Press.
Other published books are: Wildflowers, Jazz Face, Warm Summer Memories, Silent Poems, Seeking Solace,
Dwindling Knight, Translucent View. Published in numerous journals, he is a multiple Pushcart Prize and Best Of The Net nominee.
His poetry cycle, Lunar Images, set for Clarinet, Piano, Narrator, premiered at Del Mar College in Texas.
Subsequent performances occurred in Boston and Moleto, Italy. His website is at: www.michaelkeshigian.com.
A Mustang Galloping Across the Dreamscape, by Dr. Mel Waldman
The words rush through my brain,
into my arthritic hands, and even
with the pain, onto the blank page
in a flash, like a mustang galloping
across the dreamscape, a
racing toward the finish line, a
destination, while the tempest
Pursued by a merciless storm
saturated with existential pain
& terror, the wild creature sails
away from destiny for a
micro-moment, but death’s
catching up, hiding in the
shadows, and waiting, to stop
the bestial flow of words,
the little gems that emerge
from the void and glitter
in the dark, always
After the End, by Dr. Mel Waldman
After the end, what comes forth to find my flesh?
And who is there, where I used to be,
above the earth? Who is there to remember me?
And what comes forth to free my spirit?
Yes, what comes forth? Yet perhaps, I never was.
Or am I becoming real now,
in the raw earth, after the long rain, after life?
Inside the without, the wilderness of
absence, the wooden box is and is not,
and still, it tastes the petricor,
and inhales the sweet smell of earth
after the rain that almost never came,
the rain that arrives later, after my departure,
the final leaving, the everlasting loss,
and seeps into the wood and breathes life
into its nonbeing,
but not into me.
Dr. Mel Waldman is a psychologist, poet, and writer whose stories have appeared in numerous magazines including Hardboiled Detective, Espionage, The Saint, Pulp Metal Magazine, and Audience. His poems have been widely published in magazines and books including Liquid Imagination, The Brooklyn Literary Review, The Brooklyn Voice, Brickplight, and many others. A past winner of the literary Gradiva Award in Psychoanalysis, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in literature and is the author of 11 books.
Localized Temblor, by Richard King Perkins II
a purple smudge prickles beneath your eye.
Lurch to awareness—
this time stricken in coppery weeds.
with tin pan vision and silken membranes
through the curious dust of blackout.
Without skewer or a spare aegis,
hand in scaly hand,
you hemorrhage iguanas—
having led yourself to slaughter
in camouflage you can’t recognize.
Pearl Skies Lying, by Richard King Perkins II
Above the irregular valleys of Pennsylvania
swinging out of this morning’s mist,
the deepest yellow sun
can’t remember its ancient colors
before planets and all the rest
started following it around like needy pets
begging the elements of life.
Character actor in a cosmic picture—
the sun can’t recall its earliest bit parts
in white and blue,
portraying anger, sadness, resignation;
waiting for its breakthrough role—
to illume what I perceive at this moment;
your sensual currents
and the pearl skies lying below.
The Calculus of Angels, by Richard King Perkins II
Your light is alien—
supple amphibian retaining human qualities
juxtaposed against the contour of geomorphic exotica.
Malign strangeness leeching vitality,
if you die tonight it will be deliberately,
with great forethought, melting in stellar blowtorch.
You call him satellite, illusionist of space and depth,
amber and barely distilled, he must follow you
to hide and hang from the strongest kabuki tree,
waiting lost for the calculus of angels.
Richard King Perkins II ia a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL with his wife Vickie and daughter Sage. Richard is a three-time Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee and has had work appear in hundreds of publications including The Louisiana Review, Bluestem, Emrys Journal, Sierra Nevada Review, Two Thirds North, The Red Cedar Review and The William and Mary Review. He has poems forthcoming in the Roanoke Review, The Alembic and Milkfist. His poem “Distillery of the Sun” won second place in the 2014 Bacopa Literary Review contest.
Until the Next Fall, by Scott Thomas Outlar
Throwing out your back
is a lot like breaking up.
The pain, at first, is sharp –
an electric shock that runs
across fiery nerves, up and down
the back; every move a dagger
to the flesh, just as the remorse
after losing a loved one
hurts like a cut to the heart
that bleeds out in every thought.
With time, though, the sharpness
dulls, the body begins to recover,
and the mind is less and less
on pins and needles –
no walking on eggshells
or tiptoeing around to keep the peace.
Until, eventually, numbness sets in,
and the memories of pain
drift away in a haze of fog –
health and happiness return…
along with sanity.
Scott Thomas Outlar survived both the fire and the flood - now he dances with existential fervor while waiting on the next round of chaos to commence. Otherwise, he lives a relatively calm life, flowing and fluxing with the River Tao, laughing at life's dualistic nature, and writing prose-fusion poetry dedicated to the Phoenix Generation. His work has appeared most recently in diverse venues such as Belle Reve Literary Journal, Dead Snakes, Halcyon Magazine, Medusa's Kitchen, The Chaffey Review, Dissident Voice, and Underground Books.
Japan In April, by Tatjana Debeljacki
Truly stunning, sometimes careless,
I crave silently and far away!
Naked, filled up with perfection,
I am attending enjoyment!!!
Where there is trust there is always glee.
He never painted my passion,
Dreams from the color to the word,
Without suspense and shivers.
The moment of light strikes me.
Pressing Japanese air onto my face.
April is slowly spilling its colors,
above duplicate shadows dancing away.
Tatjana writes poetry, short stories, stories and haiku. She is a Member of Association of Writers of Serbia -UKS since 2004. She is Haiku Society of Serbia- Deputy editor of Diogen. She also is the editor of the magazine Poeta.
Earth First, by Fred Pollack
We discover that magnetic and other, subtler
fields in and around
earth are directly connected
to the mind, and that there’s only one
mind. An implication
is that the evasions, faked
data and accusations of
faked data by denialists
are the vanished glaciers,
escaped methane, etc.
You can’t say what started it;
religion is ozone depletion.
Culture is entropy. Now preacher-politicians
is real, that Gaia doesn’t want
to die, that science has insulted “us”
again; hold armed Cartesian rallies.
Women who had talked gently to their plants
yell, “What do you want?” My style
turns lyrical-subjectivist, a hit
at the last readings; people howl for it.
In Chevy Chase, by Fred Pollack
The back-mounted leaf-blower is some huge
new model. The guy in orange –
probably neighborhood, not city –
seems carefully unaware
of what he has caused; the look may say,
It’s the job. And the cars in line
on the horse-era lane, now further stalled
by leaf-piles, take it calmly,
idling, heaters on. The Polar Vortex
is upon us, sky bright but cold.
One has the opportunity
to admire the classy, expanded,
grey and white Victorians,
lawns manicured for sleep, verandahs
prepared for another Indian summer. Woodsmoke
already, on a weekday afternoon;
someone working from home;
two, three busy computers
in windows slowly passing,
and, once, a soap on a giant screen.
There’s an almond croissant in a bag on the other seat;
I eat it, put in a CD.
Really polite vibes for a traffic snarl.
Why not, in this visually generous neighborhood
with on average three thousand calories
and twelve thousand watts per day?
God help me, I just want it to go on.
Fred is the author of two book-length narrative poems, "The Adventure" and "Happiness", both published by Story Line Press. A collection of shorter poems, "A Poverty of Words", is forthcoming in January 2015 from Prolific Press. His work has appeared in Hudson Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Die Gazette (Munich), The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Representations, Magma (UK), Iota (UK), Bateau, Main Street Rag, Fulcrum, Big Bridge, Hamilton Stone Review, Diagram, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire Review, Mudlark, and many others. He is an adjunct professor creative writing George Washington University.