Poetry Book Review by Julie Kovacs: “Invisible Strings” by Jim Moore
If poetry is meant to be spoken, it is the poetry of Jim Moore. “Invisible Strings” is a collection of poems that both conjure up the images of life as celebrated through milestones and events no matter how simple they are. But simplicity is the key word here: with poems as brief as one sentence long, such as “Cold Gray October Sky”, Moore speaks of an incident that could just about happen anywhere, or “Only Everywhere”, as he aptly titles the division in which this poem appears in the book. Treating poetry on a par with fine visual art, most of the poems in this book can indeed describe a painting, no matter what it might be, still life, or a few human figures frozen in time waiting to be moved by the artist himself.
Other poems of Moore's echo haiku, with a brief reminiscing such as “First the Good News:” Moore acts as an outside observer, watching the girls engage in a decidedly feminine activity, putting on their winter scarves before going outside into the cold air. There is an invisible blanket of warmth that covers you just by reading this poem. But the real warmth comes from the poetry he writes about Spoleto, Italy, where Moore lives with his wife part of the year. “My Swallows Again” literally transports you to this ancient city in central Italy where a colony as early as 241 B.C.E. The green hills, the Roman theatre and a 13th century aqueduct have stories to tell on their own, but none quite like the swallows that fly across the sky, as Moore produces an image of some of the people in the town, as if they were part of a Whistler painting. It is easy to imagine being inside of a church in “Angels”, looking through the stained glass window in the hopes of seeing a carved angel in the presbytery of the church while standing in a corner, lighting a votive candle as an offering to a saint. Even an image as such might invoke serenity while the mason outside is busy, engaging in everyday work.
For me, “Triumphs” is the poem that really stands out, recollecting the few moments of an individual's life that do not bring happiness so much as contentment, something that is not really meant to be spoken but cherished. It is like having the ideal marriage while on the outside, the titles of husband and wife simply designate social status. On the inside of the house, though, behind closed doors, the relationship is a self sustaining living entity; it is not a passive state of mind.
“Invisible Strings” will connect the reader to the greater part of one's environment, allowing one to easily relate to the loss of beloved relatives, to the watching of Oprah Winfrey. It's the everyday things that allow us to connect to others most intimately without having to share personal information, and Moore is gifted in communicating these connections. These poems are meant to be read again and again on a quiet weekend afternoon, sipping that cup of tea while sitting by a modern bronze sculpture.
That in itself is the type of image Moore could very well write about in this collection of poetry.
Invisible Stings, Jim Moore. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press. 2011. 87 pages.
Countertop, by Ricky Garni
I put some water in a pan
and put the pan on the stove
and forgot all about it until
I smelled something burning
and so I ran into the kitchen
even though I have no legs
really and took the pan off
the burner and put it down
on the countertop and it left
a terrible burn mark on
the countertop. I haven’t
talked to my Mother for
ten years but I asked
her how much it would
cost to replace the
countertop but then
she asked about my
legs and I hung up
on her. It would
probably be easier
to just buy a new
house, but I
to buy this
learn to play
the piano and
a decent living at it
enough to buy a house
and then sell a house and
then buy a new house because
You can play the piano without legs,
you just can’t use the sustain pedal. But
then think what a pain it would be to have to
move a piano to a new house without burnt countertops.
By then I might not even have arms to move things with. Life
is all about parts, and they can wear out and sometimes they can’t
be replaced. Right now I don’t even remember what I wanted to cook in
my pan in the first place. Everything that you do is the most important reason
for why you have all the trouble and wonder that you contain. I think if I stay where I am
I will be happy. I know, I know, everyone says that and I don’t think that everyone means that,
but they might think that they do and that’s all that counts. I am hungry. There is nothing to eat. I need a second opinion.
Ricky Garni’s recent publications can be found in Elimae, Everygreen Review, Beecher’s Review and Abjective. His books are available at Lulu.
Eviction, by Bruce McRae
A Christmas-moon throwing light away.
The exorcist come to battle
Maphas, Haatan, Belphegor.
His black hand knocking on an iron door.
The sacraments of his chanting,
death another song in a late-night inn,
the afterlife a wine-lit tavern,
a bittersweet jingle on its patrons’ lips.
Diamantes of moonlight washing snowfields,
and the demon-basher sat on his mare,
he who bristles slightly
upon passing a frozen churchyard
on the eternal road into Sinful City.
In his bag is black water, blood, earth.
In his pockets are little satans studying,
crofts afire, Christ’s curse.
It’s midnight in the infinite.
The hour we cast out what’s forbidden.
The sixth hour and the seventh hour
building their temples from darkness,
the exorcist carrying the original thorn,
the blood-stained thorn of the sacred heart,
bringing with him a voice from the well.
Sipping from its sublime waters.
Mt. Washington Cougar, by Michael Keshigian
As far as mountains go, it’s not very tall
though its winter personality is precariously erratic
and the most difficult to tame.
But during the summer and in my boots,
I climb and climb the various trails
until every foot of its six thousand plus
are behind me and nothing remains
but blue sky, bald summit observatory
and a green beard,
reaching outward all around.
On a clear day, in one complete turn,
I can see the ocean, the concrete peaks
of a city over one hundred miles away,
westward hills humped like camels
against the melting sky,
and northward, another country.
Yet the most striking vision of all
stepped out from a cloud of maples
and padded along the brink,
sure footed and unafraid,
a magnificent cat perusing her property.
Her wide gold face was interrupted
with a white muzzle, intense hazel eyes
and black lips that curled a subtle snarl,
her shoulders vibrated and her tail swayed
as if to sickle the wildflowers. Moments later
she was gone, leaving me alone
to contemplate her perfection,
a lean and muscular mystery
that belonged to the achievement
that was the mountain,
home to such creatures
whose distinction is nature’s miracle,
randomly revealing themselves
from the waterfalls, forests,
and unencumbered caves of this idyllic green cage.
Healing, by Michael Keshigian
The morning sky imagined
a glow of pink and purple
before the sun arrived,
before the horizon
imagined itself a blond,
like the smiling nurse
who helped me out to the car,
wearing colorful clips in her hair,
clips which stole the sunlight’s gleam.
On the sidewalk,
I stared at the asphalt,
it held a puddle of rainwater,
I imagined it a cocktail.
Over the sunlight,
a dense cloud dissipated,
creating a halo
around the red brick of the building
I earlier imagined
would be my last to enter.
I had never noticed sunlight ripple
in a street puddle before.
The ride home was uncomfortable
The road imagined a parade,
cars lined up dutifully,
and the morning, so conscious of itself,
imagined a celebration of light
forever beaming, forever replete.
When you touched my hand,
it was as if
you imagined I needed your touch,
as if I imagined your touch
exactly at that time
to realize the morning.
Michael Keshigian is the author of six poetry chapbooks. His poetry has been widely published in numerous national and international journals, appearing as the feature writer for The Aurorean, Poetree Magazine, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Bellowing Ark, Pegasus Review, The Illogical Muse, interviewed by Boston Literary Magazine and Reader’s Choice in the Fairfield Review. Recently, his collection of poems entitled Lunar Images, was set to music for Clarinet, Piano, and Narrator by Boston composer Dennis Leclaire and premiered at Del Mar College in Texas on November 5, 2010. A Boston premier took place on March 7, 2011 at the Berklee College of Music. His website is at: www.michaelkeshigian.com.
Ode to a Raindrop, by William Wright Harris
I am a god,
or at least,
a part of one.
turn in the air,
a broken tear
falling from clouds
upon the tops
I can make mud,
cradles for toy boats
I am an unborn
tiny river falling
to the earth in
a single, happy,
William's poetry has appeared in such literary anthologies as Immortal Verse and Favorite Memories, through such online publications as Poet's Ink and Languageandculture.net, and literary magazines such as Write On!!! and Ascending Aspirations. I am a student of English Literature and Creative Writing at the
University of Tennessee- Knoxville, and have been fortunate enough to study poetry in the workshop setting from Marilyn Kallet, Arthur Smith, Jessie Janeshek and Marcel Brouwers. He also received several awards, such as the Editor’s Choice Award from Poetry.com as well as be published in three countries: England, Canada, and the United States.
Beowulf, by Julie Kovacs
Endurance, by Gary Beck
Trapped in sultry nights,
slave to my senses,
wandering through effigies of lust,
the incoherent singer crazed on self,
a hungry addict of expansion,
peopling an emptiness….
A dream…. A ghosting…. A forever incomplete.
Dazed in a wilderness of imagination
trees become walls,
the grass playthings of rootless feet.
I lift an unyielding voice
crying of children to come.
Old visions scarcely remembered,
fugitive and fleeting,
we believe in arrival.
Tents on the desert are struck
and prophets are awaited.
The harbors are filled with the comings of strangers
and streets of stone leave no trace of passing.
We sit in the stillness of rooms in the cities
surrounded by swirls of a violent breeder.
We pace in the silence of homes in the towns
fevered with anguish for change and commotion.
We are the fruits of ancient despoiling
the limbless creation of sires and grandsires
still daring to shout defiance
at those who would consume us.
Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director and worked as an art dealer when he couldn't earn a living in the theater. He has also been a tennis pro, a ditch digger and a salvage diver. His chapbook Remembrance was published by Origami Condom Press, The Conquest of Somalia was published by Cervena Barva Press, The Dance of Hate was published by Calliope Nerve Media and Material Questions was published by Silkworms Ink, Mutilated Girls is being published by Bedouin Press and Dispossessed is being published by Medulla Press. A collection of his poetry Days of Destruction was published in by Skive Press. Another collection Expectations was published by Rogue Scholars press. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway and toured colleges and outdoor performance venues. His poetry has appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City .
Bring My Heart A Rest, by Kufre Udeme
High sparkling maiden
Bring my heart a rest
A yes to be your lover
Nothing more my lady
I own no gracious purse
Nor a precious stone
Yet be not so afraid
I own a garden of feeling
High sparkling maiden
Bring my heart a rest
A yes to be your lover
With you there's hope for treasure.
Kufre Udeme was born in Ikot Oboko, a small village in Akpabuyo, Cross River State, Nigeria. He has written articles for community papers like "All States and Updates", with poetry published online and in Evangelist Newspaper. He is an alumnus of Government Technical College, Abak. He is currently working on his debut novel. His website is located at www.kufreudeme.blogspot.com.
Bad Dream # 279, June 22, by Lyn Lifshin
I go back to Vermont, to Middlebury.
It’s been a while, another life time?
And the uncles, the dead ones hover
in shadows, ghostly, their lips and
cheek bones on faces that some
how aren’t there but then, nothing is
as it was. The beautiful bookstore
with the flat above it where I dreamed
in my lavender back bedroom of
starring on Broadway or writing a book,
now looks like collapsing bricks about
to be bull dozed. This can’t be. There’s
no bookstore, no sign there’s ever
been one. The bricks shift, the building
looks like something too dangerous
to enter after a hurricane, a house of
tooth picks one small breath could
make fall down. Even Main Street, a
perfect New England small town
where Life magazine came to photo
graph this perfect calendar frame, the
red and green lights strung for Christmas,
children on sleds and of course the traffic
police who checked out every boy who
came to pick me up for a date my
mother would wait up for me from.
Have I been comatose a hundred years?
Where is the town I knew? What could
be left but mice and droppings in the
mostly abandoned street. Drug vials litter
the street instead of flower boxes and
geranium. When did the town become
a slum, a torn blighted disaster? The
only color is grey. It’s as if the mortar,
whatever held all that mattered together
dissolved. A heart beat. Just the touch
of one brick and everything I thought I
could keep will crumble.
Coshocton Girl, by Darren C. Demaree
The floor changed, depending
on if you slept in the church
or the bar, the vision the same
as your voice found god(s)
in the whiskey bottle. Mean
to the sidewalks between
the buildings of your small Ohio
town, you climbed the stairs
to Columbus, let the big boys
leer past the guitar, let them
see the wrappings of an early morning
& light the first cigarette for you.
Fire, a collection of last drinks
& no clear sight past the small dips
of a two-lane highway,
you found the real faith
in your own special boots, took the care
to their heels, let them carry you.
Darren's poetry has appeared in South Carolina Review, Meridian, Grain, Cottonwood, The Tribeca Poetry Review, and Whiskey Island and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. He received his MFA at Miami University in Southwestern Ohio. He lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and daughter.
Ten. Twenty. Thirty. by Austen Roye
They only know exactly
what they don’t want,
and when they decide on
something they don’t mind
so much it’s something like
a bicycle cut in half and set
on fire in the gallery while
everyone drinks mineral
water and watches from
behind the velvet lines.
The abstracts don’t sell
since thinking is such hard
work, the performance artists
choke on glitter, it’s horrible,
and the lights are on somewhere
around here, only we never see it
and if we ever do, it isn’t us who
sees it, it’s our grandchildren or
their grandchildren, ten twenty
thirty years after they’ve stuck
the shovel into the heap.
And maybe that’s that and
maybe that’s just the way
the world works, and with
some luck, in ten twenty
thirty years I’ll be behind
the velvet lines holding a
glass and hating everything
in the gallery and knowing
everything about art
which is to know that
all art is
not as good as
not as good as
not as good as
what was and