“Breathe the sweetness that hovers in August.” – Denise Levertov
Cristina A. Bejan is an award-winning Romanian American historian, theatre artist, and poet. A Rhodes and Fulbright scholar, she is a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Bejan received her DPhil (PhD) in Modern History from the University of Oxford. A playwright and spoken word poet (her stage name is Lady Godiva), her creative work has appeared in the US, UK, Romania, and Vanuatu. In addition to many scholarly articles, she has published a poetry book (Green Horses on the Walls), history book (Intellectuals and Fascism in Interwar Romania), and a play in Voices on the Move (eds. Radulescu and Cazan).
My DC Nigerian cab driver from Union Station to Georgetown knows more about geopolitics & world history than many academics I know…
We talk about the Ukraine-Russia war…he tells me not to worry, that Romania will be fine because it’s in the EU and NATO … that the Soviet satellite days are over….
Then he asks why I am in DC. I tell him my baby brother’s wedding and he smiles big under his facemask – “You know there is nothing more important than family. Family is everything.”
And our family from the banks of the Danube and the barren landscape of East of the Rockies, dancing with my brother and sister-in-law & their friends of every diaspora you can imagine – Chinese, Filipino, African-American, South Asian, Latino, Albanian, Canadian, British, and yes Ukrainian…and then from Milwaukee, Maryland, LA then Durham, NC obviously – and more – to music of every genre (rap, hip-hop, reggaeton, Britney Spears, white boy pop, Andrea Bocelli, you name it) and everyone knows all the words.
This is my “America.”
Margaret Kiernan is an Irish author. She writes prose and poetry. She is widely published in Literary journals, magazines, and small press. She is included in anthology book collections, both locally and internationally. She was a 2021 nominee for The Best of The Net Award for Creative non-fiction. Her background is in Human and Social Rights.
after Tom Leonards, “On Knowing the Difference Between Prejudice, Discrimination, and Oppression.”
You and that quiet desperation
With those give and take views
The dark side of my moon is half spent.
Louboutin shoes share your shelves’
With Penney’s brogues
Your blindside leading the almost blind
Hampered by a billboard, it’s a call to fly
Faraway, but you can’t get off the ground
Those queues back-up to the park-and-ride lot
Percolated reports that in-bound people move
Effortlessly, no luggage to unbox perhaps
Like an in-tray in the Horn of Africa.
The nations hotels now owned by Beijing
Oligarch sheets four hundred threads to the inch
Plus, one adrift in cables under the ocean of
Shared intel to Santa Clara, California,
a cúpla focail expressed by a bot
hiding out in the Bronx.
“cúpla focail” is an Irish word for “a few words”
Born in 1971 in Timișoara, Romania, Sorin Smărăndescu debuted in 1995. He writes poetry and short stories. He published three books (Talking with the Highly placed, poetry, 2000, Eubeea Publishing House, Blurred, poetry, 2011, Brumar Publishing House; Reverse motion, short stories, 2011, Eubeea Publishing House) and was included in one Romanian contemporary poetry anthology. His writings were published in various Romanian cultural magazines. In 2022, one of his poems appeared in WordCity Literary Journal (Canada). He lives in Romania with his wife and two kids, all of them gladly taking care of their dog and two cats.
Iulia Stoichiț was born in 1994 and she’s from Brasov, Romania. She studied at the Faculty of Letters at Transilvania University of Brasov and currently she is a PhD student. She translated the trilingual poetry volume Pink-Pong (authors: Andrei Zbîrnea and Claus Ankersen), providing the Romanian and English versions, volume which appeared at the frACTalia Publishing House (2019). She writes poetry and has published her poems in literary magazines (print and online) from Romania. Her debut volume is called BoJack is Payne (CDPL, 2022). She writes literary reviews in literary magazines (online: citestema.ro, and print). She teaches Romanian at two schools.
angels with you
all of a sudden today they yell hoarse from the dark cornices
the angels wings of desire in flames
they throw themselves hysterical in the emptiness of my gaze
so they don’t see more than they could understand
I can’t understand what’s happening
because rarely my mind can unravel more than visible consequences
the unforeseeable blind only with you
alongside under the eye of sleep
you turn your sweated hand
and you breathe to me
the hair on the back of my neck the hip sequenced by drunkenness
the brutalized secretions by indifference
frightened I raise my arms
tormented to relieve me from the angels’ dead bodies
the body won’t listen to me
the accelerated loss of substance makes him huddle friable brown pink
reproduction to the form of your extirpated lips
from which it recoils now in wet bunch sharp rigid feathers
bloody grey head spring with fallen leaves white flowers black fruits
my ungrateful body next to my abandoned body
the dead sky on the head on the soles the ashes of lust
the moving away from each other from waiting continues
because from now on not a single angel in flames will fall
through my eyes locked inside of you
all of them burned
your viscous silence clinging to my hands and cheeks
the opaque eye you stick into the most arrhythmical
memories with which you crushed my knees the absence through which they fell unseen
I feel you fetid bone paste translucent I sink deeper and deeper into you
at every throb a downward jump at every howl my bones look
on greedily in your mass all suffocating curve
I can feel under your eyelids the metallic iris vertically cut
how it studies me methodical from the inside
the coolness of your mouth cascades into my stomach it makes vast transparent lakes sapphire
over which you let tender laden alabaster pass the ships of your unbridled cruelty
I can see your shadows chasing each other hallucinatingly inside the glassy walls of my veins
I render clean the outline of your favorite pet psicat depression
profoundly in your frozen core you give me the time to give up
I sublimate the writhings in green, grey fractal oil that feed your continuous flowing
dissolved into a paste my barren bones to your bones alliterations
you put on my forehead to being your inert unforgiving iris the absence of steps
with which you could have pierced recollections the most
silence your conjured pet is walking around is sniffing is making a wry face
me you your psicat depression
îngeri cu tine
deodată azi strigă răgușit de pe cornișele întunecate
îngerii cu aripile dorinței în flăcări
se aruncă isterizați în golul privirii mele fixe
să nu vadă mai mult decât ar putea înțelege
nu am cum să cuprind ce se întâmplă
căci rar poate desluși mintea mea mai mult decât consecințe vizibile
neprevăzutul orb numai cu tine
alături sub ochiul de somn
îți întorci palma transpirată
părul de pe ceafă șoldul secvențiat de beție
secrețiile abrutizate de nepăsare
îmi ridic înspăimântat brațele
chinuit să mă despresureze de cadavrele îngerilor
trupul nu mă ascultă
pierderea accelerată de substanță îl chircește friabil brun roz
reproducere formei buzelor tale extirpatoare
din care răsfrâng acum în mănunchi umed pene rigide tăioase
izvor gri-sânger cu frunze căzute flori albe fructe negre
corpul meu nerecunoscător lângă corpul meu abandonat mie
cerul mort pe creștet la tălpi cenușa dorinței
continuă îndepărtarea unul de altul din așteptare
căci de acum nu va mai cădea niciun înger în flăcări
prin ochii mei închiși în tine
au ars cu toții
tăcerea ta vâscoasă care mi se lipește de mâini și de obraz
ochiul mat pe care mi-l înfigi în amintirile cele mai
aritmii cu care mi-ai zdrobit genunchii absența prin care au căzut nevăzuți
te simt pastă fetidă de oase translucidă mă scufund în tine tot mai adânc
la fiecare zvâcnire un salt în jos la fiecare urlet oasele mele caută
mai departe avide în masa ta atotsugrumătoare curbă
îți simt sub pleoape irisul metalic tăiat vertical
cum mă studiază metodic din interior
răceala gurii tale mi se scurge cascadă în stomac face lacuri transparente vaste safir
peste care lași să treacă tandre încărcate alabastre corăbiile cruzimilor tale neîncepute
îți zăresc umbrele alergându-se halucinant în pereții sticloși ai venelor mele
redau curat conturul animalului tău preferat depresia pisică
profund în miezul tău înghețat îmi dai timpul să renunț
sublimez zvârcolirile în uleiuri fractale gri verzi care hrănesc curgerea ta continuă
dizolvate aride oasele mele în pastă oaselor tale aliterații
îmi așezi afiire pe frunte irisul tău neiertător inert absența pașilor
cu care ai fi putut străpunge rememorările cele mai
tăcere animalul tău conjurat dă târcoale adulmecă se strâmbă
eu tu depresia ta pisică
Emmaline Bristow grew up in Helena, Montana and attended the University of Montana for her Bachelors in English with emphasis in creative writing and literature. She also obtained her Master of Fine Arts in poetry from Drew University. Emmaline’s writing centers around place and memory and how the two affect her identity. She has deep roots in Montana. Focusing on the motifs of dust and dirt, weathered materials, as well as her own identity as a Montana woman, she has found a path in her writing that both excites and inspires her daily. When exploring memory, it is inherently linked to place, and that place, for Emmaline, has shown itself to at once be decaying before her eyes as well as living beneath her feet. Emmaline currently lives in Missoula and works in communications for her local government.
My mother inherited a Christmas cactus
that flowered in winter—
popping pink buds with spiky
petals. It grows outward like a spider
nesting, waiting to suffocate
its caretaker. The roots are older than her.
Older than my deceased great grandmother.
So old they can’t die.
It’s eaten generations of my family—
ages of anxious women feeding
it water—not too much—
sunlight—needs a lot—
soil—can it drain?—
heritage—who will take it?—
Each year it fed on my great grandmother.
She shrank and wrinkled, dark circles
hollowed under eyes, hair drained
its red color, voice
weakened to a shaky croak.
The branches take up the entire window
in the living-room—take up the room
for me to sit. Only my mother
stands near it, allows the long
arm-like stems to engulf her,
like so many before,
and so many after
and I’m next.
All the men who’ve died in
pine, shucked bark
to bleak white beneath.
Was my grandpa good to you? asked the girl.
He never hit me, responded the old woman.
Christmas trees cup
the wooden men.
branches, know wood
needs trees to keep hard.
Was my grandpa evil? asked the girl.
He was not kind, responded the old woman.
Living with Dirt
The Christmas cactus offspring
my mother bestowed me flings into my lap,
asks for my hand in marriage.
I open, laugh, stroke its leaves.
It used to be more of a spider,
would crawl into my ear at night,
tell secrets about my mother.
Or maybe mothers in general. Responsibility.
I cower under that word, feed it
chewed nails, bitten lip.
My therapist flings herself into my ear,
asks me what I want.
I close, cry, stroke my arms.
I was a romantic that dreamed
of sheep and mountains, bluebells and black dirt,
horse troughs that were never rusty or molded.
I wanted to paint my skin with dirt.
I wanted wind to weave the pines.
I wanted sheep-bells in the distance.
Once upon a time my mother was Little Bo Peep
in a quiet place where trees watched over
and creeks ran slow.
Once upon a time I was a little girl
with hay in her hair and cockleburs
stuck to her clothes.
Once upon a time I was married to a cactus
in a fake apartment with dim lights
and paper walls.
Each time becomes a once,
each once a moment gone to memories
so skewed they make me ache,
so fake they make me cry.
I don’t want to know secrets
about my mother, or her mother,
or stories about their hurt.
I want to live in the quiet.
I want to live with the dirt.
Little wooden men litter
the tree, carved by nimble
hands and painted bright
primary colors. My great grandma loved
hung each one with care
when Christmas came into her
small and lonely house.
She lived nearly forty years alone.
My great grandpa died young
with many secrets. My great grandma
died old with many stories
that strangely never chewed
to the surface. She became quiet
and soft with age, sat in the simple wooden
chair, peered out her window.
So few things in life are simple.
The last time I saw my great grandmother,
the dark engulfed
her twin bed, tired eyes peered
in search of mine or in search
of some land past the nursing home room.
She could not see my eyes
soaking tears into the sweater’s sleeves.
She could not see my sister with me,
patting my back, silent and stoic.
She could hear us, I hope
but was half gone, no longer commenting on
nursing home nonenal, focused on breath.
We left the nursing home to my uncle’s birthday.
Sleeping Giant Lanes. He turned forty, black
“Over the Hill” balloons strung around gifts, black
bowling balls crashed against pins, all before black
attire had to be chosen for her funeral
in December before Christmas.
The family joked of growing old,
traveling “over the hill.”
I imagine the hill like photos of Ireland,
green and damp, mud sinking
beneath rubber boots, my great grandmother
descending her final steps meeting her ancestors,
mother, father, sister and sons.
I cannot imagine their faces
no matter how often I try.
I cannot imagine a new face
no matter how often I dream.
Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. Her poems, articles, essays, and short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Highland Park Poetry, The Ekphrastic Review, Spillwords, Verse Visual, Silver Birch, OVUNQUE SIAMO, and others. She’s a 2021 Pushcart nominee, Able Muse; received Best MicroFiction, Haunted Waters. She performs tales featuring food, family, nature, and strong women. Her chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, is out from Finishing Line Press.
Haiku and one tanka at the end
blue Carolina sky
spring hope for Ukraine
hoping to pick them
when Ukraine is free
tangible love for
winter chill lingers
on bombed out streets—
may spring bring peace
“following orders” they claim
as they shoot civilians—
didn’t we already fight a war over that?
Praying for end of war for the living,
not only for the dead
Yellow Carolina jessamine
twines up pines,
blaring its tiny trumpets
into a blue sky:
Freedom, freedom! Ukraine!
Marzia Rahman is a Bangladeshi writer and translator. Her flashes have appeared in 101
Words, Postcard Shorts, Five of the Fifth, The Voices Project, Fewerthan500.com, WordCity
Literary Journal, Red Fern Review, Dribble Drabble Review, Paragraph Planet, Six Sentences,
Academy of the Heart and Mind, Potato Soup Journal, Borderless Journal, The Antonym, Flash
Fiction Festival Four and Writing Places Anthology UK. Her novella-in-flash If Dreams had
wings and Houses were built on clouds was longlisted in the Bath Novella in Flash Award
Competition in 2022. She is also a painter.
How to Bamboozle the World Leaders to Avoid a Third World War
Switch on the power of wit and wisdom.
Take the First World Countries. Add a few Middle East nations.
Mix them together in a bowl and let them delude each other.
Divide the third world countries into five non-cooperation committees. Season them with the
greed of free trade and the fear of religion.
Cut out the small fanatics and keep an eye on the religious leaders.
Pour the large tech companies into the mixture. Stir but keep it in a low flame.
When everything starts to crackle, add the threat of global warming.
Do not boil faith. Don’t bury hope.
When and if the big powers unexpectedly come to a consensus, and the small sovereigns turn
soft, start the cricket matches; they always bring the nations together.
Sprinkle the scent of love and peace.
Serve chilled with a band of artists, poets, and singers. Decorate it with a message: All Quiet on
the World Front.
Ottó Fenyvesi is a poet, writer, and artist. Born 1954 in Mohol-Gunarason (Yugoslavia), he graduated from the University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Arts. He had edited Új Symposion magazine, which was banned in May 1983. He worked as a disc jockey for the Hungarian station of Radio Novi Sad. He wrote and edited a rock music column for a weekly newspaper in Novi Sad. In 1991 he moved to Veszprém, Hungary. He was a contributor and editor for various newspapers, magazines and TV stations. He is the founding editor-in-chief of VÁR UCCA MŰHELY magazine, published in Veszprém. He published 18 books. His writings have been translated to German, French, English, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Serbian and Croatian. He translates from South Slavic languages and English to Hungarian. He had several solo collage exhibitions in Hungary, Serbia, the USA and the Netherlands. He participated in many group exhibitions.
At present he lives in a small village named Lovas.
Gabor G Gyukics, (b. 1958) Hungarian-American poet (jazz-poet), translator, author of 11
books of poetry in five languages, 1 book of prose and 19 books of translations including A
Transparent Lion, selected poetry of Attila József in English published by Green Integer in
2006, an anthology of North American Indigenous poets in Hungarian published in 2015 and a
brand new Contemporary Hungarian Poetry Anthology in English titled They’ll be Good for
Seed published by White Pine Press in the fall of 2021. He was honored with the Hungarian
Beat Poet Laureate Lifetime award in September 2020 by the National Beat Poetry Foundation,
Inc. based in Connecticut. He is writing poetry in English and Hungarian.
The world is speeding up and things are going really bad.
It’s full of horror, happiness seeps down to channelization.
We’re spinning in the middle of a cosmic hurricane,
the purpose and moral of the story is not yet clear.
The surviving punks are messaging on WhatsApp,
lying naked in their bathtub,
waiting for the rain to fall and then to stop.
Occasionally the old punks feel melancholy,
and talk about the climate with expertise.
Their T-shirts still read Punk’s Not Dead.
They’ve managed to survive, surviving Sid Vicious and all the parties.
Now they just drink and party alone: Too Drunk to Fuck.
They walk the dog, they wear furry slippers,
and serenely stare at the Manhattan high-rises.
Sometimes they go over to Brooklyn, out to Coney Island,
contemplate the waves of the ocean,
they would gladly become one with it.
They watch the helicopters flying over the water.
They don’t go to the Bowery anymore, where CBGB has long since disappeared.
The CBGB & OMFUG club, to be precise:
Country, Bluegrass Blues and Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers.
According to others OMFUG = Only Mother Fucking Ugly Girls.
Founded by Hilly Kristal for bikers,
with some country music and banjo chirping,
streaming of beer and blues, everybody’s smoking weed and getting high,
but then the world sped up and punk swept everything away,
the destructive creativity of capitalism.
Instincts and senses went rampant,
because you had to make something out of that slimy debris,
that we sometimes call life.
You shiny, snotty life!
Back to the roots! Back, back and back again!
Mr Varvatos’s boutique now occupies the site of CBGB.
Opposite, on the other side, Bleecker Street,
the Blitzkrieg Bop, the dialectic and the new wave.
Hilly Kristal is dead, and all of the original Ramones members, all.
The last to go was Tommy Ramone,
his statue is already erected on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky street in Budapest,
right by Toldi cinema, where in one of the upstairs apartments
he was born as Tamás Erdélyi.
It was a long way from Toldi to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Yes, the plaque is there in front of the Toldi cinema,
where even Zsuzsi Ujj 1 could have been a cleaning lady
“I am not the same person I used to be,
in the store they greet me.”
Time has forgot and left the old punks and Zsuzsi.
Freedom is lurking under the doormat or in the garbage truck.
All the clothes of an old punk are black,
his socks, his pants, his hat, his handkerchief, etc.
The vinyls are sparkling on the shelves:
Ramones, Patti Smith Group, Sex Pistols, Clash, Talking Heads.
There is a lot of obscurity around the surviving punks.
They walk around and talk to themselves all the time,
since no one’s around they explain things to themselves.
Some of them love queuing at the post office,
they hate wimps, the radio’s long out of the window,
with all the fucking new music.
They know Manhattan from the ground up,
Sometimes they’re disgusted, other times they’re nauseous,
they stay far away from Broadway and Times Square.
They read a lot because they are interested in the workings of the mind.
It’s a kind of narrative in the symphony of the city,
the texture of freedom.
The surviving punks are long past fifty
and sixty, approaching seventy.
They are like ravenous predators in the tomato sauce.
They’re plagued by ailments, their hearts, their livers, their prostates.
But there’s more: cramps, blood pressure, diabetes, cancer.
One died recently, when they broke in the coroner simply said
“he’d been dead for four days”.
He was sitting in his armchair. He was stiff.
They took him to the crematory sitting up.
His face was puffy, his eyes wide open.
His mouth dripped grey foam.
He used to tell his acquaintances:
“Soon I’m either going to San Francisco, or to the grave.”
The internet radio was on, some 24-hour underground show.
Permanent stereo, background music, noise all the way to the ceiling.
Loss of meaning. War, crime, hunger, gluttony.
Post-conceptualist emptiness. Epidemics.
In his ashes two mournful screws and a zipper were found,
it was entered into the minutes book.
Old punks sending messages to each other:
It was all so long ago, they’ve forgotten the chords,
They’ve backed out of complicated situations,
they know how hard it is to control life,
and everything goes round and round,
but some things go up and then they come down.
Sometimes it is, other times it isn’t.
Things are usually go awry,
the new people have a right to hate their ancestors.
We are all gonna die after all.
1 Hungarian photographer, performer, songwriter and alternative rock musician.
Virgil Diaconu was born on November 28, 1948, in Râmnicu Sărat. He lives in Pitesti. Member of the U.S.R. since 1990. He is a poet, literary critic, publicist. He founded the magazine samizdat RA (Piteşti) in Pitesti (1981), and after ’89 the culture magazine Solstiţiu (January 1990), Săgetător, the weekly literary supplement of the daily “Argeşul” (January 1997), the magazine Cafeneaua literară (January 2003), published by the Center Cultural Pitesti, which he still leads today. He has published 16 volumes of poetry, two volumes of the aesthetics of poetry (essays), a volume of philosophy and a volume of biblical essays.
Ioana Cosma is a writer and lecturer from Romania. Her sixth volume of poetry is forthcoming with Dancing Girl Press in May and her first novel will appear in Romania in July. Her play, The Men from the Mechanical Age, will be part of the JCTC theatre festival in New Jersey. She writes poetry, short stories, novels and plays.
Despre copilul acela nu mai ştiu nimic.
Până și castelul s-a ascuns de mine printre ruine.
Uneori, mă împiedic de turnurile şi ferestrele lui,
dau cu picioru-n soldaţi. Şi trec nepăsător
pe lângă prinţesa de aur.
Eu nu mai ştiu nimic despre copilul din care am plecat.
Cireşul, care mă aştepta în fiecare dimineaţă la colţ,
îşi întoarce acum ochii în altă parte.
Şi poate că ar lua-o la fugă printre frunze,
dacă nişte puşti nu l-ar trage cu putere de mânecă.
Despre copilul acela nu mai ştiu nimic.
Vrăbiile s-au mutat de la mine cu toate cuiburile.
Eu am căzut până şi în dizgraţia zilei mele de naştere,
a singurei zile când îmi amintesc că exist. Şi caut răspuns.
Până şi propria casă m-a scos în brânci pe scări.
Casa mea e pe drum, mi-am spus, pe drum…
Despre copilul acela nu mai ştiu nimic.
Şi totuşi, castelul îmi iese dinainte, uneori,
cu toate luminile aprinse, ca o corabie care taie întunericul.
Şi prinţesa cu cireşe la urechi mă ia de mână
şi aleargă cu mine prin ierburi.
Negreşit, în noaptea aceasta mă voi întoarce!
În noaptea aceasta am să mă furişez printre paznicii adormiţi.
Tiptil, să nu trezesc străjerii, păsările întunecate de pe metereze.
În noaptea aceasta am să aştept în turn ivirea zorilor.
Ivirea prinţesei. Acum nu mai aud decât râsul ei
care sparge în ţăndări dimineaţa.
Ţara este în criză.
Dar tu eşti singurul care ai primit aprobarea
să îţi duci mai departe viziunile, fluturii albaştri,
mi-a spus îngerul meu păzitor.
Şi dreptul la viaţă ţi-a fost garantat în continuare.
Dreptul la viaţă cu acele în vene…
Stai liniştit, mi-a spus îngerul meu păzitor.
Cineva îţi va strecura în fiecare zi sub cearşaf
o doză de glucoză, pentru a-ţi duce mai departe viziunile,
Da, fluturii vor fi liberi să zboare prin piaţa cea mare,
unde primarul îşi împarte minciunile şi sarmalele electorale.
Și forțele de ordine îi vor lăsa să zboare în voie!
Şi chiar să apară la ştirile de seară.
– Să nu crezi că ei au fost arestaţi
pentru „tulburarea liniştii publice”, aşa cum se zvoneşte.
Să nu crezi, mi-a spus îngerul meu secret,
lustruindu-şi tresele… Atâta doar că de-acum înainte
fluturii albaştri vor fi programaţi pe calculator,
pentru ca ei să zboare organizat, în pluton.
Şi pentru ca niciun curcubeu să nu mai dea buzna pe cer,
de capul lui şi fără acte în regulă.
Aşa mi-a spus îngerul meu secret, dându-mi asigurări
că voi putea să lucrez mai departe la fluturii albaştri…
Cu acele în vene şi cu tubul de glucoză primit pe furiş,
voi putea să lucrez mai departe.
Şi poate că într-o clipă de neatenţie a forțelor de ordine
fluturii mei vor umple iarăşi cerul! Da, eu voi transmite
pe toate canalele vederi din sângele meu albastru…
Într-o clipă de neatenţie a forțelor de ordine.
Desigur, eu voi amâna glonţul şi de data aceasta.
Glonţul, acest suvenir din călătoriile mele occidentale.
Un suvenir pe care îl voi lăsa moştenire fiilor mei,
spre a le fi de folos la nevoie.
Sub streaşina glasului tău
mă întorc seara în grădină, mamă,
în grădina smintită de cireşii înfloriţi şi de vrăbii.
Nu mai cuprinzi lucrurile…
Umbli prin camere, măsori singurătatea.
Între fotoliu şi pat, singurătatea.
Cana cu apă a rămas neatinsă, ceasul a împietrit în perete.
Şi făpturile din album au dat năvală în casă.
Ele umblă zălude prin camere, măsoară singurătatea.
Iată-l pe bunicul în hainele lui de paradă
şi cu medaliile pe piept. Cu toate medaliile,
ca să-ţi alunge tăcerea şi teama.
Iată fecioara, care are chiar mâinile tale.
Şi care aleargă pe câmp după fluturii amiezii.
Fecioara cu aripi de fluture.
Şi copilul, care prinde pentru tine soarele cocoţat în cireş.
Toate au dat năvală în odaie,
de parcă lacrima nu ţi-ar fi de ajuns.
Da, uneori, tu mă trezeşti din somn
şi îmi arăţi noaptea bătută în cuiele de argint. –
O călătorie pentru care nu sunt nici acum pregătit.
Şi pentru care nu voi fi niciodată.
Copacii din grădină se dau cu capul de pereţii casei.
Şi eu mă închid în camera mea.
Nici n-am văzut când m-am lovit de cana cu apă.
De cana cu apă, din care se vede bine că a băut cineva…
Întotdeauna se întâmplă ceva peste puterile mele.
Ceasul din perete mă strigă toată noaptea cu bătăile lui.
Şi inima aleargă ca o nebună pe-afară,
prin grădina smintită de floarea de cireş şi de vrăbii.
Nici nu mai ştiu dacă vrea să ia în braţe pădurea
sau să îngroape totul în cenuşă.
Of that child I know nothing anymore.
Even the castle hid away from me among the ruins.
At times, I stumble against its towers and windows
and kick the s*oldiers. I pass carelessly
by the golden princess.
I now know nothing about the child that I departed from.
The cherry tree, which used to wait for me
each morning around the corner,
is now glancing elsewhere.
And maybe it would start running away among the leaves,
if some kids didn’t hold tight to its sleeve.
Of that child I know nothing anymore.
The sparrows have fled from me with all their nests.
I have become the unwanted child of my very birthday,
the only day when I remember I exist. And search for an answer.
Even my own home has shoved me down the stairs.
My home, it’s on the road, I told myself, on the road….
Of that child I know nothing anymore.
And yet, the castle emerges before me, at times,
with all its lights ablaze, like a ship cutting through the darkness.
And the princess with cherries around her ears takes me by the hand
and runs with me in the (tall) grass.
For sure, tonight I will come back!
Tonight I will sneak past the sleeping guards.
On tiptoe, so as not to wake the watchmen, the dark birds upon the ramparts.
Tonight, I’ll wait the wake of dawn inside the tower.
The coming of the princess. Now the only thing I hear is her laughter
shattering the morning into shards.
The Blue Butterflies
The country is in crisis.
But you are the only one who received the permission
to carry on with your visions, the blue butterflies,
my guardian angel said.
And you were granted the right to go on living.
The right to go on living with needles in your veins…
Have no fear, said my guardian angel.
Someone will slip each day under the blanket
a dose of glucose, to carry on with your visions,
the blue butterflies.
Yes, my butterflies will be free to fly in the big square,
where the mayor emparts his lies and election cabbage rolls.
And the police force will let them fly free!
And even make an appearance on the night news.
- Do not believe they got arrested
for “disturbing public order”, as it’s rumored.
Do not believe that, said my secret angel,
polishing his stripes… It’s just that from now on
the blue butterflies will be computer programmed,
so they can fly in organized manner, in squad formation.
And so no rainbow can rush into the sky
of its own will and with no official papers.
This is what my secret angel told me, assuring me
that I will be able to carry on my work with the blue butterflies…
With those veins and with the tube of glucose I was given surreptitiously,
I will be able to carry on working.
And maybe when the police don’t look
my butterflies will fill up the skies once again! Yes, I will be broadcasting
on all channels postcards of my blue blood….
When the police don’t look.
Surely, I will delay the bullet this time too.
The bullet, that souvenir from my trips to the West.
A souvenir I will bequeath to my sons
to make use of it in times of need.
Under the canopy of your voice,
I return at night in the garden, mother,
in the garden smitten by blossom cherries and sparrows.
You no longer encompass things…
You walk through the rooms, you measure solitude…
Between the armchair and the bed, the solitude.
The cup of water left untouched, the clock frozen on the wall.
And the beings in the album flooded the house.
They walk amock in the rooms, measuring solitude.
There is grandfather in his marching clothes
with the medals on his chest. With all the medals,
to chase away your silence and fear.
There is the virgin, who has your very hands.
And who chases the butterflies of noon in the field.
The virgin with butterfly wings.
And the child, who, for you, will catch the sun perched in the cherry tree.
They all flooded in the room,
as though the tear had not been enough.
Yes, at times you wake me up
and show me the night pierced by the silver nails. –
A voyage I am not ready for even now
And one I’ll never be ready for.
The trees in the garden are knocking their heads to the house walls.
And I lock myself up in my room.
I didn’t even see them when I got hit by the water jug.
By the water jug, which someone has clearly drunk from…
Something greater than me happens always.
The clock on the wall keeps crying for me all night long with its beats.
And the heart races like a madman outside,
through the garden smitten by the cherry flower and the birds.
I no longer know if it wants to embrace the woods
or to bury it all underneath cinders.
Scott Ferry helps our Veterans heal as a RN in the Seattle area. His seventh book of poetry, The Long Blade of Days Ahead, is forthcoming from Impspired Press in August 2022.
listening to coltrane’s love supreme
the chaos gets the fireweed off the kitchenknife
all the fingers are broken and beautiful
as they peel themselves a new brightness
give me a skin to dance out of each phrase
wraps its fleshy genitalia around the next
like a sea anemone but the glass is leak ing
the sax is ambi dextrous in milk is a blush
capsized in a flowerfield i know
this is about love but it wrangles neurons out
by their flametails and whips them
look a bouquet of mesentery and splenic arcs
look a mess of garbanzos look a blooddish
in a shaven neck look an eel-bone a whale-phone
a depository of raptures razored in a string
i can’t bring these things out of the music for you
i am nascent here in the boil
there are too many minnows to mirror
my son is a fox
my fox is a sleeping newt
my sleeping newt is a wetsong
my wetsong is not mine
what is not mine i try to hold
serpentine flashing skinmolted
he will wake and want apples
not the fruit of the knowledge
of good and evil just apples
cut into slices a portion
suited for a fox
who just became a fox
who was a sleeping newt
slurring a wetsong
into a river like a newskin
snake who does not know
evil who only knows
arms our arms
which he will
late winter / early spring
what of these ordinary half-wet days
gets remembered? between winter and spring?
sleep and more sleep? half-sun and slanting rain?
sometimes just walking into my house
smelling the carrot cake my daughter and wife
are baking my son running up to me
screeching daddy! will this be a déjà vu
when my daughter goes to college?
when my son enters my last hospital room
with that smile and i can swear i taste
the warm cake on my tongue?
Valerio Grutt was born in Naples in 1983. He has published Una città chiamata le sei di mattina (Edizioni della Meridiana, 2009), Qualcuno dica buonanotte (Alla chiara fonte editore, 2013), the pamphlet Andiamo (Pulcinoelefante, 2013), Però qualcosa chiama – Poema del Cristo velato (Edizioni Alos, 2014), Dammi tue notizie e un bacio a tutti (Interno Poesia, 2018), Tutto l’amore nelle mani (VG, 2019) and L’amuleto – Appunti sul potere di guarigione della poesia (AnimaMundi, 2021). Some of his texts can be found in the collections Subway – Poeti italiani underground (Ed. Il saggiatore 2006), Centrale di Transito (Perrone Editore 2016) and Fuoco. Terra. Aria. Acqua (Terra d’ulivi 2017). Director of the Centre for Contemporary Poetry at the University of Bologna from 2013 to 2016. His research blends the fields of music and visual art, he creates performances and installations. He currently works with Interno Poesia, a blog and publishing house.
Patrick Williamson is an English poet and translator. Recent poetry collections: Traversi (English-Italian, Samuele Editore, 2018), Beneficato (SE, 2015), Gifted (Corrupt Press, 2014). Recent work in Transference, Metamorphoses, The Tupelo Quarterly, The Black Bough, and The Fortnightly Review. Editor and translator of The Parley Tree, Poets from French-speaking Africa and the Arab World (Arc Publications, 2012). Founding member of transnational literary agency Linguafranca.
Three poems from Dammi tue notizie e un bacio a tutti (Interno Poesia, 2018) by Valerio Grutt
Noi non siamo di quella specie
che si divora, che dà
solo quando riceve.
Di quelli che cercano
il punto debole del vetro
e fanno del mondo tutto
un agguato del nulla.
Noi siamo gli indomabili,
abbiamo un altro odore.
Siamo gli ingenui rimasti
ad ascoltare il cuore della terra
mentre l’estate è pazza
per la sua festa di luce.
We are not the kind
that devours itself, that gives
only when we receive.
Not those who seek
the weak point of the glass
and make the whole world
an ambush of nothingness.
We are the untamable,
we have another smell.
We are the naive ones left
listening to the heart of the earth
while the summer is crazy
for its feast of light.
Voglio che tu sappia
che non sei qui per caso
e che capiterà sempre più spesso
di salutare le persone che ami
alla stazione, di non rivederle
per settimane o mesi…
Le vedrai cadere
nella voragine dei giorni
e ti verrà da piangere e maledire,
da spaccare le vetrine.
Ma le distanze sono ponti
non possono dividere noi
che abbiamo raccolto la luce
dal pozzo degli occhi, abbiamo
visitato il tronco rotto della notte.
Voglio che tu sappia
che non sei sola mai
e che in ogni centimetro di vuoto
si muove una moltitudine
ed ogni sorriso viene
– ricordatelo, mi raccomando –
dalla riserva segreta del bene.
Sappi che ci sarà da domandarsi
il senso di tutto, che alla fine
non ci sarà una vera fine
e capirai che l’amore
era l’unica domanda buona,
l’unica risposta giusta.
I want you to know
that you are not here by chance
and more and more often you’ll
greet the people you love
at the station, not see them again
for weeks or months…
You will see them fall
into the abyss of days
and you’ll cry and curse,
smash shop windows.
But distances are bridges
they cannot divide us
who have gathered the light
from the well of eyes, we have
visited the broken trunk of night.
I want you to know
that you are never alone
and that in every inch of emptiness
a multitude moves
and every smile comes
– remember this, please –
from the secret reserve of good.
Know that we’ll ask ourselves
the meaning of everything, that in the end
there will be no real end
and you’ll understand that love
was the only good question
the only right answer.
Metto il portafoglio in tasca ed esco
la strada mi abbaglia, i palazzi,
i clacson. È questo il campo di battaglia
pianeta, via cumana. È qui
che si decide, nei nostri cuori avviene
la sfida grande tra Lucifero e Michele.
Vedo il cane che risale la campagna
il guardrail che la taglia; vedo due
che si baciano e si scrollano la notte
dalle spalle, vedo e non ho visto niente.
Gli occhi non sono occhi, gli alberi
sono altri alberi, resteranno piantati
gli occhi nelle orbite, gli alberi nella terra,
in questo e in altri tempi, fino al salto,
alla fine, la fine che esplode ancora
l’inizio di pianto e di gioia.
I put my wallet in my pocket and go out
the street dazzles me, the buildings,
the horns. This is the battlefield
planet, via cumana. This is where
all is decided, the great struggle
in our hearts between Lucifer and Michael.
I see the dog climbing the countryside
the guardrail that divides it; I see two people
kissing each other and shaking the night
from their shoulders, I see and I saw nothing.
Eyes are not eyes, trees
are other trees, they will remain planted
eyes in sockets, trees in the earth,
in this and other times, until the leap,
to the end, the end that still explodes
the beginning of weeping and joy.
Adela Sinclair is a NYFA Grant winning Romanian American poet, translator, and teacher. Her Chapbook entitled LA REVEDERE is now available through Finishing Line Press. Adela is currently working with an editor on her first full-length poetry collection, “The Butcher’s Granddaughter,” a lyrical memoir of her childhood in Romania. Adela holds a BA in French Culture and Civilization from SUNY Albany, with additional coursework at the Sorbonne University of Paris, an MA in Education from Hunter College (NYC), and an MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry from St. Francis College (Brooklyn).
after Little Time by Alina Stefanescu
We must go inside, he said.
The insects were rampant and
starting to bite.
The balmy night air was thick.
Their song perpetuating itself
in the valley.
We must not forget their DNA
when speaking about insects.
XX dont go missing your Y.
The crown comes with a price, he said.
Princess, she wanted to be called. Or
maybe she said Priceless.
We must talk about endurance when
it comes to insects.
They buzz around in circles so you
get dizzy and misfire at them.
Mercy with a dose of merriment.
In the end, we sum it up to being
outlived. By trees. Insects. Mountains.
We must give power where it’s due.
The perpetrator is the culprit. Not the
victim. Even so, insects, some of them,
victimization works both ways. Insest
in a home always translates into crime.
The flowers in the attic. Consanguinity.
Punishable till eternity.
We must power through this cold winter,
he says. The snowflakes are messages
that one must catch while in flight, and at
first touch they disappear. Melt into
the couch you are sitting on, lime green,
draw from experience what you must keep.
Endurance is a virtue.
We must outlive metal. Radiant in our sheen green
carapace, our bodies are always levitating.
Reminded of flies, their daring dirt.
When I get dirt under my nails, I obsessively
clean them and cut them short. So short
Pay for it
When the money runs out, will you pay for it
with your body, through your body or in your body?
Will you park your body in the doorframe?
Passersby must fumble and rub their bodies
against your own parked there. Just like this.
Why can’t I find the poetry in this? So what if
the boy started wearing light colored clothes?
Different framed glasses? So what if he reviews
books on TV and I don’t. So what? I heard he burned
all his biker clothes and leather jackets and boots.
My bad, I meant books. On a cellular level I know
it is wrong to hoard so many first editions and then
post mortem donate them to Christie’s. Who the fuck
benefits from this now. GIve to the rich. Keep fucking
for money, keep fucking yourself over for money.
Keep the fucking money. And run. The boy pays for it.
With his pastel pink shirt and blue pants. I can still
sniff the tattoos under his long sleeved shirt. He cannot
apply for a professor’s job with this conjecture. Nor
can the biker in him die. Nor can the bookseller, most
famous bookseller, read in heaven. And in hell his books
don’t stand a chance. Either way, he is fucked and we
are in luck. As I stand in the doorway, my mother passes
by me and the scent of her sweat and perfume, mixed
together like a collage that shouldn’t work, but does,
reminds me that I am and have an inner child still.
She is not easily amused by my spending and binging.
I speed through the cash money, so I do not have to carry
wealthy people have problems with fat bank accounts.
How dumb. I therefor overeat to not stand my body
and its curves. I could not even pay with my body now.
Even if I wanted to… So we keep on thinking fat-shaming
is a sin.. I mentally do it all the time. This hellish purgatory
I’m in. My body pays over and over stuck in the doorway
of no returns. There is a certain violence when they enter me.
A sense of poverty of spirit I sense in them. Yet like in a museum,
they keep coming, to experience the installation.
Opposite of Amor Fati
The sickle is the farming tool I choose to cut
your throat. A few crows for the carnage.
I hold the short-handed tool in my hand,
the semicircular blade around the main attraction.
They were coming for me, the crows, the kids
with crow faces and beaks, the sound of metal.
The boiling cauldron is where I throw your head,
after the throat has been cut. I do not remember
how to leave this place, for my country. Or I do
not remember how to leave my country for this place.
Either way, the aliens are living among us, offer us
the courtesy of wearing human guises. The tellurium
blade corrodes and I wonder is it brass instead?
This is opposite of amor fati, I want to twist my fate
like braids of sins for the famished plebeians. Always
lay blame on the rich, for the corpse of poverty cannot
be laid to rest. Unrest inside the magic circle, crows lined
around the cauldron, the fire, the smoke, your head on
a platter. It was not a clean cut, it was not a clear decision.
The escape was not but became my mission. Twists and turns,
on the apocalyptic serpentine Carpathian roads, the river Olt
beckoning me with its fury. The color of a dying fire,
the bottom is not clear nor predictable. I must and I throw
the beheaded moor into the muddy water. I secure an out,
while at the wheel filled with doubt. The serpent around
my neck, strangleholds and bridges my life to the afterlife.