Archives for posts with tag: drawing

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In the Schwarzwald
by Lawrence Schimel

They take her brother to break her pride.
Gretel tears splinters from the barracks bed
to still the hunger that gnaws inside.

Through the iron gate, past the words:
Arbeit Macht Frei, she watches guards
throw loaves of bread to the birds.

Not even famine can make barbed wire
seem a candy house she could devour.
The guard tells her: Child, climb into the fire.

Gretel tells the guard: Show me how.
But the witches were not fooled so
easily in the camps at Dachau.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “In the Schwarzwald” is part of a sequence I’m writing, using that same title as the title for the series, using the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm as the lens through which to explore the Holocaust, both arising from the same Dark Forests of Germany.

IMAGE: “Hansel and Gretel” by Kay Nielsen (1886-1957).

Lawrence Schimel 2014

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lawrence Schimel (New York, 1971) writes in both English and Spanish and has published over 100 books as author or anthologist, including two poetry chapbooks in English, Fairy Tales for Writers and Deleted Names (both from A Midsummer Night’s Press), and one poetry collection in Spanish, Desayuno en la cama (Egales). He has twice won the Lambda Literary Award (for First Person Queer and PoMoSexual: Challenging Assumptions About Gender and Sexuality), as well as the Independent Publisher Book Award, the Spectrum Award, and other honors. His stories and poems have been widely anthologized in The Random House Treasury of Light Verse, The Random House Book of Science Fiction Stories, The Mammoth Book of Fairy Tales, Chicken Soup for the Horse-Lover’s Soul 2, The Incredible Sestinas Anthology, Weird Tales from Shakespeare, and many others. He lives in Madrid, Spain where he works as a Spanish->English translator.

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Apollo’s serenade for the city
by Nathan Steinman

Apollo doing his fantastic Charley Patton,
dribbling out notes on a Braque guitar strung with muslin.
Bitter wind beats a hanging sign against steel
shaped like cardboard when you peel it.
Wind’s been at this the last two days.

Dressed all awards show
and elegantly grinning
Ella starts singing
into the only blue streetlight on 36th
All through the city her voice blushes asphalt orange.

“Baby, I’m not good at buildin’ altars
but, you’re a dream more real than a city
able to foil the robberies
Nightmare’s always tryin’ to commit.

This doesn’t have to be a tissue paper moon.
I want to ask you every brown and yellow question
scurryin’ among the starlight
reflectin’ in your bright hazel eyes.

Let’s stay warm,
oh, so warm,
And confess
yes, confess.
Let’s express
oh, express

Would you like to stay up one night?
We’ll pour some tough drinks in styrofoam cups.
Put a couple of records on
and keep that gossipin’ Cold outside.

We’ll watch the world do its thing
and talk ‘til we see the sun
hang itself back on that nail
shinin’ on this story we have spun.

We’ll transform
oh, transform.
Don’t distress
or transgress.
Let’s decompress,
oh, decompress.

Ridin’ on the moon swan
we’ll float down that plastic river
somethin’ we can pray for
somethin’ that will deliver
again and again.”

Streetlights start hushing down lights
Ella paces backwards in time with the fade.
Shadows take their places.
The wind falls off beat.
A muslin string breaks.

Apollo sighs as he gets up,
dusts off some of the tune from his suit,
puts the guitar against swirling brick.
cracking his knuckles
wandering off
humming another memory
aching to be strummed.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is from a mythology I started creating around an old bluesman version of Apollo.

IMAGE: “Charley Patton” by Robert Crumb.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nathan Steinman was born in Oklahoma in the 1980s. His father joined the military after the oil bust, and the family moved around to the government whims, then back to Oklahoma, where he started writing poetry at the age of 17. Now, 13 years later, still writing, he is married and has a degree in music education. He hopes to discover truth in the music of words.

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CROWN
by Sonja Johanson

Sif, how I howled
when the gold was gone.
The thing I loved you for,
the thing I held you back by –
how could you let him in?
That icy devil in my home,
red sneak-thief in my very bed.
Sif, how you shame me now,
bald and unafraid before them
all, more a goddess than a wife.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Goddesses held only minor roles in Norse mythology, and I could never understand how Thor was the one Loki had to make amends to. Maybe Sif knew exactly what she was doing – maybe she didn’t want to be her husband’s decoration, or be weighed down by all that long hair anymore.

IMAGE: “Loki Prepares to Cut Sif’s Hair” by John Charles Dollman (1909).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sonja Johanson attended College of the Atlantic, in Bar Harbor, Maine. She has recent work appearing in The Albatross, Off the Coast, and Out of Sequence: The Sonnets Remixed, and was a participating writer in Found Poetry Review‘s 2014 Oulipost Project. Sonja divides her time between work in Massachusetts and her home in the mountains of western Maine.

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RAPUNZEL’S BIRTH MOTHER
by Gabriella M. Belfiglio

All I wanted was some lettuce.
The way it grew on the other side
of that large wall in her paradise
so fresh, so green, so wide
and curly at the top. Rows of them
like snug babies—her yard a nursery.
There must have been something different
my husband could have done—less cursory.

I rarely leave our cottage now.
I cannot bear to see all the crisp babies,
growing legs hardly able to balance on the ground.
Even the new princess has three,
their hair looks soft as spun gold.
The exact pale shade as my own.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I began to read translations of the original Brothers Grimm fairytales, and became intrigued with how much had been changed in the process of becoming Walt Disney Movies. It inspired me to create my own version of some of the tales.

IMAGE: “Sadness” by Erté (1892-1990).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Gabriella M. Belfiglio lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her partner and three cats. She teaches self-defense, conflict resolution, karate, and tai chi to people of all ages throughout the five boroughs. Most recently, Gabriella won second place in the 2014 W.B. Yeats Poetry Contest. Gabriella’s work has been published in many anthologies and journals including VIA, E*ratio, Challenger International, Radius, The Centrifugal Eye, Folio, Avanti Popolo, Poetic Voices without Borders, C,C,&D, The Avocet, The Potomac Review, Eclectica, Lambda Literary Review, The Monterey Poetry Review, and The Dream Catcher’s Song.

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NEOPHYTE AND THE SWAN
by Donna Hilbert

He shattered her glass
climbing over the table
to kiss her, that hot afternoon,
when she quoted his poem over wine.
It was free verse, abstract in part,
and difficult, he knew,
committing it to heart.
They kissed the afternoon away,
and on the drive back, kissed
through every stop sign and red light.
Between the kisses
he smoked a cigarette.
And, what she failed to reconcile
about that day, was the casual way
he tossed the ember from the window,
considering how hot and dry the summer,
how much fuel there was to burn.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Neophyte and the Swan” is from my collection The Congress of Luminous Bodies. It is a tip of the hat, of course, to “Leda and the Swan” by William Butler Yeats and the myth from which that poem comes.

IMAGE: “Study for the Head of Leda” by Leonardo da Vinci (1506).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donna Hilbert’s latest book is The Congress of Luminous Bodies, from Aortic Books. The Green Season, World Parade Books, a collection of poems, stories and essays, is now available in an expanded second edition. Hilbert appears in and her poetry is the text of the documentary Grief Becomes Me: A Love Story, a Christine Fugate film. Earlier books include Mansions and Deep Red, from Event Horizon, Transforming Matter and Traveler in Paradise from PEARL Editions and the short story collection Women Who Make Money and the Men Who Love Them from Staple First Editions and published in England. Poems in Italian can be found in Bloc notes 59 and in French in La page blanche, in both cases, translated by Mariacristina Natalia Bertoli. New work is in recent or forthcoming issues of 5AM, Nerve Cowboy, PEARL, RC Muse, Serving House Journal, Poets & Artists and California Quarterly. She is a frequent contributor to the online journal Your Daily Poem. Her work is widely anthologized, most recently in The Widows’ Handbook, Kent State University Press. Learn more at donnahilbert.com.

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Snappy Refrigerator Magnet Saying
by Nancy Lynée Woo

I like my men how I like my
crossed word puzzles:
complex, frustrating and
nongiveupable –

The only love worth having
labyrinthine.

I am no princess hoping on toads;
Give me your ugly, your worst,
your most frightening Minotaur
and a string.

SOURCE: Originally published at Cadence Collective: Long Beach Poets (Feb. 21, 2014).

IMAGE: “Minotaur’s Repose” by Pablo Picasso (1933).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The whimsical, fanciful and mythological are of special interest to me. I love poetry because it lives in the world of the imagination, yet it is the imaginative act that often allows space for a hard truth to be seen. As humans, we have always told stories, and it’s fascinating to see certain archetypes appear throughout time and across different cultures. I am endlessly intrigued by the process of mythologification—how our mythologies influence or shape the way we think about the world and what we come to believe, and vice versa. Plus, it’s just great fun to write about goddesses and monsters.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nancy Lynée Woo spends her free time hitching a ride to the other side of maybe. She is cofounder and editor of a social justice-based literary press called Lucid Moose Lit.  Often caught cavorting around Long Beach, California, this poet can also be found at nancylyneewoo.com.

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IS THIS HOW IT FEELS?
by Tamara Madison

Is this how it feels to be a daffodil after five days
in a white milk pitcher on a kitchen table?

Is this how it feels when you see your petals
curl up at the ends like a ragged hem?

Is this how it feels to have reached the summit of loveliness
and be raveling back down, sucked in and browning at the edges?

Is this how it feels to have your color turn to a mockery
of what it was just yesterday, when it beheld its own goldenness

in the mirror and said “I’m so happy to see you!”
but now even your face averts its gaze?

Is this how it feels to watch spring open all around you
and know you’ll never be there again?

IMAGE: “Daffodils in White Pitcher” by Kate Bartlett.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tamara Madison teaches English and French at a public high school in Los Angeles. Raised on a citrus farm in the California desert, Tamara’s life has taken her many places, including Europe and the former Soviet Union, where she spent fifteen months in the 1970s. A swimmer and dog lover, Tamara says, “All I ever wanted to do with my life was write, and I mostly write poetry because it suits my lifestyle. I like the way one can say so much in the economical space of a poem.”

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MY OWN DORIAN GRAY
by Alan Passman

When face-to-face, eye-to-eye
with myself in the mirror,
I see my parents.

My father’s broad isosceles
of a nose, hooked and unforgiving;
his roundness and lack of a virile
jawline that is instead a pendulous
and sagging second chin.

My mother’s dulled, foggy emerald
green eyes pierce back at me as they
trace up my forehead to her father’s
vampiric widow’s peak: a hairline
that recedes with every year
like said grandfather from my life.

I spy the heritage I really know nothing
about: family that fled from pogroms,
that lived and died in Tolstoy’s time,
that crossed the ocean with hope
brimming in their hearts for US
streets paved with gold.

I see what have become my sartorial
trademarks: red glasses and a beard.
The latter’s a point of pride and envy
with friends, foes, and strangers alike.
Former’s just a distracting affectation,
something to keep from homogenously
blending in with the crowd.

I see the cleft in my nose that I loathe
and I see my eyebrows that most
women would achieve by enduring
the pain of plucking and threading.

I see my lips, the feature that most
of the women I’ve been with have said
is my best feature. They’ve been
described as “thin yet plump.”

Whatever . . .

IMAGE: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (Marvel illustrated edition, 2007), cover art by Gerald Parel.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Some people subscribe to the idea that you should free-write everyday until something sticks. Others are all about waiting for the muse to whisper in their ears. I find myself somewhere in-between. Sometimes a line or an image will pop into my head, and I’ll try to capture it. Then there are the moments were I doodle pictures, mostly of The Simpsons or the Ninja Turtles, and scribble lines out of boredom during professional enrichment meetings that we educators have to endure a couple times a semester — but with a poem like this that has a prompt and a project attached to it, the strictures and limitations actually aid you in that they force you to have a clear idea of what you’re trying to craft with each line, each stanza until you have something to write home about.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alan Passman is a man who strives for impossibility. His aesthetic is one that blends blatant pop cultural nerdery with red-hot, American male deviancy. He’s been published in Crack the Spine, Carnival, Bank Heavy Press, and, coming this fall, he will be featured in Multiverse: An Anthology of Superhero Poetry of Superhuman Proportions from Write Bloody Publishing. He received his BA and MFA from California State University, Long Beach, for Creative Writing and Poetry respectively. Currently, he teaches English at Long Beach City College.

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SELF-PORTRAIT
by Barbara Eknoian

See the little girl,
quiet and shy,
after a family blow-up,
warily observing
the grown-ups.
See the teenager
longing to be asked
to dance a slow number
with that handsome boy,
and then at sixteen
unaware
that she was looking her best
drifting in the rowboat
imagining
the world before her.
See the shy bride,
almost twenty-one,
marrying a little too soon,
praying
she’s made the right choice.
See the young mom
moving across country
homesick
away from family
and dear friends,
and the young woman
back at school,
serving as editor
of the college paper,
then leaving to care
for her family.
See the woman
thrilled to celebrate
her 50th anniversary,
and now the widow
still longing
for the dance.

IMAGE: “Dancer Standing (study)” by Edgar Degas (1872).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Eknoian‘s work has appeared in Pearl, Chiron Review, RE)VERB, and Silver Birch Press’s Silver, Green, and Summer anthologies, and Cadence Collective on line. She has received two Pushcart Prize nominations and is a member of Donna Hilbert’s poetry workshop in Long Beach, California. Her first young adult novel Chances Are: A Jersey Girl Comes of Age, and her poetry book Why I Miss New Jersey are available at Amazon. She is currently working on a generational novel.

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SELF-PORTRAIT WITH W
by Robert Okaji

One might claim a double victory, or after the Roman Empire’s fall, a reclamation from the slurred “b” and its subsequent reduction.

Survival of the rarely heard, of the occipital’s impulse.

The oak’s crook performs a similar function.

Shielding myself from its entreaties, I contemplate the second family
root, weighted in weapons, in Woden, in wood.

Not rejection, but acceptance in avoidance.

The Japanese homophone, daburu, bears a negative connotation.

Original language was thought to be based on a natural
relation between objects and things.

Baudelaire’s alphabet existed without “W,” as does the Italian.

The recovery of lost perfection is no longer our aim.

When following another, I often remain silent.
As in two, as in answer, as in reluctance, reticence.

I share two halves: one light, one shadowed, but both of water.

Overlapped or barely touching, still we complete.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR ON HIS CREATIVE PROCESS: One word, followed by another. Revise. Rest. Read.

IMAGE: Handpainted manuscript initial letter “W” decorated with thistles by Clare McCrory, available at etsy.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Okaji’s work has appeared in Boston Review, Otoliths, Prime Number Magazine, Clade Song, and Vayavya, among others. He lives in Texas with his wife and two dogs. Visit him at robertokaji.com.