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  • Robert L. Giron

Issue 199

Updated: Jul 4

This issue features

 

poetry by Nishi Chawla,

poetry by Dave Morrison,

poetry by Fred Pollack, and

poetry by William Swarts

 

  

 

A Series of Complaints

 


Copyright © by Edward Supranowicz.

  

About the Artist

Edward Michael Supranowicz is the grandson of Irish and Russian/Ukrainian immigrants. He grew up on a small farm in Appalachia. He has a grad background in painting and printmaking. Some of his artwork has recently or will soon appear in Fish Food, Streetlight, Another Chicago Magazine, The Door Is A Jar, The Phoenix, and The Harvard Advocate. Edward is also a published poet who has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize multiple times.

 

 Nishi Chawla

 

Of Dust and Dread

 

They belong to the same category, sensu lato,

For bewitched humanity, hunkered down

By faith that ought to breed, an interest

In the lost gold of soul, fire from its walls.

 

History counts its pages in tarnished

Ochre, the pillars of Hindu temples razed,

Etched with holy inscriptions, they lie inside

Awakened mosques for centuries, plummeting

 

Beyond the fading eyes of falling trees,

To discover new empires, waken to

New churches, of domes and spires that

Still make the call to prayer, sober blue.

 

Minarets that echo with hallowed

Spaces, draw comfort from the memory

Of idols placed inside, then withdrawn,

Sink in heaps of faith, of temples quashed.

 

Then mosques that bequeath long shadows,

Of churches melting into mosques, domes

Of desire, desperate prayers, and niche

Womb chambers, idols lost, replaced.

 

Fountains of ritual cleansing do not

Erase backlash, the tomb and the palace,

Lie in ruins, or collect them, in dusty

Corners of our fears, subtle, monotheistic.

 

Roofed over in gorgeous geometric

Patterns, hexagons of intensity, open

Spaces of regret, abandoned by faith,

Circular designs, of dust and dread.

 

The brittle bones lie in carvings, ornately

Re-ignited in cemeteries, lurching, rock cut

Cave shrines, give shrill voice nor credence,

Where the hushed blade twists, akin to war.

 

Carvings sculptured, stained glass windows

They know the depths of each other’s pillars

Tell stories about their towering shrines, yet

Coax a healing and a deep hurt, treacherous.

 

Copyright © 2023 by Nishi Chawla.

 

 

The Randomness of Intimacy

 

You call my voice out from the caves of my sleep,

Fixated with hymns of longing, you bring them

Alive with what seems like something anticipated,

Remembered. A stab somewhere.

 

Your graph charts a nice loop

Chaos, possibilities of a lotus wilting,

Sobbing, my left knee throbs every time you

Go into the sullen trenches of self-created mess

The knee hurting, caught up in bittersweet loss.

 

I weep at my freedom, stare at street lights,

As the city drenches the burnished tulips, drip

With nostalgia dressings. Unable to sense the

Water that surges. The inner core seems broken.

 

When I smell the bottom rung of my

Thoughts, they seem to look at me with

A peculiar sense of satisfaction. Untouched,

As though our lips have met.

 

At various times when our bodies locked,

The sunlight stole the pleasure; exchanged

It with a musty smell from which we

Shrank. Congealed by our ardor.

 

Just the naked smell of our hearts,

That had lost its grip on forgotten

Hooks, driven by the silent urge

To flow along.

 

Pleasure is an unsightly term,

Hardened by the high heat of endless

Cycles of repetition, exposed by

Our leaking lithesome fuels.

 

I sometimes rage, an outrage,

My voice gets sucked up, sinks

Into the shadows of your own fire,

We jostle, like burning peacocks.

 

The skies do not grow bigger, hearing

Us howl; only hesitate, behind giant

Shoals of grey clouds that whimper,

Glow pale red. Risk their chances.

 

As I careen over your sternum, weigh

My own, glance up the doorstep of your

Ageing eyes, struggle to free you of my

Pain, like a trashcan rolling, loud.

 

Sealed tight within your scalped mind,

Overhead pitching and jostling, the skies

Tug at, and you. Then they tumble over,

Secure our raw boned kisses. Ripped.

 

Like the blue feathers tugging, free

Like the last leaves that feel the chill

Air, feel the sparkle, the hard pull.

Beyond the fire, of you.

 

Listening to hard calls of desire,

The tongue is worn down, mouths

Full of blistered grace, letting go

Would be a sin, as the skies cower.

  

Copyright © 2023 by Nishi Chawla.

 

 

Early Morning Companions

 

I think of snakes coiled, shadows merge,

A lone bird repeats a love song, rolls her

Tongue in the blinding cold, sinks into the

Pit of my dervish desires to dance around.

 

My groans sparkle with my seeded desires,

The snake puts on a nightfall skin, I build

A fire around my own ownness, beyond

Myself, I find myself rolling, slipping.

 

Down a cliff; then I long for my mother,

I assume she is still with me, trying to carve

Meanings, muted by time, muted by her

Departure, angel’s mutilated wings, sudden.

 

She helps me rise, strips me of my colored

Truths that die by the hour; she forgives me

In words that escape a language, naked, new,

Like sleeping again in her wet womb.

 

She brings no companions, no witnesses in

The dragging light of dervishes, only morning

Catches the blind spot of light, spread fragments,

Then fold them carefully, like lingering aches.

 

Break the spell, she convulses into the

Shadows, gone through the gaps of dead; I

Sink into a satisfaction, that frames and flutters

Gives me leave to be myself again, coiled.

 

Like a snake in honey, stitching at dark

Seams, hung through the winds’ breaths,

Grinding toward the deep ground. Dig out

The seeds, like dying grasses, they too wail.

 

Copyright © 2023 by Nishi Chawla.

 

 

About the Author

Nishi Chawla is a noted Asian American poet and playwright. She has published nine plays, two novels, and seven collections of poetry. She has also written and directed four award winning feature films. She has recently completed a movie on Gandhi, MLK, and Thoreau titled The Peace Activists. She has also co-edited two global anthologies of poetry published by Penguin Random House. Dr. Nishi Chawla holds a doctorate in English from the George Washington University, Washington, D.C., and her post doctorate from Johns Hopkins University, USA. She has taught English Literature for forty years. 

 

 

Edward Supranowicz

 

Things Are Not Always Pleasant (1az)

 

Copyright © by Edward Supranowicz.

 

 

About the Artist

Edward Michael Supranowicz is the grandson of Irish and Russian/Ukrainian immigrants. He grew up on a small farm in Appalachia. He has a grad background in painting and printmaking. Some of his artwork has recently or will soon appear in Fish Food, Streetlight, Another Chicago Magazine, The Door Is A Jar, The Phoenix, and The Harvard Advocate. Edward is also a published poet who has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize multiple times.

 

Julia Nunnally Duncan

 

Mirror

 

To some, we become invisible.

One day we're the center of attention,

admired and listened to.

But then even we avoid a glance

in a mirror,

our reflection unfamiliar

and alarming.

When did we lose

our charm and appeal?

Did time steal away

our personality, too?

What did we do to time

to make it our enemy?

Suddenly, many think us

a liability.

And yet in our hearts

we are young still—

at least in our memories.

  

Copyright © 2024 by Julia Nunnally Duncan.

  

I Was Young Then

 

I was young once, too.

Like you, I couldn't see the end,

couldn't conceive finality.

Everything seemed so clear,

so possible to me.

Dreams were just a reach away,

not past, but still to be.

Like you, I felt the freedom to hope

that something grand could come

my way, any day, no rush,

for there was time—

decades yet ahead—

no dread that life was slipping by

quite unexpectedly.

Like you, I could see no end;

like you, I was young then.

  

Copyright © 2024 by Julia Nunnally Duncan.

 

About the Author

Julia Nunnally Duncan is an award-winning author of twelve books. Her latest releases are a poetry collection, When Time Was Suspended (Redhawk Publications, 2024), and an essay collection, All We Have Loved (Finishing Line Press, 2023). Her books record incidents from her life in Western North Carolina and also reflect on family and local history, historical photographs, and World War I. She lives in Marion, NC, with her husband, Steve, a mountain woodcarver. Having taught English and Southern Culture for over 30 years at McDowell Technical Community College, she now devotes her creative energies to writing and playing classical piano.

 


Dave Morrison

 

Home

 

It was the mailbox that

gave it away, the ancient blue

drop-box on the corner, the

only unchanged thing.

The house next door was all

but unrecognizable, old trees

gone, new trees reaching, street

wider, sidewalks level, but that

mailbox, where I had dropped

cards and letters and mail-order

envelopes still squatted on its

battered concrete base.

Everything else, everything was

different, including the house where

I had been brought as a newborn,

where I had spent seventeen

Christmases before leaving to

seek my fortune, everything was

different but thank God that

sad stubborn old mailbox told me

that I was, in fact, home.

 

Copyright © 2024 by Dave Morrison.

 

About the Author

Dave Morrison was hailed as “a hearty weed in the garden of American poetry” by Dispatch Magazine.  His poems have been published in literary magazines and anthologies, and featured on Writer’s Almanac, Take Heart, and Poems from Here. Morrison has published seventeen books of poetry including Clubland (poems about rock & roll bars in verse and meter, Fighting Cock Press 2011) and Cancer Poems (JukeBooks 2015). We Are Here and It Is Now (Soul Finger Press 2024) is his most recent collection. After years of playing in rock bands in Boston and NYC, Morrison now lives on the coast of Maine.

 

Fred Pollack

 

Affirmation

 

When we met, though at first I privately

referred to them as Ken and Barbie, my

mood changed. I cleaned my apartment,

joined a gym, resolved

to maximize my advantages.

Soon I was having brunch with them

once a week. There were always friends,

laughter, interesting non-morbid

reminiscences. (My own friends,

such as they were, had long since fled

loneliness into cults, drugs,

death or the various online

koolaids.) And the kids liked me –

more, I think, than their parents’ average

guest. Eventually Barbie fixed me

up with Adèle, the scar

on the wonderfully soft skin of

whose inner arm had long healed. Ken was

best man. What happened happened gradually.

It didn’t involve an accident, tragic

disease, or Adèle and I having

to kill them. The kids were growing up,

spending all their time on TikTok, the gang

mutating, marrying, transitioning, fleeing

to Costa Rica. So no one really noticed

when Delly and I presided over

the lox and bagels, the mimosas, the

ceviche, surrounded for a while

by hopefully smiling auras

of K. and B. respectively and, then,

not. Now I only seldom

dream of the dregs of takeout in my old place,

the pile of porn, the squalid heat in summer.

 

Copyright © 2024 by Fred Pollack.

 

About the Author

Fred Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure (Story Line Press, 1986; reissued April 2022 by Red Hen Press) and Happiness (Story Line Press, 1998), and three collections, A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015), Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018), and The Beautiful Losses (Better Than Starbucks Books, 2023). In print, Pollack’s work has appeared in Hudson Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Manhattan Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Main Street Rag, Miramar, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Poetry Quarterly Review, Magma (UK), Neon (UK), Orbis (UK), Armarolla, December, and elsewhere. Online, his poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Diagram, Triggerfish, Big Pon Rumours (Canada), Misfit, OffCourse and elsewhere. Visit: www.frederickpollack.com

 

 William Swarts

 

Moratorium

 

In my New York-New Haven town

those waiting on the southbound side

used to hold their papers high

to block the morning sun

 

and read the morning news.

You could not turn your back—

The snubbed sun just glared

And read over your shoulder.

 

That sun rose from the harbor.

Beyond the ferry slip and gravel barges,

beyond the yacht clubs and shorefront homes,

beyond boats anchored to their own reflections,

 

you could see bath-houses on the island beach,

the lighthouse switched off for the day,

the spine of Long Island

and imagine the vista that lay beyond.

 

But now that nuisance is abated.

The tide line of parking lots

Is dammed by a seawall of offices

And trains dispatch from a platform of shadows.

 

Copyright © 2024 by William Swarts.

 

About the Author

William Swarts is the author of Harmonies Unheard, Strickland Plains and Other Poems and Treehouse of the Mind. He won First Prize in the Litchfield Review‘s annual Poetry Contest. His poetry has been published in many recognized literary reviews and journals. He received his B.A. in English Literature from Brown University, his J.D. from University of Pennsylvania and practiced law in New York City and Paris, France. He studied with Bolligen Prize-winner David Ignatow at the 92nd Street YM-YWHA Poetry Center in New York City. He lives in western North Carolina.

 

 

 

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