• Robert L. Giron

Issue 108 — Emilio Iasiello, Stephen Mead, Domenic Scopa, William Swarts

Emilio Iasiello


Kissing the Blind


In the park, next to the monuments

whose stark glory diminishes in the sun,

an old woman sits alone on a bench.

Her hands hold a sign — help me,

I’m blind — its letters twisted

in uneven shapes, smudged like squashed insects.

Beneath her naked feet rests

a dented metal cup, silver and copper

loose in its belly. I approach her

as I had approached a sedated lion

when I was six, biting my lip,

inching forward slightly, afraid.


I looked through the dark bars

where the lion sat sprawled out his face

expressionless, vacant. I remember

the depths of his eyes as he watched everything

without blinking, as if his head was stuck to a plaque

on a wall. And yet there was never a question

of strength, the powerful jaws that hung

so slack, the vicious paws, the mane

that caught the wind with its terrible authority.

I ran away crying.


And yet because what I now know

I learned then,

I must go and give her a kiss

the way my brother made me

eventually pet the lion, my young fingers

stretched out, trembling, touching the thick

mustard fur, tickling behind the ears.

And so I lean over the woman’s frail frame

and plant my lips over the lid of each

empty eye, looking deeply into this face I fear

crying the hysterical shrieks a child cries

when he knows he’s been bad;

giving up his tears

until all if forgiven.



Copyright © 2018 by Emilio Iasiello.



The Homeless Eats


The food isn’t there. The fingernails

clotted with grease and dirt

burrow beneath the trash folds

like maggots through a decayed body.

First some orange rinds, some newspaper,

the acrid stench of catfish;

then some scraps from last night’s dinner —

fat, grizzle, maybe an empty tuna can.

The backwash in a bottle if he’s lucky

a mouth-full of eighty proof anything

to hide the taste; maybe something sweet,

something strong. Something worth swallowing

that won’t be thrown up in an hour.


And you have seen this man,

stormed past his bags in the street,

kicked his teeth in. You have

slapped away his cup

with your eyes, pushed him

to the back of your mind,

a vague memory;

laughed at his filth,

cringed under the stench

of his urine, turned your ears

from his ragged voice.


Murderous son of Adam,

you rise against your kin

with indifference;

you murder your brother every day.



Copyright © 2018 by Emilio Iasiello.



About the Author

Emilio Iasiello is the author of the 2018 poetry chapbook Postcards from L.A. He has published poetry in several university and literary journals and written the screenplays for several independent feature films and short films. An avid playwright, his stage plays have been produced in the United States and United Kingdom. He has published a short story collection entitled Why People Do What They Do and a nonfiction book, Chasing the Green.



Stephen Mead


Slow


Easter rain, the lilies are whiter with chill,

this drizzle to kneel in, black coated,

kneading the earth back to being clean.


Yes, green shall come,

just pace yourself as a seed stored in

an envelope all winter long.


What file has nicked?

What darkness has soaked with the heat

of copper pipes in an outer world

unable to penetrate?


Reaching now is the birth of a tuber,

the potato—s eye. Reaching now is

to feel the duration of anticipation

& not give up hope.


Come faith in spring. Come summer

dreams in any time that it takes

to make these Easter drops the resurrection,

the wheat for the Sunday tongues


of our holy palms.



Copyright © 2018 by Stephen Mead.



About the Author

Stephen Mead resides in New York, where he is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer. Since the 1990s he�s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online. He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the health insurance. In 2014 he began a webpage to gather links of his poetry being published in such zines as Great Works, Unlikely Stories, Quill & Parchment, etc., in one place: Poetry on the Line, Stephen Mead For links to his other media Google Stephen Mead Art.



Domenic Scopa


Found


Two snowflakes can be the same, my student argued

in her English Composition essay.


It snows so much where I am from

I had to stop searching.


As when a father, after decades, gives up on a kidnapped daughter,

because suddenly he understands—He needs her to be dead.


There’s always something lost in the laugher

of a single blackbird, its talons tight around a branch.


Everything is missing. House keys, money,

smiles, minutes, patience. I remember


how my shrink would shake his head,

stare straight at me, and sigh.



Copyright © 2018 by Donemic Scopa.



Elegy at the Nursing Home for the Demented

—for my grandmother


Let the condensation blind the window.

Let the bulb burn out.


Let the darkness believe

whatever it wants.


There is nothing, says the darkness,

I can do about it:


Where we go

is where we came from.


So let me spoon you, please.

Kiss the back of your shoulder.


Let come together

our brief shadows.


Let the starlings sing, like life,

until they tire.


Let me lie beside you—

holding—forever.



Copyright © 2018 by Donemic Scopa.



Buenos Dias


Snowflakes punctuate the darkness, punctuate

the run-on sentence of an early morning,


when sunrise insinuates itself on the horizon

like a Polaroid developing.


On Main Street, a driver slams the brakes,

skidding, tattooing treads in snow,


and workers, one with salt and sand,

the wind discovering their upturned faces,


continue shoveling the storefronts,

the moment snuffed like a match.


There’s so much noise—The neighbor’s beagle

has already started barking.


And we still wake up to each other,

sleepy, thankful,


perhaps a little button-pushy,

because with age, we get more playful.


Roll over, queen, and tell me

if you think this is a heart murmur.



Copyright © 2018 by Donemic Scopa.



Salutation


Snowflakes punctuate the darkness, punctuate

the run-on sentence of an early morning,


when sunrise insinuates itself on the horizon

like a Polaroid developing.


On Main Street, a driver slams the brakes,

skidding, tattooing treads in snow,


and workers, one with salt and sand,

the wind discovering their upturned faces,


continue shoveling the storefronts,

the moment snuffed like a match.


There’s so much noise—The neighbor’s beagle

has already started barking.


And we still wake up to each other,

sleepy, thankful,


perhaps a little button-pushy,

because with age, we get more playful.


Roll over, queen, and tell me

if you think this is a heart murmur.



Copyright © 2018 by Donemic Scopa.



Campfire


“Fire is the thunderbolt that stirs all things”—Heraclitus


Out of habit you begin to sense the whisper

of fall leaves scraping streets: Burn the past,


and mysteries of loneliness will not concern you,

even as the family congregates for warmth,


and you might dream about the dryness

of the daughter’s down coat and wool socks.


Weigh the worth of bloody deeds impressed on newsprint

resurrecting into ash, their taste and smell,


the lives of lives you wipe out through the night.

I can’t count all the universes that disintegrate


when you lick the air—tongue-strikes quick as lightning—

but eventually your perseverance will be tested by the wind,


the wind that knows sometime you’ll come undone.



Copyright © 2018 by Donemic Scopa.


About the Author

Domenic Scopa is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the 2014 recipient of the Robert K. Johnson Poetry Prize and Garvin Tate Merit Scholarship. He holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. His poetry and translations have been featured in The Adirondack Review, Reed Magazine, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Belleville Park Pages, and many others. He is currently a Lecturer at Plymouth State University and a Writing Center Specialist at New Hampshire Technical Institute. His first book, The Apathy of Clouds (FutureCycle Press), is forthcoming in 2018. He currently reads manuscripts for Hunger Mountain and is an Associate Editor at Ink Brush Publications.



William Swarts


Oh, When The Saint Comes . . .

—Festa de San Giorgio, Ragusa, Sicily


Oh, blessed day. Oh, holiest day when

we are freed of sin, shielded from dragons.

We celebrate this day with confetti and fireworks

and brass bands and neon rainbows arced over

cobbled streets. And San Giorgio, our belovèd,

patron saint, gold armored, wielding a silver sword,

rides a prancing snow-white charger, patrols

the cobbled highways and by-ways of high-town

and low-town, protects high-born and low-born,

guards homes and hearths, slays the scaly dragon,

and sanctifies our city. This we believe. No,

it is what we want to believe: that evil is banished.

So today we feast, go to confession, pray—

or rather, pretend to pray because we know,

if truth be told, our greater than life-size saint

is a painted statue carved from wood astride

a wooden steed that cannot trot or gallop

unless it rides on shoulders of humble men.

We know tomorrow, when confetti is swept up,

the band silent, neon rainbows dark, and

Giorgio is at home in his cathedral chapel,

evil will stir again, man will sin, and the forked-

tongued dragon lurks just around the corner.



Copyright © 2018 by William Swarts.



Jongleur de Dieu

-- St. Francis' nickname


Johnny Juggler fingetips

eggs in air: 1, 2, 3, 4

as fast as comets in his palm.


He orbits lemons, oranges,

grapefruits and globes,

the son, moon and stars.


Grease-painted and pied

in a tiger-striped coat

of many spangled colors


and leopard-spotted leggings,

he choirmasters children

whose unison peep drowns out


the congregational rumble

of a comfortable Lord's Prayer.



Copyright © 2018 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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