• Robert L. Giron

Issue 115 — Mark Yale Harris, Raymond Luczak, Kevin A. McGowan, Jo-Ann Mort, Andrew Oram

Mark Yale Harris


Mirror Image

Copyright © 2019 by Mark Yale Harris.



Awakening III

Copyright © 2019 by Mark Yale Harris.



About the Artist

Mark Yale Harris, a New Yorker, has created an evolving body of work in stone and bronze, now featured in public collections, museums and galleries worldwide, including: Hilton Hotels; Royal Academy of London; Marin MOCA; Four Seasons Hotels and the Open Air Museum - Ube, Japan. The purpose of his artwork is to invoke an awakening of the sensual. Stimulating a perceptual, internal, and intellectual response for the viewer: a visual that speaks to life’s experiences. Creating symbols of universal connection underscores the relationship that one has to another and to nature. Art conveys his nonverbal view of life. An ongoing portrayal of himself, his behavior, adventure, exploration, risk taking, and non-acceptance of convention and the status quo. Constantly in search of the new and different, he is fascinated with the unconventional. Life has a hard, aggressive side, as does much of his work, represented by rigid, angular lines. However, the soft side is also apparent, visible as curves and soft forms. Using the invaluable experience of the mentorship of Bill Prokopiof and Doug Hyde, along with his own vision, he has created an evolving body of work in alabaster, marble, limestone, and bronze. Combining different elements, he brings forth a duality in the sculptures that he creates.



Raymond Luczak

Nominated for a 2021 Pushcart Prize


Lichen


Those gray crumbly fingers reaching still

for something like love but not quite

against the tree’s jittery frostbites

and snowy epaulets. No, they won’t be stilled!


There is the tree, and there is flight:

they caress the intimacy of bark chilled,

those gray crumbly fingers reaching still

for something like love but not quite.


The late April sun has begun to spill

down buckets of warmth, shadowing heights

they must scale toward twilight.

Only the most secret afternoons can heal


those gray crumbly fingers reaching still

for something like first love, but not quite.



Copyright © 2019 by Raymond Luczak.




Fog and Mist


Having climbed up

along muddy trails

near the falls,

we gripped hands,

inhaling in our eyes

the fog erasing everything

except the black bark,

the stick arms,

the stripped trunk chests

straining

against the mist

unfurling and seeping

into the chilled pores

of our naked skin,

into that empty gap

between our hands.


Long before that moment

of pause and ponder,

the shells of our hardened feet

had already split underground,

our manroots shooting

pellets, clean and white,

deeper into the earth,

back to the cradle

of birth and death.



Copyright © 2019 by Raymond Luczak.



Beyond Houston

for S.J.


Sharp flints in my eyes,

your backyard desert boils

a clay pot of squints

between us, a solar panel

off your white undershirt.

Your gold earring

is a wedding band

on the tanned hands

who never claimed

my body, yours.

Your eyes azure scorch

until my clothes soak.

Your kiss is a pale wind.

It is a jagged metal, gone

in years ossified.

Even the sun weeps.



Copyright © 2019 by Raymond Luczak.



About the Author

Raymond Luczak is the author and editor of 22 books. Recent titles include Flannelwood (Red Hen Press, 2019) and Lovejets: Queer Male Poets on 200 Years of Walt Whitman (Squares & Rebels, 2019). He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Visit: raymondluczak.com.



Kevin A. McGowan


Bourré

— A Cajun card game similar to Spades.


Charlie Bordelon says we ought to make

our own krewe for Mardi Gras.

Delma can chip in his horse and meat cart,

the one for hauling slaughtered pigs.

I’ll play my guitar and sing,

and Charlie’ll wear a jester hat and drive.


We’re in the back of Pepin’s store,

after hours, sipping dirty rum

made from Charlie’s still.


Charlie and Delma and me are playing bourré,

a penny a hand, using the blind deck of cards

Pepin ordered special for me,

and Celie’s playing Pepin in checkers.

Celie’s watching they don’t cheat me.


I crown you the Krewe of Oblivion,

Celie says. She also says not to holler for her

if and when we get in trouble.


Pepin says two more hands and he’s shutting down.

He’s gotta open the store come first light,

and Delma’s telling Charlie play to win,

but that’s common knowledge with this game,

that’s something we get here early on.



—Alcide Blind Uncle Gaspard (1878 or 1880-1937) was a Cajun musician who recorded sixteen songs in 1929 with Delma Lachney, a left-handed fiddle player. Much of Gaspard’s life remains a mystery.



Copyright © 2019 by Kevin A. McGowan.



Guillory’s Dance Hall


Sometimes the power lines sing,

and I track them to the dance hall

Saturday night.


Eady must be smoking pork sausage out back,

and the club smells of catfish and sweet corn

and hickory chips and fresh cedar.


Delma’s warming up his fiddle,

the D string just a hair too high,

and I candlewax the back of my guitar neck.


Mainly the voices and scents are the same,

though tonight I’m catching a foreign perfume,

jasmine it seems,


and I think of the night Celie walked out

the room and out of my life,

leaving me silent and electric.


I feel a song coming on.



Copyright © 2019 by Kevin A. McGowan.



Jeb Came Running

—Mississippi River Flood of 1927


The rain just wouldn’t stop all winter into spring,

and the young priest-in-training left for Mexico.

Old Father Jacques postponed his retirement

to tell us, No the world ain’t ending again,

remember the rainbow.


I never seen no rainbow, Amadie said,

and Sis told him not to badmouth God.

Amadie started his pirogue ark Ash Wednesday.

He took a hammer and chisel to a cypress log,

big enough to hold seven with provisions,

our whole family and then some.


Pepin moved the gunpowder and grain

to the top shelves of his grocery store,

and Delma built a floating barge

for his four cow and five pigs.


By mid-May, the levee broke at Bayou des Glaises,

and my brother Jeb came running to say

the river was heading our way,

the streets of Simmesport were flooding

with water four foot deep.


We pulled away in our pirogue heading west.

Father Jacques wouldn’t leave the church house,

and Pepin sat on the porch of his store,

shotgun-ready and staying put, he said,

high waters be damned.



Copyright © 2019 by Kevin A. McGowan.



About the Author

Kevin A. McGowan now works for the VA, after teaching at Remington College in Lafayette, Louisiana for twenty years. He has two chapbooks, Rubric and No Passengers. He plays the guitar left-handed and is working on some songs.



Jo-Ann Mort


Land Day in Rahat


The women cooked the chicken outside

in an open fire near the tent.

I sat with the men in the house

in a circle on the floor, unable to refuse

when the brimming plates of salad and rice

and the newly killed chicken were placed

in the center on the Bedouin mat.


It was Land Day* in Rahat. The family

hosting me made an exception to welcome

me as the lone woman in the room.

I had barely eaten in weeks, my dress

range shrinking to a ridiculous size 6.


How could I say to these men:

No thank you as I watched each of their

hands plunge into the communal plates?

How could I sit there with nothing between

my lips, forsaking their hospitality?

It didn’t matter that you called off

our engagement, and on the telephone at that...

You were in Boston or Westport, far away

from these warm souls who embraced me

with my otherness.


My first Land Day in Rahat

was quiet. It was sometime in the 1980s;

honestly, the year doesn’t matter.

You were in my life and then you were gone.

Or sort of. You lingered for years,

maybe a decade, but in Rahat, the chicken was fresh

as a fresh kill could be. The women, sitting

around the open pit of fire that was really

just smoke by the time I left,

all smiled at me, nodding their heads

as their men drank sweet, sweet coffee

and the early spring afternoon erupted

into another unsettled day in the Negev.



Copyright © 2019 by Jo-Ann Mort.



*Land Day is recognized by the Arab citizens of Israel each year in March, as a day of protest for the government taking their land. Sometimes, the demonstrations become violent. Rahat is the largest Bedouin city in Israel.



About the Author

Jo-Ann Mort’s poems have appeared recently in Plume and Stand. Having returned to poetry after a 22 year hiatus, she is also a journalist and co-author of Our Hearts Invented A Place: Can Kibbutzim Survive in Today’s Israel (Cornell U Press). She lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn.



Andrew Oram


Anticipación


Rut-crippled and cracked, does

the hard-wrung landscape harbor the moisture heaven asks of it

to weep for you—

for the muddled calculations that took you through the mud, border-barred,

hips limp-aching


Flatbeds and buses your accomplices, the rolling hills your witnesses,

relentlessly expelled by way of tin villages and depleted

marshes dry as tongues,

once you make it,

the policeman’s leer will be the same,

the noxious water will still slay you,

garrulous eyes will mock your anticipación


If you don’t turn back in tears, dual-condemned citizens,

you will broach your enemy’s gasping jaws


You will not reap the winnings of those who came before—

The line drawn through rivers and deserts

removes your face on either side



—On October 20, 2018, about 5,000 Central Americans crossed the border between the Honduras and Mexico, intending to form a caravan that would head some 3972 kilometers to the border between Mexico and the US. Two months later, they were stranded in camps in Mexico near the United States border, thwarted in their attempt to enter the U.S.



Copyright © 2019 by Andrew Oram.



Junctions


Neighbors exchange gossip in mismatched alphabets

their chickens chasing them for the value-added tax


A street rings out paprika memories

its slums are renewed every decade—the dancers move elsewhere but leave their projectiles

a cap tips happily as a thought erupts bishop deviously sliding six

spots to grab the corner of the board

in licensed cellars initiates stir vats dripping with measured molecules


But now a city delicately breaks off and starts to float into the Mediterranean

sharp ferrets now peep from every wormhole with beady eyes glow stalking

the scabbard bearers march through with forgotten slogans


Could a skein of junctions trucks trains passports patents and pilgrims cohere a continent?

Will stalwarts place shovels in the rich murmuring loam spread

over the ruins hushed just yesterday?



Copyright © 2019 by Andrew Oram.



About the Author

Andrew Oram is an editor at O’Reilly Media, a highly respected book publisher and technology information provider. He currently specializes in open source, software engineering, and health IT, but his editorial output has ranged from a legal guide covering intellectual property to a graphic novel about teenage hackers. He also writes often on policy issues related to the Internet and on trends affecting technical innovation and its effects on society. Print publications where his work has appeared include The Economist, Communications of the ACM, Copyright World, the Journal of Information Technology & Politics, Vanguardia Dossier, and Internet Law and Business.


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