• Robert L. Giron

Issue 144

In this issue, work by

  • Grace Cavalieri's What the Psychic Said reviewed by Robert L. Giron,

  • R. J. Keeler,

  • George Klawitter,

  • Maria Kranidis,

  • Nikhil Parekh,

  • Themo H. Peel, and

  • Katherine E. Young



Robert L. Giron


Grace Cavalieri's What the Psychic Said reviewed


What the Psychic Said

Grace Cavalieri (2020, GOSS183)


In What the Psychic Said by Grace Cavalieri we sense a longing for one’s loved one. How many of us have visited a psychic for advice or for a glimpse into the future? But in the absence of a psychic, we watch and listen to nature as it too speaks to us: “Just look at the ball of sun behind the tree/” (p. 9)— “I look everywhere for him, through fog on water—/” “He’s coming for me. My beloved. He’s coming for me.” (p. 15).


In the search for better understanding, we read along with Cavalieri and enter her world of metaphysical speech. One can’t really love an octopus in the human sense but in psychic terms anything is possible and so we swim the waters to bathe in the waters from which we came, always longing to gain an insight to our lives, as nature is often a better teacher.


Yet with “the living and the dead” (p. 42) our memories play games with us: once we “feel a / radiant warmth encircling” us, then “other days ... / ... It’s as if it never happened.” (p. 42). It’s here that Cavalieri tries to reconcile the past with the present and we the readers follow her lead as we too try to live in the present, not wanting to let go of the past, which shaped us to what we are now in the present.


In Eros Cavalieri ponders the philosophy / the essence of love:

All agreed Love is otherworldly, something

we call in and carry our whole lives.

Yet, is it the source of beauty and happiness?

Or just a sexual union that summons the need

to bring us back for more, using envy and jealousy

at its core? What is this thing called “Love?” (p. 59)


Through various scenarios, we are taken along a path of myth, reality, and hope, always searching for the answer as in What the Psychic Said “Don’t you realize that you came from labor?” (p. 65) leading us to an analysis of naval men jumping into a pool as we contemplate their futures—our very own futures: “what [person] will attract you and which one will leave you” (p. 92). It’s the circle of life—going in the pool of liquid future which becomes reality and then once we are dehydrated, we stop and ask: What did it all mean? Was it real?


For then, we like Cavalieri must find the answer in our pool of memories which may, depending upon the person, evaporate before us, begging us to ask: Did this all happen? to which we can only answer and if we forget possibly the psychic can bring it forth from our embedded pool of memories, be they fresh or solidified.


What the Psychic Said—a collection that will make you contemplate your very existence and one that will clarify that you yourself hold all the answers you need.



About Grace Cavalieri

Grace Cavalieri is Maryland’s tenth Poet Lauereate. She has authored 26 books and chapbooks of poetry and 20 short-form and full-length plays. She holds The Association of Writing Program’s George Garrett Award, the PEN-Fiction Award, the Allen Ginsberg Award, the Bordighera Poetry Award, the Paterson Poetry Award, the Annie Award, the Inaugural Folger Shakespeare Library Columbia Award, the National Award from the Commission on Working Women, and the CPB Silver Medal. Her latest book was Showboat (2019, Goss183). Her latest play Quilting the Sun was produced at the Theater for the New City, in New York City in 2019. She founded and produces The Poet and the Poem for public radio, now from the Library of Congress, celebrating 43 years on the air.



R. J. Keeler


And Pity Those Who Lost Their Grip


Were gravity the other way

perhaps the strangeness that we felt

would come to mean as little or less

than upside-downness does today.


Were gravity the other way

we’d admire roots instead of flowers,

hang for hours out from bowers,

watch the bees buzz ‘round and play.


Were gravity the other way

Rapunzel with her golden hair

would drop it up the farthest tower,

save her knight from a lonely stay.


And pity those who lost their grip

were gravity the other way.



Copyright © 2020 by R. J. Keeler.



About the Author

R. J. Keeler, born in St. Paul, grew up in jungles of Colombia. He holds a BS in Mathematics from NCSU, an MS in Computer Science from UNC-CH, an MBA from UCLA, and a Certificate in Poetry from UW. Honor man, U.S. Naval Submarine School, Submarine Service (SS) qualified. Vietnam Service Medal, Honorable Discharge, Whiting Foundation Experimental Grant. Member IEEE, AAAS, and the Academy of American Poets.



George Klawitter


22. Conundrum


Can I separate the man from priest?

Can I love the one without the other?

To pick among a pack of friends seems wrong,

to lionize a Peter over Paul.


It’s like isolating pet from beast—

or cherishing only half a brother

or liking two measures of a corny song,

isolating part aside from all.


When I remove your hands from consecration

or take your lips away from holy prayers,

I violate the mystery of you.


You’ll always be a shaman. Veneration

is your trade so tolerate my stares

as you go on your business pew by pew.



Copyright © 2020 by George Klawitter. From The Priest. Published by permission.



39. You


Just because I celebrate the you

that’s you doesn’t really mean I sing

the priest in you. You are you. I know

the fusion’s tight—the mind, the eyes, the clothes—


you wing them all. You waltz them. You’re so true

to godliness we quiver. That’s the thing

that bothers me—the attitude. It’s so

you-you. Not me-me. Not these. Just those.


So I suppose we’re lucky that you’re sold

on God as gradually you’ll lose your you

and we won’t see you any more. Just God,


Who’s here among us, among the silver—gold.

Behold the transubstantiation’s true:

No you. No you? No! you! My god! My God!



Copyright © 2020 by George Klawitter. From The Priest. Published by permission.



About the Author

George Klawitter, retired professor of English (St. Edward’s University), has edited the poetry of Richard Barnfield and published The Enigmatic Narrator, a study of John Donne’s poetry. His poems have been printed in various journals. His book Let Orpheus Take Your Hand won the Gival Press Poetry Award in 2002. In 2020 he won the Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award.



Maria Kranidis


To the mother’s ghost visiting


I have given up feeling your loss in details,

And somewhat spared,

I wonder if you understand now —

How things have happened since you left.


The unfinished life you come to visit

Exhausted from your journey

You fade too quickly

I do not get to see your face

Breathing in the room.


I practiced patience for a lifetime

To sit and wait for your return,

And in a minute I knew that

No one dies alone.

Betrayed you could measure time

Transformed into nonexistence,

In this chaos of carrying on,

Belonging is not letting you go —


Almost saved by the thought of you,

Somehow born in myth memory

Your laugh like a shadow

Passes through the room and then vanishes

Into the vacuum you hold so close to you now.


Knowing my wholeness with you is still to come,

I surrender to your empty space

I overcome your loss

Without suffering

When you command the earth,

Feed on air,

And come and go like the wind.



Copyright © 2021 by Maria Kranidis.



Needlepoint


Silk eyes fixed in blue threat

a garden of holes and colors

arranged and touched by your fingertips

filling them with smoothness

the needle goes through me

as they look upward

entering their empty spaces


on the other side

underneath the knots their movements

no one will see beyond the frame

these women without longing

fixed in time

like your life

you give them sun

and green days

their sunshine is incomplete


in the crowded box

your life’s remnants in the dark attic

a woman’s turned face

holds an unfinished smile

red thread goes through her lips like blood

the smile has not come to its end


A face can hold a secret

of times spent unclear

under your hands

close to your chest

friend to dim light

when nights were your own

to create

perhaps this was your real home

the one on canvas

half finished for me to hold

tonight

where you no longer need to visit

left images

of women hopefully in love and

memories of a mother

whose face fades and is almost forgotten.



Copyright © 2021 by Maria Kranidis.



About the Author

Maria Kranidis teaches at Suffolk County Community College, New York. Her work has appeared in Cabaret, Long Island Quarterly, Cassandra, Confrontation, Poetry Magazine, Best Poem and Apollo’s Lyre.



Nikhil Parekh


A Child Smiles


Only in a world of freedom,

Can a child unfold and bloom.


Only with the Sun piercing right through the dark hut,

Can a child see the wonderful sights of this world.


Only in an ocean of unprejudiced love,

Can a child speak to its heart—s content.


Only through the eyes of soft empathy,

Can a child see its true reflection.


Only in surroundings of unadulterated society,

Can a child open its mind wholesomely and dream.


Only when applauded at its tiniest achievement,

Can a child come to know its hidden potential.


Only in lanes without propagation of caste,

Can a child recognize its own identity.


Only in the cradle of happiness,

Can a child fantasize and create.


Only in vicinity of the learned,

Can a child imbibe the essentials of life.


Only in the pages of medieval history,

Can a child understand its ancestors better.


Only in unpolluted waters of the Ganges,

Can a child splash its hands and wholeheartedly swim.


Only without discrimination of gender and status,

Can a child flourish to achieve its goal.


Only in the gentle hands of its mother,

Can a child shield its eyes and sob.


And Only in an atmosphere of complete equality,

Can a child stimulate his urge for learning, prosper and smile.



Copyright by Nikhil Parekh. All Rights Reserved.



About the Author

Nikhil Parekh is an Indian poet and author of 47 books, including Longest Book Written by a Mortal: Collected Poetry. Nikhil is a ten-time National Record holder for Poetry with Limca Book of Records India.



Themo H. Peel


Crow


I buried Mx* D with the homemade Peter Pan costume

Even then I knew—“boys don’t sew”


So, they were cut away and laid to rest beneath family and fear

And law and risk of life and limb until they were lost—


A rotting secret meant to fester and kill


But then that chorus of awful men began to till the soil

Martini lessons and one liners from Joan watered the earth


Kisses on the cheeky jibes made room for sunlight

And inside the shade of white picket fences they were cooled


There was nothing in the invitations but love

And maybe versions of Church lady lunches—


The prurient kind I’d seen hiding on the stairs


I wrestled the onset of their playful exuberance

While still reaching for the spotlight


And through the cracks in my sparkling veneer

A tiny tendril of green wound into the world


Their first bloom was pigtails in the comedy tutu

And, before long, Mx D yawned and stretched on stage


New again, they staggered, and we stumbled


But, Mx D—kudzu—would not be felled or tamed

Their lush foliage blooming in the strangest places


A photosynthetic powerhouse they took friendship and song

And spun coastal scrub into sumptuous hillsides


They decorated our home in lights and laughter

And created a world full with trees and beautiful air


Until, finally, I reached down and embraced them

Needle in hand and began to sew


(*Mx is the gender-neutral prefix instead of Mr or Ms. It is normally pronounced “Mix’ but here should be read as ‘Miss’).



Copyright © 2021 by Themo H. Peel.



Tie me up


“It starts with the eyes,” you say, locking mine.


Your hands reach for my neck, slowly, and

I gasp. The sharp intake of air sets mind racing,

microscopic detail my only anchor;


your wide nimble fingers, nails perfectly manicured,

strong blonde hairs jutting from each knuckle

rustling beneath constricted breath

like antennae signalling anticipation.


With parental intimacy you tug away the poorly made knot

unwinding my carelessness and expectation.


“You have to picture the knot you want”—

the soft swish of silk pulling through silk.


“Visualise the man you want to be,

the man you want people to see”—

the gentle rub of fabric sliding back and forth,

a sensual halo around my neck.


I watch you work in the mirror,

hands spell casting, weaving fabric in and out.

I hope you don’t see me blush, swooning at you,

shifu, lama, master commander.


You cantor and homily about artistry

and the splendour of artifice in a world loathsome of deviance.


“You’ve got to shape the knot.

You’re crafting a fantasy.”

Blood crescendos as your work abates,

hands firmly secured at my collar.


You place one finger above my jugular notch and press,

gently squeezing the sides of my binding.

A perfect dimple forms at the centre, and

the lingering scent of you—talc and saffron—

the finishing touch.


“This is a man,” you say,

your hands braced on my shoulders.


And you leave me there, bound, ready for work,

this perfect knot— a monument to tenderness.



Copyright © 2021 by Themo H. Peel.



About the Author

Themo H. Peel is a writer and illustrator based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He has published two young adult science fiction novels. These poems are part of a series of poems and essays called MEN about the influential men in his life. As an artist and tutor, he has a passion for inspiring diverse (ethnic minority, LGBTQ+, neurodiverse, disabled) young people to use art as a tool for self-actualisation. He holds a BA in Fine Arts from Yale University and an MSc in Creative Writing from Edinburgh University.



Katherine E. Young


If There Is a Hell


it resembles this street in shadow, this street

and this streetlamp, where you and I cling


so tightly our flesh bruises for weeks and

our mouths ache with the work of longing


it blinks cold, disapproving, like stars glimpsed

from hard ground as muscle grins into grit


it feels, like your fingers, for tears on my cheek


it tastes of tea brewed by your wife, shakes

like her hand as she pours a cup for me


it kisses like my husband scenting your

on my lips, hunches his shoulders as if he might care


it cries like my son at my step on the stair,

as he finds he’s stayed awake, after all



Copyright © 2021 by Katherine E. Young. Published by permission.

Previously published in Tampa Review.

Also included in the new collection of poetry titled Woman Drinking Absinthe (Alan Squire Publishing, 2021).



About the Author

Katherine E. Young is the author of Day of the Border Guards, 2014 Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize finalist, and two chapbooks. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Iowa Review, Subtropics, and many others. She is the translator of Look at Him by Anna Starobinets, Farewell, Aylis by Azerbaijani political prisoner Akram Aylisli, and two poetry collections by Inna Kabysh. Young’s translations of contemporary Russian-language poetry and prose have won international awards; several translations have been made into short films. Young was name a 2020 Arlington County (Virginia) Individual Artist Grant recipient and recently edited the collection Written in Arlington: Poems of Arlington, Virginia (Paycock Press, 2020), a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts translation fellow, and a 2015 Hawthornden Fellow (Scotland). From 2016-2018, she served as the inaugural Poet Laureate for Arlington, Virginia. Visit: https://katherine-young-poet.com




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