• givalpress

Issue 160

This issue features


Mandala

Casadphoto.



Richard Becker


Mandala


Bodhisattva, Bodhisattva,

rubbed together casting streams

of color, copper funnels play

like metal erhus. Bodhisattva

shows the way. Robed in orange

and in wine, initiates slowly

fill divine space starting in

the middle, then fan out, pouring

little by little, until every

sacred place fills up with color,


bright or dark, each sand grain

itself blessed. Bodhisattva,

Bodhisattva, though no words

are spoken, the sand mandala teaches

monks to let their music play,


itself blessed, each rubbing blessed.

Bodhisattva, shows the way, steady

teeth of funnels gently rubbed

play like metal erhus.

Bodhisattva shows the way.


First published in Bottomfish (renamed The Red Wheelbarrow of De Anza College).

Copyright © 2022 by Richard Becker.


Chesapeake


Dying embers of sun on shore

blink from Yankee Point.

In forecastle still I face

your face asleep. Your eyelids flicker.


Dogs bark. Doves reply.

Many thoughts are one.

A million suns beneath

your skin in every pulse.


And as we sway a mast ticks

stars across the sky the way

a yad* is held to cue each line

of parchment text, right to left,


right to left. We sway on

rippling waves that rock

us into dreaming of the sea

on the sea that dreamt us into being.


*Tָhe Hebrew word, yad, for “hand.” A yad is a hand shaped pointer. In synagogue service for Torah cantillation.



First published in The Baltimore Review.

Copyright © 2022 by Richard Becker.



About the Author

Richard Becker’s poems are published in two chapbooks entitled Fates, (The Literary Review, 2008) and On Sunday Afternoons (Finishing Line Press June, 2022) and individually in Columbia Journal, The Baltimore Review, America, Cold Mountain Review, U City Review and Slipstream and others.


A Bread Loaf Scholarship recipient and Fellow at MacDowell Colony, Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Cité Internationale des Arts, Becker, is a concert pianist and composer and heads piano study at the University of Richmond where in addition to piano he teaches a First Year Seminar on Poetry and Music.




Amy Nelder


Vitruvian Woman: Amy Nelder & Chloe Lejnieks, 2020.


Bigger than Warhol, 2020


La Dolce Vita, 2017


About the Artist

Amy Nelder, born in San Francisco, paints “Pop Trompe L’oeil” canvases. Employing exquisite realism, she infuses au courant imagery to celebrate domestic moments or to convey messages of contemporary socio-political import. Nelder studied at the University of California at Berkeley and the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Early in her career, she was the Forensic Artist for the San Francisco Police Department and the Medical Examiner’s Office. She has shown at the de Young Museum; Walt Disney Museum; Uffizi Galleries, Florence, Italy; Chloe Gallery; and Blue Line Arts. Media coverage includes a de Young Museum film and press in the San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and Art Business News. Her work is in numerous national and international collections and commissioned murals are on display in San Francisco municipal buildings.



Christina Frei


Breech Baby

How nonsensical to fear small spaces,

and to feel, even in the most mundane situations,

the panic of being buried alive,

gasping for oxygen, craving daylight


in dark theaters, anxious in airplanes,

wide-eyed drama in crowds, and so

I seek out park land, inhabit aisle seats, avoid

elevators, instead negotiating stairwells deep


in the bowels of buildings where the trash bins

are kept. I suspect it all began

on a sultry morning in 1964 near Waikiki beach,

surfers navigating turquoise pipelines,


scaly coconut palms reaching for cloud shadows

sliding slowly down the flank of Diamond Head.

Me, stuck fast in the hot narrow birth canal,

caught between two elements for too long --


and it was there, my first breaker of dread,

following which I turned a flaccid blue

and slipped out feet first, senseless as an angelfish,

lips puckered gravely, quivering in the bright.


This poem first appeared in Scapegoat Review, an online journal, in 2015.

Copyright © 2015 by Christina Frei.


About the Author

Christina Frei grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia and has lived in Toronto, Dakar, Amsterdam, and currently Montreal where she teaches online creative writing classes with the International Writers Collective. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and she has been nominated for Best of the Net 2013, three Pushcart prizes, a Best New Poets award and was the recent recipient of the 2020 Haunted Waters Press Flash Fiction Award.




HR Harper


The Texts of Innocence and Experience


1


Go to settings


…and choose a one-scoop heart.


Measure what you want to know,

and ignore the answers. They

toy with your similarity.


Make a menu

of what you won’t need.

Choose not now.

Broaden what you see

so far.


2


It’s a sad little radar

that sounds out

the wide space

between you and me.


I check the

foreign screens. We all do

now.


You don’t know how

to live outside the inside rules.


3


My time is only

doors opening,

as doors will open.


My days

number single stars.


The moonlight’s utility

is how much it can hold.




4


A firmament softens

in the green still grown

from our loss

of control. The machines

will turn off. The nodes melt down

in what remains

without measure or code.

(Insert

another sentence

here

of what you wanted

but could not have).


5


We are losing contact

with what knows us.

As we defer to the dazzling

images of infinite access,

we shorten, chop perspective

and seek portrayal. Every lie possible

waits. Ransomware writes

our tired stories.

In such cleverness we lose the point

and are punished by the bottom lines.


6


The screens and keys

and operating structures

contrived to place us on hold

and in artifacts

deftly clouding our unknowing.


Experience travels, then deceives.

We don’t remember that the will

is architect of the soul.


All is at hand.

And our hands are missing.


Copyright © 2022 by HR Harper.



About the Author

HR Harper is a poet living in the redwoods above Santa Cruz, CA. In recent months he has had poems published in Prospectus, The Vital Sparks, 34th Parallel, The Write Launch, High Shelf Press journal, Angel Rust magazine, Sunspot Lit, Cathexis Northwest Press and others. He was a creative writing major at UCLA, and then an educator in central city schools for many years. While writing poetry over the years, he only began to publish in 2021.



Andrés Colón


Tableau: Detaching Blow


The Corpse’s Aquarium



Sea nymphs lark in water filled lungs,

seeking in the hide

behind lucid vine

for alveoli—lambent raspberry.

His last rasp—barely

lively in the gaits of decay.

Agape the gates.

Unclench the jaw of the sailor

with salted, suspended secrets

secreting in his chest that rests its treasury

shipwrecked in sand and other granules you’ll

see within The Corpse’s Aquarium.


Copyright © 2022 by Andrés Colón.



Lotus Eaters

Copyright © 2022 by Andrés Colón.



Lotus Eaters


Oh, the ways

you spoon my stagnancy from the smooth-

Let it sooth your belly like ginger root.

Grumbled rooting gone,

translation of none.


Oh, the ways

you overanalyze the highs-

The undertones and ginger skies.

Tying down flapping colors,

prized, silent madness lovers.


Oh, the ways

you write myths in white-

Babble slurred; spite ginger lite.

Our passage might as well mold,

times pass; I never told.


Oh, the ways

you charm away from arm-

Do no harm; gingerly disarm.

Still, I’m still, intimacy above,

sufficiency from the lack thereof. Copyright © 2022 by Andrés Colón.



About the Author / Artist

Andrés Colón is a young poet, illustrator, photographer, and graphic designer from Cincinnati, Ohio. A 2022 graduate from The School for Creative and Preforming Arts, Colón strives to make art and inspire creative change that well represents their passionate generation. The poems “Lotus Eaters”, “The Corpse’s Aquarium”, and “Tableau: Detaching Bloware all from their debut book of art and poetry titled “Anatomy Of”, self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing in 2021. You can purchase Anatomy Of through Amazon and follow Andrés Colón’s creative journey on Instagram @a_ndres.c; for business inquiries, they can be reached through andresmcolon03@gmail.com.




Yvonne Higgins Leach



The Secret of My Parents' Marriage


Later in life, my parents stopped mapping

each other’s bodies, forgot how to anoint


the other in breath. After careers, mortgages,

six children – they prayed that their bond


would not end, collapse. Call it

a replanting, placing the past on the other


side of a dimly lit tunnel. Call it

a secret only the two of them knew.


Copyright © 2022 by Yvonne Higgins Leach.



Seven Pounds of Trash a Day


and that includes me

and every other American.

Every Thursday on our block

we haul our rotting food scraps,

our #5 and #6 plastic

and Styrofoam containers

to the curb

and I am thinking how

my plastic coffee lid

from Starbucks

will take 20-30 years

to decompose in some

shapeless 300-foot-high

immortal slum of our bygones,

how skittering birds

will drum up

some dead thing

amid the bursting pile

of tormented colors.

Everything inside me

is rattling

like wind driving

at a loose door

for how pithy my

small changes –

not buying plastic

water bottles,

shortening my hot showers,

turning down the heat,

when I too

am part of humanity

that is simply changing

too late,

as if the earth can keep

sustaining us,

as if it’s not really

the earth at all.


Copyright © 2022 by Yvonne Higgins Leach.



About the Author

Yvonne Higgins Leach is the author of Another Autumn (2014). Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies including The South Carolina Review, South Dakota Review, Spoon River Review and POEM. She spent decades balancing a career in communications and public relations, raising a family, and pursuing her love of writing poetry. Her latest passion is working with shelter dogs. She splits her time living on Vashon Island and in Spokane, Washington. For more information, visit www.yvonnehigginsleach.com




Rosanna Licari


wildfire

finally

it stops airless

at the river

and from the bank

a dark landscape

splintered with embers


without this

there are no

beginnings


the tree grass

will shoot green

from a burned stump

the banksia

has opened

its seed pods


through

the smouldering

the fine grey ash

from this

the unfurling head

the blazing stare

the span of wings

the beat of flight


a cry tears from the throat


in black grief

fire as shaper

marks the brink

as life.


Copyright © 2022 by Rosanna E. Licari.


About the Author

Rosanna E. Licari has an Istrian-Italian background and is based in Brisbane, Australia. Her work has appeared in various Australian and international journals including e:ratio (US), Softblow (Singapore), Shearsman (UK), Transnational Literature (UK) and Wild Court (UK). She won the inaugural 2021 AAALS (American Association of Australasian Literary Studies) poetry prize and she is the poetry editor of StylusLit www.styluslit.com . She teaches English to migrants and refugees.




Marisa Silva-Dunbar


What you invited into your home


I hope it haunted you. Your gilded

furniture may have looked beautiful.

You might’ve decorated with flowers and tapestries,

lit candles to make it sweet and cozy—

but we know what torments this place held—

what ghosts you created here.


We have heard from the survivors.

Maybe their sobs and screams invaded

your sleep—nights after the branding.

You were just following orders—

but he doesn’t have to live with

poltergeists rattling his walls.


Toady demons can’t see or hear spirits—

Not until they’re banished to hell

where cacodemons belong.


Copyright © 2022 by Marisa Silva-Dunbar.



the Luciferian

I.

he’s still the devil you’ve tethered yourself to.

he consumed the flesh you offered him

sucked the skin and meat from your bones,

and yet he commands—desires more.


Give it all away for him:

tattered dignity, and sanity. Let deliverance evaporate

into the ether. Hunker down—

it’s easier to stay in the world he

convinced you was real.


Drink some more of his arsenic laced words,

swallow them with a nice red wine,

they’ll keep you ensnared and safe

in this reverie.


II.

There were some who hoped

you might awaken from the nightmare

you slowly constructed over the years.

The demon that rooted itself in you,

would spew out from your mouth like an inky bile.


You’d be healed and saved—worthy of your beauty.

Everyone loves a redemption arc. They want the pretty

pale girl to renounce sin, to admit the monster

lured her, hypnotized her, promised daily paradise.

You were under a spell no one could resist.


Copyright © 2022 by Marisa Silva-Dunbar.


About the Author

Marisa Silva-Dunbar's work has been published in Pink Plastic House, Sledgehammer Lit, Analogies & Allegories Literary Magazine, and Dear Reader. She has work forthcoming in The Bitchin' Kitsch. Her second chapbook, When Goddesses Wake, was released in December 2021 from Maverick Duck Press. Her first full-length collection, Allison, is forthcoming from Querencia Press. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @thesweetmaris.



Joel Savishinsky


We Are Not Welcome Everywhere


We are not welcome everywhere.

Even Homer was banished

from Plato’s Republic.

Langston Hughes hid his heart

in plain sight. Pablo Neruda

was exiled, Garcia Lorca executed.


Poets ask too many questions.

Most don’t feel they need

to be answered. We lay out

words, leave spaces, plant

the unquiet seeds of silences.


Readers close their eyes,

trying to see what they were

meant to hear. It is hard work.

Many just turn the page, or

close the cover, pick up the remote,

become remote. Resigned,

they put down the book like

a rook in defeat.


Even with manuscripts in hand,

we are still among the undocumented,

our songs an alien tongue,

awaiting translation, hoping

for advocacy, for someone’s

understanding. The borders

we stare at in wonder never recede,

run through our bodies with

the blood of migrants.


First published in Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim (2019).

Copyright © 2019 by Joel Savishinsky.



Disbelief: 2016

Samuel Taylor Coleridge: “the willing suspension of disbelief which is poetic faith.”

Biographia Literaria, 1817.


The most exhausting part is to

discover, later in life’s season,

that you have exhausted

even disbelief itself.


Blinded by accident is to have

to re-invent the world, suddenly to be

thrown on the creative mercy of

touch, sound, distaste, each of

the other second-class senses.


Is there comfort in knowing

you are not alone? That you

rage with the woman whose

face and sign scream “I can’t

believe I have to protest all

this shit again,” to recognize

with your starved imagination

that protest alone cannot suffice?


The augurs and seers were blind

too, but in a worse way, lacking

not sight but insight. As glib after

the fact as before, and unlike us,

still full of belief in themselves,

they sat framed on screen and page,

never at a loss for words or data, so

that even the recriminations soon

grew tired, and everyone was back

to the business of politics as if

the world was usual, defeated

not just by hate, but by habit.


First published in Ginosko Literary Journal (2021).

Copyright © 2021 by Joel Savishinsky.



The Death of Rhetoric


When the rhetoric

dies and the silence

lays down its shroud,

pinning it with stars,


you can stare at the face

of the nighttime sky, close

your eyes and listen to

the songs of animals,


weapons, and warriors just

beyond reach, each of those

constellations dancing to

the drumming of fingernails


against the ether, claiming

the music of long-dead suns

and six planets’ protest against

the insincerities of memory.


First published in Muddy River Poetry Review (2019).

Copyright © 2019 by Joel Savishinsky.



About the Author

Joel Savishinsky, a retired professor of anthropology and gerontology, is the author of The Trail of the Hare: Life and Stress in An Arctic Community, The Ends of Time: Life and Work in A Nursing Home and Breaking the Watch: The Meanings of Retirement in America; the latter two each won the Gerontological Society of America’s book-of-the-year prize. His poetry, short fiction and essays have appeared in Atlanta Review, Beyond Words, The New York Times, and Poetry Quarterly. savishin@gmail.com



Don Schofield


The Physics of Parting


A moment ago I heard the fine

spatter of rain in the field behind me,

water rising, ready to sweep me away. Aristotle


taught wet and dry are absolute

opposites, each on its way

to its natural place. So why


do I see a row of poplars along a wall

when I turn, wind prying dry leaves

up and down the golden trunks,


and still the hiss of rain in my ears? I think of the spider

weaving that last night it was our bedroom,

rising and falling in moonlight,


not like us but Socrates,

who kept standing and sitting those last nights

in his cell, curious about his presence there—


due only to bones and joints

and flexible muscles? the words he uttered

explained just by laws of sound and hearing? I ask


what law for parting lovers,

one wet, one dry? Our wholeness

was never a burden—then it suddenly hardened


in opposite directions. The web snapped in my face

when I finally rose and left, descending

into chaos, but for the mind,


pure and alone, weaving depths

to heights, mind so pure it makes

wings of thick gossamer and lost


love: rise, now rise.


Previously published in Approximately Paradise (University Press of Florida, 2002).

Copyright © 2002 by Don Schofield.



Cemetery Workers

Zografou, Athens


When the priest begins, they step aside.

One eyes the clutter of high rises


up Hymmetos, and higher, where the mountain’s

craggy peak snags a cloud of smoke and fumes,


keeps it hovering right here. The second

watches a stooped woman a few rows down


pouring soapy water over a marble

headstone, scrubbing the letters and numbers,


wiping the portrait of a young girl clean.

The third looks over at the job in progress:


a husband kissing his wife’s doughy cheek

one last time, calling out her name though she


is past response, then unties the ribbon

at her wrists, throws in a fistful of dirt—


thick clumps on her lace bosom, several grains

in the groove of her lips—closes the lid.


Two step up now, slip a frayed rope

under each end, straddle the open pit


and lower the coffin headfirst. As the third

takes up his shovel the mourners turn away.


They won’t see the workers flinging dirt,

won’t hear dirt clods hitting wood. When they reach


the cafeneio—by the flower shop,

where the cabbies wait—where the husband


must be served by the cemetery waiter

dressed as any other in black pants, white shirt,


the sound of earth hitting earth will be soft,

almost gentle, like the waiter’s voice


as he talks to the silent husband

of coming elections, the economic crisis,


what to do about that damn

cloud that won’t leave this part of the city.



Previously published in In Lands Imagination Favors (Dos Madres Press, 2014).

Copyright © 2014 by Don Schofield.




Migrant Stories



Our landlord Captain Niko tells us how

his ancestors landed on this island

two centuries ago.


Each migrant chose

a stone and threw it deep into the fog.

Where it landed each one built a house.


The Greeks in Uruguay, he says, exchanged

shoes they made from the skin of unborn calves

for feta cheese and olives—Greek essentials—


and told him of a kinsman there who wanted

to return back home. A bride was waiting.

But bandits stole his money; shamed, he fled


to the interior. This morning the Captain

is carrying a broken oar up from the sea,

torn life-vests. Looking at us. No stories now.


Previously published in Border Lines: Poems of Migration: (Everyman’s Library, Knopf, 2020).

Copyright © 2020 by Don Schofield.



About the Author

Don Schofield lives in Thessaloniki, Greece. His most recent poetry collections are In Lands Imagination Favors (Dos Madres Press, 2014) and The Flow of Wonder (Kelsay Books, 2018). He is a recipient of, among other awards, the 2005 Allen Ginsberg Award (US) and the 2010 John D. Criticos Prize (UK). His poems and translations have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Greek National Translation Award.



Joseph Stanton



Winslow Homer’s Point of Turning


Living as an artist is seldom easy.

How can ends meet,

when sales are rare?


Winslow told his family

that the next exhibition could be his last.

It would be a test.


If neither of the two paintings sold,

he would give up on art,

the crazy career.


But both paintings sold

at the listed price,

and he vowed to forge ahead.


Decades later he discovered

his brother Charles had purchased

both pictures and stowed them in a closet.


When he finally discovered the trick,

Winslow grimaced and cursed under his breath—

his way of telling Charley he loved him, too.


Copyright © 2022 Joseph Stanton.



Edward Hopper’s Solitude


The sadness of horizon

is a matter of perspective,

the point being the vanishing

where lines converge

only because we see them to.


That vision is delusion

saves us from nothing.

Seeing’s myth

conceals a truth:


though there is no point

to vanishing,

we will all vanish anyway.


Copyright © 2022 Joseph Stanton.



About the Author

Joseph Stanton’s poems have appeared in Poetry, New Letters, Harvard Review, Antioch Review, New York Quarterly, and many other magazines. He has published six books of poems: Moving Pictures, Things Seen, Imaginary Museum, A Field Guide to the Wildlife of Suburban Oahu, Cardinal Points, and What the Kite Thinks. His other sorts of books include Looking for Edward Gorey, The Important Books, and Stan Musial: A Biography. As an art historian, he has written about Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and many other American artists. He sometimes teaches poetry workshops, such as the “Starting with Art” workshops he has taught at Poets House and the Honolulu Museum of Art.



Helen Wickes


The Word You Sit Beside


It’s not a word you lightly choose to live with


unless you have to; and then you breathe it in


as deeply as it breathes you—lonely—and while


you diligently try to unweave it into alone,



to lone, and one, then to on and on—finally


failing—you slide back into sounds—so the life


generally goes—and so look up, the bent tip


of the neighbor’s redwood is burnished copper



by the late sun and the day’s last yellow finch


keeps on pouring his splendid self into a tune,


while beyond, there’s the roar—not roar, assault


—of traffic, the massive, sunset, human traffic,



unknowable, but listen, you can hear each one


of them—the hearts of strangers hurrying home.


Copyright © 2022 by Helen Wickes.



An Intelligent Design


That his ancestors were stardust, this

we know, and that something happened,

stardust and planetary debris seeking a place

to name home, coalesced, and drifted, rotted

and hunkered down, that things eked forth

and spewed out, and that lumbering creatures

ventured afar, as we imagine that these beasts

hunkered down, into life, and the smaller,

heaven-inclined ones downshifted, arraying

their bodies for comfort, for beauty, for flight,

settled the meadows and ponds—feathered

and gorgeous—on the daily drive—there he be—

that great blue heron, cleaning each centimeter,

first the beak to groom the chest, then said beak

to scrounge the armpits—wingpits?—lastly turning

360 to groom his backside; then surveying

first the sky, then the road, lifts one leg,

then the other to scratch behind his ears(?)

along his throat, until gleaming, immaculate,

he raises himself into the day.


Copyright © 2022 by Helen Wickes.



About the Author

Helen Wickes’s work appears in AGNI Online, Atlanta Review, Boulevard, Massachusetts Review, Slag Review, Sagarana, Soundings East, South Dakota Review, Spillway, TriQuarterly, Westview, Willow Review, ZYZZYVA, thedreamingmachine.com (poems and translations of Italian poetry), as well as many others. Four books of her poetry have been published. Her manuscript Transit of Mercury was a finalist for the 2019 Codhill Press Poetry Award and a finalist for the 2018 Catamaran prize.

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