• Robert L. Giron

Issue 94 — Liz Dolan, Ahmed Rayan El Nadim, Dorie LaRue, Paul Lieber, D. A. Sam, Emily Strauss

Liz Dolan


After They Got the News


From behind the lace curtain

I watched

the black-veiled nuns

pour whiskey

down Mama’s throat

to quell her screams

to calm her

to keep her from pulling out

fistfuls of hair.



Copyright © 2016 by Liz Dolan.




Acceptance



I do not know if you love me

as I love you. No matter.


When I ride

the curves and edges of your body


I feel I have fallen off a cliff.

But if early on a summer evening


under a eucalyptus you wish

to whisper sweet syllables into my ear


and wind a vine about my heart

I will lie


silent and listen to the sound

of rain falling on the lime green leaves.



Copyright © 2016 by Liz Dolan.





About the Author:

Liz Dolan’s poetry manuscript, A Secret of Long Life, nominated for a Pushcart, has been published by Cave Moon Press. Her first poetry collection, They Abide, nominated for The McGovern Prize, Ashland University was published by March Street. An eight-time Pushcart nominee and winner of Best of the Web, she was a finalist for Best of the Net 2014. She won The Nassau Prize for Nonfiction, 2011 and the same prize for fiction, 2015. She has received fellowships from the Delaware Division of the Arts, The Atlantic Center for the Arts and Martha’s Vineyard




Almed Rayan El Nadim


The Auctions


Who can sell the sun in Auctions?

We are sitting on the houses thresholds, looking from behind the sills

Waiting for the shimmering, sparkling, glistening, glittering, shining Egyptian moon

With all the our open elderly, grey-haired, gibberish, and babble windows




Copybooks


Disturbances, harassments, and upsets demolish, smash, and tear us down

A pallid, wan, and faint city blinded by copybooks, papers and compresses

Our lives are thieved by taximeters

All electric meters are palsy, paralysis, and paraplegia




The faces


I carried my heart on my shoulder for eons

In the endless seas, I couldn’t find a land

I am lost in a handful of sand

All faces are colored

The one hundred winged stars can’t be attained

The horizon is so blind

Hug me, my darling love

So tenderly and so kind



About the author:

Ahmed Rayan El Nadim, a poet, writer, and cinema director who lives in Cairo, Egypt, is the founder, promoter, and editor in the chief of El Nadaha magazine, an online magazine for literature and folk arts, folklore, and fine arts. He also produces the Egyptian Colloquial for poetry, the fifth edition issued in June 2016, and the sixth edition issued in August 2016; it is considered the most important aggregation, and grouping of the Egyptian cultural class. He has produced and directed more than 120 short films in the last two years. Many Egyptian and Arabic critics considered him the most expressive of the eastern and oriental fantasy world and the fabulous, legendary, mythical, superstitious, fictitious folklore, and while considering his poetry more philosophical and esoteric. His poetry collections include: Paper walls, Cellophane cities, Fir trees, Thursday market, The seven Crescent moons, Cloves gardens, The chrysalis, My dear love is a turquoise rose, My short poems, Stretching your braids in the palm tree, and others. He has also published his poetry and critical essays in many Egyptian and Arabic journals and magazines for over forty years.




Dori LaRue


A Hundred and One Ways to Die in Bangladesh


My horse’s stall in

Shreveport, Louisiana, USA,

is roomier than these muddy caves,

the best of them like the concrete hovels

of some previous civilization.

I am walking to school between

the women holding their babies

for effect, and the vendors

officiously fiddling with their fruit

and I can’t help wonder,

beneath the low hanging rat’s nest

of electrical wires

assembled by unskillful

but courageous electricians,

where every intersection sports

a sewer’s yawning maw

and its standing invitation

for dreamers or busy texters:

Why are there so many ways

to die in Bangladesh?


I’m not referring to

the monsoons, typhoons,

and draughts, political assault,

the social barriers, the religious bars

on windows with women

and children looking out

ready to starve or drown

whichever comes first,

but the primo genesis

thinginess of things.

I have been known to trace

my head cold back to the one

who sneezed in class,

who gave me a late paper

dangling with germs,

some snuffling colleague

who borrowed

my doorknob simply

to walk away . . .

a salesclerk with puffy eyes.

I am mean spirited like that.


So let us not forget

the heads and breasts of gulls

who came to roost

on the masts of galleons

surging forward as their sails

filled with wind

and glinted like white minarets,

the first sea invasions

to India coming as they did into

a barely nibbled world

with its future of secret meanings.

First cause, the armies of Islam

fanning out, spreading

through Persia, Iraq,

Byzantine lands.

By 8th century the Spanish Catholics

went belly up,

and they were knocking

on France’s door;

then fast forward four hundred years

to their little foothold in India;

those Hinds living

insouciantly on their own rich,

fertile, bountiful lands

became like someone on a death bed

leaving the world in angry silence

with no time for grand words.


What the invaders wanted was loot.

Tough freebooters from foreign lands

wanted everything,

and after their getting everything

came four decades

of identity dismantlement,

the vivisection of 1947.

I wasn’t even born yet. It was a few months

before my beginnings in the womb,

in Crowville, Louisiana, USA,

so I wasn’t there. I don’t know.

Anything I say is mere commentary,

ex post facto,

an occidental distortion.

But, darkly, moodily, why?

Why did Bangladesh opt out?

Because of the poets? The heroes?

The take-this-country-and-

shove-it jingoism?

Maybe there were grand words

before death.


The effects live on in the faces

of 21st century under five deaths.

Or those who survive,

the over fives, looking

and pointing at,

crying for kabobs

sold in the streets, these streets

I walk to school on every day,

(occasionally decorated with dead rats),

jog on in Nikes I’ve brought back,

bought in the USA,

made in one of the Bengali slave factories.


Is the answer in a scholarly analysis

of history’s, say the British Empire’s,

greedy gut? “Empire’ is not

the Brit’s word for it.

But nevertheless the lowly loom

came to be symbolic

and Gandhi immortalized it,

protested the way

Britain banned its use,

banned the cotton, the sturdy shirts,

with threads like a man’s,

like a woman’s sturdy character--;

all that was outlawed--;

their multi-kazillion dollar worldwide

trade gone, dooming them all to slave.

Britain was selling the first

mass produced clothing to the world

notwithstanding their very own Ruskin,

his lofty whining about craftsmanship

and the sin of haughty architecture.

Then came the war to end all wars,

then American hegemony,

then the peace to end all peace,

created in whimsical drawings at tea.


In the Pink Palace, in Old Dhaka,

according to the tour guide,

Aga Khan II often ate lunch.

(In Aga Khan’s Palace Detention Camp,

Gandhi fasted.)


Everything in Bangladesh

seems to be globally warming,

the snows of Nepal, the clear ice

of Everest are melting,

melting because of greed,

overflow the Padma,

because of greed,

because there is no law against dams

or what happens after dams

to lower countries that sink and rise,

and sink again.

There is no law against greed,

and this is no proof.


We go where the hungry heart goes.

The conquerors noisily step ashore.

They leave packs of warring dogs

to roam the streets.

They teach many to accept their lot,

and teach many the flip side

of consumerism.


Why are there so many ways

to die in Bangladesh.

Please forgive my lack of question mark.

Perhaps, despite the grammar books,

that last was rhetorical

and does not deserve one.

Perhaps it is a polite request.



Copyright © 2016 by Dorie LaRue.




The Consolation of Laundry


Dickens saw it on his

London slum walks.

In N.Y. C. Melville saw it

strung between Five Point’s buildings.

Rio, Manila, Nairobi—

They are still with us.

Something makes the dwellers

rise from dirt floors, and near piles

of garbage, in buckets, rivers, ditch,

perform the liquid ritual of consecration.

Thus on Palestine’s shattered streets

wrung out trousers eternally sway,

pairs of socks, scarves, a child’s cap

and even by itself, one man’s undershirt ,

can testify to the enduring consolation

of laundry .


In Dhaka beside the floating latrine

and narrow bamboo bridge

an invisible agent

(read woman like a slender captive)

has spread clothes over

a wire strung head high.

She has already spent

yesterday’s wage on meds.

(Give her a sick child,

a wallah for a husband,

a gnawing fear of eviction.)

She can go to her street sweeper’s job

now in Model Town, Uttara.

When she returns

the bulldozers may have come

and gone, the latrine ascended to greet her,

her toddler grown more croupy.

Maybe her husband

will have been beaten

beside his rented rickshaw,

but now a clean shirt

covers his back,

and tomorrow’s clean shirt flutters

in the morning wind,

like a planted flag

on some impossibly

scaled mountain.



Copyright © 2016 by Dorie LaRue.



About the Author:

Dorie LaRue’s poetry collection entitled Mad Rains is due out January 2017 by Kelsay Press.




Paul Lieber


Homesick


I’m facing north,

the ocean over my left shoulder.

That would be the Pacific.

On the east coast, the Atlantic

would be swaying over

my right shoulder.

Two blocks away my wife and child

argue and another 2448 miles east

stands Parker Jewish Memorial

Nursing home where my mother

free associates.

I skim the ocean, its swells,

channels and salutations.

The surfers look for thrills.

I’m just looking. They wait

for the wave in hiding.

Everything below the surface

rises and bursts open,

a billion epiphanies.

Where will they break?

Surfers misjudge the future

like the rest of us

as cells collect and spin in their

assignments; water cells

adhere to water while humans

stick to humans until

these smooth collisions.

Foam spreads,

temporary maps dissolve.

I sit cross-legged

and my calves tingle, asleep

until I change positions,

maybe move back east

and wake the entire body.



Copyright © 2016 by Paul Lieber.




I’ll Bury It in the Catacombs


My son plugs into

eIectronic isolation.


I want to drag him

back a few centuries,


to cross the Tiber River on to

the Pantheon. Pigeons approve


in Trastevere. One starts

towards us and retreats,


a pecking of black and gray

like a 14th century Syrian or Jew


searching for a nibble

on these streets with so many slants,


the ups and downs, the difficulty

of putting one foot in front


of the other

on this cobbled festival


of church bells.

Shutter windows open


when I grab my son’s iPad

and struggle in a tug-of-war.


I could scream I diapered you,

wiped that mustard


sauce from your anus.

You’re drowning in pixels


and I want you to swim in these streets.

I rip it from him,


run down the block where

a stranger leans on his motor bike.


He understands the rage but not

this thing in my hands


is driving me crazy.

I yanked it from


his abdomen.

See, see his blood drip?



Copyright © 2016 by Paul Lieber.



About the Author:

Paul Lieber’s collection, Chemical Tendencies, (Tebot Bach), was a finalist in the MSR poetry contest. He also received an honorable mention in the Allen Ginsberg Contest. He produces and hosts Why Poetry on KPFK radio in L.A. and Santa Barbara. Guests have included Poet Laureates, National Book Award Winners, and many other known and lesser-known poets. His poems have appeared in The Moth, N.Y. Quarterly, Patterson Review, Askew, Poemeleon, Alimentum, and many other journals and anthologies. He also works as an actor and has performed on and off- Broadway and in numerous films and TV shows. He has worked as an adjunct Professor in Creative Writing at Loyola Marymount University, and lives in Venice, CA. Visit him at www.paullieber.com.




David Anthony Sam


The Exile is Orphaned


Afraid or alive,

he is the phone ringing

from over the horizon,

tolling new pain.


Awaiting an old world

in winds that blow

his heart to unlearn

any past, he answers.


A voice crackles

with discord instead

of language so he

hears himself as echoes.


All is lost in a static

of wailing offering

him the unacceptable

over an unbearable sea.


His mother is lost

twice over and her

voice is left to silence

as a dial tone prays.



Copyright © 2016 by David Anthony Sam.




Defiled by Exile


Evil sings a distance

shadowed with wanting,

blurring the edges

of an old passport.


A heretic creates names

for home when

he has none, dreaming

inside a post office box.


Curses made and unmade

bleed the same red

in deserts—leaving

the whiteness of bones.


A coward flees discord

and warms himself

with flickers of news

digested for him.


Evil comes regardless

with smiles selling

stocks and coffee

between outrages.


A traitor lies undreamt

in twisted bedclothes

sweating his past

into nameless mornings.



Copyright © 2016 by David Anthony Sam.



Dark Fathers


I know my father’s father

only as he fades

in one browning snapshot

taken two years before

his lungs breathed final blood.


He glares from history

with a hawk’s black eyes,

suspicious that the camera

might reveal his failures,

a peddler with nothing left to sell.


He is a scorn of choices,

of golden Syrian dreams

dying on American concrete.

He left only his image

fading with the photopaper


into the sorrow that sometimes

wore my father’s face

and ghosts now in my mirror—

as dark fathers fade

into my dissolving image.



Copyright © 2016 by David Anthony Sam.



About the Author:

David Anthony Sam has two collections: Dark Land, White Light (1974, 2014) and Memories in Clay, Dreams of Wolves (2014) and his poetry has appeared in over 50 journals. He was the featured poet in the Winter 2016 issue of The Hurricane Review and in 2015 was twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His collection All Night over Bones received an Honorable Mention for the 2016 Homebound Poetry Prize. He lives in Culpeper, Virginia with his wife and life partner, Linda, and serves as president of Germanna Community College.




Emily Strauss


Leaking Heart


this third time

on dark streets

empty

to the hospital


occasional street lamps

blind houses

everyone asleep

but us— quiet


watchful, no cars

I'm driving again

not speaking

tense, alert


this familiar path

now turn here

entrance ahead

shining marble floors


follow the nurse

I know the routine

once more under care

once more procedures


his heart in question

irregular

fragile

light leaking into the day



Copyright © 2016 by Emily Strauss.



Shadow and Shade


—one always/went envying/ the quietness of stones.

Robinson Jeffers, “Ante Mortem” from An American Miscellany (1927)


beware of explanations—


you cannot interpret stones

nor their shadows

moving by the hours.


Shadows defy that which stands

in sunlight

attached to their solid

companion at a razor

edge.


Shade, which rocks don’t

possess is a more

general notion

a covering like mottled

leaves or long hair pouring

down a woman's bare spine.


A shadow defines

the shape that owns it.


Shade is the quiet

solemn side of cliffs

at noon, when stone

rises

the vertical

light pouring down

but for a sliver

against the walls,

its absence.


The shaded walls

pulse now with heat

or else

thaw a little in winter

when frost abides

deeper within.


The stones are all the same.

This may be what we envy.



Copyright © 2016 by Emily Strauss.



About the Author:

Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college. Over 400 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies, in the U.S. and abroad. She is both a Best of the Net and Pushcart nominee. The natural world of the American West is generally her framework; she also considers the narratives of people and places around her. She is a semi-retired teacher living in California.