This Isn’t Silverlake Anymore

“Street Romance,” digital photography by Edgar Berg, 2011. Used with permission.

by Neil McCarthy

“Send lawyers guns and money, the shit has hit the fan.”
—Warren Zevon

1.

In a different life I’d run away with the waitress,
scream across Santa Monica Boulevard negligent of red lights.
In a different time I’d perhaps get her to take the wheel
while I shoot out the tires of the pursuing cop cars,
confident of making the border before nightfall.

We’d lie low in Tijuana, maybe cut and dye each other’s hair
and mull over the maps and the madness of our options.
Bolivia might come into the equation. As might Honduras,
which would be less of a drive and warmer at night.
It might then be time to dump the stolen Cadillac.

Back in LA, the news headlines would make my colleagues
giddy with perversion. In a smoky room a phone would ring,
the receiver lift and a voice on the other end announce
in excitement Mac’s made it.

2.

Desires crackle like moths to a hot bulb in this café, the
scripts abandoned and the headshots growing older by the day.
They still dress the part mind you, the waitress in her bowler
hat and black bra visible through her thin cotton blouse;
my neighbour in his striped three-piece suit and pocket watch.

I was told about the ice-cream parlour across the street and
I shift my attention, watching the clientele come and go,
when all of a sudden it’s you that’s on the run.
You are dressed to the nines, dark sunglasses and bouncy hair,
men wait until you have passed until turning to inhale your
perfume—

—it’s Florence. It’s early summer. There you are.

In front of a cathedral, pigeons scatter as Carabinieri race towards
the bank alarm calling out for help, but you? You just light a
cigarette and toss the match stick over your shoulder. It’s all
being shot in black and white of course to give that timeless sense,
and from an open balcony window we can hear a cello play the Bach
preludes as the credits roll and you disappear into the foreground.

3.

I hear the slightly scratched voice of Joan Baez coming from
the record player singing about the junipers in the pale moonlight,
applause erupting like hailstones on a corrugated iron roof.
I am singing back through the bedroom wall,
wishing the neighbours would just shut up for once and listen.

Night arrives with a baton, taking its dark lectern on cue and conducting
its flotilla of noise: fire trucks, police sirens, ambulances,
a car alarm crying wolf to the night.

Headlights, red lights, green lights, turning signals, cross-walks flashing,
gas station forecourt lights; Sunset Boulevard from this angle looks more
like a fallen Christmas tree.

And I am reading your email, throwing my mind back to the wine bar
tables where we would arm wrestle over the colours:
misty-memory-green, winter-cheek-red—
each new phrase coined celebrated like a scientific breakthrough.

In a different life I would run away with you,
into the tattoo-blue of early evening, cover our tracks
and burn every single one of those maps.

omega man

Neil McCarthy studied English Literature at the National University of Ireland in Galway. His work has appeared in The New York Quarterly (USA), Magma (UK), The SHOp (Ireland), The Dalhousie Review (Canada), Poetry Salzburg Review (Austria), Helikon (Hungary), Blue Dog (Australia), and elsewhere. He is the author of three chapbooks: Voicing the Bell, Naked in Vienna, and Seven Cities. He lives in Los Angeles.

Hearsay

“Bridge to Eternity,” acrylic on canvas, by Michael Lang, 2012. Used with permission.

by Carla Ferreira

They say in Avignon people dance on the bridge
that was either unfinished or fell apart—
no one remembers those folk stories anymore.

Two professors stood in line to dispense
their trays and one gray beard said to the other,
“I advise the young ladies in my class to never
marry on the promise of reform. You must change
the man before you take him.” When I walked
back to the dormitory, I thought of my grandmother
knitting lace when the afternoon hunched over
to listen to her intricate pattern, the clicking
of her needles. She has such a knack for consistency
and small detail.

It was a city of walls. A sacred city
rendered blasphemous with graffiti
and pigeons pecking bits of falafel scattered on
its streets. Six weeks with those walls, I never once made
it to the bridge; we thought of it; we let it go.

The Rhône passes through the city and lets
the talk of pedestrians and the parables enter its
soft current.

Our geography is no stranger to reformation.
We write over histories.
Some are unfinished or they fall apart.

omega man

Carla Ferreira works as an English language assistant in Bordeaux, France. “Hearsay” is her professional poetry debut.

Last Time at the Arch Street Tavern

“Poker,” acrylic on paper, by Ksenia Kopalova, 2006. Used with permission.

by Gail C. DiMaggio

Another Monday in another February and the streets outside
are shiny with sleet, speckled with litter. Everything
diminishes—sumac and elm, Dad’s old Buick. Lust.
In the Arch Street Tavern, they understand diminuendo—
bar keep, wait staff, drinkers who risk black ice
to sit under a funnel of light and tap one foot a little back
of the blazing beat. Up on the stand, they get it, too. A year after Chick’s death
and they’re playing his charts anyway. “It Might As Well Be Spring”
they roar. “Send in the Clowns” with a little strip of calliope music
tucked into the bridge. “Come Back To Me”
and the trombones chugging like a locomotive on the way
to a stalled car. Tony comes in halfway through the set
and they mob him, buy him rounds, ignore
the fact he hasn’t brought his horn. Back up under the lights
till way past midnight, they’ll be playing Ellington, sinuous
and tight. A ballad, maybe “Lush Life.” And something up-tempo
like “It Don’t Mean a Thing.”

omega man

Gail C. DiMaggio is a retired English teacher living in Naples, Florida. Her poetry has appeared in Calliope, Blue Collar Review, Common Ground Review, 14 by 14, and elsewhere.

The Reincarnation of the Seagull

“284,” oil on canvas, by Justyna Kopania, 2013. Used with permission.

by Lisa Pellegrini

Before he was a seagull
he was the bed of the ocean,
its stronghold and place of

penance, a tenderfoot of sorts.
Before he was the ocean bed
he was the salt that glittered
on the crests of rhythmic waves,

infusing sea kelp and sea urchins
with sustenance and secrecy.
Before he was the salt he was
the tail of a clown fish that

two piranhas wrestled over
in a claustrophobic frenzy.
He was fragments of barnacles,
scallop shells, and coral reefs

that fell out of a cave’s mouth
faster than candy spilling forth
from a piñata. He was the patches
of aqua that comprised the sky’s

mosaic quilt before the sun
was crowned king, after the
moon clothed herself in a
shroud of seclusion and sobriety.

omega man

Lisa Pellegrini resides in Warrington, Pennsylvania. Her poetry has been published in Zouch Magazine, Downer Magazine, The Rainbow Rose, and Misfits’ Miscellany. She has forthcoming work that will appear in Eunoia Review, The Rusty Nail, Bolts of Silk, The Alarmist, L’Allure des Mots, and Dark Matter.

Watching Snow Falling in a Mirror

“Lapse,” digital art by H. Kopp-Delaney, 2010. Used with permission.

by Timothy Walsh

From where I sit, the mirror on the opposite wall
shows the outside world
through the window behind me.
This is not a Platonic allegory,
or misty symbolism,
just as it actually is as I sit this morning
looking up at the mirror,
watching the snow fall on a world already white.

The mirror, bought at an antique shop,
is perhaps a hundred years old—
has seen more light than my own eyes.
The stout oak frame and beveled edges of the glass
lend a crystal clarity to the scenes it shows,
more arresting because enclosed.

I suppose this is why we trim our rooms in wood—
why we frame our mirrors, windows,
paintings, and doors,
marking the portals we pass through bodily
or with our eyes.

Now the snow is falling so heavily, it seems
the mirror will soon fill up with snow,
snow creeping higher up the edges,
drifting against the glass.

The tick-tock of the eight-day clock
and the cradle-rock of its pendulum catches
my eye.
There are so many mirrors and clocks in this house,
the eddies of time and dazzles of light
suffuse the wood-trimmed rooms.

I adjust the eyeglasses on my nose—twin lenses
set in frames, hooked behind my ears.
I know there are lenses as well somewhere
in the lucent grapes of my eyes.
Lens of eye and eyeglass lens,
mirror glass and window glass—
we live amid a maze of light,
prism, crystal, water, and ice.

I listen as the ticking clock regulates the falling snow,
a cup of coffee cooling by my side,
a blizzard in the looking glass gracing
an otherwise empty wall.

omega man

Timothy Walsh’s poems and short stories have appeared in The North American Review, Arts & Letters, Cutthroat, New Millennium Writings, and others. His awards include the Grand Prize in the Atlanta Review International Poetry Competition, the Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize from North American Review, and the Wisconsin Academy Fiction Prize. He is the author of a book of literary criticism, The Dark Matter of Words: Absence, Unknowing, and Emptiness in Literature (Southern Illinois University Press) and two poetry collections, Wild Apples (Parallel Press) and Blue Lace Colander (Marsh River Editions). He is an Assistant Dean at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

How We Made Gravity About Us

“3.10I,” acrylic on cotton, by Martin Koroscha, 2010. Licensed under Creative Commons.

by Matthew J. Robinson

Although we died the moment we met,
we believed we could shun nothingness
by getting married, act as a paradigm
for those just beyond giving up.

The ruse held for fourteen years:

We produced two children, took out two mortgages,
fought roughly twice a week. I accused you
of turning the knob of the door
we shut together. You took me to task
about my insatiable need to recalibrate our purpose.

Sleep occurred by mistake;
dreams were next-day dilemmas.

A neighbor left a note
that our yard needed rejuvenating.

You watered the lawn with gasoline while I
glued thorns to the hedges. We agreed,
it was nice to do something together again.

omega man

Matthew J. Robinson’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in kill author, Dinosaur Bees, Blue Five Notebook, and The Rusty Nail, among others. He lives in Seattle and tweets @mtthw_rbnsn.

Quiescent Infinite

“Ruins at Baalbek,” oil on canvas, by Frederic Church, 1868.

by Hélène Cardona

On a visit to my ancestors I’m shown
into the palace of hypnotists
through a small entrance and grand rounding staircase,
each step a drawer containing sculptures.
The landing expands into huge vistas
over fountains, centaurs and other creatures,
statues come alive, stunning spectacle.
Windows open onto a lake
—adorned by willows and vines—
whose surface, smooth and silver,
reflects the astonished beauty
of mutable selves riveted on the horizon.

omega man

Hélène Cardona is a poet, literary translator and actor, the recipient of numerous awards and honors including a Hemingway Grant and the USA Best Book Award. Her books include three poetry collections, most recently Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry), and Dreaming My Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry); and three translations: Beyond Elsewhere (White Pine Press), Ce que nous portons (by Dorianne Laux, Éditions du Cygne), and Walt Whitman’s Civil War Writings for Iowa International Writing Program’s WhitmanWeb.

She is co-International editor of Plume, co-edits FulcrumAn Anthology of Poetry and Aesthetics, contributes essays to The London Magazine, and is co-producer of the documentary Pablo Neruda: The Poet’s Calling. She holds a Master’s in American Literature from the Sorbonne, taught at Hamilton College & Loyola Marymount University, and received fellowships from the Goethe-Institut & Universidad Internacional de Andalucía.

Hélène had roles in Chocolat, Jurassic World, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Serendipity, and Mumford.

Four by Rilke

“Strong Dream,” watercolor and gouache on paper, by Paul Klee, 1929.

translated by Len Krisak

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) is one of the most influential poets in German literature. Following are new translations of four of Rilke’s poems from his 1907 work Neue Gedichte (New Poems). The translations, by American poet Len Krisak, are “form-true” (line-for-line, original meter, rhyme scheme preserved). A compilation of Krisak’s translations of all 172 poems in Neue Gedichte is forthcoming.

The Donor

Commissioned for the Painters’ Guild. It might
be that the Savior never touched him, or
perhaps no saintly bishop ever thought it right
to step up to his side and lay a light
hand on him (in this work he’s posing for).

And was this all—knees yielding to the floor
(just as it’s all we ever learned): to kneel
so one might rein in hard—to bring to heel
deep in the heart—what bodies will demand
to burst with: horses clenched within one’s hand?

So should some huge thing finally come to be—
some something never written down or pledged—
we could expect that it would never see
us, but come close, in stark proximity,
though it were wholly, deeply self-engaged.

*

Epitaph of a Young Girl

We still remember, just as if once more
these things must live in their entirety.
As if you were a lime tree on the shore,
you bore your little breasts into the roar,
the rushing flood, of his divinity:

—that god’s.

He was that slender-wrought
exile who pampers women. How he glows,
as sweetly and as warmly as your thought.
Above your flanks, the shadow he has brought
now bows and arches like your young girl’s brows.

*

Parting

How I have felt what farewell means! And how
I know it still: cruel, dark, invincible
in tendering a bond that’s beautiful,
then shredding what it offered only now.

How vulnerable I was! What called to me,
I looked upon. And then its grip let loose
of me, and stayed behind like every she,
yet tiny, white, and little more than this:

a waving even now not mine alone;
a far-off flutter—faint; already dim;
unclear to me. Perhaps a plum-tree limb
from which a hasty cuckoo has just flown.

*

St. Sebastian

Just like someone lying down, he stands,
hung there by his huge will. He’s somewhere other:
far-off, as if he were a nursing mother;
bound up tight in his own wreathen bands.

And the arrows coming—now and now
(as if self-willed, out of his loins they spring,
their free ends made of iron quivering).
Darkly, though, he smiles, unhurt somehow.

Only once does massive sorrow grow:
till his eyes see something mean and low,
they lie wide open, filled with pain. But then,
scorning them, he lets those killers go
who meant this beauty not to live again.

omega man

Len Krisak’s work has appeared in Agenda, Commonweal, The Hudson Review, PN Review, The Formalist, the Cumberland Poetry Review, Tennessee Quarterly, Classical Outlook, Pivot, Rattapallax, The Weekly Standard, The Oxford Book of Poems on Classical Mythology, and elsewhere. His poetry has won the Richard Wilbur Award, the Robert Penn Warren Prize, the Robert Frost Prize, and dozens of other awards. He has published four volumes of poetry as well as translations from Latin of Horace, Virgil, and Ovid. He has taught at Brandeis University, Northeastern University, and Stonehill College. In 1995 he was a four-time champion on the television game show Jeopardy!

The Dreamer Returns Home

“Empty Room,” photograph by Anne Winkler, 2009. Used with permission.

by Robert S. King

This was not my house the day
it grew smaller over my shoulder.
The family my blind rage left would not
know me now, nor would I know more
than who they were. I was the eldest
and the last hope. Did they coin new wishes
while I was gone to find my fortune?
Or did they not wish at all?

The well here has gone dry.
The panes are cracked, the roof sags,
and the crumbling chimney leans
like an ear listening for new dreamers
to come repair the house and build a fire.

The home is coldest where they used to sit
watching the empty road
for this dreamer to return to his ruins.
Long after their last breaths joined the wind,
I’m home again to mend and remember,
or maybe to go off dreaming again.

Inside, photographs hang on cobwebs.
The last one hung there is of my back
silhouetted in the empty road ahead
where trees wave me on
or shoo me back.

Now I must clean house. I wash the windows
and mirrors, maybe to see further down
the road. I look inside walls to know
why their ribs buckled, why the heart
of the house stopped.

Some say I’ll always be a stranger here
who blew his fortune for the deed to the farm.
Perhaps I bought my shame.
I have only pennies for the wishing well,
but the wishes are all mine to keep.
I will spend them here where I began.
I will whisper them to the ears of the dead.

omega man

Robert S. King’s poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including California Quarterly, Chariton Review, Kenyon Review, Louisville Review, Midwest Quarterly, Southern Poetry Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Writers’ Forum. He has published three chapbooks (When Stars Fall Down as Snow, Garland Press 1976; Dream of the Electric Eel, Wolfsong Publications 1982; and The Traveller’s Tale, Whistle Press 1998). His full-length collections are The Hunted River and The Gravedigger’s Roots, both from Shared Roads Press, 2009. He is a former president of the Georgia Poetry Society.

Piano

“Resonance,” assemblage by Tom O’Hara, 2012. Used with permission.

by Joyce Sutphen

Somehow, it keeps itself in tune.
Each key remembers its name
and loves its neighbors—
black and white.

No matter how many times I pass
without touching, it doesn’t
refuse me when I finally lean over
and tell it where I’ve been.

My hands find the way slowly—
a few chords moving to
a hymn, a little ragtime,
and then the Minuet in G.

The hammers swing back
and hit the wires stretched between
the silver pegs—each note as long
as a pedal can hold it.

omega man

Joyce Sutphen grew up on a farm in Stearns County, Minnesota, and she teaches literature and creative writing at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Her latest collection, First Words, is a “memoir in poems,” and was published in 2010; in March, 2012, House of Possibility, a letter press edition of poems, was published by Accordion Press. She is the second Minnesota Poet Laureate, succeeding Robert Bly.