Word Fountain: Spring 2013 Issue No. 8
A Winter Conversation
by Dawn Leas
Under a full moon, dim stars blur
as if brushed-stroked across the black
sky. She idles in a dark car. Shivering
from winter’s edge, she rests her head
against the frosted window, watches new
snow skittering across icy drifts. Phone
cradled on her shoulder she closes her eyes
to listen, spring just far enough away to want.
by Rachael Goetzke
much worth flows from
words in print
beside my work
by Alexandria Smith
in the days when we would
whisper to the sea
loveliness rolling off of our tongues
and into the deep as salt entered our bodies
and air filled our lungs
making impressions we intended to keep
like beautiful truths
on beaded skin
from the resting water
and glowing sun
a delicate feather
across smooth hips
new and trembling
beneath traces of sand
on heavy limbs; ton
reflected in the
beloved stones of the
shore, unblemished and
free as we whispered
to the sea
For the Man in the Museum
by David J. Bauman
Not in July or any month
have I had the pleasure—if it is a pleasure—
Of fishing on the Susquehanna.
Kayaking on the Susquehanna—
now that’s a pleasure—in July or
any month lacking ice or floods.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a painting
of someone kayaking on the Susquehanna,
or any Pennsylvania waters for that matter.
My body feels it now, the ache that pushes
muscles as I row this rocking rhythm,
the meter of my stroke a little off—
two beats to port for each at starboard.
This fat little sit-on-top is made
for ocean waves, not upstream track.
But it’s the only kayak I own, so I row
on the Susquehanna, my backyard stream.
This far north of Harrisburg where West
meets North, the water’s deep, at least
when the dam is up. It’s inflatable, you know,
like the ego of poets who don’t know
about boats or bats that swoop past,
or fishing poles, or calloused hands,
curved paddles that dip and scoop,
and dribble Susquehanna into your lap.
It’s dusk; two ducks, and a loon flap past,
wings nearly tipping the waves. I tire and drift
the way we poets do when we’ve pushed
the pen too hard, and need to let
the stream find us again.
The slow current spins me facing downstream,
toward a low waxing moon, and even the rise
of countless mayflies doesn’t hide the glow
of pink sky above a bank of jumbled trees.
I imagine, as I glide toward shore,
a man in a museum, mind adrift,
gazing at a picture of a stranger
kayaking on the Susquehanna.
He senses something he has missed,
and thinks to write of his regret,
fleeting as a Pennsylvania rabbit,
briefly mourning a euphoria he’ll never know.
Shoulders sore, a setting sun, the moon
and first few stars hover over slow
roving water. Up ahead a bass jumps
for the day’s last fly. From far away I feel
his gaze. I pull my body up and out, and tug
the craft to ground, dripping the river behind me.
by Luciana Celestine
When I forced my way into this world
The doctor neglected to mention
To my trembling father
And blood and sweat slicked mother
That by virtue of my birth
I had a 100% chance of dying
There is dust
There is ash
And somewhere in between
There I was
A delicate orchid
One soft frost away from its last sunrise
A precious artifact
Dug up from so much dirt
A find so rare that any archeologist would
Pulverize Nefertiti’s bones just to lay such a claim
De rigeur paces
A missed step here
A standing ovation there
A feeling in the pit of my being
That could lay a black hole to waste
Always dark spots near young stars
For thirty-three years
I have smiled like I’m brain damaged
My teeth bleached white like
Some old whale bones
Baked in the sun
Picked clean of all life
Ova by Iris Johnston
Her hand, like Lavinia’s, washed and trimmed.
Indelible jam on the face of a boy.
An old man, his eye sockets empty as Easter eggs,
their precious contents plundered.
I will make you a list of terrible things, of
Events With Huge Numbers,
catastrophes, governments, of
all the ways someone might hurt you.
I forbid you from being a genius, a drunk.
I will never let you wrinkle.
I will slip you in my pocket like a library card
for a book I have hidden under the shelves
so that no one will read you, smudge your poems,
or clip and cherish them, or
love you any more than I.
On Selecting Optics
by David J. Bauman
We’re talking birds of prey, right?
Migrants—so we’re talking distance;
you’ll need high power, but not too high.
What enlarges the image increases that shake;
your unsteady hand blurs the image. So buy
lightweight. You might consider a scope;
for those hawk-ish specks soaring far.
The tripod should be sturdy; it’s windy
on the ridge. Again, the shake, the blur.
And don’t let your eyes strain
to compensate for quality. Consider
the prisms, lens coatings, how much
you want to spend. Migration means
there’s so much sky to scan, so
choose a wider field of view. Tricky,
these contraptions—no matter how close
you feel, how crisp, how clear you see,
there will always be that bird you missed.
A Merlin on the wrong side of the ridge,
wings tucked into a glide, sails south and fast,
unconcerned about your careful records.
An east-strayed Swainson slips by, on long
pointed wings while, eyes turned west, you
are distracted by the glinting white head
of a Bald Eagle, perfectly framed in the glass.
The 6:45 Train
by Dawn Leas
She drinks the bright warmth
waiting, always waiting,
for tomorrow and the late-train
whistle signaling his arrival.
(An idea catches her attention
drawing her closer to movement.)
Unknowingly, he transforms with each
passing mile while replaying their early
morning goodbye. As he steps onto the solid
wood platform, it never occurs to him
that she’s done waiting.
by Carol MacAllister & Adrian Spendlow
And through the haze appears
times that have been.
They call to us,
So often unheard
in haunting whispers
‘i hear’, ‘i hear’
one’s inner voice reminds
lacing through from other times.
An ageless sense of self is seen,
Is living merely lucid dreams,
Remembrance echoes from before
and memories ebb
our future lore.
Rapunzel by Iris Johnston
They tell me you died with your hand on your heart,
and nobody found you for days.
That’s what you pay
for the privilege of life in a land
where nobody knows your English name
and yours are the only blue eyes around.
Your mother wore poppies to honor your absence.
What do you care about poppies?
Your eyes and nose are cinders in the guts of whales.
Your sister told stories of newspaper suits,
of handmade capes,
manta ray trainers in ecru and pine.
But your shoulders now wear nothing but ocean,
you need no more hobbies to soothe nervous hands,
and your millions have purchased
their last pair of shoes.
Some Stuart Weitzman loafers
tastefully tasseled, the color of tea,
with just enough sass
that all will believe
“these are the shoes my son bought for me.”
FLEA MARKET, MOTHER’S DAY by Lino
Yes, I am insanely jealous
of every snaggle-toothed
lucky son of a bitch
who gets to buy some useless crap,
present it with flowers stolen
from neighbors’ gardens,
make awkward conversation
that skitters around the edges
of old disappointments,
over overcooked beef and
making no effort to resist
the barely understood
gravitational pull of
by Alexandria Smith
Is there a possibility
that the circles beneath your eyes
are not from lack of sleep
but from a lack of
Me, standing there
in absolute uncertainty
Not knowing where to go
or where you’re going
Like waking up way too late
or spilling coffee on your shirt
No, it’s not like that all
But is there a possibility
that the shake in your hand
is not from a plan that
refuses to unfurl
but from the absence of
A girl, you could say that
The first but not quite the last
but maybe the only one
with loving eyes and
Like missing your flight
or forgetting your change
No, it’s not like that all
And is there a possibility
that the ache in your chest
is not from the arrival of
the rest of your book
but from a lack of
A part that you took,
the second time we met
Not knowing if
we’ll like it without it
Like saying too much
Or not enough
No, it’s not like that at all
Francis of Assisi to His Cat
by Bill Harrison
“O Brother Cat, we have lived long together.
Woeful watch we kept
at the passing of our parrot brother.
Mournful vigil we observed
over the cold corpse of our canine sister.
Your icy eyes watch intently
as my frail fingers speed
over the beads
of the Sorrowful Mysteries.
When alone you continually cry.
Are you as aware of your mortality
as I am of mine?”
by Ray Gibson
A film is a dream that you pay to have
together in the dissevering dark
before walking into the other dark:—–
shifting foregrounds of crowd on nights stars pave.
Somewhere between, immersed by silver waves,
from the other side of the screen that spark
of isolate lucidity—–so stark,
so brief—–reflected back to your eye’s grasp.
Then, you surfaced to your separate selves
to sleep and dream again, but alone now;
this lens—–like a Janus—–can backward delve,
become the auteur unseen and unfelt
in waking life, through a sight which somehow
wouldn’t be the same for anyone else.
by Stef Szymanski
He has me
brush his hair smooth
after I kiss his lips raw.
He teaches me his art —
the mastery of messing it up,
the method to looking mad.
I have him
brush my own straight
after our mouths finish growing cold.
He untangles my knots
with the delicate cut of a comb.
The shock of comfort subsides.
When he’s gone
I see strands of our hair
twisted around each other,
clinging to the bristles,
and I know that
there are thousands of ways
to hold someone.
by Edward Lupico
The moon rose o’er England
that faraway night, yanking the tide of thought
into the mortise and tenon of centuries:
how we speak.
Know this: they are merely words.
Let the record show:
bells tollèd o’er the Avon when you were born,
when you couplèd, when you sirèd, when you expirèd.
Now we find you a grave man in Stratford,
cultivating sober weeds
under a slab of doggerel undisturbèd.
Your character set this stage:
grace and rude will—
(the naysayers neigh ‘unletter’d,’
while others cry ‘horseshit,’
but let’s debate that another day)—
never we to know if e’er you foresaw
those ephemeral scenes
unwitherèd by age, bequeathing mysteries.
Not even pyramids hold their limestone sheen.
Time pulls it all down.
But shew something more,
inadvertently or with all your might,
and you just may be sparèd.
As in each our lives, with its mess of facts and sonnets,
the trips to London, the ink smears,
the backhanded testaments,
we may hear a rustle behind a curtain,
we may point our fingers at the sun.
Upon a time…
by Adrian Spendlow
There once were children
Took them to an island
Where inner callings
Turned them into tribes,
Happy they were in pretence
Except that –
Something happened inside,
A darkness overcame them
As one then wizened.
Scaled and fearsome
Moving gruesomely on.
They have become
Poet 1: The morning sun cheers
Spring cannot be far away
The wind negates that
Poet 2: My friend, it’s nice out
The picnic table: obscured
Escape the TV
Poet 1: Oh, how true that is
The noise can make me testy
Summertime please come
Poet 2: Dusty inferno
Heavy breath, heavier head
The outside wants in
Poet 1: The room is breathless
As are the people inside
Ancient air move out
Poet 2: Optimism reigns
When the sun is in full bloom
Spring will always come
Poet 1: Today is the day
Escape from the negative
Choose laughter instead
David J. Bauman grew up along the Susquehanna’s West Branch near Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. His poems have appeared in various student and faculty journals. His awards include the Savage Poetry Prize from Bloomsburg University and the Academy of American Poets. David’s blog, DadPoet.WordPress.com features a heavy emphasis on reading poetry out loud.
Luciana Celestine has been enchanted by the written word as far as her memories stretch. Her love of art, fashion, and a good laugh have influenced her writing. Luciana earned her B.A. in English from King’s College and her M.A. in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She lives in Scranton with a handsome little dog named L.T.
Raymond Gibson is a graduate of the creative writing M.F.A. program at Florida Atlantic University. His verse can be found in Oak Bend Review, THIS Literary Magazine, River Poets Journal, and Pirene’s Fountain.
Rachael Goetzke is co-founder and Managing Editor of Word Fountain. Her poetry, fiction and non-fiction have been published in The Cohort Review, Ripasso, Tiny Booklets, Word Fountain and The Writing Disorder. She earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. Visit: http://kindalikeapoet.wordpress.com/
William Fuller Harrison is a resident of Wilkes-Barre, PA. He has studied creative writing with Charles O’Donnell of ArtSeen, and Leland Bennett of Plymouth High School, from which he graduated in 1965. His poetry and prose have been published in Veterans’ Voices magazine and Word Fountain.
Iris Johnston can’t decide if she is more satisfied by flowers and ponds, or Sephora and Thai food. She currently hopes to discover the existence of a Nail Polish Tree.
Lino lives in Wilkes-Barre, where he has recently stopped caring much about anything. He is good company for short periods of time, then things get a bit wobbly.
Edward Lupico puts pen to paper to write the occasional poem, but more frequently just ruminates upon words.
Dawn Leas‘s chapbook, I Know When to Keep Quiet, was published by Finishing Line Press. She earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. Her work has appeared in goldwakepress.org, Literary Mama, Interstice, and elsewhere. She is the associate director of the Wilkes M.A./M.F.A. Creative Writing programs.
Carol MacAllister, M.F.A., is widely published in poetry, has won several poetry awards and has served as adjudicator in poetry competitions, most recently, NFSPS. She has edited and published three books of poetry – RIPASSO, a unique
by-invitational-only collection including Robert Pinsky and other poet laureates. Available only at email@example.com
Poet # 1 has no formal writing training other than a creative
writing class in high school and a course in college. Poet #1 owes the haiku success to Poet #2 and Poet #2’s inspiration.
Poet # 2 would like to thank Poet #1 for her contributions to the daily haiku conversations that buoyed her through the restless winter of 2012-2013 and for her enthusiastic support of her creative endeavors.
Alexandria Smith “When things happen, you write.” As I look back at the things I have written, I realize how true that is. These two pieces are the aftermath of a failed relationship, one that I savored, stayed, and suffered for. I cannot change what happened. I can only write.
Adrian Spendlow is the official Bard of York, England, and presents his work in private and public venues. He is a key presenter in the huge annual Viking Festivities, as well as a storyteller and portrayer of characters in themed events and enactments.
Stef Szymanski cares way too much about the personal lives of fruits and vegetables, which has led to her becoming the co-creator, producer, writer, artist, and voice actor of the animated project “Produce High” (www.producehigh.com). Her artistic aspirations and talents flourish in the cultural mecca known as Scranton, PA.