Mark Totterdell – 1 poem

1992

What did he think, that his hand-scrawled banner
would somehow stop contracts from being fulfilled,
the diggers in their tracks, that he could turn the
world with words, that nineteenth-century verse would
be enough? Once lines had been broken,
once injunctions had been imposed, he departed,
bereft, to be replaced by a tough tribe
of characters with bolts and chains, who braved
wet and cold in a last stand against the machine,
and of course they failed too, and so another
wildness was unwritten from the earth’s pages.

Mark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines  in the UK and have occasionally won competitions. His collections are This Patter of Traces (Oversteps Books, 2014) and Mapping (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018).

Vern Fein – 2 poems

BROTHERS

Our father relented about BB guns,
gave me a shiny new one for my birthday,
excited to try it in the Forest Preserve.
It was sunny and bright
when my brother and I took turns,
like in Christmas Story, shot down imaginary foes.

We didn’t see them, we brothers
who laughed and traded our toy between us,
didn’t see the neighborhood boys emerge
from the thicket, a smirk of conquest
planted on their faces, a snarl:
What have we here!
Did Daddy give you a gun?
Too dangerous. Might hurt you.

Lifted me upside down,
shoved dirt in my mouth,
grabbed the gun from my brother,
threw him to the ground.
He rose like an angry snake, attacked them.
A quick, hard punch, his nose spewed blood.

I knelt beside him as they strode away,
their cackles never forgotten, nor the ping pings
as the gun became their birthday present instead.

My brother became a master carpenter,
fashioned custom furniture,
now creates only for friends.

I taught special ed children, whose families
sometimes punched them in the nose,
forgot about their birthdays.  

Never knew what became of those brothers.
Some don’t redeem themselves. Some do.

ONE WHO LISTENED

Albert Camus died in a car crash at 47

Camus,
push the rock
up, up, down,
up, up, down,
Sisyphus no myth,
born from a Plague,
absurd Stranger,
you should not have listened,
died because you listened.

What of the sayer,
the one who spoke,
the one you listened to?

Your Editor persuaded:
“Drive to Paris, Albert;
It is so much faster than the plane.
Believe me!”

We say because we say.
We cannot put our hands
over our minds.

The grief of the Editor:
“O, Albert, what the world lost
because you listened,
Existentially.”

A retired special education teacher, Vern Fein has published over one hundred fifty poems on over sixty sites, a few being: *82 Review, Bindweed Magazine, Gyroscope Review, Courtship of Winds, Young Raven’s Review, Nine Muses, Monterey Poetry Review, and Corvus Review.

Mare Leonard – 1 poem

Tuning into a Stranger

            

On the crowded bus from Reykjavik to our flight,

I squeeze close to a woman, who wipes her eyes,

turns to me, home bad  Katowice

            

She shows me her ticket, 20th hour, a late night.

I wish I could ask how, why, or look into her eyes

on the bus from Reykjavik to our NY flight.

            

We sit as close as sisters but I can not make it alright.

She points to her heart. Me  Papa  sick.

“I’m so sorry.”      Me go  Katowice.

            

She loses her glasses on the dark seat

I search, find them,  Tak. She touches my shirt.

The bus rattles from Reykjavik to our flight.

            

She snaps opens her purse covered in butterflies

 Green and yellow flutter in the opaque light.

Keep this lava rock for good luck tonight.”

This stranger’s part of me like the Icelandic sky.

On the crowded bus from Reykjavik to our flight,

I need to believe Papa will be alive in Katowice.

            

🍃

Mare Leonard’s work has appeared most recently in A Rat’s Ass,  Perfume RiverThe Courtship of Wind,  Bindweed,  Forage, New Verse News, The Chronogram and Communicator’s League  She lives in an old school house overlooking the Rondout Creek.  Away from her own personal blackboard, she teaches writing workshops for all ages through the Institute for Writing and Thinking and the MAT program at Bard College.