Agnes Vojta – 2 poems

Ferrying Turtles

On the logs, the turtles dry in the sun:
cooters, map turtles, sliders.
As I approach, they drop, one by one,
into the river and swim away.

A box turtle is swept along,
bobs up and down, helpless,
wiggles her feet and stretches her neck,
trying to keep her head above water.

I reach her with my paddle,
scoop her up – she slides off with a splash
and floats further. Disappears
under a downed tree.

Reappears, struggling downstream.
I overtake her, grab her by the shell,
plop her into my kayak. Ferry her to the shore,
carry her inland to a patch of grass.

She takes off swiftly. No sign
of hesitation or bewilderment.
Some day she may tell the other turtles
about her encounter with God.


The One who Left

Like water flowing downhill,
letters now travel
only in one direction.

Life goes on for those who stayed;
a circle with one person missing
is still a circle.
The one who left floats,
fragile tethers frayed
by the teeth of time and distance.

After some years,
even the Christmas cards
remain unanswered.

Agnes Vojta grew up in Germany and now lives in Rolla, Missouri where she teaches physics at Missouri S&T and hikes the Ozarks. She is the author of Porous Land (Spartan Press, 2019) and The Eden of Perhaps (Spartan Press, 2020), and her poems have appeared in a variety of magazines. Her website is agnesvojta.com, and her facebook page is @AgnesVojtaPoetry.

Julie Sampson – 2 poems


So many winter poems

            

Angels and voices

in those infinite skies

suspended like twigs

over ice-green trees

behind the silver birch

above eaves and roofs –
            

a lichen language

only understood by the crowing child,

who, escaping indoor’s flashing screens

watches sky’s empty theatre ignite with stars –

Kay and Gerda’s glittering sleigh is whizzing past.

Arms extended to greet the cold, cocooned

within the sheltering fables of his wintry make-believe.

He escapes wind’s icicles.

            

Inside the overheated house

grownups chew finger-ends,

bite their lips

and tap each dawning line of every new poem

onto the lit-up screens.

This is the Crisis of their time

and they must let the algorithms spill out,

up and out of their system.

            

Hooray

            

It’s your next session of messy play –

just allow the app to crash

and put away the print

the parts of speech

the current issue of Poetry Review.

Leave Unfinished Business.

            

Listen instead to the thrum of blood inside your head

that inner pounding of the heart,

            

allow your pen to play by ear, watch it self-indulge –

the exotic prosodies,

irresistible the gravitational pull to the black hole

where the last surviving band of poets 

                                    play out their compulsions 

pulse them into the zone of singing singularity.

            

Julie Sampson edited Lady Mary Chudleigh’s Selected Poems, 2009 (Shearsman Books) and a poetry collection, Tessitura, was published by Shearsman, in 2014.  It Was When It Was When It Was was published by Dempsey & Windle, in 2018. Sampson’s work was highly commended in the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize, in 2019. 

Ryan Quinn Flanagan – 3 poems

Khopesh, Trim My Nails  

            

Broidered curvature spine,  

don’t let that blithering battle axe get you down,  

replete with well-stirred venoms, those same tired concoctions  

threatening nights eternal, a girding of endurance and intention,  

to see you off the crushing pestle-path,   

that teething trash compactor grind;   

Khopesh, trim my nails, a simple man’s pampering if you please,   

nothing of dormancy or permanence,  

a brief respite is in order having brambled the bush for so long;  

excavation will bury a man, the whistling ditch digger will not tell you this,  

nor that raccoon of an archeologist troweling through the leftovers again;   

I am sick and you can be ill –  

together we forage for sympathy or try for more luck apart,   

my brand-new grindhouse nails on sheepish pander-flush display.  

            

Connoiseur   

            

…something about a glass house casting no stones,  

but this connoisseur felt fit to judge,  

had elevated herself through the critical ranks with a specific carnage,  

pulling limbs from once full body, married into royalty,  

and what she said about your product was make or break,  

at least that is what everyone was made to believe,  

until someone did a little digging and found out she was an orphan,  

dropped off at a common convent for unwed mothers,  

nameless and poor as a pauper, so that her enemies pounced,  

old money puritans and an army of young snobbish upstarts   

waiting for her to stumble, all those she had torn apart  

on her way to the top and then the many infidelities on both sides  

began to surface and her marriage fell apart; the press there to capture  

each outburst at the camera as all those tan power suits began to seem  

more clunky and less like armour as the merciless “experts”   

continued to weigh in. 

            

The Cross-Eyed Gypsy  

            

Sciatica and greasy spoon short orders all aplomb  

and the cross-eyed gypsy appeared to be infatuated with a smoking cigarette   

just under his hulking crooked nose,   

almost lost there like some tourist asking directions   

and the way his bat-glazed eyes hung around in the earthy head shop doorway   

I began to think of those many paper-towels of self-absorption,   

entire veggie patches uprooted and sent to market, 

collarbones broken like human Christmas crackers out of season, 

monthly extortion envelopes drumming up business   

from business; pickpockets working in teams like flocks of pigeons   

using distraction and quick hands for bread   

and since I have never once voted for anything or anyone in this tired name brand land   

I am told I have no say by toll booth operator, tapas bar olives,   

imbecilic hairdressers lost to once sacred curls…  

Romania or Bulgaria?   

I watch the badge look to his hands  

then rifle through denim pockets as the cross-eyed gypsy   

keeps a close watch on his last mercy stick which has   

already burned halfway down to the filter. 

            

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Setu, GloMag, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review

Jonathan Minton – 2 poems

from LETTERS

            

In my letter, I described the wooden boat

where we spent the summer.

It was like a toy in an enameled tub,

and you laughed at every wave that bumped it.

I think of this as if it happened twice.

But all order is imposed, even a calm day,

with three or more clouds, one for each sky.

            

When our scenery changed, you became

as a backdrop to this, as mountains,

or a thin and silver wall rising out of water.

            

This is not yet a memory, but a projection

of something else, a photograph, or a film. 

When you first spoke of our sorrow,

the word was just a shadow.

            

Plato said to be on guard against this fiction.

But the fiction is always there. 

My hands have touched its strange brick.

            

from LETTERS

            

You spoke of uncertainty as if it were a nest. You gave me

its guarded beauty. It was a gold cup. It was a lake.

I could drink or drown there, but you caught me

            

looking at a crowd gathering on the shore. They were speaking

only your name. When they left, the scene darkened.

Is it enough to say that we kept watch? In another sentence,

            

a hidden machine replaces the word green for darling,

but this is the story of the lake and cup. I am in it as someone

writing. You are like the green curtains that open or close.

            

Jonathan Minton lives in central West Virginia, where he is a Professor of English at Glenville State College. He is the author of the poetry collections Technical Notes for Bird Government (Telemetry Press, 2018), In Gesture (Dyad Press, 2009), and Lost Languages (Long Leaf Press, 1999). He is the editor of the journal Word For/Word (www.wordforword.info).