Friday, July 1, 2022

Four Poems, Roshan Ali Jan (Translated by Dr. Yousef Hanna)


I'm frighten of the last stab

Oh, Autumn...
Tell me how to kick the world
Tell me how to trade
The serenity of water, dwelling my soul, with the curse of wine
How to leave the delicacy of time
Sans breaking the water surface
Oh, Autumn...
This yellow means nothing to me
Let me survive the insanity of staining
This abusive color with lust confuses me 
Just as your footsteps on the cliff
I'm not dead yet
Teach me how to restore the imagination of the sea
to jump over the beads of speech
Teach me flitting with the chestnut impetuosity
As though I'm a ballerina
I'm afraid of the last stab
I fear the rituals of myth
Endowing the wounding slash
for the poem's agony
Long-time, I have been sustaining my stature with buddies' gasp 
Leaning on the morning hedge
like a mimosa flower
So eagerly from the imagination of bronze
I bind the thread of life to gods' eyes

أخافُ الطعنةَ الأخيرةَ

أيها الخريفُ
أخبرني كيفَ أركلَ العالمَ
أخبرني كيفَ أُقايضُ
سكينةَ الماءِ في روحي بلعنةِ النبيذِ
كيفَ أغادرُ هشاشةَ الوقتِ
دونَ أن ينكسرَ وجهُ الماءِ
أيها الخريفُ
هذا الأصفرُ لايعنيني
دعني أنجُ من لوثةِ التلوينِ
يُربكني هذا اللون الطاعنُ بالاشتهاءِ
تُربكني خطاكَ على الحافّةِ
لم أمُتْ بعدُ
علّمني كيفَ أرمّمُ خيالَ البحرِ
لأقفزَ فوقَ خرزِ الكلامِ
علّمني كيفَ أختالُ بنزقِ الكستناءِ
كما لو أنّي راقصةُ باليه
أخافُ الطعنةُ الأخيرة
أخافُ طقوسَ الخرافةِ
تهبُ فمَ الجرحِ
لوجعِ القصيدةِ
فمنذُ زمنٍ وأنا أسندُ قامتي بشهقةِ النّدامى
أميلُ على سياجِ الصّباح
مثلَ زهرةِ الميموزا
وبلهفةٍ من خيالِ البرونزِ
أربطُ خيطَ النجاةِ بعيونِ الآلهةِ

Ibex fleeing from Violins

With her astonished eyes
measuring the bare distance of stray prairie
A woman, branded by defenseless color of henna
The preys of fear are trembling deep within her
and the sightless violet roams.
She grabs reeds of eternal springs,
Throws her flaming Kurdish shawl
with rainbow over the sunflowers
Scatters the loose breeze with her tender hands.
The fairy bird takes wings
soaring closer to her braids' nectar 
narrating the pain of wildflowers.
It is absence ..
The delusion of enduring trees
Bare trees like two tremulous lovers
shivering such as a fig whilst kisses
droning with a hoarse voice, ballads of nostalgia.
Long ago It was burning in my heart
I am the one emaciated ..
Tautened by the wild ibex' sway
Ibex fleeing from the uproar of violins
while weeping for the outsider's grief.

 وعولٌ تفرُّ من الكمنجات 
بعينيها المدهوشتينِ
‎تقيسُ المسافةَ العاريةَ للبراري الضّالةِ
‎امرأةٌ موسومةٌ بحنّاءِ اللّونِ الأعزلِ
‎في أعماقها ترتجفُ طرائدُ الخوفِ
‎ويختالُ البنفسجُ الضريرُ
‎تفترشُ قصبَ الأنهارِ الخالدةِ
‎ترمي بشالها الكورديّ الملتهبِ 
‎بالقزحِ فوق زهورِ عبّادِ الشّمسِ
‎تُبعثرُ النسيمَ الفضفاضَ بيديها الرهيفتينِ
‎يحلّقُ الطائرُ الخرافيّ 
‎قريباً من رحيقِ ضفيرتيها
‎يسردُ لها وجعَ الزهورِ البريّةِ
هو الغياب..
‎ضلالةُ الأشجارِ المكابدةِ
‎الأشجارُ العاريةُ مثلَ عاشقينِ
‎رجِفَينِ كرجفةِ التينِ حينَ القبلاتِ
‎بصوتِ مبحوحِ تدندنُ أغاني الحنينِ
‎قديماً كانَ الحريقُ في قلبي
 أنا المُدنفَةُ..
 ‎المشدودةُ بسطوةِ الوعولِ البريّةِ
‎وعولٌ تفرّ من صخبِ الكمنجاتِ
باكية على حزن الغريب.

One more day

Like an angel's quiver you awaken the allure of grass
Alongside a broken branch opinionates April
This is an evening of love
I'll open a new window for air
Acacia trees and stars
Bronze Fist of the Captive Door
I whisper in your ears the hum of rain
flooding dreams and all time is mine.
I'm back to you again
And at the unique moment I'll embrace the water lilies
Before it falls asleep at the vigilant night
Here you are lustfully melting in the chalice of sanctities.
I'm so wasted,
fraught with flower of oblivion.

نهارٌ آخرُ
كرعشةِ ملاكٍ توقظينَ مفاتنَ العشبِ
بجوارِ غصنٍ مكسورِ يعاندُ ابريلَ
هذا مساءٌ للحُبِّ
سأفتحُ نافذةً جديدةً للهواءِ
أشجارُ الأكاسيا والنجومُ
القبضةُ البرونزُ للبابِ الأسيرِ
أهمسُ في أذنيكِ همهمةَ المطرِ
أحلاماً تفيضُ والوقتُ كلّهُ لي 
أعودُ لكِ ثانيةً 
وفي اللحظةِ الفريدة سأعانقُ النّيلوفرَ
قبلَ أن يخلدَ للنومِ في الليلِ اليقظِ
ها أنتِ تذوبينَ باشتهاءٍ في كأسِ المقدسات.
ثملةٌ أنا 
ومحفوفةٌ بزهرِ النسيانِ


Where we were...
It was only gleaming green
And cornices of ancient stone
Water shivering in frosting puddles
White words grope its way back in darkness
The faint, shy air freezes very still
among the sleeping shadows.
The morning star of bygone autumn
Your dark hair the same as a long night
Your braids will grow on my arms
And there will be no sand to wear your feet down
As you float at dusk, on the sea
I'll pick the chestnut color from your eyes
whilst you’re closer to my breath
And we'll together dance the waltz.


..حيث كنّا 
لم يكن سوى الأخضرُ البرّاقُ
والأفاريزُ الّتي من حجرٍ قديمٍ
يرتجفُ الماءُ في بركِ الصقيعِ
كلماتٌ بيضاءُ تتلمّسُ الرجوعَ في العتمِ
يتسمّرُ الهواءُ الخافتُ الخجولُ
بينَ الظّلالِ النائمةِ
نجمةُ الصبحِ التي من خريفٍ غابرٍ
شٓعركِ الحالكُ مثل ليلٍ طويل
ستنمو ضفائرُكِ على ذراعيّ
ولن يكون ثمّةَ رملٌ يُنهكُ قدميكِ
وأنتِ تطوفينَ فوقَ البحرِ في الغسقِ
سأقطفُ من عينيكِ لونَ الكستناء
وأنتِ قريبةٌ من أنفاسي
ومعاً سنرقصُ الفالس

Roshan Ali Jan - a Syrian Kurd residing in Sweden, holds a diploma in Education. She works as a primary school teacher. Her texts have been published in many magazines, newspapers, and websites. Some of her texts have been translated into several languages, including English, French, Spanish, Tamazight, and Sorani Kurdish. She published a poetry book entitled Amber of Darkness in 2021.

Moving, Shalida A. Askanazi

Things keep moving 

The river keeps flowing

The owls keep peering 

The sun keeps shining 

The forest keeps breathing 

Things keep moving 

The town keeps chattering 

The seeds keep growing 

The music keeps playing 

The light keeps dimming 

Things keep moving even when we can’t get out of bed 

When all we can stomach is a sip of water

When our tears leave white streaks down our cheeks 

When our feet tap to an unheard beat

When the earth spins 

Things keep moving 

We keep living 

We keep moving 

Shalida A. Askanazi is poet, author, and disability rights activist from Cleveland, Ohio. She is the author of the poetry collection The Lazarus Girl, which was self-published in 2020. Using her personal journey of being a black disabled woman, Shalida works to make sure there are accurate portrayals of the disabled community in her writing. She is currently working on a memoir.

Selected Works, Koss


Black and White and Red, a Thing for Emily Dickinson

In Australia, Magpies spurn their monochrome.

With sonar-red eyes lit, they pick their victims.

Pedestrians, take care, don’t be joyful or too swift;

Bicyclists beware of where you pedal.

A white beak might reap a trophy eye

as Emily’s hope streaks laughing ‘cross the sky.

Wuthering Heights Pieces


Hare & Magpie


Magpie & Bag 


Koss (they/them/she) is a queer writer and artist with an MFA from SAIC. They have work in or forthcoming in Diode Poetry, Five Points, Hobart, Cincinnati Review, Lunch Ticket, Gone Lawn, Scissors and Spackle, Bending Genres, Anti-Heroin Chic, Prelude, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Chiron Review, North Dakota Quarterly, South Florida Poetry Journal, Spillway, San Pedro River Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Rogue Agent, Rat’s Ass Review, Boats Against the Current, Alien Buddha, Westchester Review, Kissing Dynamite, Schuylkill Valley, Amethyst Review, and many others. They were also included in Best Small Fictions 2020 and won the 2021 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Award. Koss received BOTN nominations in 2021 for fiction (Bending Genres) and poetry (Kissing Dynamite). Keep up with Koss on Twitter @Koss51209969 and Instagram @koss_singular. Website:

It’s Spring Break Somewhere, Kristin Garth


When you live in a place people 
come for spring break, shop at grocery stores 
proximate to the dolphins and seagulls 
sometimes college tourists mistake you for 
some girl going wild approximately their 
own age.  Approach with carts full of Coronas
to bump yours full of produce to prepare
chicken pot pie.  Not Spring Break, Pensacola,
but you know it is somewhere when they say 
hi.  Mention parties at their condos while 
you exit towards the baking aisle.  Do they 
think you are a cougar, mistake a womanchild 
smile for some lost party girl they’ve found? 
If it’s spring break somewhere, it finds you in town. 

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist, the author of a short story collection You Don’t Want This (Pink Plastic Press), The Stakes (Really Serious Literature) and many more books.

Three Poems, Rusty Morrison



A doe in our front yard is chewing the last bud from our rose bush. Its petals are the crystalline pink of Himalayan salt. With our bedroom window open, we can watch her brown eyes set and a pair of full moons rise in their sockets. I close my eyes, for what seems only a moment, but already it’s morning and my husband is gone. Did he leave for the office? I walk outside to see if his car is still in the driveway and find a crow on the phone-wire with shiny black feathers. Their shine is a mirror I’m caught in. If the crow soars into the clouds, will he carry me away with him? Yahoo News on my laptop reports that dice manufactured these days have dots that rub off on one’s hands. This seems to me the way it should be since luck should turn blank and thus open to interpretation. My mother had a blank expression in her eyes when she scowled and ranted at the TV news, at me, at her long-dead husband, my father, as if he were still stooped and silent beside her. In her last months, she lived in a care facility. She would turn toward the wall, facing away from me, when I’d sit beside her. We were, to each other, mirrors more dangerous than crow feathers. 


A few weeks ago, my husband Ken read the registered letter that came to us both. He said that excavators would be first, then carpenters would work deep in the earth to build a subterranean bistro that a group of wealthy investors had planned to open sixteen miles below our house. Along with the letter was a report from the county confirming the investors’ rights. The study they commissioned guaranteed there will be no impact on our property and that the bistro is beneath the limit of our property line.  “…and so, and so…,” chirrups a mockingbird in the tree outside the window. It’s mimicking Ken’s voice, as it often seems to, at dawn. So often I wake up angry. Ken isn’t here. If he were in bed beside me, he’d tell me there’s nothing to be done. He'd smile and say he found humor in the registered letter’s explanation that we’ll receive a dozen free gingerbread scones once a week, for the lifetime of the bistro, as a courtesy. I know the bird won’t answer but I ask it if Ken is still in the hospital, where I’ll drive again this morning in rush hour traffic, between cars with white motionless men driving them, as if chiseled from stone. Is that how I look? The bistro’s promotional flyer says they’ll feature three kinds of organic coffee, served at the precise temperature of urban strife in the morning and urban loneliness at night. Each cup will be accompanied by $20-a-pound Muscovado sugar, and cream from free-ranging cows—all of it described as deliciously and convincingly authentic, which is what convinces us that it’s not.


I accidentally left a windsock hanging on our porch-rail during last night’s heavy rain. This morning it’s full of holes. When I reach my hand into it and try to push my finger out one of the holes, no finger appears. If I slipped all of me into one of the windsock’s dark holes, where might I find myself? I’m about to say this to my husband Ken, to make him laugh, but he’s choking again on too much phlegm to hear me, as he does most mornings before words can pass between us. There’s a hole, so dark, so deep in his throat, which seems to be calling him into it. If he goes there, will I be able to follow? Would we both be lost? I must remember that in the best fables there’s always an escape. It has taken all the years of my adulthood to gnaw deep into the wood, but finally I’ve splintered my childhood bedroom door, which my mother kept locked. Even as a girl locked in her room, I knew I could hike-up my skirt past my thighs and reach in between them, far enough to feel where there’s no end to my own heat rising in tidal rhythms stronger than any ocean’s. I must remember now that a dark place might have many reasons to call a person inside it.

Rusty Morrison is co-publisher of Omnidawn ( Her poems have recently been accepted by American Poetry Review and by Fence.  Her five books include After Urgency (won Tupelo’s Dorset Prize) & the true keeps calm biding its story (won Ahsahta’s Sawtooth Prize, James Laughlin Award, N.California Book Award, & DiCastagnola Award) & Book of the Given from Noemi Press. Her recent Beyond the Chainlink was a finalist for the NCIB Award & NCB Award). She is a recipient of a Civitella Ranieri fellowship, and a recipient of other artist retreat fellowships. She’s one of eight fellows in the inaugural year (2020), awarded by UC Berkeley Art Research Center’s Poetry & the Senses Program. She teaches & she gives writing consultations. Her website:

Selected Works, Rose Knapp


Radical Pulsation

Distorted reverbed rippling four to the floor 
Ecstatic trance melodies echo through shapeshifting walls
Esoteric electronic hisses, bleeps and bloops on infinite delay

Baroque Cave Scratchings

Hhhhhiiiiisssssssss hhhheeeerrrsss lines and glossolalia reign 
Fuck spit blood ecstasy abhorrent violence
There is no Cartesian I invented yet, only the tribe, the hive mind

Astral Ecstasy 

Tribal drums crash in arrhythmic patterns
Mystical glass chimes ring in ping pong delay
A crescendo of sublime stringed synths

Glitch in the Cisystem 

Are trans and nonbinary more than a glitch 
In the system of binaric rigid gender roles? 

A few of us are famous, but what about the rest of us, 
The impoverished, the Dalits of Western society?


Modular morphing futurist glassy gliding synths
Intermingling and intermeshing 
With atmospheric crashing analog stabs

Rose Knapp (she/they) is a poet and experimental electronic producer. She has publications in Lotus-Eater, Bombay Gin, BlazeVOX, Hotel Amerika, Fence Books, Obsidian, Gargoyle, and others. She has poetry collections published with Beir Bua Press, Hesterglock Press, and Dostoyevsky Wannabe. She lives in Minneapolis. Find her at and on Twitter @Rose_Siyaniye

Two Poems, Amy Hoskins


Disrupted Shamans

Ineluctable Birdsong. Knotted tongues sing and repeat. A Chimney swift found its way into our sunroom. Holding onto the windowsill, wings curved into a V, hid behind the desk. We helped him out the front door and he flew well, away. Something wild escaped safely out.

In the hummingbird family, the swifts chirp and tweet above us in early and late hours of the day, eating bugs aloft. Like little fighter pilots, they twist and play in the air. Now we’ve seen one up close, like a spirit animal visiting in a dream.

Creating, breathing slowly through a muddy wall. Patterns, Eschers. Loops that catch my wings. Stop. Untangle. Breathe, create, fly through glass to reach the sky.

Moulting, shedding. Letting drop, gravity pulling down, things I no longer need. Every day, night, my self sheds old souls long gone, in order to fly.

Doing child’s pose, the floor holds me up. I remember to breathe deeply again. Soul to soul. We shiver. It’s so close. The engine is you, disrupted shamans all.

When Trees Were God

She walks through the park at 6:30 in the morning 
with her backpack on, holding on to the straps for safety. 
It is the ancient time on the planet. 
Dawn. Birds rule with song and flight for a 
few more hours until we humans wake, make 
noises of our own, en masse.

Many forms of prayer, song, gentle loving 
thoughts sent from the soul, heart, mind.
We now know well, the difference between 
fireworks and gunfire. Too well. Prayer comes in 
many forms. Fills my palmate hands with hope, 
faith in the good.

Butterfly voice, you fly with musical notes.
The ambulance just came past. Did they come for 
you again?  Bugs get crushes on flowers this time of 
year, even flirting with humans. Now I see you out on
your bike with a new friend, a new cap on. Earbuds. 
I’m happy for you.

I can’t check. It’s too distressing. Each app has its terrors. We are experiencing multiple wars. Ripple effects of trauma.
We survive.

Gaps between memories in sharp focus. A muddled brain tries to understand. I am made of green tea leaves, steeped in routine.

Walking in the woods at church camp in early summers. The woods were better than God. Were God, secret tree spirits.
Be a changeling. Hew the light inside you into flame, out of thin air, out of nothing, out of grief, despair. Be the crucible for creating your life out of dreams. Back when trees were God, we had to believe.

Amy Hoskins is a poet and visual artist creating with disabilities from her home in South Nashville, TN.  Hoskins has hosted the monthly Gestalt Poetry Open Mic, which is virtual for now, since 2017. She has had more than fifteen poems published in the US and Amsterdam.

Four Poems, Anthony Robinson


Because my heroes were never
my heroes, because to be here
is not to be heroic. To be grounded
like a ship or a big ol' plane can offer
instruction on patience, on waiting
to become. Because poets 
are just like everyone else and offers
are dirty dreams or slightly bright
protuberances. Because magic
is not brown because I am brown
but less than magic here, on this idea
become an ocean. Send more coyotes
because the Peter Iredale has been 
shipwrecked since 1906
and it isn't going anywhere: old
rusty steel will be my coronation.

Parable of the Asterisk

A man uttered a parable about swine and neon, about being prolific, profligate, and prodigal.  He was an apostate and an admirer of long dead thought of the sort once called "wisdom" in the backs of old magazines. It's true that he had used it all up. All of it! Cawed the crows from their perches on the backs of dumber ravens.  All of it! Squealed the swine as they tumbled into the ravine.  All of it! Bleated the goats as they wandered about being goats and then settled back down beneath the bannock trees from which bread fell fortnightly. The man in his mustard-colored robes made stories and dined on scraps. He returned to his point of origin on a regular basis. He paid his parking tickets when he could afford to. People came and went and cows mooed. Oil cans burned and alleys and grass grew over the fields beyond the horizon divided by the last road out of the city. Stubble grew over his face. He whittled a stick. He pushed forward.

Seven Days of Snow

Stop and start and stop again. Very
Full you on snow and agates sample

New artist. When that girl whose 
Husband I cuckolded wrote "I'm

Drinking again" I started listening
To the world, the Earth, Appalachian

Music, again.  The sluice set aside
First snow now 2nd time. I didn't

Fall. The doctors, or physicians 
Because I like to demean them

Keep talking about my fall and I say
What fall. They didn't give me

The good drugs, even. Slices of my
Head, insert blank head emoji. Jah

Wobble's Invaders of the Heart was
A soundtrack amidst anguish palm

Trees and blacktop swapmeets. Got
A good thing going. Things as things.

Thingness is mostly the sky and shy
Dromedaries which is why we 

Have Hump Day. Stopped. Drink
Ing. Started drinking again, stay

And start stunning again. Stinking mama,
Was I not good looking enough. Tried

To explain gaslighting. She said you're
Anything crazy. Ham hocks and beans

And Jiffy Cornbread. My God you gotta
Be. HaShem snow world to be 

So we be shady? So we fall down? I guess
We fall under sharks. We begin with

Fucking sandwiches from Cuba. I need
Something else. I need more of a test.

Ashes, ashes.

On Looking at Some Chinese Poets

Some poets sing
About the heaven and earth 
To me they are
Always and only
The ground and the sky

And me, I'm tired of living
And my voice is hoarse
From constant appeals 
To the empty sky

Clouds are made of water
But insubstantial 
A paler version
Of the horrible sea

And my arms are tired
From all this pointless
Rowing so I stand now
On this middle ground

Dark earth not firm 
And I lift my tired arms
Dig in my faithless heels
And get to work

Anthony Robinson lives and writes in rural Oregon. His poems have appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Iowa Review, The Laurel Review, Court Green, Verse, and elsewhere. His first full-length book will be published in Spring 2023 by Canarium Books.

Selected Works, George Kalamaras



Vassilis Tsitsanis, After a Night of Performing Rembetika, Sees a Photo of the Poet Anthoula Stathopoulou and Falls Madly in Love

It was the eyes, he swore, that tore
into his chest and bore both darkness
and the other dark. Yes, he’d seen
beautiful women before but never
one who looked like a divine turtle
sunbathing a rock with shade
from the underworld. The entire Aegean
there between his heart and the places
within his ribcage he knew were swollen.
He had to sing about her, he knew.
Rembetika, the street music
of the underground—brothels, bars,
and back-alley smoke. Where were her poems?
he wondered. How and why were they
lost? How might the Aegean
inside her words wash over him,
imbue? He knew only she and her poems
belonged in his mouth. Forever.
That owl-wing sweep of her midnight
hair. He put down his bouzouki.
He put down his hash pipe. He exhaled
the moon’s slow smoke. Words flowed and glowed.
Slurred and blurred. Words he searched within
to uncover the meaning of all sound.
To capture the divinity
of the dead. When at only age twenty-seven
she left the body after a brief bout
of consumption. Her age—two plus seven
in numerology—adding up to nine. The sacred
number. The nine syllables within each line
of her poems. Nine beats in a rembetika
lament. The nine heart-wrenching lightning strikes
in his chest whenever he considered
her labored breathing. Whenever
he gazed upon her
photo and fell into the swampy dark
of her eyes. He pulled his bouzouki down
from the mantel above the burning,
easing it from the fireplace
wall, and called her
again and again back from the dead.
And every evening hence he sang
to her and about her and through.
In tavernas, in brothels,
in back-alley smoke. And cafés
stirred with his words—all the housellings
of the rembetika mouth—the ash
of each of her lost poems he lamented
but no one seemed to know. The bouzouki dirge
of his longing. His urge that he nightly sang
again and again that she would not—
did not—die. Ever. But would remain
the everlasting life of his life.

Mikis Theodorakis Contemplates the Rise and Fall of the World

It was a cypress or a willow. He lifted himself into the tree
as a child and heard a piece of perfect music.

Lately, his liver keeps telling him to cleanse the world
with a word. Lately, he sets human suffering to song.

And the wind foraging his mouth makes its way
into back alleys and coffee shops, pharmacies and free

clinics, searching for the proletariat. Birds sound
like Dmitri Shostakovich awarding him the 1957 Gold Medal 

at the Moscow Music Festival. How can then be now?
The years keep bringing poverty and loss. Once, he lay

on a beach, with Anthony Quinn and Irene Papas, composing 
the theme to Zorba the Greek in ways the sea and its stormy 

foam told. When he climbed trees he heard Greek folk music 
and the Byzantine Liturgy both. How to forget? How to forget

being arrested during the Civil War, deported to Makronisos? 
He tells his grandchildren to listen to the wind when the rain

falls. To light a fire and read the poems of Ritsos only when
the embers sink. To give a slice of water, a cup of bread,

to the poor. They don’t believe him and grind their teeth
when he tells of how he had been buried. Buried alive. Twice.

His throat stuffed with dirt. His music left for dead.

The Song of Love

     based on a painting, The Song of Love, by
     Giorgio de Chirico, 1914

Let’s say there’s a Greek sculpted head, a surgeon’s 
glove. A small green ball, threatening as an almost-tornado
sky. Let’s say all three could crowbar the mind apart

like the fortuitous meeting of a sewing machine
and an umbrella inside a dead pigeon. No wonder
André Breton gave his wife, Simone, a photograph

of this painting to commemorate the night they merged
with the moon three times in just three hours,
thirty-three minutes. Two of the three objects

are mounted on a wall. Was he telling her
the third time made him round as the color green
absorbing stormy Earth’s sound? In the distance,

a locomotive. Always, for de Chirico,
a locomotive. Somehow the smoke
of arriving was always a form

of departure. He came into this body
part Greek. When he left, the world
knew him only as Italian. The way

Breton entered the marital bed
a Surrealist and emerged a Java sparrow
inside the woman inside his satisfied man-body.

Let it rain, de Chirico once said,
when he meant to say the word love.
Touch me where it hurts, he blurted,

when he longed for love and its desperate
wing-beat release. He was a Surrealist
before the Surrealists. Like being Greek

prior to the plains-torn wars
at Marathon. At Thermopylae. Like a song
in which we float many months

before we emerge, screaming and weeping,
from the woman’s dark. Like a classically
sculpted head before thoughts think us

into the terrible tissue of night.
This was Giorgio de Chirico.
Part howl. Part vowel. Part Greek

without the ruins of Rhodes to confiscate his calm.
Like The Song of Love, known to Breton
as Le chant d'amour. Seen in the endless smoke

of arrival and departure. Of a name. Of a dead pigeon.
Of being Greek. Of the cradle and its earthy urge. Stirred
inside the stirrings of the moon with Simone Kahn as the word

love. Before the painting’s building and its dark
arches—to which we are always nailed—
fall in concussive collapse.

Twelve Reasons Why Ritsos Wrote Scripture of the Blind Only for Those Who See


  1. In the dark, it’s easier to see the number one once than to see the number two twice.


  1. Let’s say the inept Colonels of the 1960s were quite similar to the Metaxas Generals of the 30s, except with fewer medals and shoulder patches. Let’s say every freedom lover named their first born boy Lefteris—short for Eleftherios (meaning free, the liberator or bite this apple with your termite ear or with the left ventricle of your heart).


  1. Because when we look in the mirror with only one of our eyes, what stares back is the other eye, somehow floating there, disembodied, broken.


  1. If you read the lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot you understand what a non-precious metal silver really is, Ritsos said to no one in particular.


  1. During a military coup, and in the afterbath of rain, we might beg lightning to cache itself comfortably in our mouths.


  1. Blind Man’s Bluff is more a game of deception than bonding, Lefteris thought. The population in Council Bluffs, Iowa, is even less than that in Scottsbluff, Nebraska—though slightly more than that in Bluffton, Indiana.


  1. Let’s say the Gospel of Mary Magdalene (even with its ten missing pages) was the one most read during Sunday mornings at five—the time of both the resurrection and of the house arrest of all the red biting fire ants, which seem to espouse communism as they collectively carry away a twig from a termite mound fortified within a statue of Athena.


  1. Because when George Seferis looks in the mirror, first he sees the smoldering coals of his pipe. Then comes the splintered moon from his birthplace near Smyrna, the moon aching through the bones of Odysseus Elytis, whom Seferis is certain is hiding, there, behind him, in the knots in the knotty pine walls of his study.


  1. We might call yesterday, yesterday. But only if we begin doing so three and one-third days after tomorrow.


  1. Counting each of Jesus’s twelve very capable disciples, we wonder what prevented anointing Lazarus as a thirteenth—to follow the Christ, even write a Gospel once he relinquished the stench of his previously dead mouth. Was Lazarus busy writing his own Scripture of the No-Longer Dead?


  1. I honestly don’t know. I don’t know why they shot me, Lefteris winced, leaning across the Athens bar. And now I can’t tell if I’m living or just slightly more alive.


  1. In the dark, it’s much harder to count to thirteen than to twelve, Ritsos proclaimed, as if in reply. As if a zodiac of words. As if a zodiac revealed itself, there, in star charts in the slope of a bee intestine dissected by a recalcitrant astronomer.


  1. Look at the night sky through the aroused navel of your belovèd. Count—there—each of your fingers and toes. It all adds up to an angry weather pattern we might leave as luck in a trashcan waiting at the curbside to be nominated as the only sane member of the Divine Trust of The Sound and Sacred Word. Epaulets, say, disguised as a vague mustache. The scriptural equivalent of the blind little brother of The Sacred and the Profane.

George Vafopoulos Contemplates the Sea Below His Tongue

Time, he knew, stood running. Still,
it seemed, he held a jellyfish in his mouth.

A stingray from the coral reefs of the Aegean.
There, very near his tonsils. Primordial time

nourishing, perplexing, his words. Diced cubes
of sea cucumber he consulted as an oracle,

knowing the Orthodox faith
and the wisdom of Mount Athos

were part of the wind that was part
of the trees that seemed to be part of the everlasting

sea grass. Everyone seemed to know Ritsos
was a Red. Theodorakis too. That was fine, he thought.

But what color in the midnight dark, he wondered, was he, 
George Vafopoulos, when he waded this way, that—

knee-deep in his own mouth? Was he Aegean
blue? Parthenon white? The trembling

sea-cucumber green of the cross troubling the waves
of the Greek flag? Color was mischievous. Was always 

changing shades in sparkling sea light. Could account
for the way his mouth. For the way his mouth

started. Stopped. And mimicked, sometimes,
a startling rain battering the beach.

His month on Holy Mount Athos meant more
to him than that recurring dream of lobsters and squids 

guiding him to a chamber where perplexity dissolved.
Than his sudden beard, say, some mornings,

whenever he wrote a poem about a ship or the wind or sea 
anemones flowering his brain. Whenever, in the narthex

of the church, he lit a candle before the icon of Nicholas, 
seafarer saint. This was the world that was below his tongue. 

This, the world, of Athos. Surrounded by sea, by creatures
he could not quite name. A world that might allow the night

sounds of stars crushing into themselves.
That nightly repaired itself, even as it tore

itself apart. He was convinced that if he got the words
just right that the jellyfish swimming there

below his tongue might stop stinging him.
And with their gelatinous, medusa-phase

bodies bring back the dance of the dead 
in one translucent streak. Telling.

Telling him what and where
he had been. Been before

he had been forgotten. Had forgotten
the sea and all he had borne in being born.

Maria Efstathiadi Confronts Time in the Bending of Rain

The transgressions
The transgressions, you thought
Which start in the legs
The fire-driven thighs
The inattentive brain
The transgressive act of loving
Simple things like rain
Like coffee, say, or tea, clocks that have stopped
Sentences without end, without the words, word or thing
Dreams with no names
Naming us when sleep sleeps
Naming you naming me
With their fog
With their thick animal mist
You and the holy ones, Maria
The dead see things
We don’t
Care to even want to know
The dead are thriving inside
The living
Partitions of our mouths
Words our words work and want
To break apart each time a moment is ignored
Each time the tongue gives up
On us and tries to wag loose
All it tries to say
In the driving rains 
That hammer at and lament and bend us
Like broken clocks 
Whose hands, contorted, have given up on them
Entirely, giving in, to the stiffening drift of time

Alexandros Panagoulis Weighs the World One Word at a Time

Count the rat turds in your food, Alexandros,
and you can notch the calendar with another sun-sunken

moon. You wrote your poems on the walls of your jail cell,
sometimes with your own blood. It is difficult for me

with my air conditioning, shelves of books, and full belly
to completely grasp that writing with your blood is not

a metaphor. I weigh the world one word at a time. I weigh
the world of the literal and the bee swarm in my mouth.

It is like, I begin to say to you. And then I stop,
gutted with guilt for your years of actual walls

and blood. Tell me, what is it like to be the sea
inside the sea? To be the strength of the current

preventing you from swimming to your comrades
waiting in the boat after you tried to kill the coup?

You could not swim strongly enough. The Colonels put you
in that place of assassination. I see the walls and say, walls.

I see walls and say, trees bending away from the fire in your mouth.
I cut a finger while carving a carrot and say, blood of my blood.

I read your poems and ask what you coughed up upon
your cot before the Angel of Amnesty arrived? What finger

did you use to soak your grief forever into concrete?

In the Time of Borges and Calm

Then I awoke as a splinter of dawn in the arms of a young mother from Argentina.
I cried and cried and pissed my pants, and she said soothing things to me, singing village 
   folksongs with gentle coos.

There was a murmuring of milk. Wind in the pampas. Cows lowing in moonlight.
I grew calm at her soft brown breast and was certain I wanted more.

Then time stood dead.
Part of me was scarred, beyond repair.

I turned to climbing trees, to wrestling birds from the chest of a jaguar. 
I learned how to count to twelve so that I could watch my life pass, hour by hour.

Someone read me a poem. Then the stories of Aesop. Then the biography of a wolf.
Newspapers came to claim what common sense I had.

I learned to recite the alphabet.
But I dwelled time and again on the first letter of everyone’s name.

There was M, of course, for Mother and her milk. And E, with her electric schoolyard 
     voice. And K & L, who even into my adulthood, had been forever kind.
And they all came—these and others—to know me as Aleph, the lonely letter I heard and 
     was and upon which I seemed to dwell.

And the libraries of Buenos Aires settled their dust and lent me books, as if I were stung 
     by bees or remained full of cemetery madness.
And I once saw the man, Borges, himself, who stopped one startling moment one 
     afternoon as I entered a department store behind him. And he kindly held the door for 
     me. One wind-struck instant. As if forever asking my name.

We Knew Something Good

We absorbed the wood of the splintered moon.
We moved inside the aching rain as one way to become tiny Surrealist suns.

There had been Magritte, of course. And Joan Miró.
There were also parts of Paul Klee transparent against raindrops on the sliding glass.

We were broody and worthless all afternoon.
We ate pizza every day topped with caramelized onions and sautéed eggplant.

We knew something good by the amount of pain it held.
We measured it by water. Restless water. By what was drank and what was drunk.

None of the verb tenses fit. None could be decided upon.
None of the tiny suns burst upon our chest as a notorious nest of gnats.

We searched for a tense called the future past’s future.
Branching out backwards seemed the best approach.

Then we were summoned by an old green truck with a bed of sand and mud for ballast.
Would we ever be seen again, we wondered, on this route or that? Clear as a smeared 
     shadow in the blowing rain turning to snow?

The Fifth Manifesto

We move through a beautiful urge of words.
There are streetlamps, antique tongues, lovers without mouths.

The moon filled the moth wings with illicit body smoke.
Everything I touched had somehow already touched me.

I asked the astrologer whether our mutual past might have something to do with the rise 
     of Bolshevism in Tanzania.
She thought the past should stay in the future. That we should learn to let sleeping dogs 
     experience flight.

One of the main points of Breton’s public attack on Desnos in the Second Manifesto was 
     Desnos’s practice of drinking food and eating water.
The story about his fondness for composing alexandrines was a metaphor to disguise 
     Breton’s gastronomical disgust.

Transparent feathers vibrate little-known cages.
We allow our association with knives to prepare the maps for our adventures East.

I woke unto the throat and asked about a beautiful deformity of quite-crippling rain.
I have so often dreamed of walking out of my life.

Michael Mitsakis Thought That Every Six Was a Nine

Some have claimed I am as mad as Michael Mitsakis.
Some have searched the annals of Greek poetry to see if it was me and not Mitsakis 
     locked all those years in the asylum.

I admit that I have measured the moment of my mouth against a fully dark moon.
I promise you that I have gone to the swamp many midnights to pray for the welfare of 
     all sentient beings.

It has been a long slog to come up from my amoeba self into this fully human form.
I have served many midnights in the luminous rib of an owl, nourishing it with my 
     mouse-bone self.

Yesterday, I read a news article in the local paper that said I have never existed.
It began, Once upon a time, lightning came as thunder as words as a swarm of bees upon 
     this man who supposedly visited our town.

All I can say is study the poems of Robert Desnos, and you will find true love for  
     termites and ants in his unrequited love for the dancehall singer, Yvonne George.
If you go to the wall calendar, you will see that I have marked out the sixth day of every 
     sixth week—just to see if I can get the year to add up to nine days in the river, nine 
     months in my mouth.

We Remember the Subject of Love

The sky happens from all continents at once.
We remember the subject of love.

Stretch a flag, exuberantly, across a few minutes of a street.
Later, the momentum of the most tragic poems explodes.

Memories mill in the beginning noise of clocks.
I’ve had an unrequited crush on a certain woman for three incarnations in a row now.

Still silent, you have to push night into my belly.
The object of torment is banished to a storm.

Say knives pierce a second infinitude.
Say Antonin Artaud transgressed even the blotting sounds of cruel, spiritual love.

Garbage kissed every corner of my mouth. 
My poems—not me—stood up like a god.

George Kalamaras is former Poet Laureate of Indiana (2014–2016). He is the author of twenty collections of poetry—twelve full-length books and eight chapbooks—as well as a critical study on language theory and the Eastern wisdom traditions. A recipient of various national and state prizes for his poetry, he spent several months in India in 1994 on an Indo-U.S. Advanced Research Fellowship. He is Professor Emeritus of English at Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he taught for thirty-two years. He lives with his wife, writer Mary Ann Cain, and their beagle, Bootsie, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

ZBIGNIEW?, John Guzlowski

 I was born Zbigniew Jan Guzlowski in a refugee camp in Germany after the war. My father Jan Guzlowski loved that name Zbigniew. When he was a kid, there was a famous Polish wrestler who had a name like that, and my dad wanted me to have it.  My mother was okay with the name too. Zbigniew was a common enough Polish first name, and she couldn’t see any harm in naming me that. Also, the roots of the name come from a couple of words in Polish that mean “to dispel anger.” After spending 3 years in a German slave labor camp, my mom was okay with dispelling some anger, I bet.

When we came to the US in 1951, however, we discovered something.

No one in the US could pronounce my name. Not only could they not pronounce my name, they had a great-old-time mispronouncing it. I was just a kid and other kids loved to make fun of my name. They called me big shoe and zigzag and bishop and zbubby and zuggy and on and on.  They did this in the streets before I started school, and they did it in grade school even though I went to a predominately Polish grade school in Chicago. And they did it when I went to high school. Maybe it was even worst in high school. The guys there took to mocking my beautiful Polish name by mispronouncing it, and they accentuated the mocking by doing it in a high whining singing sort of falsetto.

I put up with this for 18 years.

When I finally became a citizen in 1968, I legally changed my name Zbigniew to John. Every American can say John. (Although most Americans still have trouble with Guzlowski–but that’s another story I’ll tell you some other time.)

But a funny thing happened to me when I got to be about 32 and started writing and publishing.

I decided not to use John Guzlowski or John Z. Guzlowski as the name my writing would appear under. Instead, I decided to write under the name Zbigniew Guzlowski. That’s right. Zbigniew Guzlowski.

I thought “Zbigniew” would catch the eye of any and every editor. You got to remember, this was the time in the late 1970s and early 19802 when Polish writers like Czeslaw Milosz and Tadeusz Różewicz and Wisława Szymborska and the great Zbigniew Herbert were getting a lot of press. I figured using “Zbigniew” would help me place some poems and stories and essays. You understand, I’m sure.

Maybe it would have happened, but I never got the chance to find out if re-attaching “Zbigniew” to “Guzlowski” would be the thing that helped me create a career for myself as a writer.

When my mom, a Polish immigrant, heard I wanted to use “Zbigniew,” she blew a fuse and said I couldn’t do it. I was 32 and she was telling me I couldn’t!

I was an American now, my mom said, and I had to have an American name.

Of course, like every good Polish boy, I listened to my mom.

ZBIGNIEW? by John Guzlowski was originally published via Dziennik Zwiazkowy. The original publication, in both Polish and English, can be read here.

Over a writing career that spans more than 40 years, John Guzlowski has amassed a significant body of published work in a wide range of genres: poetry, prose, literary criticism, reviews, fiction and nonfiction.

His poems and stories have appeared in such national journals as North American Review, Ontario Review, Rattle, Chattahoochee Review, Atlanta Review, Nimrod, Crab Orchard Review, Marge, Poetry East, Vocabula Review. He was the featured poet in the 2007 edition of Spoon River Poetry Review. Garrison Keillor read Guzlowski’s poem “What My Father Believed” on his program The Writers Almanac.   

Three Poems, Paul Ilechko


The ones who had been flayed grew back
another epidermis     and the blind were 
able to see again     and the deaf danced for

the first time to the sounds of modern
music     a ritualistic rhythm that skittered
through their heads     and finally nobody

was to go hungry     he told us these things
and everyone laughed     even though their
images were mounted on a good stock card

and displayed in his gallery     and their 
children had shoes for their feet     and we 
held out our pale-veined hands     the cool 

dry skin that had never been cut in anger     
we were as green as a sky-reflected forest     
lost to our fathers and mothers     we told 

it to the world     our children and our 
children’s children     their tears sealed out 
by the bitter night as we sheltered     warm 

and dry within the comfort of his arms     
the glory of his hard-fought evangelism.


Light filtering through water 
quickly into darkness     fish
swimming in butterfly swarms
of colored smoke     light
become literature in that brief
moment before it all disappears
but it’s only a tank in the corner
of someone’s apartment     with
the smell of cloves and cinnamon
drifting from the kitchen
there are people     but they 
are as immaterial as the most
pellucid of fish     not truly
here     they swarm and separate 
and regather     all of a common
mind     seeking something 
love     or visibility     or the chance
to reclaim the ancient forests 
and wide plains where their ancestors
hunted     before it is all too late.

The Travelers

The spots are lighting it up     in specific areas 
flooding it with hue     it’s so beautiful that it

triggers our emotions in uncontrollable ways
the colors come and go     sweeping across

the surfaces     but it’s out of reach     piloting
through another space that we will never be

able to access     there are people there who are
wearing special clothing     and they know 

that they can never return     some of us claim
that they are heroes     others say they are idiots

but everyone agrees that they are brave
having ridden their vehicles on a one-way

journey     with their particular diets     and their 
calming drugs     they moved through the world

like pieces on a game board     simultaneously 
young and old     needing both athleticism 

and wisdom to reach their goal     and once
they were there     they realized they were trapped

in a new form of servitude     a victim of 
their own success     only waiting for it to end.

Paul Ilechko is a British/American poet. Born in South Yorkshire, he now lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ. His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including The Night Heron Barks, Louisiana Literature, Iron Horse Literary Review, Clackamas Literary Review, and Book of Matches. His first album, "Meeting Points", was released in 2021.

Review: Heller Levinson’s Alluring LURE, John Olson



Black Widow Press, 2022


        Imagine entering a loft space, say in lower Manhattan, that is empty of furniture, but filled with a number of randomly arranged objects: a car engine hanging from the ceiling on a chain, a carrousel, a bunch of balloons, a stuffed coyote, a vase or orchids, a cockatoo, a huge map of Budapest, a Civil War era cannon, a nude female mannequin holding a polka-dot umbrella, and so on. How are these things related, other than the space they occupy? There’s no immediate context that ties these objects together. You might assume it’s an artist’s studio, but what kind of art are they making? Everyone will have a different story. Everyone will weave their own web of silky postulation. The creative urge will be aroused. And even though there’s no answer or rational explanation for any of this, it’s still intriguing. Something in you has been aroused. It gets the juices going. And that’s what’s wonderful about collage. And this is the lure: the allure of the lure is in its catalytic spark, the way it triggers a reaction in the associative brilliance of the unconscious. Levinson’s Lure, as much of his writing, operates on a similar principle.

There’s always a feeling of space in Levinson’s writing, not just structurally or the way the lines are arranged on the page, but psychologically, in the freedom it offers. The openness of the language induces a state of uncertainty and confusion, a little like being on a blind date. At first, you feel awkward. You don’t know what to say. But if the date goes well, a random name or event might pop up and break the ice and get the conversation going. Trying to find a language to describe Levinson’s language is a challenge, partly because it runs contrary to all the norms of modern linguistics, but also because there’s no obvious message or mood, no evident narrative.

The human mind is most at ease in a sentence with all its working parts in order, riding along smoothly, guided by prepositions, connected by conjunctions, hurled forward by predicates, with a well-upholstered syntax to lean into while the various evocations, connotations, denotations, imputations and implications provide a terrain upon which the mind can do its business. Thinking is hard. Perception comes a little more easily, but it’s tricky. That’s why language was invented. This worried Socrates, who believed that this luxury, when it became written, would corrupt the mind with its hallucinatory power and erosive convenience. He wasn’t wrong. That’s why reading has always struck me as a bit decadent. The French symbolists took this to an extreme, creating an intricate machinery of perfumed stars and pale naked bleeding wings out of nothing but void and a glass of absinthe, a bit like the Federal reserve pumping money of the air.

If this sounds like conjuration, it is. Writing is essentially a magic act, legerdemain, doves or endless scarves flying out of a sleeve or pocket, voluptuous women sawed in two. Levinson takes us backstage to see how things work, how the illusions are achieved. He’s a strange kind of magician. He wants us to see that the real magic is in our own spirits, our own brains, our own capacity to invent, to defy the constrictions – or constructions - of physical reality.

The writing is mostly asyntactic; prepositions, conjunctions, adverbs, and all the other grammatical cogs and lubricants that orient our relationship to a sentence are used with scrupulous spareness. Nouns proliferate. The effect is, at first, a little jarring. You’re on your own. Torn down are the scaffolding and pulleys of rhetoric. In its place are stacks of lumber and sacks of cement. Where do you start? How are these things meant to be assembled? Not to worry. The blueprint is already embedded in the brain, in the temporal lobe, just behind the ear.

Take “Gyration,” on page 62. “Gyration” begins with a quote from Edgar Allan Poe’s Eureka: “We require something like a mental gyration on the heel. We need so rapid a revolution of all things about the central point of sight, that, while the minutiae vanish altogether even the more conspicuous objects become blended into one.”

The sense of urgency here and its proposed formula for experiencing the quantum, non-linear universe surrounding us, is an appropriate lure.

The first line reads: “seersight astral lyre fever kinetic threadout torque cycle boost.” Wow. A lot to take in, I know. My immediate sensation is one of teeming, words teeming, ideas teeming, substantives teeming, morphemes teeming, everything teeming and streaming and gleaming and dreaming and beaming. Sections of the line can be read variously as, “seersight astral lyre,” an object I can picture so strongly a narrative emerges of a prophet and his astral lyre playing the music of the spheres. Or: “lyre fever.” I’ll bet that feels weird. Or: “kinetic threadout torque,” something that sounds a bit like a software term, or aeronautical adventure. “cycle boost.” I know what that is: that’s the thing you use to get your rocket into space when the gravity is heavy, your boosters are pidgeonholed in semantic undergrowth and your pants are down and the monsters are coming. That’s when you need a cycle boost.

And this is just the first line.

The next line reads: “pre-allocational fitness loop centripetal urge skin-in.” Skin-in? What’s a skin-in? Is that anything like skinny-dipping? Prepuce? A happening involving skin? Let’s get together and have a skin-in. I need a skin-in. I don’t know what a skin-in is, I just know I need one.

Things calm down a bit in the third line: “fringe hazard.” I know this one from personal experience, and so give it a personal spin, a brisk gyration that will send the minutiae spinning into space and the cosmic axis to bring us in closer to the hub, the nucleus, the core, and away from the fringe, where the banners are bananas and the hazards are hazardous. 

And so progress tends to be slow as I linger on these lines and let the words soak in.

The last line of “Gyration” is “Eureka.” Though actually it’s not, as the word is split into “Eur” and “Eka,” which is how I read it, before I went “eureka!” Eureka is, of course, the title of Poe’s book-length prose poem, as well as a sudden triumphant discovery. Which is pretty much how I feel as I linger among the lines in Levinson’s Lure, ingesting it slowly, so I don’t get too dizzy. 

To order copies of Heller Levinson's Lure, via Black Widow Press, click here.

John Olson (born August 23, 1947 in Minneapolis, Minnesota) is an American poet and novelist. Olson has lived for many years in Seattle, Washington. He has published nine collections of poetry and three novels, including Souls of Wind, nominated for the 2008 Believer Book Award. In 2004, Seattle’s weekly newspaper, The Stranger, for whom he has written occasional essays, gave Olson one of its annual “genius awards. His writing notebooks have been exhibited at the University of Washington... Olson’s prose poetry has been reviewed in print and online poetry magazines. The poet Philip Lamantia said that Olson was “extraordinary…the greatest prose poetry [i’ve] ever read.” And Clayton Eshleman said “he is writing the most outlandish, strange, and inventive prose poetry ever in the history of the prose poem.”