Issue 12 March 2017

Issue 12

Editor's Comments

Welcome to Issue 12 which is a non-themed edition. There is a variety of excellent poems on a range of themes from regular contributors and poets new to Allegro. On a personal note I was pleased to find among the submissions poems on one of my favourite subjects; cats. Maybe one issue of Allegro should be devoted to animals. I'll think about that for the future. In the meantime enjoy Issue 12.

Sally Long



I have to go back. 
I have to keep searching

For something alive
Among the dead. 

I am yet undecided
How to arrange

Her bones. 
I want to conjure

The dark red throbbing heart. 
Regrow her hair and teeth

The way they used to be.
Her legs are in my hands,

Cool to the touch
Like bottled milk. 

Better, perhaps, to leave her alone,
Unfeeling and without question. 

Natalie Crick

Amy and Ricky

Scratched inside a heart
on a gray square of sidewalk cement,
the names have faded over the years,
barely legible spiderwebs.

Our children, grown now,
with lives of their own,
jumped onto the heart hot 
summer days on the way home
from the outdoor pool,
as if in a game of hopscotch.
“Amy and Ricky!” they’d shout.
Ollie, Ollie, Oxen free!

I have not forgotten that impulse
to link your name with your beloved’s
on a tree, in cement, scratched
into a school desk, a lintel,
slashed across the inside of a notebook.
For some, even, tattoos.

But I’ve always wondered
what became of those two,
if they broke up after a month,
each regretting the graffiti
every time they walked this way, 
remembering the Betsy, Penny and Pam
of my youth, not the Abby I married.

Charles Rammelkamp

For James

The acoustic guitar conjures your mild insistent voice,
its reedy rhythm,
as your face swam up in the dusk to ask,
is she home.

Tropical youth poured over the gravel
like the voices on summer radio,
the male tenor thrumming in a slow bass beat.

Long lapses in our late-night talk, then laughter,
the pleasing tweed of cymbals mixed with the laughter
to a shimmering pitch,
honoring communicants in the dark.

Joan E. Cashin

Microbrews with Mr. Cliver

In the student bar
we discuss Soviets
and the hindering bureaucracies
of our times;

we talk about
Beavis & Butthead
Neruda anthologies
of varying subject matter;

this was the time
I first learned
about the inner cosmos
of the professorial pursuit;

a private tour
inside the armory
for centurions
of a higher knowledge,
a bargain
with the dealers of the
narcotics of rational

Felix Purat


Every last quarter of the piano
lesson, we would spend

sight-reading rows of unfamiliar notes –
cautioned above in printed ink,

the measure, key signature, the pulse of time.
The tempo I feared the most was Allegro,

and its manifold derivatives: con brio, moderato, non troppo –
pre-defined, that sense of facile urgency

particular briskness, that would serve to reveal
my grave disability in reading music

as foreign language; my mind, each time,
racing faster than my thwarted craft of fingers.

Little, then, did I know how artful practice,
the passing of age, scores of discomfited experience,

would lead to change –how the once dreaded directive
of anxiety, asynchrony, would morph into

a source of boundless joy, into a tempo of pleasure
fluffing my heart with its bouncy wisp of notes.   

Tanmoy Das Lala

                        -For Claudia Emerson

She came to read a pair
of poems, introducing herself to us
as the second Southern
Pulitzer poet, the only other one –Claudia
Emerson, who left us back in 2014.

She stood behind the microphone’s
ankylosing spine and read out loud
the poems she had known to prepare
on snakes, losses, the dialogic mind.
But I remained fixated, for a long, long time
on the words left us –as if Death
was but a decision, a controllable departure
of the easy, voluntary kind.

Tanmoy Das Lala

Cat Poems

The books and the pamphlets
are spread on the bed;
titles, bold or underlined
all blearing like headlines, the poems
are all very different and imaginative,
yet so many about cats. Why is that?

Perhaps cats provide poets
with a problem: the ungrateful child—what to do with it.
Yet, so graceful.

You can almost see it,
black and white among the words,
like a tiger in its chosen ambush,
but springing for its own selfish joy.
A spring over the ashy cotton
into the blacky-whitey maze,
then to the next—why should all these cat poems
be open at once, by chance,
if it isn’t the same cat?

Samuel W. James

Silent Night, Aleppo

if you ask my father about religion
he would say god lives in brothel and
the mat is for those who can gulp silences
their heads must bear a song that dangle
on the lips. a woman in Jelibab gave her son
a self made bomb,  a mother's courage, 
a tale about living in the brothel with virgins
and god
the soldier was faster than his finger
his mother crawled back into the crowd
do you hear when angels sing in a city of dust? 
a dirge, made with the flesh of a fluffy flower
torn petals and disjointed stigma,  a coffin, 
made of every guilt suspending in the mother's mind, 
a secret, covered under the black Jelibab
the mother wears,  4.00pm, the minaret calls the boy home
feet gather for a festival of sobs...
The news comes at seven:
"UN Soldier shoots innocent boy in Aleppo."
Adedayo Adeyemi Agarau

1. a makeshift torch/a candle light/a room/two lovers/you
and i /what the world sees are the shadows making out/ two
hands uninterested about each other's body/nothing makes
sense to you or i/not love/not the way I paddle my memories
into your lips/ or the way you walk into my skin to fetch yourself
a smile
2. i was gone before morning/the moon was still teaching soft stars
how to live/ the sun was peeping at the conversation of veins/ you
searched  my eyes for the fires that burn/ there was a bank / a river/
you in the middle of the turbulence /sinking / you ran out of my eyes
Adedayo Adeyemi Agarau

Cell Dreams 
Door ajar, bare boards for ruffians to sleep,
walls a vulgar archive of misspelled rage,
smell of stone, cold to touch, we beg to keep
our carton of smokes but are underage,
says the cop who accuses us of stealing
the Camels we claim came from the homeless,
exchanged for food, inverted truth, feeling
it’s worth a try, but so tired, so hopeless.

We had fled trouble at school, at home,
almost made the state border when a light
in gathering gloom flashing from a dome
on the squad car’s roof ended our flight.
Dawn, door still ajar, he brought eggs and tea,
grub for the condemned, but time would set us free.  

Ian C Smith

Minor Sanctuary

Most winters when I was young there were owls
watching us from the fir trees near the abandoned barn
that we rifled through when malingering after school.

As they stretched their wings at our fading
my best friend would remind me of the silence
displayed by the most patient predators,

that their eyes were still watching after us,
assessing for weakness, and him telling me that
each of us was nothing more than prey or carrion

and that a rickety barn could offer only minor sanctuary
against current and future predators.

Richard King Perkins II

After Life
for Dickinson, Poe et al.

Better to watch the red
fox squirrels recline in trees

long tail fluttering
fluttering in lasting breeze
Whoosh of air through maple leaves
frees helicopter seeds that catch

and catch and stay on track
allow recursive rays refract

Mark Danowsky

Things to Remember
The blizzard of '78
when schools were closed for days
and I had to walk the mile
to my paper route
through a wind-swept tunnel of snow,
then plod from house to house
delivering the morning paper:
door, side porch, mailbox . . .
The young blue-eyed woman
surprised from the shower,
hair wet and she let the towel drop,
standing in the freezing cold,
her skin a translucent mirror.

James P. Roberts

The Woman on the Balcony 

The woman on the balcony unbuttons her blouse on the first warm night of the year. She is not listening to the sporadic rushing of traffic as it passes by on the country roads like slow meteors of sound, and she has already forgotten the glass of wine that waits like a burgundy egg on the counter downstairs. A train in the next town is screaming through a crossing, and the Canada geese are coming back — high and honking and right on schedule. The brief permanence of the world impresses her like pillow marks on a recently wakened face.

Charles Rafferty

Two Victorian Sisters Attain Immortality
                                   ---for Janet and Rosetta Van Der Voort
Carving serpentine lines in
white slashes of eight & eight,
they leave slits of  
eighty-eights in their wake-

they spit snow, speeding
in pairs with shadows,
mirror spirits that 
always win the race-

their mouths pant fog 
above the 59th Street pond, 
a refuge from their domineering father-
it is here where they can float 

on water like the Lord himself,
tittering & whispering 
secrets fully armed with 
silver blades under their feet-

they rebuff every suitor
drawn to their shapely bustles
of red & purple quilted silk,
keeping their hands tightly clinched

inside their muff, letting their feet 
& legs do all the work chiseling 
at their dark reflections until
they broke through rime & time

releasing their shadows from
the ice, one by one-
witnesses say their skates 
never touch the ground 

as they drift above Central Park pond
in a state of eternal figure eights.

Nancy Iannucci

Not Two-Minutes Old                    

Medical photographers have crept
into the Birth Room,
locked him (fresh out of the womb)
in digital folds,
his face compressed by the time
spent in navigating the canal,
a lopsided eye squinting
for familiar soft spongy spaces,
sticky strands of gold haloing his head.

I wish he didn’t tilt like my grandpa,
his head leaning right from a stroke
wobbly with age,
ready to slump into dark.

Barely ready to hold his head up,
this newborn blinks at the day,
just having left dazzling dark
unready to slip into light.

Two lives unbounded by time,
a birth-announcement disturbs,
eighty years and two minutes collide,
a mortal instant in life’s lurching limbo.

Charlotte F. Otten

Ex Libris

Soft glow of lamplight, half past ten.
Nancy Drew at the window with a flashlight,
Misty running through Chincoteague with my heart.
The Call of the Wild, anything with a wolf.
Sleep on the edge of a book, just one more page.

Nancy Drew at the window with a flashlight.
Candy wrappers piled in wastebasket, knee highs
ready for school. Illustrated dust jackets hug
books stacked in pyramids on my maple desk,
rectangular math tossed beneath chair.

Candy wrappers piled in wastebasket, knee highs tight.
Books on my dresser, in my bookcase, on my bed.
Library only a twenty minute walk, better than glass-top
candy counter. My greedy hands—The Black Stallion,
Jane Eyre, My Side of the Mountain.

Books on my dresser, in my bookcase, on my bed.
And this, something different, The Diary of Anne Frank.
Half past ten, soft glow of lamplight. Dad over my shoulder,
plucking book from my grasp, first time, forbidden.
Too old. Distressing. Weighty. Another day.

And this, something different, The Diary of Anne Frank.
I argue, first time. I’m thirteen. So was she.
My case is strong, my grip tight. His relinquishes.
Mumbles. Regrets. Sleep deferred on the edge of a book,
just one more page. I live for the sum of pages.

Terry Cox-Joseph

Caligula’s war at sea

            After Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus and Robert Graves

Of course we had to declare war on the sea:
Neptune, that Greek, is Jove’s – which is to say our –
oldest enemy and we knew he might attack
the Empire in minutes, launching his spring tides,
his wrecking storms, his waves of mass destruction.
Our only option was pre-emptive retaliation –
the centurions, even legionaries knew that.
None questioned us. And any we saw half-heartedly
chopping sand, skewering surf, paddling ankle-deep
were staked to gull-infested cliffs so Neptune’s air-force
might peck out their eyes.

What booty we took from him! Chests of seashells,
pebbles smashed in battle, fish writhing
like prisoners of war. We took four fishermen
in league with him to burn in cages back home.
Finally he sued for an ignominious peace.
We commissioned a lighthouse to be built
to keep watch and betook our spoils to Rome
where our armies were feted as conquering heroes.
Everyone knew we had to do it.
Everyone understood.

Only those damned shells still seem to mock me:
however many I smash, when I put one to my ear
all I can hear is the sea, laughing.

Jonathan Taylor

light as a feather
on my old swing -

Lavana Kray

Black Cat in Mykonos 

Ancient post-modernist, cast
as ink-smudged movable type,    
you prowl a maze of walls    
deconstructing white.

Priscilla Atkins

At Union Station 5:00 PM 

For moments
After the plain, pocked woman
    I sat down beside
Asked, “Excuse me, do you have a pen . . . ?"
   I felt more human.

Priscilla Atkins

Going Medieval

O, ghost-brother, you were wrong;
it was not a poisonous draught
but a tiny worm I let loose—
it wriggled into your ear and ate
its way through wax and dirt
and, still ravenous, found the cortex.
When you woke, you did not flee,
for the thought never crossed
your mind. You didn’t even
ask why because it had already
made holes in your temporal lobe.
You screamed, then wept,
then laughed, then forgot
about your wife and son and
country, went cold, then lost
interest as the worm snacked
on your amygdala, hippocampus,
hypothalamus, and thalamus
respectively. As it tunneled
through your frontal lobe, you
smiled at me against your better
judgment. And when that worm
gnawed holes through your
cerebellum, I caught your crown
as you fell.

Lisa Stice

The Reverend

Since the reverend read that poem by Hardy,
all the trees look like broken lyre strings
and he’s stopped reading poems. Snow
swims by the window, eastward toward
his daughter’s school, sometimes straight up
to the power lines. Cars rush by. The snowmelt
taps on the sidewalk. He hears no birds.
He prays, each word a tiny greenhouse —
what’s inside should not be. So many words
repeated, like lullabies sung night after night,
so many times they come not from his throat
but from the darkness between him and his children.
We must find hope, he thinks, if not in wings
and feathers then in the silent branch.

Kelly Dolejsi

Da Daily Minutia

You going get boulders in your eyes

and you going be transformed
into wun block of granite

if you no watch out.

Da composition of tings
going change ovahnight

and da density of da world
going be weighed in tons.

Your possible fate is not unique dough
cause instant monoliths are everywheah

as if dey wuz cut out in wun flash
from wun sorcerer’s magic quarry.

Avoidance is da key

and da trick in dis whole survival game
is not to get too heavy

wen pressure seems to become relentless.
No let da daily minutia
turn into wun threatening Medusa

cause all of dose writhing snakes
surrounding dat face of imminent doom

want to celebrate and hiss

wen da gaze of stone is set on you.

Joe Balaz

Appointment with Grief

I tell my doctor
that my favorite Aunt has died.

An expensive phone call
brought the news-
"Margarita had a stroke.
She didn't recover."

She was a woman whose life
rarely strayed from Santo Domingo
but her death made the crossing
to Rhode Island.

My doctor's writing out
a prescription for my condition
but what I really need
is something for my grief.

I already know
the baby is healthy.
But can it handle a phone call.
Can it stare at a photo,
whisper. "Nunca, no more.”

Juanita Rey

Dad Before Mom

I keep the photo
in a pink furry frame:

my dad with a lady
of the evening

sitting on a picnic blanket
in the light of day
in Okinawa, both facing
the camera, his arms
around her waist, tucked
beneath her breasts, pulling
her small body to him.
His chin on her shoulder.
His legs spread and she
nestled inside, her elbow
on his knee, her cheongsam
elegant, his legs young
and knobby and so white.

They look like newlyweds
on vacation, not an occupying
soldier and the woman
forced to comfort him.

I keep the photo
on my dresser. I never
saw him hold
my mother like that.  

Robin Becker

i’d like to think

when god first made clothes
for adam and eve
he dressed them in

Jennifer Davis

Beethoven's bust

The boy had perfect pitch;
he could play a scale or chord
after hearing it just once.
Impressed, his middle school teacher
took him aside and coached the gift.
He'd sit next to the boy at the piano,
his hand on his shoulder, tapping time.
The youth responded to the rhythms,
spent hours after school and weekends
with his mentor who assured the parents
their son had talent worth developing.
So they trusted him, allowing sleepovers,
but started to wonder when the man
lavished rewards like a bronzed
plaster of Paris bust of Beethoven
on their prodigy. Then came belligerence,
rumors of pot and beer. Grades
slipped from A's to F's. The student
stopped seeing the teacher, and
the worried parents confided their
concerns in the man. Hoping for
insight, they arranged a meeting
between all parties, but the only
answer was their son's glaring silence
aimed at all three.  After dinner
the next day, the son carried the bust
out to the front steps. The father watched
from the front door as the teacher pulled
up to the curb, and his son hurled
Beethoven to the sidewalk.

Eric Chiles 


We are about to cross the Mid-Hudson bridge,
steel blue sky above, chilly water below,
when pulsating clouds of birds rise up, twisting
and spinning as if we had entered a desert dust storm.

They seek brief comfort on every tree limb,
then scatter out again like wild confetti
tossed into a winter wind.  No one is in charge.
Integrated balance animates them all.

I imagine them as starling scat singers,
each vibrating note resounds, rebounds. 
Each airborne thrum and trill, purr and prattle
instantly understood, harmony clear.

Grace resonates here like so many jazz notes:
a loose coordination, scales heighten,
then drop to whispers.  Swing.  Bebop. Cool.
Aerial musicians who know where they are going.

The flock lingers and hovers above, every turn
and shift in perfect synchrony, each member
intimately linked to the next.  We drive on.
Human frailties more pronounced than ever.

(Poughkeepsie, NY   12-10-16)
*Murmurations is the name given to flocks of starlings.

Mary K O'Melveny

For daughter Hilah

When the physics teacher
with a length of chalk in hand
traced an arc in the air,
broke from his usual rhythmic drone,
and like an excited teenager
prattled on about escape velocity –
the speed an object needs to travel
to break free of earth’s gravity
never to return  –
the trajectory of your daydream,
having travelled far beyond
the classroom window
past the pines and over the hill
where it nearly cut loose
in a weightless drift,
reversed course
and entered an orbit
of original thought.

Patrick Connelly


Adedayo Adeyemi Agarau published his debut chapbook, For Boys Who Went in December.  He is a student Nutritionist, a photographer and Cont developer. Adedayo won the 2016 Eriata Oribhabor Food poetry prize and the Tony Tokunbo Fernández International poetry prize in 2015.

Priscilla Atkins teaches women's and gender studies and a first year seminar on comedy. She has a collection The Café of Our Departure, from Sibling Rivalry Press. She lives in Holland, Michigan.

Joe Balaz writes in Hawaiian Islands Pidgin (Hawai'i Creole English) and in American-English. He edited Ho'omanoa: An Anthology of Contemporary Hawaiian Literature.  Some of his recent Pidgin writing has appeared in Rattle, JukedOtoliths, and Hawai'i Review, among others. Balaz is an avid supporter of Hawaiian Islands Pidgin writing in the expanding context of World Literature.  He presently lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

Robin Becker is the author of the novel Brains: A Zombie Memoir, published by HarperCollins. Her story, "Stuck on a Truck," was nominated for a 2016 Pulitzer Prize. She teaches creative writing at Minnesota State University. 

Joan E. Cashin has already published in Acorn, Intuitions, Catbird Seat, Lilliput Review,
International Poetry Review, Ars Medica,
and other journals.

Eric Chiles is an adjunct professor of Journalism and English at a number of colleges and universities in eastern Pennsylvania who labored in print journalism until the diaspora of the web. In 2014 he finished a 10-year section hike of the Appalachian Trail on his 65th birthday. He has poetry appearing or forthcoming in Allegro, Asses of Parnassus, Chiron Review, Plainsongs, Tar River Poetry, and Third Wednesday.

Patrick Connelly is a writer and scientist working in Boston and dwelling in the small New England apple orchard town of Harvard, Massachusetts where he reads poetry to his wife, children and grandchildren after family dinners. 

Terry Cox-Joseph is a member of the Poetry Society of Virginia and is a former newspaper reporter and editor. From 1994-2004 she was the coordinator for the annual Christopher Newport University Writers' Conference and Contest. She has a BFA in illustration from Minneapolis College of Art and Design. 

Natalie Crick, from Newcastle in the UK, has found delight in writing all of her life and first began writing when she was a very young girl. She graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Literature and plans to pursue an MA at Newcastle this year. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in a range of journals and magazines including The Lake, Ink Sweat and Tears, Poetry Pacific, Interpreters House and Jet Fuel Review. Her work also features or is forthcoming in a number of anthologies, including Lehigh Valley Vanguard Collections 13. This year her poem, 'Sunday School' was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Tanmoy Das Lala lives in New York City with his partner, Eric, and a pea plant. His works have appeared in various online journals. His website is

Mark Danowsky’s poetry has appeared in About Place, Cordite, Gargoyle, Shot Glass Journal, Third Wednesday, The Transnational, and elsewhere. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Mark currently resides in North-Central West Virginia. He works for a private detective agency and is Managing Editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.

Jennifer Davis graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a B.A. in English and writing. She works as a content developer and editor, as well as a freelance online writer. She has been published in The Delmarva Review and Blink-Ink.

Kelly Dolejsi is a climbing instructor with an MFA from Emerson College. Her work has been published most recently in Fifth Wednesday, Denver Quarterly, Vine Leaves Literary Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and 1001. She also has a poem forthcoming in North American Review.

Nancy Iannucci is a historian who teaches history and lives poetry in Troy, NY. Her work can be found in numerous publications including Bop Dead City, Star 82 Review (*82), Gargoyle, Amaryllis, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Nixes Mate Review,  Rose Red Review, Three Drops from a Cauldron, and Yellow Chair Review.

Samuel W. James is a third year student at the University of Gloucestershire and has poems in the online magazines, Ink, Sweat and Tears and London Grip

Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.

Lavana Kray is from Iasi – Romania. She is passionate about writing and photography. She has won several awards, including WHA Master Haiga Artist 2015, Haiku Master of the Month, 2016. She was chosen for Haiku Euro Top 100, 2016. This is her blog:

Mary K O'Melveny is a retired labor rights lawyer, and "emerging" poet, living in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her work has been published in several journals, including GFT Press, FLAREThe Flagler Review, The Ravens Perch and on the blog "Speaking in a Woman's Voice."

Charlotte F. Otten's poems have appeared in journals as diverse as Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, Agenda, Poems from Aberystwyth, The Healing Muse, Quiddity.  She is perhaps best known for 'A Lycanthropy Reader: Werewolves in Western Culture."

Felix Purat, born and raised in Berkeley, CA, is a graduate of the American University of Paris' Cultural Translation program. He has been previously published in the Paris/Atlantic, Pulsar, Poetry Salzburg Review and Ink, Sweat & Tears. Felix now lives in Prague and has completed both a novella and a poetry pamphlet.

Charles Rafferty's eleventh collection of poems is The Smoke of Horses (forthcoming from BOA Editions). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, O, Oprah Magazine, and Prairie Schooner, and are forthcoming inPloughshares. Currently, he directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus College.

Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore, where he lives, and edits The Potomac, an online literary journal – . His photographs, poetry and fiction have appeared in many literary journals. His latest book is a collection of poems called Mata Hari: Eye of the Day (Apprentice House, Loyola University), and another poetry collection, American Zeitgeist, is forthcoming from Apprentice House.

Juanita Rey is a Dominican poet who has been in America for five years. She has worked in many jobs while studying to improve her English. She has been writing for a number of years but has only recently have begun to take it seriously. Her work has been accepted by Pennsylvania English, Harbinger Asylum, Petrichor Machine and Madcap Poets.

James P. Roberts is the author of four previous poetry collections (Derne Runes, Spirit Fire, Dancing With Poltergeists and A Demon In My View). Recent work has appeared in Constellations, Red Cedar, and Blue Heron Review.  Forthcoming poems will appear in Sand Canyon Review and Portage.

Lisa Stice is a poet/mother/military spouse who currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, daughter and dog. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of a poetry collection, Uniform (Aldrich Press, 2016). You can find out more about her and her publications and

Ian C Smith’s work has appeared in , Antipodes, Australian Book Review, Australian Poetry Journal,  Cream City Review,  Poetry Salzburg Review,  The Stony Thursday Book, & Two-Thirds North.  His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide).  He lives in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, Australia.

Jonathan Taylor is an author, lecturer, editor and critic. His books include the novel Melissa (Salt, 2015), the memoir Take Me Home (Granta, 2007), and the poetry collection Musicolepsy (Shoestring, 2013). He is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester in the UK. He lives in Leicestershire with his wife, the poet Maria Taylor, and their twin daughters, Miranda and Rosalind. His website is

No comments:

Post a Comment