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Issue 4 May 2015

Relationship


Editor's Comments


Welcome to Issue 4. I hope you enjoy reading these poems, some from past contributors and others from poets new to Allegro. As usual the issue contains a mixture of poems on the theme and those that are off theme. I'm thinking of changing this for 2016. You can see full details of this in my post "Future of Allegro Poetry: Consultation" on the News page. There's still time to make a comment via the comment box at the foot of the Home page. I won't publish these on the site but do read every one.

Sally Long

Poems


Desire


I want you swollen and breathless,

bursting like a prickly pear on my tongue;

like sweat off the summer trees;

like the slow swoon of a Coltrane blues

rising in the night.

Insatiable you say, this goose-fleshed ache

that won't go away.

I want you in every room,

in every way, of every day.

Jason Irwin 

I see you in bright colors

Eating red ripe watermelon
while searching verdant trees
for bluebirds flitting pass us. 

Remembering how fields
of brilliant wildflowers
beguiled us as we inhaled
fresh mowed grasses.

You would smile fingering
purple passion leaves. 

Your favorite hour when
wide awake you listened
to the sounds of dawn
calling all colors out to play.

We shared the calligraphy of
oceans watching orange sunsets
splash through waves.

No one else has ever evoked
such a shining palate as you.

Joan McNerney

Dodging Death in Duluth

Each day gets a bit tougher. To stay alive, I mean.
Gone are youthful days and the mid-years, though
they are still as clear to me as my morning breakfast.
Then came the time, the time I have long waited for:
the time to relax, drink coffee, reminisce, take it easy--
what some have called the comfortable years.
But nobody said much about the hospital visits,
the aches, pains, pills and watching where you walk.
But that's ok. There are still those rewarding things:
an ample past well-spent, the pride I'll leave behind,
and tomorrow maybe, and of course, there's today.

J.D. Heskin


Speaking from personal experience

 I drink moon milk without the cow
everything this white rivers its way toward a starry sky
nature in concert with nurture
considers our questions about the substance and duration
of love at first sight:
how the attraction draws couples
 in stacks like couplets in traditional verse ;


 the former compliments the latter;


so too the enigma of the chemistry


 when what’s inside extends to the outside


 meeting the opposite sex in magnetic force


in compliance with the hypothesis of this theory


 of attraction constituting a genesis, a revelation

Michael D. Brown



Vernal Equinox

Wind-skinned March, dragon-clawed, maintains its rein
With spiteful shifts of bitter blasts like slaps,
Pretending winter’s staying to raid joints,
Crack knees like kindling, or detour lovers
Indoors while it goes whistling past the Ides — —
Until the vernal equinox when Sun
Caresses the equator to arouse
Earth, singling out his former partner (cold
At first, hard-crusted), knowing he’s approached
Before and, when she warms, spring’s miracles
Are easy, marking marriage with day-night
Equals, short-changing lovers of covers
Of darkness, as a slow unfolding light
Stretches, helps April find all that was lost.

LindaAnn Loschiavo



Foreplay

Taking the stairs two at a time like an exuberant
teenager or canine, my upstairs neighbor

sprints to greet his bride.  At the end of each
long workday or foray into the world, enthusiasm

seeps through the ceiling and runs down my walls
framing my paintings of loved ones and flowers

long since passed from this life.  I find myself
wondering how she, his young wife, likes it -- him

suddenly bursting onto the scene of her
sewing projects, books, and Netflix screenings.

Me, I'd prefer a little more delicacy.  First, the click
of the key in the lock, then a certain lingering

turn of the knob, the loosening laces and drop
of shoe, shoe, coat, tie, and finally

the slow, sweet ascent that heralds
his face at the door.  

Greta Ehrig



Larks’ Rise 

Before they plonked their gilded cages here,
packed horizontally, stacked jowl-by-cheek,
a Neverland design from Classic Homes,
furnished, on easy terms, by Cosy Dreams,
with garaging built in, masters en-suite,
these smokeless hearths were meadow, copse and stream,
four cottages, an inn, the farm beside,
the nearest village half a mile behind.
Turn right, via Partridge Place, Kingfisher Cres-
cent, Goldfinch Green and Lapwing Way, to find
Larks’ Rise. There’s starling, sparrow, collared dove;
they scratch a living, all else gone, a whole
millennium and more, Necessity,
wolf from the door, outflanked, bull-dozed, moved on.

Peter Branson


September

You are all the wine I need
to make a world seen through glass
connect again:
the banana in the fruit bowl spotting its skin -
giraffe neck camouflaged in shadow -
sycamore leaves falling outside my window,
bursting to yellow then red as flame,
until the points twist and shrivel.

Batwing seeds hang for an autumn storm,
as I hang on to the husk of my soul
beneath the sycamore’s ripening curls
and wait in this room for you to come.

Simon Bowden


Polarization

I am re-entering the past through constricted valves,
Memories of heavy palpitations that rushed me
To my physician’s office, then to the cardiac unit. 
I was wired.  Thorough auscultation; strong heart,
Surpassing my male cohort, but the constriction was
Like a Buddha planted on my chest had sprung from
The stubborn divide that persisted between us.  After
Our teeth-grinding divorce, you swore to terminate me,
And I vowed to remain unbroken.  With Each blow,
Tears morphed into poetry, my unbending spine
Became a target for your vile plots. I bolted down.

Fourteen years after our separation, we still meet in courts.
Split-tongued men in shark suits argued their own interests;
I watched purgatory through your gaze and wondered
If it would have been better to slowly bleed my happiness
Away through a sustained marriage, or endure ceaseless
Proceedings that incised misery into my being.  Although
Tattered, I remained a bamboo, knowing that if the brackish
Water of your existence merged into my pond it would
Dissolve my marsh. With new spring rain, the island
Of our flesh became a speck of regrets.

Patrick Sylvain  


Setting the Table

when we met it was all knives
sharp edges, knicks, jabs
nothing but tempered steel
feints, attacks and counters

then it was spoons
echoing shapes and thoughts
until I knew your words
could feel your outline in my movements

so now I know (and you must too)
it’s just a matter of time before we fork

William Lennertz 


Shaking Loose

Shaking loose from your grip, your undertow,
feels like ripping my hand from a trap

or more like tumbling from a raft into a lake
reflecting clouds on a long ago summer day

staying submerged, wishing to disappear
until breath aches in my lungs and I plunge

through water’s skin into streaks of lightning
where I tread, struggling for my own small space.

I have torn myself from you like a shadow
cut adrift, a recalcitrant reflection refusing

to dance with your hands or meet your eyes.
I have left you no note, no word scrawled

with lipstick or crayon, only a bare place
on your iron skin: a scrape, a sore that won’t heal.

Steve Klepetar


Miss Picasso

I know how her face sprung from Picasso’s brush,
why her features floated
and only spoke to madness…
plains of vision distorted, dimensions tripping over each other.
It was his love of the model.
Her face filled his imagination, so he banned it from the canvas.
Days on end, staring at the blankness
until she appeared there, bit by bit.

How I see you in my every reverie--
one celestial feature at a time.
Unconnected.
How can these all be on one face at one time?
Hair and profile and full-on smile?

Time and space bend and warp
if I try to imagine you all,
all at one time.
How can I picture your face,
when it pictures itself so wildly inside my head?

I am a blind man groping,
seeking to un-puzzle the pieces.
I am your final creator.
I am your mad Catalan.


Art Gatti



It was a gull! broken apart
and still you need your shadow
spreading out as a single cry

under an immense wing
though the light it gives off
sticks in the ground –each feather

damp from opening, closing
and opening again, lit
between shoreline and hidden

–you dead know all about lying down
then carried one by one in white
as beautiful as overhead and a small stone.

Simon Perchik 

Sea Breakers

Coming to the edges of our oceans, the internal rollers and currents, and bearing glistening seaweed on our shoulders, we shout mutely.  We are overcome with tensions and sadnesses.  Our thoughts float like ebony balloons across the sand dunes.  Shells scattered through the high grasses spell our responsiveness to each other.  A lilting melody rent by the sea blows on the last flowers of winter, crystals hugging our fingers.  Finally we give up and embrace, with our torn words echoing our bodies.  At last we will ourselves to each other, almost entirely exhausted, almost entirely whole
.

Judy Katz-Levine


For Dogs

The saddest hour is when
You bring a dog back
From the shelter

And know someday you’ll
Make her grave beneath
Apple boughs.

But don’t surrender
To newsreels
Of the future,

There will always be a mongrel
At the intersection of
Limbo and Main

Waiting for an
Embezzler
Disguised as god,

The same dog that never
Belongs to anyone
Licensed by death,

The same dog that
Licks the salt compass
Of your distracted hand,

Hair and bone that
Wants to tame
Your rhythms

To the heartbeats
Of earth

And dance circles
Around lines in ash.

Doug May


What Love is Now

Independence Day. Our friends – mostly hers – pull iced beers from 
the tub on the deck. Their kids (I know their names, again, because,
before the doorbell, she whispered them) are filled
with watermelon. There are subjects (I’ve forgotten them)
off limits.

We satellite the picnic mass, host and hostess in opposing orbits.
Across the universe, by nod and grimace she keeps me
in the balance (Someone needs a drink; Say little Skyler’s dress
is pretty.). Gravity goes harder at her now,
tugs her paunch and (maybe) mine. Her hair
has not completely dried. A friend snaps
pictures, but will post a stranger’s memory: She
is not so big. My clothes don’t bind that way.

Our son is somewhere here. He is thirteen, or will be soon. I trust
she will pick the present. I forget how he chose to look
today: At turns he goops and jelly rolls his hair, sometimes, gingerly,
he shaves at the shadow below his nose. I want to be there,
his mirror, the voice whispering about the men with long knives.
‘They are already on the dock, sawing the moorings.
When you are swept out, then you will see the sea is
not, as you imagine, hued fanciful, like the eyeshade of a girl.
It is angry. For years to come, only the absence
or the presence of every color – Scream.’
I want to tell him, ‘Scream now.’
As though he could out decibel the currents
and the undertows and the sirens and at last
the buoyant mermaid, whom he thinks will float forever.

Rodd Whelpley


It Does Matter

She makes the ordinary
black dress look spectacular,

and those red lips!

What pain am I dealing with?
What tragedy to overcome?

It does matter,
but not tonight.

She takes the dress off,
folds it and lays it

on the books
on the nightstand,

those red lips

mouthing nothing about history
or the lure of philosophy.

Tim Suermondt


Crows in the Road

Scatter, scavengers:
the message a car, hurtling
beyond power of avian imagination
sends on before it--
harbinger composed of air pressure,
one might suppose.
Scavengers, cannibals:
these ugly black mounds of death
lift from the tar and the corpse
only momentarily, offering
a brief view of blood and organ
before resettling to business.

Anne Britting Oleson


That Dress

Many yards of material
And days of designing
And weeks of working
And truckers delivering
And department store selling
Went into that dress
                                 But
I took it off you
And turned out the light
And didn't notice it  
                                   At all 

John Bennett


Thursday

I can shake it all night -- I really can!
I can get up the next morning and work.
You won’t know.  You’ll think I’m fine.  You won’t see
The bruise he left on me inside my blouse.

I can get up the next morning and work.
I drop the file on my way to the drawer.
The bruise he left on me inside my blouse,
It aches.  It smolders right under your nose.

I drop the file on my way to the drawer.
You ask if you can help, but I say “no.”
It aches.  It smolders right under your nose.
I run back down the hall, rubbing my arm.

You ask if you can help, but I say “no.”
He sobbed he was sorry, sorry again.
I ran back down the hall, rubbing my arm.
I know this regret will last a work week.

He sobbed he was sorry, sorry again.
Yeah, right.  He means it now, but the next time...
I know this regret will last a work week.
Then, we’ll forget.  I’ll go out.  He’ll hurt me.

Yeah, right.  He means it now, but the next time...
I can shake it all night -- I really can!
Then, we’ll forget.  I’ll go out.  He’ll hurt me.
You won’t know.  You’ll think I’m fine.  You won’t see.

Anne Babson


Love Song to Rochester

Nights, I am Jane Eyre
ready to submit in the warm of silk
to Rochester.

My Rochester! Once he was
Beauty's beast. I stole him
from the undeserving thing.  Then he was Jackman
as Wolverine.  His claws made me mad
with anticipation.

Avengers past, my Rochester
is large and green and mean.
I close my eyes and imagine
crying in delight
as he tears through me, passionate,
sweet.  Therein lies his brutality.

Adreyo Sen


Remainders

Pared down by grief,
The light at the end of summer
Is more strange and ancient
Than all the remaindering stones
Of Rome.
Letting the days fall piecemeal
From the trees above us
Is like losing love,
And letting the loss remain.

Seth Jani


Black Cognac and the Pearls of Teeth
I met the Satyr at a brown bar with its teeth made of whiskey
while my better friends met beautiful women to take back to their houses.
All I had left in life was the final eight ball. I was solid.
And all the corner pockets were covered in the colors of stripes:
Friendships passed again in the pigmentations of youth
and the consecrations of our old egg shells were slowly wilting
A virulent mud covered the welcome on my rain mats
the entrance to the dwelling place of pride and broken inventions.
Well the rage burned down in the homeward stumble
and the barriers to the good life remained as stable as the sun.
John Jay Flicker

Contributors


Anne Babson’s first full-length collection of poems The White Trash Pantheon is coming out this Spring from Vox Press and won the Colby H. Kullman Prize at the Southern Writers Southern Writing Conference.  Anne publishes regularly in the UK and the US, and she has been nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize.

John Bennett is a retired ambulance EMT. He studied Comparative Literature at New York University.

Simon Bowden is a retired BBC journalist. He has published a book of poems by the late Mary Skinner and is active in writers’ groups in the St Albans area, winning occasional prizes for poems and short stories.  He is press officer of Ver Poets and runs their workshops.

Peter Branson’s poetry has been published in Acumen, Agenda,  Ambit,  Anon,  Envoi,  The London Magazine,  Magma, The North, The Warwick Review,  Iota, The Frogmore  Papers, SOUTH,  Crannog, THE  SHOp,  Rattle, Barnwood, The Columbia Review and  Other Poetry. His latest book, Red Hill, Lapwing Publications, Ireland, came out in May 2013.

Anne Britting Oleson has been published widely in North America, Europe and Asia.  She earned her MFA at the Stonecoast program of USM.  She has published two chapbooks, The Church of St. Materiana (Moon Pie Press, 2007) and The Beauty of It (Sheltering Pines Press, 2010); a third, Planes and Trains and Automobiles, is forthcoming in spring of 2015 from Portent Press.

Professor Michael D. Brown is an award winning poet; recipient of the New York State Senator's award for poetry; Author of 18 books including 7 volumes of poetry; Winner of China's labor Day award for 2012; 2013; 2014. Poems have appeared in numerous journals recently in Poetry magazine; Camel Saloon; Vox Poetica

Greta Ehrig holds an MFA from American University, where she edited Folio literary journal.  Her own writing has been published in Southern Poetry ReviewBeltway Poetry QuarterlyIguana ReviewRiding Light ReviewDelosBlessed Bi Spirit, and Louisiana Literature, which named her a semi-finalist in its 1999 poetry contest. 

John Jay Flicker grew up in the bitumen under the buildings of Los Angeles. He has previously published poetry in Haggard & Halloo, Egg Poetry, Carcinogenic Poetry and LabLit Publications. He currently works in the veterinary industry as a doctor’s assistant and holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cell biology from the University of California Merced.

Art Gatti was the recipient of The Dwight Durling Award for a Manuscript of Poetry while at Queens College, has been published in small magazines and cyber pubs, ran a poetry and short fiction workshop at WestBeth artists’ housing for two years, and had a column in The WestView News. He studied under and consorted with accomplished poets, corresponded with Robert Bly for two years and currently writes for a local small magazine called And Then. Art has recently become involved with several local poetry groups and has read at the Cornelia Street Café.

J.D. Heskin has poems published on many sites, in many countries. Most recently in Snakeskin, Candelabrum and Ascent Aspirations.

Jason Irwin is the author of Watering the Dead (Pavement Saw Press, 2008), winner of the Transcontinental Poetry Award, and the chapbooks Where You Are (Night Ballet Press, 2014), & Some Days It's A Love Story (Slipstream Press, 2005). He grew up in Dunkirk, NY, and now lives in Pittsburgh.  www.jasonirwin.blogspot.com

Seth Jani originates from rural Maine but currently resides in Seattle, WA. He is the founder of Seven CirclePress (www.sevencirclepress.com) and his own work has been published widely in such journals as The Foundling Review, East Coast Literary Review, Big River Poetry Review and Hobo Camp Review. More about him and his work can be found at www.sethjani.com.

Judy Katz-Levine is an internationally published poet who has authored two full-length collections, Ocarina and When The Arms Of Our Dreams Embrace published by SARU Press. Her most recent chapbook is When Performers Swim, The Dice Are Cast (Ahadada). Recent poems have appeared in Salamander, Blue Unicorn, Ibbetson Street. She received a Massachusetts Artist Foundation grant and was the editor of Noctiluca magazine.  She is also a jazz flutist.

Steve Klepetar’s work has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.  His most recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto (Flutter Press) and an e-chapbook,Return of the Bride of Frankenstein (Kind of a Hurricane Press).

William Lennertz is an artist who lives in Southern California. He writes and paints as much as possible. His poetry collection, 70’s Bush and 19 other poems, is available on Amazon. To see his visual art, visit williamlennertz.com.  His poem "Creed for a Newer, Better Religion" appeared in Issue 1.

LindaAnn Loschiavo, Native New Yorker, is a dramatist, journalist, activist, and poet.

Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Camel Saloon, Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Blueline, Spectrum, and included in Bright Hills Press, Kind of A Hurricane and Poppy Road Anthologies. She has been nominated three times for Best of the Net.  Poet and Geek recognized her work as their best poem of 2013.  Four of her books have been published by fine small literary presses and she has three e-book titles.

Doug May has published his work in magazines such as The Beloit Poetry Journal and North Dakota Quarterly.  He lives in a 50s ranch house on an old planting in central Phoenix.  He has a mild intellectual disability but went to school and worked.  He is currently retired.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Poetry, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press(2013).  For more information, free e-books and his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.

Adreyo Sen is pursuing his MFA at Southampton College.

Patrick Sylvain is a poet, writer, translator, and a faculty member at Brown University’s Center for Language Studies. He is published in several anthologies, academic journals, books, magazines and reviews including: Agni, Callaloo, Caribbean writers, Ploughshares, SX Salon, Haiti Noir,Human Architecture: A Sociology Journal, Poets for Haiti, The Best of Beacon Press, The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. Recently featured in:PBS NewsHour, NPR's «Here and Now» and «The Story». Sylvain received an ED.M from Harvard University Graduate School of Education; and earned his MFA from Boston University Creative Writing Department where he was a Robert Pinsky Global Fellow.

Tim Suermondt is the author of two full-length collections: Trying To Help The Elephant Man Dance from The Backwaters Press, 2007 and Just Beautiful from New York Quarterly Books, 2010. He has published poems in Poetry, The Georgia Review, Blackbird, Able Muse, Prairie Schooner, PANK, Bellevue Literary Review, Stand Magazine (U.K.), and has poems forthcoming in Plume Poetry Journal and PloughsharesHe lives in Cambridge (MA) with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.

Rodd Whelpley lives just outside of Springfield, Illinois. His novel, Capital Murder, was published in 2002. His poetry has appeared inThe Minneapolis Review of Baseball, Elysian Fields Quarterly, Elm City Blues and Illinois Times. He as poetry forthcoming Aethlon.