POETiCA REViEW Issue 4

Featuring the work of..

Sarah A. Etlinger

Sarah A. Etlinger RehearsalThe sky is smoky milk: it will rain later.I’m thinking about the moonand its tradition of memorywhile we rehearse for evening, for summer’s long duskswhen the grass hums in a green fermatathat stays as long as we wantand the air is filled with marblesof birdsong, rehearse for silence only summerinvites. Now we’re on the porch,a piece of prairie grass in your teethdraped lazily as your body over the steps. Tonight the stars are heavy.The sky bends under their...

Howie Good

Howie GoodDo-It-Yourself Destruction People kept coming into my dead parents’ apartment to collect stuff. One took away some sort of boat. No one seemed to particularly care if cities were burning. A woman from down the hall started stroking my face. I asked her to stop. She wouldn't. Her boyfriend was standing right next to her, but didn't say anything, just watched. A week passed, maybe more. The news was unbearable. Gas grenades and rubber bullets. Chants of I can’t breathe, I can’t...

Dion Loubser

Dion Loubser     Lighthouse   You know when a big storm hits The lighthouse actually shifts I have measured it The engineers tell me it is impossible But not everything in this world Is explained by science I offered myself up once When it was too much and Even the beauty of the light Could not hold me As I tell you this I know You will think me mad Out here on this rock With only the gulls to judge I leapt into the jaws of the sea But they put me back Gently I am the keeper of...

Paul Ilechko

Paul Ilechko  Preparing for War   Imagine a beach in Florida     the sun     blazing from above     with a slight hint of breeze from the ocean     a typical lazy day     but suddenly     everyone in sight is a soldier in uniform every flag is black     every soldier is dreaming of war     of Vietnam     or the deserts of the Middle East     as the sand creeps into their boots     and infiltrates their socks every surface is parched and golden     every face is burned and stoic   ...

Stephen Anderson

Stephen Anderson  The Swerve   Things just work out that way sometimes. Jarring and jagged cut-you-up things that spring up from the least expected places: The sharp-toothed jackal that comes in the shadows of the day to take away someone you love, the disappointment by a friend who you had so cherished before, the dream shattered by a slight-minded person in power unmoved by your light-source, and then, and then the action taken by your own hand that is self-or-other-betraying in...

Fatima Ijaz

Fatima IjazSILENT SCREAM   When dissent like lightning enters the frail limbs of the night, in the uproar of ferocious leonine howls in the midnight turns of the heart – that has finally prepared itself to laugh ceaselessly, I sit by your side, loneliness, and conjure up the façade Of moods and am of terrible minds. When I know Certainly you won’t exit, the dream won’t come to pass, Then I also know that you are the trespasser the desert crows warned me about.   But still, I aspire...

Sandra Kolankiewicz

Sandra Kolankiewicz   Communique #10   Once a year there are              epic tides so low along the jagged shore            line that cliffs and stony bottoms are        exposed, touched by air only during the            first full moon of spring in a sea of mixed         semidiurnal tides.  Each March we wait    for the ocean to retract, pull from shore,           and provide us with a kind of shell     fish none recognize, which we pry from the            rocks until we fill our...

Mari-Carmen Marin

Mari-Carmen Marin         Consumed by Pain   These past days I have been thinking of death. The image of the skull and crossbones has settled on my forehead between my furrowed eyebrows, a window I don’t want to open. Yet I stand before the tree of life, its thick and thorny veins injecting energy through its dark green leaves.   I wonder how much longer I can endure this pain that ties me to my bed with iron-made chains like the iron handrail that impaled me through my...

Milton P. Ehrich

Milton P. Ehrich SILHOUETTES ON A WALL   During twilight hours I walk around the park and see silhouettes on my handball wall where I once played with Father and friends and see everyone I loved who also loved me voiceless without smiles they send a silent message as they come and go in cameo appearances standing stolid and still before they disappear and now all that remains from where they stood is an ebony black shadow on the wall in the shape of a lone arrow pointing.   THE END AT THE...

Milton P. Ehrich

Milton P. EhrichSILHOUETTES ON A WALL   During twilight hours I walk around the park and see silhouettes on my handball wall where I once played with Father and friends and see everyone I loved who also loved me voiceless without smiles they send a silent message as they come and go in cameo appearances standing stolid and still before they disappear and now all that remains from where they stood is an ebony black shadow on the wall in the shape of a lone arrow pointing.     THE...

C.G. Nelson

C.G. NelsonInsomnia   You lay in bed. You were there, Watching you clock creep Closer to morning.   You reached out across The bed, hoping To grab onto something.   She is gone, of course. She wasn’t there To begin with.   It’s time to begin again.   As you watch the Sun rise in your window, You rise also.   And you are new again.     Together Again   He had a wooden fish-- more accurately a wooden puzzle. He would sit on his bedroom floor and...

Carol Lipszyc

Carol Lipszyc Boy on Stoop (from a photograph by Helen Levitt, 1940)   boy on cement stoop leans against bricks of charcoal grey and mud brown   elbow perched on knee face in profile exposed in a flash of white shadow of dirt on the nape of his neck   sullen resignation in the narrow reach of his eye in the dipped line of his jaw in his monochrome mouth   son of the working poor he will soon outgrow his britches brace against the chasm that looms across a remote sky  ...

Michael Goldman

Poets Name     It’s not going anywhere and it’s too big  to see all at once   so we examine one small area or use a compass or take a picture   anything to make us feel better about being small   but that doesn’t change reality, it just changes our little experience   which is also a kind of reality, but not the one I mean.     I want you   Let me do to you what moths do to cherry trees –   Love you into oblivion.   Michael Favala Goldman...

Kate LeDrew

Kate LeDrew dear kate (december 31, 2018),   this year go everywhere do everything especially if it’s free don’t cover your face when you laugh make eye contact with strangers tell everyone you love you love them tell everyone you can’t forgive you forgive them store every piece of happiness you’ve ever had in a box with no lid, 365 days worth, 730, 1095, and don’t forget that pesky 1/4 it takes to get around the sun trust me, I know you don’t think it matters now it matters    ...

Erica Bernheim

Erica Bernheim Amplexus 1980: Sunshine Skyway Bridge     Kermit, how you have misled me with your human clothing and gentle manners. For you, every body of water can become a quaint fishing village   at dusk or dawn. Into fog and towards accidents, I followed your lead. I plummeted, all the while believing invitation made up three tenths of the law.   Like a Kansas City disaster, but over water and causing a different mourning. A bike assembled from parts is called a basket case....

Hunter Gagnon

Hunter Gagnon Quarantine poem #78 fisherman in the virus hours   Shot off on the shiny iron of it all I wanted was to sit at the bar with my brother and talk about the end, but Dragged off in the trench of it The trough of grey water The white light everywhere from salt mist How it broke him up the sun which is God which is my brother how it broke him apart and spread him out Little fish fly up like worms tossed by earthquakes Fort Bragg CA will be a dead town but I scud its ocean now...

Pamela Corbett

Pamela Corbett Like A Line in the Sand                   The seam between           this life and the next          is tenuous, threadbare.             I know, for I was there—                                                                                                          hovering, dangling            between the two.            Hurting, pleading,          firm hands           pulled me back.           Another shore beckoned,         promising         sacred banquets....

J. Adams Lagana

J. Adams Lagana Regarding Matthew   He bore our family traits, stubbornness, and eyes as blue as the Atlantic in September. I thought we were a loving bunch, but we were angry instead.    Spare me your half-hearted compliments, he once shouted towards his tight-lipped God-fearing mother, who was always drenched in black sweaters with kleenex-stuffed sleeves, who never offered quite the right comforts. I thought we were a loving bunch, but we were angry instead.   Don’t you see me?, he...

Tammy Stone Takahashi

Tammy Stone Takahashi1. This is you and ilooking up at the mooncontemplating our smallness This is the mooncontemplating nothingreserving her beauty for us This is the space betweenwhere holy words are fraught with their unmaking.     2.   When we remove the word,what remains? The word is love.I walk on the forest floor that will snake up a mountainon steps made of stone,the peak ascending as we go. The sun, too,flickers in and outfrom among tall cedar treetops, glinting now and...

Jenny Santellano

Jenny Santellano   heroine   he has his claws in you again ripping through your skin attempting to access your core   faith in nothing no logic no sanity— a blend of pale promises and powerless points of view   stay with me on those visceral nights no escape no neverland— just flames and ashes                               forget about it   it’s not your fault you rather swoon in darkness than...

Alan Cohen

Alan CohenMaturity     Grown Accurate Dispassionate A scale A ruler A filter Upright Relentless Sensible Chary Austere A record A jury A blade     How We Change     We have driven from winery to winery Along the Silverado trail This one, Steltzner, is built next to a hill   Each has had its garden And this time, carefully We examine each plant   They are mature, fully grown And we call each by a name Rosemary, bramble rose, nanten, manzanita   They...

Peycho Kanev

Peycho Kanev Recognition   Right here the pages of the sea resemble an open book of fairy tales forgotten by a child on the beach and just before the sunset I look at the horizon’s edge getting cut up by the sharp wings of the seagulls and the white moon slowly rises with its pale gray halo and stars like fireflies are dotting the dark forest under the sky which, once more, invoke old memories of intangibility and eternity. I stand as a rock, nothing else stirs, not even the air, only the...

Janet Harper

Janet Harper   Caught (inspired by A Woman bathing in a stream, Rembrandt)     It was hot and the air hung too heavy. He wanted to paint as he always did, capture the light, hold shadows steady. The day was moving slowly - dull, fetid, languorous and thick with flies above mud. I stood and walked into the sunlit river to wash and let the cold refresh my blood, feel a shock, that joyful icy quiver. I watched small fish in shoals dart for cover from me, the danger in their watery...

Hongri Yuan

Hongri Yuan A Smile Is Like A Lotus   I am sitting in the divine temple of death and my smile is like a lotus The night runs away and the universe is my garden of light The gold pagoda from outer space is the palace of my soul in heaven Where there are my illustrious ancient scriptures, And golden poems which have been created by giants Who told me of the rising of a huge city in future on the earth Would come from a picture scroll by the gods predicted billions of years ago. 02.18.2017...

Joan E. Bauer

Joan E. Bauer             The Poet Laureate of Awful Truths                                         for Maria Mazziotti Gillan     The drive from Palermo to San Mauro, three hours. Palermo’s on the coast. San Mauro, southeast & inland. In San Mauro, a castle, a 15th century bell tower, the skull of a saint.   When the Mazziottis left San Mauro perhaps they spoke a mix of Italian & Sicilian as my great grandparents did, coming from Vicari.     Gillan writes about...

Shirley J. Brewer

Shirley J. Brewer Beneath the Pomp of Circumstance —after Dorothea Berck, Wife of Joseph Coymans, oil on canvas, Frans Hals, 1644   Dorothea, I know you crave fuchsia, a gown with spaghetti straps, glitter butterflies above each breast,   mauve on your lips and lids. I see in your eyes the desire to lighten, take off that stiff white cape   pinching your neck, those cuffs like arm restraints. You toss your missing glove at the artist.   Wipe your brush with this, you call...

Sandra Kolankiewicz

Sandra KolankiewiczCommunique #10   Once a year there are              epic tides so low along the jagged shore            line that cliffs and stony bottoms are        exposed, touched by air only during the            first full moon of spring in a sea of mixed         semidiurnal tides.  Each March we wait    for the ocean to retract, pull from shore,           and provide us with a kind of shell     fish none recognize, which we pry from the            rocks until we fill our buckets.  We...

Fatima Ijaz

Fatima IjazSILENT SCREAM   When dissent like lightning enters the frail limbs of the night, in the uproar of ferocious leonine howls in the midnight turns of the heart – that has finally prepared itself to laugh ceaselessly, I sit by your side, loneliness, and conjure up the façade Of moods and am of terrible minds. When I know Certainly you won’t exit, the dream won’t come to pass, Then I also know that you are the trespasser the desert crows warned me about.   But still, I aspire...

Stephen Anderson

Stephen Anderson The Swerve   Things just work out that way sometimes.   Jarring and jagged cut-you-up things      that spring up from the least expected places:   The sharp-toothed jackal that comes in the shadows      of the day to take away someone you love,   the disappointment by a friend who you had      so cherished before,    the dream shattered by a slight-minded person      in power unmoved by your light-source,   and then, and then the action taken by...

Jenni Booker Senter

Jenni Booker Senter SELF PRESERVATION I layer pink rouge on my pale cheeks, the bones like a bas relief jutting from my cold face.   My hands, once supple and able, stiffen to impotence.   I force my limbs into a pleasant posture so as not to offend those who mourn me.   My heart I remove and discard, filling the hole with handfuls of sawdust.   My grimace of despair I mold into a false smile, tucking the straight pins into my cheeks, pinning them into place.    ...

Carson Pytell

Carson Pytell Appreciation   Without the knowledge we are damned to glad ingratitude.   Captives of content, we turn out too taken, held, Stockholmed to read what writes us.   Life does that to people. We shape heroes and hope from stars which spell always, everywhere: Morte me fecit. Carson Pytell is a poet living in a small town outside Albany, NY. His work has appeared in numerous venues online and is currently available or forthcoming in print from such publications as Vita...

Dotty LeMieux

Dotty LeMieux Devolution   The road is narrow   It is night and Lisa drives the Volkswagen slowly away from the writers’ conference   I sit behind and light her cigarettes   Every few hundred feet our headlights come back at us, bouncing off a bend or a patch of fog on the road   We come to a town called Marshall  and head straight for the bar – The Marshall Tavern   Lisa says there will be music there and men who won’t judge us on our poetic sensibilities   The...

Paul Ilechko

Paul Ilechko Preparing for War   Imagine a beach in Florida     the sun     blazing from above     with a slight hint of breeze from the ocean     a typical lazy day     but suddenly     everyone in sight is a soldier in uniform   every flag is black     every soldier is dreaming of war     of Vietnam     or the deserts of the Middle East     as the sand creeps into their boots     and infiltrates their socks   every surface is parched and golden     every face is burned and...

Vern Fein

Vern Fein NOBODY DIED When the shit hits the fan:I  total the car.Our TV and washing machine go kaput the same week.Our daughter gets fired from her dream job.Our grandsons move to Montana. How long do you have to listen to our woes? We often say to each other,as a way to staunch the angst:"Nobody died. But nobody died.” That causes us to stop our complaining, realize that the worst tragedy did not happen to usas our minds comb through the tangled hair of others' lives,indeed some bodies did...

Natalie Schriefer

Natalie SchrieferOn the Advent of Artificial Light on van Gogh’s Starry Night over the Rhône   The night is brighter now. Gaslight from town glitters russet over the Rhône, shimmering, encroaching upon the far bank and revealing the prows of vessels moored along the shore.   Overhead the stars bloom like celestial alliums—or maybe they’re dandelions instead: pale seed heads not yet blown away by copper gaslight, by the approaching breath of dawn.     Natalie Schriefer received her...

Sayan Aich

Sayan Aich The Moths Calcutta returns home,Inside me.I count the cars,With their seat-belts around my tongue.My eye-lashes sweep the streetsA storm from another timeAnd whatever remains of the dayStays back like crematorium ashThe dead having already escaped.All the available pin-codesSit with missing story-tellersAnd listens to ships returningTo empty harbours.My Janus city has two names,Both quieter like peopleWho have already removed themselvesFrom telephone directories.At night,Moths...

Kathleen Hogan

Kathleen Hogan Cubist Dreams   Steaming water hits my neck, runs down the center of my back. I quiver as it flows over the spot where all lonely moments hide.   Mosaic rays shine through flamingo curtains. In the time it takes for an eyelash to fall to a cheek, a few pink glints skip over the blue tiles and I want to tango.   I have walked with Picasso down the Gothic Quarter’s cobbled lanes, secretly attempting to stay just a fraction ahead of him. Not enough so he’d notice but...

Chella Courington

Chella Courington While the World   Lying on the bed without you, my nude body in the mirror, I want to arrange my legs and arms, torso and face so you feel your head in the crook of my arm, your legs in mine, my belly heating yours.   Oh what we took for granted two weeks ago, talking so close our lips blew warm, exhaling and inhaling into each other.   Coming together, our skin covered with cracks for sweat and oil, smearing your beauty with mine, then tussling and tangling...

Joan McNerney

Joan McNerneyAnd the band played on…   Get used to it, just put one foot in front of the other.  Continue or just die…that is the only option.   Nobody gives a flying fig.  Everybody has their own problems.  Don’t be a drag, don’t be down.  Just dance.     While the band plays another number…   Dance dance dance on the barbed wire of time time time. Feet raw raw raw bleeding blood blood blood.   This world is a labyrinthine in my ear and I am deaf and dumb from it… no sure...

Dion Loubser

Dion Loubser     You know when a big storm hits The lighthouse actually shifts I have measured it The engineers tell me it is impossible But not everything in this world Is explained by science I offered myself up once When it was too much and Even the beauty of the light Could not hold me As I tell you this I know You will think me mad Out here on this rock With only the gulls to judge I leapt into the jaws of the sea But they put me back Gently I am the keeper of the light They...

Theresa Gaynord

Theresa Gaynord A Gypsy's Kiss    He loved her beneath the shadows of Pichoca trees where white palm leaves blew high into the winds and vanilla vines swirled and twisted into superfluous webs of calico threads.   This is where she played on her swing, suspended barefoot among the grandeur of rock formations that labyrinth to a sheer cliff, which descended into the still waters of a ghostly lake.   The porous lava of her skin was carefully woven with the sweet milk of life given...

Henry Bladon

Henry Bladon Normal   As I washed my hands for the fiftieth time, I thought about the conversations we always had.   I always asked you, ‘What’s normal?’ which was a question you were never able to answer.   Then I considered the fact that now everyone is doing the same, and wondered what you would have said to that.     Loss   Whatever will we do… with the priest who lost his faith and the man who lost his wife and the woman who lost her daughter, the dog who lost his...

Joan McNerney

Joan McNerney ​ And the band played on…   Get used to it, just put one foot in front of the other.  Continue or just die…that is the only option.   Nobody gives a flying fig.  Everybody has their own problems.  Don’t be a drag, don’t be down.  Just dance.     While the band plays another number…   Dance dance dance on the barbed wire of time time time. Feet raw raw raw bleeding blood blood blood.   This world is a labyrinthine in my ear and I am deaf and dumb from it… no...

Dion Loubser

Dion Loubser Lighthouse   You know when a big storm hits The lighthouse actually shifts I have measured it The engineers tell me it is impossible But not everything in this world Is explained by science I offered myself up once When it was too much and Even the beauty of the light Could not hold me As I tell you this I know You will think me mad Out here on this rock With only the gulls to judge I leapt into the jaws of the sea But they put me back Gently I am the keeper of the light They...

Theresa Gaynord

Theresa Gaynord ​ A Gypsy's Kiss   He loved her beneath the shadows of Pichoca trees where white palm leaves blew high into the winds and vanilla vines swirled and twisted into superfluous webs of calico threads.   This is where she played on her swing, suspended barefoot among the grandeur of rock formations that labyrinth to a sheer cliff, which descended into the still waters of a ghostly lake.   The porous lava of her skin was carefully woven with the sweet milk of life...

Henry Bladon

Henry Bladon   Henry is a writer of short fiction and poetry based in Somerset in the UK. His work can be seen in Spillwords Press, Pure Slush, Truth Serum Press, and Poetica Review, among other places. Normal   As I washed my hands for the fiftieth time, I thought about the conversations we always had.   I always asked you, ‘What’s normal?’ which was a question you were never able to answer.   Then I considered the fact that now everyone is doing the same, and wondered...

Praniti Gulyani

Praniti Gulyani  The Sum of Everything   a raw, summer star upon your eyelid, a crushed grass-blade beneath your heel the remnants of a dewdrop that cling to your shoe a bruise of sky on your chin   the initial sum of everything   you hold an eclipse between your fingers, like a thin volume of love songs a shooting star twisted into your lashes the shape of a song that trickles down your lips and circles your Adam’s Apple   the growing sum of everything   there is a crater...

Renee Adams

Renee Adams Renee Adams is a woman who retired from being a psychotherapist within the community mental health system and began to write poetry. She triesin her poetry to express my experience as a woman in this stage of a woman’s life. She is a member of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire. Exhibit in the College Chapel The drawing is of a womanwith her hand to her breast;the line is delicate -perhaps sketched as a madonnaon the crest of ecstasy. The woman leansfar to the right of the...

Joe Albanese

Joe Albanese    ​You Know Me Too Well     My emblem is a jagged smiley face transcribed at the bottom of a suicide note. There it sits and renders, there it mocks with taunting silver linings. It’s a signature, a calling card. It is Orion the hunter, it is lies and truth. It is hope. It is me.

Austin Alexis

Austin Alexis Austin Alexis has published in Shot Glass Journal, Danse Macabre, Candelabrum Poetry Magazine, Poetry Pacific (Canada) and in other journals and anthologies. He is the author of Privacy Issues (Broadside Lotus Press, Detroit, 2014) and two chapbooks: Lovers and Drag Queens and For Lincoln & Other Poems. He received a Bread Loaf Writers' Conference Scholarship.    Australian Aboriginal Art   The human head, displayed in various positions: vertically,...