DISINHERITANCE by John Sibley Williams

DISINHERITANCE, a new collection of poems by John Sibley Williams, is getting great reviews.  Check it out below:

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THE END OF SOMETHING by Andrew McCuaig

 

 

Rose climbed the stairs, her dog Stella panting by her side, her fifty-pound backpack banging against her leg with each step.  She wished she had left it at the front door but her mom always complained about that and she was trying to be a better daughter.  It was odd that her mom wasn’t home— after school, she nearly always was.  It was also odd that Stella was carrying her dish in her mouth, a sign that she’d been fed.  But Rose was brain-dead from pre-calc and didn’t give these unusual events much thought.

When she pushed her bedroom door open she dropped her backpack and screamed.  Not really a scream: more of a gaspy, highpitched “Ah!” which immediately embarrassed her.  It sounded girly, and she tried to avoid ever sounding girly.

Jacob, her boyfriend and object of her scream, sat on her bed, propped up in the corner where the two walls met.  His shoes were off and her bag of Red-Hot Cheetos was open on his lap.  His fingers were red.  She wondered if a boyfriend could be considered an ex-boyfriend if you intended to break up with him but hadn’t informed him yet?  It was kind of like the tree falling in the forest question.

“Oh my God!  You scared the shit out of me!”  Her hand clutched her neck; her heart was beating in her head.

“Hi, Rose,” he said.

“What are you doing here?”

“I wanted to see you.  I had to see you.”

“OK.”  But that didn’t explain anything.  “Did you have to eat my Cheetos, too?”

“There’s still some left.”

“Jacob…”

“I know.  I’m sorry.”

“How did you get in anyway?”

He sighed, rolled his eyes.  “Everyone knows you keep your key under the flower pot on the porch.”

She just looked at him.  She had been worried about him lately.  There was the crying jag at Denny’s when they had run out of marmalade, and one day at school he had grated his fist against the metal vents of her locker, leaving bloodstains on the light blue paint.  He had walked like a zombie down the hall, his knuckles dripping blood.  Someone had snapped a picture and for a day it was the biggest thing ever.

“However, your mom was home so the break-in became unnecessary,” he said.

Your mom, she thought.  So she was home?  Rose’s mom had never liked Jacob.  She considered him a bad influence, someone who could suck her under emotionally.  For months she had almost ordered Rose to break up with him, all the time hoping she’d “make the right choice.”  She never used his name—wouldn’t dignify him by naming him.  “That boy is bad news,” she would say over and over.

Rose was suddenly angry.  “You know what?” she said, but then stopped.  Something in his demeanor.  He looked so glum—so pitiful.  As if he knew what was coming.

“I fed Stella,” he said.  “And I let her out.  Doesn’t that count for anything?”

Rose kicked her backpack out of the way and sat down on her rocking chair.  Her clothes from the past week were spread all over the floor.  It was embarrassing.  And the Cheetos theft.  Unforgiveable!  She was simmering, not quite burning.  She had to tell him the truth without making things worse.

As if anticipating this, he started to cry.

“Hold on,” she said.

“I love you,” he said.

“Please.  It’s over.  My mom was right about you. “

“You think?”  He laughed.

“I can’t believe I even said that, but it’s true.”

“Let’s not worry what your mom’s got to say.  There is literally nothing more she can say.”

 

 

TWO POEMS by Dave Benson

Butterfly
 
Butterfly, stay!
Let me admire you up close,
your grace, kite of a ghost,
your wings of iridescent colors
that keep on moving ever so slight
even as you are still,
always ready for flight,
Butterfly, don’t leave!
I’ve sown all your favorite flowers
here in this garden you to please,
yet you come and you go, you come and go—
Butterfly, Flutterbye,
my ephemeral whimsical wife
 
 
 
Sun in the Dark Night 1981
 
Bogota doesn’t have any soul,
it wallows in a stupor austere,
but your eyes’ve cast a spell on me
and it’s love that keeps me here
 
Your tresses an ebony cascade,
your body ripe fruit on the vine,
when you sway those cumbia hips
you drive me out of my mind
 
Bogota doesn’t have any soul,
even the coffee has no flavor,
but your eyes’ve cast a spell on me,
Another coffee, please, waiter!

A ROCK NEAR KIRKENES by Steven Fortney

Now listen, the chaplain who was also
a chemist said, Each time you strike
a match, you have done a scientific
experiment. Anywhere in the universe,
if the conditions are the same, the result
will be the same. He scrapes the match
and makes fire. That’s a fact, he said.
A fact is the top block on a Jacob’s Ladder.
You tip it and the fact cascades down
the ladder into a future; but this ladder sends
its information backward into the past as well.
It knows the ages of mountains
and the change of species. This was the ladder
Jacob could climb to heaven, ‘and the angels
of God were ascending and descending on it.’
This Jacob’s Ladder sends its facts up and down
but also sprays side to side, multiplying like Indra’s Net
in every direction, every dimension, to fill
the universe, until it is packed with blocks and facts.
He moves to the Russian border, the end
of the world. The Arctic Pasvik River outside
of Kirkenes is wide and cold and deadly.
He shivers as he sees it. He knows men
have died in those merciless waters.
The injured rock on the roadside is bright
with reds and yellows and browns, intestines
and organs, and all the disjecta membra
of every living thing. He sees stone, mountains,
his body, and for a moment is afraid.
There is eternal time and quick time.
The facts are in both. In quick time the match
is lit and a universe cascades. Eternal time
fills all universes, quick time is just
this moment. To see the stone at Kirkenes
is to light the match and then stand and
watch the border, behind which is war
and dread. The noumenal lives behind
and beyond quick time and is the tremendum
of eternity. Jacob’s Ladder has a radiant shadow.
Science is here. Art is here. Religion is here.
Wonder is here. The deepest living is here.
The blocks of wood cascade. Spirit cascades.
He lives in both moment and eternity.
And the chaplain scratches the match.
Fire happens. Now look, he says. Light!
That’s a fact, and so much more than a fact.