Eight poems you won’t soon forget. Poems you’ll want to read again and again. Each reading reveals new layers, depths, insights, poetic visions, and an overwhelming desire to understand the heart and the mind of a true poet.
Fold, collapse, telescope.
How piercing glows a ray — if
The star rolls round once every so many
Forevers while night falls daily?
So cold to hope,
In an ice age, for global warming
Like a bay leaf,
Fossilize, like a trope,
Like the uncanny
Flower that buds more
Death blooms — so, grow wild, bow, garden.
How real are dreams
If even after brainstorming
One can hardly recall one or
I often wonder why my dreams so seldom
Remember me in any kind of detail
Dreams are forever guessing what I meant
Interpreting once I have disappeared
Vague images — into a film to weld them
By heart it seems my dreams are doomed to fail
What causes me to fade and to fragment
What might I represent one-nosed, two-eared
If gods have never heard a person’s prayer
What evidence suggests they do exist
Do they suppose the phone is off the hook
If thoughts of gods in people feel too rare
Are they afraid they’ve made their short shit-list
Or do they ask themselves if they mistook
These beings’ reverie for being revered
Killing a god
Feels easy because
A god has no face
No need to dehumanize
A melody can work with no bass
Nature with fewer laws
A creature without ears
There’s nothing wrong with a shelf
Still has its looks
Self-effacing as a bombshell
A god or goddess fears
No future, fixes no flaws
A god or goddess knows
But gets applause
Music with no musician dies
Quick to erase
Art is the only arc there is to trace
Some life might seem slow
Even if it’s brief
For instance, watching a tree
You might feel bored
Different time — you fast-
Forward you see
The boughs swell, grow
Reach out erection-quick
Lifelike, creepy, soon passed
Up it gets wound, not re
You breathe, breathe with each chord
With each atom uncrushed by a tome
Magic falls flat
Like a type of leaf
You can’t remember that
Which you missed the day you were sick
That’s why we cause such grief
Monsters of love are born
The question when remains
Rome didn’t fall in a day
It breathed like a motif
Flakes were flying, though
Rome didn’t yet know
How, how can you warn
If brains won’t grow grains
Cows eat them, grow beef
Though Rome went away
It would stay the Romans’ home
Or such was their belief
What survived was Greece
In the belly of Rome
I saw a spider display
Symptoms of life so
I got it enveloped, glassed
Had it caught and caged
Only to release
It — in the slaying snow
It had dropped with the snow like Rome
Spared from the letter, unpaged
A monster saltily strains
Its mortal soul to mourn
It’s to do with 10:10 or May
Like corner’s to do with corn
An Inaudible Unison
To tell two silences apart
When someone’s sitting by a grave
Between a full stop
And a dot
A tear and a drop
For life is fluid
A sigh is nothing but a deeper
Breath, so long as it too goes
Through the nose
Where does a silence start
The absence of a soundwave
Or to unpack
Each other they will need to be
Not to be there
Is not the same thing as to flee
Or to break out, up, through, or free
Which one of them’s the creeper?
The one who blew it
You’re deaf and see some mouthing
Or fingers flying on a flute
It’s like to gods a then-and-now thing
Is there no grave if there’s no plot?
How do you tell an absence from a lack?
If bodies stay
Is it denial
It’s like to dial
And not hit Send
It’s like two spaceships from two worlds with air
Passing each other, headed
Around two versions of a bend
Each unignored, unbedded
How do you tell if you forgot
Or never knew it?
And does it matter if that matters not?
A silence grows
Can there be two or only one of those?
Is hard to grasp
To pin down or achieve
Not all the matter or the glossier
Matter, for that matter, is knowable
That’s a utopia
So if, say, one were
Over a faint hue of a word
For we are many, each a polyseme
It would by no means seem
Mean or purposely ignoble
Not to have put it through a sieve
Not to have kept a detailed dossier
Taken apart a length of purr
A stretch of whir
Into the gaps
Between each rasp
For just as long as blades have whirred
How the beats have grown
Slow as on opium
Or otherwise to hug the blur
A Plunge from a Flying Boat
My rowboat glides and slices through the waves.
It splits the waters into dusk and East.
My gaze is backward, and my path is true,
for my boat will not sail from land to shore—
I rock with it. I hold it by the oars.
With me it swells as if I were a child.
My body bends and straightens, wobbles, hurts.
The paddles dip and stroke the kissing waves.
I smell the teasing, soothing briny wind.
Big grows the star. The welling clouds light up.
Now I can see the etchings of the waves.
I also write on water with my oars.
What kind of madness, carving words in clay.
It goes away, like curvy, rippled brains,
Moonlight off waves, come day.
The lilt, the drum, the whisper and the sway—
Songs live through death and carry you to hell.
When all has withered, that is all at play,
Stuff left of things of which it was once made.
Smooth spreads the sea. The slate lies sheer and still.
This sudden halt has taken me by storm.
I feel the water’s forehead running warm.
Down at the limestone bottom, stops a man.
I wash my eyes.
No, there he stands. His shirt, like seaweed, waves—
To me, it seems, is moored his tilted stare.
A woman wanders into my boat’s shade,
Her mouth wide-awed, her hand against the light.
Her hair afloat, her skirts swim slow about,
Like leaves and banners flying in the wind.
A crowd then gathers, stirring clouds of sand.
They look, they weep, and they outstretch to me
These heavy skies lie wobbling thick and bright,
But what is this? A shadow darkens me.
Am I the only one who’s skipped to dusk?
All else is bathing in the morning light.
I’m overcast—was I so picked to be
By my own cloud—no, by a flying boat?
But rowboats do not hover in the heavens
Nor cast their shadows down on mortal men.
If this is god’s will, I don’t know which god’s.
Is it a goddess in the boat I see
As overboard she leans and gazes down?
She reaches out to me, scoops up some sky,
And then she splashes, rubs it on her eyes—
That is, I reckon, how she might have washed
Her dark and creamy skin with lukewarm milk.
What’s all this noise, and when did all these folk
Wrap round me, reaching up to her on high,
Beholding her from down here, as am I?
My tears are pouring out of them, my cries.
Soft rocks the boat, and headlong jumps the god.
Her breasts are jellyfish—like waterdrops they quake,
Then we all gasp, and less there is to breathe,
And we swoop in as she lands on her feet
We’re hungry swarming fish who thirst for love.
“I’m dying,” she cries out, as if surprised—
The splashing sky does not drown out her plea.
In a dark place, in an unspecified era,
at an unknown time,
someone half-awakens from a dream.
Perhaps it’s a beautiful young woman, a brunette.
No, a blonde . . . Most likely, though,
it’s a short
with a tufted tummy, a belly-like bald
of blushing mid-sized ears.
Maybe it happens in the past,
maybe in the future.
be going on right
It lasts only a moment, but this moment lasts
forever. Somebody probably knows
who this man is, or was,
or will be.
Otherwise it doesn’t seem
possible to identify
him. Maybe you’ve seen
him in a crowd, and his ball
ring familiar. Maybe
have forgotten him. Perhaps such a man never actually existed at all.
have appeared only as a reflection in
a little girl’s snappy pocket mirror, which she
accidentally abandoned on the seat
of a train
when her incurably stressed-out mother gripped her hand,
pulling her up, out and away.
Perhaps, by coincidence or by
mistake, this man’s image found
itself bouncing around
in the mind of a complete stranger, who
was shaving. Puzzled by such a
random occurrence, the bather pondered
it until, channeled to celestial bodies, horticulture, and team
back to its globular origin. Then again,
if it happens in a dream?
Pages turn, words disappear, and soon the book itself melts away,
leaving only whiteness (or
blackness) in its place, because
nothing is unimaginable. Maybe this man is how
a reader had initially pictured a heroine,
but a couple of pages later, constructed another image instead,
dumping the old one into
the subconscious. Maybe, inexplicably, the baldy is germane
or explicably connected to absolutely nothing. Quite
possibly this is a never-written scene
from a book. Many authors won’t write
passages involving bodily functions, and
their characters sometimes go
setting foot in the bathroom. And so
the man half-awakens from an already forgotten dream. It’s more
of a gluey sort
of in-betweenness of non-sleep and non-
alertness left over from the dream than
a recollection. The sharp understanding he
senses is that nobody’s ever needed to go
any man about any horse as urgently as he
does this very instant. He slouches on
the edge, pulls the floor
up to his feet
by the mattress and bumps into furniture on his round
trip to the bathroom until he walks right back into bed.
Max Orkis lives in California and works as a writer/editor. His prose and poetry have appeared in Grand Little Things, North Dakota Quarterly, The Atomic Flyswatter anthology, Weber — The Contemporary West, The Milo Review, Empty Sink, Words with JAM, the 2011 Grigoryev Competition anthology, Topos, Polutona, Dvoetochie:, and elsewhere.
Well done! Thank you.
Stunning is right. I am envious of the talent shown here.
Brilliant! My slithy toves are gyring!