Friday, June 30, 2017

Poems I Admire #36

The Wilderness

On the verge of the lake, he stands alone
without speaking or moving,
his emaciated frame lost amid gorse bushes,
their needles tipped with yellow buds,
spines hooking onto his baggy brown coat.
The landscape recedes, each mountain
like the stony back of a sea monster
in hibernation. Ashen clouds slide over
the weakening sun, their shadows
dancing across the rock face.
A Westerly wind sweeps the skin of water
and licks his ruddy face, forcing him to shut both eyes.
As sudden raindrops ping off his coat
he slowly backtracks home, following dirt tracks
flanked with overgrown heather
to the cabin, log fire, beer, bong, banjo,
faded olive couch with deer hide blankets,
and a loaded shotgun propped up beside the door.



The following is the bio of poet Naomi Hamilton found at her musical website.

Jealous of the Birds is the solo project of hotly tipped Irish songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Naomi Hamilton. Her debut album Parma Violets, due out in April, matches introspective indie-folk with fiery post-punk. Beautifully crafted songs have been given contrasting arrangements, veering from stripped-down acoustic guitar to full-band indie-rock anthems, all overlaid by Naomi’s compelling layered vocals. Equal parts light and shade, the songs are poignant and vulnerable, bursting with honesty and raw passion.
Hailing from County Armagh in Northern Ireland, Jealous of the Birds emerged from the vibrant suburban folk scene, alongside acts such as Ciaran Lavery and No Oil Paintings. Naomi quietly unleashed her debut EP Capricorn in March 2015, where her wonderfully understated bedroom indie-folk won her an ever-growing legion of support. The entire EP is a stunning lo-fi collection of tunes recalling Girlpool, Karen Dalton, Cat Power, Laura Marling and even The Moldy Peaches at times.  Describing her music she has said; “My only hope is that the songs sound like a real friend talking.”

Monday, June 26, 2017

Barely Platonic

They head straight for the highest point,
run up the stairs, floor after floor, 

until they reach the top, spin around
on the flat black roof, enjoy the dizzy rush

of height. They hold hands and pull
each other this way, then that. Their eyes

wide open, they take everything in 
and laugh at each other’s laughter.

Eventually, things get serious. 
Their grip gets tight, they head for the edge.

They look down, look at each other, 
leap. The ground closes-in, hearts thump. 

Their hands slide apart, fingertips cling,
release. Chutes pop and drag.


First appeared in Clear Poetry

Friday, June 16, 2017

Poems I Admire #35

Lot’s Wife
Mike James

The marriage was never good. Lot lived and lectured within the dull walls of his piety. Never sipped water or ate a crust of bread without giving thanks so all might hear. In Sodom, his eyes watched the ground. When women stood in doorways and called and called he did not answer. Instead, he scurried down the one path to home. At night his sand coarse hands touched his wife: the same spots in the same order. He knew only one way to enter the house of her body… quickly, while shuddering thanks. Beneath him, she dreamed of another’s salt. Her whole life, a backward glance.


First appeared in Main Street Rag

Mike James has been published in over a 100 magazines across the United States. His work has appeared in such places as Negative Capability, Soundings East, Chiron Review, and Birmingham Poetry Review. Among his nine poetry collections are Peddler’s Blues, The Year We Let The House Fall Down, Elegy In Reverse, and Past Due Notices. A new book of prose poems, My Favorite Houseguest, will be published in the summer of 2017 by FutureCycle Press. He has previously served as an associate editor of The Kentucky Review, as an associate editor of Autumn House Press, as the publisher of Yellow Pepper Press, and as the Visiting Writer In Residence at the University of Maine, Fort Kent.

Friday, June 9, 2017

On Macramé and Excuses


They’re in the way you wind your steps
into a tightly twisted macramé – except
that they change the way things change,

the way others wonder why your’re never
where you want to be and why they wind
their way – step by step, like a macramé –

into their own threads, laced easily
into the vague theory that things bleed
and scream like the every part of everyday

lives lived in purple origami twisted
into something birdish and crinkled,
a useless paper macramé, small and bent.

They’re in the flatness to your plain way
of walking back and forth from kitchen
to bedroom in the dim nightlight light

of one midnight snack after another. They’re
there when you wind around the furniture
in twisted socks and toe holes, tripping

over macramé like you’re still wearing bellbottoms
and your juted fascinations all panned out somehow.
They’re in the way you’ve always tied slip knots loose

and lazy, more interested in the slip than the knot
twisting slack as the jaw of a disinterested kiss
and of tongues that will never know macramé.


Friday, June 2, 2017

Poems I Admire #34

Loose-leaf Memories
Ciara Shuttleworth

Somewhere, a movie. Orchestral music,
a space odyssey in surround sound.

Now, the rise and crescendo
that means the hero has saved the girl,
at least temporarily,
from being alone. But too many times can you tell
they are both still lonely.

Even if I’ve been dead wrong my entire life,
I can’t take a single crossroad back.
Loneliness isn’t about
being alone. My old love letters
read like a series of misdemeanors,
but at that time I thought I was Juliet.
Too much introspection
and suddenly a wooden bowl is not just a wooden bowl,
but a vessel keeping dry my failed self-improvement efforts
and memories kept intentionally loose-leaf – easier
for sifting through, for catching flame.


First appeared in San Pedro River Review

Ciara Shuttleworth was born in San Francisco and grew up in Nebraska, Nevada, and Washington state. Her poetry has been published in journals and anthologies, includingConfrontation, Hayden's Ferry Review, The New Yorker, The Norton Introduction to Literature 11e, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, and Tahoma Literary Review. Shuttleworth received an MFA in poetry from University of Idaho, a BFA in painting/drawing from San Francisco Art Institute, and a BA in studio art from Gustavus Adolphus College. She was The Jack Kerouac Project of Orlando's 51st resident at Jack Kerouac House. Shuttleworth's poetry chapbook, Night Holds Its Own (Blue Horse Press), and her gonzo prose book, 4,500 Miles: Taking Jack Back on the Road (Humanitas Media Publishing), are available.