Mad Hatters' Review

Two poems by Stephen Nelson

Posted on March 8, 2012

Beach

We played with the whales in the shallows for a week until they beached
on the shore and became a mass of dead blubber. Several townsfolk
went insane after this – mothers killed babies, fathers slaughtered sons.
My parents took me to a rocky cliff top and told me to look out over the
water. The blood salt smell of whale meat filled my lungs, coating them
in thick, fatty oil. Somehow I still trusted my parents. They became gilt
framed daguerreotypes, suspended in mid air.

I began to receive stories, jumbled at first, a riot of incident colliding,
like angry waves, splintered, like smashed hulls. The stories leapt up
from the sea, forming into long, arcing narratives, textured like rippling
water unspooling on the wind. Antique objects appeared on the cliff top
- clocks, dressers, chaise longues; setting and substance spilling out on
the rocks from unravelling narratives.

Soon the whales were reborn as land mammals enacting elegant
cocktail parties around the furnishings adorning the cliff top. I found
myself paddling ankle deep in skipping waves, bemused, with a school of
silent children waking to the possibility of endless play.

 

His Suit

He left his hands at the piano and walked away. The window gave on to
a sloping field holding green air and a hot air balloon hovering green.
The green air filtered through gauze curtains and choked the room. His
mother's voice, pale, disembodied, a melody. He tapped the window
and it cracked and gushed green air. With mother gone he could sail or
sleep in forests while ghost hands cracked black notes on the piano.

Maybe all the lovers his mother entertained on slim, contoured sofas
would create a palanquin for her memory. Her memory in porcelain
figurines. Her memory in dried petals. They could rip up need like tissue
paper, spray jets of lust around her memory, leaving a wormy anxiety in
his chest.

He walked back to the piano and played the sound of his mother's
voice, the sound of her lovers' moans, the hum of the balloon, outside,
hovering. This may induce memories, he thought. It could summon
ghosts. This could drive the lovers into pits of ash and oil.

In the green smog hands appear, waving, the hands of dead mothers,
beckoning. He clings to the room, solid walls, substance; he remembers
to eat – meat, eggs, cheeses. The room begins to lose its familiarity as
the green smog clogs space, clings to the ceiling and drapes from walls
like fleshy nudes, turning certainty into vague recognition, mourning into
sensuality.

The day progresses breathlessly to the point where his father steps out
from the lovers, dissolving in a 19th Century gentleman's suit, an airless
suit of cuffs and collar, faceless. Outside his father attached to the
balloon by ropes and string, flags flapping around the arms and legs of
the suit, now blown up green and aerated. The boy wears the suit. The
boy and his father blow clouds through the arms and legs of the suit. The
boy and his father sailing through green clouds, arms and legs and face,
fading.

Meanwhile, the white piano mother melody, lost to the room of lovers,
fashioned in grief, shaped by desertion, stirring the gauze curtains and
the slow curling air.

Stephen Nelson is in the grip of the Little People, but somehow still manages to write, mainly poetry, but occasionally fiction. He also creates visual poems and can be found at www.afterlights.blogspot.com .

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Two Poems by Glenn Frantz

Posted on March 5, 2012

Labyrinth

Happily kept, as tightly as pins.
But who owns the lock?
Replying with snowy smartness and suspicion,
and who had no roof when cementing the night.
The green cat could run over the courtyard.
I will see better in the small flowerpot.
I must try not looking.
A little street of wishing that stood linked by.

And the gray sandy world that trembled with shape
became weeks and rose high in the space between walls.

The sun went to the valleys
while the boy bored two bees in it with his books.
How true he is,
the honey in his teeth.
The golden slowly around the city more slowly;
the silly city are together.
Go about it with fur beneath it closed again.
To pay his tin sunshine bore antennae for all that.

 

Water-Logged

At midnight we remove the boat from its hiding place.
In the dark, the lake seems less wet than the woods.

It is difficult to print the muffled slice of the shore,
with its short stems,
where around each new point
lies anxiety for unexplored coves—
might be a mirage in mind of some savage swamp.
It is a large decayed blue
of changeable and spacious black.

No more than a glimpse of a glimpse
of smooth-shouldered white stones like thunder,
excepting one or two
that make off vividly through the grass there,
where the family had been fishing from the shore.
Their swimming impressed me like a name in a kettle,
but made no improvements to mine.

I had come up and I hear the other birds,
and calm water so steep that only a moth can climb it.
The swallows which passed over my dwelling
were such as sweep over the day by boat.

Glenn R. Frantz is a native of southeastern Pennsylvania . His poetry has appeared in publications such as Otoliths, BlazeVOX, Blue & Yellow Dog, Cricket , and Great Works . His e-chapbook We Are You is available from Beard of Bees .

 

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