The Mystic from the poem, holding out a sea shell, Summer, 2015 [Photo: André Spenard]
So far we have received two wonderful poetry contributions, “November” by Olivia Spenard and “In a clinic in Paiwas” by Tom Harris. And recently several thought-provoking articles by Shadi Kafi and George Payne.
To encourage more poetic/visual contributions, below are some poems each with pictures added. The three with links were published in The Criterion: An International Journal in English.
We ask for your poems with complimenting pictures (especially one that will look cool on the home page!).
She has three men to forget now.
Her husband who she left for her lover who she left
To be alone in her dreams.
The one where her father builds a shinto shrine
Of cigarette butts in the ashtray,
Telling her, doesn’t she know he is dying?
The father who pissed beer on her older sister’s bed
Before she was born.
The sister who wished she had danced on her father’s casket.
The one where an intruder carries a knife bloodied as with red barnacles.
The one where her husband is fucking another woman.
The one where her lover has become a mystic on a Caribbean island
Where she goes once watching blue dolphins play in the waves.
I who wrote one poem in college thirty years ago,
Walked into a cemetery,
Lit my first cigarette in ten years,
And wrote a poem in my mind.
Lacking pen, I found a Starbucks,
Scrap paper and a black Sharpie.
Within fifteen minutes, finis.
The images and dreams
Taken from another person.
But who cares?
Then the letter.
To be published in an upcoming issue.
A complete novice.
Absolutely unprecedented and unimaginable.
The luminaries who grace the page
Of The New Yorker!
Friends and family for the rest of their lives
To be speechless.
The Department of English
In which I serve as an adjunct
To be dumfounded.
I who never play the lottery,
Won the lottery.
Whose life I borrowed,
Who left me,
Will come back.
Hey, thanks. Let me show you the house.
The ruse of the forgotten pen.
From when they exchanged numbers that evening at Jeremiahs.
Her children now at home with her sister
Eating Reeses and Nestles Crunch.
Look, seniorita, a Cuban flag bought last August
When Obama established diplomatic ties.
Going to fly it right next to the American flag
On Independence Day.
Up against a certain wall,
Back to a certain chair,
Her on my lap,
Leftover Halloween candy,
In a bowl on the table.
The Healthy Relationships Seminar done.
Skylarking home on the Canal Path
Under a purple evening sky
Making purple water.
Two Asians on a rickety bicycle.
The same two as before and before.
Her gangly with glasses, in back.
She, perched almost on his lap, in front.
Pleasant, short, more plain than not.
The same couple, for years now, swooning and looping
The Canal Path, the Lehigh Valley Trail, the Genesee Parkway,
Riverside and inland.
He whispering to her in Chinese
Or Talagog. Or Esperanto.
Or is it even words?
The single encounter at the municipal tennis courts
That is not me watching them on their bicycle.
The cheap used yard sale rackets,
The found balls fuzzless and soggy,
Black socks and Walmart tennis shoes.
“Hey, I think I’ve seen you guys on your bicycle.”
The returned stare as blank as this page before I started.
“Do you go to school here?”
We grew up in China
My husband grad student in Electric Engineering
Live in Whipple Park.
Back to forehands and backhands
Plinking into the net.
Funny, she and I never have played tennis like that
The way we talked about.
A Phone Call to Manhattan
We had made love in a Narragansett beach house as the Beavertail Lighthouse
Sent continual beacons of light through the window whose rhythm matched our own.
And the call was never made.
At three in the morning, pushing me down into wood chips
Scattered about the Children’s Garden
In Peace Dale.
A red sweater on a cool Fall evening in Providence
In whose cuteness I saw
Grandchildren at my feet at eighty.
And the single phone call to Manhattan
That it would have taken
Was never made.
A Thirty Year Prophecy
Caressing the still visible pinkish line with its sixteen stitches,
For thirty years he imagined telling the story to great effect over wine at tables for two.
Slyly he recounted how he had taken a Brown girl inside Sayles Hall.
Coaxing her upward,
Climbing a ladder to a musty, nearly dark alcove, sweater breached and bra unhinged.
Suggesting the math classrooms downstairs would be more amenable to their purposes.
The fall, the nail, the glass, the blood. The air cast, the sixteen stitches.
No doubt the gay organist who used the alcove placed a curse.
Because later he would take a RISD girl to the scene of the crime.
This time the organist was booming fugues from the Phantom of the Opera.
Chastened, he offered she go down first.
The fall, the nail, the glass, the blood. The air cast, the seventeen stitches.
Needless to say, the wound was fatal to our budding romance.
He always ended, squinting, that one Campus Dance he planned to take a woman
Back to the second floor of Sayles Hall when on the steps below the window at midnight
The Jabberwocks sang Ever True to Brown.
There and then he would propose.
Who knows, it might be a stranger he had just met. An old love back for Reunion Weekend.
It might be you. Curses don’t last forever.
In the afternoon before the Dance, those not wanting to overpay for their liquor
Tape bottles of Tanqueray and Old Bombay underneath their assigned tables.
By 10:30, the bottles empty and the revelers back in line paying double prices.
The clear skies above Providence keeping its celestial promise for an evening.
Ever the same twelve thousand people Under the Elms.
Rows of Japanese lanterns making the Green look like a colonial outpost.
The Big Band announcing that happy days are here again.
Dancers dancing as if it were 1955 or 1965 or 1975 or 1985.
Kisses melting time.
Said to be comfortable in his bachelorhood, they had met at the University track one June day.
She was young. Improbably young. Only 28.
They had made love in a Narragansett beach house as the Beavertail Lighthouse
Sent continual beacons of light through the window whose rhythm matched their own.
Somehow he sweet talked her into the Reunion and Dance.
She found his old story clichéd and obvious.
And she was from Manhattan and to her it was just another crowded affair.
And it might rain. And they would have to stay in dorms.
Fifteen minutes before the Jabberwocks were to begin, he went into Sayles alone.
Seeing her in the crowd, tipsily flirting with a circle
Of Class of ‘65ers, he beckoned.
Smiling, laughing, waving back, she returned to the conversation
With a man wearing a hat shaped like the head of a Brown bear
That made him look like a fool.
Later back in the Wriston Quad dorm she admitted
She had more fun than expected. The old guys were a hoot when drunk.
Was that him waving? It was dark and hard to see.
Too bad her train left so soon and she couldn’t stay the whole weekend.
SEE ALSO the ACTUAL poem from 1990 (with companion letter and photo) referred to in “The New Yorker is publishing my poem!”