BAP Quarterly

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Poetry



Elena Karina Byrne

To Memory: Marianne Moore

David Hendy

Boredom in Town-on-Thames

Francis Raven

Beeswax

Memory Wax

Mary Kovaleski Byrnes

LIMBIC MORNING

Peycho Kanev

Memories
One Face Above All

Mark Goad

Alzheimer’s Lady

Vuong Quoc Vu

Starlings

David Salner

THE LAKEFRONT CLOSES AT 8 PM—

c m mcLamb

mrs. jackson’s soul food

Ivana Plucinski

Before I knew

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

To Memory: Marianne Moore

like flies in amber,   the rhythms
    of the skating rink,  she sinks like a diver who pushes aside

shells, divides darkness of a Carta Marina map-worn water, sees herself
breathing, sees herself knowing

    that we are precisionists

    plain to none but the artist

swayed by their own argument, looking back, fictions

poisonous from the beginning.

She’s looking back

until something loosens from the rafters of desire, descends on
                        oyster owl wings,
an apprentice-hush
which speaks for us,  over the industrious waterfall,


emerald mines,  is the mind’s parent punishing us

for coming home late.

back to the top

by: Elena Karina Byrne

 

 

 

 


 

 

Boredom in Town-on-Thames

Nettle-sting covers hands.
       Petals are sharpened
             to a soft point where
                   our wheel spokes
                       rattle the flower heads.
                    They hum like electricity
                                 for a moment… just
                          a moment, then rock slowly
                               to arch back into the Ock
                                  path that is patched with
                                      captured flood water; it pools
                                        in hundreds of cratered footprints.
                                            The water of the weir is deep green
                                                     behind the concrete rim
                                                         as we ride along it to wash
                                                           our tyres free. We reach
                                                                  the fenced-off Civil War graves
                                                           and sit on bikes breathing…hard…
                                                   waiting...we listened to our mothers
                                            say hundreds of musket balls were found
                                       embedded in skulls; that the smart labourers
                                     from an Oxford university were handing them
                                          out to the local kids. An hour passes…
                         maybe minutes. We give up and ride to the abbey
                               grounds where an English cannonball is embedded
                        in the stone of an English ruin burnt for revolution.
                            We poke into it with green-pith sticks broken
                 from the branches of the beech
           that arch over it.


by: David Hendy

 

 

 


 

 

Beeswax

"Wax is a very nice building material but it's expensive."
    entomologist Francis Ratnieks

Hexagon to hexagon –
(More storage space)
Just start at the ceiling and work your way down
Because the opposite just keeps falling.
(and so, if a bees’ nest is memory).

    Secretion and Mixture.   
Some adverbs.  Some spit.  Some dust.
    Ohh yeah, and each has a role to play.
        Assigned.

Wax is less brittle in deep heat,
Bees swarm and raise the temperature to 95o
So they can mold the wax,
    Articulate their vision.

by: Francis Raven

 

 

 


 

 

Memory Wax

Memory’s wax melts in your ear; what was your name?

Spotlights melt
The wax of memory;
Birds fly unformed,
Flustered.

The letter gets lost but still retrieves its recipient
from the dispositional attitude of an address,
internal connection between arrow and halfway eaten waxy apple.

From one freedom to the next
What you say I will also say,
But after you stop saying it
Unfortunately, what I saying will crumble.

We wax our surfboards to stick and let the water slip,
But to wax is ultimately to grow.

by: Francis Raven

 

 

 


 

 

LIMBIC MORNING

If smell is the strongest sense connected
to memory, I can find you anywhere.
A city bus, wet woolen coat—
and suddenly I’m back, out of all this,
to your porch swing, lifting over summer’s street,
brown bread rising in the kitchen,
mothballs in the lilies to deter rabbits.

Like this you’re resurrected through the earth—
Ukrainian Catholic coal dust—to my morning.
Uproot with you the long cord of your life:
Carpathian mountains, ocean cradle,
nine children huddled in a bed.
Black-lung widow, babies you’d outlive. Wars
and winters, church bells calling up the hill—
time enough and never time enough.

That summer day I asked you, “When your husband
died, what happened then?” You said, “Good riddance,”
without looking at the child,
or maybe thinking I was old enough
to start to know the deep mine of your truths.
Summer buzzed around us. Your eyes stayed
on the mountains, and I said nothing,
breathed in mothballs—wanted lilies.

Today you’re giving me another chance.
You’ve brought with you what’s far beyond your grave:
vague scents of loam, your mother’s country.
Dirt under her nails, rose-petal rosary
between her fingers. Who were you then?
You can’t tell me, only whisper words
in a long-lost tongue—our ancestors’
secrets hidden, stories still untold.

                    for Natalie

by: Mary Kovaleski Byrnes

 

 

 


 

 

Memories

My bones
in this room full of silence
are bare!
 
Too many women
have chewed me up and spat me
out.
 
I am waiting for a new body
for everybody to like.
 
Just as before.
 
I wonder…
 
The walls are
still the same,
 
the wine too.
 
You
are sitting next to me
and your eyes ask me
something.
 
The answer is
NO.

by: Peycho Kanev

 

 

 


 

 

One Face Above All

My face my morning face
in front of the old mirror,
razor in my hand and I imagine
wheat and blood;
what are the veins but rivers
of my fading memory,
the empires will fall
the universe will collapse
the roaches will triumph:
but it is still early
and as the tomb rock rolls among
skulls of the geniuses of the past
as the realm of the future winks at us
we are here I say and notice the razor
in my hand:
it is durable-
it will outlive the tyrants, the ants
and the trees,
every sunset, every winter,
every eclipse,
the things that make us wonder
but not enough to give us
the answers.

by: Peycho Kanev

 

 

 


 

 

Alzheimer’s Lady

The Alzheimer’s lady
picks up her Quarter Pounder with cheese
and reflects upon it with a child’s wonder reserved
for a birthday present so badly chosen that it threatens
all possible future joy.

Eat it, her husband says roughly (it’s
been a bad day).

Why? she asks, lowering her eyes,
and gently lays the burger on the table.

Why?  He lays his burger down, too,
and together, hands held, they gaze past their reflection
into the unsteady, gray rain.


by: Mark Goad

 

 

 


 

 

Starlings

My friend is going to leave Fresno.
One afternoon, when the sky was so pale
it was the color of whitewash, he told me
he was finally beginning to love
Fresno.  He said, “Perhaps
it is because I am leaving.”

Just then, a flock of starlings took flight
over us, sweeping thunderously across
the sky.  We stared in awe.  “Like a cloud,”
my friend said, “a storm.”
He looked at me with a smile
that promised, I’ll never forget this.

I don’t think I’d forget it either,
but knowing me, this foolish heart of mine—
I’d remember it all wrong.
I’d remember that day so gray
that it was raining.
And those black birds, those starlings,
that flew from tree to tree in great flocks,
I would not remember them.  Instead,
I’d remember a storm that day, and rain,
and a large cloud, a thunderous head
of a cloud that swelled across the colorless sky.

And I don’t think I’d remember my friend
leaving either; I’d just remember him
as he stood that day in the rain.
He looked young, and happier
than I had ever seen him,
the way he said he was beginning to love—
to love someone?  to love himself?—
Ah, yes, he said he was
beginning to love Fresno.


by: Vuong Quoc Vu

 


 

 

THE LAKEFRONT CLOSES AT 8 PM—

and the teen-age couples begin standing up,
shakily, from the towels where they’ve lain
in a world of their own, brushing mosquitoes
off each other’s skin;

and the fisherman holds up the large-mouth bass
one last time for the camera, for us,
and I stare at the gaping bone of the lip,
the gills running red, the long muscle

that flows down the side
under speckled scales; and the horizon
no longer shows rich details of shadow and green,
of great oak and pine, is now just a wall

behind which the sky turns gray, trembles with night
and a possible storm; and I walk to the lot,
admire the weeds, some with white flowers
growing wildly through the broken asphalt . . . .

—In a dream that night, I fall into a lake
of memory and vision. I swim to the center
where the moon drops a bulls-eye on the water
and all things are wreathed around me.


by: David Salner

 


 

 

mrs. jackson’s soul food

Sunday afternoon arrived and the pots and pans came out. 
Hot grease spat back at Mrs. Jackson as she fried up
the best chicken wings north of the Mason Dixon
with cornbread and hamhocked collards to match. 

We played Spades or Gin – depending on who stopped by –
on the dining room table, asking Mrs. Jackson between hands
if she needed help.  But she always yelled back
“Y’all know I’m alright, hear!”, projecting over
the popping grease and window fan, both set on high. 

And she was, always bringing the food out,
thanks to no one but herself, right as someone yelled “Gin!”
and collected the cards to put them back in the checkered box. 

Then, with the cards cleared and table set, Mrs. Jackson sat down with us
as we ate and talked until the chicken was gone and the sun went down. 

That was when Mrs. Jackson shooed us away from the kitchen
and drove us home, as happy and content as we could be. 


by: c m mcLamb

 


 

 

Before I knew

Recollections of old jam jars
Still held secure by strings of jute
Form chapter two of my memoirs,
Palmated newt of blackberry fruit.
Black-eyed shivers frogspawn jelly,
Quartz pebbles for a childhood loot;
Ten minnows silver treasury
Before I knew, before I knew
That educated arrogance
Would bring to close that chapter two,
And break the glass of innocence.


by: Ivana Plucinski

 

 
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