Our reader poets are keeping us on our toes. Vincent Trimboli wrote our winning poem this month. Like several of our entrants this month, he was moved and inspired by the prompt about the plight of refugee children and responded with a poem in haunting couplets.
He has some fierce competition. Devon Balwit’s “Resignation Syndrome (II)” is terse and devastating. Elizabeth R. Dalwyn gives us a more mournful view in “The Pillow Case” and Jennifer Hernandez imagines the inner life of this child. Hank Henderson strikes a different note, inspired by Beck’s “Orphans.” I’m happy to make these poems available for your reading pleasure, courtesy of Entropy magazine, and grateful to all the poets who engage with these prompts and the dis•articulations 2017 project.
Considering That Tobosa-Grass Will Grow After A Fire
~For the children of Syria
Last night’s cicadas were maddening
When prayer is nothing but soil
You bent your crown around your hands
Squeezing the life from it
Each fiery siren’s wicked mouth
Twisted into shadows of copper kettles
Each finger of flint dug into the ground
Digitally slicing open ancient wombs
And what spilled out onto the streets
Were petals of buildings and bone
Then a flood of fire
That has too long since burned
And in the settled dust of follic recoil
We watched as your city leveled its spine
Trying to find its teeth to chew itself
Free from the boulder’s grasp
We looked for signs of green in piles
The leaves of your body
In frenzied helplessness
We buried your dead in our lawns
Vincent Trimboli holds a MFA in Creative Writing from West Virginia Wesleyan College. In 2016, Trimboli published two chapbooks with Ghost City Press (Condominium Morte and other milkweed diners). His poems can be found in Connotation Press and Still :Journal.
Resignation Syndrome (II)
Backward-looking I am salt, each salted field through which I’ve passed, fiend-harrowed. My pocket hides a sliver of wood from my own stoop. I press its splinter until I bruise, until my prints wear away. You turn from my collapse. I don’t blame you. I would, too, if I could see me. Instead, I lower my lids. They rasp like our shop grille to the bombed-out street, padlocked, yet blown wide. When the knocking comes, they do not lift. Someone says gently, It’s time! But it’s not—it’s too late.
Devon Balwit‘s poetry of protest has appeared in The NewVerse News, Poets Reading the News, Redbird Weekly Read, Emerge Literary Journal, Rat’s Ass Review, Rise-Up Review, Unlikely Stories Mark V! and more.
The Pillow Case
Elizabeth R Dalwyn
The young girl wanders the roads and streets
Dragging her sack – a fine linen pillow case
Her clothes are ragged and dirty
Her hair is tangled and dull
She’s looking for something
Somewhere to sleep, to eat
Someone to share an energy bar
Or a beer, harried by smells and stares
She settles like a dead leaf
In the corner of a park
Out of reach of the sly winds
And sorts through her treasures
Most of which are useless
She’s content for the moment
But there is one thing that makes her cry
And that’s her grandmother’s careful embroidery
On the pillow case
Elizabeth R Dalwyn is native of Montreal, Canada now living in Washington State. She is retired from a career in publishing and has had one book of poetry published.
Untitled poem based on Beck’s ‘Orphans.’
We inhale the damp night like a deep, languid
drag from a sanctified cigarette.
The cool menthol fog makes 3 a.m.
streets muffled, taciturn tapestries we puncture
with whispered, rum-coated dreams. We wander homeward,
our hands clasped tight to hold time. Your packed
baggage waits in the apartment. Mine, made
of a web spun from you me we entwined, becomes a
longing to stop your morning departure.
Hank Henderson is a writer, seeker, propagator, fabulist, mentor, and curator who lives in Glassell Park with three cats and a man named Joe. They adore him. He’s very lucky.
I’d give up, too, if –
after the heart-wrenching
journey, the fleeing from
all that we’d known —
language, food, home,
friends, comfort — after
starting over in a new place,
everything different, the words
caught in my throat, stuck to
my tongue, banging off
eardrums, slipping away
like rain, the food too bland
yet cupboards full to soothe
my aching belly. After finally
laying my head down to rest
and finally – resting.
To be told that after all this,
we have to leave. To go back
to the horror, the hunger,
the leering soldiers,
their thrusting rifles.
I’d rather take a bite
of Snow White’s apple,
lie down and sleep. Or die,
if those are my choices.
What awaits me back home
breathes much heavier
than an evil queen or even
her lackey woodsman
with his glistening ax.
Jennifer Hernandez lives in Minnesota where she teaches immigrant youth and writes poetry, flash, and creative non-fiction. Recent work appears in Dying Dahlia, Mothers Always Write and Yellow Chair Review.