Above photo: Cosmic Winterscape - a gelid scene *
Right-side Contents - New Poets Sandy Benitez, Abraham Adonduwa, Recent Micro-chapbooks with poem selection. Special contributions: "Shelfie" by Corey Messler and "A New Year's Resolution" by Howie Good
Poets New to the OPP
Sandy Benitez "is the founder and editor of Flutter Press and Poppy Road Review. She's been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Dzanc's Best of the Web, and Best of the Net. Sandy has authored six poetry chapbooks and has appeared in three anthologies.
Abraham Ogebe Adonduwa "is a writer of poetry and short stories and has published in a few international literary journals and magazines... He hopes to publish more poems and more stories about his beloved home Nigeria, and he also hopes to learn how to fold Origami perfectly."
Micro-chapbooks Published Since Last Newsletter
(Click Cover & Download Book as one-page PDF)
'Stone' by Corey Mesler
Cover image: nemo.star
What I Bring to the Table
Limp me into middle age.
Hang me up like a single
sock. Sock me
like a punch-drunk pug.
Take me out to the rifle range
and target my sores.
I’m passive like a stone.
Kick me like Virginia Woolf
and change the world-to-come.
· · ·
Cover: Imperial tortoise beetle
Opening Lines to Silent Work
There is patience in the rush of irises across the fields
like planting of love between two people —
It is deep work — like roots for plants,
like a barn’s loose nail needing hammering,
or a fence sags from neglect.
Silence need not be a sullen work.
A deep well always replenishes,
drawing up a full bucket with a rope that never frays.
But just like pulling the rope
on a hot and thirsty day can seem to take forever,
you need patience to bring love that long distance.
· · ·
Cover Art by Helen Burke
From 'The Kindness of Dogs'
You say it and it is true.
Dogs are kind.
They buy small dog treats for each other.
They hold doors open for cats.
They run rings around the moon,
Bury the sun in the sand and throw sticks
For the stars.
Dogs are kind.
They put paws on your knees on bad days.
They hold a light out to you in their eyes.
They run to the top of the mountain and bark
“Which stone did you want?? which one??”
And race back down with it and
Place it gently at your feet.
· · ·
"The Lilac City" by Sandy Benitez
Cover photo: Lilacs Blooming with Blue Sky
After 16 years, the roses remain.
Do you remember the pebbled path
that led us back to where we began;
a casual stroll, mindful of stray thorns.
One of your friends married at Rose Hill
only to divorce one year later. All those
roses gathered around could not perfume
a sweet romance gone sour. Even a lone
sun dial couldn’t turn back time to bliss.
If we ever return, we’ll walk the same
pebbled path; tracing our steps in youth,
every moment together a blooming rose.
· · ·
"Small Gestures" by MJ Iuppa
Cover photo: rumroadravings.com
Having no hope of spring, I
trudge along a snow-packed
sidewalk with my head down,
careful not to catch my boots
in an icy crack.
It’s April Fools and this morning’s
bluster of snow isn’t a hoax.
Another day of dreary, I think
wishing I were defiant as snowdrops
sprung open like safety pins left
beneath a small yard’s ragged
(First published in Ealain)
· · ·
The road is muddy and treacherous
The night is filled with stars
The dancing shadows are a folded page I keep turning
The narrow path is arduous, strenuous,
My feet are sore and swollen
What would have happened had I been less of a fool
What grief, oh what grief! Would I not have had to bear
How much further can my feet go?
Will I fall into this abyss of despair?
Sink into the soft, quick sand?
Will I give in to the whims of my mind?
As it drifts on the edge of sleep
Now fresh and conscious,
Now ready to fall?
My sanity, my being, myself
Will I surrender it all?
The wind whips my pinched skin
Fatigue parches my throat dry
Still, I wander on.
• • •
My Shelfish Life by Corey Mesler
Special to the OPP
Recently my daughter announced that she was getting an apartment with a friend. Of course I knew I would miss her as if a limb had dropped off, but, after that initial emotional response, my default function said this to me: you will have more bookshelf space.
Corey Mesler has published in numerous journals and anthologies. He's authored 8 novels (now 9?), 3 full-length poetry collections, and 3 books of short stories. He has also published a dozen chapbooks of both poetry and prose. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize numerous times, and two of his poems were chosen for Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. With his wife, he runs Burke’s Book Store in Memphis TN, one of the country’s oldest (1875) and best independent bookstores.
Having spent my entire adult life in the book business and then, having married another bibliophile, our home library is an organic, gargantuan entity. It inhabits our space and comforts us, and, at night, if the neighborhood has put its din to bed, you can hear it breathe.
So I have lived my life among books. I can walk the length of my bookcases as if they are the South Forty and discover, not only books I didn’t know I owned, but things about myself I didn’t know. The bookcases, I am saying, are me.
Over the past few weeks, following the lead of my friend, the poet Heather Minette, I began a series of photographs called Shelfies. I don’t know if she invented the term or not. She’s smart enough to have done so. The photos, like a flashing highway sign, are saying, here are my books and through them you shall know me.
Anthony Powell said, “Books do furnish a room” This I believe. I also believe that they are living things, bookshelves, and are often better friends than the guys and gals you knew in high-school, who now pretend to forget your birthday, who have turned to crystals or Republicanism or reality TV. Bookshelves will never call you in the middle of night in tears because their Facebook friends ignored their post about famous Libras.
So, I have a home library. The phrase makes me happy. I would say, come visit it but we aren’t really visiting people. We’re too busy reading and talking with our bookshelves.
Howie Good - A New Year's
I've been asked to comment on my one and only New Year's resolution, which, as posted on Facebook on the eve of 2015, was. "To become a better writer and a better person and in exactly that order."
The resolution provoked laughter in some quarters (probably mostly from people who think I don't have a chance in hell of ever becoming either) and puzzlement, if not outright consternation, in others. Is the resolution really that cryptic, or are my auditors really that obtuse? It goes against my inclinations -- which are largely anti-social -- to explain myself, but since I was asked. . . .
What I meant by the resolution was something akin to what H.L. Mencken meant when he said, "A good phrase is better than a great truth." Art is the only morality worthy of my allegiance because all other moralities are, to one degree or another, prescriptive. Being a good writer is harder than being a good person, conventionally defined. It requires discipline, stamina, sacrifice, toughness -- a whole host of self-generated resources. Thus it requires my first and fiercest devotion. Or maybe my priorities are just all screwed up.
* * *
Howie Good is a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz. He is also the author of numerous chapbooks, including most recently Fugitive Pieces (Right Hand Pointing - all proceeds from this sale go to the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley), The Devil’s Fuzzy Slippers (Flutter Press) and Personal Myths from Writing Knights Press.
* Gelid - This adjective with Latin roots means "very cold, icy, or frosty."
Thanks to Dictionary.com
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