Dead Flower

Three Poems

by Carl Boon

LOST IN KHARKOV

I needed a post office.
I needed a beer.
Heroes of Labor Street
was long, my landmarks
confused with the map
I left on the Kirova bus.

Because this girl
on Stalingrad Prospect
owned legs
that reached to Lenin’s
palm, and moved
like a sparrow, furtively.

I followed her as far
as the Railway Museum,
then got lost because
I was a boy, with no reason
for being in Kharkov
or anywhere, but I knew

there was a post office—
somewhere. I had a letter
for my father in Ohio,
blue ink that said

I’ve fallen in love.
Who won the Final Four?
I’m going to die.

I’m basically happy
to be old now, there being no
Stalingrad Prospect,
no girls with long legs
to distract me
near Lenin’s statue.

There are others
to write such letters,
and my father is dead,
listening to Miles Davis
play the trumpet
somewhere, listening

to long-ago music
in a place like Ohio.

SHARI’S BABY

Shari’s baby tries to sing,
but the rain’s outlandish

and swallows her song
before it’s a song. It’s this way

in storm in Ohio,
July afternoons, and the gutters

know, and the trucks make
one puddle three.

There was a note, a budding
melody she heard

in the kitchen, like violas,
like why is the sky

a painted thing,
and why are we drifting?

Shari lifts her baby, brings her
to her breast, and listens.

Something’s calling
through the rain

that is not the rain,
that is a question.

A MAN’S LEFT

A girl ponders the acacia
brushing the window.
Her wrists are scarred.
Her bedroom’s awry
with panties and medicine
in thin brown bottles. She hears
her mother’s voice
saying it’s a holiday. And how
shall I season the lamb?
She finds herself in a novel
on the Aegean Sea
until the call to prayer
astounds her into being again,
being without his deep,
beckoning laughter,
his resonance. They traveled
in the mountains once;
they drank mineral water
and memorized the shoulders
of the bread-seller.
There were hawks
and it got dark early.
The world they shared,
graceful and mysterious,
won’t be shared again. Her gray,
contemplative eyes go
to the corner of her room,
where a pair of carved gulls
look back at her, propped
on a volume of poems
by Orhan Veli.

Carl Boon lives and works in Istanbul, Turkey. Recent or forthcoming poems appear in Posit, The Tulane Review, Badlands, JuxtaProse, The Blue Bonnet Review, and many other magazines.

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Syrup Smokes the Same – Micro Essay

by Andrew Baker

We smoked pine needle cigarettes and coughed up syrup. Ronnie and I were ten and wanted to be grownups. I’d been sneaking half-smoked butts from the ashtray for a few months, but he couldn’t bring himself to taste nicotine. With kid logic, we figured that pine needles would smoke the same. We emptied out some of the butts and crushed the spines inside. The brown tips that jutted out were burned down so they looked like the real deal.

Lollipop pines lined the clearing where we’d play army. It was tucked away back on top of one of the knobs. Hidden from my parents, we searched for the brownest and crunchiest needles.  We found that the green ones took forever to light. We’d climb one of the hemlocks at the edge and take turns passing the knock-off Marlboros.

Each toke burned my lungs and made me think I was drowning in Pine-Sol. It rolled across my tongue like cough syrup and dripped from my mouth like molasses. Out of everything, pine needles cause the worst cough. It’s terrifying to open your hand and see that you’ve coughed up something resembling half-eaten pancakes. We didn’t know that dried needles still hold sap, or that we’d been filling our lungs with the stuff. It didn’t stop us. I figured it was better than the cigarettes I stole from mom. If she could do it, why couldn’t I?

Andrew R. Baker is a writer, photographer, self proclaimed video game aficionado, and a closet poet from the mountains of southeast Tennessee. He currently resides in Jiangyin, Jiangsu, China and teaches English at a local school..

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Moon, River, Snow: A Dervish Essay – Micro Essay

by Robert Vivian

Cold wind touching my face at night close to the woods as if to say goodbye and I dream grandfather by the banks of the river, I dream fish under skein of ice waiting for nymphs to emerge, I dream the chance to wade again in April and I dream listening woods waiting for winter dawn and winter light empty as a windswept and barren room with all the windows open and moon, river, snow, one word in three becoming me and wanting to shine and one word in the clean hush you bring to the birth and death of every star and every clean becoming and how dear you are to me, so near and far away and intimate as breathing and simple prayer that whispers clean, clean, let go, let go, that whispers already leaving, already spendthrift and gone and cold clear water that wears away pebble and stone to give them glow and each of you a reverie all your threadbare own and almost full moon above whiter than dove tugging at river and blood do you stare because of chasm, do you stare because endless drifting stream of universal dust is all you know in star struck motes holding everything and how river is drawn to you, how it moves to gather your spirit like a lover who wants to please and snow are you glad to be here, are you truly bride worshiping in the temple of hush and snow what is it like to cover things, rake, fence, hoe, and apple cart, and moon tell me what to do with this yearning, and river tell me why I think of you as dear someone who died long ago come back in the shape of winding water flowing to the north, flowing evenly with the whole earth to cover, of gravity and remembering and new dawns breaking yolk of sun and the subtle sighing of leaves that whisper every season and withered stalk of corn, and moon, river, snow and all the elements, fire, ice, wind, and wave, lead me beyond every false and fleeting thing to that place I keep forgetting and wanting to get back to, open mouth under the stars and empty hands in the woods listening and watching for you, moon, river, snow in the hush that is winter and winter listening, winter waiting and breath made of briefest steam that shows how quick I am to pass into cloud and this breathing the writ and proof of it and unrolling scroll so soon to disappear, this breathing reaching out to you, moon, river, snow so that I may become a part of you again, ancient fathers and mothers in the ageless work of staring, carrying, and falling without a sound as you blanket the rose bushes and the watering can and the overturned wheelbarrow like someone who is on his knees after a great bout of sadness or because he has stumbled and can’t get up again.

Robert Vivian has published four novels and two books of meditative essays.

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