Marvin R. Hiemstra – Mona Lisa: Triumph in Exile

Mona Lisa: Triumph in Exile
by Marvin R. Hiemstra

That heavy breathing person
tried to turn me into his
self-portrait. Get real.
Scruffy genius never wiped
anything, took forever to finish
me up while he babbled nonsense
about a horny old millstone
flying like a love-starved comet
and a heated mosaic floor: such
a cool aphrodisiac for the Pope.
That painter, a grunt at every dab,
wouldn’t let me wear my emerald
silk. Turned-on, he gave me the eye:
“You are the color, Signora.”
I wanted my little sour lemon
orchard behind me, not a wasteland.
After all that bother, he kept me
with him, face to the wall
in a dusty corner, until the end.
I really hated France then.

Now I smile and stare down
those wimpy mobs of hungry eyes.
I always win. Thanks to my smile.

Jason Mashak – Bratislava Airport

Bratislava Airport
by Jason Mashak

There are people for whom airports
are small communities
visited only by tourists
and merchants with coins for eyes.
I am neither of these
and they sense this, go about
their dreams before me, as if
I am the witchdoctor who can help them.
Somehow I’m horny now.

Jason Mashak – Prague Metro, 2 June 2009

Prague Metro, 2 June 2009
by Jason Mashak

Someone shit atop the escalator
At Mustek metro – it’s caught
Where the stairs go under

Americans would be appalled, put out to
Put up police tape and launch
Physical inquiries

Czechs just try not to step in it
And move along, accepting
The world is sometimes dirty.

Mary Meriam – Mountain Town

Mountain Town
by Mary Meriam

(Sonnet for Susan de Sola)

Dear morning moon above
                                                            the crumbling stairs
a precious book
                                          a landing where I raise
my eyes to see you,
                                                  make me understand
the steps to take to you
                                                            here in the trees
the tiny castle built
                                                                  of old gray stone
the stairs so steep and cracked
                                                                          the day so young
the doors still locked         I wait
                                                                  I breathe
                                                                                      I find
the shadow of the biggest tree
                                                                      for shade.
Another trip,
                                                                  across the morning sky
a jet drags two thin streams
                                                                          of ghostly cloud
a path I think you take
                                                              so far above me.
Inevitable flower blooms
naked, pink, and tall:
                                                            one Naked Lady.
I read and borrow
                                                    borrow, read

Bryan R. Monte – The Exiled King

The Exiled King
By Bryan R. Monte

Oscar Wilde (1854 -1900)

The innocent always suffer
And we are all innocent
Until we are found out.

Wilde to Esterhazy, 1898

In my black cape and top hat
I am a shade in this luminous city
A vagabond, a poseur living off old stories.
I must wait here until they give me up
And scratch away like some great ape
The salve’s no success, the rash persists
My ear is near to bursting!
I sit and sip my absinthe
And wait for it to take effect
To unwind the wound that’s wound
Its way deep inside my brain.
I am Sebastian Melmoth. I am the Happy Prince.
I am the tall, shabby man with an upturned collar
Who stands outside the pastry shop biting his fingers
Then feeds the birds the bread he has begged.
They call to me and their mates as they circle
The bronze general along the boulevard
On whose great green shoulders and hat
They leave their merry tribute.

It was not long ago people paid dearly to see me
In another country, in such a public place
They said I carried a lily
Through the square at Piccadilly
Soon all London was ablaze with my bright phrases
Either those drapes go or I go
Everyday I find it harder to live up to my blue china
I can resist everything except temptation.

The bitter truth sugared with a great deal of wit
Guaranteed my entrée into polite society and the literati
I became the new Congreve with plays on two stages
An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest
Balfour and the Prince of Wales bragged of my acquaintance
Whilst others crowded around in nervous amusement
Trying to catch my infectious conversation.
The milkman and the postman even bought my picture
And asked mother if she were any relation!

It was the same when I made my New York debut
While I waited the night in ship’s quarantine
Reporters came out of the sea to meet me
Their pens still dripping with brine
I met them in a great green coat trimmed with otter
A white shirt with a wide Byronic lapel
A sky blue mariners tie, purple knee breeches
And black patent leather shoes
I was exotic, I was fantastic
I was everything they had hoped I would be.
I quickly discovered my greatest collegiate defence
That dress is the weapon to disarm one’s audience.

At Customs they asked if I had anything to declare
And I replied: Only my genius, and then I was off
On my year-long, transcontinental tour
New York, Boston, Halifax, Buffalo, Chicago
Omaha, Topeka, Cheyenne, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and back
To lecture on Dress, The House Beautiful, and The English Renaissance.
I saw the condemned man in Leavenworth reading Dante
Silver miners in Leadville open a vein in my honour
And at Harvard, 60 boys dressed as Whistler
White flowing hair and Bunthorne’s great hat
Limping languidly in procession, carrying sunflowers
These are the kind of compliments mediocrity pays greatness
You should have heard their sighs of distress
As I rose to the stage in plain evening dress.

Then followed the lilied receptions in great mansions
The writers, reporters, publishers and politicians
Falling over each other or the Japanese screens
That cluttered dark rooms grey with incense
The curtains drawn against the afternoon sun
In the gaslight the guests looked absolutely grotesque
While I in my ermine looked fantastic
At Blanche Roosevelt’s Count Chiero read fortunes
From hands thrust anonymously through silk curtains
She looked at mine for a moment and said:
The left hand, the hand of a king
The right, a king who sends himself into exile

I left the party without a word.

Yes, I was the Happy Prince
Who stood as the general in the town square
And bid the young swallow strip me bare
My rubied sword, my sapphire eyes, my gold leaf coat
To feed the feverish boy oranges
To clothe the tattered match girl
To warm the two boys under the bridge
Shivering in each others arms, who dared not speak
For this I stripped myself dull and grey.

For half an hour I stood
In the grey November rain
On the centre platform
At Clapham Junction
Handcuffed and in convict dress
Surrounded by a jeering mob
Whose numbers swelled
With each arriving train.

And when winter came
Blind, exposed and defenceless
My heart cracked from the cold
Indifference of those I’d clothed and fed
John Donoghue, I found you on a lecture stop
In a bare room at the top of an enormous building
Starving upon a radish and a crust of bread
Who praised your statue of young Sophocles to the press?
Who obtained the commissions for your studio in Paris?

And Monsieur Gide, who fancies himself a Uranian
Won’t even sit with me in the public café
Because in my company he loses the habit of thinking
Even mother’s friends turn away. Last week
The Contessa de Brémont at the Spanish Café
Put up her fan so I could not approach
But next morning, alone, on the bateaux moches
To Saint Cloud she was all apologies
Saying she couldn’t sleep the night
She asked why I no longer write.
I looked out into the brown water
That should have been blue and said:
I wrote when I did not know life
And now that I do, I have nothing more to say

Once the boat reached the shore, she quickly walked away

And you, George Alexander, grinning idiotically
As you passed me on your silver bicycle by the sea
I made you rich from the receipts from my plays
Now you have no time to stop these days.
Tell me George, when they sacked my house
Whilst I lay in prison, how much
Did my presentation volumes bring?
The ones by Hugo, Swinburne and Whitman
The drawings by Burne-Jones, Whistler and Simeon?
My antique Thomas Carlyle writing desk
Surely these were sufficient to pay my debts
But these were the least of my treasures.

Where are my children, Cyril and Vivian?
From whom I created the Happy Prince?
Shall I ever see them again? They have a new name
What is it? Holland, I think, given by my dead wife
To conceal them from the modern angels of death – the press
Though she could not hide herself as well.
In the foothills of Genoa there is a simple stone
Constance Mary, daughter of Harold Lloyd, Q.C.
There’s not even the slightest mention of me.

And where is the young swallow
I bid strip me of all my riches?
Will he not kiss me once before I die?
My dear Bosie, my beautiful boy from Magdalen
Whose boxing, bullying father broke me
Will you not pay my legal fees as promised
Now that you have your £20,000 inheritance?
Did you not enjoy our villa in Naples?
Do you not love me more than your horses?
Now we can afford that white house on Corfu
Where we swam in the bay with the bronzed fisherboys
But you’re never coming back, are you?

They have all deserted me except two
My dear Robbie Ross who waited for hours
In a long, dark corridor as I passed
From prison to Bankruptcy Court
So that he could silently tip his hat
Men have gone to heaven for smaller things then that.
And Frank Harris who nightly sits by my bed
My guide through the tremors and coughs
Of the sulphureous underworld
There are two types of nurses in this world
This one must give me over to the boatman.

And when winter came, the town’s councillors took me down
And melted my grey form in a furnace
To make a memorial to themselves from my metal
My leaden heart they could not render.
On his iron stand in the twilight
The general slowly wades into the night
Shadows erasing his heavy boots, large hands
Fierce eyes and scornful mouth
Until nothing of his visage is left
But darkness, darkness under the hat.

Sarah Sutro – Pine Trees in Snow

Pine Trees in Snow
by Sarah Sutro

I lie in the heat
of a Bangkok night: dreaming
quiet woods,
the swoosh of skis marking freshness.
travelling in the far field,
cold, bright sun, sharp
scent of pine needles
and new snow.

    splashes in the pool,
    sunlight on palm leaves,
    outside the open window.

and the wide arc
of our life
gets wider still –
following the edge of the
field and the light cresting
on the edge of the hill.

Ciz Dino – 48 fps

48 fps
by Ciz Dino

My waist dissolves
into a thread of lust
when my spine arches back
over your hands.
I laugh because I discover
the voodoo you see in me
rubbed deep
in the folds beneath your eyes.
In the curves of your arms
I laugh because it is too late
because our words can’t keep up
and my waist is in your dreams
and my voice is in your hands.

48 fps

La cintura se me deshace
en un hilo de lujuria
cuando arqueo hacia atrás la columna
a la altura de tus manos.
Me río ahora al descubrir
el vudú que ves en mí,
esa imagen untada a fondo
en las ojeras de tu mirada.
En las curvas de tus brazos
me río porque ya es demasiado tarde,
porque nuestras palabras no dan abasto,
y mi cintura ha ido a parar a tus sueños,
y mi voz a tus manos.

Ciz Dino – Chocolate

by Ciz Dino

Chocolate is doomsday melting black over your virgin tongue.
Chocolate is the abyss, the futile flight.
Chocolate is that steady growl
                                from behind your bedstead.
Chocolate is what I do to you while you sleep.
Chocolate is the incubus that sits on your chest.
Chocolate is panic
                          toxic like jazz.
Chocolate is the hands of children melting dead on your pinstriped lap.
Chocolate is the cracking of bones
                                    beneath the weight of dreams.
Chocolate is slavery and addiction and abuse.
Chocolate is the sound of your pulse when it isn’t there.
Chocolate is exactly what you don’t understand about me.
Chocolate is the taste of your revenge,
                                      and the aftertaste of mine.

Iain Matheson – Her friend finds cheese in his pocket

Her friend finds cheese in his pocket
by Iain Matheson

They are at a poetry fair;
during a sestina about
hieroglyphs his left hand locates
in his overcoat a piece of
smoked brie (unusual enough
in itself), wrapped up in plastic
and partially eaten. Her friend
cannot say, even in whispers,
where the cheese came from, nor how new
it is. They agree the best course
is to let their ears soak up all
the poems as well as they can,
and attend to the cheese later.

Bryan R. Monte – Intimations of Frank O’Hara

Intimations of Frank O’Hara
by Bryan R. Monte

                                               San Francisco, October 1982

Walking into Cafe Flore on a Friday night
You stare at me looking so much like Frank O’Hara
That I gasp and run to the bar for a drink
But I come back and you’re still there by the window
And I sit down to admire your short, black hair
High forehead and skin white as bread dough
As you talk about Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Christabel
And the Harvey Milk Club’s political endorsements for this fall.

You’re so beautiful that when you brush away a moth
Men walking by on the street think you’re waving at them
And they wave back
And you tell me you paint in a Japanese style
And ask if I write and what I think of Modern poetry
And I say the problem with Modern poetry is that
It has no feet or hands or eyes
But sits at home like an old, blind hermit
Surrounded by souvenir pillows
Hoarding its syllables.

And your friend Dan joins us
Arguing as a Neoplatonist for the supremacy of ideas
Especially with regards to the Iranian Revolution
And we both turn him off because we know
One’s self worth is directly proportional to one’s paycheck
And you tell me you work as a waiter in North Beach
And make adult toys for a Folsom Street store
And Dan breaks into our conversation saying
Students at Berkeley don’t talk they only argue
And for that we turn on him
Show him the defects in his argument
And make him walk home alone.
You walk me to my doorstep:
Can I use your phone?
I put my arm around you and ask you to stay the night.

Wet or dry, warm or cold
Lying in the milky light that floats
Three stories down the airshaft to my window
And granulates your skin in a vaporous glow,
Rain tapping all night against the sill.
I compliment you on your long legs
And you answer that my proportions are much better
And I warn you that a man is not equal to the sum of his proportions.
My hands curl the hairs on your legs
And I feel the bed fill with heat
And I remember you need only half as many blankets
When you sleep with someone
Even in the coldest parts of San Francisco.

If the sun were rolling down the street
Like a noisy trolley burnishing its tracks
Maybe I’d sleep in and we’d spend the day together
But it’s a rainy Saturday morning
And I’ve got to go to work as a security guard
At a senior citizen’s high-rise in Oakland
So I get up and make us some omelettes
My hands amazing me with their 6 AM dexterity
Cutting the cheese and onions into neat squares
Folding the parsley in with the eggs
And you ask me why I want to be a poet
And I point to the window and answer:
          I want to read the Braille of the rain
          That dances in puddles on the patio
          I want to hear the song of the streamlets
          That knock like veins on a skylight window.