The Pangolin Review — Issue 18, 30 April 2021

Part 4: S to Z (first alphabet of first name of poet)

S

Intrusion

Attic deigns daylight. Discordant montage.

Synod of musty drapes flap wings in solitary window.

Dusty scumble as austerity’s ash.

Stacked denoting rigor within our rummage.

Ingredients and filigree. Rafter pleach and gauze.

Pedigree of folded page. Syntax stagnant in dog-eared diary.

Bleached testimony bookmarked by brittle chain.

Dialect bleeds jilted semantics and ballad panache.

Beck and peck promised on the page.

Gold weave lassos a locket. Initials etched.

Tarnished cameo with no incorrect verdict.

Too-lonely starlight animates her eyes.

 

Fate Proves the Unholy Word

 

First two wishes wasted, misplaced really.

My third gusts wild, like bracken, no longer

 

of the moment. I mistake commensurate

with personal purge. Destiny devolves into

 

a dinner bell’s zest to put hunger down, a chance

to party down. The beast robes me in white

 

camouflage, and his angels arise to arm me.

Confusion like snowflakes lost on my tongue –

 

my addiction for her raven hair, vibrissa to my thigh.

Eternity will bless my purposeful acts of kindness,

 

will forgive the non-Faithful their Faithful prayers.

Sundown clouds entice me as a spa where

 

I am cleansed by fingernails set on fire with orange paint.

Tonight I wield a swift sword to slice dragon tongues.

 

Blood-wise and with grace, I will snuff flames in

my unlikable heart. Fulfill tasks set on wind. These

 

surly realms reach heaven where my worst day ticks

by, and by, and by. I am glad to become dust, unworthy

 

in this degraded world where orchids transmute into

mammals, and Venus Fly Traps release their prey.

Sam Barbee’s poems have appeared in several poetry magazines. He has a new book of poetry, Uncommon Book of Prayer (2021, Main Street Rag). His previous collection, That Rain We Needed (2016, Press 53), was a nominee for the Roanoke-Chowan Award as one of North Carolina’s best poetry collections of 2016. He was awarded an Emerging Artist’s Grant from the Winston-Salem Arts Council to publish his first collection Changes of Venue (Mount Olive Press); and is a Pushcart nominee.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Old Appliances

 

Once upon a time

When I was very young

I looked upon my first home in the suburbs

and its deliciously sweet avocado colored appliances

with joyful pride.

My shiny refrigerator, so “avant garde.”

Brightening my kitchen with a light

That reflected on to the same color oven door

Where I baked the children's cookies.

 

But moving took me away from the home and its kitchen

Given instead an old Sub Zero that smiled

With it's gleeful huge wood-paneled door

And though quite old,

It happily substituted for the shiny avocado one.

Doing its job while plodding away for 20 years and more

As I refused to part with

One who had morphed into

An old friend

Reliably ready when the children

Raced home

To reach inside for their after school snack

Of milk and cookies.

 

Though gone are the days of dependably seeing the children,

Fragmented memories remain

Like those of the old Sub Zero.

Replaced now with jet black GEs.

A matching set taking on the role.

No children's fingerprints to mar their glaze

Standing by themselves in an empty kitchen...

They wait for someone to throw open the door,

And a high pitched voice to call out, “Hi mom, I’m home!”

 

Shelly Sitzer is a writer of short stories and poetry living in central Virginia. She is a retired vision therapist, who enjoys her new free time pursuing her hobbies of writing, painting, gardening, and playing music.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Queens, NY

 

Squandered, consumed,

paper love

whispers through

soiled, frayed pockets

where skeletal

fingers fold—become

eager hands clenching

nature’s gifts and

humble handouts

like greedy pilgrims

seeking tobacco,

unfettered,

unchecked visions,

Manhattan Island.

 

Leaden bound feet kick

frozen wood down

walkways, shuffle

through snow, rush home;

children slip on icy pavement,

glide into backyards

adorned with

abandoned cars

that serve

as steel trampolines,

Goodyear tire

jungle gyms,

and automotive

grave yards.

 

Hazy skies linger, sooty

snowflakes smothering

oxygen-starved lungs;

the rusty landscape,

a decayed wasteland

of dreams, promises that

personify Faulkner’s anguish

from As I Lay Dying—

drilling holes in

coffins so the dead

can breathe—

sound and fury

immeasurable,

symbolizing the surreal.

 

An award winning author/poet, Sterling Warner’s poems have appeared in dozens of literary magazines, journals, and anthologies. His first fiction collection, Masques: Flash Fiction & Short Stories, debuted in August 2020 and his most recent work, Serpent’s Tooth: Poems will appear in 2021. Sterling currently lives in Union, WA.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Soul Food, Not Eye Candy

 

They tell her

she’s resplendent,

delicious.

They say

she arouses desire in men,

envy in women.

 

It enthuses her,

gives her an adrenaline rush,

but,

before long,

the thrill fades away.

 

However,

when He tells her,

she is an ace artist,

how beautifully she captures the nuances of love, life and loss,

how aesthetically she turns every bit of life into poetry,

she writes profusely,

inspiringly,

melancholically -

it fills her with ecstasy,

it makes her come alive,

the bliss is everlasting.

 

There is nobody whom she reverences

as she reverences him,

for,

he covets her soul

more than her skin.

 

Swati Moheet Agrawal lives in Mumbai, India. Her work has appeared in The Drabble, Ariel Chart, Café Dissensus, Friday Flash Fiction, Indian Periodical, ActiveMuse, Setu, Kitaab and is forthcoming in The Dribble Drabble Review and Free Flash Fiction. Follow her on Instagram @ swatiwhowrites.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Turmoil in America

 

United States of America

is going through a turmoil,

coronavirus made it victim

like no one else in the globe

yet Americans in some places

arranging corona parties

mingling with each other

making mockery of social

distancing which is first

defense against the pandemic.

 

Are not these people killing

fellow Americans by spreading

the virus that has taken over

hundred thousand lives there?

I have not seen anybody who

came out in the street in protest.

Then how come the heinous

atrocity by a policeman killing

one African American has made

the protest so loud and violent?

 

Arson and loot are going on unabated,

are these hooligans doing a great service

for their nation? It is a matter of right

for them to destroy whatever

comes on their way may be the President

of the great nation himself? What a

madness is this if not a conspiracy!

Oh Americans, who are destroying

their own motherland, think peacefully

be calm and allow the law to do its duty.

Sandip Saha from India won Poetry Matters Project Lit Prize-2018 and finalist in Origami Poems Project BEST OF KINDNESS CONTEST, 2020, both USA. He has published one collection of poems, Quest for Freedom and has published 63 poems in 28 journals in India, USA, UK, Romania and Mauritius.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Two More Bodies

“But there are no grown-ups, that’s what you must

grow up to know fully; your parents were just

two more bodies experiencing landscape and weather,

trying to make sense by vibrating columns of air…”

 

Ben Lerner, The Topeka School

My father walked into the mirror, broke his glasses,

blood running all down his face.

My mother pulled at her short dark hair.

“I always wanted to wear it long. I wanted braids

or a ponytail, but my mother wouldn’t let me.

Too hard to keep clean. She wouldn’t spend the time

to untangle my waves. Ah well, none of my wishes

are coming true.” There were shards of glass

on the bathroom floor. Our family friend stopped by

to install a new mirror. He worked quietly clearing away

the broken glass, carefully bending hinges,

screwing everything in tight, but not too tight.

I watched him, but soon fell into my usual dream state.

My mother was weeping, combing her long hair

that swept down her back like a river of ink.

My father rode bareback around the circus ring.

That night we ate goulash and dumplings.

My parents shared a beer, and later we had Sacher Torte

with whipped cream. My father’s head was bandaged,

but he seemed alright, though he couldn’t see too well

without his glasses. Our new mirror was a little cloudy,

and if you looked at it too long, the future seemed to leer,

as if to warn you that the face you saw was just a blip in time.

 

Steve Klepetar lives in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. His work has appeared widely and has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. He is the author of fourteen poetry collections, including The Li Bo Poems and My Father Teaches Me a Magic Word.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Between Big Bangs

 

If the universe is like a bouncing

rubber ball, are we on the

upward trajectory or the downward one?

How many big bangs have there been

so far, and how many still to come?

Life may not be possible after the next

bounce in a billion years or so, conditions

not conducive to human or animal existence.

 

We may not make it until then

if we keep abusing our mother planet,

and threatening each other with

bigger and more powerful nuclear weapons.

We may go out in a blaze sooner than we think,

though hardly a blaze of glory.

 

Susan P. Blevins was born in England and moved to Italy when she was 20, where she lived for the following 26 years. While there, she had a weekly column in an international newspaper. She moved to the USA and spent 16 years in Taos, NM, where she wrote about gardens for various magazines, and is now living in Houston, TX, writing about her interesting life and travels. She is published in various literary journals in the USA and overseas. She loves classical music, gardening, reading, writing, cats and intelligent, stimulating conversation. She also enjoys reading for the blind.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

T

Effigy Burning

 

To let the ego burn like

An effigy!

And bury it with love

And rise on the third day:

Like a Lazarus to the Messiah’s Word...

“Come out”.

Ego, come out of Her!

From illusions and delusions.

Of vanity and distress.

This world isn’t meant for you.

But it is going to offer it all back.

Once resurrection reassures.

 

Tania Alphonsa George is a passionate lover of words and poems. She is pursuing her Masters in English literature.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Guided Tour

 

Headless Winged Victory is an off-scale ship

Figurehead that greets all at a staircase crest

 

A marble wind flutters

Her pinions and tatty dress

 

Mona Lisa is smaller than expected

I like her better in Nat Cole’s song

 

Venus de Milo is six-foot-eight

Some debate she’s a prostitute

 

Joseph drills wood, kid Jesus assists

His candle flame all but flickers

 

A flying saint frees ninety convicts

Half his body is a sparking rocket

 

A noisy guide suggests his group

Not interpret a woman tweaking

A nipple of a friend as pornography

 

A pregnancy check is the motive

The pinched is mistress to the king

 

Visitors linger at the easel of

An artist studiously copying

 

St. Michael Slaying the Devil

Oblivious to shutter clicks

 

Thomas M. McDade is a resident of Fredericksburg, VA, previously CT, & RI. He is a graduate of Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT. He is twice a U.S. Navy Veteran serving ashore at the Fleet Anti-Air Warfare Training Center, Virginia Beach, VA and at sea aboard the USS Mullinnix (DD-944) and USS Miller (DE / FF-1091).

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

U

Spirit, Pull

 

Spirit move and pull

all blood black and true

whose skins glitter at the sight of the sun

whose songs are heard

and words burn the souls that abide

in the rhythm of their divide...

 

Pull all those who have forgotten

who have forgotten their truth!

Who have denied their blood

for something “pure” yet unsure

A vanity they have dined with to abandon their meaning

 

Scar all those who reject the motherland

Spirit! Take them on a journey of revelation

Like Paul on the way to Damascus

Show them all they have denied and abused

lurking Chichi dodos

Tear their eyes to what they burnt on the stakes

Red flames owning the purest of colours

 

Spirit pull… and pull

Let the wind that runs the globe swiftly draw ears

even of those who have remained blind

let the scales fall off their eyes

Tell them we come from one soil

the soil that travels far... Too far

 

Now Spirit, after all is done

And all are weak in their fall

Make us all one...

teach us to know we one

Let us know that we are a variety of colours

Like flowers in the garden that sing of only beauty

a beauty of everlasting meaning.

 

Uvie Ann-Marie Giwewhegbe is an author, a poet and filmmaker resident in Nigeria. She has published works online and in print.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

V

Getting and Giving

 

I didn’t notice my young wife

baked banana bread

sometimes I don’t notice things

and I didn’t see at first

the tears in the corners

of her eyes thought

maybe I made her sad

not noticing the bread

which made no sense

why tears on a stunning Fall afternoon

she nodded towards

the empty space in our living room

Our late cat’s climbing perch gone

cherished until the right moment

to give our dear pet’s things away

neighbor Tim in the doorway sunlight

finally found a girlfriend

who has a sweet cat

out the door went Alou’s memories

perch and collar and ceramic kitty bowl

cried together.

 

A retired special education teacher, Vern Fein has published over one hundred poems on over fifty sites, a few being: *82 Review, The Literary Nest, Gyroscope Review, The Pangolin Review, Courtship of Winds, 500 Miles, The Write Launch, Broadkill Review, Soft Cartel, and River and South.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

W

If I Were

 

If I were a bird

I could float upon the air,

Away from my earthly chains

 

To travel the wind

Places near and far,

The chaotic world below—

Viewing from afar.

 

If I were a fish,

I could swim the tides,

Void of life’s complexities

 

Suspended in tranquility

Reflecting on my thoughts,

Achieving new enlightenment—

Replacing fears and doubts.

 

If I were a wolf,

I could roam the land so free,

Not fenced by boundaries

Or persecution by man.

 

Walking thru the forest,

Creatures’ great and small—

To be as one in harmony

Upon the setting sun.

 

Is craziness & madness the legacy of our fate?

Poisoning with apathy, violence, and hate—

We destroy each other, and everything in our quake.

 

Abusing Mother Earth and her children so dear,

Scattered bones, rotted bark—

Upon the barren fields.

 

Don’t we hear the screams?

Do we turn a deaf ear?

 

Some days I wish I were a bird floating in the air,

Or a fish in seas of blue swimming the endless tides,

Or a wolf freely roaming across the land,

 

I wish one day I could be all three,

Seeking wisdom from them all

To find the answers to our complex world,

Or I’ll just heed nature’s call.

 

Wayne Adam is a writer, poet, author, and freelancer. He captures the world through his senses, dreams, emotions, and the enduring spirits of animals. Through a variety of genres, he creates the essence of the inner spirit and the world around him. He is published in a variety of both print and digital media.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Toco Toucan

 

His beak claims fifty percent

of his surface. What a prow

with which to delve into the world.

 

Darwin thought sexual selection

an issue: diversified stripes

of shivery pastels attract

even the edgiest female.

 

Maybe so. But peeling fruit

with the world’s largest beak surely

brings pleasure greater than sex—

 

the daily appetite glowing

like a poker, the heat exchange

a simple metabolic fact.

 

William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities and retired after three decades at Keene State College. His most recent book of poetry is Stirring the Soup (2020). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

A Dream Vision

 

When I stood before your beauty’s altar,

I was awestruck; I was terrified;

I felt each fiber of my being falter;

Yet a core of certainty inside

 

Me knew that I must have you for my own.

But soon your presence disappeared, and I

Awoke to find myself once more alone.

Why must something so adorable die?

 

Yet no. You live on in my memory.

The Morpheus who masterminded you

Must have known the form my spirit sought.

 

In any case, awake, I still can see

Your image—beautiful, alive, and true—

For whom my battered day so dearly fought.

 

William Ruleman lives in east Tennessee with his wife, dog, and cat. In addition to writing and translating poetry, he paints landscapes, portraits, and pictures inspired by literary works. His most recent books include, among others, Songs for the Seasons: Poems of Rilke & His Age and A Strange & Sweet Unrest. More can be found out about him at www.williamruleman.com.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

stiff

 

I take walks in the

cemetery

where it is quiet

none of the stiffs

makes a peep--

whatever they once had

fled at the

moment of death

and left them

fish-gray and

on a slab

until the mortician

stuffed each

like a turkey

and painted the

faces, and

then they laid

in a box

for a day or two

until the start of

their bone-life

in the cemetery

skulls, ribs, and such

no much to it

else, surely

we would have beard something

from them

by now.

 

Wayne F. Burke’s poetry has been widely published online and in print. He is author of eight published poetry collections and one short story collection, Turmoil & Other Stories (Adelaide Press, 2020). He lives in Vermont (USA).

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Y

the room at the end of the corridor

 

she lives in hotel rooms

her room at the corridor’s end

I think of her walking out of the door.

suitcase in hand

every corner spick and span

never a trace left behind when she leaves

then in another hotel room

a new beginning

 

I think of her sitting at her desk

her lamp on

shoulders slightly humped

pen in hand.

reading something or writing

whichever hotel it is

ıt’s her at the corridor’s end

suitcase on the floor

ready for the next move

Yeşim Ağaoğlu from Istanbul studied in Istanbul University, Department Of Archaeology and Art History. Her poems have been published in literary journals since the age of 18. She has seven poetry books published in Turkey and two poetry books published in Azerbaijan and in 2016 and 2017 two poetry books published in New York, USA. She has a short play named Forbidden Chirpings staged at Hazar University, Baku, Azerbaijan.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

The Funeral

Today, we gather to celebrate a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter
She lived for her family, gave away every ounce of love, tears, soul
The woman who once dreamed withered away but not one person bothered
To ask why she never smiled and why she never felt whole

We lay her to rest in the dress of her husband’s favorite color
Society’s flowers covering her memory, getting smaller 
One by one, acquaintances come up to testify about her life
But one is able to say what she wished for when she woke at 3 a.m. to cry

We only praise achievements on paper
Not knowing all the little things that broke her
Each kiss goodbye flattens the upturned smile the mortician pressed upon her face
Because he felt it would lessen the living’s pain

Come join us in song
Come join us in mourning
We wail for what she lost
We can’t erase her longing

 

Yong Takahashi won the Chattahoochee Valley Writers National Short Story Contest and the Writer's Digest's Write It Your Way Contest. She was a finalist in The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, Southern Fried Karma Novel Contest, Gemini Magazine Short Story Contest, and Georgia Writers Association Flash Fiction Contest. Some of her works appear in Cactus Heart, Crab Fat Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, Gemini Magazine, Meat For Tea, and Twisted Vines.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Heavenly Blue

 

Heavenly blue agonizes me

 

I know that I can’t fly

I know that I can’t fly heavenward

So,

that heavenly blue agonizes me

although that is only one color

 

That color ridicules me

“Why can’t you fly to me?”

“Why can’t you feel my blue?”

 

That color rends my broken wings

again and again

I hear the voice of that heavenly blue

I feel the pain in my broken wings

 

But,

the voice and the pain are only an illusion

that my heart caught by that heavenly blue

made

Yuu Ikeda is a Japanese poet published in Rigorous, Briefly Zine and Kalonopia.