Saturday, August 25, 2007

Three Photos: Matt Davis

"To See the Sea"


"Return to Nature"


"Shiny Water Ball"

~ Matt Davis lives in the United Kingdom. He has a lot more beautiful photographs at his DeviantArt page. This is his first, and hopefully not last, appearance in Elegant Thorn Review.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Two Poems: JB Mulligan

the rain

How is the rain about you? But it is
somehow. Outside, beyond the glass, it stays
at the edge of notice: nose and ear detect
rain's scent and whisper, which briefly distract
you from some indrawn task to a broader home;
while out in it and walking, soaked to the bone,
a smile from childhood plastered on your face,
the world reduces to this time and place.
The rain that was before and will not end
rises within you, and washes you beyond,
connecting soul and skin and sky with what
you are, and what will be when you are not.

* * * * *

deep surfaces

The heavy clouds collapse upon the hills,
breast to breast in a large embracing sprawl.
The river’s muscle-rippled surface spills
dull silver, spent. A storm came. That is all.

The insubstantial presses on the meat
embodying desire, and all that it
exchanges, as a part that must entreat
a possibility to a fleshy fit.

So you and I. So “ironworks and time”.
A surface, everywhere conjoined, can claim
infinite depth and influence sublime,
particular, and everywhere the same.

~ JB Mulligan lives in Washingtonville, NY. This is his first appearance in Elegant Thorn Review.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Two Poems: Doug Tanoury

The Presence Of Your Absence

Today, I came home to empty rooms.
Stillness and silence lie on the rugs
Like an old dog reluctant to move,
And I am reminded
By the ghost of motion,
A spirit of sound, some spectral
Scent that still haunts these rooms,
As I stand in the presence of
Of your absence.
If memory were a ragged couch
Or worn chair I would carry
It out and set it by the curb,
Yet I cannot cast out phantoms
That possess this place and
Follow me about from room to room
Like a loyal dog, unwilling
To leave me unattended.
Today, at the door I was greeted
By your memory and paused
At the threshold a moment
To acknowledge you gone,
Like a happy fixture,
A friendly furnishing
That sat in my living room
For many years, now
Replaced by empty space,
As I wait in the presence of your
Absence, there is nowhere to sit.

* * * * *

The Physics of Tea

Sitting in the living room
Drinking tea with her and
Talking about special relativity
And the fact that the most distant
Galaxies are racing away from us
At 80 percent of the speed of light and
As she considers this

Pulling a wayward strand of hair
From her face, she begins to twirl it,
Worrying it between her fingers, and
I am touched by the girlishness
Of this gesture, as she says very seriously:
"Gravity is a fear of being alone"
I laugh

Setting my tea down on the table
Hearing the percussion click
Of a china cup meeting the saucer and
As she smiles the freckles on her cheeks
Gravitate together in Newtonian fashion
And I know now that
What holds everything together
Is simply deep attraction.

~ Doug Tanoury was born and raised in Detroit and attended Wayne State University. His work has been published widely both in print and in electronic form. A number of his poetry collections are available in e-book form at his web site.

Two Photos: Carina

"salto para o infinito"

"I'm Not Crazy"

~ Carina (lacrymosagigia) lives in Portugal. I found her work at DeviantArt, but you can also find her at her MySpace page.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Two Poems: Barbara L. Thomas

Sugared Umber in Winter

Bathed in morning sunshine
(a heartbeat away
from my breakfast toast
and preserves) a doe
licks her fawn. I watch
her sip a snowy liqueur
from my birdbath
and browse among
the foliages of thyme
and the wild strawberry.
When she drops beside her fawn
only the twitching of an ear
reveals their bedding
among fescues
and scrawny lupines
sugared umber.

Warmed by my tea’s
steaming fragrance,
I watch the red-headed
flicker thump one
Ponderosa after another,
her collect, the remains
of viburnum fruit.
The great-horned owl
leaps from her perch
as if pursued. Doe
and fawn, in carousel,
stream from the preserve.
Doves flutter, the raven,
wings outstretched,
soars overhead.

* * * * *

Infants Abroad

Long ago, before children’s car seats,
One of our four disappeared into a tangle
Of huckleberry almost before her father
Had braked the car. Laura the one
Who at six would write in her journal
Of seeing a bear, Big as Daddy, while
We traipsed over Idaho, British Columbia.

Boxes packed for picnicking at Tally Lake,
Laura eases over corrugated roadway,
The ten-mile route shrouded by firs
And the dust of approaching vehicles,
Her mother and children belted against surprise—
A moose calf moseying the roadway,
Another intrepid child, seemingly untended.

Laura’s father was Tommy to his sister.
A child of huckleberry tangle, he, the one
Who backed our station wagon up to the tent,
Gathered in the children and drove ten miles
To a service station bathroom to avoid thunder,
Lightning strikes, rain-sloshed pajamas—
His signature, a hike along the shoreline’s indigenous path,

Still trod as it had been for eons.

~ Barbara L. Thomas lives in Montana. This is her first appearance in Elegant Thorn Review.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Mark Doty: Speaking in Figures

Nice article at The Academy of American Poets:

Here's one of those stories everyone swears is true, though they always seem to have happened to a friend of a friend, and are never quite verifiable. I heard it from my friend Genine, and I'm not quite sure where she got it. A man was telling his therapist about a fight he'd had with his mother. They were standing together in the kitchen, arguing, and then, he said, "My mother put the icing on the cake." The therapist said, "Oh?" "Yes," he said. "She put the icing on the cake?" "Yes." The therapist persisted: "But how did she put the icing on the cake?" "She put the icing on the cake." And so it continued, until they realized they were talking about a literal cake; the mother was holding a knife covered with butter-cream frosting.

Just this summer, in Prague, I had the opposite experience. Considerately, restaurant menus often offer English translations beneath the Czech listing, but the translations are often dodgy. "Beef consommé with faggots," for instance, took us aback, but nothing was as hard to figure out as an appetizer called "smoked language." Then one of the diners at our table decoded the dish, which was tongue.

The therapist assumes language must be metaphoric; the dogged but well-intentioned menu translator assumes it must be literal. I tell these two little bits of anecdote because they point to the absolute centrality of figurative speech. You could say that all language is metaphoric, since the word stands for the thing itself, something the word is not. In her evocative memoir, The Names of Things, the Egyptologist Susan Brind Morrow points to the origins of letters in the observation of nature, how the scuttle of crab claws on sand, for instance, influenced the hieroglyph for "writing." To use words at all is to use them figuratively; we breathe metaphor, we swim in metaphor, we traffic in metaphor—and the verbs in those three phrases illustrate my point.

Poetry's project is to use every aspect of language to its maximum effectiveness, finding within it nuances and powers we otherwise could not hear. So the poet needs to be a supreme handler of the figurative speech we all use everyday, employing language's tendency to connect like and disparate things to the richest possible effects. In poetry, figuration is at its most sophisticated: condensed, alive with meaning, pointing in multiple directions at once.

Read the rest.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Poem: Tim J Brennan

Not Far From Virginia Beach

Part i - Night Folks

Buddy lives here, stoned
& flaccid, near the buried
clams for which people search

he took a tranquilizer (twice
and sat in his chair, the only
piece of furniture to move
for thirteen hours (he told me

night folks came to him last
night to pilfer his possessions

last night he was awake all night
until the sun rescued his (paranoia

from another night not unlike last night
when the night folks came (or so he said

this all occurred while the spiders hung
from his glass chandelier like strange thoughts
and possums celebrated living (in his walls

Buddy tells me he sometimes talks to them
like brothers he never had, not one picture
is in the house like no one (has lived there

except Buddy and his short term memory

Part ii - A Perfect Color

a person lived here once

i see him in a picture from 1968:
wild hair, arms flailing in air

i read his third grade report card:
“Buddy is regressing”

i hand it to him, ask if he wants
to keep it,
his mother must have kept it to prove
she had a son once

his eyes say "yes"
though his mouth says “pitch it”
along with his stepfather’s WWII burial flag

i place the report card on the table next
to his cigarettes, the twice filled ashtray
and a yellow bag of peanut M & M’s

there are two empty tuna cans
this morning when i return,
they weren’t there yesterday,
the bag of food i left is full

his mother’s name was Polly
she rose and died in 1989, no mention
of where she’s buried
for all i know
she might still be in the walls

i threw out his leather coat yesterday, spiders
were living in the pockets, enjoying themselves
in his leather pockets

Buddy tells me he is fucking mad
about the coat, tells me the .38 revolver
in the pocket is now gone
and what is he going to do
when strangers come in the night
for his bones

i tell Buddy about the spiders, how they lived
in his leather coat pockets
Buddy says to hell
with you, "I’m gunless now"

i tell myself i will keep trying:
i leave another sandwich, a bag of yellow
cellophane potato chips

the next morning a possum is in Buddy’s closet,
trying to live

i throw the possum out, he of skinny tail,
by the tail, its red eyes screaming at me
with hate

i throw out the rest of Buddy’s things:
glassware, tax returns from 1983, screwdrivers,
a jar of mayonnaise

everything goes into the dumpster, sitting like
a tar pit in his driveway,
everything Buddy has ever known
will soon be sealed within its pitch:

toxic, highly-flammable,

a perfect color

Part iii - Living Ugly

no mail is delivered in the four days
i am there

no phone calls
no hot water, no ice is in the house,
all the windows are covered in spider

Buddy pleads for his Lazy Boy,
like his life, to be placed
in the emptied space
of his living room

for a day and a half
i wash his glassware in the street,
the only things of real value
Buddy owns,
watching neighbors come and go
like October moths
banging into cold night
porch lights

at the core
there’s something to be said
for living ugly,
for even a dried vine will hold on
to its grapes

ask anyone who finally finishes
with a task he never really wanted
to do in the first place

~ Tim J Brennan lives in southeastern Minnesota. His poetry has appeared in many nice places. His first chapbook "Fifty White Stones" is available through him or at Pudding House Press.