Monday, December 11, 2023

Unlikely Relationships

—Poetry by Nolcha Fox, Stephen Kingsnorth,
Sayani Muhkerjee, Shiva Neupane, Joe Nolan,
and Michael H. Brownstein
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy
of Joe Nolan

—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

How unlikely that a sour crab apple tree and a sweet lilac tree should fall in love. They lean into each other, intertwining trunks and branches. No one can tell which is which. They huddle together under a white fur coat of snow dropped by the moon. The fence bends and cracks under the years they’ve celebrated their lives with red fruit and white flowers. Disease and pruning cannot part them.

How unlikely that you, a sour crab apple tree, and me, a sweet lilac tree should fall in love. The words between us are a toxic spray. Your red fruit drops, spoiled, eaten by disease and insects. My white flowers wilt. We lean away from each other. Silence is a drumline parading between us. We will never intertwine. When you huff up the stairs to sleep in the guest bedroom tonight, I will leave this desolation. I will follow the moonlight. You are not even worth a goodbye.

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

Home and garden, chez nous space
is where those poisons; vast array,
as found in bottles, cans, creams, sprays,
black warning skull imprint on back,
unless we decant, last drops phase.

Where we would clean, or polish, sluice,
is there let loose a toxic mix,
as past and present make up bag,
a varnish, cover up of lead,
the painted face of clown, fool, hag.

Peroxide blond, monoxide car,
as hot air spouts bout climate change,
exhausted by the waste of shame,
the spirits made of chemicals
that make up life, but death the same.

In poor sight. touch, the rib-eye glass—
which has a stake in live or die—
mounts warning for light fingered feel,
while arsenic, old lace aunts combine
with hidden madness, teddy’s squeal.

The toxin, taxine comes from yew,
a spell that’s cast, you to confuse
those probing claim, domestic bliss—
for were relations as they seem
or was affection, Glasgow kiss?

Why do the ’tecs check partners first,
but for the power, love terminate,
that passion turns, Othello like;
the green eyed monster, hungry, fed,
relations soured, and then the strike. 
Russian Gals With Frozen Lashes
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA
So we are on the same page, I am
starting out this session of writing
with a mug half full of reheated
decaf hazelnut coffee. There are
plenty of topical concerns of the day
to deal with, as well as big umbrella
issues such as war, homeless, drugs,
toxic relations, and good tidings to all.
So just for fun, my current choice is
gender perfect. Here goes… 
At the end of a prayer by ladies, they
should say awomen. 
Our womental health centers need more
Crossing paths with black cats are dark
She couldn’t stay mad for long, so she tried
to womend fences. 
I learned a lot from my womentor. 
…away in the womanger… 
She carefully placed framed pictures on the 
The Womanchurian Candidate. 
Some music collectors have vinyl records of the 
Womanhattan Transfer.

—Sayani Mukherjee, Chandannagar,
W. Bengal, India

The sand sea is warm
Full of frosty lakebites
A beggar of hopeful melancholy
Imbued in nostalgic reverence
Poppy field icy snowflakes
Lakes of midnight rides
Till the peonies bloom afloat
My sugarcane smile
Of off-white dusty Mondays
Till I reach the sand sea
Full of choir and musings
Till the lakes run wild
My warm and dusty deaths
Phoenix like it flies
Memories of open wide flies
The dusty sea bed
The nostalgic penthouse
A beggar of throne-y musings 
Till it reaches the poppy field high. 

—Shiva Neupane, Melbourne, Australia

We have science and technology in place.
Yet, we have consequences of our own
The unethical research on viruses betrayed
The innocent souls.
The nuclear warheads have stifled the voices,
The blame games have hijacked the justice.
And the military muscles have silenced the
Who is to be blamed for the death of millions?
How long the silence can be sustained?
For the nefarious killing that resulted in
The civilizational catastrophe.
The gain of function research project
Wasn’t investigated, nor the geography in
It was believed to have been originated.
The high-profile carnages get through the
crack of justice system.
It is a heart-wrenching era we are living in.
The future generation deserves the truth
to be told,
So as to learn from our civilizational tragedy.
They must be out of the woods. 
 Ancient Nordic bread made of
grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruit

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

Your garbage lasts forever
And never goes away.

You’d think it might degrade
Over time,
Melt into the earth,
Become one with the dirt,
But it doesn’t.

It remains to remind you
And me, too,
Of what you failed to do—
Get rid of it—
Push it to the curb—
Encourage its collection and removal,
Its disposal to a garbage heap
Where it will last forever,
Releasing us from its strange presence
Its pressure
The way its dusty surfaces surround.

—Joe Nolan

Shame and shaming
Gave rise to contempt,
The currency
Of cuts to the knees,
Some way to bring
The tall
Down to size,
Belittled and humiliated,
Just returning a favor,
Straight from a chip on a shoulder.
A circus of the absurd—
Time for the perp
To do his perp-walk
In handcuffs
Toward bars
Towards judges,
Justice and scars,
Just returning a favor. 

—Joe Nolan
Touch the hidden
Part of your heart
That cannot be concealed
From love,
That asks,
“How do you feel?”
Then nudges every inch, asking,
“Here? and here
And here and here?
Is every thing O.K.?”
Stroke the inner
Part of your heart
That feels like
Silk or velvet
When it’s been revealed
By kind and gentle touch.
Rest in the sun
And warm its skin
Now that its dear comfort
Has returned—
Comfort, lost, relearned. 
Today’s LittleNip:

Autumn's sun
a heat-ray of color

Autumn's sun
a tantrum of color

Autumn's sun
a pickling of color

—Michael H. Brownstein, Jefferson City, MO


Thanks to today’s contributors, some of whom have responded to our Tuesday’s Seed of the Week, Toxic Relations. Be sure to check each Tuesday for the latest Seed of the Week. And Happy Hanukkuh this week!


Here—have a crack at the
Seven Little Words puzzle
from yesterday's Sacramento Bee—
it's all about poetry forms!
(Click once to enlarge.)



A reminder that there will be a
Poetic License read-around
in Placerville this morning, and
Sac. Poetry Center will feature
Second Monday Youth Open Mic
in Sacramento tonight, 7:30pm.
For info about these and other
upcoming poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
in the links at the top of this page—
and keep an eye on this link and on
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bluff and sputter
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