POEM BY JAMES CROAL JACKSON
all my words are fingerprints
& ankles in the sand, the atlantic,
& I'm in bed, awake, sleeping,
blue light, wake me up, do not
disturb, I wait, I heave, I heave,
I breathe, I dream
of waking up, a clump of silver dress
entrenched in my palm
an engine hums softly,
whirring. & the artificial black
stillness of fluorescent light
eyes that glint like shoeshine
activate the lives
of specks & lint
there is no future:
just you & I, hands interlocked,
a knit pretzel woven lover
& apprentice, each knot a
to fields which rise
like pancakes in heat &
left cold on the table, uneaten
James Croal Jackson originally hails from Clinton, Ohio. He is a film and
creative writing graduate of Baldwin Wallace University. He dips his feet in many
creative waters. His publication credits include White Stag, Columbia College
Literary Review, The Metric, and many others. He currently lives in Los Angeles.
Find more of his writing at jimjakk.com.
POEM BY JENNIFER A. McGOWAN
In my mind’s eye you are
but perilously young
and love is the second-best thing.
Some people plumb
any depth they can manufacture
but you looked up,
could not rest
until you reached beyond.
Poetry, drugs, mountain-climbing, sky-diving:
afterwards there was always down.
Till one redwood summer
we were small among giants
and the sun
in dusty prayers
we had never touched
so much, walked
so far holding hands
your face suffused with the light.
leaving only a few scattered pills
eyes turned upwards
toward the trees
you flew beyond
Jennifer A. McGowan obtained her PhD from the University of Wales. Despite being certified as disabled at age 16, she has published poetry and prose in many magazines and anthologies on both sides of the Atlantic, including The Rialto, Acumen, Pank, Poetry Salzburg, and The Connecticut Review. Her chapbooks are available from Finishing Line Press, and her first collection, The Weight of Coming Home, has recently won the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize, forthcoming in 2015. Her website can be found at http://www.jenniferamcgowan.com .
POEM BY RAINER MARIA RILKE;
TRANSLATED BY ERIC TORGERSEN
Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes.
It was the wondrous mine of souls.
Like silent veins of silver ore they made
their way through the darkness. Between roots
the blood ran out that goes off to the living,
and in the dark it seemed as hard as porphyry.
No other thing was red.
There were cliffs,
and forests without creatures.
Bridges over emptiness, and that large
blind grey pond hung over its distant floor
like rainy sky over a landscape.
And between meadows soft and full of sufferance
the faint line of the single path appeared
like a long pallor.
And along this path they came.
Ahead, the slender man in the blue cloak,
looking straight ahead, impatient and silent.
His steps devoured the path in great bites
without chewing; his hands hung down
heavy and closed tight against the fall
of the cloak’s folds, no longer aware
of the light lyre into which the left hand
was rooted now like rose shoots in an olive tree.
It was as if his senses had been split:
while his sight ran out before him like a dog,
returned, and again and again
stood waiting at the next turn of the path—
his hearing remained behind him like an odor,
at times it seemed to reach as far back as the two
who must follow the entire length of the ascent.
Then it was again just the echo of his steps
and the wind in his cloak there behind him.
But he told himself, they must be coming,
spoke it out loud and heard his voice fade.
They must be coming, but their steps
were frightfully quiet. If only
he might turn, just once (if only
looking back did not mean the end
of his entire quest, just now at the hour
of its fulfillment), then he must see the two
silent ones walking quietly behind him:
the messenger god and god of journeys,
the wingèd cap above his shining eyes,
the slender staff held out before his body,
small wings beating at his ankles,
and entrusted to his left hand: her.
The one so loved that from the single lyre
greater lament had come
than ever from wailing-women,
lament from which a world had come to be,
in which all things remained: forest and valley,
road and settlement, field and river, beast;
and that round this world of lament,
just as round the other earth, were a sun
and starry heaven, a heaven of lament
with its disfigured stars—:
This one so loved.
But she walked at the hand of the god,
her steps impeded by the long winding-bands,
uncertain. soft, and free of all impatience.
She had gone inside herself, like a woman with child,
and had no thought of the man who walked ahead,
nor of the path that ascended back toward life.
She was inside herself, and having died
filled her like all fullness.
As a fruit is filled with sweetness and darkness,
so she was filled with her great death,
so new to her that she understood nothing.
She had entered a new virginity,
untouchable; her sex had closed
like a flower toward evening
and her hands were now so unaccustomed
to marriage that even the gentle god’s
infinitely soft guiding touch
pained her like unwelcome familiarity.
Already she was no more the blonde wife
who sounded now and then in the poet’s songs,
no more the fragrant isle of his wide bed,
no longer the possession of this man.
She was already loosened like long hair,
yielded like a rain already fallen,
shared out like a hundredfold supply.
She was already root.
And so when abruptly the god
held her back, and with pain in his voice
spoke these words: he has turned to look—
she did not understand, and said softly: Who?
But far ahead, dark against the bright opening
someone stood whose face could not be seen.
He stood and watched when, as on a path
through a meadow, the messenger god turned back
with mournful look to follow the figure
already returning along the same path,
her steps hindered by the long winding-bands,
uncertain, soft and free of all impatience.
Eric Torgersen (Professor Emeritus, English Central Michigan University) has been translating Rilke for a number of years. Besides a number of poetry books and chapbooks, most recently Heart. Wood. (Word Press, 2012), and two novellas published as books, He’s also published Dear Friend: Raner Maria Rilke and Paula Modersohn-Becker, Northwestern University Press.