Issue 1 – Visions

Subprimal Poetry Art/Music - Issue 1 - August 2013
Cover art by Tom Scherschel
View: Everything | Contents


The Hands of a Dead Rebel

by Carine Topal

Let this be here along a creek, in a swamp, on such a dawn, or such a dawn, these hands we know, the folded, the dying, hands singed by fire, the certain blackness of his hair.

Across our lips—

the black and scarlet of his skin, the village mourns his hands remain. Let this be here his resting place, his hamlet church, the certain blackness of his hair.

Carine Topal is a transplanted New Yorker living in the southern California desert. Her work has appeared in The Best of the Prose Poem, Greensboro Review, Spoon River Poetry Anthology, and many other journals and anthologies. Her 2nd collection of poetry, “Bed of Want,” won the 2007 Robert G. Cohen Prose Poetry Award. Topal’s 3rd collection, “In the Heaven of Never Before,” was published in 2008 by Moon Tide Press. She is the recipient of the 2015 Briar Cliff Review Award for Poetry. Her prize-winning book, Tattooed, won the 4th Biennial Chapbook Contest from Palettes and Quills, recently released in July, 2015.

Buck, The Man

by Erin York

Pretend to be without your grey, three-piece suit and become
raw and rough with no words to speak, with only
images racing as fast as your legs, a reminder that you are
mortal and decaying. Now, you are your
original, made stronger, but wild because you became
raw and rough. Glittering bold, with eyes of stone, you are now
dominant. Was this why you began believing
in immortality? I tell you, it is a futile dream. Instead you will
age and die, leaving behind your seed and your
legacy, but forgetting your primordial beast.

Erin York attended school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City where she graduated with a B.A. in Creative Writing and a minor in Manuscript, Print Culture, and Editing.

Her writing has received both numerous publications and awards that include national acclaim. Aside from writing, Erin has worked for several literary magazines.

Find her on Facebook (ErinYorkAuthor), Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and LinkedIn under the username: EYWriterEditor.

El Abismo

by Benjamín Valdivia

El abismo es nuestra casa.
Desde aquí vemos la noche,
superior, absoluta,
oscura como ninguna noche.
Estábamos posados en la tierra, pero ahora
la tierra es nuestro cielo.
Allá arriba, la cruz de la Gran Tumba
repite interminable
la perorata de nuestra defenestración.
Pero estamos hundidos hasta
lo más bajo,
lo más pesado y hondo que se puede.
Aquí desde el fondo de la Tierra
sólo podemos
desabismarnos.
Sin embargo los dioses
levantaron los dados
ya
y la tortura de nuestro paso siguiente
es que tenemos el peso más absurdo
de toda libertad.

The Abyss

Translated into English by the author

The abyss is our home.
From here we observe the night,
superior, absolute,
and dark as no other.
We were detained on earth, but now
the soil is our sky.
Up above, the cross of the Great Tomb
endless repeats
the peroration of our defenestration.
But we are sunk up
to the lowest,
heaviest and deepest as we can.
Here from bottom of Earth
we can only
unabysmate ourselves.
But the gods
picked the dice up
by now
and the torture of our next step
is to carry the most absurd weight
of all freedom.

Benjamín Valdivia is author of more than fifty books (poetry, fiction, short story, drama, and essay, both literary and academic). His works have received international prizes and recognition. He translates works from English, French, Portuguese, Italian, German and Latin. He is also an actor and a musician. At present, he resides in Guanajuato, Mexico conducting the PhD in Arts for the prestigious University of Guanajuato. Formerly, he was chairman of the Cervantes Research Center in the same city, and editor of the “Revista de Estudios Cervantinos” virtual magazine.

Singers in the Canyons

by Emily Strauss

For the singers who had always lived there
rain over the corn fields signaled the expanses
of oncoming blue butterflies that hovered

over hand prints blown through outstretched
fingers onto rocks high on the cliff walls,
cool and dark in the soaking winter.

They gathered in long rooms to eat and trade
verses of song poems over the blossoming
beans, spilling green onto the red earth.

We bear witness to what we already have:

the streams that rush down the mesas
leaving patterns of wet sand with drops
on the leaves, the rivulets singing as they fall.

The singers were aware of their movements,
the wind that brushed the moon at sunrise
so pale that wetness became invisible.

They sat still, full of  night’s echoes, the floor
damp from the fogs that rose from the valley.
The singers noted the first white rays slanting

into the canyon shadows, the silence, and how
it fell thick afterward, as they rose stiffly
and stumbled toward their stone cliff houses.

Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry. Over 100 of her poems appear in dozens of online venues and in anthologies. The natural world is generally her framework; she often focuses on the tension between nature and humanity, using concrete images to illuminate the loss of meaning between them. She is a semi-retired teacher living in California.

Explaining Death to a Child

by William Reichard

I loved you before there was a language
for love, before words. When the stars burn out
and the night sky turns black, I'll still love you.
There are things that perish and things that last.
Love lasts. Its first spark, born when the universe
was born, still burns. I see it in the moonlight,
in the flash of your eyes. Each morning,
you carry the sun on your back.
You bring it to me to light the day, to help me
see my way through from waking to sleep.
This is how strong love is: as hot as the sun.
And though the sun will one day be extinguished,
a lamp emptied of oil, love will not.
You'll see me in the eternal darkness.
You'll know I'm there.

William Reichard is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Sin Eater (Mid-List Press, 2010). He is the editor of the anthology American Tensions: Literature of Identity and the Search for Social Justice (New Village Press, 2011).

Listener

by Jesse Minkert

The pattern of stones
within the scatter of gravel
flecks of one color
more precise than another
rattle in the current
settle where the sweep decelerates
eddies close to fallen trunks
spills along a sand embankment
reads as if written by a hand
in words not spoken yet by anyone
and rain replies in more voices
than a pair of ears can translate.

Jesse Minkert lives in Seattle. Wood Works Press published a letterpress collection of his microstories, Shortness of Breath & Other Symptoms, in 2008. His poetry and prose appear in Mount Hope, Paper Nautilus, Eclectica, FADE, Naugatuck River Review, Floating Bridge Review, Harpur Palate, Aunt Chloe, Raven Chronicles, DMQ Review, and others.

An Infant

by Allison Grayhurst

An infant is like a wonderful stone
being shaped by the tide. An infant knows
nothing of solitude and does not believe
in the built-up hardness of
kindred blood. An infant is
the night, is the day, never hiding
its hymn and colours. An infant arrives
from both the nadir of the earth and the
zenith of the sky. An infant has the laughter
to change the most dismal of days,
and the softness of tiny symmetry in its moon-like
face - and fingers, each a little bird,
bringing joy by just being, moving
like dancers' thighs over a flaming sea.
An infant is the eye of the whale,
the beginning and the potential all in one.
An infant is of flesh and perfect trust,
needing nothing from tomorrow.

Allison Grayhurst is a full member of the League of Canadian Poets. She has over 400 poems published in more than 205 international journals and anthologies. Her book Somewhere Falling was published by Beach Holme Publishers in 1995. Since then she has published ten other books of poetry and four collections with Edge Unlimited Publishing. Prior to the publication of Somewhere Falling she had a poetry book published, Common Dream, and four chapbooks published by The Plowman. Her poetry chapbook The River is Blind was published by Ottawa publisher above/ground press December 2012. Her e-chapbook Surrogate Dharma is pending publication by Kind of a Hurricane Press, Barometric Pressures Author Series. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay.

Desert Willow

by Laura Madeline Wiseman

What I want is to bind you, steady you
into sand, listen to your whispers, petal-tongued,

pale buds dropping, your fingers opening
and closing at the ground. See the stake and gauze

I carry, how I moisten the earth before I probe
deep between river stones and roots—

this is who I am, though I don’t live here anymore.
Trim the overwrought branches and new growth,

lift the canopy, the weight of you,
struggling too slim arms from the dirt.

That if I leave a year, two, I can come back,
sneak into this yard I no longer own, find

the house, rake the brittle debris around you
and balm this arid space. Tremble as I close the gate,

start the rental car, the weed choked alley brushing
the ticking under belly, where I once was.

Laura Madeline Wiseman has a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she teaches English and creative writing. She is the author of seven collections of poetry, including Sprung (San Francisco Bay Press, 2012) and Unclose the Door (Gold Quoin Press, 2012). She is also the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her writings have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Arts & Letters, Poet Lore, and Feminist Studies. She has received awards from the Academy of American Poets and Mari Sandoz/Prairie Schooner, and grants from the Center for the Great Plains Studies and the Wurlitzer Foundation.

Kingwhisper

by Farzana Marie

Your old life was a frantic running from silence. — Jelalludin Rumi

You remember the tale,
the whisper
that made the wine cup clatter
to the stone and before
anyone could protest both
had left
a thousand obligations
and the shattered pieces
of their royal reputations
strewn like November leaves
down the windswept corridors
of their former, sensible selves.

Irresponsible, whirred the rumors
Irrational, hummed the mills
Unseemly! sputtered the sawdust
Un…kingly, huffed the council.

But nothing could be done.
They were gone.
And secretly each among the throng
longed to be
the whispered-to one
and wondered whether
what was in them was enough
to do what those whispered-to
knew suddenly they had to do.

Farzana Marie is a poet and PhD student at the University of Arizona's School of Middle Eastern and North Africa Studies, where she focuses on Persian Literature with a minor in Creative Writing. Farzana’s poetry has appeared in print and on-line journals including The Rusty Nail, Adanna, and Exit Strata, and When Women Waken, as well as a forthcoming anthology by Holy Cow! Press entitled The Heart of All That Is: Reflections on Home. She has authored numerous articles, book chapters, and the book Hearts for Sale! A Buyer's Guide to Winning in Afghanistan.

Farzana has been writing poems and stories since she was a child, publishing her first poem at the age of 12. After growing up internationally in places like Chile, Kazakhstan, and California, Farzana enrolled at the United States Air Force Academy, where despite a rigid military lifestyle, her poems sprung up stubbornly amid marching to lunch, astronautical engineering headaches, and Saturday morning inspections. After graduating with a B.S. in 2006, she completed an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and served on active duty for over six years, including two consecutive years deployed in Afghanistan. She now serves as president of Civil Vision International, a nonprofit charitable organization focused on positively influencing international relationships through connecting, informing, and inspiring citizens. You can follow Farzana on Twitter: @farzanamarie.

Forewarned / Prevenido

by Diana Anhalt

Mexico, balanced on the backbone of miracles, survives anyway.
The mundane, steeped in magia and milagros, happens
a mile a minute, flourishes side by side with the maguey.
To live in such a place and not believe?  Imposible!
Remember, roses grew on Tepayac Hill where nothing took root.
A carving of the virgin sheds real tears. They taste like blood.
And Rio Nautla water runs uphill after the rains arrive.

On Día de los Muertos the dead dance among tombstones,
eat mole Oaxaqueño. If you bury the afterbirth close to home,
your daughters will not stray. Hang sage in the threshold
to keep the evil out. A potion of cinnamon, egg white and laurel
cures heartbreak, heartburn too.  Keep a lock of lover’s hair
tied in red ribbon beneath your bed. It will keep him honest.
Plant at midnight beneath the crescent moon. Your crop will flourish.

This is the place I come from. Here magia is worth a handstand
and a song.  Minor miracles come cheap: A curandera will reverse
your luck for fifty pesos and an egg. An egg in her hand absorbs
the mala vibra. Crack it open. The yolk is curdled, the white goes black.
Do I believe?  I do not know, but just in case, por si las moscas,
I wear milagro charms around my neck to keep the evil eye at bay:
a coin for wealth,  a heart for health, a leg to keep me grounded.

Diana Anhalt, a former resident of Mexico City, moved to Atlanta, GA in 2010 to be closer to family. She is the author of A Gathering of Fugitives: American Political Expatriates in Mexico 1947-1965 (Archer Books), two chapbooks, Shiny Objects and Second Skin, (Future Cycle Press) and essays, articles and book reviews in both English and Spanish. Most recently, her poems have appeared in Nimrod, Atlanta Review, Comstock Review, Border Senses and Sin Fronteras.

Mexicatiahui

by Raúl Sánchez

I walked the steps
where priests, Zapotec kings,
left footprints rituals performed
to invisible gods

Mictlantecuhtli, Mictlantecihuatl
rulers of the underworld
and all living things.
Their energy emanating

through temple stones carved,
shaped vestiges of reverence to nature,
culture found two centuries before
the Spanish arrived

these standing monuments
proof of our undefeated spirit
and struggle Zapotec, Toltec, Olmec,
Mayan, Aztec cultures proof to the world

that our ancestors were intelligent people
knowledgeable, cultured, devout
beings in harmony
with the universe,

life and death.
The sun shines its light upon us
as we follow the moon path
to rivers where we will survive,

we will never perish.

Raúl Sánchez has lived nearly thirty five years in the Pacific Northwest. His inaugural collection "All Our Brown-Skinned Angels" published by MoonPath Press is filled with poems of cultural identity, familial and personal; civil protest, and personal celebration. His book has been nominated for the Washington State Book Award in Poetry for 2013.

Lines Written in an Abandoned Cathedral Near the Sea

by Louis Bourgeois

You are older than you ever imagined—
there is no song to sing you to sleep.

All day long, I have circled the cemetery,
have caressed the granite walls,
and drowned in her memory.

There was an ocean and a wave,
and then nothing.

Finally, I saw the sky
for the first time,
and knew I was home.

In the red of red,
in the blue of blue,
you will not find God here.

There is so little to dying,
it's a wonder we bother at all.

I have seen stone and fish
fall from the sky,
when the night was quiet
as moth wings.

Nothing can frighten us more
than chancing to see our face
in the mirror by moonlight.

Think of nothing
but the large birds
feeding on the shore.

Louis Bourgeois is the Executive Director of VOX PRESS, a 501 (c) 3 arts organization located in Oxford, Mississippi.  His memoir, The Gar Diaries, nominated for the National Book Award in 2008, will be re-released by the U.K. publishing house, The Other Publishing Company.

Under Water Excerpt (Macchu Picchu)

by Stephen Mead

Regarding his painting, the artist says:

It is part of a series of photomontages which I believe had a long hibernation period. Most children love games of "pretend";, and I remember times which perhaps had primordial roots, envisioning a life mysteriously aquatic. Of course the more serious theme of this series concerns ecological breakdown and the increasing number of natural disasters occurring on Earth, especially hurricanes, tsunamis, and floods. The images in the series depict well known historical sites such as Machu Picchu to everyday objects from our homes, our lives, being caught in the upsurge: how the ecological is personal and global.

A resident of NY, Stephen Mead is a published artist, writer, maker of short collage-films and poetry/music mp3s. Much can be learned of his multi-media work by placing his name in any search engine. His latest project-in-progress, a collaborative effort with composer Kevin MacLeod, is entitled "Whispers of Arias", a two volume download of narrative poems sung to music. His latest Amazon release, "Weightless", a poetry-art hybrid, is a meditation on mortality and perseverance.

Untitled #1

by Tom Scherschel

Regarding his painting, the artist says:

I think it's literally and figuratively mirroring my life right now. I'm exploring new avenues and taking chances in both in ways that I haven't previously. If I don't like what I've done, I completely paint it out or scratch parts away, continually adding different textures, colors, and layers.

Tom Scherschel is a teacher, artist, and lover of all things southern Californian.  He lives in Long Beach with his partner, Craig, and their cats,  Buddy and Sally.

Untitled #2

by Tom Scherschel

Regarding his painting, the artist says:

I think it's literally and figuratively mirroring my life right now. I'm exploring new avenues and taking chances in both in ways that I haven't previously. If I don't like what I've done, I completely paint it out or scratch parts away, continually adding different textures, colors, and layers.

Tom Scherschel is a teacher, artist, and lover of all things southern Californian.  He lives in Long Beach with his partner, Craig, and their cats,  Buddy and Sally.

Imbalance

by Jennifer A. Powers

Jennifer A. Powers has been accepted into an MFA program and has had stories published or forthcoming in The MacGuffin, Folio, Linden Avenue, Prairie Wolf Press Review, Wild Violet, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Diverse Voices Quarterly, and Foliate Oak. Her photography has been published or is forthcoming in Foliate Oak and Josephine Quarterly.