Tag Archives: July

Trieste
by Cheryl Ann Passanisi

She fell in the street,
strangers dodged traffic to reach
the spot where she crumpled,
a tree torn kite,
a grounded star
from Trieste

separated from her herd.

She thinks of climbing mountains
with her father and brothers
in the hills just beyond Trieste.

She wore a heavy coat in hot weather
her frailty almost smoke but animal.

Pedestrian strangers wanted to help
and looked on her a bird fallen
out of orbit from another time,
they could scoop her into a shoe box
nested with soft leaves and cotton wool,
a miniature creature you find in fields.

Her protestations in Italian and French
chirped and croaked from her throat
silted with years, stayed their gesture
to take her to hospital, call an ambulance,

lips purple with internal cold,
no fear, no fear, except
whatever she escaped long ago,

a train, a long forced walk.

Someone bunched up a thin white summer
sweater to cushion her head on the asphalt

Leave me, she pleaded,
finding English,
her voice rough needed oiling,
thin grey hair strong with scent,
needed washing,
a miracle of brokenness,
she has no bones it seems,
nothing to break,
whatever broke long ago
had fallen away,
she looked up into the sky
and clouds took on the colour
of mountain flowers she knew
as a child, Persian rugs she sat
on as a child,

her leg bloodied,
she felt a gentle someone tenderly
mop away the blood…

“My family ran a haberdashery,
I sewed suits without ever taking
a measurement. You don’t know
good tailoring do you?”

We learned this sitting at her feet
in the intersection
under clouds the colour of mountain
flowers and carpets she smuggled
through wars, around continents,
a broken winged blue piper
of feathers frayed, gummed with oil,
a jay-walking woolen cloaked gazelle.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 22, Issue 2.

Cheryl Ann PassanisiCheryl Ann Passanisi was born and raised on the central coast of California and went to school at California State University, Long Beach, and University of California, San Francisco where she earned a master’s degree in Nursing.  She lives on the San Francisco peninsula and works at a teaching hospital as a nurse practitioner.

See all items about Cheryl Ann Passanisi

Visit Cheryl Ann Passanisi’s contributors page.

Soft Rain through an Open Window
by Trent Busch

What I know today is no more
than what I knew at ten,
clouds in a blue sky, until
language comes to explain:

so it is the image that
starts words, the way the rising
of the sun awakens a house
and puts the coffee on.

What I knew then was ribbons
in the hillside dawn, soft rain
through an open window,
that for every bird that fell

there was a sleight of hand.
What I see today is a ridge
and a boy below a tree.
A crow flaps low toward

the night. What he believes
comes from the image that
he sees or the image
someone, his uncle say,

has seen and changed to mean,
as clouds are seen, as these
words came to be: image
of a boy beneath a tree.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 21, Issue 2.

Trent Busch
Although he grew up in rural West Virginia, Trent Busch has lived in Georgia for many years now.  He own a small place out in the country where he has a workshop and builds furniture.  His recent book of poetry, not one bit of this is your fault, was published by Cyberwit.net in 2019.

See all items about Trent Busch

Visit Trent Busch’s contributors page.

Review of Judith H. Montgomery’s Litany for Wound and Bloom

Review by Amy Miller

Litany for Wound and Bloom
Litany for Wound and Bloom
Judith H. Montgomery
978-0999833414
(2018, Uttered Chaos)
$19, paper

Judith Montgomery’s latest full-length poetry collection is about life. Literally, life. From the cosmos of pre-birth, through the mysteries of child-rearing, to the inevitable letting-go as children venture into the world alone, Montgomery works the lens of her magnifier to focus in on moments that are startling when seen in such clear detail. This is an electron microscope of a book.

From the first poem, “What Were You, Before,” the book asks, What is body? What is essence? And how to they determine our fate? Next comes a series of poems about infertility, a long battle replete with technology, hope, plans, and near misses—but also with an omnipresent sense of “othering,” as if infertility sets this woman outside of the rest of our culture, in a place that’s dark in every sense of the word. Then, when conception finally happens, light literally returns to these poems, the speaker now allowed back into the world. Montgomery is making some subtle, dystopian comments about how women are viewed through the lens of their bodies, and worse, only as bodies that continue the species. And yet—for these poems have their paradoxes, as does life—there is an unwavering tenderness toward babies, whether real, imagined, or lost, as in “Baby Blue”:

Check       for blood     they said. Call

us if. Call us when. But no spotted

cotton. O sweetrunt     Katy Kate

don’t make me         choose—

I have to lose you, loose

you     have to

The book’s second section, “Word,” ranges through time and geography, tracing families: a mother fading into dementia, an aunt lost to a fever, a parent lamenting her murdered son. Many of the poems ekphrastically describe paintings and photographs, focusing Montgomery’s sharp lens again on the body: scars from a mastectomy, a mother bathing her disabled daughter, or the constraints and restrictive clothing dictating the guise of female acquiescence in “Her Silence Is”:

Floating

rib removed, the more closely

to corset her waist. Breath.

Is handcuff. Straitjacket. Gag.

The last section, “Witness,” explores the world’s particular dangers for children—illness, accidents, warfare—in a litany of a mother’s worst fears. The poem “Bearing/Bearing Down” signals that even at a baby’s birth, safety is already compromised:

…expelled,

sent out into the fallen unprotected world…

…exile marked

by cord and cuttery, first of many leave-takings

dimly rising on the horizon—

Two poems that form the crescendo of the last section, “A Blessing” and “Five Ways to Wear the Balaclava,” show the extremes of that inevitable leave-taking: In one, parents make a desperate decision about their teenage son, whose life is threatened by his own mysterious mind; in the other, a mother knits a scarf for her son who is leaving to invade another nation, to go to war with other parents’ children.

How, indeed, do we send our children out into that world? Why do we bring them into it, knowing what we know? Montgomery is smart enough not to answer these questions. But in these graceful, searing poems, we sense that virtually every parent has faced these fears and chosen to bring up children anyway. In that regard, Montgomery seems to be saying, parents are never alone; they have all of history keeping them company.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 21, Issue 2.

Amy MillerAmy Miller is the author of The Trouble with New England Girls, which won the Louis Award from Concrete Wolf Press. Her writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, Permafrost, Rattle, and ZYZZYVA, and her most recent chapbook is I Am on a River and Cannot Answer (BOAAT Press). She lives in Ashland, Oregon.

See all items about Amy Miller

Visit Amy Miller’s contributors page.