Vallum Poem of the Week: “When Lying Was In Vogue” by Gerry LaFemina

 

When Lying Was In Vogue

Even laughter was a lie. Even sadness.
The way highways stretched beyond the next curve
with their markers every tenth of a mile &

their exit signs promising fuel & coffee,

the possibility of a bed with its vague suggestion
of desire. Nothing so tawdry. It was winter.
Snow didn’t fall, so the road felt easy

but even our good fortune was a falsehood

had I been listening. By then
the politicians had embroidered their speeches
with so many fibs rehearsed so often

it wasn’t difficult to believe &

America with its beaches & skyscrapers,
its trailer parks, its promise of equality,
its promise in the pursuit of happiness—

who didn’t want to have faith? I carried mine

in my wallet like an ID card. Isn’t that why
we traveled state by state & spoke of love &
ignored willfully every truth. We were, after all,

writers of fiction. Elsewhere people lied

in Portuguese, in Mandarin, in Pig Latin,
even in baby talk at the edge of strollers.
I knew my parents had lied often & for decades—

the fiction of that childhood with its televised

myths of the future all jet packs & the nuclear
family, might well have been an advertisement,
billboards lit up, suggesting some delicacy

for dinner everyone would enjoy.

We’d been duped before… In the Decoy Museum
placards told the storied history of wooden ducks,
of mallards, drakes, & teals, & how now

they’re made by 3-D printers, the replicants

so precise you can see the veins on each feather.
Later, in the car, you laughed often,
the Cure on the radio—all lies

the way love songs always lie & are necessary.

This poem, too, which I conceived then. Remember,
there was an exhibit of sunken duck blinds,
how they’d been outlawed for the hunters would lay

submerged, shotguns ready, decoys buoyed above.

Oh, how beautiful I believed you were.
Every fifteen minutes church bells lied
about the time, about salvation.

 

Gerry LaFemina’s latest books are the poetry collection The Story of Ash (Anhinga, 2018) and a  new chapbook, Points South (Hysterical Books, 2019). A new volume of prose poems, Baby Steps for Doomsday Prepping (Madville, 2020), is forthcoming. His previous books include a novel, a collection of short stories, and numerous award-winning collections of poetry, including The Parakeets of Brooklyn, Notes for the Novice Ventriloquist (prose poems), Vanishing Horizon, and Little Heretic. His essays on poets and prosody, Palpable Magic, came out on Stephen F Austin University Press and his textbook, Composing Poetry: A Guide to Writing Poems and Thinking Lyrically was released by Kendall Hunt. The former director of the Frostburg Center for Literary Arts and a current Fulbright Specialist, he teaches at Frostburg State University and serves as a Mentor in the MFA Program at Carlow University.

To view other content published in this issue, 14:2, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Love Song as Field Notes” by JoAnn Balingit

Love Song as Field Notes

In heavily-wooded sequences the song
…………… in my timed records
…………………………varies from 2 to 3 1/2 seconds
of notes burning down to a glow

………….In the space age of our courtship
……………………….our love wore a cocked beret
In the 18th century of our marriage
……………love enters

……………………….hat in hand
singing Where are my satchel
……………my whistle the times
……………………….we could not be apart?

Why did the wild
………….headdress fly off
………………………..permanent display?
Now we are talking through our hats

…………..We are walking up the driveway
………………………. with our haversacks
saying I’ll email I’ll text
……………Drive safely Drive for me…

………………………..Now our song
weighs enough to crack the spine
……………of a musical concordance
……………………….The odd thing is

my love for you is the offspring
……………of great disappointment
………………………..It penetrates the ovum
of my misconceptions—

……………whoever I think I am—
…………………………how is it you
who preserves my calm
…………..the way smoke quiets bees?

In conclusion, our song is 2 to 3 1/2
……………pages of secret clover
…………………………the first gold crocus
to alter light once bad weather’s over

……………and in all my timed records
………………………..your hands
are the day and the doorstep
……………chime. No they aren’t Shut up,

it isn’t Now
………....where shall we walk 
………………………after spending the winter
as larvae and as beasts?

JoAnn Balingit has contributed poetry and prose to Asian American Literary ReviewThe RumpusVerse DailyAcademy of American Poets and elsewhere. She’s the author of Words for House Story (2013) and two chapbooks. She is a 2019 Hedgebrook fellow, at work on a memoir.


To view other content published in this issue, 14:2, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

 

 

 

Vallum Poem of the Week: “My Wife Teaches Me to Dance” by Joshua Levy

My Wife Teaches Me to Dance

When you teach me to dance
I begin to notice fire
dancing with wind, a fish
with water, a car with
colours in the traffic
lights. When you teach me
to dance I begin to see
gravity dancing with a
basketball, a comedian
with a crowd’s laughter, the peanut
butter with the jam, the Moon
with the Earth, the Earth
with the Sun, the Sun
with the Universe.

Everything dancing,
dancing forevermore.

Joshua Levy grew up in Montreal, and after stops in Toronto and Lisbon, he has returned with his wife. His work has appeared in anthologies, literary journals, radio shows, podcasts, newspapers, and theatres. He is a winner of the CBC Fiction Prize, Carte Blanche/CNFC Creative Nonfiction Prize, and was shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize. He was last year’s CBC writer-in-residence. The Loudest Thing is his first book and can be viewed and purchased here.

You can find Joshua Levy here

Purchase Joshua Levy’s latest book, The Loudest Thing here

To view other content published in this issue, 16:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

Poem of the Week: “Perfection” by Denise Raike

 

Perfection

You give ten dollars a week
to Buddhism, drift in and out
of its guided meditations
like vapour, in hopes of grasping
that which hangs waiting
to be left behind. The manacles
of love; the vow
you once took, part of a ceremony
in which you tried to raise
perfection like a demon
from a bed of fire.

It’s not entirely clear
when perfection turned its face
away from you, whispered
unrequited like a slip
of hemlock tongue. You barely feel
the sting of things escaping
from you now. An old man’s
sneeze that draws a bless you, as if
an act of words could keep
the whole world well. That girl
at the station, her face the same
in a thousand movies, fixed
on something just beyond your shoulder
that isn’t there
when you turn to look. The subway
guitarist, plunking his Santana songs
at less than half-throttle. You
want to rest your hand
on the crowns of their heads,
forgiveness of your own desire
for other-than-what-is, the pull
and repulsion of it. The moment
inside the moment that Mapplethorpe
saw, what surfaces must be rent
to find it. The floating world
you float above in a swirl
of pastel Japan. Your neck aching
for the tug back down, the spiked
collar of imagined contentment.

 

Denise Raike‘s work has appeared in publications including The Ontarion Literary Edition, Diviners, Other Voices and Vallum, and has been broadcast on radio.  She was a CBC Canada Writes Challenge Finalist, and has written, directed and acted for the stage.  She lives north of Toronto with one other vegan human and an ever-expanding coterie of cats.

To view other content published in this issue, 15:2, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Salted Are the Lips of the Saints” by e.a. toles

 

Salted Are The Lips of the Saints

pause to quick hope—
stuff it under a pillow
to do as moth and mold

tend to.

there is vanity
in every kiss, 
skulking behind

each perfect blade of grass.

there is only truth 
in salt. it is of the earth,
it was mined severe and hostile.

in every kiss
there is longing.

every statue is built 
of pleasant “what ifs.” 

if there is gold, it will 
be found in sweet blood,
in bone gummed raw

by incessive protrusions.

it will take me a year to find 
myself as i was last year

and even then, there is a little
lost to the casual attire
of maintaining humanity.

i was born of many teeth,
my mother said i chewed 
through her youth with a savage

sense of desperation—
with a terror of life, with
a fright of the molars which meant

to grow up and down my spine, 
painful as the fresh lover’s lips,

truthful as a glance
over a salting shoulder.

 

e.a. toles is an Austin based poet. His poetry is currently obsessed with wrestling an understanding of life through exploration of personal trauma, spirituality, and human interaction. His work can be found in Figroot Press, BlazeVox, and Vallum Magazine.

To view other content published in this issue, 15:2, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

Vallum Poem of the Week:”A Gull” by J. R Solonche


A Gull

A gull so far from the river
circles the parking lot.
Its whiteness is lost in
this late fall day’s brightness.
Its black edges are lost in
the sunlight. Its black edges
are lost against the glowing clouds,
where its whiteness is lost.
My daughter sleeps in the car and
does not see the gull gleam above
us so far from the river. She
is lost in a glowing white dream.
Tomorrow I will have forgotten
the gleam of the gull that circled
above her so far from the river.
Years from now I will have forgotten
to tell her of the gleam of the gull
that circled above her like a halo.

J.R. Solonche is the author of Beautiful Day (Deerbrook Editions), Won’t Be Long (Deerbrook Editions),  Heart’s Content (Five Oaks Press), Invisible (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by Five Oaks Press), The Black Birch (Kelsay Books), I, Emily Dickinson & Other Found Poems (Deerbrook Editions), In Short Order (Kelsay Books), Tomorrow, Today and Yesterday (Deerbrook Editions), True Enough  (Dos Madres Press), The Jewish Dancing Master (Ravenna Press), If You Should See Me Walking on the Road (Kelsay Books), In a Public Place (Dos Madres Press), The Time of Your Life (forthcoming April 2020 from Adelaide Books), The Porch Poems (forthcoming 2020 from Deerbrook Editions), and coauthor of Peach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). He lives in the Hudson Valley.

To view other content published in this issue, 16:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

Event Recap: ELAN Annual General Meeting & 15th Anniversary

Recap by: Celia Caldwell

The evening of ELAN Quebec’s Annual General Meeting was not only a celebration of the Arts community within Montreal, but rather, it denoted the brilliant diverse, creative work being generated from across all of Quebec. Live music, dance routines and comedy skits were presented by ELAN members as Hundreds of artists from across the province gathered in Theatre Rialto, to congratulate the organization on their 15th Anniversary.

As stated on ELAN’s website, “Since its foundation in 2004, the English Language Arts Network (ELAN) has served as a platform for thousands of English-language artists of all disciplines from across Quebec to share expertise and resources, build audiences and alliances, seek support, and make common cause with the Francophone arts community.”  

During the 15th Anniversary party, the muffling sound of ambiguous chatter, pecks on cheeks and the clinking of wine glasses echoed throughout the Theatre. A sense of community and warmth hung in the air as Artist’s from different backgrounds and disciplines mingled with one another. MC Jimmy Blais amused the crowd with his witty sense of humor and charismatic attitude as he introduced the performers.

As ELAN members and friends settled into their velvet seats with loaded dinner plates, they were astounded to see the drumline, Urban Science, consisting of five musicians, weave their way through the crowd. The Urban Science members wore vibrant coloured suits and sunglasses which complimented their enthusiastic energy.

Several modern dancers scurried across the stage as they performed of Andrea Peña’s “6.58 Manifesto.”

In-between each performance, ELAN played a collection of video clips that featured members and friends reminiscing over their favourite memories of ELAN. Quebec Writers Federation’s Executive Director, Lori Schubert spoke of passed collaborations and literary events.

The evening ended on a wonderful note, as the performers and audience thanked ELAN for all of their fantastic work. The Arts community within Quebec is a remarkable space, and we are extremely grateful for organizations like ELAN, who see the Arts as an essential part of Quebec’s identity.

 


For upcoming ELAN events, check out their website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Circumstance” by Donna J. Gelagotis Lee

 

Circumstance

She rode like the jockey from Artemision.
…… She stayed with the nameless statues

in the park when twilight fell through the olive trees
………….and their skin shone as though they might

come alive. He had the gold hair of a god
………….or the great Alexander. Yet had it not been

for the shopkeeper, who knew him, would she have
………….joined him at the taverna that afternoon

at the edge of the Plaka, where other
………….tourists had stopped to rest?

Would she have lingered with a stranger,
………….as she would not have in her own country,

and then put her legs astride his motorbike
………….and let him take her to the foreign part

of a foreign city? It seemed unlikely that their future
………….would depend on circumstance when,

looking back, she saw that the day
………….might have been somewhat calculated.

It was possible to carve their life like stone.
………….And tourists would gaze at them and wish their skin

was as eternal, that someone might want to create
………….their likeness so that it would last thousands of years,

and other tourists then would find themselves at the edge
………….of a labyrinth of time.

 

 

 

Donna J. Gelagotis Lee is the author of two award-winning collections, Intersection on Neptune (The Poetry Press of Press Americana, 2019), winner of the Prize Americana for Poetry 2018, and On the Altar of Greece (Gival Press, 2006), winner of the 2005 Gival Press Poetry Award and recipient of a 2007 Eric Hoffer Book Award: Notable for Art Category. Her poetry has appeared in journals internationally, including The Dalhousie Review, Descant, Existere – Journal of Arts and Literature, The Massachusetts Review, and Vallum. Her website is www.donnajgelagotislee.com.

 

 

To view other content published in this issue, 7:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Roost” by Laurie D. Graham

Roost

Quieter now, the engines, the road work, the generator,
cement truck, track layer, steam roller, pedestrians

hollering over the chunking of bike gears,
the colossal vents of the curling rink, goose communication,

your slow stabs of thought, and a winter of crows
above, a system settling in over heated laces of concrete,

under darkening cradle of sky, the orange sodium triangles
snapping into place for the night,

the quivering of millions of flight feathers in wind,
the tangle of humans hurling themselves home

from their jobs, certain no one can see them
or hear what they say to themselves

under crows by the thousands, thick in the treetops.
You hop the fence of your humanity

to teem with the crisping choir of wings,
minds in such numbers above, speckling the steel grey sky

with their clamour and their planning,
and they can hear you, your exhalations,

your dumb wonder, your memory of magpie,
gopher hole, poplar scent, saskatoon,

what canola smells like, and oil refineries,
lodged in this form in this place coursing its own river,

which you want to get closer to but haven’t
and can’t yet, and the crows let you admit it.

Under these roiling dark bodies, nearly
languageless, falling for supermarket hyacinth,

the people around you looking up and cowering, flooring it,
past this receding stand of trees, the roots with less and less

to hold onto, bird and human seem after the same thing:
warmth, safety in numbers, an unperturbed sleep.

Look how much farther the humans think
they need to travel to find it.

Laurie D. Graham grew up in Treaty 6 territory (Sherwood Park, Alberta), and she currently lives in Treaty 20 territory (Peterborough, Ontario), where she is a poet, an editor, and the publisher of Brick magazine. Her first book, Rove, was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for best first book of poetry in Canada. Her second book, Settler Education, was nominated for Ontario’s Trillium Award for Poetry. A collaborative chapbook with painter Amanda Rhodenizer called The Larger Forgetting was published in the fall of 2018.

To view other content published in this issue, 15:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Otherworld” by Margaret Hanshaw

Otherworld

wish that I were
a field,      late summer

wish that I were
a woman picking up a fallen nest, carrying it
home in the fold of her dress

wish that I were
the bird,      outside her window

the perfect ease of it,       not held,
not afraid

Margaret Hanshaw is author of the chapbook Yellow Ripe (Dancing Girl Press). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in New American Writing, West Branch, Verse Daily, Poetry East, VOLTand elsewhere. A graduate of Hamilton College and the Vermont College MFA program, she lives in Sudbury, Massachusetts, with her husband and daughter.

To view other content published in this issue, 16:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.