Vallum Poem of the Week: “Pitchdown Bay” by MA|DE

Pitchdown Bay

the small sound of a falling snowflake,
slow it down, low frequency rumble
of a whale, both melting into the ocean
in time, the water glowing as bright
as lanterns, and sailors drowning as if
they’d seen lighthouses, more lost men
entering from the shore’s mouth, that
emptiness between the stars, pupils
compensating for this hard blanket of
deadlight night, still surrounded by
silent shorebirds, nested, watching,
stinging the surface of the water
like quickening nix when they alight.

MA|DE (est. 2018) is a collaborative writing partnership comprised of interdisciplinary artist Mark Laliberte and writer Jade Wallace. Their poetry has appeared in Poetry is Dead, PRISM International, Trinity Review, Vallum, and elsewhere. MA|DE’s debut chapbook, Test Centre, was released by ZED Press in 2019 and they are currently working on their first full-length collection. <www.ma-de.ca>

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Lightness” by Bilal Tanweer

 

 

Lightness

How do I tell you? For empty things are also light.
It’s like a reflection tossed to a stasis between mirrors,
a lungful of shout over a bridge.

My room is full of closed windows; I make sight with trapped reflections.
And while some days I am like these lit-up buildings,
On others I break into a splinter or shine far away in the sky.

The search, you see, is how to look away.
I feel like someone who fights darkness with his hands.

 

 

Bilal Tanweer is a writer and translator. His publications include the novel, The Scatter Here Is Too Great (HarperCollins) and translation, Love in Chakiwara and Other Misadventures by Muhammad Khalid Akhtar (PanMacmillan India). He teaches in the Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies Program at LUMS, Lahore, Pakistan.

 

To view other content published in this issue, 9:1, 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: “The Western Strand” by Howard Wright

The Western Strand

We are torn as the air is torn,
but taking the strand in our stride,
where we have come from as it was,
where we are going no nearer,
a beach with always the same man
and his dog, each free of the other,
the good stones photographed
away from the bad, the rocks made
mythological to be seen differently,
the clean black waves coming
in threes, then towering sevens,
torn as the air is torn by the sand.

Howard Wright lectures at the Ulster University, Belfast School of Art. He is twice winner of The Frogmore Prize. He was awarded second prize in last year’s Ver Poets Open and Commended in the McLellan Prize. Poems have since been published in Scintilla, Abridged, Poetry Ireland and Cyphers.

To view other content published in this issue, 14:1, 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: “La Fontaine” by Mary Catherine Shea



La Fontaine

Leaves scud / sift / through parc at cross-posts, / like and dissimilar
trying to come together. / Through incongruous sight, maybe. /
I remembered you at the edge of the intersection, / remarking on
passers-by: / a bare shoulder in November. / Wind in broken branches. /
Clouds piercing the 90 degree angles / of church steeples they meet. /
I remembered: / leaves gafted across / the scattered earth. / Also, lamp
posts that drifted across the bulwark of trees. / Nothing was anchored
to the earth, at that point, / walking in November, / moths drifting over
an open road.

Mary Catherine Shea completed a mentorship program with Arc Poetry, in 2017; her work also recently appeared in Vallum. Until recently she lived and worked in Montreal; she now brokers various stages of cultural fermentation while travelling between Québec and Ontario.  


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.

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.