Editor, Managing Editor, Review Editor: Practical Poetry

In these deliciously written poems, Tony the Tiger tells us to we should be great, a dinner date becomes much more than food, and we get an idea of how to use our hands appropriately. Written and polished by Siobhan Watson, Donald Vincent, and Peter Bartels these poems are sure to not only please the aural senses, but will also relax the mind. Enjoy!

Tony the Tiger
By Siobhan Watson

He is all that is man in his muscled
orange fur. I see him

bounding across the grocery store,
Americana incarnate

leaping from aisle
to aisle, bounding over half-
filled grocery carts

hunting

for kids with glazed,
trusting eyes.

Be great! he says.

This
hungry creature, chasing

the young, the eager. One tiger,

under God. He pledges my allegiance
to himself, Uncle Sam, his prideful
keeper, looking on.

Be great! he says.

Oh, Tony, we love
the things you do—

the stars and stripes and red and blue,
you

level the world
with sugary-sweet patriotism,
singing
“America the Beautiful”
on the sidelines of the soccer field

luring children like
the pied piper of breakfast foods.

You and your
Manifest Destiny, with its
promises, plagues,
& territory–

Be great! he says.

And the Sisyphean futility of it—
Why great? Why not just good?
This never-ending quest,
This hunt: violent, prolonged. A true-blue

villain attacking our hearts, naked
and unashamed,

without sin, emotion, thumbs. Oh,
how we would

cage

the beast of it
lurking

in our hand-over-heart recitations,

the Boy Scouts & veterans
cheering for war in our chests–

Be great! he says.
Be great!

He Said – She Said
after ee cummings’ “may i feel”
By Donald Vincent

nice to meet you said he
the pleasure’s mine said she
your smile is refined said he
care to dine said she

where to said he
anywhere said she
you don’t care said he
only if you do said she

a bite to eat said he
a merry time said she
a few drinks said he
a glass of wine said she

blue moon said he
chardonnay said she
tofu said he
grilled cheese said she

bill said he
i’ve had my fill said she
too much liquor said he
i saw your Twitter said she

what’s next said he
ummm said she
hmmmm said he

are you sure said he
i want nothing more said she
alright said he
hit the lights said she

oh says she
whoa says he
owww says she
wow says he

go fast says she
how fast says he
like vroom,
vroom says she

you’re like the ocean says he
no poetry says she
but the motion says he

like a boat says he
sheets are the waves says she
i’m drowning says he
you’ve said me says he.

“Water Games”
By Peter Bartels

With Shubert, the piano seemed to play her.
And indeed, with her short, shock-like hair
and her thin, fast-held lips
and her ninety pound frame
and those almond-shaped eyes that barely blinked
As they flitted from piano to page,
One would be fair in calling the big box of hammers and strings “Gepetto”.

With Liederkreis, she drove her hands,
Sledging them through like solid punches.
She nodded and shook and frowned and grimaced
So unconsciously
That you knew it didn’t matter if she understood the soprano’s inflection
or Eichendorff’s German;
She understood Schumann’s.

Now, with Ravel, her fingers skip like stones
Off spring-loaded water,
and the Jeux d’eau of which she plays
Might as well be dancing, string-less.

What is Worth Knowing? (I)
By Siobhan Watson

The 24-year-old doctoral candidate when asked to
offer a few words of advice—Don’t think
everybody is as smart as they seem. Half of what
people say in class is bullshit.
Words wash over
me as his right hand strokes a sweating Stella
Artois. He grips the slippery glass, brings it to his
lips, his counsel quenched. A moment passes;
those lips move again, but I hear no words coming
out—instead, I stare at him—white smile, perfectly
trimmed nails, neat hair—And if you don’t want to
read, like I don’t
—his purple polo, collar strategically
popped as though to say, “I’m just like you!” though
we both know he’s not. I offer a closed-lipped smile
and nod as he pauses again, looking for a sign of my
complicit commiseration or admiration—either
would suffice—and return to what’s worth knowing—

Half of what people say… is bullshit.

“Cain”
By Peter Bartels

Cain,
Sin crouches at the door.

He warns of its rising & writhing
Desire for you whom he did not accept.
But you blister and boil for want of requite
While
A brother,
Abel and competent father of contrast
So loved for the blood on his hands
And the fat filling fingernails scraping
The cedar-bound scabbard of sacrifice dripping
With firstborn failure and death
Was loved.

Set down your sickle,
Leave him to tend and
Turn to your crops to do well.
But Gotten, you will not accept such a fate
And you two walk together with
Martyr in front until
Envious arms
Bludgeon the life
From his fratricide face
And you bury his blood with the harvest.

You are marked, cast into vagrant nodding,
Condemned to live with the ravens and stone.
A nomad lifeless in immortality,
Thrown from the lineage, dead to your God
And lost from your father,
Replaced, erased, forgotten
By those that came first.
You wallow in wickedness,
Bleating red bubbles of shame
As you wander among us,
Awash in the sludge:
The mire of sin that we squirm in.

What is Worth Knowing? (II)
By Siobhan Watson

Every part of you is divine.

If you’re searching for God,
look in the mirror—not while
you’re caking on make-up or
popping your zits, but just
standing there, waiting. Blink
once or twice and watch the
flutter of your own lashes.
Scrunch your nose, feel the
wrinkles appear and disappear
without a trace. Stick out your
tongue and marvel at each in-
dividual taste bud, then the
great expanse of them, rising
like the Appalachian of flesh.

Know your body for the miracle it is.

“In It”
By Donald Vincent

I hate being here, like this.
Off to my right lies the nosey neighbor’s house,
limp, lonely, but welcoming;
street-lamp lit streets are the framework for this picture.
During the fall, leaves decorate the concrete like a collage.
I’m in it now, seeing mom wave goodbye.
January 12, about 8 o’clock.

Inside the car,
Inside, I feel like I’m in control. The same sensation—
I know I know it it is there there
you sit next to me, listening, looking at my smile,
saying nothing, but your face says everything.
I know that a smile can save the world.

Being here: houses don’t house the children,
But the streets raise them. Impalas and Crown Victorias
paint the streets with a variant of colors.
The dying trees are brought to life
by the headlights of cars in a rush, fast forwarding,
as your face pauses everything—even time!

Ahead of us, what is now back there, wandering alcoholics
hold hands out in caution as they ask me to slow down,
right as you glance to your right, your hair freezes the frame—
the moment holding me in awe, making me cause the car to jerk, I
whisper to you that I like your hair.
Descending onto the ramp, entering Maryland, leaving
the District of Columbia.
I’m with you, sulking into silence, stuck in deep thought.
I like being alone, but I love being with you here as well.
Laughing at you as you sigh, claiming you’re getting sick of Jay-Z.
Upset because you know I love Jigga Man,
I put in Jack Johnson, just to piss you off a bit.

“Do you remember when we first moved in
together? The piano took up the living room.” The deep breath
brought thoughts to my head of marriage. No, not me,
but I am in the moment. I take a quick glimpse
of you only to take notice of your eyes.
295 reflects out across the windshield as the GPS voice ‘Bob’ says
“keep right” as I pass the beltway sign titled Baltimore.
I love riding pass the four-laned passage into Baltimore,
but the scenic route of the parkway is more romantic,
riding under the half-moon that lights the sky,
The stars, the trees, those deer.
The horizon is shaped like the brim of a hat I saw
at a funeral, nothing but blackness. The blackness that
chills bones, but warms the heart, only because
you are here. I can’t help, but to let my hand slide down
to caress your knee, smirking as you jump from my touch.

I zip past the Arundel Mills exit, keeping straight and keeping
An eye on your lips. I must remain focus at all times though, so
I pull into the slow lane, paying close attention
To the road. Inside we are. And your hands,
like the hands of the blind, examine, study and search
the undiscovered artwork of a Levi’s zipper.

Baltimore, darling! The lights flash as I think to myself,
Where the hell is my red carpet? The stadiums light up the sky,
Laughing and laughing and laughing more to myself—the Ravens lose
their chance at the Superbowl. I turn the stereo back on.

In my mind, all the songs seemingly make sense.
“Daddy, Where have you been” as I remember
Steve saying “Fuck my father, son. He no good, cuz.”
Nonetheless, we are finally in Baltimore. The BMA
Is where I make my left turn. The BOB, was shutoff
I remind myself.
A gentle vibration on my elbow signals I have a call:
JW: Where are you man?
Me: I’m coming around the mountain when I come.
You giggle beside me, as you rest your head on my shoulder.

And hearing that, I’m in it. I’m stuck in it. The lock
Of your eyes waken my soul, defining the moments
Doing justice to my affection.
Slowly turning the vehicle, still locked on your eyes:
Jay-Z sings;
“straight to the happy ending, ‘cause I don’t do stories.”
Parking the car, in front of your building,
Words were spoken. Words were heard. Words were understood.
You slide out gently tugging your pants up to the waist.
I am in it, until the door closes with your hair
Bouncing on your back as you disappear

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