Poetry Section: Playful Poetry

This month’s collection of poems offer variety not only in subject, but in form and style, as well. Mascia’s free verse balances out Russomano’s subtle rhymes; Yuan’s seasonally divided poem contrasts with an excerpt from Chye’s much longer “saudade.” Yet, no matter the poets’ preferences, each poem seems to intrigue and stand alone. – Siobhan Watson, Managing Editor

Poems by Nick Mascia
“The Illegitimate Child of Gibson”

A black, wooden face —
that illegitimate child of Gibson, an Epiphone —
stained from spilled drinks
never wiped away.

A small scar burrowed
four inches southwest of the bridge
and one inch shy of plummeting off its surface
like sailors before Magellan

circumnavigated the Earth. My fingers glide along
this object; gently sliding along copper-colored
arteries, start at the bridge, pass
the sound-hole, end at the headstock,

where tightly-wound metallic
life blood — copper-wire Elixirs —
meet six silver tuning keys,
spun to access its vocabulary.


It looks dark up there, where the water
comes from: the gray tube with ridges

at the top of the hill, in the woods behind our house.
It’s rock stacked on rock, a rock mountain.

My brother says there’s a tire in there
and a lawn gnome and I believe it.

Snow descends, landing on my red, exposed ears.
With purple hands, I climb rocks that gleam from ice:

a glowing blue aura beating purple to its core;
slick as frozen hell looking to pull me down.

“An Odd Dog”

The corner of a browser, a
picture: an odd dog, a
not-quite-right dog, something’s off.

Its bizarre place, a Facebook page,
an ad, this dog with human eyes, eyebrows
too. This dog, oddly, accompanied

by: Become an Artist. Interested, I
click: Complete this quick form. I
contemplate this too, too long — Fill this form,
name, address, and all, to unlock secrets.

Interested where it goes as I
been noticing days I write substantially are far
between and in between: lazy nights, the perched moon
stalks my car, a half-hearted rain
not worth wiping away collects ’til I’m home

and spend the night looking like a moon: monitor projects
a Facebook page ad that reflects off my face, my blank moony
expression, my open-eyed shut-eye, words
and dreams and images that
meld around the image
of an odd dog,
that, at some point,
fades away…

Author’s Bio: N.M. Mascia brings the force in all things creative. You can follow him at twitter.com/nmmascia and nmmascia.tumblr.com

Poems by Changming Yuan
“X Missing: Provincial Proverbs”

Affection blinds season
Beauty may have fair flower, but ugly roots
Caesar’s wife must be above suspension
Drink only with the luck
Enough is as good as a beast
Fire that’s closest kept burns most in the fall
Good face is better than a good base
Handsome is as handsome buzz
Injuries are written in glass
Jill has every jack
Knowledge is no burden
Love is full of beer, love is without season
Money is often lost for want of honey
Nature is above nurture
One man’s feat is another man’s shit
Present to the eye, present to the kind
Question for question is filled with air
Reward and punishment are the calls of pity
Slow but sure wins the face
Trust is the mother of defeat
United we band, divided we call
Variety is the spice for a wife
Willows are weak but never bend for good
Youth never lasts for peril
Zeal without knowledge is a runaway source

“SAWS: A Seasonal Poem”

Summer: in her beehive-like room
so small that a yawning stretch
would readily awaken
the whole apartment building
she draws a picture on the wall
of a tremendous tree
that keeps growing
until it shoots up
from the cemented roof

Autumn: not unlike a giddy goat
wandering among the ruins
of a long lost civilization
you keep searching
in the central park
a way out of the tall weeds
as nature makes new york
into a mummy blue

Winter: after the storm
all dust hung up
in the crowded air
with his human face
frozen into a dot of dust
and a rising speckle of dust
melted into his face
to avoid this cold climate
of his antarctic dream
he relocated his naked soul
at the dawn of summer

Spring: like a raindrop
on a small lotus leaf
unable to find the spot
to settle itself down
in an early autumn shower
my little canoe drifts around
near the horizon
beyond the bare bay

Author’s Bio: Changming Yuan, author of Chansons of a Chinaman (2009), is a three-time Pushcart nominee who grew up in rural China and published several books before moving to Canada. Currently Yuan teaches in Vancouver and has poetry appearing in Barrow Street, Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Exquisite Corpse, London Magazine and more than 350 other literary journals/anthologies worldwide.

Poems by April Chye

From “saudade”


later, our world will end, with
water traipsing up my navel, and
embracing my neck
like the lovelorn drunk who clutches jack daniels by the throat,

and I will stand there
by the tips of my toes
like a lover waiting to be kissed,
because it is the only form of survival I know,

gasping for air
as the ground that bound spirit with wildfire,
bodies with black magic, the ember glow
with the velveteen dance crumbles away,

and at the very end
your lips will be replaced
with the cold influx of water,
and I will say
what I had always suspected,

heaving dagger to our necks,
plucking harpstrings from our chests
trailing crimson ribbons
along our skin,

we were in paris,
held french curves to our faces,
live until we didn’t,
knew it was burning
but savored it anyway

later, when our world ends
flushed with desire
and so in fire

I will say,

honey, I think we were in paris all along.

Author’s Bio: April Chye is a college student studying English Literature at Columbia University. Writing lets her depart from the hectic reality of campus life, and in the summer she enjoys sitting in her garden, clutching a notebook and pen, and forging new worlds of words.

Poems by Hope Houghton

“Cowboys And Indians”

nods from the manager
as i meet mr. cowboy
in some forgotten motel
his wedding band still on

cowboys and indians
never could decide
which team to ride
so i let both sides
capture me inside

i broke a vow, caught on fire
born in a tipi, crushed the tribe
ceramic kin, blood prison
notes stapled to my head
father says i’m just like him

never wanted to be his indian
can remember his women
and how he wanted divorce
wanted to kill the him in me

but hate feels like home
as i fall into a cowboy’s lap
loved his boots and voice
even after i refused him twice

met mrs. cowboy today
don’t think she knows
as she carried two kids
and was growing a third
made me sick to feel this pain
as i re-lived my mother’s cries

still sin fuels this family
as i chase down that cowboy
begging him to conquer
an indian girl escaping
she smiles to me, you know
from that ceiling mirror

Author’s Bio: Hope Houghton is in her mid-30s and lives in North Carolina. She began writing poetry as a teenager as a means to express what she could not say aloud to herself or anyone else. Since she never really stopped writing, many of her poems have been published in various poetry collections and literary journals. Recently, Hope was nominated for the 2010 Pushcart Poetry Prize for her work in the Literary House Review and was included in the Hudson View’s International Poetry Digest available online. A further listing of Hope’s work can be found on her public Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/hope.houghton1

Poems by Alex Van Horn
“Malcolm Little Hears Voices”

I had a dream the clouds broke under my thumb,
enveloped in the blackness of my fingertips,
until the sound of my mother’s head against the bedroom wall
ripped me from sleep. The window shone Michigan sun,
but they were really headlights and lanterns casting word
that my father had been murdered, street car wheels trampling
his spine until his throat could no longer caress Garveyisms into hymns.
My mother held me to her breast, spread her tears on my scalp.
Her heart beat twice as fast as it ever had, my father pushing her blood
with what was left of his blood. His death was no accident.
His skull was chipped by something blunt but the police said he fell,
insurance company said he killed himself, but have you ever known
a suicidal Baptist? My mother never knew one.
So she spilled her soul to the social worker,
the social worker spilled lies in front of the police,
and the police spread my mother’s fingers and stole me,
placed my mother in a padded jail.
But one day we will be free.

“Gold Watch”

The gears have frozen,
the date in December though March.
Separated from the warmth of skin,
the bump of blood beneath my wrist,
the hands do not move, a watch unwound
for too long. Perhaps I was ashamed
to peel the watch from my damp wrist,
see a checkered flag embedded in my skin and know
the watch was fake. Why pretend to be rich?
We used stainless steel instead of silver spoons in my house,
shopped at Goodwill, ALKO, and Burlington,
giftwrapped dollar store candles and heart-embroidered frames
for Mother’s Day. This gold Rolex means nothing
to common blood, but everything to the rulers,
who saw ROLEX and not the misshapen crown emblem
on the face.

Author’s Bio: Alex Van Horn is a Baltimore native and a recent graduate of Loyola University Maryland, earning a B.A. in Writing.

Poems by David Russomano

On busy side street humid nights,
roaring by on motor bikes
through the street lamps’ yellow glow,
we’re passed by souls we’ll never know.

Entire lives are summarized
by the red of blurred tail lights
and the buzzing engine noise,
fading quickly as it goes.

And so we all are boiled down
to a flash of light and passing sound.

Author’s Bio: David Russomano grew up in Stratford, Connecticut, and continued his education just outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at Messiah College. During his four years there, he studied abroad twice, first in Greece and then in India. He graduated in 2006 with a BA in creative writing. Before the end of 2007, David obtained a TEFL certification in Costa Rica. He has been teaching abroad for the last three years in Indonesia, Thailand, and Turkey.

One Response to “Poetry Section: Playful Poetry”
  1. Tosh says:

    This site deserves good comments

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