Poetry Section: Pullulating Poetry

March begins in winter and ends in spring—and so do this month’s poems. Begin with Owen’s “The Winter Nest,” warm yourself up along the way with West’s indelible ink(l)ings and Moul’s idiomatic interscriptions. And, yes, erin-cilberto is right—“After all that, Spring…”

Siobhan Watson, Managing Editor

Catherine Owen

Catherine Owen has published nine collections of poetry and prose, won several awards, and toured her work throughout North America. Further information may be found at www.catherineowen.org.

The Winter Nest                        

“by all means, regale me with snow”  Paul Celan

Even in this season,

I lie open.
And no one can fault me
for not sealing my home,
vaulting a roof over this soft,
once-harbouring place, refusing
the ice.
Snow is not the antithesis of Spring;
ice lies on the continuum with sun,
the heat of feathers I knew, that thick,
illimitable sound of shells fissuring, the back &
forth, back & forth to beaks, then such heaving
their bodies made upwards & out & into air.
I was there then and now here
in the minus-world
I let fall what is given,
thinking not of thaw or of prior joys
such as once were
but I lie open
& the snow fills me.

dark heart
dark heart
this nest
I find
in my winter
filled with
night songs
the sleep
of feathers –
I did not know
life had undone
so many –
that the tree
would hold
what I left
keep holding it
beyond need
outside of spring
this memory nest
dark heart


“an unconditional apology for making a wound & making a nest in the wound” – Leonard Cohen

How it hurts, this tree.
Not where I should have alighted.
Or did I plant this contusion of branches.
Its abrading bark.
Not the seed I meant for us.
But it grew & worse
I settled in this fork of blood.
Called to you from the seepage
Said home sweet home sweet home.
Sorry, so many times.
Not the nest I had planned.
Confusing pain, as it did.
With love.

Max West
Max West is a creative writer, musician, and graduate of UC Davis, who has published articles, a book entitled Fourteen Months and Two Weeks Downtown: A Fictional Documentary with Names Changed to Protect the Guilty, poems and books of poetry, including Professions, Pocket Poems Vol. 1, and Semi-Serious Multi-Faceted Flowering Wheel Poem. He resides in Sacramento, California. More words available at: flasheslightning.blogspot.com

Knobless Radio
Always know
when it’s on its way
something like
a knobless radio
begins to play
or at least
you begin to notice
subtle music
on the rise
The bumps on the bus
aquire supernatural
there’s a chance
the wheels may
take off dancing
There’s a chance
for anything
as there
always was
even when
the seas were
instead of
making you
make them

Later, it was Only Words I gave them
Today I see
Distant memories
Of promises made
To the first ones
Who taught me cruelty- namely,
Never to speak to them again.
I didn’t realize then
How long forever would be.
And yet, even when
I at last spoke back
I’m not sure that promise wasn’t still
Somehow kept.

The Every Sign
Keep on going don’t let
The billboards tell you
Who you are
Each moment devours itself
For the sake of the next
And where will our arrows point
After tomorrow
Never comes?
Open up to where
Closure is forgotten
And see the every sign
Witness itself

Keith Moul
Keith Moul’s work has appeared widely for more than 40 years. Blue & Yellow Dog Press published his chapbook, The Grammar of Mind, in November, 2010; Red Ochre Press has Beautiful Agitation, a winner in its 2011 chapbook contest, in preparation now for release shortly. He also published photos widely. The following three poems are from a sequence collected (seeking a publisher) as To Take and Have Not. Keith calls them idiomatic poems, as each begins with a common idiom employing the “to take” infinitive and enlarges its meaning in the context of the poem’s action.

Taking Liberties

They agreed she was no thief
but surely she had taken


made free with her senses
with exquisite bodies
tendered by her own horticulture.

He delights in
her gardener’s right to reap,
to splash blue,
purple, pink with red
and throb with the mélange.

She faces south in pure obeisance.

Like the iris opening
pendulous with an orange beard
he stands by at full alert.

jacob erin-cilberto
jacob erin-cilberto, originally from Bronx, NY, now resides in Carbondale, Illinois. erin-cilberto has been writing and publishing poetry since 1970. He currently teaches at John A. Logan and Shawnee Community colleges in Southern Illinois.

His work has appeared in numerous small magazines and journals including: Café Review, Skyline Magazine, Hudson View, Wind Journal, Pegasus, Parnassus and others. erin-cilberto also writes reviews of poetry books for Chiron Review, Skyline Review, Birchbrook Press and others. He has reviewed books by B.Z Niditch, Michael Miller, Barry Wallenstein, Marcus Rome, musician Tom Maclear and others. Used Lanterns is erin-cilberto’s 12th book of poetry and is now available through Water Forest Press, Stormville, NY. erin-cilberto has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry in 2006-2007-2008 and again in 2010. He teaches poetry workshops for Heartland Writers Guild, Southern Illinois Writers Guild and Union County Writers Guild.

Don’t Cut Film before Heating

talking tenders
(not chicken,)
to fall in love
fried heart
phone cooking
love a girl
saw her before
the microwave shorted into
two minute passion
then some,
slightly crisp motives
on the outside, on the inside
i’m in another state
of mind,
two more minutes
and i’m plugged back in
heart’s working again
she’s a tasty morsel
i’m the sauce
we’re dipped in wild dreams
can’t hang up now
cause i’m hung up on her.

an older man recalls tomorrow’s dream

(one day in 1968 i picked a flower
and wrote some words)

today i opened up a book of poetry
and found fuchsia breath emanating
from between the pages
as i looked at your picture
and remembered how i had thought of you then
but only met you yesterday

and that a poem’s realization
may be infinitely forthcoming
(meanings spelled out— decades in the making)
and often pressed flowers
lie patiently, waiting
for just the right light
to open them.

After all that, Spring…

i was doodling snowmen in my
heart’s notebook
frosted white pages of my mind
in rigid protective layer
keeping out a stubbornly aggressive March

turning leafs
so quickly
i couldn’t read the carrot nosed longings
to melt

i was safe in February sanctuary
always liked short months
where love was less likely to intrude

and Valentines were simply chocolate shapes
to be digested like past turbulence

the pencil moving of its own accord
in silent unison with my discord
the frozen faces of walls i built around me
eyes missing
lips unformed

only that carrot nose still
longing for the rest of me to melt

wanting a gloved hand to complete the face
take neutrality’s place
wrap the boredom in secular scarf

but i was too afraid,

i liked feeling ice against my cheek
numbness rented like an old comfortable coat
with someone else’s warmth lingering inside

i was doodling
until you caught my eye
and the pencil’s pointed edge
drew a line toward love

my snowmen are disfigured
and i

have a preoccupation
with lions turning into lambs.


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