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Mike Foldes

I write for ghosts

I write for you, old women
who sit at the gates, spin yarn
and knit socks for the dead.

My every gesture is mirrored
by a thousand hands.

I carry these faces inside me,
on my back,
on my feet.

The ghosts don’t let me sleep.

They gather on windowsills and roofs,
in the moon’s breath,

and chat
with chattering teeth.

I write for my father
who still hangs on in Skype,

to reach him,
fill the gap with words.

Hang on, Daddy, hang on.
Here’s a rope ladder.

Here are the words, Daddy.

Here’s the blood,
the new heart,
the straw.

Scriu pentru stafii

Scriu pentru voi, femei batrane
ce stati la porti, toarceti
si impletiti ciorapi pentru morti.

Fiecare gest mi-e oglindit
de o mie de maini.

Port aceste fete in mine,
pe picioare,
in spate.

Stafiile nu ma lasa sa dorm.

Se strang pe pervazuri si acoperisuri,
in rasuflarea lunii,

si palavragesc
clantanind din dinti.

Scriu pentru tatal meu
ce inca asteapta pe Skype,

sa ajung la el, sa umplu
golul cu cuvinte.

Stai asa, tata, asteapta-ma,
uite scara de franghie.

Uite cuvintele, tata.

Uite sangele
si-o inima noua,

si-un pai
de care sa te agati.

Claudia Serea is a Romanian-born poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. She is the author of Eternity’s Orthography (Finishing Line Press, 2007) and To Part Is to Die a Little (Červená Barva Press). She co-translated The Vanishing Point That Whistles, an Anthology of Contemporary Romanian Poetry (Talisman Publishing, 2011).

Ballata del Maine

Volo impercettibilmente calmo, come in un film
in cui suo fratello guardava distrattamente la spiaggia,
per poi trovare conforto in una nuvola
su cui l’occhio si posava,
come quella volta, ancora in volo, ma con altri,
non più suo fratello ormai distratto, senza conforto,
con altri che all’epoca parlavano di morte, come la morte
fosse passata calma, in volo, come in un film
a parlare di morte, morte come blocco della foto
remota eppure presente, saluto a due mani
da lontano, nel fotogramma ingiallito, quelli che rimangono
fanno domande, se lo chiedono, dove si va?
Ma sì, c’e’ da chiederselo, che succede, cosa si vede?

Ora come in un film, ma questa volta all’indietro,
ai giorni di scuola, sulle scale che contengono le impronte
che ancora parlano di lui, come quella volta con i suoi amici,
ancorati alle pagine, a parlare di morte, era sull’Atlantico, era sul Pacifico?
Da est ad ovest, da ovest ad est, a parlare
da est ad ovest, da ovest ad est per non tornare
non tornare ai giorni della scuola, quelli della pioggia,
irragiungibili, così ad ovest come ad est.
impercettibili, in volo, a chiederselo, che cosa si vede?
Andando verso ovest, verso est, come sempre
alla fine del ritornello, verso ovest verso est
a chiederselo di nuovo, che cosa si vede?
Perché poi a parlare sono gli altri, che guardano non visti,
non uditi, come in volo, impercettibili, come sempre.

Ballad of Maine
(Translation by Olivia Holmes)

A still imperceptible flight, like in a film
in which his brother watched the beach distractedly,
to find comfort then in a cloud
on which his eye rested,
like that time, still in flight, but with others,
no longer his brother, distracted by now, discomforted,
with others that at the time spoke of death, as death
had passed calmly, in flight, like in a film
speaking of death, death as a freeze of the photo
remote and yet present, a two-handed wave
from far off, in the yellowing movie still, those who are left
inquire, they ask themselves, where do we go?
Indeed, we should wonder, what happens, what can be seen?

Now, as if in a film, but backwards this time,
to his schooldays, on the stairs that keep the prints
that still speak of him, like that time among friends
anchored to the pages, speaking of death, on the Atlantic or the Pacific?
From east to west, from west to east, speaking,
from east to west, from west to east, not turning back,
not going back to his schooldays, the rainy ones,
unreachable, to the west or east,
imperceptible, in flight, to wonder: what can be seen?
Going westward, eastward, as always
at the end of the refrain, westward eastward
wondering again: what can be seen?
Because it is the others who speak, who look without being seen
or heard, as if in flight, imperceptible, as always.

Mario Moroni was born in Italy in 1955. He moved to the United States in 1989. He has taught at Yale University, the University of Memphis, and Colby College. He currently teaches Italian at Binghamton University. Moroni has published seven volumes of poetry and one of poetic prose. In 1989 he was awarded the Lorenzo Montano prize for poetry.


Pierced flesh
grows back
like graffiti painted over
the morning after
wounds we carry
from the dark
show scars
we cannot hide
in the mirror
my piercings
are invisible
to the naked eye
but mark me
as a troubled heart
to your memory
slowly mending

Rob Mustard‘s first ebook of poems, Blue Moon, was published in December. As he writes on his poetry site, www.rhmustard.com, “My poems are about love, death, the power of memory to save us. I am most interested in the unexpected ways words speak to each other, the hidden meaning they reveal about us and the world.” Rob lives in Los Angeles.

I was concerned about not knowing. Concerned about not being known. Yet I did little to be known outside of persevering with the work. The work being whatever I was doing at the time in my virtual creative space. Mind, body.  Divine intervention. Spiritual revelation. The meaning of every day was living every day as if to make it your last. Life was simple. Inevitable. We invited chaos, we invented dogma, we were what we were trying to be but its presence when achieved was fleeting as the collision of particles in an accelerator. That was yesterday.

The smoke was good, the powder okay. In good company we passed days and nights, weeks and months, then years, basking in the nexus of our personal style of aesthetic nihilism. Tomato Soup. “I’m not going to talk to you, either.” I pushed colored wax as far as it would go, canvas board after canvas board, tracing skylines and events, burnishing sunrises and sunsets, until water could not penetrate the multi-colored skin of fingers calloused as the attitudes of even the most insignificant bit player in our amateur reproduction of something someone thought  might once have been important. Our version of “Goodbye Columbus” was going under a spell.

The supernumerary muttered an utterance that seemed to bubble from a guttural froth, mimicking the personification of ghosts of Christmases Past at holiday parties for forgotten forebears, where children of badness danced on their backs in four poster beds with the eyes of the world upon them. The clatter came with exaggeration about sordid events, including tales of blood-letting and blood drinking, unfounded, unsubstantiated, untrue, but critical to the end of times as the sodden sought to crawl from their netherworld and spring themselves upon the unsuspecting. Broken nails can be so annoying.

If it looked like I was praying I might have been, an agnostic’s prayer for deliverance from the emptiness of nothing, of the blank page, the darkness behind closed eyes, the hidden scenes yet to be played out on the subterranean stage under the charging hues of hot lights in an empty theater where there was no one to scream “Fire” and the place burned down without the dreams escaping. On Long Street the barber whittled his bas reliefs while the chair sat empty. A more colorful life on Friday night was the Cat’s Meow, but the carvings ended up in museums.

The studio by the rail yards went empty, but not before poetry and prints were married by the Minister of Galleries, posted on the wailing wall of expectations lacking will to live, and distributed as Art in America. But before there was any kind of web. Those strange and sticky strands hold up today. On the red ground above Negril a small complex of clapboard sheds resting on cinderblocks overlooks the family graveyard, beginning with one killed in Kingston. It’s a deniable aphorism that time spent alone is in preparation, if for no other purpose.