from ATLAS OF THE BELOVED
34. Slurping kisses like chocolate
bars in August sunshine. Ink smeared
in rushed scribble across a page
an attempt to remember stories told
in young love head circling first day
of spring drive to the beach on roads
whose potholes have yet to be filled
by stone throw by best wishes & tears
falling following cut flowers tossed with
prayers into fast-moving water into the
dream I dream when you’re not here
I am a swimmer swimming upstream
in nearly frozen water & as I swim
I am looking for a lost coin wild
to catch its thin gleam. To rub it between
thumb & finger. To rise & shine.
Mark Gosztyla’s poems have recently appeared in LUMINA, minnesota review, Miracle Monocle, Outlook Springs, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Thin Air. He studied poetry in the University of New Hampshire’s MFA program and currently teaches at Choate Rosemary Hall. He lives in Wallingford, CT, with his wife and two daughters.
Eight Good Seconds
The sun is a self-conscious thing, the sun of the mind, I mean, burning from a primeval core of reactions, not self-determined—what is?—shaped by the weight of words, the orbiting of phrases, and seeks its part in greater constellations of its kind.
I wonder if such a thing is possible, and can the sun of any mind see the bigger picture, the patchwork thing it hopes to form, and for whom, I wonder? For history? For God? For one’s own view, to do one’s best in this course of transit, yes, and for that to be enough.
But still, this immaterial thing, this sunshine of the self, might bear its own light falsely, might absorb the light of others, collapse in its own weight. And then?
The light of a life might shed light,
(light is never shed), might add light,
the light of vigil candles,
the light of votive madness,
the light we seek in mourning,
the mourning light, then, fine.
We come to a problem of physics.
We come to a problem of language.
We, who are tinder and kindling,
who are solar winds,
we who divine masses of atoms
have no way of measuring words.
Chris Cocca’s work has been published at venues like Hobart, perhappened, elimae, mineral lit, Schuylkill Valley Journal, 8 Poems, Brevity, Rejection Letters, The Huffington Post, and others. He studied Creative Writing at The New School (MFA, 2011) and lives and works in Pennsylvania.
Strong like death.
Pleasant as life.
Sweet as love.
—Mali sayings on gunpowder tea
Copper-purple leaves stripe summer,
dry to the color of bark
or old leather, edges furled,
curled in on themselves
as if sleeping,
light as light.
Once steeped to liquid
amber, we consume
war, labor, ritual,
revolution, all contained
by bone ash
pressed and fired
to a white
The stuff of you began long before
the most distant memory
of the almost forgotten
dead. Carbon, oxygen, hydrogen,
sulfur—whiff of devil’s perfume,
mica, glint of an angel’s petrified wing-
feather compressed to earth,
sphere of plasma and gravity
and residual dust. Ashes to ashes,
dust to dust, star to star,
we began in different galaxies,
but here in this one
I can see the dark blue rims
of your irises, the hollow wren-bones
of your wrists, parts that are me,
not-me, you, not-you,
places where the universe
claims you, hurtling through space,
Kathryn DeZur is a poet, professor, and photographer who teaches English at SUNY Delhi and lives in a small town in the northern Catskill Mountains. Her poetry chapbook, Blue Ghosts, was published by Finishing Line Press last year. Her poems have appeared in Blueline, The Fourth River, Fickle Muses, Literary Mama, The Teacher’s Voice, and Mother Verse, as well as in anthologies such as Strange Attractors: A Collection of Mathematical Love Poems.