Undertow Poetry Review, La Resaca First Issue

 




Karlo Sevilla





Dear Aesthete, 

This Could Turn Deadly



 


You whisper to me that the lonely firefly


that blinks and dives down the undergrowth


is a teardrop of a broken star.


 


And this same night amidst the chaos,


the infant’s soft laughter is the chimes


of a miniature carillon — the last music


her mother shall ever hear


now that the martial knocks


tremble the wooden door.


 


And you yourself have long realized


that you will stand up against injustice


no matter the cost, because the most


beautiful thing in this life


is to do what is right


even at supreme sacrifice.


© Karlo Sevilla


Philippines 

Karlo Sevilla of Quezon City, P nohilippines is the author of the full-length poetry collection “Metro Manila Mammal” (Soma Publishing, 2018) and the chapbook “You” (Origami Poems Project, 2017). Recognized among The Best of Kitaab 2018 and nominated twice for the Best of the Net, his poems appear in Philippines Graphic, Revolt Magazine, Radius, Ramingo's Porch, Unlikely Stories Mark V, Collective Unrest, Poets Reading The News, Poetry24, Line Rider Press, I am not a silent poet, Tuck Magazine, Dissident Voice, and elsewhere.


HOW TO SELF-MINE 

©Fay L. Loomis

(instructions included*)


I saunter along gravel road
glimpse flash of light 


fix eyes

on elusive source


stoop, grab jagged stone
dig into hardened earth


certain now I will mine
Herkimer Diamond 


cradle crystal faceted

half a billion years ago


send gratitude

into ether.


*Step-by-step mining


  1. Go slowly

  2. Note flashes of illumination

  3. Keep focus on light source 

  4. Dig below surface

  5. Maintain confidence

  6. Mine gem

  7. Treasure the find

  8. Be open to awe 

  9. Express gratitude


©Fay L. Loomis


Fay L. Loomis grew up in rural Michigan, migrated to California, and now leads a quiet life in the woods in upstate New York. A member of the Stone Ridge Library Writers and the Rat's Ass Review Workshop, her poems and prose appear in numerous publications.

As a child, she was often chastised by her father, teachers, neighbors, and playmates for expressing who she was. She did not know that everyone has the right to freedom of expression. When this right is violated, it slowly erodes self-trust, paralyzes the ability to act, and strangles the source of being, our connection to soul.





When a woman doesn’t dress well

© Sawsti Das


When a woman doesn’t dress well,

Has she lost her fascination,

For the yellow sky,

For the deep blue oceans.


Has her heart being broken

Her dreams shattered,

Her childhood tainted with stories un-uttered.


Was she not able to speak her heart

Of the tears in darkness

For fear of being an outcaste.


Has she lost her femininity,

In the fight against patriarchy.

Does her tiring muscle

Have another fight to wrestle.


Is she yet to gather

As the flowers wither

After the thankless sacrifices

Of a mother


Her skills undervalued

Her love un-returned

Her joy threatened

Her truth numbed.


Or is she still fighting

Beyond joy and sorrow,

Above herself

For a better tomorrow!




Les presento a mi primer, Horacio




 

       Horacio supo desde chica que le gustaban las nenas pero no fue hasta que termina su bachillerato en Venezuela donde ingresa a los círculos académicos dónde conoce una doctora con quién sostiene un romance. La pandemia le ha cambiado la vida. Horacio va a salir del clóset. Va a luchar por su libertad. Su derecho a existir. 


Se casó. Tiene tres hijos. Vivió cuarenta y cinco años sin amor. Tiene tres hijos. Va a donde sea para luchar hasta encontrar su felicidad.





Daddy’s here
By Jason Melvin

How two words
caught me by surprise
rimmed tears in my eyes
My baby boy
bearded and tall
his face snuggled close to hers
his newborn daughter
eyes squeezed shut
her baby mouth opening
deep breath taken
to exhale a hungry cry
two words whispered
her tiny eyes open
his voice that calms her
brings tears for me
and a prideful smile





La Estatua de la Verdad y el Sistema 

— Rafael Monserrate, PhD 



        Estaba cubierta de musgo y excremento de palomas. Nadie sabía el origen de la estatua que estaba ubicada en el centro del pueblo. Representaba a un hombre mayor, medio encorvado, con un báculo, y una mano alzada señalando hacia arriba. Contaba la leyenda que cada mil años hablaba y decía una gran verdad. La culminación del periodo de mil años actual se acercaba y crecía, las expectativas. Los medios de comunicación vieron una oportunidad de venta y comenzaron a realizar reportajes diarios en cuenta regresiva para el momento en que se supone hablase. Una de las líneas de reportaje exploraba por qué nadie recordaba nada de las verdades anteriores dichas por la estatua; no había contestación, el misterio creaba expectación.


        Algunas iglesias aprovecharon para decir que la estatua anunciaría el fin de los tiempos por los humanos alejarse de las escrituras sagradas. Otras iglesias solo se reservaron opinar hasta escuchar lo que tuviese que decir. Los sectores comerciales e industriales comenzaron a utilizar la imagen de la estatua en sus promociones.  El gobierno comenzó a cobrar por el uso de los derechos de la estatua; y creó una comisión para investigar todo lo relacionado con la misma, donde contrataron asesores conocidos.


        Llegado el día en que se cumplían los mil años, todo era expectativa. El gobierno montó una tarima frente a la misma, invitaron a altos funcionarios, religiosos, y aspirantes políticos asociados con el partido en el poder. A la prensa se le asignó el lado derecho de la misma, el cual llenaron con cámaras y luces. El sector comercial ocupó el lado izquierdo donde montó otra tarima con música y obsequios promocionales de sus marcas para los presentes.


        Llegado el momento, todos callaron en espera, aún había dudas de que en verdad hablase. Pero la estatua habló, y dijo, “Todo las verdades que crees conocer son cuentos creados para controlarte”; y volvió a callar.


        El silencio se prolongó por varios minutos, había confusión. Los primeros en protestar fueron los religiosos reclamando falta de respeto a las escrituras. El público presente, inconforme con el mensaje escuchado, comenzó a incomodarse y a reclamar fraude. Los políticos se retiraron de forma rápida y en silencio. Actos violentos comenzaron de forma espontánea. La policía tuvo que intervenir para dispersar la multitud cuando comenzó a romper y vandalizar comercios. Los sectores comerciales e industriales manifestaron sentirse engañados y llamaron burla todo el proceso. La prensa decidió que los disturbios ocurridos luego del mensaje eran mejor noticia que el mensaje mismo, por tanto, al otro día, los titulares decían, “Disturbios y vandalismo ante el fraude la estatua”.


        Al otro día el gobierno publicó un comunicado oficial distanciandose de las manifestaciones de violencia y llamando todo el asunto un engaño, prometiendo una investigación a fondo donde “pagasen todos los responsables”. Finalmente crearon una ley que prohibía a la estatua hablar, y una cápsula de tiempo donde se advertía a quien estuviese dentro de mil años a no dejar hablar a la estatua.


        Cien años después la estatua volvió a cubrirse de musgo, excremento de palomas, y nadie recordaba que había dicho la estatua.




A Boy Like That

By Sergio Antonio


Remember the day 

we found your brother dead 

on the playground? 

You should've known.

Por las muchas y las pocas,

Siéntate ahí mi cielo, moreno.


Me parezco a tí solo que 

esa lucha no era yo. Fui

demasiado bajito

or too fucking light, can you 

believe that? Me not white-black 

enough? No, sweetheart, 

that's your story. 


I put glasses on and watched you

dance, sing,


You were in love, or so you said.

You should know better.


Cuatro ojos, culo'e botella,

and there I was, dreaming 

I saw myself in the mirror

for the first time.

I knew I could be anything 

I ever wanted to be because of you.




 Cento

The Wind Carries Me

By ©Mary Leonard


Off in different directions.

You said the anger would come back.

Darling the wind falls in like stones.

Darling I may be skin and bones.

I sent you a message through my eyes.

Isn’t it good I know who I love?

I have suffered the atrocity of sunsets.

The eager note on my door said, call me.

Do you think I understand your great concern?

The nose, the eye pits will vanish in a day,

Yours is the only face I know


_____

poets’ lines:

Frank O’Hara

Fanny Howe

Sylvia Plath

Mark Strand

Ann Sexton




Almond Orchard Kibbutz Dahlia


 

 *The sun shuttered by a cloud, climb

  a ladder, bend in half like a rag doll,


  toss green almonds into a burlap bag.


  Mugaduro lingers, the taste

 of cinnamon, cumin on my teeth.


*The moon stirs the trees.


 Girls dance the Hora, hold hands,

 twist. Pink, blue, sandals scatter.


 Still see   stolen boots dangle 

on an electric wire in Jaffa.


 *The moon stirs the trees.


  We eat slice after slice

  of almond cake, nod,todah raba


 bend in half like rag dolls, kiss.

 * The moon stirs the trees.


* The moon shutters behind a cloud


We leave for Tel Aviv, 

smoke a hookah on the beach.

__________

The starred images  are from Gary Soto’s No Expectations published in Hubbub 2012


Robots

© Robin Wright


No amount of barking or badgering

corrals cells into lasting light.

They linger in the dark at 

Delusional Bar & Grill, 

slurp suds not realizing 

the next meat thrown

on the grill to sizzle

could be them and all

around them.



_____




About the poem: I wrote this poem several months ago when the Big Lie about the presidential election in the U.S. was circulating prolifically. So many believed (and still believe) what they were told without any regard for facts, and I found (and still find) this blind alliance ridiculous and scary. These people have reinvented reality, and it seems they want to do so in order to leave specific groups of people without the same rights that they have. To say that to truly make the U.S. a better nation all people must be considered and given equal rights would seem to be stating the obvious. But history has shown, that though we make progress at one point, we continue to fall back as with recent election laws aimed at restricting voting, the brutality that people of color continue to face, and the restriction of rights for the LGBTQ community.

Robin Wright lives in the state of Indiana in the U.S. Her work has appeared in Ariel Chart, Minnow Literary Magazine, Ekphrastic Review, Black Bough Poetry, Spank the Carp, Muddy River Poetry Review, Rat’s Ass Review, The Drabble, and others. One of her poems was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Panoply, and her first chapbook, Ready or Not, was recently published by Finishing Line Press.


Sayil—Lost Women

By © Susan J. Wurtzburg




Smothered in humid green vines,

white city in the Puuc of Yucatán,

controlled by ancient lineages,

stone palace soars to blue sky.


Climb the stairs, past Chac’s long-nose,

enter dim rooms surmounted by corbel arches,

guarded by fer-de-lance coils in corners.


Sun-warmed step, copal-scented breeze,

Lady Xoc’s spirit. Did queens of Sayil 

speak to the gods with vermilion tongues?


Las palabras de los Conquistadores tell

of abandoned cities, ancient kings. Women

vanish, white space between the words.


Their roles blurred, nay lost, by Spanish 

warriors, priests, and modern macho men.



__________


Glossary:

Puuc is the Yucatan Maya word for hills.

Chac is a Maya rain god, whose image is present on the Great Palace, typically depicted with a long nose.

Fer de lance is a French name for a type of venomous snake.

Copal incense was used by the ancient Maya, and is still in use today for ceremonies.

Lady Xoc was a powerful woman at Yaxchilán, Chiapas, Mexico, where there are stone lintels showing her giving blood sacrifices to the gods (piercing her tongue). 

“Las palabras de los Conquistadores” = “the words of the Conquistadores,” such as Bernal Díaz del Castillo (c. 1496-1584).


Not even in the onions 

© MD Marcus


A great deal of satisfaction is found

in the snapping apart

of a sliced onion with your bare hands

Severing the tender flesh

bit by bit,

a cool stream of juice

cries down your fingertips,

and only the delicate peppering

of a tomato’s gelatinous red

comes as a close second


When I thought that you were missing,

saw a lone figure standing on the hill

when there ought to have been two,

I could think of nothing but the seeds

pushed down by earthed stained fingers

only to be yanked and drug

into the blinding light, choking air


I wring my hands

dip them in brine to clean the wound,

and wonder how they survived

when all that my grandmothers

planted was torn away,

a weight that exceeds the limits

of flesh and bone

How did they push their arms

into the sleeves of their shirts,

        one at a time

                every day

How did they go on

void of expectation,

an existence that

derives no satisfaction at all


__________


MD Marcus is a freelance writer and poet who loves keys, the color blue, and a good nude illusion. She is the author of the memoir The Superior Act of Presenting Your Teeth to Strangers and co-author of the poetry collection forgavein. Please visit her on Instagram or at mdmarcus.com 




Search for Meaning

© James Fowler


At night, after the ship secures

from General Quarters, the crew

stands on deck and watches

the country burn. 


A sharp pop-pop reaches us,

then another, until it’s a dull roar.

Everyone falls silent, and watches

the country burn.


After chow we take on ammo.

Done, Bosun blows Taps. We sleep,

We know, tomorrow we’ll be back

to burn the country.



Retired Navy, James Fowler lives in Charlestown, NH, His latest book, Falling Ashes, was volume VII in Hobblebush Press’s Granite State Poets series. Jim spent parts of 72 and 73 off the coast of Vietnam. When the ship, the USS Coral Sea (CV-43) returned to the states, Jim headed home on leave, but was jumped in LA airport by a gang of his peers who shoved him around and called him “baby killer” and “war monger.” He decided not to get out, re-enlisted and returned to Nam on board the USS Worden (CG-18) for the evacuation in 75. He spent 25 years in the Navy and had his retirement held up by Desert Storm. His ship, USS Independence (CV-61) lead the second wave.


The Managed Wild Garden in New Mexico

© Gerald Friedman 


El Niño gave us enough snow and rain

to germinate the feral larkspur seeds

that skipped last year.  Must think: their lapis needs

some gold for contrast.

                                     The beeblossoms I brought

in from the empty lot have too-free reign;

they’re crowding the red-whiskered clammyweeds.

I’ll have to pull some, though I like their white

flowers on wiry stems, which I first thought

lacked one petal. I looked again: it’s plain

they’re shaped like butterflies.

                                                 I’m glad I chose

to spare the seed-eating ants that sting and bite,

build foot-high, scorched-earth hills.  They taught

a friend a lesson. She used bait to kill

hers off; her dogs got ticks.

                                            I drag the hose

on dirt I’ve tramped into paths, hoping there might

be gypsum scorpion flowers coming where

I left seeds from that friend’s yard, but there’s still

nothing. At least my one datura grows—

the flower made of milk that soon goes sour

in sun.

           A passerby now stops to stare

and tell me in good Spanglish that he will

help with weeding.  People don’t get this style

of landscape. Wonder what he’d want an hour.

My neighbor’s yard could use even more care,

littered with goatheads, brimming with the vile

mustard I pull each spring, plus (now I smile)

two stray larkspurs—and a scorpion flower.




Streak



Death in your footsteps with his scythe,

his eighteen-wheel truck, his grin,

swings for your throat.  And with your beehive,

your sea wave, avatar of life,

every time but one, you win.


_______

Both of these poems have been published, The Managed Wild Garden in New Mexico in Bluepepper Review and "The Managed Wild Garden in New Mexico" was in the Winter 2020 RAR. 


_________



Sección, mis Soraya's Coming Out stories by Sergio Antonio


Nuestra primera Soraya es una luchadora de primera. Nacido, si es hombre, en Puerto Rico. Soraya era un joven muy precoz é inteligente. Se graduó temprano de la escuela superior y no ha dejado de estudiar y enriquecer su vida con una gran variedad de carreras siendo las leyes de los últimos grados en adquirir. Como muchas de nosotras, se ha pasado entrando y saliendo del closet. Como pueden ver muchas de las Sorayas de nuestro archipiélago nos escondemos por épocas. Fue discriminado por su padre mas sinembargo no le guardo rencor y en su momento toda su familia reconoció como un ser humano de un incalculable valor.   



THE END 



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