A Fake Owl
on the plain airport roof
keeps the peeling airplanes
awake. Or threatened?
How have two handsome
men come to pass through
creaky Toledo? One looks
an agile actor because
he earns everyone’s stare.
The other, in passé flannel
and steel city boots, wears
winter without wincing.
I, too, was young decades ago.
A marine grabs a wife with
a pierced face. Mail sacks are
thrown onto a tragic toy truck.
Hoot! Hoot! But no one is
afraid or fleeing. Why haven’t I
written more love letters?
A naked man with a guitar isn’t naked.
Music pretends to be building a house
without walls to shelter our aches, but
the guitar isn’t an ark or island marked
with an X on a burning treasure map.
The Sunday of padres eating pears after
Mass, the Sunday of fragile amnesia,
the Sunday in which children draw
the sun without the genitalia soon to
bewitch them. We are sure that silence
will enfold us when we sleep, flee time.
Monday returns to us with lies to file.
A Poem for Neorealists
A Japanese tea house in the rain
in a park in Hamburg
in the middle of summer
sipping green tea
looking out across the pond
from under dripping eaves
while Russian tourists
are undermining the
Teutonic sense of authority
as his barked orders
to stay on the path
if this were subtle cinema
—a grainy black & white parable—
someone would say
this is the turning point—
where we learn
to abide in contrasts—
but I’m too busy considering
the crass unlikelihood
of this sudden summer downpour
to differentiate between
the turning point
and the narrative flow.
Upside the Morning
I catch myself catching myself
standing in the garden
in the throes of thinking
if it’s beauty that gets a hold on us
or us that gets a hold on beauty.
Compared to the tiny green bug
crawling down my arm
my metaphysical ineptitude
is about the size of a small car.
I look over toward the shed
and see you standing there
tending to your seedlings
with almost unconscious devotion,
framed in an opening in the trees,
now uppity lush and leafy green
in the first burst of spring,
backlit and gloriously golden-edged
by the morning sun, like some kind of
highly charged radiant fauvist miracle,
and can’t help but wonder just who
has a hold on what.
For the Sin of Gossip
Nine solemn pigeons take over the bench,
preside over the punishment of those
about whom they’ve heard the best bits.
The jury disrupts arguments with song–
their cooing drowns the carping claims of long burnt
tail feathers: the fat plaintiff covers his ears.
There is no shortage of evidence.
This is the court of the pigeons who scout
out their scandal from the tattlers who
put their beaks to the word on the street.
What haven’t they seen on their flights behind
your bushes, or to your windowsill–
All your sweaty secrets revealed.
Can you hear then calling your name?
For the Sin of Bossiness
Queen of the Bees, your hum builds hives,
bores a buzz in the hearts of drones.
Your stinger stuns your last week’s rival
and sends her spiraling to the hay.
All the pretty boys listen from above the stalls;
they hate for you to call their name.
This stable holds your palace, and your edicts
station workers at your feet or out on flowered streets.
Why does it all sound like honey on your tongue?
Your venom entombed in combs, you never leave
but you reign over the fields your workers keep
while you complain of them and sleep.
The horses whisk their tails, swat as flies pass by.
They don’t even hear your little bee-speak.
For the Sin of Passiveness
Oh little whippet, oh little whine
and curse, you are my shadow self.
You want to turn pedestrians on their heels
and startle the souls out of everyone
you snap at, to howl like a siren
unresisted, to create more than mistake.
You long for something better than a litter,
a soft paw. You’d like to awe and allure–
to transform into the beast that frightens you
more: it’s the coyote, the lion, the bear,
you adore. No one can destroy
whatever locks up fear inside you.
You think you’re in a steel box waiting
for the passersby to set you free.
Rane Arroyo is a playwright, fiction editor, and poet. He teaches creative writing at the University of Toledo and is founding editor of New Sins Press. Awards for his poetry include the John Ciardi Poetry Prize, the Carl Sandburg Poetry Prize, an Ohio Arts Council Award for Excellence in Poetry, a Pushcart Prize and the Hart Crane Poetry Prize. His book, The Roswell Poems, was published by WordFarm Press last year.
Mark Terrill shipped out of San Francisco as a merchant seaman to the Far East and beyond and has lived in Germany since 1984, where he’s been scraping by in various guises. Recent books & chapbooks include Superabundance (Longhouse Poetry); Something Red (Plan B Press); The United Colors of Death (Pathwise Press); Bread & Fish (The Figures); Kid with Gray Eyes (Cedar Hill Publications); and his selected translations of Rolf Dieter Brinkmann, Like a Pilot (Sulphur River Literary Review Press). His work has been translated into French and Portuguese, and recently he’s performed his work in various venues in Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris and Prague.
Rebecca Morgan Frank‘s poetry has appeared in the Georgia Review, Guernica, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Best New Poets, and elsewhere. She is a founding editor of the online journal Memorious: A Journal of New Verse and Fiction.