Actually, very few subjects appear to be off-limits in this journal. Stewart Acuff goes after a congressman in “Richest Member of Congress,” Michael S. Morris tackles troubles in the world in “It’s A Good Thing We Remember,” and Pam O’Brien writes a moving poem called simply “Work,” about the 1892 Pittsburgh steel workers strike.
Of the 43 poems featured, one is by Anonymous, and several of the named poets have multiple pieces. The cover features the striking 1943 painting “Ironers” by Jacob Lawrence.
Anger, frustration, and irritation are not glossed over, though some poets choose a more subtle approach. In “Remote Control,” Dana Stamps II takes on the workings of a group home and the dilemma of knowing the right thing to do. Ken Poyner in “Travels” writes an original exploration into souvenirs people buy while traveling. And his “Theme” ends:
Oh no, you say, our Middle EastHere are some lines from Neal Wilgus’ list poem, “Crazy Stories,” a little more on the humorous side:
Is not your Vietnam, and I say
Of course not, never,
In no way could they be confused.
Vietnam had more trees.
The Invasion From Quality ControlAmong the less subtle poetry is Michael Conner’s “Beans,” which blasts higher education building fund drives. From “Manifesto # 94,” by Robert Edwards: “Now is the time / to make a few enemies / to burn a few bridges [ . . . ].” And from “Droning On” by Ed Werstein: “You don’t want to think about your tax dollars / our tax dollars killing innocent people.”
Assault in the Battery Room
The Adventure of Enhanced Security
Mike Faran in “Factory” ponders whether he will “ever quit the factory”:
My song is here.Poet Marie H. Lewis, from “Walk By on the Other Side”:
My god is an emerald slick of oil that
glistens on a cement slab floor
where one could dance
BeatenSarah M. Lewis tells of “Sacrifices”:
by natural reactions to physical unattractiveness
by having survived too few years
by having survived too many years
Sweet Sue,Timothy Brennan give us a vivid look at the life of a “Roofwalker”: “My young back bent to men’s work. / I sucked in odors of tar and late summer decay / Like milk from the cows lazing below.”
bright, talented in art, kind too.
She looked after every sick relative or their kids,
so they decided that’s what she should do
and pulled her out of school.
At the top of my favorites is “Salvage” by Alana Merritt Mahaffey. She produces images not soon forgotten:
Skeptical, I nonetheless wonder why
Bibles and pornography never burn. We find them, untouched, at bedsides
and under coffee tables, even as
the family dog is curled like a blackened
apostrophe around such things. [ . . . ]
[ . . . ] I pull a firehose
through a museum of their lives, an exhausted curator.
I looked for contributors’ notes in the last pages. To my disappointment, there were none, though city of residence is given with each poet’s poem.
A boxed message mid magazine advertises back issues with the words “Powerful Collections Unfortunately Still Timely,” a fitting slogan for this magazine of often unheard voices.