Gleam Issue 5
The following poems were selected by the editors
for Issue 5 of Gleam:
Pine Memories, by Garrett Ashley
Adventures in Space, by Lenny Della Rocca
Earth tides, by Jane Dougherty
Anatomy of rot in the mouth of a city, by Fatihah Quadri Eniola
If Only, by Roberta Hoff
Trophic Cascade, by Damon Hubbs
Volta, by Damon Hubbs
A Name on Stone, by Tara Knight
Affinity, by Diane LeBlanc
I Thumbed The Road To Wigan Pier, by Nick Reeves
Groundwater, by Lana Sain
Alone in the wilderness and this beautiful song is a flower, by Abdulrazaq Salihu
Spark, by Joshua St. Claire
It’s the Wolfhunger, by Sherre Vernon
Whispering through Knotholes, by Sterling Warner
In the Rosebush from Which Man Never Extricates Himself, by Jonathan Yungkans
Now It Was Time to Stumble Anew, by Jonathan Yungkans
The Speedometer’s at Sundown, by Jonathan Yungkans
By Garrett Ashley
BACK TO TOP >>
A blank-faced clock stands
against plywood wall, shows
sun weariness from years of
living in my father’s garage
where it lay flat beneath the
only window. We breathe its
sighs like fuel. We hug its air.
We had no clocks, empty sounds.
Now this space is empty.
If that dog doesn’t make a
sound, I’ll scream. The wind
is padded. The limbs moving like
air against the window, creating
shadows through orange light,
feels padded. There is a sound
of engines on the highway, and
what was once a dog wet from rain,
matted, sitting open-eyed in my chair.
Have you ever felt eyes on
the collar of your shirt, pumping
gas at the Eagle Mart—these
people are no longer like you.
Their hair is music. And there are
trains left empty in yards: graffiti
bigger than a house, artists our
age having gone on to more things
else. Give one a chance to breathe.
A mountain’s head is removed,
sliced away as though with a knife.
When you get the call about how
much these trees are worth, you
go home and cry and sift through
the refrigerator, try to take your
mind off pine needles as much as
you can: this death is like cold
refrigerators, though permanent.
At this angle, the building looks
like an atom, has a face on one end
a trick of the light. What was once your
cheek pressed into glass, grease
stains now wooden doorways,
the vibrations of feet crunching my blue
padded floor. At this angle, the train
is the sound of a roar, and at this
angle, an arrow in space towards us.
Adventures in Space
By Lenny Della Rocca
BACK TO TOP >>
Don Quixote rides his bike up the hill
where stop signs the size of Godzilla
wait for him. He pedals faster.
Twilight is my time of day because
it is neither squelch nor desire.
It’s bats, bats crazy with speech.
The vulva is a work of art.
Symmetrical as it is unique.
It is the end of the beginning.
Somebody drew a jet in chalk.
It’s so fast I must run to catch up.
The sidewalk isn’t long enough.
Potential is a strange non-absolute
thing. Here, there, and a dead
fish in the attic still gulping air.
By Jane Dougherty
BACK TO TOP >>
Sun waxes from yellow mist, wanes like the moon,
seas rise and fall on tides, flowing in and out,
like the pulse of blood in the chambers
of the ancestral heart.
You disarmed me, made me doubt my intelligence.
Would you smile, sneer or storm out of the room?
You were a spring tide, out of proportion,
but I held you in my lagoon arms.
It stinks in the kitchen again, dead mouse.
They come up the waste pipe and drown.
The cats sit unblinking. The life and death of mice,
a wave of indifference. There are always more.
Old age is a slow death; we are dying for years.
My dog is old, unstable on his legs, deaf, sight failing.
His dying will be a short thing, a sun setting, tide retreating.
They say he is dying; I say, he is old.
Dusk light fades, and even your familiar features
grow dim, yet we can almost touch the sky’s purple hem,
trace the broidered thread of the last swallows,
and the cowl of the world lies gold and blue about our shoulders.
Anatomy of rot in the mouth of a city
By Fatihah Quadri Eniola
BACK TO TOP >>
1) The way peace is young like the first teeth of a cherub; is
the way woe quenches the luminesce of all these things, my city
folds salt in the palm of a sea; says a woman is a sea; my mother’s
body displaying the lacerate wear of kitchen & I try wading
through an escape route. Here, a bird longs for a soar in the bareness
of rain; yet; libel is a door calling expression into barrier. I am viewing
frowns on fallen wings of indigenous angels; speaking the dialect of wind.
2) Solitude is not a new fix of hair; it’s a girl weeding the orchard of
her tongue for lemon-slits. there is space; a dog is ripping the season;
there is lubricant slumbering on night’s lips; & there is me; a body of
sky that pours the heat of existence; this time, a girl will seek peace;
& supplicate the city into the shrine in her head; yet; she will
wake; gripped from a dream of fragmented beauties; she will
see a man feeding his veins with the dance of anarchy.
3) After the quiet of noon, it’s the oozing monodies
of lost nightingales; the awakening kiss of stranded lullabies
in the city’s eye. Here, the soft animal of my soul
is an alien inside my body. Today; I leaped into fifteen; taking
my first step into silence; into a poem where drowning
is the history of tender hearts; where a butterfly in torn wings stumbles
into ashes and bruises; dark; dead-cracked; all that breathes is the cloud.
4) In the flashing mirror of water, I see her, my body, who have
waited for rain and promised the world color-drunken birds,
blue enough to throw tongues at iron cages. Yet; these drops
are grey; teardrops; I am wondering how long a soul can
carry the breakages of peace. In this verse, I patch history into
a little gown of homeland to recall the images of hoes & flies
& women drinking up their sweat on farmlands.
5) The world wears a dark veil, she can’t walk; she can’t
see a girl swimming deep into the numbness
of emotion; blinking at abandoned ships & aged mushrooms;
I walk into a new corner of existence where a bud sheds a
burnt flower; I drag the city down the aisle of change. & This is it,
the poem where I mix your love into an opera & dance & dance; now,
my body whispers the vowels in your name.
By Roberta Hoff
BACK TO TOP >>
The hush of snowflakes descending into the empty
parking lot except two cars and us between the valley
of brick buildings with the snowflakes swirling down
in gentle multitudes, the air holds us in its magic.
The night is friendly dark while the crickets sing,
nature’s mighty choirs fill the darkness, ancient and healing.
The cat sits in dreamy reflection in the window musing.
Hear as the cat listens. What are the crickets singing?
A friend shares his telescope in our backyard on a summer
evening I bend to peer into the lens at the rings of Saturn
as visible as outside my window, the thrill of seeing the rings
stunning as dragonfly wings encasing the lustrous orb.
Waking to the aroma of coffee flowering in morning birdsong.
When I was a child, Dad hummed making coffee, later my young
husband brought me coffee in bed and poured love into it.
I know now it is liquid of earth for rising to begin a day.
The bright-faced sunflowers’ shadows grow tall and stark leaning
toward the setting sun. If only your shadow was not missing, still
pressing on the grass outlined in light. The sacred dissolved in sunlight.
The grief should be sacred, too; delicate as all things under the sun.
By Damon Hubbs
BACK TO TOP >>
When the house breathes the spiderweb billows, a sphere
of radial threads like a thumbprint in an undusted corner.
Spirals catch the viscid winter landscape beyond the window.
The spider is as dormant as the sleeping giant in the crawlspace.
Lunar highlands inspiral beachward and a regolith of ghost nets
tread the slick black current. Lobtailing, once, twice, the whale
orbits the harbor. Jonah is a geosynchronous satellite shaping
starless nights. Until a wall map opens to the sight of floating gold.
If you take the devil out of the story, Devil’s Den, in Newbury,
MA, is just a quarry. But overlying stones are biopsies veined
with olive-green serpentine, dolomite and wisps of salamander
cotton— a trove of hex marks that point the way to the devil’s door.
The gray wolves tend to the aspens and willows. And fearing that’s not
enough after a 70-year absence, change the behavior of the rivers. As if
unclawed from steel traps, the wolves run, feeding fur with hot blue stars,
their howling apex alchemy strengthening the roots of wandering banks.
O, you did not build a love for math with your soft drop Tetris hands
but instead a bent for tennis and Russian Constructivism. The rec room
was our midnight playing field of primary colors and the infinite spin
of tetrads falling like something beyond what the eye can see. Love-all.
By Damon Hubbs
BACK TO TOP >>
1. Total Eclipse
There is a picnic but only paper plates are served.
An ancient tusk glides across a blue kiddie pool.
It’s like standing water in which nothing stands.
This is how the residents in the small town describe
the total eclipse. Something happened, then it was over.
A My Little Pony shirt glitters with yesterday’s Kool-Aid.
Then a vroom and hiccup down the tube chute slide, the
playground’s unseen volta, and the girl reappears a woman;
her daughter’s shirt, hanging from the backyard clothesline,
circles and stampedes the summer wind with jeweled hooves.
3. Kaaterskill Falls, NY
Beyond the green sap houses and wood-flowers
Kaaterskill flexes its jaws into shale and sandstone,
its two-tiered cataract biting into the northern Catskills.
Flaying stream capture unfolds like a rainbow tesseract
and falls into the wrinkling shadow pools of the forest.
When the crocodile is wrangled and strung
upside down, depths rise to the surface and
“time’s relentless melt” flows like a backward
river —the source now a mouth spouting
cave birds and swim traces of solar nebula.
The waves bend crest to trough and spread the beach
like tarot cards. And backtrack in synchronicity with
the drawing hurl of gulls. In the spiral of the nautilus
the mollusk watches the sun wrack the horizon a gold
and immutable arcana: within each moment lies its aftermath.
“To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability…. All photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”
Susan Sontag On Photography
A Name on Stone
By Tara Knight
BACK TO TOP >>
Could I dress you in every colour? Making you laugh with lace, silk, and bows? See how fine wool holds a
girl’s heart. Your youth ended in a winding sheet. No cerecloth or poetic sable. Coarse linen was the last
embrace. This is a final gown for the poor. A forgotten pall covers the sun. Linseed oil creeps out to stain
canvas. Clay creeps inward to stain the shroud.
Infiltration of the burials. The presence of conifers that root. Spiderwebs etched, branching on bone.
Multiple interments in grave cuts. Mass burials in the potter’s field. Consider the skeletal remains. Bones
in clay on downward migration. Commingling individuals. Ostracized dead, a pauper’s graveyard. Succinct
failure in the afterlife.
Are you facing east kind doctor? Reclining in a bed of your own? You were a master of words good sir.
Up with Whitman on a higher plane. There’s a girl caught in your legacy. Standing in back if you care to
look. She’s like me, tongue-tied in your presence. What to say to cosmic consciousness? Family crowds
round your monument. She’s down under the trees all alone.
I’ve been thinking a lot about marks. How black ink bleeds out under the skin. We all try, desperate to
make our mark. On lives, on history, on paper. Cutting cliches, a grip on the ledge. A speech, an action,
a genocide. Some of us leave deeper marks than others. Some burn bright, others are extinguished. A
girl’s laying unmarked in woodland. I wonder what that says about me.
Here I take Susan from the asylum. I set her in familiar grasses. Bosanquet in sepia memory. We’ll talk to
the invisible. She’ll celebrate her twenty-second birthday. We’ll wash off the dirt of the North Wing.
We’ll bandage the hands that broke the glass. Write the word imbecile on paper. Burn it on a dancing
night of stars. Together we’ll carve her name in stone.
By Diane LeBlanc
BACK TO TOP >>
Had I known about evolution when I was six,
when my sisters and I were naming our dolls
for future children, I would have chosen
Darwiniana for a daughter, a blend of word and
watercolor plate, a cage left open, my dull
flowerpecker tending eggs with her flame-throated
mate in a nest of mistletoe stems, my seed
caster and covenant with error who would not
stutter and hunger but wear her strands of DNA
to Mardi Gras, dancing to survive.
After the stroke, when language was still the lost scarf
my father saw flapping from nearby trees,
he took a plum from a bowl on the kitchen table,
bit hard into the pit, and broke his front tooth.
What he intended to be regret came out as apology for
a different history of damage. Every four months when
my dentist tests the mobility of my lower incisors
and records their growing wiggle, she tells me again
this loss is not my fault, and from my open mouth and
lifted tongue, my grunting means thank you.
3. Carbon and Fur
Sing me a lullaby of fossil elephants
to ease my tumbling. Or start at the beginning,
in the rubble of tusk and molar, and read to me
every measure of sameness across time. But stop
before the line about the last of a species foraging
alone, glaciers gone. I am carbon and fur,
tracing my shadow on ice with a paint brush,
slicing a bow of light across frozen bristles,
orchestra of one adapting to prairie,
prepared to dream and die in this mud.
4. Bones and Lace
The doctor says nothing about the cloudy curves
of my flesh in the image. We’re looking for shadow
threads and buckle, how badly I’ve broken myself
again. Every time could have been worse, but
I’m blessed with these northern farm bones, milk
fat marrow from the lard eaters. My pelvis is
a mountain tunnel holding up a highway. Between
babies, my grandmothers crocheted lace. Barely visible
on this continent of bones, my stumbling after them,
the knots and rings, durable things made and mended.
To the bird laying eggs in another species’ nest,
to humble-bees waxing old cocoons into hatching cells,
to the untaught artist growing bones among zinnias:
we are grinding with ghosts, instinct our dream
of an old world whose pond and hive and soil we know though
we have never lived there, now habit our compromise,
our flightless wings, forgotten blueprints,
flowerless stems, blossoms gone to wild rabbits,
our giving way a tucking into eaves and fence,
out of the wind, our words, shared eggs and seed.
I Thumbed The Road To Wigan Pier
By Nick Reeves
BACK TO TOP >>
The frame is glazed with October
hugging brick and black mackintosh,
anvil noise, pedestrian crush.
Train-bent, late and suddenly lost,
I search my face for tell-tale signs.
Pulp paperback roof for my head.
With pockets of galleon moths
a jam jar collection of copper
I thumbed The Road To Wigan Pier.
Hooded shadow crowds, chalked figures;
the slow curve of concrete rivers.
With every breath I disappeared.
Meet me in the orchard, she wrote.
I lifted up my face and breathed.
Tomorrow I’ll be wearing gold.
By Lana Sain
BACK TO TOP >>
Stalled in the still-quiet centuries of silence,
unnamed caves form at the head of the cove.
Eventually a sinkhole gives way. Empty
bellies leech limestone and ache, praise
the breath and trickle, cracks in Alabama clay.
Porch light, impatiently yellow, fends
off mosquitoes and hums alongside the whippoorwill’s
tune. A farmer churns rubber and burns
diesel all night for deposits as banknotes seep
into the midnight musk of fresh-turned dirt.
Lonely hands grow knotty-spined and spliced
with what’s mine. Fingers vine around property
lines. Don’t throw anything away. Yard-sale
garments hoard time and fray
pain, bury the living in material graves.
Somewhere a single mother gets lightheaded
and faints on the kitchen floor from the weight of her
own fangs, fractured platters of passed-down Depression
glass bend with the broom sound
of sweeping, a clunk in the bottom of the can.
On the creek banks of March, she sinks into the turquoise-
tinted current at the start of the day, gritty regret scent
somewhere downstream while one robin flies
away from a disappointed other, but wild lemon-
cream petals of buttercups unfurl like a first kiss.
Alone in the wilderness and this beautiful song is a flower
By Abdulrazaq Salihu
BACK TO TOP >>
On the first barren night, Aya,
All the women hunker down
To bring angels into the world.
But this doesn’t matter, does it?
So let the scattered gazes fall where
They want to, we harbored the people.
We harbored all their wailing
We must follow the ghat into floatation
And this is how they fell in the vision
And this is how they fall, slow as the dead
Dying to not die, angels are this broken sometimes.
Angel of flowers eluded of warmth.
One slowly taking the compromised
Form of the sacraments, the miracles.
I’m met by fate on the horizon,
December breeze cracking through the flower-skin
I found this rhythm ferrying
My tongue against my gbagyi accent
The day my father launched
Himself into exile Into space time.
By Joshua St. Claire
BACK TO TOP >>
1. susurrous stream whispering roar of ocean waves
2. foraging ant puddle reflecting my eye as well
3. returning robin rounding her nest cradling blue moons
4. the squirrel gifted the Earth an acorn inside the Earth
5. static electricity for a moment our connection visible
It’s the Wolfhunger
By Sherre Vernon
BACK TO TOP >>
She’s toes at 2am in my ribs. She’s nails
at the edge of my scalp. If I had six nipples,
she’d become seven pups, each one
a burrowing face. And I know why, now,
why the mama gets up and walks away.
How she does it like she doesn’t care
if they fall off or hang on & thank god
for this little extra height & a longer jump.
Gypsum. Rise in pitch. Skittering. A tangled trail
of nails to street. Ttt-tt, Ttt-tt. Between
the tunnel of my ears & the cavern
of my teeth, these words beat. I have
caught them. Today you said, tambourine
& I saw oranges, my tongue the hiss of tires
on gravel, the flat metal bottom of the pan. O give
me another. Felt-tip, kayak. Yes, I’m starving.
I’m on the second bowl of gold
-en grahams & god they’re delicious.
They say the way out of this disorder
is eating, is like eating, one after another,
a pack of cigarettes: it’s the excess tells you
you have enough, you are enough. I never
ate tobacco & maybe I want to
& maybe I can keep it down.
Used to be I could will it: that dream
after the first one. Roll over & step
back into the theatre. Maybe a seat
you weren’t in before, but this one’s better
& here it all falls away & here
your mama becomes someone forgiving
& that man you love kisses you
& you remember the salt-scrape of skin
It’s the catching that’s got her bones
in slick grip. We can’t shout Leave it!
fast enough. She wants this more
than the birds who steal the kibble
from her bowl, more than I wanted god
to say my name as I knelt in my skates,
split knees on concrete. Don’t mistake it
for the chase. It’s the body, getting.
“Whispering through Knotholes”
By Sterling Warner
BACK TO TOP >>
- Emotional Punctuation
Campfire stories capped off with a twist
stirred our imaginations, provided a glimpse
into caution’s tales of lovemaking teens, car
parked along a lake until a bloody hand featuring
a class ring began tapping the windshield.
twilight shadows creep
moths charge flickering candles
mosquitos pierce screens
- Garret Liaison
A splintered barn door inhaled autumn winds,
blew wet mangy dog hair over straw bed decay,
scented romantic, abandoned stalls & hay lofts
where initiates met secretly late at night
for night owl rendezvous & waystation trysts:
bundled sheafs stacked tall
grain shocks awaited winnowing
faultless harvest moon
- Glass Darkly
The television screen reflects images like a coal black
mirror: no blemishes, wrinkles, liver spots, revealed,
reminding people birthdays pass swiftly & the future’s
like nights with lovers whose declarations, smiles, kisses
& promises dwindle in a quagmire of ghoulish images:
votive candles burn
drown wicks in thick wax puddles
like unanswered prayers
- Holiday Haunts
Breakfast toast & orange marmalade, missing family
appear like manifestations of Banquo’s ghosts—
ancestors wandering, waiting, wondering what gives
apparitions substance, where reminiscence concludes
& aimless roaming gives way to renewed purpose:
mud swallows build nests
sunrays sprout green garden weeds
snakes slither through grass
Languishing like chaffs of wheat floating
on August doldrums & eager exotic daring
young lovers landed atop mountain crests
dotted barren crags like sesame seeds
longing to take hold & germinate amidst rubble:
cicadas rub ribs
attract seventeen-year mates
In the Rosebush from Which Man Never Extricates Himself2
By Jonathan Yungkans
BACK TO TOP >>
Hector’s tomb in Turkey slips earthquake-by-earthquake down mountain, charging
horse and rider carved mid-leap on its roughened grey side. Like the mountain
had read Dante and was placing the tomb in Limbo, ready to throw bones
to wind and rain. Maybe for the skeleton to reassemble for
one last joy ride with Achilles—12 laps straight out of Ben Hur.
Would Achilles look more like Charlton Heston this time, or like Brad Pitt
from the movie Troy? Would Pitt, in fatigues, swing a Louisville Slugger
while charging in a chariot? Grand slam swing on the skull-bone. Now hear
the Word of the Lord, the Greeks cheering, chariot speeding to touch
first, second and third just outside the Trojan walls, making a dash for home.
And the angel, given to Paul to harass him, proved exceedingly
sharp in cunning and suddenness of attack. Dark cloud carried on gusts,
it formed the tempest that wrecked Paul’s ship, would have drowned everyone onboard.
Paul called this angel a thorn and a rune still holds this angel’s image.
Poems written from the rune chronicled the angel after Paul died.
In one, it was a giant. In another, a giantess’s husband.
In another, a cliff-dweller, a torturer of women and Saturn’s
barb. The Old English letter, which fell from use as if this angel crashed
bodily from the sky, stood for “the,” “that” and “thou.” As if the being
was the only one with wings so black, steeped in blood. And maybe it was.
How many times did your sister call yellow your favorite color?
How many mornings and afternoons did you both sit near a yellow
rose bush at the front steps while you transitioned? That was the term they used
at the hospital the last time you checked in—transitioned. It was
the word morticians used to move a coffin. You sat while the tide
whispered. You and the ocean had been practically inseparable when
you had lived in Newport. Now the sea hungered to swaddle you, take you
into its bosom. The yellow buds beside you were just beginning
to open. Maybe it was more a case of your waiting for those roses to take
you into them while the assiduous tide lingered alongside you.
The wind hit us full blast, like when you’re a kid and you stick your head out
of a speeding car. Rows of broom grass shrubs pointed, horizontal. Air
-borne grains of sand and dirt stung our shins. The doors needed to stay shut. Don’t
touch the windows. One morning I take out the trash and the garbage bags
swelled like sails, nearly lifting me off the ground. I imagined myself
Icarus, floating across the island on plastic wings, dripping not
wax but olive pits, capers and Nissos beer dregs into the sea. Clouds
cast sporadic, aquatic shadows over the grey road, sea itself
so churned as to seem snowcapped. Close up, wind silvered clear water’s surface,
like light flashing across fish scales. The water was cool and turquoise.
Strip naked on the Damascus Road. Charcoal suit, white shirt, salmon tie—
all levitate as if the Invisible man put them on. You feel
cooler, moving toward a rose. What feels like staggering. Magritte
painted himself as Saul of Tarsus, as anyone who walks this road,
between parallel walls of pink granite and fabric pretension. Pick which
holds sturdier as thoughts unfurl as petals, dropping. On stone, earth, mind—
wherever a labyrinth is laid—the end is its center, repose.
Behind a red curtain, which is no curtain but whatever you may hide
from polite conversation or yourself, is velvet or repentance—
what masquerades as thin air, hovering between shirt collar and hat.
2 Title taken from the book-length poem Girls on the Run by John Ashbery.
3 Section Four is a found poem based on Horowitz, Jason. “Braving the Winds on a Greek Isle.” The New York Times, September 14, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/14/travel/tinos-greece-wind.html. Accessed September 14, 2022.
4 Link to The Road to Damascus by René Magritte, which is referenced in Section Five: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/5b/e6/ca/5be6ca86723d7b7428606f22f8bb1404.png. Accessed September 16, 2022.
Now It Was Time to Stumble Anew1
By Jonathan Yungkans
BACK TO TOP >>
For there is always the backward feeling of
a river surging ahead, breaking white in
morning dazzle. The suction of doubts around
boulders, the current’s impact. Mistakes shadow.
An eddy forms and a palette of earth-tones
shows jewel-like, where I can feel the smooth stones
underfoot and grasp some calm in their weight.
Black smoke billowed where a missile struck, over a
concrete pedestrian bridge, thick as water
past a stand of pine trees. Curtains flapped inside
row after row of shattered high-rise windows.
The glittering spray of glass fragments showered
green Provincial cabinets. Houseplants and coffee
mugs flew as if bucked out of a river raft.
Bats roost in blackened cottonwood and willow limbs.
Buoy in dehydrated silt. Rusted lawn chair.
Pliers so corroded they look like black rock.
Faded purple Kool-Aid can. The can’s pull-tab.
White and yellow orchid where once was high-water.
Red sandstone arch under which boats sail again.
Once-submerged waterfall runs hundreds of feet
Faces bob, fill the white metro corridor,
waiting for explosions to stop. Dozens of
people calmly wait in line to charge cell phones.
More sit aboard stopped trains and have sat for hours.
Above, the smells of gas and fire waft. Torrents of
water bubble from a crater in the street.
A corpse lies covered by a gold foil blanket.
One owl floated past another which had perched
on a geodesic dome roof—a globe which
appeared buoyant in the night air. The perched owl,
a huge silhouette against that roof, turned
and observed me with a piercing interest
which pinned me firm as prey in its sharp talons.
It spread its wings and dissolved into the dark.
1Title taken from the poem “Coma Berenices” by John Ashbery, in the collection Where Shall I Wander.
The Speedometer’s at Sundown1
By Jonathan Yungkans
BACK TO TOP >>
1 God Rolls Sevens
He tells Noah, seven days before the flood, “Collect seven pairs of each
bird, male and female, seven pairs of every clean animal.” Forget
the two-by-two thing you read or heard about in Sunday School,
or endless parade of elephants, camels, lions and bears up
a gangplank in John Huston’s film. More like a lucky streak of craps, green
felt carpeting the earth, heavenly dice clacking like thunder and rain
withheld in swelling charcoal clouds for roll after providential roll.
2 Valentine’s Day
First it was owls hooting back and forth at four a.m., mottled grey
and night atop power poles, staring down as if I interrupted
some marital discussion. And now these bobcats working out a date—
female ash-toned, male rufous, both sounding like rusty axles or brakes
going smoke and flame on a train to hell, a steep downhill—more demon
wolfing down cat or lovebird. Maybe fire in the pair of them, true to
felid bobbing heads and tail flicks. True to the howl of the carmine day.
3 Iceland (photo by Mikhail Iossel)
The waterfall alone glows with light on a hillside volcano-caked
with concrete-grey snow. Or is the water actually light, braided
and ash-blonde, luminescence in a heart-shaped hollow? The coal-black
pond between eye and gorge, choked with pumice and darkish as punishment,
hovers in perception almost as a challenge. Distant brilliant strands
cascade and go soft-focus into water-vapor clouds. Graphite sky
solid as pencil lead, impossible to erase from vision or breath.
4 Kayama Matazō (Seven Paintings)
A murder of crows perch and crowd barren trees which bleed into the sun.
A siege of a thousand cranes surrounds the full moon, follow it to sea.
A weeping willow blooms, draws the moon through clouds by its glimmering.
A cherry tree glows pale pink and white as a lantern’s flame skyrockets.
A pine copse parts as a mountain range looms, frothing waves ready to crash.
A wolf pack threads past a mountainside’s burnt pines, over which ravens soar.
An inconvenience of ravens circles and lands, a raging whirlpool.
Two ravens perched opposite side of a power pole on mornings
dark as their feathers when even the sun was not awake. Now shoulder
to shoulder, they are two black wings of the same corvid—mated, for which
by their facing away from each other, watching each other’s back would
seem a pair. One or the other caws fast and awkward when perched alone.
The other black wing beats to the pole or the one disappears like smoke,
as if neither was there but was a trick of the brightening dawn.
1Title taken from the poem “Riddle Me” by John Ashbery, in his collection April Galleons.
Ready to write your own cadralor?
Gleam is a journal wholly devoted to the new poetic form, the cadralor, created by Gleam’s founding co-editors, Lori Howe and Christopher Cadra. The cadralor consists of five short, unrelated, highly-visual stanzas.
Get In Touch
If you are interested in submitting your own cadralor poem or if you have questions, you can reach out to our Gleam email. We look forward to hearing from you!
Meet the Editors
The cadralor was co-created by:
• Lori Howe, Editor in Chief
• Christopher Cadra, Senior Editor