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River Poets Journal

A Journal of Poetry/Prose

Art & Photography

Below - Sampling of  Poetry and Art from the Spring/Summer 2014 Edition

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This page was last updated: October 11, 2014
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Judith Lawrence, Editor
Mirror Reflection Sounds Off

Skilled workmen made
my deaf and dumb world, where I live
in time but know
no history, fingering the seals
on the shining door
no one can open.

Here I am body
without muscle and bone, image that
constantly disappears but
never vanishes, with a gaze

that holds yours,
making your own dark pupils wise.
Terra Incognita, the frame
above my white face, the absence
of steps. Yet I’m

by the comb you take to your
hair, and moved by
your unseen tongue, my lips
split into unheard
words—calling up
the corpse that never dies, the
newly born.

I swallow, breathe
out upon the mirror, but only
your breath fogs it.

                                           ©Llewellyn McKernan

Hard Proof of Love

How the geese hiss if I get too close—
see the mother there, in the yellow cress, 
baby nestled against her bosom. 

How beach grass changes sand to soil—
makes it habitable 
for plants who will soon outcompete it. 

The sweetness of poems and of apple and pear pomes. 

The moon, who can’t sing, but who loves conducting 
waves anyway. 

Asia and Europe spooning with Africa 
on the map at the front of the classroom. 

The waltz of mosquitoes in the evening 
when the water is a dance floor. 

                                        ©Molly Kirschner 

last night there was heat lightning

thrumming through the upper atmosphere
bleak regions- almost like a sound, 
i could feel my toes again
on the night sand. there are sad aliens
on the beach tonight, blood and alcohol
running rivers back into the brooding
black of a wild restless ocean and 
a weighted dream of morning. there are
horses tossing over the sand, foaming
and frothing their complex
velocities into the sleeping air. i guess
some people are more solid than others,
magnetically you move, 
the ringing paradigm
of your body towering and falling
in an enigmatic tide that so
so gently pulls at my bones, inexplicably
carries me out to sea.
the minnows of your mind
are still dreaming, silver edges
alive inside your dim haunted shipwreck
eyes. i hate your brittle bones and
the insoluble contour of your spine,
the way it bends against the sea, because
you, like i, are only a mirage. time
is undoing the clasp on her dress and going
for a swim half naked at 3 a.m.,
drowning all memory unhappily in the
fluorescent moonbeam not-chlorine.
maybe i am a little light on the beach
waiting to be absorbed by the deafening night.

                                                     ©Elena Botts

Morpheus’s Folly

I fall in Hypnos’s embrace seduced by 
my old guide Morpheus beckoning,
breathing in the fragrance of poppies 
floating down the River Lethe
deep into the surrealism of dreams.

Now a child. 
Now an old woman.
A dancer sprouting wings.
I chase a moaning dog.
It transports into a newborn kitten.

I am a betrayed lover.
An apple thief falling out of a tree.
I am caught between crossfire.
I climb inside a large coat pocket.
I bite into a leather baby shoe.
It dissolves in my mouth.
My teeth drop out.
And I’m falling… falling… falling
grasping for salvation.

What folly is this, Morpheus,
that you lure me into nightly?
How willingly I let you take me
through the morass of my alter ego
exposing in that dark mystical arena
what I seek to conceal in the light of day.

                                       ©Judith A. Lawrence

Artist  -  Joaquín Sorolla 
Black & Gray

We farmed Paul’s Hill with mules until my seventh grade.
The bus would let me off; the first thing I’d see,
If they were free of fields, Gray, scratching her neck
High on the barbed-wire fence in the chainey-tree’s shade
The corner of the mule-lot popularized for me,
And where Black wallowed made a washed-out deck
I’d see doodle-bugs rolling over, dusting upper
Waves in mini-huffs; I felt a real kinship when I grew
Strong enough to draw water; my hands ache
Now when I think about the knife-sharp chain at supper,
Good bet.

                                                             ©Shelby Stephenson

Vision of San Francisco

In low rise San Francisco
at five PM
among smooth jazz enthusiasts
the dish still repeats
with no one watching
behind withdrawn blinds
but everyone speaking
or chewing on gossip
pasta or pork
trying to sleep off
war or death
chilled out
by every Dear John or Jane
letter, not willing
to surrender
the happy hour
even the remote possibility
of going off line
or losing control
of a poor reception
yet you still keep on
playing the blues
here in October
on the sidewalks' cafe
no one sleeps
except on music sheets
in harmony on brass beds
with my newly haired bow
of my violin's rosin
I'm floating in a morning shine
gazing at the Bay.  

                                         ©B.Z. Niditch
Girl with Flowers - Joaquín Sorolla 

Rooftop with Flowers - Joaquín Sorolla 

Going for a Swim - Joaquín Sorolla 
Girl on the Beach - Joaquín Sorolla

Two Sisters - Joaquín Sorolla

Under the Parasol - Joaquín Sorolla