Getting to the Bottom of Things

Three poems
by Patrick Jordan
 
Seconds Go By
 
Some days things seem to fit.
Some days things seem to fall apart,
and the fear creeps in.
The frightening idea that
my life is not going as planned.
Not even, as planned.
But awry.
Totally off the rails.
Like nothing is the way it should be.
Or, could be.
And that feeling scares the shit out of me.
It puts me in a state of total confusion.
Total awkwardness.
It leaves me bewildered.
And my mind just turns and turns.
I’m unable to focus on anything.
I’m unable to grasp what it’s all about.
And I just stare.
I stare at the wall.
Everything else is shut out.
Just blankness.
Then it’s gone.
That quick.
Gone.
 
Carpe Tenebris
 
Some say seize the day
I say seize the night
Seize the dark
Seize the darkness
The Dyer
The dangerous
Seize the doom
Take hold of the dark
Take hold of that blackness inside of you
Grab onto it
Grab onto it and make it yours
Make it something that belongs to you
Squeeze it into something that you can be a part of
Be that dark form inside yourself
Answer to it
Hear it calling
Become it
Seize the dark
Seize the night
Carpe Tenebris
 
Carpe Tenebris
 
Turning Weird
 
I’m not sure it was a gradual thing
or if it was there all along.
I know we are all born with an empty canvas
and our experiences paint
the picture called Us.
As a kid I would like to think
I was as normal and average as the next kid,
but somewhere between then and now,
I turned weird.
I mean, I’ve felt weird
as long as I can remember,
but I’m not sure if I turned weird,
or I was born that way.
I mean, can someone be born weird?
I know I’ve seen some crazy shit.
I’ve done a shit ton of drugs too.
Maybe that’s it.
But I was weird long before
I ever touched any drugs.
So that can’t be it. Can it?
I’ve got to get to the bottom of this.
I’ve got to find out where weird comes from.
How it starts.
How it begins.
What causes someone to be weird?
It’s my new mission to find out.
I’m talking about science here.
Real honest to god science.
I’ve got to do some research.
It might just be my “Mission from god.”
If Elwood and Jake can have a
mission from god,
I guess I can too.
I’m gonna get to the bottom of this.
Trust me.
Don’t you worry,
I’ll find out.
My weirdness will lead the way.
As soon as I find out this “weird” answer,
I’ll let you know.
 
Until then, you guessed it.
 
Stay Weird!!
 
—————–
Patrick Jordan has been writing poetry and prose since he was ten years old. He holds degrees in both Sociology and Psychology and is an astute human behavioral specialist and truth seeker. Through poetic expression and creative writing, he seeks the simple minimalistic side of life. Following in the footsteps of the Gonzo journalist Dr. Hunter S Thompson and poet Charles Bukowski, Patrick sets himself at the center of his search for the truth. Spending much of his life on the edge, Patrick has been reborn and tries to keep an open mind and let the words flow into his writing. In 2014 Patrick created the Facebook group “Notes From The Edge: Inspired by Hunter S. Thompson, Gonzo, Bukowski, and the Beats!” With nearly two thousand members they share their love of the written word and carve out a special place online. Recently he’s formed the independent, non-profit “Stay Weird and Keep Writing Print Company” and has published several chapbooks and has more in the works. He has been published in multiple online poetry websites. There on the Edge he hones his craft into something unique and hopes to spark a fire for all to see. He is currently working on a Master’s degree in Substance Abuse and Mental Heath Counseling.

Secret Signature

Two poems by
Sneha Subramanian Kanta
 
Postlude
 
The creeper flows
through bricks of
a wide white wall
 
in a quiet lane
in Rue Véron.
While autumn in
 
orange leaves
arrives and spreads,
kisses under leafy
 
trees to accumulate;
in plain pastures,
the root and stem
 
of our love dances
in leaf-shapes of red,
cast by the sun.
 
le mutisme
 
twilight dew
gently touched
the soles of my feet —
like a caress,
 
(without language,
in a rhythm)
a secret signature,
of the dark soil
 
where fallen flower petals,
decompose deep inside;
mounds of which
exhale immensity.
 
 
—————–
A GREAT scholarship awardee, Sneha Subramanian Kanta is pursuing her second postgraduate degree in literature in England. Her poem ‘At Dusk with the Gods’ won the Alfaaz (Kalaage) prize. Untold stories of refugees, writing from the margins and postcolonial literatures are causes that resonate. Her work is forthcoming in Brickplight, Dialog Journal, Madcap Review and elsewhere.

Poet Interview #68: Sneha Subramanian Kanta

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? At what age did you start writing? Who/what first inspired you to begin? Who are some of your favorite writers and artists (past and/or contemporary)?
 
Born in erstwhile Bombay to parents that assumed many identities in the post-Nehruvian India, one being that of liberal educationists, I was introduced to art early on. My first memory of writing was when I was three years old, when I saw a rainbow after it had rained. The sight stirred and rumbled inside me for long, and was the continuation to what has now become a way of life: writing.
 
My favorite artists are far too many to name, but here are a few (in no particular order): Ernest Hemingway, Storm Jameson, Henrik Ibsen, Hermann Hesse, Socrates, Amrita Pritam, J.M. Coetzee, Dalip Kaur Tiwana, the Brontë sisters, Simone de Beauvoir, Charles Baudelaire, Sadat Hasan Manto, Herman Melville, Edward Said, Anita Desai, F. Scott Fitzgerald,  William Faulkner, Charles Bukowski, Vincent Van Gogh, Zelda Fitzgerald, William Butler Yeats, Attia Hosain, John Steinbeck, James Joyce, Jonathan Safran Foer, R. Parthasarathy, Emily Dickinson, Jean Paul Sartre, Kamala Das, Kurt Vonnegut, Alice Walker, A.K. Ramanujan, Zora Neale Hurston, Dilip Chitre, Langston Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Louisa May Alcott, Jean Rhys, Arun Kolatkar, William Shakespeare, Kamala Markandaya, Christopher Marlowe, André Breton, Thomas Hardy, Victor Hugo, Virginia Woolf, Salman Rushdie, Khaled Hosseini, Mulk Raj Anand, John Osborne, Samuel Beckett, Rabindranath Tagore, Harold Pinter, Shashi Deshpande, Salvador Dalí, Mahasweta Devi, Arthur Rimbaud, Bhisham Sahni, Amrita Shergill, Tristan Tzara, Bapsi Sidhwa, Rumi, Meister Eckhart and many, many more.
  
How do you first start writing a poem? Does it come to you out of the blue, or do you have a set time where you meet with your Muse each day and let the words just … flow? 
 
There is no linear procedure or methodology I follow, though writing does embody a certain sense of discipline that I practice. In a poem, language assumes different shapes. With writing, one has the freedom to create. A sunset, for instance, can be described in as many different ways as there are interpretations. To explain writing is to define it, and thus limit the scope of all that it entails. The way I understand it is there have been several different ways in which poetry arrives to me. A storyteller can sit by a windowpane that overlooks a lane and that becomes the clay for the plot. With poetry, the process is more organic. Poetry is a form of dissent, like a forest that grows uncontrolled. The process of editing is another form of exercise I follow, to bend its shape or augment more dimensions. Once writing becomes the chain that links you to all else, there is nothing else that offers as much a refuge and pleasure.
 
What does poetry mean to you, and has your idea of what it represents changed over the course of time? Where do you see it going in the future?
 
Poetry is freedom and a voice that dances because it knows it is free. In a world where one is bound by boxes of definitions, poetry is both; a radical mouthpiece as well as an illuminator of all one looks at but never sees. Figuratively, words are like grains stuck on the sponge of a poem. While poetry assumed a more formal methodology for the longest time, the paradigm shift that free verse brought forth is refreshing. I take pleasure in both, formal and free verse, having written in both styles, though I tend to lean toward the latter.  
 
While there is enough ink spilled about second language acquisition theories and non-native speakers of a language recently, I reckon every expression has a different parabola. I am coherent in the tongues that the chains of my insides know, and not one language. I join hundreds of artists in commemorating the human spirit, and the anthropocene, at a point in time where social change is paramount. Poetry embodies those subterranean terrains that cannot be achieved mechanically and it holds within itself the power to reflect, absorb, inspire and even change in the way one looks at things. Poetry will always have a place in the hearts of those that have learnt to defy a standardized way of looking.
 
Are you on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?
 
I do not use social media, though I must mention that it works as a tool for the younger generations to propagate awareness about many current-era concerns. On a lighter note, social media to the present generation is what satellite television was to the previous generations a few epochs ago, only much more. The idea is to not get swayed by distractions. I have imbibed a certain sense of everyday discipline in writing over the length of time and steer clear of unproductive time.
  
Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they? What are you reading right now?
 
I have cultivated and sharpened a sense of observation. I do not necessarily see a link of separateness from artists across continents for often they speak from the same light. These form my community. For instance, I visited Europe in 2015 and the streets held much resonance. The sepia monochromes were a sight that pulled me to explore the stories written in the cervixes of cities. Paris in autumn, to me, looked a thousand veils were being shed. Among the damp, one finds as much inspiration as in stupors of yellow hue. In a small town in the Netherlands, I made acquaintance with a theatre artist, in his late seventies, and he had seen the years pass by as relics. We exchanged our views about theatre as it spanned the centuries. In the Singer museum, I was a special guest that was invited for an art exposition. The intricate pastels on display interwove a story of their own. One of the ways you learn is through observing from other people that create art. More often than not, you find that there is a shared community of people that rebel against the same things that seem unjust in a society, and often reveal the creases of beauty, kindness and empathy in the world.
 
In Freiburg, Germany, I spoke to a street musician and singer (in my limited knowledge of the German language) for ten minutes, and it was enriching to hear his story. This charts resonance with the musician I watched for an hour on an autumn day in November in Montmartre, Paris, while reading Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea (because reading A Moveable Feast would be predictable) and speaking to supposed strangers that shared the same chord. He sang because he was free: he explored the lengths and depths of the human soul with his melody. In India, I often engage in conversations with those at the fringes of society: skilled artisans and practitioners of art. While one is more often than not told that society is different, when you travel, the world shrinks into a gigantic, extended family of cultural exchange.
 
As of now, I would soon begin reading the translated poetry of Amrita Pritam and have just finished reengaging with Tiwana’s Who Am I? alongside theories of postcolonial ecocriticism.
 
As 2017 continues rolling along, what are your expectations for the year ahead? Do you have any new projects in the works that you’re particularly excited about?
 
Every project, and on a more micro level, every piece is exciting. The concept of time is relative, I reckon. I endeavor not to expect as much as surrender to art. The process is the force. As someone that writes, we assume varied identities, then become formless to unmoor. In such a scenario, it helps to be detached from the world a little, to see it outside-in. Everything else you highlight about yourself act only as sieves and obstruct your vision. It is vital to unmoor from those nets and threads of societal definitions and drown into the very core of our being. I also look forward to producing more work in the French language. This remains my incessant expectation from 2017: to write to free any shackles, to practice my art and skill vibrantly and to keep writing.
 
What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?
 
Every individual is unique, as the micro chasm of a molecule and general advice is often dangerous. Still, I’d say – travel, and if you cannot travel the world, travel the length and breadth of the place you find yourself in at a given point in time. Excavate the unseen mosses that grow by the end of the alley and the sentiment in the eyes of people. That becomes your map, and you can choose which part you trace through your art. Listen closely to the silences between the winds, and similarly, have faith in what you write, regardless of anything that the world might infer. Another part of the process is to submit your work into the void of the universe and accumulate rejection letters, then toss them out the window (if you cannot recycle the paper) and try again. Your artistic voice will carry through, not your name. Understand that there are several worlds within this one: utilize your feelings and thoughts to stir a metamorphosis. 

Direct Line

Three poems
by Ryan Quinn Flanagan
 
Zip Code
 
Our visions disgust the sky
volleys of rain vomit down over matted
hair, the letters of neon signs going out
like an unwanted alphabet
garbage cans full of abortions and
candy wrappers
needles sticking out of arms
like failed space launches
blown veins and blown Johns
speeding away from the curb
and putting their wedding bands
back on
the food inspector with a mouthful
of afterbirth
calling the waitress over for
more coffee.
 
Distance Runners Miss the Point
 
It is best
to say a lot
with very
little.
 
Most say little
with very little,
or even worse,
with a lot.
 
The more words
you need,
the more you have
failed.
 
Everything
simple and poignant
and direct.
 
Sales Pitch
 
Outside the Fresh Co. in Espanola
I had this Indian chick
grab the ass of her jean shorts
bend over
and tell me all that could be mine
for ten dollars.
 
She knew this place just a few streets over,
away from prying eyes.
 
It was quite the sales pitch.
Wiping snot from her nose with
the back of her hand.
 
I pointed to my buggy full of groceries
as though I had just spent
my money.
 
Her eyes darting onto the next.
Easy as that.
 
—————–
Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his other half and mounds of snow. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, WISH, Word Riot, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, Creative Talents Unleashed, and Your One Phone Call. More about Ryan’s work can be found here at his website.

Seeking Something New…



A poem
by Michael Lee Johnson
 
I Edit My Life
 
I edit my life
clothesline pins & clips
hang to dry,
dirty laundry,
I turn poetic hedonistic
in my early 70’s
reviewing the joys
and the sorrows
of my journey.
I find myself wanting
a new review, a new product,
a new time machine,
a new internet space,
a new planet where
we small, wee creative
creatures can grow.
 
—————–
Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. He is a Canadian and USA citizen. Today he is a poet, editor, publisher, freelance writer, amateur photographer, small business owner in Itasca, Illinois.  He has been published in more than 930 small press magazines in 33 different countries or republics, and he edits 10 poetry sites.  Author’s website http://poetryman.mysite.com/.  Michael is the author of The Lost American:  From Exile to Freedom (136 page book) ISBN:  978-0-595-46091-5, several chapbooks of poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems.  He also has over 130 poetry videos on YouTube as of 2015:  https://www.youtube.com/user/poetrymanusa/videos.  He was nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards for poetry 2015 & Best of the Net 2016.  Visit his Facebook Poetry Group and join https://www.facebook.com/groups/807679459328998/  He is also the editor/publisher of anthology, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1530456762  A second poetry anthology, Dandelion in a Vase of Roses, Editor Michael Lee Johnson, is now available here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1545352089