Poems by Joe Maclean

This Poem

This poem will not be the last one

I write because that one will flow

like the medium between galaxies,

not light, not dark. It will celebrate

life and death by imitating both as

a single point inverting upon itself

that reflects the limit of in and out.

It will contain future words sewing

4D images behind your eyes where

optic nerves weave stray memories.

This poem is not that one that will

last forever, asleep, not knowing it

 

Order and Chaos Out Of Chaos and Order

 

Gulls wheel, crowning the wind.

Ocean traces a curve of earth

beneath the rackety arcs.

A few fishing craft head out

on Sunday rides. Straight

white wakes crisscross.

Captains have mates elbow close

save one glum as autumn squall

at the helm of the boat Gisele.

 

The Path of Life

 

The world discovered molding life

from mud does indicate that clay

is modelled from information.

If knowing permits prophesy,

remembering aids survival.

My life will ride on rails at night,

asleep while swaying over earth

with ice age dreams of glaciers.

The Panthalassa poet splashed

the earliest near rhyme of life.

We carve a Mobius from time

and softly pace upon the rim

escaping back to forever.

 

J.S. MacLean Photo

 

Joe Maclean has two collections, “Molasses Smothered Lemon Slices” and “Infinite Oarsmen for one”. He has published over 170 poems in Canada, USA, Ireland, UK, France, Israel, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Australia. He won THIS Magazine’s Great Canadian Literary Hunt in Poetry. He strives for lyrical and hopes for accidental.

Poems by Judy DeCroce

And

I have shaved all my words down to truth,

a wide circle in early light.

Guilt comes away easily,

leaving a smooth silence.

This time of day sifts.

Cool or dark…

I feel the movement,

a laugh.

a rise

 

With persistence,

I dip in and begin this poem.

 

 

Missing

See me?

I turn, watching the place where you were.

I, the old one, the other end of the day turned.

 

There may be nothing or perhaps it is an elusive sum

that together we were…a bell without echo.

 

There is a sound in your dream,

though my footsteps are quiet.

 

Life in dreams is hard to hold.

Will you report me missing?

And,…to whom?

 

 

The Tarnished After

The proverb:

   the reverse side also has a reverse side.

   And both have a middle.

 

It is always the day before

splitting “was and after,”

the last day of peace;

that childhood belief in safety.

 

It’s hard to remember yesterday,

stepping over the middle.

 

That image blurs to nothing,

until later someone says,

“Remember?”

 

And, with all your strength you try,

try to catch the real before, only to find

the tarnished after.

 

 

Tranquility

for what morning brings,

I am grateful.

 

through minutes of harmony…

as rare beads slide

 

this patch carved out of a day.

rich, slow, in words or silence

 

waves of peace adjusting my focus

mutable—changeable

 

Judy DeCroce portrait small size
Picture by Antoni Ooto

Judy DeCroce, a former teacher, is a poet and flash fiction writer.
She has been published in Pilcrow & Dagger, Amethyst Review, The Sunlight Press, Cherry House Press- Dreamscape:An Anthology, and many others.

She is a professional storyteller and teacher of that genre. Judy lives and works in upstate New York with her husband writer/artist Antoni Ooto

 

 

Three Poems by William Doreski

Lindens on the Avenue

Chateau_d'Opme_Linden_trees
Source: Siefkin DR, Wikimedia Commons

 

The lindens on the avenue

turn over their leaves for rain.

They will outlive you by one

or more centuries, their breath

fragile and necessary, their smiles

too subtle for cops and dogwalkers

to make time to appreciate.

 

You’ve overlooked this city

for so long it has absorbed you,

your powerful blonde persistence

inciting unnatural forces

to open a secret grave somewhere

among the broken warehouses

south of the financial district.

 

When after a night of mating

with that rich old man downstairs

you stumble into that cavity

you’ll remember the swagger

of the lindens in tropical storm

when a fallen limb stopped traffic

and seagulls blown from the harbor

cackled and sneered at the mess.

 

The rich old man won’t miss you

because money has blinded him

to the glare of your Renoir pose.

With both his eye and his glass eye

he also observes the lindens,

but from a lower floor, unable

to see the tops sway in the wind.

 

The days slip past with little cries

you mistake for your grandchildren

calling from a terrible height.

Those are actually the creaking

of linden boughs, a form of thought

philosophers more adept than you

have struggled to interpret,

snagging their beards in the twigs.

 

Akasaka

 

Inside the inn a man

returns from the bath, a towel

draped over his meaty shoulder.

Akasaka_sacas2.jpg
Source ITA-ATU, Wikimedia Commons

 

Another man smoking a pipe

reclines while a blind masseur

kneels in the open doorway.

 

To the right, in their own room,

three women touch up their makeup

as they prepare to entertain.

 

Is this a place of sex work

or merely of roadside rest?

The rooms stand so widely open

 

to the plank connecting walkway

that nothing remains secret

for more than a moment or two.

 

Weed People

 

Already before May ends

some roadside weeds have rusted

the color of certain old men

who had taken too much pride

in heritage, race, and hauteur.Chicory_roadside_weed_(8689131548)

 

The stems look brittle and crude.

Reproductive parts have withered,

having already done their best.

You want to trim our frontage

to let certain ferns flourish

 

in all their asexual glory.

You don’t care that cutting

these scrawny uprights would hurt

where I’ve never been hurt before,

spilling the sickliest fluids.

 

It’s that kind of season, the cries

of tiny animals audible

for the first time, toads fisting

in the garden, the daydreams

of songbirds ghosting in the blue.

 

Today I should enclose myself

in a thicket of books and drowse

until I reach the threshold,

then pull myself back to the world

with a shameful little blush.

 

But I feel restless, afraid

that if I stay too still I’ll root

against my will, striking bedrock

only an inch below the surface,

confirming the slope of my pose.

 

william-doreski175

 

William Doreski‘s work  has appeared in various online and print journals and in several collections, most recently A Black River, A Dark Fall and Train to Providence, a collaboration with photographer Rodger Kingston

 

 

 

Amreeta’s Musings on Mess-Bari

My maternal grandfather’s brother Moni dadu spent his entire life in a mess-bari near College Street and drew a lot of ire for wasting his life in a dingy shack. My parents tell me that he vehemently resisted all attempts of his friends and family to persuade him into moving out. He died in neglect and somehow his indifference to conventional domestic life in an owned or rented property peculiarly isolated him. He stayed back in the mess-bari even after he should have outgrown it. Typically mess-baris were spaces of transition, characterized simultaneously by rootedness and flux. I have grown up with anecdotes and tangible traces of the mess-bari where my grandfather spent a better part of his student life. The Mess-bari project, organized by Heritage Walk Kolkata, headed by Dr. Tathagata Neogi and Chelsea McGill  seeks to document anecdotes existing mess-baris and create an archive around their histories. An excellent survey of the project is available on the official website of Heritage Walk Kolkata. Most of the mess-baris surveyed by the team (Dipanwita Paul, Barshana Basu and Anmol Grover) are in dangerous dilapidation, albeit, many of them being still fully occupied. With the rise of paying-guest facilities, and affordable rentals the practical demand for mess-baris are shrinking resulting in the disappearance of a rich and vibrant culture of alternative residence. Barshana Basu in the introduction to the survey writes that they were able to identify 26 currently functional messbaris, 24 obsolete mess baris and 4 that have been demolished. The survey contains detailed accounts of the location, present condition, lodging charges and cultural legacy of all the functional messbaris. Most of these boarding houses grew up in the 19th century as affordable accommodation options for young men and women flocking into the city from the rural areas in the wake of land regulation policies such as the Permanent Settlement Act of 1793. The larger impact of this act was decreased income from land based and agricultural earnings. This was coupled with new employment opportunities created by the colonial government. The demography of the mess-bari was as varied as the cosmopolitan capital city of British India. There were boarding houses of Indian Christian and Muslim communities. Basu writes, “The 1915 and 1935 street directories mention boarding houses meant for specific communities like Odias , Goanese, Madrasis (umbrella term in uses signifying people hailing from the Southern part of India), Portuguese, Scottish, Europeans and so on. Certain messes al so served religious communities and thus we find mention of messes for Indian Christians and Muslims .” There were all-women messes as well. So what overwhelmingly appears in popular culture as a Hindu Bachelor’s den turns out to be more complex and culturally diverse in reality. One such mess-bari was Shabari and its former owner Mrs. Beauty Bose. The Mess bari has been long demolished. She ran the hostel, after taking the business over from her husband and would do so for 38 years until it became financially impossible to sustain 48 boarders. Needless to say, running an all-women’s hostel in decades when attitudes towards unmarried working women were hostile to say the least and ensuring the safety of these women, must have been a trying task.

What many of these mess-baris possibly provided to young persons, often travelling from patriarchal family environments, was a space of autonomy. It opened up for them an opportunity to fashion their own community standards, while keeping class affiliations intact. This community outside familial ties could have been extremely liberating, albeit taxing in terms of the domestic duties that young men had to now perform which traditionally their mothers or wives would perform at home. Mess-Baris feature in the popular imagination of Bengali literature in numerous ways. Not only did many of these mess-baris had illustrious figures from the field of culture and politics spend their days here, these boarding houses are famous settings of many works of Bengali Literature. Bomkesh Bakshi, a famous fictional detective started his career from one such mess-bari. Noted humourist and short story writer  Shibram Chakraborty’s erstwhile mess-bari still has walls which are scribbled with numbers purportedly by the author’s own hand. Located at 134 Muktaram Babu Street, this mess-bari purportedly housed many illustrious personalities, Bogra Congress Leader Satish Chandra Sarkar, dhrupad singer Bhootnath Bandopadhyay, essayist Upendranath Bhattacharya and freedom fighter Taranath Roy.

Mess-baris have a strange anecdotal resonance for me. My own study table, used by three generations, was bought from a mess-bari that my grandfather lived in. He was a History student in the city sometime in the 1950s, flirting with Marxism and some partywork and spending copious hours studying and reading. The table is made of excellent wood even though we don’t know how he managed to carry it home from his boarding. This table, painted and repainted with several decades of use, is a palimpsest of sorts, containing traces of the histories of so many people, their personal quirks and odd scribbling habits. It is important to remember that mess-baris are not dead institutions of the past. That they are still in use, demonstrates the utility and resilience of this cheap accommodation option. With burgeoning population and urban space crisis, it would do no mean benefit if existing residential structures can be renovated and reused, with revised tenancy rates. Converting parts of some of these mess-baris into museums, could be an interesting way of generating revenue for the maintenance and upkeep of these structures.

 

References

1.     Project report available https://www.heritagewalkcalcutta.com/projects

2.     https://messbariproject.wordpress.com/

3.     Article on Shibram Chakraborty’s mess bari https://www.telegraphindia.com/culture/inside-the-messbaris-that-inspired-byomkesh-bakshi-s-quarters/cid/1671771

AmreetaAmreeta is a first year MA student, interested in the history and literature of Early Modern England, takes a keen interest in Latin and Greek literature and mostly swoons over anything written by JM Coetzee. She manages an informal library for students in college for which she has spent three years cataloguing books. She is definitely bad at writing bio-notes.