Meditation on Summer Day from Edvard Munch’s Linde Frieze
Munch, commissioned to paint
a sweet seascape—sunny
the sensibilities of children:
rolling gentle horizons,
measured sweep of kindly sea,
gleaming white triangulations
of brilliant sails, and certainly, no
offensive human actors to clutter up
the scenery—“no lovers kissing…
children know nothing of such things.”
Did the offended artist know
he superimposed a scrim over holiday
and fancy, shattering serenity?
The accidental couple, spectral shapes
seeping through the gouache
of the artist’s eye,
transparent lover binding
his black-eyed bride
to the vertical mast of pine,
its flap of green sails futile
across the windless plane.
Invasive in one corner,
impasto oval blond,
ingenuous, eyeless witness
to predator and purple anguish.
Realities vacillate: beside
beach, sun, sea, and sails,
a cone of faceless girls,
black back of a blank man’s head,
intrusive clutch, or worse,
dark intimacies. The artless veneer
of image defies the eye: which
is surface, which substance?
Palimpsest or leakage?
Meditation on Edvard Munch’s Madonna
Madonna of the red halo:
white moon shadows glaze her face,
eyes closed against dark;
lips, crimson as fruit,
sealed against desire;
arms fading into umber haze.
Eve to apple, hallowed fire:
eat of me: ripe woman body,
blood, breasts that suckle
a wolfish world, cryptic
smile barring sin.
apple white of ancient moonlight,
arms fastened to a tree,
dogwood, apple, rose, red gall,
close on intimacy.
Mouths choke on repast,
lips on words:
It is consummated.
Fruit, forbidden in the garden,
ferments into wine, wine
Virgin waits: echoes
of the bridegroom
at the closed gate,
walls for the climbing rose;
candles flicker, moonlight
wanes to the hem of dawn.
Cordelia M. Hanemann
Cordelia Hanemann is currently a practicing writer and artist in Raleigh, NC. She has published in numerous journals including Turtle Island Quarterly, Connecticut River Review, Dual Coast Magazine, and Laurel Review; anthologies, The Well-Versed Reader, Heron Clan VI and Kakalak 2018 and in her own chapbook, Through a Glass Darkly. Her poem, “photo-op” was a finalist in the Poems of Resistance competition at Sable Press and her poem “Cezanne’s Apples” was nominated for a Pushcart. Recently the featured poet for Negative Capability Press and The Alexandria Quarterly, she is now working on a first novel, about her roots in Cajun Louisiana.
I can tell because they spill out from the chain hotel
and stare at my empty storefronts.
Scattered scooters knocked over on sidewalks decorating
my urban decay.
—the convention and visitors bureau is even more confused—
Like an alcoholic, I exaggerate with grandiosity
and defiance, repeating myself about urban emptiness.
Old-timers no longer lecture the new residents. Even
the giddiest of community boosters have quit salvaging
the scooters and scooping up trash, now that the
convention and visitors bureau sells my neighborhood
to meeting planners who prefer their banquet rooms
cheap and their reward points easy.
—you don’t need a scooter to go from the hotel bar
to the board meeting upstairs—
After 30 years in this town, do I continue to tell its story
through my own story? Do I wait for the 12th revitalization?
—or as Cavafy warned—
If I move to another town, will the dead scooters ever rise
from the sidewalk?
As a working scribe, Gary Singh has published over 1100 works including newspaper columns, travel essays, art and music criticism, profiles, business journalism, lifestyle articles, poetry and short fiction. He is the author of The San Jose Earthquakes: A Seismic Soccer Legacy (2015, The History Press) and was recently a Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing at San Jose State University.
East Tennessee, an hour from the mines,
and Tuesdays, at the public clinic, I’m
buckled into full extraction mode.
My knuckles blanch on forceps
dug into blackened stumps
the meth mouth offers me.
Numb, his eyes twitch: More. More
of what collapsed him in the parking lot.
Blood wells up, ligaments let go.
He hardly moves as I bear down
and slowly, slowly turn out teeth like screws.
Off-days, my hands, clammy as a mist, float above
a keyboard: poetry at three removes from urgency.
Imagination is the act of sweeping clouds.
I inject inside a woman’s lip.
She’s reclined, head nearly cradled in my lap.
Her stringy hair droops across my knee.
“Why are your front teeth gone?”
I’m asking quietly.
“My husband caved in my jaw.”
If I lay crisp witness out,
clamber through these gullied woods,
will a mourning dove burst into view?
Who neither hears nor sees the whippoorwill?
A fresh scar rakes another woman,
starting in the scalp, across her eyelid, into
the pucker of a mid-cheek gouge.
To my surprise, her eye’s alive.
“What happened to you?”
“My boyfriend done come home on meth
and put my face through a window.”
Eric Forsbergh’s poetry has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Journal of Neurology, Zeotrope, The Cafe Review, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and the Northern Virginia Review, which awarded him a Pushcart nomination in 2016. He is a Vietnam veteran.