A little background: Back in 2014, I submitted some poems to Sentinel Literary Quarterly, an online magazine based in the UK, and two of them got accepted. Part of the deal was a contributor's copy (always the best part for me, more than the pay). Then, the months started passing with no word from the pub. I emailed the editors, even contacted the literary editor through Messenger (I was seenzoned several times), until finally I decided they were probably a fly-by-night thing. Fast forward to a month ago, when on a whim, I checked to see if the pub is still up. Been running smoothly, from the looks of it, except for a blank in the timeline corresponding to that period when my poems should have appeared. I emailed the editor, this time without expecting any sort of immediate response, but the very next day, I got an answer. They told me the issue where my poems should have appeared never got published, and that they can publish my work in their next issue, if I like. So here we are. And here's the link to the issue's pdf:
* * * * *
The lemon tree makes a curious shape
in the way it bends to the sky: stooped,
slight dent along the delicate stem,
as if praying to heaven or asking
what shape the rain takes as it plummets
in a raging storm. To be old and still bear
fruit--yellow, flock of children navigating
an empty museum at daytime; sour,
the aftertaste of troubled marriages--
is quite enviable. It means the capacity
to create is still intact, like looking
beyond the window and asking the glass
what shape the moon takes at midnight,
hoping to imitate its spectral glow, the curve
where darkness meets the light.
This morning, the lemon tree travelled
one inch farther from its mound of earth,
but also, nearer to when it shall finally stop
trying to outgrow the rest of the garden--
the nonstop pendulum of bamboo stalks,
the roses blossoming in summer--
and learn to let go of the one perfect fruit
hanging from the one perfect branch,
the shape of sadness trapped in the bubble
of tears, when a father's face has turned
away after his daughter's wedding.
Tonight, the lemon tree stands content
with the geometry of its place--the triangle
of leaves moist with dewdrops, the parallel
branches bearing weight of the future fruit,
the shape of the unborn seed in its watery
womb, where even strangers tend to its needs,
and an old man's need to see circles and squares
take the form of boisterous grandchildren,
like saplings breaking through the soil
for the first time.
After Larry Ypil
* * * * *
Tonight, my lover promised we would go places:
edge of the sun or rim of a lunar crater,
circle the burst of stars in our patch of sky,
hitch a ride on a spinning asteroid
and feel how space invades the distance
straddling two electric bodies.
Here was our house, next to Moscow
and the frost that permeates its empty squares.
Every morning, we woke to bells ringing
from the onion domes of St. Basil's,
sounds we imagined mailed to our window
by melting snow, the hurtling wind.
My lover believed in all things real and imagined,
and I, the rest that hover in between.
In the place where they sell coffins,
I first saw her, looking from beneath the glass
reflecting the whites of her eyes, her body
a lazy shadow supine in its polished casing.
I took her, there and then, on a trip around the globe,
painting portraits of ruins and walls, hillside
trees, a field of wildflower, mountains.
She devoured the sights, the moving pictures,
down to the final shred of celluloid.
Stop--Touch this acre of soft earth.
Here was the place for the invention of promise:
bend of the harsh ray of light
and spark of the first gleam of life.
Notice how everything collapses to its core,
how nothing seems able to withstand
the pull of gravity. This is also a place
for broken things, and for things to be broken.
Shards of glass collect on the bleeding feet,
wounds refusing to close with every washing.
Here was where we landed last night:
not in Zurich or Oslo, balmy Barcelona,
the lofty heights of Denver or swampy New Orleans,
but a house of stone and fog, both solid and wisp,
like whispers inhabiting the space between our mouths.
Here, our words are nothing but air.