My poem Anxious Madonna in VEXT Magazine

art by Reiner Langer

The anxious Madonna

            After Lee Ballentine

After midnight she walks through the empty house
The Madonna without child
The bottoms of her feet slap the wooden floor
She counts each creak
like beads wrapped round fingers
The second floor board from the kitchen door
The one in the hallway
Each floorboard complains predictably
She makes her rounds
One footfall follows another
This one then the next
Always counting

The quieter the night the noisier the house becomes
Pipes knock on her consciousness
Warn of yet another catastrophe

Shadows mock her
Call her Madonna X
The Xanax queen flung from the night sky
counting the hours until she swallows another moon

One step follows another
A bipedal metronome
Accompanied by a halleluiah chorus of creaks
Perseverance a virtue
Perseverating a diagnostic criterion
Outside the sky is dark
Urban blight blots out her sister stars
The only illumination artificial
The only peace momentary
The empty womb long since pawned
(She needed cash and she needed it fast)

Amorphous anxiety crescendos into fears
Fears become phobias
She looks at the clock on stove
Rushes to the bedside stand and grabs the bottle
Swallows without water
Her breath so loud she holds it until it stills
Counts her pulse rate

When it slows she sits an hour or two
without the lights
until it’s time to pace again
counting floorboards
counting her steps
counting creaks
counting sighs

My poem Books which accordion from past to future in VEXT Magazine

art by Jennifer McCarthy


a serpent creator god spirals down the pyramid
the cosmos sings like a seashell cries for the ocean
notes follow notes
one who writes with pictures the word for artist scribe
books which accordion from past to future
pictures follow pictures
the basic premise is humility before the immensity of nature
measurement fused to motion in the circle within a square
the sun tells us death will come at the endpoint of life
the moon teaches to celebrate life while we are yet alive

silenced and savaged memories
haunt me with images of another woman
I resemble her there in the mirror
I’m not sure who she is
the cactus spine pierced tongue is mine
the plum clouds and blue flowers on her flesh are mine
my roots are severed
a shallow network at best
broken into clumps of the dead and near dead
the old are raucous and sorrowful together
I am wrapped in a cloak of sky both foreign and familiar

desert nights can be lonely
best prepare for the cold

My poem The Artist Seeks to Drown in Nothingness published in VEXT Magazine



“For his art did express a quintessence even from nothingness.”  A Nocturnal on St. Lucy’s Day by John Donne
The two selves, dark and light.  Without the dark, no art speeds across the page, no paint spreads across the canvas, no clay transformed, no creative play.
The artist lights a little bonfire to protect himself from the night.  A brave man, he quakes, flees, hides beneath a cover of leaves. Thinks to cheat death through its semblance.
All happy sounds banished. The lights extinguished. He walks in shadow until his fears subside, derides his tremor and lights a flame to blind Lucia.
The spark, the light, the gasp of breath.  Flesh flinches from touch until laid to rest.  His body, once hot with blood’s tumescence, its essence denied, lies cold and still.
And still he dreams in darkness.  And still his genius rests, quintessence of clarity drowned once more in nothingness.

Oscar Oswald – one poem

Newly discovered magazine, and poet, and artist. Life is better than it was



There are many greens.  The machine
is self sufficient.  And here we are, a drop
in pressure.  Ancillary, we dove below
the ether, parting from our thoughts.  Then
was elocution.  A series of events
between deep brows, covenant like
oppression’s severed scent.  What’s alive
is lovely, like patterns over time.
The weaker points are strongest.  Weaker wells
of ink, so clearly heard, inches deep
inside. We repent to flutter, revived,
cooled – collected in some clouds, trampled
well through global noon.  We say the prayer
with binary effectiveness: open
sesame, repeat, open season
for the sake of elocution.  Repeat:
bells. From now and then, to speak of size.

Oscar Oswaldearned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2012.  He currently teaches English Composition in Portland, Oregon, and is an intern at the contemporary arts organization Yale Union.  He is also…

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