poems published in Setu Western Voices issue 2020

I’m thankful to Setu and to Scott Thomas Outlar, it’s guest editor for the Western Voices issue, for publishing two poems written in collaboration with Lee Ballentine as well as a poem each from us both.

My poems in Setu Western Voices issue 2020

Poems by Lee Ballentine in Setu Western Voices issue 2020

Here is one of the collaborative poems:

but silence is never silent

Collaboration with Lee Ballentine

Like an ultimatum of birds gone to their winter nests,

I refuse to speak in the shadowed echoes of your applause.

Like things you will never hear again, sounds tremble as they fall,

leaving nothing but your voice telling me what I cannot be.

As my honest self fades to gray, I hear its damp echo.

A machine preaches tolerance, but I see only scowls.

The eruption of unbidden tears. Imperfect duplicates.

A divided spirit—sonorous voice, gregarious smile—

belies the familiar fist. The slammed door and bruised spirit.

Heartache demands shame’s silence.

But silence is never silent. Car doors slam. Jets

roar through dirty sky. Distant dogs complain.

Choppers enforce imaginary lines between Us and Them.

Or maybe bear torn flesh, twisted bodies, the comma of death.

Train tracks thunder a despot’s rage that stops for nothing.

A teacup knocked to the floor, a tympani of windows and roof,

a glorious vibration, the sound of fragile metal, a car

dropped to the concrete floor of a garage in the next block.

Pigeons trill sweetly, then scold anyone without seed.

Water flows through pipes like the presence of god.

Breath rattles through tubes of flesh and dying lungs.

Snub nosed dogs snort and snore in irregular rhythms,

like the voice of ghosts from beyond a non-existent wall.

They cannot stop telling stories of all that’s long forgot.

Footfalls from wooden floors where no feet walk.

I breathe poisoned hills and smell toxic water. My life

demolished like a listing shed in the rail yards.

Lost as the travelers who never returned home

bathed in the midwinter scent of a sea’s perfume.

The migratory odor of abandonment lingers,

and I have nothing to say to you.

The waves you would not see

shimmer like a mirror of clouded ice

gone frozen over the falls.

Setu, April 2020

Scott Thomas Outlar’s guest editor introduction and table of contents for Setu Western Voices issue 2020

Nothing is never nothing published in Setu

Setu is a bilingual Hindi and English monthly journal of of Pittsburgh. This poem and two others were included 8n a special issue called Western Voices, selected by guest editor, Scott Thomas Outlar.

 

Re post

poetry from the frontera

Nothing is never nothing

A message

written for a bottle with no ocean

The body atremble, the mouth a desert

Sirens so far away but still the jaws grind

Not even the dogs know what dogs always know

Hands thrust into what becomes a salivating mouth

Birds fall, frozen, from the sky to unyielding ground

Words without meaning

Ask the women, they all will tell you

An utterance shuts out objective meaning

Oxygen sucks the life out of a lying mouth

Not even the shadow knits truth from facts

The first page missing, the first line begins

. . . but that was long after Night arose from nothing

Chaos,

Dark void of space

counter-intuitively comprising Earth, Wind,

Water, and Fire, the gods both spirit and being,

but their answers illusory, begging the question

Something from nothing, they say

yet nothing was ever made of something

Chaos,

the first something…

View original post 196 more words

Nothing is never nothing published in Setu

Nothing is never nothing

A message

written for a bottle with no ocean

The body atremble, the mouth a desert

Sirens so far away but still the jaws grind

Not even the dogs know what dogs always know

Hands thrust into what becomes a salivating mouth

Birds fall, frozen, from the sky to unyielding ground

Words without meaning

Ask the women, they all will tell you

An utterance shuts out objective meaning

Oxygen sucks the life out of a lying mouth

Not even the shadow knits truth from facts

The first page missing, the first line begins

. . . but that was long after Night arose from nothing

Chaos,

Dark void of space

counter-intuitively comprising Earth, Wind,

Water, and Fire, the gods both spirit and being,

but their answers illusory, begging the question

Something from nothing, they say

yet nothing was ever made of something

Chaos,

the first something from which gods appeared,

and from them, everything in the known world

A vacuum that yielded only luminous flashes

yet gave birth to Night and her brother, Darkness

And when Night and Darkness coupled, Night

gave birth to Light and Day, Sleep and Death

Time killed Space, his father

Night, hidden away in her cave, made oracles,

listened to drums, the raucous timpani, the tzils,

the celestial bodies’ thrum, as her daughter judged,

moving the universe in the rhythms of ecstatic dance

Time dreamed, prophesied the future, drunk on honey,

oblivious to Retribution that chained him within Night’s cave

A blank book

no longer wholly incomplete

Ink now scratched over ruled lines

filled with fragments, a two-lane highway

Leaves plucked from a boll of cotton

A vignette of tin roofs and stucco shacks

A stalk of bronze maize braided to the dusty green

An artist’s eye

no better than that of a witness in a court of law

Each untrustworthy as the basis for a just outcome

The mere act of observation will change the observed

Time lies incognizant of retribution yet prophesying still

With neither bottle nor letter, the world spins in a lonely sea

https://www.setumag.com/2019/02/western-voices-donna-snyder.html?m=1