Poetry: No Miracles to Come by Gerald Jatzek

photo of clouds covering the sun

Were three kings came from the west,

one had stars burned in his chest,

one was cursed, one was blessed

Three kings.

Were three kings came in a tank,

names were bombs and bread and bank,

played the fool, the freak, the crank

Three kings

Were three kings, their songs were sung

by someone who had lost his tongue,

on laurel garlands they were hung

Three kings

Photo by Trevor Gerzen (Unsplash)

About Leonard’s Inspiration to Lennon Stravato from Avalanches in Poetry Writings & Art Inspired by Leonard Cohen

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I remember the moment as if it happened today. I remember it as if it was the moment which precedes every moment. At 10 years old I rode my bicycle to the South Huntington Library, in Long Island, New York. This library of the neighboring town had a superior selection, compared to our local Harborfields Public library. I walked in, found the poetry section, pulled a book off the shelf, and opened up to a random page. The book was “Selected Poems 1955-1968” and the author was Leonard Cohen, a “singer” whose music I had heard countless times, along with that of Bob Dylan, as a passenger in my father’s car. It was on page 233 that my life changed. It was a simple poem, entitled “A Person Who Eats Meat.” I read: “A person who eats meat wants to get his teeth into something. A person who does not eat meat, wants to get his teeth into something else.” The deep 10 year old that I thought I was, paused for a moment, reflected, found it fascinating. I returned to the final lines: “If these thoughts interest you, even for a moment, you are lost.” The cosmos had gently slapped me in the face, and it used Leonard Cohen’s hand. The message was very simple: dig deeper, little boy. When the cosmos speaks that clearly to you, only a fool would ignore it. I, who aspire not to be a fool, had no choice but to comply. I have not stopped digging.

In the nearly three decades since that time I not only hung on Leonard’s every word, but I also delved deep into world religions, theology, existentialism, and my own, at times rather tumultuous, life. His early work, which often contained suggestive and darker allusions, reflected his era, and was well suited to my teens and early 20s. His later work, which I have enjoyed as something of an adult, spoke to the ages. Leonard masterfully used the voice of God, and man in ecstasy and terror, in the face of the divine. He balanced delicately and piercingly the interplay between the sacred and the mundane, the holy and the demonic, the essential and the existential, meaning and meaninglessness. His lyrics: “a million candles burning for the love that never came,” “behold the gates of mercy, in arbitrary space, and none of us deserving, the cruelty or the grace,” “He wants to write a love song, an anthem of forgiving, a manual for living with defeat” are eternal and timeless descriptions of the human condition. They have also become the core themes of my own interior landscape. It is no wonder that as Leonard described poetry as “the constitution of the inner country” that his work has had such an enduring impact on me personally, and my writing, which attempts to communicate in what I called, in a poem published in the Bards Annual 2019 Anthology, “the inner dialect.”

For many years, writing has been a passion of mine. In early 2019 I penned a screenplay which has just completed production. I also previously published dense political articles for The Hill newspaper in Washington, D.C., though I no longer standby those opinions. It wasn’t until 2018, however, two years after Leonard’s passing, that I began to find my own poetic voice. Sitting on my patio, I lamented that I might not hear a new Leonard Cohen song ever again, I wrote the following, as one of my first poems, entitled “The Master”

Because his death was something, my heart could not withstand,
I asked the master for a final poem, and offered up my hand
I said “for many years, I’ve been a student of the word,

And if you speak to me, I’ll help your voice be heard”

Then the master softly spoke “did you think those words were mine to tell?

You must know that I procured them, from deep within that great communal well.

And there, young man, you may go fishing, but if anything retrieved,

I’m afraid you’ve got that burden, from which I’ve been relieved.”
And then the master did retreat, back into that great abyss

From which all beings spring, and into which we are dismissed.

Yet in departing, he did leave a final remnant, a tiny piece of dust

As if to say, that’s all a man can give, the beauty’s not from us

So, I sat there for a moment, and then found some fresh new pages,

Knowing that is all a pilgrim has, when he goes to meet the ages

And dutifully I will wait here, with that paper and my pen

And my little promise, that when the spirit speaks, I’ll transcribe all I can

___________

Midway through 2019, in response to a text message in which a friend mistakenly thought Bob Dylan had passed away, I went into a deep reflection about the loss of Cohen and the inevitable loss of Dylan. Early that day I dwelled for a period of time on Cohen’s suggestion that there are both a divine and a human will in each of us, and between the two exists the religious enterprise. I penned the following:

If the prophets all go home,

with no heir to hold their torch

may the oceans be reduced to foam

and we build museums with remorse

For if the will that burns in each of us

is not the one we choose to serve

to life itself we have become treasonous

And we get the hollowness we deserve

I heard Dylan and Cohen speak and sing

the voice of god was in their tunes

but the bells of freedom that did ring

belong to each and every moon

And while the spirit still blows where it will

and we cannot command it as our own

it may yet select our hearts to fill

and in our art make temporary home

And that is why I sit here with my pen and pad

Knee-deep in that finest meditation

indifferent to claims that I’ve gone mad

or that poetry is an unsuitable vocation

I never bought that brand of sanity

where culture was confused with marketplace

products are preferred above humanity

and unlived dreams are commonplace

But if that will which burns in each of us

becomes the only one we serve

self-doubt shall not bind the holy impetus

and that torch’s flame will be preserved

_______________________________

Finally, in response to my own lines above, I decided it was time to dedicate myself to poetry. In a poem that is in part the inverse of Cohen’s famous hymn “Hallelujah,” where unlike David, I do not please the Lord, and with allusions to “If It Be Your Will” and “Joan of Arc,” I wrote, what at the time of this writing, is my most recent poem.

I once reached into the ether

for sublime words that I could share

But each one did fall beneath her

to whom my best would not compare

She said: you are drenched in varnish

but all my people have no glare

Hear me, for I birthed the prophets

and you, young man, are not their heir

Well, I trembled at this trumpet

it shook me to my soul

but I was not made to crumble

and instead I raised my goal

So, I gathered all my kindling

then I trekked up old Mount Sinai

and said, if you be so willing

have this fire as our alibi

She said earth is temporary

just as those who seek its favor

they that seemed extraordinary

were forsaken like that savior

I said I know the truthsayers

and though unfit to walk their path

Indeed, I’ve come for this affair

as all, but you, to me is wrath

She said then join me in this fire

but know that varnish won’t survive

there is no room for false attire

if you wish in Truth to be alive

I pledged myself to love, not pride

to live and die in just your name

So here, right now, I’ll climb inside

I won’t resist this perfect flame.

She Played Loretta Lynn During the Tornado by David L O’Nan

A neanderthal growl at the Valentine’s Disco

I became immune to all the jealous howls

I was dancing with the town’s beauty crown winner in between fish sticks and french fries.

In an Old Milwaukee second

A whole army of testosterone belching

In hopes to swoon the girl

With liars, lies telling how sexy they are

But, here I am dancing to a deadbeats line dance

A neon rodeo bull with one light that flickers

And the wind began to blow.

In what we’ll call a few minutes.

She said honey let’s get outta here

She sounded just like a smoke chimney crashed into Dolly Parton.

I almost slipped on a thrown up corn dog and beans

Kind of cut my leg on my pocket knife.

My cowboy hat flew off underneath some jackoff’s Pinto.

He drove right over it as I flipped him the bird.

I saved all my grocer money to get me the new 1985 Toyota 4×4 Pickup

I had her in that truck and the first storm siren went off.

She called me baby.

Her bouncy hair was ready to go

We arrived by the river,

At my daddy’s old trailer

Smelled like Walleyes and wood varnish

She saw his vinyls and said “I got to listen”

The first song we heard was “All Shook Up”

More, and more drinking

That girl became immobile

That room began to drown in hairspray fumes

She began fainting and the wind began screaming.

Just the whistle would begin to rip off the roof.

I began crying.

Because I knew I was dying.

This trailer had no give.

As the door flew off into the river.

She got up stumbling.

Said “honey, I think it’s time for some Loretta Lynn”

The trailer began spinning

The electricity began popping

In darkness with glass in my eyes

Yet, I see her shadow dancing

As my body feels nothing, but wind ripping through my lungs

And First City continues to play

A day or so later

I wake up to a squirrel resting on a knot on my head

And I look over to see a beauty queen drifting down a muddy creek.

That tornado breaks all, but the spirits still sing a Loretta Lynn song.

Wolfpack Contributor EIC Bios: David L O’Nan &; HilLesha O’Nan

Poetry: Wolf-Lieberman by Stuart Buck

silhouette of wolf standing on ground

wolf-lieberman

as the news anchor tells us it is time, we can think of nothing better to do than to watch deep impact

the sky drops to an awful stillborn pink          tia leone refuses a seat on the last helicopter
a man burns alive in front of his daughter    elijah woods winds through traffic on his bike
we are thrown across the living room

morgan freeman asks us to remember the fallen

there is a redness. aching. birth.                                 endcredits.

i am turning to you as the softer parts of me blend with the wallpaper
i am turning to you as we clot in each other’s throats

Stuart Buck is a BOTN/BIFFY50/Pushcart Prize nominated poet and artist living in North Wales. His second book ‘Become Something Frail’ was released to critical acclaim on Selcouth Station Press in 2019. When he is not writing or reading poetry, he likes to cook, juggle and listen to music. He suffers terribly from tsundoku – the art of buying copious amounts of books that he will never read.

Twitter: @stuartmbuck

An interview with Stu Buck of Bear Creek Gazette

photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

3 Poems by Paul Brookes in Fevers of the Mind: Her Fiftieth, Her Fur Elise, A Black Bead

HER FIFTIETH

You would have been

fifty this mayday, sis

five in the car, you drive.

nail in the tyre, too much

wine last night you celebrate

a workmate’s birthday

drive down the motorway

to pick up your son from school

a bottle of wine a night

amasses fat in your face

a business built from zilch

debts you hide from view

grieving for a mother

dead three years

bumps in the road

nails in your tire

car leaps over reservation

somersaults onto bank

and back again

the other four crawl out

sit on the bank

watch firemen cut you out

your excess weight

squashed against steering column

the only one to die

only thirty five

finally, with mum

I celebrate your fiftieth

my dear, dear love.

Her Fur Elise

I awake to Beethoven as Mam taps the upright

Piano downstairs in the through lounge

where morning light highlights dark brown dining table

And varnished coffee table both polished

with Pledge until you see yourself. Later

chemo will make her petite fingers fat,

Fur Elise break into fragments as disease progresses

and piano sold as her hands come to rest.

A Black Bead

I was given in Fifties by an Indian guru

in Madras with advice “Keep this

and you’ll be alright.” Correctly guessed

I had two girlfriends.

Eighty one now with asbestosis

a cough that hacks​

at his body more each time we meet.

-You’re so thin dad?

-He said I’d be dead at eighty two.

-Where is it?

-I can’t find it.

-I’d best start preparing now.

-It’s a joke,

he says and spits

into his half full spitbag.

I find the blue paper

he wrote the prophecy on

dated 1962

the year I was conceived,

and take a photo of it with my mobile.

I give it to him

in the hope he’ll notice

it says he’ll die at 84.

He died at 83.

BIO: Paul Brookes is a shop asst. His chapbooks include The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley, (Dearne Community Arts, 1993). The Headpoke and Firewedding (Alien Buddha Press, 2017), A World Where and She Needs That Edge (Nixes Mate Press, 2017, 2018) The Spermbot Blues (OpPRESS, 2017), Port Of Souls (Alien Buddha Press, 2018),Please Take Change (Cyberwit.net, 2018)

Forthcoming Stubborn Sod, (Alien Buddha Press, 2019), As Folk Over Yonder ( Afterworld Books, 2019). He edits The Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

greyscale photo of grand piano

The Unresolveables (An Heroic Crown Sonnet Sequence) by Paul Brookes at (sonnets 1-15)

Anthology Post: Finding a Wonderland in Alice by Paul Brookes (poetry)