Blue Bonnet Review

A Literary Journal Featuring Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction by Talented Writers Around the Globe

A literary journal featuring poetry, fiction and nonfiction by writers around the globe. 

Allegory and Apology

Richard King Perkins II

Allegory and Apology

I.

Whenever we meet
it’s always a December waterfall

rhapsodizing beneath the smirk
of a moonlight princess.

It was fear that first put gods on earth,
masters we no longer
take time to believe in.

Across roadways recently desolate
we run
like agitated mysteries

and through the deep forest green
boughs of innocence burn.

Entering slowly into your absence

our unmade children
will become brilliant tyrants
and enslave most of the human race.

But we will love them anyway

and celebrate the gullibility
of the entire world.

All colors wait to be absorbed
by our creatures so luminous
sunlight is their persistent shadow.

II.
I’m so sorry for this ongoing fiction
but the soft rain that falls
from me

into you

won’t do anything
to end your loneliness;

any easement is only temporary.

 

The Woman I Loved in the Cold War

Jeffrey Alfier

I drift back to ’75, December-dark Kolberg,
          shore leave from the freighter I was deckhand on.
                     I wandered discos in search of drink, dance,

any woman rumored loose. Sewn into my peacoat
          lining was Parisian lip balm, smuggled for the off
                     chance I would find that woman, and I did,

claiming she was a shy clerk from a worker’s council.
          After the disco, all night the bottle of Soplica slipped
                     the winter-cracked lips on her windburnt face,

frost starring her wool scarf in headlong gusts that never failed
          to whip in from seaward. She spoke little English
                     and I no Polish. So we laughed at our displaced

tongues, a laughter that caught the ire of police who stopped
          to inspect my seaman’s card each time we stepped
                     into streetlamp halos or neon prisms late drunks

infest, swaying like spent refugees. In the lust-fever we shared
          at her flat on Albatrosa, bedsheets clung to us like damp
                     earth. I told her of my hatred to leave, of my bourgeois

dread of the sea. She wished my ship was stranded there,
          icebound at her Baltic port, as we watched the trees
                     outside her window grow heavy with ice,

the cathedral’s shoulders lean away into darkness. Now,
          I think how half a world away, boats are unmoored
                     from their Kolberg quays, how smooth they glide,

like eyes raised to a mirror, the sighing sounds of her waking city.
          I think how you kiss the stranger you dance with, turn to catch
                     your breath, and come away with blood on your lip.

 

 

Wigwam

John Grey

The domed dwelling
in the town square
is still used by the local tribe
for ceremonial purposes.

Rain dances mostly,
even when the river’s
overflowing its banks.

They always draw a crowd.
And kids, unlike in my day,
don’t point their fingers pistol-style
and pick them off one by one.

Some have tried to camp out in it
before the cops moved them on.
And one guy even accidentally set fire
to that wickiup
while trying to light some reefer.

It’s part of the local color,
goes in all the tourist brochures
along with the local history museum,
the hanging rock,
and the stream that flows backwards.

There’s even a Wigwam Motel
and an ice-cream parlor
shaped just like it
that boasts fifteen different flavors.

One night, so rumor has it,
a couple made passionate love
on the ground outside its entranceway.
It rained for days afterward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Separation

Jim Zola

If you summon it by the right word, by its right name, it will come. – Kafka

Today is the first day
of sun in a week. I'm blinded
as I walk out my front door,
stumble on the steps that lead
to my other life.

There I’m a sailor with gold
in my ear. There I’m made
of paper and fly.
There I linger
until the alphabet
of our passions defines us.

When Columbus sailed
over the edge, birds searched for names.
Corvus brachyrhynchos flops.
Cyanocitta cristata screams
jee ah jee ah. Columbus fell.

Weeding my flower bed,
I think of Empress Dowager
Cixi on her walks to the garden.
Servants dove under the pond to hook
her fishing line with koi.
If her scowl was deep enough,
jewelry was the catch.

I’m not a fisherman.
My son thinks to fish means to slump
on a muddy bank eating slices
of baloney.

But once
when we found a farmer’s pond
beyond the swiss-cheese no
trespassing signs, each time
he dropped his line, a tiny
painted turtle tugged. Halfway up,
the turtle let go. Again and
again they played this scene
until our laughter spread out
past noxious weeds into fields
to stun the lull of just
waking cows.

My daughter is a hugger.
I take out the trash and when
I come back she greets me
like I’ve been gone for days.

Why do we eschew sentiment?
I love my daughter’s signs of love.

The racket rises from trees
behind my house.
I pity

the hidden owl. Crows mock
from low branches and later
snack on beetle grubs in lawn
sod, or pull the liver
from road-kill squirrel.

I’m told they mate for life.

My wife and children fly
into the sky without me.

 

The Sadness of Wrens

 

Jim Zola 

Each year on the anniversary of his passing,
my father comes to me in a dream.
We talk like father and son,
ignoring the fact that he left life behind
like forgotten luggage
on a train station platform.
Last night in our conversation he told me
I had it wrong

But the numbers continue to add up.
Birthdays, bills, pins, pounds.
My wife laughs when I explain my theory of aging,
how it is the giving in that makes us old.
More laughter when I refer to the sadness
of wrens. Birdbrains, she says, no weeping.
But what about their song?

My mother gave me a crate full of old albums,
heavy black vinyl, dusty jazz, Russian masters,
light opera. In the confusion of sleeves,
I found a record labeled with my father's name --
Eugene. He recorded it sometime soon
after returning from the South Pacific,
in a sound booth where he sang
and paid for one copy. When I take it
to a friend who has the equipment to play
78's, we find it is too warped, scratched, faded.

I'm left wondering if it is full of the sorrow
I recall nesting in his voice those last years,
or joyful, glad to be alive.

 

 

 

A Short Jewish Poem by a Short Jewish Poet (a prayer poem)

Odelia Fried

dear ggggod
tell me why being queer feels like
being born from a gravestone, cccccemetary, my homeland,
not israel, not gan eden, but the
place where my ancestors lie,
burnt at the stake like a bundle
of sticks--ffffaggot.
dear gggggod,
tell me why the spaces in between
the words at davening
feel like missed bullets, aimed by
the angels, aiming for my
queer little heart, every time
i read vvvvayikra i stumble,
i fall, ggggggod good
gggod,i fail
to understand
why
you
afflicted
me with
this
strangeness, they used to call it happy but i do not feel joy associated
when my heart flutters when i
kiss a girl, i feel dread, because
am i part of your chosen nation
if i have been chosen for the wrong? dear ggggod good,answer me
from on high, please, why, why
why can’t i be normal? why can’t
i be like everyone else, ssssstraight, why did you make me like this, why
did you make a mmmmistake,
the empty spaces between the tombstones feels like my home,
the plots feel like footsteps,why
are all my contemporaries dying, gggod? why are you killing them? ggggggod,

please tell me why i am like this,
why i was raised in a ggggraveyard,
why i feel like my life has a specific
end date, why i feel like my gender isn’t something that i own
but a language i am struggling to
learn, why my sexuality is a debate
amongst my family and friends, why
my school is considered the most progressive of its kind but we still
aren’t allowed to have a gay straight alliance, ggggggod please, answer, break your seventeen year old silence from me,
answer me, gggggod, gggod,
god,
please
answer me

Last Storm

Abigail Uhrick

These twisted trees that live on
the edge of the greatest lake know
so many dances.  Tonight
the jig is the frenzied chaos
of flying limbs that have lost
their torsos by force—the wind
moving in too many directions
too quickly to measure.  (And this
measure of their music must signify
something also not yet documented.)
The way the dimness drifts
forward to take their ends is possibly
the way we will also meet ours—
in imperceptible increments, masked
by the wind’s machismo, clouds
encroaching to tap our faces with the damp
of expectant mouths darkly parted. 
Hello, night.


 

 

War Machine

 

Abigail Uhrick

for Mark Levine


I am shoveling diamonds now, and diamonds are
a lot like water.  I alone move
brigantines—bending my body in waves.  See me
sparkle when you are through sizing up scopes.

It may look as if my wings are wires.  That is how I go
incognito, classified—the first weapon of all
wars.  Haven’t you noticed the fives in my fishnets?  Have you
not heard mention of the beauty of capitalism?

I hold my limbs like wood, propaganda between
my teeth like bait, my breasts pointed
invitations.  The Admirals suck their teeth during
the endless speeches.  They are ready for mess.

Commander-man, flip me a trick.  I will centrifuge
your secrets as I spin—my vortex a vault
of powerful men, my middle swollen with
aborted operations.  You have been fooled into thinking

I am a puppet.  You waste time dreaming
of the Industrial Revolution while I manipulate
nature.  There are no others like me
where you come from.

Sailing from Williams

 

Matthew Dulany

Your soundings clash when now you reexplore                
      formative passages. She marks dross
what you deemed deep. Too near the stony shore,
      your wakes crossing as you toss
and turn on countercurrents, you are bound
to run each other’s figureheads aground.

From what sargasso does this squalling stem?
      What dim quelling turned your spouse cold?
What unknown tension caused her to contemn
      the happy genius of her household?
To recast your vows as insincere?
Scuttle darlings both of you held dear?

Trending now toward the final page,
      rest assured, so long as you live,
despite these startling airs that stir and rage –
      begrudging’s dumb, the fine forgive.           
If lonely, if born to be so, if so best,
still express the love you would divest. 

 

Bad To The Last

Joseph Buehler

Bad to the last drop.
Frankie and Johnny were sweathogs.
The farmer Norman Fell.
Never trust anyone who is nicknamed “Skip”.
How green was O’Malley.
 As narrow and tight as a pawnbroker’s heart.
Hail chlamydia!---chlamydia rules the waves!
Cut paper cut.
Ask not what your monkey can do for you.
Ask what you can do for your monkey.
They say that absinthe makes the heart grow fonder.

Ashes

Fall Poetry Contest - Top Ten Finalist
Marquesa Rotuski

you are purple-lipped and poisoned
the shape of your sleep kept steady
by white coats and tubed tentacles.
the resident runs a hot finger tip
along your lashes: writing you off.
by habit I remain silently trembling
smelling of still frosted lawns and
the salt from the sidewalks. your
first-born is melting: unsatisfied,
and the ends of her chocolate hair
splitting with defeat. I should have,
but I didn’t. the sacrifices you made.
the purple wine with the bitten straw
hiding under the bathroom sink. I
don’t blame you. the stiff linen bites
at your legs, your mechanical breath
taunting me: this is what the end is.
and when I should be painting to my
memory the remaining colors of you,
I think of all of the porcelain in your
mouth exploding like firecrackers
when they push your lukewarm corpse
into the embrace of persistent flames.

 

Confessional

Fall Poetry Contest - Top Ten Finalist
Marquesa Rotuski

I heard: the whisper of his spine grinding
against the wall, egg-shell, bare.
My skeleton fingers held him steady
my ear caught his pink lungs tremble
the collision left a mark, the ridges of him
scratching the plaster, what should have been
enough. I am greedy, and his hot song-breath
left condensation along my chapped January lips
while any recognition of the way things would be different,
after, I swallowed. I found myself licking off traces
of the story his tongue wrote along my mouth,
salty and cynical. And then he was embedded in me,
inside the millions of tiny chambers that form a whole
real, breathing thing, with thin skin boasting a tie-dye
of purple, green, braided veins and blood flowing
suspiciously underneath. Usually all too aware
of what is transpiring on every inch of me,
I now can only feel where his calloused fingertips
last touched, chilly along my sharp angles,
calling up goosebumps, smelling of orange peels
and that backwoods bar. “Two Hail Marys’ and a
good night’s sleep should do the trick,” he says.

 

 

 

 

 

Music and IV's

Fall Poetry Contest - Top Ten Finalist
Jude Hoffman

There once was a hurricane
that destroyed most of a cemetery Leaving only a few tombstones to remember loved ones
left standing.

When I was a boy,
I used to play a game
where I would give each tombstone a note
depending on how high out of the ground it was standing, and I would just walk through the cemetery
singing the song of tiny stone angels
Even then, I knew the flats and the minors were too much for young hearts.

I stopped writing once you got cancer.
There just weren’t words that were honest anymore. We always used our words like swords and shields but what good is a shield if it’s made of glass?

The ink well your bones ran dry.

My page
your skin sickeningly white.

Both faces empty

You can’t fill a chair with vowels or pentameter
or letters you wish you’d written.

There just aren’t words
that can fill the air
in a way that makes things different

So, we just sit in silence
and let the words we never said hang

and drip
one by one
straight into our blood hoping they’ll save us.

The last time I saw my father, he was not strong.
He was not brave
or courageous.

He was just reading.
He held the newspaper,
as he did every day,
and he just folded it in half,
ever careful to keep the crease
and then fell towards the table.
The ways the plates bounced
and left that double clap
is part of the song that day.
Crash, clap clap, wail, sirens, wail, shoes, wail wail, wheels on linoleum, drip drip breathe.
whisper
I’m sorry
collapse.

The song my sister’s lungs made was a sad jazz.
Just the steady roll of a crash cymbal stretching out its last shake.

Not wanting to stop dancing. Not ever.

There are little bells under the vowels on my typewriter, so when I write,
there is always a song.
Always there.

But when I am away, there is still a song
in the air
in the way people blink in tombstones

and lungs
and dinner plates

and the crackle of a newspaper folding.

It is with me.
A journal
embroidered on my ear drum.
I keep collecting songs.


In my next life, please let me be deaf. 

The Day I Bought a Gun

Fall Poetry Contest - Top Ten Finalist
Chera Hammons

"What about this one?" I asked the clerk.
"Tell me about this one."

"It's twenty-two caliber," he said. "Semi-automatic."

"Would it kill a mountain lion?" I asked.
"No," he said. "It's not that powerful.
It could kill a rabbit."

"I won't use it on rabbits," I told him,
"but could it kill a coyote that attacked my horses?"
"Yes," he said, "it could."

"In one shot?" I asked him.
"Probably more than one," he said.
"And you must take care not to hit the horses."

"How well would it kill a rabid dog?" I asked.
"Fine, if you shoot it between the eyes
once it gets close," he said.

"Would it kill a rattlesnake that was on my porch?"
"Yes," he said. "But use a garden hose first.
Wash the snake off of the porch and into the grass.
Then shoot it when it gets away from the house."

"Then what?" I asked.
"Chop off its head," he said, "and bury it.
It can still bite you after it is dead."

"And my drunk neighbor, the one who yells at me
whenever he has had too much?
I'm afraid to go outside anymore."

"You will be as free to walk in your own yard
as if you are invisible," he said.

"And this won't kill a man, if I shoot him with it?
It will only hurt him enough to scare him off?"

"If you buy it, I'll show you how to load it," he said.

Clay

Fall Poetry Contest - Top Ten Finalist
m.nicole.r.wildhood

When we played all those blue games near the highway,
Mom didn’t stop us at first, though cars
flowed like the creek behind our house.

When we knocked over her favorite pot
of daisies on our rush
after a runaway soccer ball, then Mom dashed, overtook us.

Cars stop, now, and have
to claw their way
through a snagging siren.

Maybe this moment
is the moment,
friends suggest years later,

that I got my guardian angel.  Maybe.
The stream still
has to use its teeth to get by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slightly Gone World

Fall Poetry Contest - Top Ten Finalist
Richard King Perkins II

It’s not a dream
but a slightly gone world
covered in frozen mist.

The sounds of imprecision
astonish the sky’s wintry chamber
where I wait dissolving
beneath a bowl of tambourine bells.

This must be the way it wasn’t meant to be
or it wouldn’t be so—
this vacancy of snow where your car once slept.
I look for you in the old meeting place
but it pouts at me emptily.

Now you’re stranded on a bridge in St. Louis
with no money and no credit cards
and your passenger side window broken out.
I’m in the evergreen woods laced white
where someone once wrote a song about you;
how your eyes extinguished sensibility,
how your eyes painted light into every corner of darkness.

 

 

Sermon Making

Fall Poetry Contest - Top Ten Finalist
Christopher Grosso

First, the sermon cannot be
a stagnant pond, too still for the even
the stagiest teetotaler to tolerate.

But don’t make waves either. Just hang
a rope swing inviting enough to
skip work to try. Now, your words
should not become manufactured steel
but be blacksmith original, fitted per request,
each tune tuned for the tone-deaf ear.

Bring your saber, but only as a prop.
Place it gently before you. No need
to rattle it, as the import is tariff enough.

Then finger-paint in the air while speaking,
keeping the colors hot. Do not be afraid
to point at the flock, letting them know

they are both counted and accountable.
Most importantly, hold out your hands
in blessing, saying, “Can you see what

I am offering you? Just my empty,
wanting hands, reaching out, waiting
to squeeze your doubt into diamonds.” 

Penmanship

Fall Poetry Contest - Top Ten Finalist
Christopher Grosso

He was an admirer
of Kerouac’s liver.
That of Faulkner’s, too.
He dug the penitentiary mind
of Burroughs, all walled-up
with excuses and denials.
Wanting the fists of Bukowski,
the gonzo of Thompson,
the hunts of Hemingway,
he once attempted to
shave a cactus at a party.
The prickly spines
resemble cheek stubble,
he mused, so logic seemed
to be smiling on his quest
like sun smiles on a
Sunday afternoon party.
It was a Sunday afternoon
as a matter of undisputed fact.
It was sunny. The orange juice
was infused with Russian water.
The air held the sharp end
of the weekend. His pen
was down. His razor was up.
The cactus won handily,
his bloody digits did attest.
A bearded dragon, he called it.
Get my sword, he yelled,
I will slay the mighty beast.
In the hard Monday morning dawn,
after the mind-wet guests had gone
home to wring themselves dry,
the cactus turned out to be
just a rose. Just a mighty red ask
for love, forgiveness, memorial. 

Step into this photograph with me

Fall Poetry Contest - Top Ten Finalist
Leah Angstman

It’s 1971. Faded, yellowed sepia, but it shouldn’t be.
                                                Once was color; she’s paled.

He is a mustache, a ’68 Ford Mustang. She, an exotic dress
hand-tailored in the Philippines, sent overseas from [a father
                                                                                         rarely there for her].

I am not in this picture, not for nine years,
but the sunspot on the wall where it hung
is older than I am.

                        Step through it—
cheap frame from a thrift, flaking bits of plaster
to the unswept floor—
you’ll see the barn, the farmhouse door,
chipped farmhouse-white paint, farmhouse-white trim. 

                        Step through that—
and there’s carriages yoked to horses strung at the
wrought-iron tiedown by the farmhouse-white shed. Imagine
they are Paints, chipped like paint, the tiedown rusted from
August thunderstorms.

                        Step through the shed—
a vegetable garden: rhubarb, heirloom and cherry tomatoes,
an apple tree. Rhubarb for the pie; tomatoes canned for sauce—
a root cellar, door warped as the dog-ears of the photo. 

                        Step through the garden—
to the field, yes, please, the field. Continue on, flat to the
next county. Grasshoppers arc on both sides, an archway
to where dogs run.

None of it is in sepia now; none faded. The yellows
are what should be yellow: wheat shafts, foxtails, French marigolds.
Its vibrant colors walk my heart,
footprints of history, hooves—
etched in vessel, muscle, tissue,
                                                                            soil.

Fall Poetry Contest Winner

To a wife drowned while drinking
                                   by Greg Geis

 

Praise to the river
for flowing

and your hair for knitting
a cap for minnows.

Praise to the bartender
for his pouring

and the silt for embracing
your lithe arms.

Praise the world
for spinning

and time
for standing still.

Praise the bridge
for crossing

and the water
for accepting you as you fell.

What shall I say, dear wife,
when we meet again?

Will you have heaving gills
or rainbow scales?

Will your tongue
unfurl like a sail

as you race
among the dead?

What shall we say to one another
in this New World—

where you drink only water
cut with tears.

Poor reeling soul
reveling now without me,

lost to whiskied night
and a jury full of stars—

holding court,
the moon your final witness

                       and soberest judge of all.