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. 

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.

 

 

A Tale of Hands

Mark J. Mitchell

The palm stands at the edge of space.

                                                            —Wallace Stevens

The white teapot glows
like some bleached palm tree
that was forgotten here.

Once-dry leaves have sunk
to its shadowed bottom
like abandoned palms.

My palms gently cup
the pot and I let liquid
drip, dark as wood.

On my forehead
a smudge composed
of last year’s palms.

It burns hot as tea.

 

 

 

On The Trail Of

John Grey

So this is Brooklyn,
late night streets,
I’m imagining myself
walking in Whitman's footsteps.
These are the heights
and they earn their name
as they go gleam for gleam
with the city across the river.
I take time out,
sip coffee in an outside chair
of a small cafe.
Okay so maybe it's not the cup
that Whitman's fingers wrapped around
but I borrow his idea of contemplation -
of a busy sidewalk
and what could be going on
in the heads of passersby.
I'm older than the ones
at the neighboring table.
My poetry takes a shorter route than theirs.
They swap their poems around
for criticism, but mostly for encouragement.
Over the years, I've learned to be
a table full of people by myself.
Will one of them be the next Whitman, I wonder.
Will someone trace the imprint
they leave on the land?
Or are great poets like great composers?
Dead and buried before
the rest of us get started?
I once stood in the upstairs room
where Mark Twain wrote "Tom Sawyer."
I’ve seen Poe's gravestone
and Thomas Merton's hideaway.
Our heroes can't help being taken from us.
But then, step by step, room by room,
with a map and an imagination,
death gives back a little.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Survivor

Howard Winn

When his father died
he kept the ashes
in a gold foil covered
box on a shelf in
the bedroom still
used by his widowed
mother and when she
died her ashes were
kept in a similar
cardboard container
on the same shelf in
the same bedroom
now occupied only
by an empty double bed
when the house went
on the market at last
since he never intended
to live in that house
again after his tense
youth there he scattered
the ashes from both
boxes over the lawn
where a sprinkler
dissolved the parental
dust into the grass
and then he sold the
house to move as
far away as his talent
would allow to the
sunny sophisticated
world of sunny Italy
where he could love
pretty men and play
his violin in peace
without parental judgment

Anything but Free

Richard King Perkins II

Nothing should have happened
but when our legs brushed beneath chairs
it brought the latent resolve of our eyes together
and more.
There is nothing that could have contained
all that followed,
what could obscure such candescence—?
When you laid back
against a scattering of cushions
and showed yourself unreservedly
I recall the smallness of your frame
and the first notion
that I would die with you
a thousand years from now
and that it would occur
even though it shouldn’t
because phantom spiders had bound
our legs together with the strength
of their inescapable silken chains
and we never thought
for a moment
we were anything
but free.

Bipolar, My Schizophrenic Molar, and Hemingway’s Last Dance

Michael P. McManus

You are poetically perfect in your diamonds and chains,
despite the scars that remain
from your summer of endless storms.
Remember? This. In the beginning
it was perfect, but then the godless hymns
began to fall
                 from darkened skies—
Everywhere we turned you saw a muzzled sun,
daylong dusks, and animals, like us, in search of a higher ground.
We were mucked up on Jackson Pollock’s hues
when our chemicals had a lover’s quarrel.
                     Off you went,  
walking barefoot through a field of razor blades
that fell with a recent storm.   

Our skin still remains. It’s layered in stories
about the Buddha in rags or the Devil
wearing Tom Ford. Who
am I to criticize your fashion statements
simply because I don’t understand
the emperor’s clothes?—

What about those days when you preferred prison
to paradise, rocks to roses,
or landmines to a gold-plated Lexus?
Where does the Nexus begin
and end?— A strip club in Texas or under our chin? 
Since I’m dying please let me
into the office so the dentist can remove the abscess.
                          Until he can the pain continues
like a punch to the jaw.
I’m going down like Tyson did
when Buster Douglas knocked him out.
When I wake up we can make love in the front yard,
breeding like rabbits among the fallen leaves
                                I’ve seen you kill
a bottle of Scotch with an infantryman’s discipline,
or stay sober and float like chaff through the breeze.
I am craving my name
in my skin, so I’m carving it in
with a #2 pencil—
No one knows this but the shrink at the VA hospital—
That I am you and you are me
in myself and myself in thee,
an equation where one plus one always makes three,
or four or five-
                           I am
the sky looking down on our immediate family—
Together we share a common sorcery.
Someone hide the shotgun before it finds us. 

Conceit

Holly Day

It should have changed my life. I watched him
Hunched over his work, hours spent
Imparting tiny grains of colored sand with intricate thoughts
On the ground, drawing blue flowers, red flowers
One giant flower covering the ground. It was so beautiful
I would have given anything to roll the whole thing up
And take it home with me.

But the wind took it minutes
After it was done, smearing great swaths of color against itself until
It was nothing but a disfigured, slightly grayer smudge against the blondness of the desert sand.
The little man stood up, smiled at me, and walked slowly away.
It should have changed my life. I should have taken it away with me
His lack of artistic conceit, his willingness to just
Let his day disappear in the pursuit of beauty, but just the beauty of the moment.
Be here now, and only now. Be here now here now here now here now.

I fully intended to go home and erase everything I had ever written
That day, that week, Siberian year, in my life, because filled as I was
With the artist’s apparent satisfaction at the act of creation
And only in the act of creation, I figured that taking pleasure in just writing
Should be enough for me, too. I sat
At my desk for hours, staring at page after page of hastily-scribbled poems,
Notes , stories, books almost started and those almost finished

And couldn’t do it. I failed. I wanted to. I want to be free
Of these suitcases of loose paper, immolate my dreams
Dissolve the part of me that was saved in those notes
But I haven’t the strength to let go.

 

Dee Dee's A Dead Punk Rocker

Bradley Mason Hamlin

it’s all gone
Buddy Holly & Big Bopper
cheeseburgers
fries and the American dream
screaming …

Dee Dee Ramone
is dead
and the painting
will never be the same
it’s all gone

the world will always
be sort of creepy and needy
cuz you’re never comin’ back
it’s all gone

it’s all gone
as the gunslinger said,
the world’s moved on
and baby you’re gone.

 

How The Light Gets In

Len Kuntz

My mother believed in shutters
and all our young days were spent in solitary confinement
us tethered by our ankles like toddler cellmates
too weak and neutered to fight for freedom.

 In summer we got dizzy staring at crevices in split wood,
the tiny burps of glowing sunlight peeking through
and so I made up a story for my siblings that such radiance
was nothing more than a distress signal from the outside world,
where everything beyond our walls and boarded windows
was a vast infirmary
for those scalded by the sun.

At night while our mother snored
we passed each other imaginary Christmas gifts--
a bb gun, a basketball, a polka dot dress.
We prayed the kind of prayers that are only understood
by those whose single defense is hope,
and because not believing meant the end of everything.

 The day God finally showed up--
wearing a holster and badge--
we were too stunned to speak,
not because we’d expected The Messiah to look different
but because we had never seen anyone defeat Mother.

Now, all these years later,
my wife tells me to draw the blinds,
to close the drapes.
She says the glare can be bad for the eyes and
asks me why I’m smiling like that.

For Gerald Who Would Be 35 Today

Carl Boon

They said you took a step.
From the ghetto to more terrible
conclusions. The clouds
to my west carry light: diagonal,
the way you shot a basketball once,
while we in the bleachers held
our breaths and almost died.

Gerald, I thought of you today.
You came to me—the face
and shoulders of the boy
before the suicide, before
the body you left became a bundle
of rumors and whispers.

Crack dealers, gambling debts,
depression. It gets us sometimes,
quicker than some high school
point guard with blood on his wrists.
The steal, the feed, the bucket
to tie the game. And a free throw.

Why are you dead and I'm alive?
What strange confluence of things
have brought us here, to this day,
May 18, 2014, one of us breathing
taxi fumes and one of us not at all.
Both of us are bargaining and lost.

On the line Of a nightmare

Eric Mattson

Have carried home
Inside for 15 years
Let go of my body
To carry a ghost.
Disappear around the coasts
But the Carolina’s keep
Calling me back
So does the edge of the west

Knew in a crowd of a friends,
It’s time to go
When you’re alone
All memories are now made
From far away.

Left a blonde,
            Really let her slip away,
She insists on meeting
On the line of a nightmare.
Her body is tangible in dreams
But this drifting spirit
Is banished to reality.

I’m further than ever
But still feel the same

Entered the current
Forgot who I was
All in, I embrace the flood.  

 

 

 

 

 

Orange

Robert Kaufman

Courage is an ageless smile chasing a spherical tiger with Velcro wings. Orange is his favorite color because someone once told him nothing rhymes with it.
Nothing rhymes with him either.
He is a prime number divisible only unto himself.

Obsession

Olivia Lin DeLuca

When I see you,
I feel like a young girl,
lost—confused,
wanting desperation
overflowing in my face. 
Boys on either side,
staring,
wondering what’s
underneath my clothes,
between my thighs,
women divided
crushed underneath
glass ceilings,
brittle,
thin as ice
beneath the
waif pond skating. 
Ballerina shoes
to heels,
miniskirts and hairdos,
knee high boots,
thigh high socks,
thongs and padded bras,
what’s a girl to do
when boys
won’t pay attention
unless you’re dressed the
slinkiest. 
Late night fumbling,
wet kisses,
awkward hips
thrusting and bumping,
say you’ll love me
and come back,
even though I know
I won’t see your face again.