Jonathan Harrington lives in rural México. He has published five chapbooks of poems, and his poetry has appeared in publications throughout the world. His latest full-length collection of poems is Lift Up the Stone: The Gospel According to Jonathan. In addition to fifteen books (poetry, novels, essays, short stories), Jonathan has published hundreds of non-fiction pieces in everything from the New York Times to Metro Magazine. He received a M.F.A. from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1983. Most recently, Jonathan has been translating poems by various poets writing in the Mayan language. His translation of Feliciano Sanchez Chan’s book, Seven Dreams appeared from New Native Press and was nominated for eight translation awards. His translation of Three Sad Songs of the Maya Woman is a free e-book from Ofi Press.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Jonathan Harrington and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Underwear of the Dead
for the fourth time in
four years. Each box I pack,
each back-breaking crate I
lift onto the hand truck
makes me wonder if this
will be the last box, last
time I must shift my life
from one 900 square feet
of real estate to another
before I myself am boxed up
and shipped off to the next
world leaving someone else behind
to do the heavy lifting.
Times like these remind
us of that final move we have made
for a mother, father, an uncle or a sister—
the ultimate moving day when the tenant
of that now empty house has ducked responsibility
and slipped off to a green patch of quiet earth
to rest while we must sort through
the remnants of a life—
photos whose subjects we cannot identify,
knick-knacks from cities we have never
wished to visit, and the most ghastly
relic of all—the underwear of the dead—
bras, boxers, panties
from which the soul has fled.
Previously published in Pebble Lake Review, Vol. III, No. 2, Spring, 2006
A simple dot at the end of a line
puts an end to everything that comes before.
The hurrying verbs: running, jumping, climbing
all screech to a halt at the point of a pen.
The nervous adjectives trying desperately
to boost the ego of an anemic noun
The terms of a peace treaty
end a war with a full stop,
followed by signatures
and with that simple period men cease to murder each other
for the time being.
Now, that’s power!
This humble black dot (or blue or green…whatever)
the lonely soldier standing guard at the end of every sentence
has had the final say in hundreds of masterpieces,
always in last place—but what an exit,
what flair, what panache!
Even this poem has to be reined in somehow.
Like right now.
To My Beloved
…………O my Luve’s like a red, red rose…Robert Burns
Sweetheart, your name is the password to my email account.
Your middle named spelled backwards
corresponding to the numbers of the alphabet
is the PIN to my debit card.
The first three digits of your social security number
are the combination to my locker at the gym
and the locker of my heart.
The numbers corresponding to your birthday
are the security code of my Ipad.
The date of our anniversary
with the year and the month reversed
is the code to my online banking account.
Your measurements are the control number
of my Iphone
although they can vary,
in my mind they are always the same.
Your shoe size times the last two digits of your cellphone number
corresponding to the letters and numbers on the telephone
is the password to my Facebook account.
Your maiden named spelled backwards
is the passcode to my frequent flyer miles.
In the stormy seas of life you are my port
and I am your flash drive.
Darling, I could go on forever
but all these numbers added together
and multiplied by your passport number
could never express the depth of the love
I have felt for you ever since the day
I downloaded you into my heart.
Laurie Kuntz is an award-winning poet and film producer. She taught creative writing and poetry in Japan, Thailand and the Philippines. Many of her poetic themes are a result of her working with Southeast Asian refugees for over a decade after the Vietnam War years. She has published one poetry collection (Somewhere in the Telling, Mellen Press) and two chapbooks (Simple Gestures, Texas Review Press and Women at the Onsen, Blue Light Press), as well as an ESL reader (The New Arrival, Books 1 & 2, Prentice Hall Publishers). Her new full-length poetry collection, The Moon Over My Mother’s House, is out now from Finishing Line Press in 2021. Moment Poetry Press has published a broadside of her poem The Moon Over My Mother’s House. Her poems, Darnella’s Duty and Not Drowning But Waving have been produced in a podcast from LKMNDS and her poem, Darnella’s Duty is published in a new Black Lives Matter Anthology. Her two ESL books have been featured on the podcast ESL for Equality. Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her chapbook, Simple Gestures, won the Texas Review Poetry Chapbook Contest. She was editor in chief of Blue Muse Magazine and a guest editor of Hunger Mountain Magazine. She has produced documentaries on the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Law, and currently is a researcher/producer for a documentary on the Colombian peace process and reintegration of guerrilla soldiers in Colombia. She is the executive producer of an Emmy winning short narrative film, Posthumous. Recently retired, she lives in an endless summer state of mind. Visit her on the web here.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Laurie Kuntz and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
I Am Having an Affair With the World,
but now I know all illicit love ends
badly and in anger despite the beauty
seen in the coleus grown from a cutting
no bigger than my thumb,
or in the red and yellows of a sunset spilling
its leftover hues into the sea’s horizon,
a backdrop to the alley cat’s call colliding with night.
I know these short-term loves will end,
and I will be picking up the debris
of petals and paws and the feathers left
by the bird who perched on my sill,
for a moment, leaving me enamored
by its striped breasted fluff,
but when I was about to reach
it squawked, then flew away.
By Invitation Only
Just when you think you can hear beyond
the mowers and raw hum of traffic
to the sound in high tree tops of the hermit thrush,
when you think the bougainvillea’s shades have deepened overnight
to wine hues, and the scent of oleander smacks
the sultry hour with its powdered perfume,
and just as you feel you are ready to accept
a purse full of disappointments,
and the sinews inside your heart
have separated song from static,
finally humming an invitation to happiness.
Just when the world is quiet, and you can entertain loss
like an invited guest who asks to sip
from whatever you are drinking,
but instead spills something deeper
that seems to pour from the nub of sadness –
and just when you think you must continue to entertain this discontent,
you let it drip onto the bouquet of lilies you have picked from a garden,
that insists on blooming in spite of what has just happened.
For My Husband on the Aging of His Mother
When did you two become friends,
is that what happens eventually
to sons who come to truly know
a mother when the care changes hands
from the first soft pink palm
to the sturdy gripped and chapped one
helping her from bed to breakfast and then back again,
every day, the same rotation of pills and pillows,
then, seeking a moment when joy can enter,
like a stray cat looking for a lap to purr away the day,
as if there were nothing better to do.