Friday, June 26, 2009

Four poems by Richard Fein

Poetry by Richard Fein


No sudden scorching draft from the Twilight Zone,
not even a burning passion punished, except perhaps for gluttony,
just opulence clothed in a flammable nightgown and a tired heart that quits.
Science explains the How but not the Why.
The flames bring no enlightenment,
for the one in need of it is already dead.
A cigarette drops from blue lips, or the last body spasm tips a candle,
but it's nothing like a Hindu wife bravely walking into suttee flames.
No, not at all, it’s just the final combustion of a cascade of causes.
First an accumulation of subcutaneous fat,
then a succession of kindling temperatures,
the nightgown, the skin, finally the fat melts into fiery tallow
as the bones blaze like a wick.
Cremation accomplished for free.
A mysterious misfortune, like a tornado, earthquake, or sudden plague.
No one ever calls a mysterious misfortune a miracle—but it is,
for the devil also works miracles; we call them acts of God.

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The proof is in the pudding,
but what exactly does that mean?
80%, 90%, 100% proof, I’d drink to that,
then flop face down into the mushy mess.
And what kind of pudding holds such dispositive evidence,
plum? vanilla? chocolate? bread?
or perhaps tropical tapioca after the cyanide is boiled off?
The old saw is a mangled adage.
The actual sixteenth century proverb is—
the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
the proof is in the pudding
is not exactly the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but.
And to eat the pudding is to eat the proof.
In short, you can’t have your proof and eat it too.
Besides, a bellyful of truth will bloat your stomach,
and who wants to be near such a gasbag.
What to do with truth and its pudding proof.
You can sniff around it
or observe its quivering nature,
but if you open your big mouth and swallow
then you deny it to others just as hungry for it,
and who also believe they
really want to taste the slimy concoction.
Swallow truth and truth is within you,
and thereafter you must be the mold
and not the pudding that the mold shapes.

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Poets should submit a batch of no more than five short poems or two long ones.

Why batch?
Why not one of these terms:

collection, (only if the bard is a lapidary, and his creations are gems)
sample, (fine for urine or stools)
specimen, (too close in nuance to sample)
store, (too commercial, and how many editors pay for poems?)
manuscript, (OK for those editors who do)
heap, (might be accurate for some submissions)
digest, (but if you’re confronted with a heap, you might heave)
mass, (produces an inertial yawn)
ana, (only for confessionals, but they’re all passe since Plath)
miscellany, (not for thematic editions)
anthology or compilation, (but if a poet reaches this level, then editors submit to the poet)
lot, (submissions are lotteries and not a lot succeed)?

How about bouquet–
a bouquet of five short-stem poetic wild flowers,
or two long-stem versified roses,
or one bashful sunflower?

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“In quantum physics the observer alters the observed.
Reality is a fast choreography of photons.”

In human light,
I observe
a quarreling couple; they see me.
Hushed, they back away into shadows.
I observe lovers.
They see me;
she puts her blouse in proper order.
Does bearing witness reveal a truth seen,
or a truth created?

While I’m standing on a street corner,
what cosmic events are changed
by my meddling eyes?
Do I end a tryst, or begin one,
prevent a crime or cause one somewhere else?

Do feet standing on a crossroad detour the path of an ant?
Even the truth-seeking hermit needs to be watched by curious eyes.
Why else does he bother avoiding them?

How long can I gaze into a mirror
and resist fixing even an out of place hair?
How long can I accept what I see,
when what faces me grows older,
and slowly, decays?

Author bio:

Richard Fein was Finalist in The 2004 Center for Book Arts Chapbook Competition. He will soon have a Chapbook published by Parallel Press, University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has been published in many web and print journals, such as Southern Review, Morpo Review, Perigee, Skyline, Oregon East Southern Humanities Review Touchstone, Windsor Review, Maverick, Parnassus Literary Review, Small Pond, Kansas Quarterly, Blue Unicorn, Exquisite Corpse, Terrain Aroostook Review and many others. He also has an interest in digital photography and has published many of his photos. Samples of Richard's photography can be found at Bard of Byte.

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