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Winter 2006 Poetry II

We are pleased to present the work of two outstanding poets, Graham Burchell of Houston, Texas and Kristine Ong Muslim of the Philippines below. We hope you will enjoy their artistry as much as we have here at The Review.

 

Graham Burchell was born in 1950 in Canterbury, England. In 1976 he graduated from the University of Sussex and embarked on a teaching career that took him to various places around the world including Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Tenerife, Mexico, France and Chile.

 

His first children’s fantasy novels, Wumpleberries and Gronglenuts and The Ice Spells of Krollinad were published in 2003, and 2005 respectively. He is the winner of the 2005 Chapter One Promotions Open Poetry Competition, winner of the 2006 Lucie Wood Poetry Contest from Hazel St Productions, the runner up in the 2005 'Into Africa' International Poetry Competition, the 2006 Ware Poets Open Poetry Competition  and received an honorable mention in the Momaya Press 2005 short story competition. He was nominated for a 2006 Pushcart Prize.

 

His poetry has appeared in many print and online literary magazines including Black Mail Press, Real 8 View, Sentinel Poetry, Poetry Scotland, Porcupine Literary Journal, X-Magazine, Iota, Snow Monkey Journal, The Loch Raven Review, Verse Libre Quarterly, Poems Niederngasse, The New Writer, Poetry Cemetery, Ardent, Red River Review, Poetic Diversity, The Anemone Sidecar, The Round Table Review, Lucidity, Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal, The Dande Review, Euphony, Astropoetica, Flutter, Unfettered Verse, Quattrocento, Pyschopoetica, Literary Mama, The Smoking Poet, Orbis, Beside The White Chicken, The Stone Table Review, The Copperfield Review, Toad in Mud and The Texas Review. He is the editor of the online poetry journal, Words-Myth.  He now writes full-time from his home in Houston, Texas.

 


 

  Graham Burchell


 

VIOLIN TEACHER

 

 

 

Mrs. Long long time gone

 

mi alma mater

 

talented primate proboscis lady

 

with opposable thumbs that bent

 

against nature and

 

the sinews she was given

 

sixty years before my own were grown less talented

 

unable to part four fingers

 

into two fat lady legs

 

or stretch a thumbnail

 

back to white wrist

 

you are not without an ear for music my dear but your head

 

resonates poorly

 

 

 

my affliction

 

her words guided me

 

to see my skull

 

from the inside ivory and empty

 

receiving witch brew sounds

 

as a blasted buzz through

 

the rift valleys and

 

meandering grand

 

canyon sutures

 

no wonder

 

she would disappear

 

into a back room to make tea

 

leaving me to grind and slur a

 

famous intermezzo alone

 

to make painful transitions

 

from first through fifth positions embarrassed by half tone

 

errors forgotten key signatures

 

and ignored dynamics

 

 

 

I longed Mrs. Long

 

to stop tipping wounded sound

 

into the polished calm

 

of your front room

 

I was never going to

 

practice at home

 

what little hope had I

 

of creating pleasure

 

from these animal and

 

vegetable derivates

 

hair of horse caked in dry sap

 

raked over entrails of cat

 

those meowing strings racked tight

 

by yellowed ornamental pegs fashioned from the tusks of an unhappy elephant

 

 

 

Graham Burchell

 

SHROUD

 

 

 

When she passed away

 

I left our house

 

untouched

 

crumbs staled

 

cats went unfed

 

curtains held back

 

the light

 

 

 

When I returned

 

the impression of her

 

remained

 

the weight of

 

pregnant torso

 

pressed deep

 

in the top sheet

 

deep whirlpool of hips

 

small indentation

 

of head

 

 

 

where stone-faced

 

ambulance men

 

had laid her

 

lifting her

 

from fetal curl

 

beside our bed

 

 

 

air was colder

 

just her curves

 

sculpted in linen

 

and a searing memory

 

of death there

 

a great pink dome

 

of our unborn child

 

piled high

 

 

 

the bed

 

had become a shrine

 

the sheet

 

my Shroud of Turin

 

that I would not touch

 

or wash

 

like celebrity kiss

 

on a nervous cheek

 

 

 

Graham Burchell

 

ASTERS

 

 

 

It must be October.

 

A solitary sunflower

 

is a hollow stalk,

 

rust and tire black

 

 

 

in an unattended patch

 

between the tarmac plain of a superstore lot and a bank.

 

 

 

There is beauty in neglect.

 

Move the buckled trolley.

 

Gather up deflated plastic bags.

 

There is not much litter.

 

Nobody walks anymore - remember?

 

 

 

You could sleep in there if you had to;

 

soft-shouldered

 

where the screams and sirens,

 

and incessant blinking

 

traffic lights are muted.

 

 

 

Curl snake-like,

 

foetal cosy

 

around silently choking goldenrods,

 

 

 

and let lilac clouds of aster stars

 

(lit by gas pumps’ sodium glare)

 

fill midsummer night dreams

 

in the shadow of  Halloween.

 

 

 

Graham Burchell



The Review is pleased to present a short preview of the New Year 2007 poetry issue by Kristine Ong Muslim of the Philippines.

 

 

 

Deadtown

 

House buyers wade into the musty air
of abandoned rooms. They hear secrets
rustle past their ears, straight out
of the half-opened doors.

 

At the center of the town is a faade
of two palaces--one imposing on the other's
shadow--the mayor's office and the precinct.

 

The mouths, the tampered lights click
ajar-shut while jeweled small-town
queens kiss their Starbucks cups.

 

The skyline breathes the people clean
of vertical clearances, limits of conquest.
Twisted innards of dawn seep
their warmth into the drapes.

 

--Kristine Ong Muslim--