Our final week of April in the Reader's Den will focus on the selected works of poets contributing to a new poetry and arts journal, The L.E.S Review, founded by poet, artist, and Pratt Institute Library and Information Science student Jesi Bender.
In the five years Jesi has lived in New York City, she has accumulated friends in all facets of the arts, and worked for various art institutions throughout Manhattan and Williamsburg. In other words, Bender saw both the artist and the business of art, and found that these entities did not necessarily go hand-in-hand. She was continually shocked that even in the hipster "l'art pour l'art" DIY scene, there was such disparity between the vast amount of talented artists in New York, and the limited opportunities for them to display their work.
Determined to create an outlet for promising new artists who don't necessarily have an impressive resume of work already behind their name, Bender created L.E.S. Review , a contemporary art and poetry journal, from her tiny apartment on Clinton Street. L.E.S. Review remains committed to the promotion of talent, no matter their experience or pedigree. You can visit the journal and submit your work at LESreview.com.
Gale Acuff has published poetry in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Adirondack Review, Worcester Review, Verse Wisconsin, Sequential Art Narrative in Education, Poem, Carolina Quarterly, Maryland Poetry Review, the Florida Review, Amarillo Bay, South Dakota Review, Santa Barbara Review, and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008). He has taught university English in the U.S., China, and the Palestinian West Bank.
William Cordeiro has an MFA in poetry from Cornell, where he is currently a Ph.D. candidate studying 18th century British literature. He is also the co-founder of Brooklyn Playwrights Collective and has had several plays produced in regional and off-off-Broadway venues, including a libretto performed at the Johnson Museum of Art. For the past two years he has been the Artist-in-Residence at Risley Residential College. His poems are forthcoming in journals such as Brooklyn Review, lafovea, L.E.S. Review, Sentence, Barely South Review, and Word for/Word.
Ivan Jenson Ivan Jenson has enjoyed unprecedented success publishing his poetry in the US, the UK, Sweden and France, and has received recognition for his contributions in Pop Art. His Absolut Jenson painting was featured in Art News, Art in America, and he has sold several works at Christie’s New York. Ivan Jenson is highly sought after for his popular and dynamic live readings on the stage. His poems have appeared in Word Riot, Camroc Press Review, Poetry Super Highway, Alternative Reel Poets Corner, Underground Voices magazine, Blazevox, and many others. Ivan Jenson is also a Contributing Editor for Commonline magazine. He now writes novels and poetry in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Visit his website at ivanjensonartist.com.
Juan Lamata was born in Venezuela, trained in youth soccer in South Florida, and set loose on a small but densely populated chain of islands in the North Atlantic. He enjoys writing, inspirational bob-sledding movies, and tomfoolery. If you know of his whereabouts, keep them to yourself.
Marcel Logan is a Jamaican poet living in New York City. He has previously published poetry in the Federal Poets Journal, and McGill University’s poetry anthology, The Montage. Most recently, he has two poems forthcoming in the Summer and Autumn editions of The L.E.S. Review ; and one forthcoming in the online journal, Tongues of The Ocean. He recently read his material at the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in SoHo. Much of his work is thematically concerned with the human condition, memory, intimacy, identity and the process and purpose of language and poetry.
David H. Sutherland has been published in The American Literary Review, The Midwest Quarterly, The Adirondack Review, Poetry Magazine, The Los Angeles Review and others.
Gunga Din, UNEARTHED!
(for Ezra Pound)
by D. H. Sutherland
After Barack I lost my karma
the funk the sway
my swagger, gone.
My homie’s kitsch
of bling went blank
is now a fossil in a 9 to 5 year.
And like a Lucy on record
the Australopithecus unearthed,
my joie de vivre
wears dust and lime.
At the dig site, dear brother
this thoroughfare called life,
a bizness of love and pain,
empathy’s shared history!
Our commerce ends.
by Ivan Jenson
all it does is
give and give
it stays up
so go ahead
the dot coms
but if you
search for yourself
in this virtual world
it doesn’t matter
what they say
as long as
they get your link right
If you’ve ever…
by Juan Lamata
If you’ve ever…
Relied on the possibility of hangover
Caught a cold, caught a train and caught
yourself from ruin in one breath
Stared into the sun until it blinked
and thought My God
Sipped calamity through a straw and become indifferent
Stood next to the well-dressed Wall Street standards of industry and chanted ruin
ruin to draw out the imps and angels of Revolution
Broken a name into its parts such as Bushwick, Bellview
Springfield or Schuylkill.
Sat on the shore of something immense and thought
there is always something grander and missing
Over pronounced the words mignon and motel to the point
Written a love letter in a dream
using only words from the Anglo-Saxon and the fantastical
Been invited to speak at a colloquium on symposiums
but declined because of a “special” engagement
Spent four days scheming of ways to get locked into a museum
before abandoning the project after seeing prophetic, profane and prohibitory
writing on a bathroom wall
Then you know what I’m talking about.
by Marcel Logan
I brought you something warm
so you could sit and watch
the dragonfly dance in quartet
by my river and country
which is still developing
with the street vendor
who won't throw out garbage and
the mad-man who guards the entrance
to the hollow shack of a run-down Omni-theatre.
This dance of dragonfly divas convenes at seven pm precisely
and amidst the din of leaky mufflers chugging over spilled change
these panhandlers are fishermen with hooks
and those hookers are life-vests, with looks.
Then you came along and found us,
without expecting the neon lights
or the metropolitan museum of modern anti-art;
we’re still reveling in independence, laughing
with cheap and heavy sighs.
This was my cultural belonging
before we dated and dissolved
into a desire vaster than the idea of desire.
You and your doubtful mumbles, and that pout,
so petulant a twist on the lips of an orchidian mouth,
with whirls of metallic clips orchestrating hair wound and
worked patiently into Antillean frames.
I note each melody your skin plays, knot
as I listen to your breath and watch steam lift us home.
You cried happy in the noon downpour
as our glutted umbrellas shook open
fertile with hope against the falling shower.
by William Cordiero
Soon, just minding your own business
of licking stamps and tasting wine,
you’ll feel the quarter-turn
of some memory of her inside you,
its future tense unhinge its breath and coil.
You’ll glance back half a shoulder long,
a sudden sense that something’s wrong.
You’ll suffer back to look again—
where all things rise,
reverse their gravity
as of a pleasure now revised;
leaf-pattern crippled in her hair
pinned-up into a chopstick bun.
Cinched there, you’ll feel
the face that fits into your eyes.
Unpinned, a gash of sun upon the sea
strides back—a nightfall’s wind-blonde waves
where light alone rides out the tides.
And you are there again, only.
Jesi Belle waits for the hounds
To Yonah, by Jesi Bender
Jesi Belle waits for the hounds,
With coal round her eyes
And tint on her lips,
Or for a dove released from the sea,
Like breath from a mouth -
And she patiently sits.
By the window, the soft glow
Of a halo of red burns
The whore sits and hopes for
Her monomaniacal sailor
Away hunting that thing in the sea
That remains an elusive captor –
It’s that something some deep men feel eating inside them
(Inside the man is a fish inside a fish inside a man)
He knows she’s something that the people do not condone
The cold white of her skin opaquely shimmers like bone
And him, living only “on half a heart and a half lung”
So the woman who loves him sits all alone
In a room cross the water,
Drinking stolen kosher wine
She realizes this is done –
Dogs barking in the distance
A vengeful people grow closer,
The people made in His image have won.
The sky is orange as teeth cut through,
Blood runs sweet as Manischewitz.
Easily erased - though it had been rough
asking, ‘Who’s G-d isn’t a giant phallus?’
And silencing the prophetic tongues
Who told her that love wasn’t enough.
Now - where is the heart, the core of her flesh?
All I see are her arms, her legs and her head.
They wanted it this way,
As far as I can tell,
So no one would ever be able to say;
“This, this was Jesi Belle”.
by Gale Acuff
After Sunday School today I linger
for a chance to talk to Miss Hooker, my
teacher. I mean our teacher but somehow other
kids don't count. I guess that's not Christian
but the truth is that she belongs to me
and I'm going to try to tell her so
even if it kills me, or she turns me
down, whichever comes first, but in a way
they're the same thing. I've been praying each night
this week that God will grant a miracle
and I won't say that I'm not selfish but
it seems to me what's good for me is good
for Miss Hooker, too. Sometimes love's that way
--Father, for example, punishing me
by saying This is going to hurt me
as much, or more, than it hurts you . Maybe,
but at least his pain isn't in his butt
though it's true I'm a pain in the ass now
and then. I can't help it. I'm only 10
and Father's nearly 40--that's almost
dead. Miss Hooker looks to be 25
so she's getting up there, too, but I've prayed
that God will keep her at that age until
I catch up--that'll be fifteen years. When
we've evened out I'll call on her. I'll bring
flowers and candy and maybe hairspray,
which girls like, and maybe a pair of shoes,
which girls also like. I'm smart, watch TV,
and even have sisters, but won't tell them
how I feel about my sweetheart because
they'd just make fun of me. I'm waiting at
the classroom door for Miss Hooker to turn
around and erase the board--can't have her
watching me march up to her but I don't
want to sneak around, either, and scare her.
When she's erased the big chalk Crucifix
and starts to turn around I make my move
and approach her desk and quietly cough,
--I guess it's a kind of warning, or like
knocking on a door or ringing a bell
--and clear my throat but it's clear already,
adults do that a lot, another kind
of signal--and say Hello Miss Hooker,
again, ha ha, and she laughs Ha ha , and
I look her in the eyes and she looks back
and two eyes plus two eyes equal four eyes,
not to be mistaken for glasses but
she does wear them so I guess it's six eyes.
And I say Miss Hooker, I've got something
to say to you, and clear my throat again
and this time it needs it and she says, Oh
what is it, Gale , and smiles and I reveal
--that's like Revelation in the Bible
or part of it, so God is with me or
Jesus, at least, and the son is better
than nothing if the father is busy
--wait, no, I don't mean that, I'm not too up
on my religion but maybe they're both
equal and as for the Holy Spirit,
He's even more a mystery than They
--I love you, and I have to cough the words
but at least I set them free, maybe they're
what clogged my throat and I had to spit them
out. Oh, that's nice, Miss Hooker says, I love
you, too, and she smiles again but she's lost
my meaning, not that she ever had it.
Won't you walk me to my car, please , she says.
Yes ma'am, I say, words I'd never use with
a girlfriend but I'll be married one day
to some gal, if not Miss Hooker. so that
may change, and Father says it to Mother
though it doesn't seem to make her happy
but he just smiles as he tries to kiss her
and make it better, whatever her pain.
I open the car door for Miss Hooker.
She's my girlfriend now and my next question
for the next Sunday is Will you make me
the happiest man on earth even though
I'm still a boy? I wonder what she'll say.
And the Sunday after that I'll ask her
Can you wait fifteen years for me? Won't she
be surprised then that she hasn't aged one
second? That's if God answers my prayer
for a miracle and I don't see why
He wouldn't, I've already sweated Hell
these past five minutes. I feel older than
that now. Maybe I'm creeping up on her
or maybe it's happening like I prayed.
Miss Hooker gets in and her pretty legs
stick in my throat but I manage to
shut the door and remind her to strap on
her safety belt. Why, thank you, Gale, she says.
That's good advice. Goodbye , and I stand clear,
maybe like Ezekiel stepped back when
those wheels-with-wheels brought him back to earth.
I can see Miss Hooker looking at me
in her side mirror. I wave and her smile
gets bigger but then her face gets smaller
and soon I can't see her at all. Tonight
I'll try to see her again, in a dream,
I mean. We'll tell each other I love you .
I'll teach her how to kiss, not that I know.