RAMADAN LAMENT

will not allow it. A lesson
in suffering—O!
but Lord—I have suffered.

I confess, I am
selfish, self-
absorbed—I consume

so I might rid myself
of what

I want through its destruction.

Before me as barrier, the ocean
swallowing, no
regard for consequence—in my grief
let me be simple like that.

My mouth, without
the other’s: useless.
I long to fill it like a grave.

O Lord,
don’t speak
to me

of restraint—I have abstained

so devoutly
in your name I am

defined by that absence, so long
I am wasting away.

Leila Chatti | Ramadan Lament

JO Barrios | Flores – Maya, 2020

FABULOUS FRANKE

THE PATRIARCHS

The weather in the window this morning
is snow, unseasonal singular flakes,
a slow winter’s final shiver. On such an occasion
to presume to eulogise one man is to pipe up
for a whole generation – that crew whose survival
was always the stuff of minor miracle,
who came ashore in orange-crate coracles,
fought ingenious wars, finagled triumphs at sea
with flaming decoy boats, and side-stepped torpedoes.

Husbands to duty, they unrolled their plans
across billiard tables and vehicle bonnets,
regrouped at breakfast. What their secrets were
was everyone’s guess and nobody’s business.
Great-grandfathers from birth, in time they became
both inner core and outer case
in a family heirloom of nesting dolls.
Like evidence of early man their boot-prints stand
in the hardened earth of rose-beds and borders.

They were sons of a zodiac out of sync
with the solar year, but turned their minds
to the day’s big science and heavy questions.
To study their hands at rest was to picture maps
showing hachured valleys and indigo streams, schemes
of old campaigns and reconnaissance missions.
Last of the great avuncular magicians
they kept their best tricks for the grand finale:
Disproving Immortality and Disappearing Entirely.

The major oaks in the wood start tuning up
and skies to come will deliver their tributes.
But for now, a cold April’s closing moments
parachute slowly home, so by mid-afternoon
snow is recast as seed heads and thistledown.

Simon Armitage

WILD NIGHT





FABULOUS FRANKE

BRIDE

How long have I been wed
to myself? Calling myself

darling, dressing for my own
pleasure, each morning

choosing perfume to turn
me on. How long have I been

alone in this house but not
alone? Married less

to the man than to the woman
silvering with the mirror.

I know the kind of wife
I need and I become her:

the one who will leave
this earth at the same instant

I do. I am my own bride,
lifting the veil to see

my face. Darling, I say,
I have waited for you all my life.

Maggie Smith | 2020

JO Barrios | Paper Bags, 2021

FABULOUS FRANKE

TO THE WOMAN CRYING UNCONTROLLABLY IN THE NEXT STALL

If you ever woke in your dress at 4am ever
closed your legs to someone you loved opened
them for someone you didn’t moved against
a pillow in the dark stood miserably on a beach
seaweed clinging to your ankles paid
good money for a bad haircut backed away
from a mirror that wanted to kill you bled
into the back seat for lack of a tampon
if you swam across a river under rain sang
using a dildo for a microphone stayed up
to watch the moon eat the sun entire
ripped out the stitches in your heart
because why not if you think nothing &
no one can / listen I love you joy is coming

Kim Addonizio

JO Barrios | Gin, 2021

CONVERSATIONS WITH JOHN L’HEUREUX

Fascinating series of conversations with the head of Stanford University’s famous writing program for those of us writing program graduates who are into this sort of thing.

FABULOUS FRANKE

ALICE NEEL