Writing After Fifty publishes fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and essays by persons age fifty and older. We encourage persons over fifty to keep chasing their writing dreams! The next issue be in December 2012. Submissions are accepted until November 15, 2012. Submission guidelines are available: HERE.
This issue’s featured poets are Marie Marshall, Emily Strauss, and Jimmie A. Kepler.
Three poems by Marie Marshall. She has written about being a being a young teenager in South East London at the end of the 1960s.
BIO of Marie Marshall: reclusive, agoraphobic, middle-aged, dysmorphic, gay, awkward, Anglo-Scottish poet and writer. Would prefer to be introduced by a paraphrase of Balthus’ famous telegram: NO BIOGRAPHY. BEGIN: MARIE MARSHALL IS A POET OF WHOM NOTHING IS KNOWN. NOW LET US READ THE POEMS, but life isn’t that simple. Started writing poetry in 2005 and since then has had upwards of one hundred and seventy poems published, including one on the wall of a café in Wales and one etched into an African drum in the New Orleans Museum of Art. Associate Editor of Sonnetto Poesia (recently closed) and Canadian Zen Haiku magazine, also of the forthcoming anthology of modern sonnets The Phoenix Rising From Its Ashes, and Editor of the zen space, an on-line showcase for haiku and related writing. Her macabre short-stories have been a regular feature of the Winter Words literary festival in Scotland where they have been read aloud by professional actors. Her first novel is due to be published in Spring 2012.
i. The Upsetters – Return of Django
it’s hard to avoid the boys
the pop-smack braggadocio
all angles and the sharp creases
in their bluff
I feel the pull of the other fast knot
here a knee at an elegant crook
a hand upon a hip
or cupping a slender elbow
I am thirteen trying for sixteen
in the court of the mohair miniskirt
ii. Harry J and the All Stars – The Liquidator
the easy walk of a girl passing
with her eyes on a distant corner
she goes with black boys
No more than that
nothing as fancy as a stare
the court is too cool
and I edge half-a-step
closer to its gravitas
putting my bag down with theirs
iii. Boris Gardner – Elizabethan Reggae
the ultra-violet lights
pick out a couple of bras
yet all our faces
have faded into the black walls
someone suggests a coke
and we take off for the Witchdoctor
Three poems by Emily Strauss.
Some Wars Make Men Hate
Some wars make men hate governments, sides, landscapes
Vietnam made some men hate. Themselves, women, life.
No enemies, they had no sides. After wars, men come home
Heroes. After Vietnam men drifted back silently to uncaring
Protesters, never spoke of what they saw, the war of drugs
And rock-n-roll, but they hated inside.
They returned to school, to the shop, drifted around
Never found a job but every night raged, drank,
Smoked, pushed back the fear of their bitter hates
Beat women, screamed at everything, couldn’t remember
Why. Wars make men love home. Vietnam made men
Love nothing but oblivion, dull white fog, the lessening
Of pain, aimless motion, a dance of one the rest of us
Were left out of, darkened halls with no audience.
Wars push men to seek the comfort of women’s
Breasts and legs. Vietnam destroyed the beauty of women
For men who watched them burned naked, the bar dancers
Skinny and hungry, so afterwards women were to blame
Targets for heaped-up pains, punching bags to ease sharp
Nerves, all to the tune of Light My Fire. Wars soothe
Righteous nations and strengthen the defeated.
Vietnam defeated us on all fronts, wounded us, produced
No heroes, no martyrs, no glories, its monument a long
Black wall you can’t linger at. We will never celebrate
The last living Vietnam veteran, display his scars or medals
Sing marches, fly regimental flags, paint scenes of dogfights
Hoard army-issued shirts. We will always carry the doubt
Bruises, fits of rage, music, marches, madness slowly
Dissipating with the first deaths of old vets from alcoholism
Homelessness, or natural causes. Soon it will be my time
To release the pain of one vet who came home full of hate
And anger, the rewards of Vietnam, my agony.
The Descendants of Vietnam
We are about Vietnam, the culture of our lost war
Napalm jungles, inglorious wounds, drugs and music
And protests, anger and shame: have you seen our
Memorial, the tall black wall, have you traced
Someone’s name with your finger, come to terms
With the hole in his thigh, constant concave
Reminder, can I touch it now and remember
Your pain or help you release the ghosts
I didn’t understand then?
I didn’t see you off or welcome you home
But the war will live in us always, tell me
Why you sat in the corner for years afterward,
This was our playing field of lost hope, torn
Innocence, burned trees, bomb craters, refugees
Invisible heroes surviving our shared national
You are now marked by a hand-lettered sign on
The side of the freeway, out of luck, too wounded
To work, too young to die.
Rain Washes the Streets
The rain makes the blood stains glisten again
On the dirty sidewalk, washes clean the grime
And dust from months of drought and poverty
Glazes the oil slicks in a rainbow light sheen.
The rain wipes off the puddles of human waste
Brings out the luster of spent lives, ragged breath
Trails of misery dripping down the concrete
Cracks past hollow doorways where fresh blood
Is pooled under the torn-up face, open veins
Gun-pocked shirt flapping on bowed shoulders
The rain probes for his bare neck, tries to erase
The spills, wets the years of built-up effluence
As rivulets drain into the seams between his felt-
Covered toes, umbrellas don’t exist on the street
And the city can’t afford to hose down the cement
He lies on, so let the rain fall, washing the whole.
Three poems and a book review by Jimmie A. Kepler. He has written about starting high school (written in August 1967), Apollo astronauts (written Christmas Day 1968), and rock and roll music (written in 2007). The review is of Girls Like Us.
BIO of Jimmie A. Kepler: He is a poet, freelance writer, and book reviewer. He earned his M.A. in religious education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a B.A. in history with minors in English and military science from The University of Texas at Arlington. His is published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, vox poetica, Poetry & Prose eMagazine and also published nonfiction in eleven magazines and journals. He is a contributing book reviewer for Front Row Lit Magazine. He is a former Captain in the United States Army. His blog “Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews” was named a 100 Best Book Blogs for History Buffs by OnlineSchools.org. He lives in a suburb of Dallas, Texas.
Starting High School
In San Francisco, it is the summer of love,
Longhaired hippies, peace signs and doves.
In Viet-Nam the soldiers are dying,
Back home their families are crying,
And Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play.
Jim wants to “Light My Fire”,
While Grace’s rabbit only flies higher.
The evening news shows the war isn’t cool,
This week I started high school,
And “All You Need Is Love” is what The Beatles say.
Astronauts William Andres,
Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman
Read the creation story
From Genesis in the Bible
As they orbited the moon.
We saw what the moon
And good earth looked like
From outer space …
And the crew
Of Apollo 8 closed with
“good night, good luck,
a Merry Christmas,
and God bless all of you –
all of you on the good Earth.”
At that moment
We were all Earthlings.
Classic rock takes you back in time
Back to when the music rhymed
Singing of love and feeling good
We’d see them in concert if we could
It transports you back to the drive-in scene
Dancing popcorn boxes on the movie screen
Singing let’s go to the snack bar
Trying to get your money and you out of the car
Each song reminds you of a special girl
Holding hands and soft serve ice cream with a swirl
Her hair in a pageboy flip
From one Cherry Coke with two straws you both would sip
Classic rock keeps you forever young
Some of the best music ever sung
It carries you back to a simpler day
Before life’s responsibilities got in the way
Originally published in:
WORDS..RHYMES..POETRY & PROSE!
BOOK REVIEW: Girls Like Us. Review by Jimmie A. Kepler
The contents of “Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon–And the Journey of a Generation” by Sheila Weller will be very recognizable to us who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s. Sheila Weller tells us that King, Simon, and Mitchell pushes back the barriers for women specifically, “one song at a time.”
The enigmatic one remains Carole King, whom Weller just cannot shed light on in any significant way. King’s life was amazing then it stopped being of any interest at all. We learn and hear repeatedly how she wrote all those Brill Building masterpieces before she was 21. We learn how she broke down under the strain of a troubled marriage to a husband and lyricist, Gerry Goffin whom she married when she was 17 and pregnant by him. We see how she comes through the divorce with an LP, Tapestry, which everyone loved and bought. After that, her life is bad men in abundance. They were attracted to her wealth. King once estimated that every time she divorced a man, it cost her a million dollars. Weller gives us all the facts. One still has to wonder why King did this.
Carly Simon, on the other hand seems nearly normal as normal can be for someone of the upper, upper middle class. Though perceptibly spoiled and protected by wealth, Simon does not seem spoiled. Her reactions are always understandable and sympathetic. This includes her meeting and marrying the drug-zombie James Taylor.
Joni Mitchell is not sympathetic. She has the integrated persona of the genius totally in love with herself and obsessed with her own reflection, so she’s great in a special way. The author makes fun of Mitchell’s vanity and enormous self-esteem. Weller still lets us know that, in her estimation at any rate, Mitchell actually is amazing.
Weller is interested in the ways women deal with each other. It’s nearly a biography of five people, not just three, as there is so much about James Taylor you will never need to read another word about him if you have this book on your shelf. There is also plenty of material about Judy Collins. Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon–And the Journey of a Generation is a book that convinces us forcefully in its larger arguments and dazzles with its wide-ranging portraits of artistic life in the 50s, 60s and 70s.
Writing After Fifty Issue One is available as a free .pdf download at: Writing After Fifty: Issue One