One More Gift - Mark Pentecost

Suddenly, the strange world is less strange,
quieter, stranger. The wheel is turned,
the finger pricked, the spell will not break.
Shhh. Listen up to what is missing:
The sound of doors locking in the dark
or unlocking. Words placed like long-stemmed
flowers in the barrels of silence.
A mouth. A voice. Beautiful. Bruised.
Friend. I did not know you long or well.
My arc was altered by our meeting.
I forced my feet into these odd shoes
and, limping, dance, clumsy and comfy.
Your cheek kissed by some goddess of storm,
you showed us, brood of anonymous
geniuses, to follow our footsteps.

Above the Ohio far away
sun and cloud are making a movie.
Backs to us, a woman leads a mule
toward the river, in step, through the
hush of mist over the bottomland.
My tongue tries to keep up, slithering,
a blind baby snake with no purchase
on the damp grass they tread so surely,
then stumped by the dross they have sloughed off:
Fabric, leather, a plow, a pump, books
and bandages and empty bottles,
a feedbag, all passing into earth
like a long outbreath of the Buddha.
On the other shore, lights and music.
“Aralee, old friend,” the boatman says,
“The mule rides free. From you a penny.”
Her jagged, full-force laugh. No problem.
From the skinny pockets of her coat
her practiced hands bring forth a lifetime:
A bib. A doll. A slingshot. Apples.
Dog treats. Cigarettes. Keys. A Zippo.
Colored pencils. Makeup. Photographs. . . .
The boatman’s eyes are big as the moon.
The river and the mule pulse gently.
The patient ferry rocks and drowses.
The woman’s laughing and the treasure
from her pockets look to have no end.
He thinks, she can’t go on. She goes on.
Brittle brown letters. A flashdrive fat
as a bullfrog. Laden vines of film
stock. Drawings. Sketches. Glitter. Stardust.
And, covered in script like fingerprints,
paper, papers, folded or in scraps,
an avalanche of words, shy children,
wadded ones unwadding in her hands.
She pauses, mother hawk sizing up
the fitness of a chick. “Not this one.
This one’s for Mark.” Thanks for one more gift,
generous Aralee, this poem,
written in the lightning from your face.

Ralph La Charity - 07.03.13

Aralee Felt Strange 1943 – 2013

       You got to walk this lonesome valley
           You got to walk it by Yourself

She was a Felt, our Felt

not that they have what we don’t have,
 But that we can be close to them and they
 will expand into what it is we lack… they fill
 a place in us we didn’t even know we didn’t have… ”

         nobody else can walk it for you
          you got to walk it by Yourself

She was a Felt indeed

not a Thought, not a person
 who touches us via our minds
 so much as via our souls even
 more than our hearts, Ay…
 She was a Felt.”

& she loved her felt peeps
& we were All her felt peeps

Felts have many many lovers,
 and Felts are all so frequently
 all alone… ”

y’all’re them & know
y’all’re them without
a shadow of a doubt

she knew how to share –
 I suppose it was another
 of her teachings, right
 up there with
 how to mourn… ”

& us in her wake are
her Felt-dwellers
Felt-dwellers all

not so many Felts around, y’know…
 kind of a rare breed, akin to rara avis, eh?”

                   o my Love
                   my true Love
                   I hunger
                   for Your

that you are loved despite
this the Known, shared

we are attracted to the Felts
 in our lives because of certain
 talents we do not have… Felts are
 squarely in our blind spots, big as life… ”

that You were Felt & known
we Felt-dwellers knew You
knew & Know & felt
Your very Felt indeed


Dancin' in the Wake

yea, sun’s
goin’ down, Aralee

let’s go swimmin’

light as ash you are
girlfriend, let’s go
dancin’ in yonder spring

nay, girl, lemme
dance your ash in
that River, you do
know the One...

bitter clear River
River Rive & begone
River Dove & begot
River of Many Returns

of Birmingham
& Manhattan, too

River o’ Grief & no relief
River Flow & River Swing

floodtide weep Rejoice !
floodtide woe Bedamned !

you know the One
we’ll be back in twenty
maybe half again
we’ll be back, girlfriend

dancers swim
the floodtide vale
Dancers !

swim the blooded veil
see thru every wave
sing & sear, my love
sing & seer, o Poet

those wavelets
o how they suck & lap
ankle drag slap & chill

bullfrog burp
to beat the band
Benny the Hat bird-rapt
down beneath those
weep-dript boughs
sax tones bend
& laughter, too
toothsome you
skip to m’lou
toot sweet, too

o we’re dancin’
White Girl
             down the Flow


            Sleight of Disappear

in magic illusion decrees not what’s here be there
nor that halved be wholed or that sink up-float no
no no as margareta Queen of Denial’d always say

that Aralee was still here her still heart-Felt declared
too frail to hold dispute with or weep wide-eyed oh!
how the already gone-on guffaw down raw oysters!
(y’ever eat raw oysters with Aralee ?  we did… we did)

gal was a smoker’s all I know don’t y’know’s why
Izzy went off walking with Linda at Grady’s that day
Ben stood still in the rain so long down by the riverside

tonight we danced in the wake an eight hours drive away
a whole week & one day later slow dancing till admitted :
I injure easy but recover quick’s how it got put out not

that that’s a lie but neither was our Dance & you were
taller & heavier & the Dance ended over easy all alone


Your Voice - Pauletta Hansel

for Aralee Strange, 12/5/43- 6/15/13

There are not many who remember now
your voice,
those days, a graveled whisper
dissolving from your breath to air
that would have given us
your words.
Your poems just beginning then
to edge sideways between the cracks
of other voices, their edges hard
and polished bright—
your voice
was the one we turned toward,
hoping to hear.

Your voice,
the one we all remember,
that Alabama rumble of a train,
grew sure and clear,
was forever making room—
A room, a mic (open, always),
the chairs filled up with poets
listening to each other’s voices
growing ever stronger
as you leaned in close,
making sure you heard.
You heard.

The room is dark now;
the mic turned off.
We are listening,
Come close,
a poem, please,
one more from you.
Your voice
in our ears.

(From Nick Barrows)

Like the plane you hear
In bed
In the dark
A rumble that gives to every ear that it touches
That is sound of journey
The sound of venture
Past those windows
In these walls
On this flesh
Extracting life to be for tone and eye

Aralee - Andrew Mandelbaum


I came to the clearing too late to say goodbye.
There was smoke hanging in the leaves,
words had burned here and lightning
had marked faces in the flash.
I heard birds mimicking the wonder of it all
in a sweet graveled song 
that could only have been you.

Sturmaz - Jay Morris

The night before you died a storm
Raged its grief with rain and funnel
And hail to hail the loss
Of a veritable force of nature
Storm-born siblings made known
Their own protest against the presence of death
The lightning striking his picket line for the union of
soul and body
While thunder clapped his tantrum beat
Death cannot take what is mine
She taught things only a mother could teach
Like how grace is born in the balancing act
Between power and humility
When my time is come
And I am gone
The jellyfish will still be here
Greeting death every day in the deep
With the same salutation
"Not today."
I could never reconcile forces of nature
With the acts of whatever god
Even as thunder and lightning accept
The dance of life and death
Light ripping open the sky in zig-zag
Lines as a parade to celebrate your homecoming
And thunder claps open the gates of that doubtful world
To welcome you to the place where soul meets forever
Thank you Aralee
For being so Strange
When we all felt
A little too normal.

For Aralee - Jim Palmarini

Bolt of lighting
string of pearls
swatch of black
you your hands
all awash and affront
of the noble word
what did you expect
going at it like that
would get you anywhere and
now you’ve gone and taken
leave with your voice
trailing off and rising up
like it always did
and now you goddam never will
stop getting into my head no
not likely not now not
evermore June twilights
will have no peaches
no reading no you. Just a
too bright and sunny melancholy and
I’m not having that shit. So go on
and get your wise ass up on the stage
seer madonna piper songstress
woman for the ages I
have a poem to pick
with you wanna
make something beautiful
dear friend

JP 6/15/13

what we'll be do ... Song for Aralee - Ralph La Charity

caught our breath in tears where they ran

the whole of crossing over's
the whole of what we do here

stutter-trills & hop-slides fare thee well
the echo's cadence till namore remains the same

the whole of what we do here won't be done again
makes you wonder why we remember what we do

staying put's not what we'll be do
nay, tis not what we'll achieve

I walked off with things in hand I couldn't drop
I knew I'd bring it back but maybe not

the urge to stop still waits upon the rise

crossings bear namore the tilting shade
these shadows stride askance & dip askew

reverberate head bones these tones we do
each line of every song escapes in vain

all rhythms host all breath & hearts the same

the whole of what we're doing's all
the whole of crossing over

tis the patch of light briefly where we stood
tis the is of this that winks away

Michael's Poem - Aralee Strange w/Art and Margo Rosenbaum

from Sermons and Lectures by Matt Hart

"I believe in desperate acts, the kind that make me look"
Both ways when crossing my fingers behind my back in the street
where the traffic's terrific, and I'm making a promise
that I know I won't keep to talk with you soon about
Kant's metaphysics   One reason after another in a multitude
of classic styles and miasmic colors   Stop and go emergencies
for any occasion and every budget   Vroom vroom vroom
See ya later, alligator   All I want's to write more poems
to be a good husband and a father and a teacher   This lecture
brought to you by anxiety over an interview   Heading home
from my current position/employ   I think about the people warm
and sleepy in their houses   The icicles dragging all our gutters
to the meadows   Snow or linoleum   Is anybody happy  Is anybody
torn in the talons of an eagle, a red-tailed hawk through the eyes
of a storm   And if anybody is, then can anybody fix it
Is anybody willing   The situation's lonely and I'm already forty
Weirdly, the whole world's right here with me   Right here
beside me, but nobody's home   I walk to the store for a twelve pack
of something, or light bulbs or toilet paper, coffee for the morning
Orange marmalade, English muffins   Tonight we'll think
our faces off, and then I'll do some sleeping   Longer than I can
remember I've wanted to amount to more than me, significantly
and anxiously, and not to be a negative and not to wear a mask
This message directly to you is a plea to hear back YOUR message--
any message you want   To hear you in my headdress   To see you
on my doorstep   3127 Manning Avenue, Cincinnati OH 45211
And when I pull your strings, you can set me on fire
And when the Jawbreaker's finished, you can
put on my shirt   We'll blow each other's covers
then we'll walk the red carpet   into the rapture
we will dance on the escarpment   our arrival
a surge of inter-mangled re-connection

Poem by Ben Gulyas

what is left
is cast upon the last star--
in long walking wishes,
legs of running water
they are dreams, really
shifting from face to face,
a commotion of voices...
oil lamps of flickering eyes
set to near boiling
far and away...
a strange old dream,
a bridge of birds...
the farthest storks
with translucent wings...lifting...
between mesmerizing moon
and mesmerizing earth...

a hint of crossroads...
a hint of boxwire...
the intransient dust of the mouth
slowly lifting
above those trans-Mongolian bones...
with horses standing on the grass
waiting so far away...
you can barely

Directions / Seaborn Jones

The wind sharpens itself

on a man's face.

A woman brings rain

in wooden bottles.

He gives her a fist

full of flowers.

She eats them

one by one

then exhales petals

that take the shape

of a child.

The child sits

on the man's knees

while the man

tells a story

that he cannot remember.

He is drunk on rain.

The woman

sings a song

that she has never heard.

She is drugged by flowers.

The child wants to know

which way

the world is.

The man points

in one direction;

the woman, another.