Tuesday, November 29, 2022

GAS Featured Poet: JB Mulligan

JB Mulligan has published more than 1100 poems 
and stories in various magazines, and has published 
two chapbooks: The Stations of the Cross and 
THIS WAY TO THE EGRESS, as well as 2 e-books
The City of Now and Then, and A Book of Psalms 
(a loose translation), plus appearances in more than 
a dozen anthologies.

 wasp’s nest

petite chinese lantern   wasp’s nest
in the bus kiosk
                            the bottom tapered
completed since yesterday

my father mixed french furnishings
with oriental vases   black lacquer cabinets
all sorts of crap
when my friend   on honeymoon
in Paris   visited the Louvre
saw one vastly overcrowded room
he told his bride
I didn’t know that JB’s dad
had an apartment here

(family joke   all jokes
are family   some just have
a larger family for them)

webs of strands
words   feelings   memories
an image like a fierce kiss
bind the world together
for us   to us
everything always new
strange and familiar

what binds the world to the world
we don’t know   just offer equations
as if measurement were answer

wasp’s nest   lit with life
a wasp lands   enters   ignorant
no   innocent
of history and love
busy with body matters
the world building the world
delicate and angry

somewhere   everywhere
a Chinese lantern
glows in the gathering light

late in the Empire

("The winning made no sense.
No one admitted defeat."
Kirmen Uribe, translated from the Basque by Elizabeth Macklin

They fell like bombs from the sky,
birds wounded by flight,
doomed to ravenous earth.

The flags were more important
than bandages or shrouds,
than diapers hanging from lines

while flocks of captured mothers
trembled in body bags,
their eyes like mice in rubble,

furtive, starving, stone
beneath the wings of owls
like shadows of shadows in night.

The child of many fathers,
an orphan in defeat,
screamed at the side of the road,

its hunger buried beneath
the rumble of trucks, the anthems
of empty promises,

the high howling of jets,
the eyes and somber voices
of men in tailored suits.

maybe a soul

Deadyellow gems
and rustrubies
clutched in the fists
of September trees
across the hills
in commingled rivers,
touching one breeze
brushing all years.

(for Sean)

Billions of years of creatures dying
from small and struggling bags of gunk
to swim and slither, to meat and wings,
to here (and therefore precious) us,
and something close to a dying knows
sharp love and pain, the cut of a cry
things utter in the fist of death.

Ages of coming, hesitant, in
from dark to warmth, to food, to hunt
the quick (but rarely quick enough),
long-tailed spoilers of the crops,
to live within walls, or close outside,
have led, through streams of births and deaths,
to one among so many cats.

He walked his crooked broke-cat walk
(he did from birth, as did his brother,
both of them brought in from out on the deck
beneath which so many pets are buried)
until he yowled and dropped into empty,
through countless brawls and purrs and nipping
scattered behind him and in our hearts

and this, perhaps, is what we get
from all of them we hold and scold:
warmth to take into the world
against the chill of circumstance,
the cold of those with heat within
we'll never touch, who bear their own
undying embers beyond each death.

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