POETRY ISSUE #41

Man Mood
                                                                       Image: “Man Mood,”  by Richard Vyse, watercolor,  2018,  6 1/2×8 in. 

Arjun Parikh

Featured Poet


I Will Bring the Whiskey

BEHOLD: Love on its last legs.         We fought over a balloon
for the last helium shot.          The victor’s truth
would rise highest.          She asked,

             Have you ever written with such haste
             that your meaning appeared
             not as words but
             as shapes?


Her question rose toward           the ceiling
and cast a shadow         over the room.

             Maybe, I said.       Yes.
             But the intention
             is always
             clear.


My answer kissed her shadow,             burst,
and disappeared from sight.     It smelled
like war long after the         smoke had cleared.

           You and your explosive
           truths
, she said.
           You used to
           breathe them.

We waited for something           to give.
Silence opened for           my turn:

            When push comes
            to shove
            most drink. Few tell
            the truth.

We Breathed           on purpose
Refused               to blink
Drew            the curtains.




Obituary for Gerald

Gerald went by Gerald even when he was young. As a boy he set out to read the entire encyclopedia. He was adamant about doing only one thing at a time. In his twenties he played Russian roulette on Sundays. When he married Ava she forbade him from playing. He wanted to die until he found a new hobby. He chose bird watching. Toward the end he learned the call of the common loon because he thought it sounded like a wolf with a flute.
He made the call at dawn every day and one resident in his building wondered how a loon could survive in the city. He was not a fancy kisser. Ava said he was lightning incarnate. She could never trust his absence. He wondered if God spoke with an accent. Gerald wrote letters to those he loved that began For You and ended Always Gerald, some of which contained only a pair of parentheses in the letter’s body. He explained to his daughter I am sharing my silences with you. Madly was his favorite adverb. In his will he wrote Please refrain from using “pass” in reference to my death. I prefer punctuation. When he was found dead M was open on his coffee table. He never got past “Macaw.”



Ethics

When it was learned that Aphrodite
had been fooling everyone with lipstick
the Greek gods convened to discuss the ethics of makeup.

Hermes, who secretly liked Aphrodite better with lipstick
said “Makeup should be permissible if it looks natural.”
Zeus, however, remarked with paternalistic fervor that faces should be pure.

Aphrodite asked “Should the Goddess of Beauty not
define beauty herself?” She looked to her husband for an ally
but Hephaestus was just happy to be there.

Resident hippie Dionysus responded in a drunken stupor
“Not in a democracy!” A majority nodded in agreement
and ruled that Aphrodite was in the wrong.

During the deliberation concerning punishment
Zeus ordered Poseidon to wash Aphrodite’s face
with the power of the sea in order to purge her lips of lipstick.

Poseidon refused on account of the punishment
being an egregious use of water. In a fit of white-hot rage
Zeus zapped Poseidon’s sea, which fried all of its creatures.

This was how the gods invented seafood jambalaya, which the Spanish
later stumbled upon when they could not find saffron for paella.
It was also the first and last time Zeus cooked.



Arjun Parikh

Arjun Parikh's work has appeared in Into the Void, Black Fox Literary Magazine, and phoebe. He recently graduated from New York University with a degree in African-American Studies, and he is in the process of applying to law school. He lives in Palo Alto, where he coaches soccer, tutors high school students in English, and writes.

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